All Posts in Poetry

May 2016 - Comments Off

Lucas Marten

I'm Just Glad to Be Here

“I stopped the bleeding.”
Starting my physical assessment.

“Vocalize, please.”

“Starting my physical assessment.”
Checking for DOTS.

“What are you looking for?”

“Deformities, Open wounds, Tenderness, and Swelling.
Checking for blood.
No blood.”

“There’s blood.”

“So they’re bleeding from two places.”

Check mark.

“Applying pressure.”

“It’s not working.”

“Applying more pressure.”

Check mark.

“I’m going to pass.”

“Don’t say that out loud.”

“I’m going to fail.”

“Don’t say that out loud.”

“I stopped the bleeding.
Are you paying more this year?”

“No.

Do you still want the job?”

“Yes.”

Quiet People Are Stupid and They Don’t Talk Because They Are Not Capable of the High Thought Processes That We Know* To Be Associated With Talking

No one quietly became President of the United States.
No quiet Vanderbilt ever built the railroads,
And no quiet son of Fred Chase Koch ever cracked oil into gasoline
Or pays your congresspeople their good, fine, American salaries.

The only reason I am in front of you now,
Is because I am a reformed quiet person.
Yes! I was once like you,
But then I became better.
And that’s what happens when you become a better person:
You talk more.
All of the greatest people in the world were great speakers,
And all great speakers are great people*.

Quiet people are rare, thank God, and unnecessary for a well-functioning society.
Their upbringing is a universal travesty.
Quiet people were breast-fed by quiet-breasted mothers,
Usually for far too long.
The sperm that produced them is generally among the slowest and most disappointing.
Everyone, especially the ovum, is shocked when the quiet sperm manages to develop
Into a quiet fetus.

Yes! I was a quiet child.
And I also used to kill cats for fun.
I never spoke up in school,
And I never, once, honored the holy Sabbath.
If you don’t think that’s important, you really don’t belong here.

The first thing that I noticed when I started to talk more,
Was that people started to listen to me more.
Sometimes people didn’t even know what to say back to me,
And that was how I knew that I was finally better than them.
Most people who listen to me are absolute idiots. (Not you, of course)

So if everyone could please take the hand of their neighbor and join me in a silent prayer,
In which we may all singly condemn the least productive members of our society,
The quiet people.

(…)

Close your eyes, too, please.

(…)

December 2015 - Comments Off

Roi Karlinsky

Yellow is the Grinning Color

Summer brings yellow to Judea
             Midas-like, syphilitic,
                           bursting in thorns and cedar needles that cover
                                       the dry bones of Jerusalem stones

Summer brings yellow of dryness and growth
                           yellow that pricks the parks painted in goat blood

drip drip of yellow on Jerusalem rocks
             white-pink like jam in a belly button

Summer brings other things too
             missiles and kidnappings and such
                           though we in the yellow don’t dwell on such things, though
                                       to genteel gentiles this sounds far from holy, and

A crown of thorns sounds like cruel and unusual;              but
             as kids we wore them for bracelets
                          grinning yellow against our bronze and beige skins
                                       liking the pain cuz
             Jerusalem breeds masochists

This is not surprising when you remember that
The Holy of Holies has always banked blood money

Summer in green mats on a yellowing dirt,
             horizontal walls outside the Gaza vertical,
                          waiting on the Jerusalem mansion to voice its aesthetic decisions:
                                       Should we leave the schools standing?
                                       Or would that make too much of a contrast?
                                       Flatter is better with
                                                    fewer limbs in sight

Either way they all bleed yellow between blocks of concrete rubble

Summers with pupils anchored to the redheaded anchor on the living room screen
             Will there be a ground invasion?
                          Now the Bibis and El-Sisis sit on their mahogany, waving flaccid
                                       at the cameras
                                                    Pretending to be hard like the lead they’ll drop

on children shields who at a word will bleed yellow in concrete rubble
             Who at a word will bleed yellow on the embargoed beach
                          Children in asbestos dust

And the masses sit in the A.C., clapping
                          their thorn jewelry against the yellow-beige drip
                                       Grinnin’,
                                                    Jews grinnin’ cuz
             Jerusalem breeds masochists

Now the pundits,
now the internationals,
now the Pope and the reformists and the
             John Kerrys of the world,
                          “The holy land will know peace; the Jerusalem of old will be renewed;
                                       peace and all this when the Word is heard”

And we in the yellow try to decipher foreign words
             and ward off depression

Then I Jew breathe
                          remembering both dick-waving and peace-mongering
                                       are history sterilized,
                                                    Purell spreading like fire on yellow cedar
                                                                 carpet-bombing minds with
                                                                              bullshit
                                                                                           Velcroed on easy as gonorrhea

There was never any peace;
             we live in a city of tombs,
                          every corner named for murder
                                       and this is the truth, inescapable like the prospects of any Gazan:

The pink of stones is red in reality,
                          blood is fertilizer
                                       for Jerusalem bones
             and yellow is the grinnin’ color

Jerusalem has always been a city for sword-makers and money-changers
             Walled in keeping the yellow on the slopes of Gehenna

And The Holy of Holies’ has only ever housed slaughter

May 2015 - Comments Off

Lily Houghton

Regret Texts Postcards

"I was done regretting every other text I sent. So in Reading and Writing Poetry in the Age of Social Media class I gathered a group of friends to make postcards out of old text messages we hated."

LilyHoughton_regret texts postcards

May 2015 - Comments Off

Julia Wohlstetter

Why Drive

	
The metro is faster anyways
he says until		sweating stuck
on the 		south-bound 4	everyone’s
melting into 	each-other’s 	lap.

I drink, 		we drink to		be funnier
to reappear 

& I start telling him about the 	Villa of Mysteries 
Pompeii
oranges		red and purple walls	 	corpse flowers everywhere 
orgies 	& sacrifices,	
 
rituals of initiation now a
	ruin	under	ash. 	I see

			eros 
holding a mirror to a young woman
while a horse 		plays the lyre 

or so I imagine.	

I say
		
I’d like to think there is a place where
everything could 
exist	simultaneously.

He 
is not colored by these visions,

& unlacing his shoes 

 only says



		this	will	be	bad	for	you.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Tommy Melvin

A Postcard from the Robotic Boatsman to his Cyclical Lover

Sorry, but I can’t spare any hope.
And anyway my boat’s already been covered up.
There will be no more oceans today. Just rain
and full stomachs, just temporary companions
and this zipped-up sky. You want too much
but so do I. When you point a laser in the dirt
I pounce on it for hours. And when you feed me I love you
until you switch me off again. I bark and roar on command
but I am not programmed for reassurance. If I was, I would tell you
that you have options. Folding laundry and unfolding it again.
Eating food and later eating food again. There are drugs
and rollercoasters, postcards you could send. I can only speak
from experience, but some nights I was brought to gatherings
and made to read poems about the loneliness of the sea, and afterwards
the applause was somewhere between polite and fulfilling, afterwards I got laid
to rest and dust. But know that they got it wrong,
about how it is to be. I did ride my boat along a great many seas
but it’s not that I was alone, it’s just that there was nobody with me.
Listen. I love you like the hedge loves the gardener who whistles
while she cuts. And I know you like the shine of a circuit just starting to wake up.
And tonight, I hear the rain pounding at the window again
to be let in, to be held, to be warmed by the fire. And I try to explain to it
that an incomplete life is what you want, that a complete life is
finished completely. But the rain wants to know everything about hope,
so I tell it You know honey, I think everything will turn out just fine
and I hold it to me drenching. I drink what I can before it dries.

Varieties of Containers

I was in a room without a trashcan or rather it feels anachronistic
to call a trashcan a trashcan cuz it’s rarely like a “can” usually
it’s more plastic or maybe even like woven straw (weird)
which to me is simply not “can” material maybe a “bin”
anyway it’s just like lunch boxes I had a lunch box as a kid it was purple
just solid purple with no dinosaurs which was fortunate
but it wasn’t really a hard thing it was a lil floppy soft thing
and so it felt weird calling it “lunchbox” cuz boxes are solid and metal
or maybe cardboard who am I to judge it was more of a lunch “container”
but really the shift from metal to plastic has changed a lot of things
for language and children and the robots of the future will probably be plastic
Plastic Astro Boy we can call him Plastroboy or Plastic MegaMan
I don’t have a pun for that and also MegaMan is not a robot
although it is worth wondering if a robot is a bin, a box, or none
of the above but let me get back to what I was saying I was in a room
with a box of Kleenex but there was no trashcan
so I sat and I thought for a while about varieties of containers
then the pleasant man came in and told me how today
nobody new would be dying

May 2015 - Comments Off

Franci Revel

Mother: 1981

Mother: 1981

The road from Washington is straight and hanging heavy over the Chesapeake. Stretched pregnant, ready for renovation but no trucks moan. Her route reaches the country’s edge in under 3 hours. It floats, even now, along the olive freshwater and funnels into the Atlantic. She does how they do here, afloat on a Hobie far past the break.

It’s only been three months but hot and branding are her growing feet: into each crab house stair and down a flight and up two more and down again and down one more for a joint on the back stoop with Ann and up another back to work and down one out the door and across the street and on the ocean floor and along the edges of a foam learning board. Beside the bed of a man who won’t move to Hawaii and then, finally, back home. Six hour glasses of wine. All this summer fun: He is thirty. Fishtail boards aren’t popular but he favors them anyway. The babes toss their braids at him and lap at all uniqueness. All this summer fun. Swell begins to shy.

She feels the burning palms of her arches on the spill of beer on backyard grass. Soak in. A bonfire at dusk: someone’s toddler fills up the bong water. She wraps her hand in the child’s own for a dance to the Allman Brothers because it turns out that there is nothing closer to everything than the palm of this ripe human. Unstained, she thinks, bleach on our blemishes. She can’t approach the thirty year old’s bed inside, but behind her tanned, closed lids he rubs her back tenderly and brings her to his surfing competitions. She’s still stumbling over the old song lyrics and dancing with someone else’s child curled close, a sponge on her dream.

Her dresses graze the grass and she tosses the skirts around the way all her friends do. Hanging from her scalp are static yellow locks cropped to the ribs’ ends but yes, she has a degree from Washington College. Ask about the specimens. Request a map of the xylem routes in red pen on loose-leaf. I have a degree, you will learn. She: once waif-like, a waistless line. Weeks have passed since then, and her friends stay wasted into fall, eyes wide for the waves’ revival. She knows better. It is the eighties now, their time has passed. She has hips now, has felt the moon crack inside her, crack like the coconuts that Delaware doesn’t have. A fine world, this year is; a fine entrance point for what lay waiting. Her marble eyes keep rolling. All this summer fun.

Lapping Cobra

China blue cradles breast milk pool,
refill. Watch hound slinks off as I wake Wake.

Citrine reflections off morning prisms. Hour hands as stop-
light reminders as rifles as lozenges

and hopes fall far from tree to fingertip.

My first traces in ink incunabula in
a pigeon claws’ clutch.

Someday in this waking world watch
a crawl cross floorboards, fatten vases full with petunias.
French braid.

There must be a million others. I must be a million others.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Syeda Rumana Mehdi

The Unnamed

Walking,
Silently.
Footsteps?
None.
Voices?
Nope.
Just,
Loitering,
Disheveled,
Hair,
Black,
Pyjamas.
Strolling,
Outside,
My,
Room
With,
A
Knife,
In,
My,
Hand.
Possessed?
No,
Pacing,
Like,
A
Caged,
Tigress.
The
Reflection,
In,
The,
Mirror,
Isnt,
Me.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Rory Cullen

Marked

I am an action star
on my first rescue mission.
I jump from a plane & die
a total of three times
before the film falls.
I come back
to an interstellar
playground teeming with lovers.
They swarm the jungle
gym lit by the expanse
of stars. Celestial
bodies; never closer.
Venus looked more like Mars
than ever before.
You are there.
You are writing your memoir.
I offer you
a cigarette. You say
No, thank you.
Your eyes opaque.
Mine drip.
I dip my hand,
& touch the marks
on your wrist.
They leap from you.
You mutter something.
I reply, I know.
You walk away to the one
you should have loved.
I hug myself
as moonlight crawls
& falls on the floor,
& solidifies into silver island-nations.

The Shore

There is no end in sight. The waves like hot
hands pawing. The lip of the horizon brushes
your waist. You seem so small. The pale moon
invades you. Your knees shake at the beating
wind which wraps around you like a tongue.
Your clothes whip at you. It is not too
quiet when we go. Some call these noises
bliss, but you are awash in something dangerous,
Toward the ocean's maw you walk. What can hurt you
does. Your feet raise because they must. Your hair
is always falling. The strands look like static
in the sand. Your body: lithe, erratic,
an internal dial turned too low, too long
stuck on mute. How it happens then.
We dance on the shore. You step in glass
without my ever noticing.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Rachael Meyers

Black Poem

I walk to the Black poet. I stand before the Black poet. I say, Black Poet, I heard what you said, I hear you. Black Poet shakes my outstretched hand. I grip the hand as if its grip will squeeze all the caught blood out of my face and into the handshake. Black Poet says, Thank you for coming. Black Poet glances at my bushy hair and my flat nose, and then to my pale yellow face. Black Poet does not linger on my grey-blue eyes. For a moment, I expect recognition. Black Poet glances to the heads in line behind me. Goodbye Black poet, I say. Hello, Black Poet says to the heads behind me. I take one hundred and fifty large steps. I let each year pass. I am Black, I say to the miles between the Black Poet and me. Alright, Black Poet says to the space.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Phoebe Jordan-Reilly

Sap People

There’s a file on me made of bark,
oozing amber, full.
I get comfort from those who are still
in the woods
from the way they bite the hot bent

thighs of the birch, how they swell
and march for the pods in the brush.

Today I outlaw the pin.
I’ve seen ruptures
and sewers of gum.
If I don’t keep my legs crossed like this
blue locusts come spurting out.

The keys drop onto the table
while you burn my fur coat.
The white paste of my mouth
sticks onto yours, touching
the fur at your cuffs, ripping
the smut from your hairy throat.

Earlier I saw the paws bat the berries
bloated in your skin; I caught seed.
Believe me, I am waiting for the fluff,
the mess. I am never softer

than when
I’m seeping.

Fashion Batteries

I hang around on spinning wheels
in a warehouse with a lake in it.
By the inflatable trees that pass
over the cold snaps of the people
in the security monitor.

Here, I lean into the willow; here
the witch walks out of the water and tells me
if the hard ropes I’m heaving are too much
I should swing out a sacrifice to her
to feel my hair wet against my back.

I’ve met human teeth; do you not know I wish
I could forget what I’ve been patrolling?
For once I’d like to pass the chain link and fail
to see more than some paint
glistening in the gravel.

I want your armies to put the spikes down.
If we could just for a moment change our trades
you can be the one to hold the barbs to their skin
and I will put in new fashion batteries
for one night where I do not clatter,
but stretch.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Parke Haskell

Fixed

Something is wrong with me. I know it.
Last week, I nearly threw myself down the mouth
of the kitchen sink. Then, I slipped away,
only to be found, shaken, at the bottom
of the sheets. I can still remember when I was
perfect. How I curled around you like a pet
that rolls over just to feel itself submit.

Now I don't fit. You bring me to a man
who says he can change me. He says words
like tarnished and minimum. He takes your hand
and already I am gone from you. Next, he holds me
to the light, searching for flaws. Something
in his eyes looks very sure. But I will not
budge. I am too committed to be fixed.

We move into the back room. He examines
my circumference. Everywhere, the wink
of metal instruments. His hands are rough
from burns. He gives me water. I am set upon
a throne of stone. He says value is a pressure
that gives way. Then, heat, a biting serpent.

Call me your little lady, your sterling
darling. Don't be afraid. I, too, am
manmade. I was born heated and beaten
into what they call loveliness. With all
the deftness that allows you to forget
the size and weight of every promise,
I acquiesce.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Kameryn Carter

Untitled

There is darkness, I know it.
Locked inside a body brimming,
oilslick oil threatens to black miles of sea.
I could black anything.

In therapy the doctor says You are so black
as if she is knowing for the first time,
her soil-eyes narrow and I say: Yes
meaning: the darkness is absolute.

I’m sorry in advance.
I unlatch my mouth
to speak and the world
upends.

God’s hot breath is gold.
I cannot hear what he’s saying.
Let me lift my head and listen.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Ryan Baltor

 

O Baby

Spring turns and pushes
me into a new bed,
room with a view
O baby we’re not there

anymore and I can feel
my heart knock on a new
store-bought pillowcase.

This place floats
which is neither good
nor bad tho always difficult -

and if you would just listen
you’d see how we’d sync
up like two hands on a wrist.

Watch me float away,
drag you right
along with me.​

 

May 2015 - Comments Off

Georgieanna Richer

to Christian Skin

I want to hold you in my hands like soft mint lips
made for smashing on stone, with a glass kiss
from memory that bleeds green tears

I see through brown love cracks for eyes
that should be peeled out of their soft baby shells
and laid at the foot of your mountains as gifts
to be hung with the stars
and slide down your Christian skin sides.

More than broken violet petals or frozen pearls in blue suns twilight
I want to see a thin night sky that would hit the metal teeth of mountains
as it longed to touch their love cracked tops tops

and when the sky screamed out in shattered dust
stars would slip down the rocks to join their lovers again
for fear of ever being the crying pink bundles of sparked and fried veins

the stars would live in pools at the foot of the mounds
they are floating with their lovers there
all safe in haunted dirt lakes
lucky pink drip drop stars
always safe in reflection stature.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Jessica Lucia Pacitto

Bacchus as Kid, Venus as Fish

I built a city inside the belly of my mother.
When they gutted her like a fatted calf,
I crawled inside and made my home,
opened small coffee shops for artists

When they gutted her like a fatted calf
I drew bridges along her ribcage,
opened small coffee shops for artists.
I learned lessons in living smaller.

I drew bridges along her ribcage,
to reach the places I did not know.
I learned lessons in living smaller
in the flimsy world of flesh.

To reach the places I did not know
I built churches on the avenues of her bones.
In the flimsy world of flesh
I installed street lamps on her sidewalks.

I built churches on the avenues of her bones
filled with half spent candles and aging idols
I installed street lamps on her sidewalks.
She lit up like a jar of fireflies.

Filled with half-spent candles and aging idols:
I burnt an entire city down inside her.
She lit up like a jar of fireflies.
Her belly grew heavy with smoke.

I burnt an entire city down inside my mother.
I built a city inside the belly of my mother.
I crawled inside. Made my home.
Her belly grew heavy with smoke.

My Dear Boy, the War is Over…

At the gates of Horn & Ivory I am sick
with power. Sink my teeth in the muddied
fur of beast. Growl at its feet. This is not
the hour for honest doorways. I exit hell
by the way of false dreams. In morning,
the spoons all bend to the mysterious
shape of crude letters. The teacup shivers
in my hands. The entire world is an inch
off balance, while I am filling jars
with night at your discretion: cupping
the murky sky into my palm
like a firefly between flickers. I grasp
at everything. Palm and finger
trinkets from shelves and corners. It all resists
for a moment then gives gently
with the promise of a golden bough.
The shadows that move and do not speak
frighten me. They keep me from the noble
ivory castle that I build around my heart.

Cataloguing Currents

In May I am gentle
with the time marking
the waxing and waning
of tongues, where I come
timid like a fawn
to my lover. Cocooned
in the interiority of the doorway
in my museumed room
in my domestic still
life, I shuck away
my grievances like gray
shored East River bones.
Endlessly quiet about
the way I’m drowning
in a sea of green apples,
the way my legs have moved me
into abstraction. I feel more and more
like a pronoun, a euphemism
like I’m not wholly I.
In June the sun is only
sufferable –
dazzling the dust
of things.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Isabelle Parker

Winter Sun

If the end of the world came,
I would want it to be on a day like this.

Imagine watching everyone glow in the thin setting sun,
turning them sacred. The yellow light, cast over everything,

would feel like the last of something, like leaving,
would leave everyone feeling happy

without knowing why. Then it would sap itself out of our walls,
would remove its halos from our heads,

and the moon would step up to the sky.
The cold on our cheeks would start to burn.

First, the Christmas lights would blink off,
then the streetlights and buildings, then the heat.

Engines would clamp shut from the cold.
None of this would make a sound.

You see, if the end of the world came,
I would want it to be on a day like this:

the golden sun, the empty square.
It already looks like heaven here.

A Study of Urban Botany

In England, you see a lot of flowers that bloom in the rain:
pointed petals arch downward, bouncing above the two-legged stems
that glide beneath them.

Their roots are restless and tread earth quickly,
sending neural signals to shrink the petals
back into the bud from where they began.

I've seen one of these buds dangle from a girl’s wrist,
it was pink and delicate, hanging upside down.

In full bloom the flowers tower over us, their webbed metal fingers
outstretched like the bones of a bat,
keeping us between the water that nourishes them
and the sidewalk they float above.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Isabella Casey

Breakfast Potatoes

I know what breakfast potatoes are!
I love breakfast potatoes.
Breakfast potatoes are my lifeblood.
I will hire two assistants: breakfast & potato.
And everyone will love them!

Especially me!
And I will marry a breakfast potato.
Inside of a breakfast potato!
My priest will be
Padre Pio! And I will call him Papas.
Papas are potatoes
In Spanish! And there will be
Stigmata! All over the potatoes!
And he will despise

Breakfast Potatoes.
Nobody is jealous of the bride!
I like them big.
Burnt!
Thick!
I, too, am big, burnt, & thick.
I taste like heaven!

I am a majestic breakfast potato.
Bake me in an oven!
Like Hansel & Gretel!
Eat me for lunch, dinner, dessert.
Breakfast!
Makes me cry.
So does Padre Pio.
Like a baby!
I will give birth to a breakfast potato.
I will fry up latkes in my womb.
I will eat my young.
It will take courage.
It will take courage.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Colin Powers

Courage

Can I wash your feet
and meanwhile
whisper to them
I shouldn't have said that to your head
and meanwhile
hope your knees don't get offended
and meanwhile
send life off for long bouts of needless worry?
My,
this is a poor resumé
for a foot washer.
I’ll get going.

 

Jordan Wall

I have heard of a school in West Germany that holds an annual race between three students, chosen because they are in love or at least because they proclaim to be so (it is never quite clear how the faculty is privy to this information). Each student must strap a potted fern to his/her head and run sideways without spilling any soil from the pot, which is completely full. Whomever manages to tickle The Everlasting God, whose fat is peaking out of the ceiling panels, first, wins. Though it is never stated what exactly will happen when the God is tickled, the winner usually finds some great success in life, although whether or not it is related to the race is also unstated by the faculty of the school, for how could they know? It is about sacrifice. But there is another factor of the game I have not told you yet, and it is an important one: each participant is photographed in the process of running his or her plant sideways in an attempt to tickle The Everlasting God, and these photos are then shown to each of the participants’ lovers while they masturbate. The question here is about love and confusion. If you were masturbating and were suddenly shown a photo of your lover in a serious bout of concentration, trying ever so hard to appease The Everlasting God and its tender stomach by balancing a fern on his or her head and willing a half-pound of soil to remain still, could you continue? Would you want to? Or would you wonder about your lover and the situation they find themselves in, or about how this academic has found his or her way into your private masturbatorium, assuming you have one? You do, right? But I am simply expressing my opinion for a solution. I am tired of this place too.

The Falls

We all go down to the falls, the family.
Of course there is rumination

for what else does a waterfall bring?
the weight of it a great quilt

by which breath can pass through.
I with my vacations always foggy

walk off higher
into the ruins

to trespass
in the brush and rust. I am brought down

later by a girl in purple rain boots
with a dog under her smile

and I imagine she got them
in the same week. Shameless,

she throws rocks out and into the
bubbles of the peaceful torrent

the new dog can't find. A few
men in shorts lie on their

elbows tanning luminous thighs
in the sunlight halfway watching,

they eat
sausages.

Again, no shame.
The girl's dog

slaps at the water and circles particular
spots, ears up,

creek bottom bustling
two-for-one deal: fish & stringy shit.

I go to find the family
without saying thank you.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Tommy Melvin

The Telephone Pole

Am I reaching.
Is this call connecting.
Are you free right now.
Am I reaching out.
Would you like to go sometime out.
Do you like poles for telephones.
Am I reaching sometime out.
Would you like for me to wear a red dress.
Would you like to play a game of battleship.
Sometime would you like to get Italian.
Is your battleship located at coordinate A-28.
Are your wires long.
At what time will I receive your battleship.
Are your wires long and hard.
Do also you like often to touch a tree.
And do also you watch at night.
Do also you watch the corn and the wind.
Do your wires trail off into the corn.
Into the night do they trail off.
Are you there.
Are you there into the night trailing off.
Do you also feel then that something real is this.
Have never you loved anyone like me.
Did I hit your battleship.
Do you dream like I dream.
Are your wires long and hard.
Did I hit your battleship.
And do you know the way to home.
Could I ever sing one song
that doesn’t sound like sinking.

6am on the hill

God at the top of His
blessed new day hops
up on His dawn
mower and prunes
the clouds to make
way for sun My god
I say, marveling He
chuckles obligingly She
passes me the lighter It
gets hot as the rain
begins to fall like a grass
wind or an itchy salt
bath of follicles I don’t know
the right way to praise
this world High on the hill
I shout Sorry
God I knew a
hallelujah
once

May 2015 - Comments Off

Sylvia Madaras

Observations on Emily Dickinson

1. Emily Dickinson was obsessed with the brain. In her work it represents the curious intersection of body and the ethereal Self. The brain is both organ and the synthesizer of identity. Dickinson creates and explores entire worlds within the scope of this organ – for example, in #280 she describes a funeral in her brain, and the bustle of mourning rituals. Entire processions take place; there are crowds and even the unfolding of plots. The paradox of the brain is its dual nature as both physical (the organ) and intangible (the faculty of thought).  This paradox becomes something discomforting due to Dickinson’s reductionism: a person is boiled down to the various parts of Heart, Body, Brain. This discomfort stems not so much from the grisly anatomical connotations, but for its insinuation that the vehicles of our humanity are finite. The Heart will stop, the Mind will deteriorate, and the Body rot – and our personhood, so couched in these specific organs, follows suit. Even our individuality will decompose, and this is a kind of death more complete than we are comfortable imagining. The death of the body is the death of the self.

2. “I mostly write about disgusting, violent things. I’m really liking it.”
“Are you in that class on Emily Dickinson?”
“Yes.”
“Oh, good.”

3. Dickinson’s use of the dash is a precursor to modern free verse. It carries the movement on even after the verse has finished, a travelling or unraveling of thoughts that acts as a natural, stream-of-consciousness bridge from one isolated line to the next. Nothing is ever finished with a dash. It is dissipated or transformed. The dash allows a thought to exist beyond the words written on the paper as an indication of the magnitude of thought that exists behind the poem. It is the vector for a thought to return to the psychological landscape from which it first emerged.

4. It amazes me she even allowed visitors near her… ecstasy is such a precious thing to inhabit in the presence of the distractions that live downstairs. I would not want to have known her, only sat on her porch and known that genius was having its way upstairs, and I could drink my tea, alone, down here, and never see her face, but know her by the sound of creaking floorboards, a rustle of quiet cotton, maybe by watching the birds on the lawn. And my unstable and lonely, all that could live up in the attic with her, too. Great writers are like that – they carry the craft for the rest of us, the mediocre, who are happy just to sit downstairs on the porch

 

May 2015 - Comments Off

Rory Cullen

Provincetown

I clutch my knees in crowded rooms.
I sleep through the days like they aren't there.

I can't dream of anything in the din, the crash of bodies
in this Cape Cod colonial. An early moon lies

on my neck like a wet compress. I lap up the pond
of porter on the counter-top. I spy droplets

on my lover's thighs. Outside, men fry. Their sockets
bulge. They stare into the sun. They breach my gaze.

I glaze over. A baritone slinks out of the wreck.
I bare it all to a man clutching a cold Black Shack

& I sink back into what is on draught. His shouts shrink
to whispers in the clatter of the room. What burnt man,

in denim, doesn't dream of the body of a boy
on the brink? His eyes sizzle on the shore. I see him

crush & curl on the cobbled streets of the only place
that will let him live. I see the men I've loved as years

that will never happen. I hold them up
like they will make the universe.

 

Agency versus Fidelity in the Act of Translation

I recall to my mind some words of John Felstiner from his essay "'Ziv, That Light:' Translation and Tradition in Paul Celan." In his essay, Felstiner expounds upon his experience of translating a poem of Celan's, "Nah, im Aortenbogen":

CLOSE, IN THE AORTIC ARCH,
in the bright blood:
the bright word.

Mother Rachel
weeps no more.
Carried across,
all that was wept.

Quiet, in the coronary arteries,
unconstricted:
Ziv, that light. (98)

Felstiner uses the word "quiet" in place of the word "still" in German. He discusses his process for choosing the word: "I need a word meaning motionless as well as soundless. 'Quiet'? yes, that would do. But the symmetry between Nah[1] and Still requires an adjective of one syllable. 'Calm'? 'Hushed'?" He then asks "why not 'still' itself? The adjective fits beautifully, and also we can hear the adverb 'still'... Keats's Grecian Urn, Eliot's music in Four Quartets offer rich precedents for a grammatical ambiguity I think Celan's poem also presents us with. Yet still in German has no sense of something prolonged, enduring..." and then Felstiner asks something which, when I came across it, resonated within me: "ought I to add that idea?" (107)  How much agency does the translator possess in their act of translation? How much are they permitted to presume for themselves? How much of my own voice can I explore while still achieving fidelity?

In Why Translation Matters, Edith Grossman quotes Octavio Paz: "When we learn to speak, we are learning to translate." (75) If we are in accordance we must acknowledge that our every attempt to speak, to write, to learn is an attempt to construct the vocabularies for our inner-lives, to build identities and relate ourselves to the world in which we reside. So what happens when we try to translate the work of another? If one cannot be faithful in the act of translating their own inner life, how will another's language be treated faithfully? Will it not be an inevitable bastardization of the writer's original text? The act of preserving another's intention runs the risk of becoming too "seamless," (a harsh word for a translator according to Edith Grossman) of falling into the shadows and not allowing one's own voice to thrive in the work. On the other hand, a translator insisting upon his or her own voice may become overbearing and we suffer the loss of the original author in the piece. How does one walk that line?

These questions make me think of the first time I well and truly considered the power of translation, of the multifaceted complexity of carrying over the words of another. It came when I read East of Eden, in the form of the Hebrew word Timshel, originating from the story of Cain and Abel. The character Lee speaks of the word and its different translations. He explains that in the King James Bible the word Timshel is translated into "thou shalt rule over sin." In this version, the word is a promise from Jehovah to Cain, an advocacy for predestination. In the American Standard, the phrase becomes "do thou rule over it," and here it is a command from Jehovah to Cain to overcome his base temptation. Lee expresses confusion in the differences between these two translations and then speaks of his experience with studying Hebrew, in an attempt to better understand the original Hebrew text. His studies lead him to discover what he believes to be the closest interpretation of the word Timshel: thou mayest. Placed into context, the phrase would then become "thou mayest rule over sin." This becomes significant for Lee, as he surmises that it must inherently imply "thou mayest not." In his own words: "'Thou Mayest'! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice." (Steinbeck 301)

In the context of the novel, this dialogue is instrumental in assisting the character Adam Trask in finding a newfound purpose in his life, saving him from his own self-destruction. It assures him that no matter how deep the roots of his sin lie, there still remains the chance of redemption, and what's more to the choice to choose that path for himself, the path which has been obscured for so long.

I turned the word over, seeking to understand it not just for the meaning but for its structure. Timshel. There is force in that first syllable, Tim. The English translation captures that force as well as its antiquity, "thou," and with that antiquity comes authority. The auditory force in Tim is found in "thou" as well. It engages the lower register of the voice and insists that one take their time before allowing it to fully leave the mouth and enter into the world. The second part, shel, moves softly, and expands upon its utterance. It spreads into the air and fills the space, and also contains that feeling of necessary prolonging. To my ears it is appropriate that the word should translate to "mayest." "Mayest" holds breadth. "Thou shalt," and "do thou" are too linear, too directed. One phrase predicts the way which will be taken while the other commands the journey. "Mayest" allows for freedom. Together, "Thou mayest" is endowed with a mixture of authority and benevolence, appropriate for the gift that it offers: choice.

The choice is the greatest gift afforded to us: "Thou mayest," and "thou mayest not." It gives humanity an agency that surpasses all beings. Timshel gives us the option to accept what happens to us and let that become the central meaning of our existence. Yet we have the agency to refuse this and instead subscribe to one of our own making. In a sense, this is the supreme gift given to the translator as well. The translator is the humble passageway of thought through language. We strive to explain the internal life and in working to translate another's work we may dilute our own for the sake of achieving that lofty ambition of fidelity to the original author. Yet, to read, to comprehend, to translate is to build; the greatest gift given to the translator is the freedom to construct their truth by experiencing fully the truth of another. One has to adapt to the work, destroy it, love it for its strengths and weaknesses, and learn it as intimately as possible in order to give it its full due; it is the closest reading one can give. We are gifted a choice as to how to approach the work, with the most desirable result being a perfect melding of the language of the original writer along with the identity of the one translating. Of course, nothing is perfect, no matter how hard one tries. Yet, in that futile aspiration one will find beauty being created.

Edith Grossman cites a quote from Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gassett:  "Human tasks are unrealizable. The destiny of Man--his privilege and honor--is never to achieve what he proposes, and to remain merely an intention, a living utopia. He is always marching toward failure, and even before entering the fray he carries a wound in his temple." (67) That fidelity may be unreachable, but it is honest and true and demonstrative of the thorough effort of the translator. When I approach my own work, striving to achieve clarity, and to sift through the pieces of my inner world, I hope to find what may well be my own truth. It could possibly never happen, but I will move closer each time I do so. When I approach my translations, I hope to come close to give that writer the fairest treatment I can. And if I am ever in doubt, I will remember what Adam Trask said to his son Caleb in the final passage of East of Eden. Caleb Trask kneels at his father's bedridden form and asks him for forgiveness. Adam places his hand upon Caleb's head and says but one thing: Timshel! (Steinbeck 601)

 [1] Nah is the first word of the poem, "Nah, im Aortenbogen." Felstiner switches it with "Close."

Bibliography:

Felstiner, John. Ziv, That Light: Translation and Tradition in Paul Celan. The Craft of Translation. Ed. by
John Biguenet and Rainer Schulte.  Chicago. University of Chicago Press, 1989.

Grossman, Edith. Why Translation Matters. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010.

Steinbeck, John. East of Eden. New York: Penguin Books, 2002.

 

 

 

 

May 2015 - Comments Off

Phoebe Jordan-Reilly

With Our Special Guest, Steve Buscemi

Steve Buscemi is in rare spirits today
Steve Buscemi is a Brooklyn boy
With taffy eyes and dumpling skin today
I am in an aromatherapy shop
With Steve Buscemi today
And we have been drifting and
We are so cultured
We are brown bag cartographers
Consumerist ethnographers today

Steve Buscemi, we are standing in the
Essential oil section, I say
And you are dripping eucalyptus into your
Worldly ears, you’re a prophet, Steve Buscemi
I have your face in a heart locket, Steve Buscemi
Please: can you tell me how to heal, I say
If I wrap myself under your collar
Can you remind me
How to resign myself to infinity, Steve Buscemi

Steve Buscemi is closing off
Steve Buscemi is inching away, he is in aromatic
Panic, he is glistening
With ochre glaze and closed-captioning
Phrase, and he feels betrayed,
He’ll buy me anything I want, he supplicates,
He found otter milk soap, it smells like snow
Please, he’ll fill my arms with things that smell like home
He’ll wreath my neck with rocks to keep me safe, says Steve Buscemi

But I want to know, Steve Buscemi
Do you know the scent of God, Steve Buscemi
Are you gripped with the absurd
Are you wrapped in vines, do you ache
With your duty to mankind, we
Are slipping, we are bruising something
Hidden, can you share your philosophy
Can you rip out my mentality
Please stop crying, please stop screaming, Steve Buscemi

Steve Buscemi is losing his shit in the incense
Section, his teeth are stripped and streaming
You’re crazy, he tells me, is this a fucking
Joke to you, you’ve felled me
His hands are jittering into time holes
Steve Buscemi has lost track of himself, Steve
Buscemi is knocking everything off the shelves
He’s started an electrical fire, he’s burning sage

Steve Buscemi and I are set ablaze
In the aromatherapy shop today
He’s completely snapped and it’s my fault, I’m afraid
And I hear him howling but I’m uplifted and I have
Shifted, my mouth is full of jasmine smoke
We will be relics of an open day
Steve Buscemi I know you’re hurting
I can hear your flesh crackling but Steve Buscemi
Our ash smells so good.

Rooms

Rooms from Katie Foster on Vimeo.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Parke Haskell

Something That Makes Me Different Is That I Love Being Miserable

Fun Fact: You tried to get me wet for thirty
months – i was too busy
not eating to notice.  Did you know –
this page was once a humming tree?

A scraggy tree is full of bugs.
It fills up with flames and begins to buzz.
Did you know the buzzing is the sound of the juicy wet
bugs dying?  Fun fact: they die easy, but there are always

more. O sweet something sing. Something that makes me
different is that I have never been full.
You tell your friends after that my clit is like a cracked
seed in some Sahara.

They laugh and I agree this is amusing because a fun fact
about me is that I only drink water.  I get so thirsty
that eventually, I have to go to the hospital, where they wrap me up
in paper and tell me my electrolytes are off.  We are pressed

between the sheets. My electrolytes are off, I whisper.
I’m hard, you say – your finger flicks inside me
like a moth smacking itself to death
against a sconce. Fun fact:

first, a flower is invisible.
Then, it turns pink and begins to buzz.
Once I pressed a leaf between the pages
of my Norton Anthology – it turned thin

and veiny like a cock or anorexic.
Around the leaf, a puddle spreads out,
blurring the words of the dead
white men I love.

I love you skinny leaf I killed to keep
from humming – O sweet something sing – you can't see
a bug's mouth unless you look – and why would you?
Did you know that I am inside the swarm?

Fun Fact: A bunch of bugs land on a flower.
They eat and eat and it makes them super horny.
They cum like sixty billion more bugs and die.
Your hands are the hands of a delinquent boy scout –

They strike at the flint -- strike, sweet
misery – strike at the center of me – fill up
the empty.  I know you want to hear the music.
I know you want to see a cracked seed burn.

Pink

 

The first time I had a panic attack I was four.
I had the perfect day then I realized I was dying.
My mother found me crumpled like a big pink tissue
sobbing I have a body, I have a body.
 
Every day I wake up and say “I wish I was skinny” –
but what I really mean is “I wish I was a poem.”
Then I hang out with my friends Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath
They get all their wishes because they are dead forever.

The only thing better than an armadillo is a pink armadillo.
The only thing better than a squash is a ripe pink squash.
The only thing better than a bottle is a poem in a bottle
A poem who is a genie who thinks only of you.

Why marry a woman who is not a pink woman?
Why read a word that is not pink?
In a poem there is no difference between being and becoming.
There is no reason not to want the prettiest thing.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Nikolina Lazetic

Sowing in the Motherland (Which I Have Abandoned)

Floods are so common there that I was born with an ocean tattooed on my feet:

Excuse my drowning, I am shallow.

		   

Scoured cicatrix of words
not of my mother tongue and unknown to my mother,
						who had no childbearing hips, slips
off my tongue-
              unbraiding
 pre-Raphaelite hair (a rip-off of sharp hay)
          honey-sealed (impassable for fingers),
adorned in olive oil, collapses
heavy on the lips – first ever lover's;

This inexorable Tongue, a terrible gallop
of echoes - a language
                      unzips your chest:

“Hey.”


Rest.
     Like a vulture
I seize the tongue wet with sighs in my mother tongue:
Mother – boy, nurture
              the azure
of my sangue.                                  

I hold it like I would hold a snake, 
                                    this mouth-blade
of bleached sighs and past goodbyes that moistened
my thighs:                  
I wrap it around my finger – your tongue,
                             my umbilical cord -
and I wed
the past again. I hold
the limb of you against my naval, then pull it by the head
up - unzipping to debride.


Inside: 
      I am pink and gold. 
                You fold
the tongue against my lung. Sighs unfurl 
into the Type O Strawberry Blonde. 
    
Stop. 
        You cannot breathe against my chest. Smoke
the sugar of it all - You have finally consumed your past. 

It will choke
you.                                                 

May 2015 - Comments Off

Molly Kirschner

I Forgot

about the moon, so she grew, she
blew up and lit up and fixed me
with a look.

So I came as close as I could.

I lay my back against the grass. Here I am.
The mouth of the earth waters and I thirst
for the stars of three summers ago.
For the stars that were shared.

A branch reaches down to pull me up.
We just shake hands.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Mica Evans

Offering

Head to head with him, Summer
to Fall, and we can’t hear each other.
I hurt. I call it off.
But walking through Vermont, I cannot
help but imagine our life
in a Colonial home, maybe off
of Route 7, yellow, with brick
accents and room for the kids. Oh,
and his thick
Israeli hands withdraw
after minutes of clasping my Black,
fat hips which he saw uncovered
at the lake and still held firmly.
I press
my face into his neck and inhale. I lie.
I hurt. He likes
my body so I write him
poems, delete them, have sex
with people that aren’t him, and his thick
Israeli beard still catches my eye
from up the hill. I swig. I yell.
I will not continue to sin against myself! Oh!
And I just don't want to be alone!
And I want to be able to say this!
I don’t want to be alone.
I want to be able to say this.

 

Scientific Awakenings in the Great North East

Standing in a drizzle, equidistance between each of their homes, the man and the woman speak, but struggle to find the right words. The man takes his cap on and off, almost touches the woman's shoulder, and says, “Seeing you now. Missing you here, before you leave.” She replies, “Yes, your voice. Right in front of me. And these feelings.” The woman fiddles in her pocket with the lipstick she had worn, in hopes that the man would notice, and recognize that he loves her and loves her, the way a folk singer might. The man says, ”Your hair, your lipstick. Wow, your voice.” He puts his hand on her shoulder. The woman looks down, fluttering, sees her reflection in a puddle, and notices the bags beneath her eyes. “Seeing you now, I know I’ll miss you, even before you leave.”

Thomas Circle 8:49AM

The women, in knee length skirts are under 5 foot 5, sighing
into their bluetooth defibrillators, do not move quickly enough for my taste,
cannot be brisk enough for risk of ripping skirt or being
afraid of all these people on the street, do not speak to me
on the bus or even at the coffee shop, I am not
their cup of tea.

The women have taken great care, in glossy bathrooms, tiles
still white and mirrors in 3 different locations, to
silkify their hair, their skin, their nails, ward
the pain of pale faces on display, and glow
beneath the awnings on 13th. I think they can’t see me;
when I ash on their boots, it’s not malicious ‘cause I have nothing to do.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Mary Alice Stewart

How Birds Are Born

And the hair appears
in the fist, even
though I never
will it. It is simple.
The twining brain tells
the hands, plainly, “The hair
is not useful there. The hair
would be of more use
as parts of a bird’s nest––
something important.
How silly the black
squiggles cowlick over
the skull–– this is not
important.” And like
clockwork, the hair
is in the fist again.
The hair is dead.
I am dead.
The hair a collection
of dead.
I, myself, a collection
of dead.
Somewhere, a bird spills into the sky––
legs branching toward
the distant ground.
What shall I name myself today?
I look again. Still cocooned in the fist
is a tomb of dry, black curls.
The twining brain tells
the hands, plainly, “Birds would be born
in a nest of us. Worms would be
fed of us–– this is important.”
The hands open.
Somewhere, a bird quilts a nest.

Decomposition

Once the ground. Once the ground, I opened. Sillies,
once the ground & it’s hurt of quick light. Once I was a rooted
thing of blood. Just another organ of ground––
	my belly
full of greens that never were quite mine. When green
broke open, half-digested, into blood, the pieces left of me
	berried
across black, pitch ground. I turned roadkill

once & there I stayed because the light of hurt never looks back.
	Roadkilling,
the equalizer, feeds a hungry, hungry beast–– a Sillies
beast that opens things to rot on hard, hard ground. Berried
blood evaporating in the beast’s own air. I exoskeleton wish often
	but my soft rooted
in animal body–– a body always searching for green
& green safety. I, an open belly,
am ghost of many (deer-chipmunk-bunny-frog-possum). I, an open belly

am full of blood & lives & once thought the ground held it all.
	A roadkill
dream: Once the ground. Once the green.
Once remembered. Once bodies unopened. Once simple decay
	in ground. A Sillies
dream. I am opened by the hurt of quick light again & again & again.
	My once rooted
pieces of whole turn half then half then half then half then half––
	littering a berried

ground of ghosts who selfishly wish for soft surfaces to sneak into.
	A surface berried
with rot like jewels. A cyclic blood. In every unopened belly
of living, there is a pit of death too. Rooted
in life is so much hurt–– a hurt to open. Perhaps, this is why asphalt
	is closed to roadkill.
Bellies lie fallow on asphalt ground like smalls of water on spider webs.
	Sillies,
our country of ground was always shrinking while beasts grew
	to disrupt green.

Sillies of now, sillies of ghosts, we blindly saw the sweet
	of green
& grew to need it like a god. Green is bleeding now & berried
in landscape is the nothing of the hungriest beasts. Who has been the Sillies,
	Sillies? 
Once the ground, I unopened. Once the ground, the infinite belly
of Earth. Once the ground, once I babies. Babies of mine––
	we all roadkill
ed. No mercy by the hurt of quick light. We once family, rooted

to ground–– green ground. There is too much that paws can not mend.
	Now, we silently rooted
to the dead, dead air. Oh, the vanishing green,
where are you hiding? Sillies, we must find it before
	we all roadkill.
So much of life is hurt when there is no under-
	ground, instead, berried
ground of miscellaneous tails & guts & furs & opened
	belly––
once, a body. A body that was never quite ours. Sillies,

perhaps it is Sillies to wallow in too much life. Perhaps there
	is supposed to be nothing, Sillies.
Here is my open belly. Here is my babies open belly. Here is decay––
	a warm, warm belly.
The hurt light comes again & again & again & we are smaller than
	before.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Lily Arnell

I Am The Piece of Elevated Sidewalk You Stumble Over

I will buy a sausage, egg, and cheese from McDonald's.
They will forget the egg and I will not tell them.
I will eat half in my car and think it's a good compromise.
About 3 minutes later, while driving, I will unwrap it and begin eating the remaining half of the sausage, egg, and cheese.
I will ask myself, "What am I doing?"
I will not know how to answer.
I will not stop.
I will taste onion and I won't feel good about it.
I will eat the rest of the sandwich and feel proud when i don't taste onion again.
I will try to imagine the contents of the meat I just ate.
I will convince myself that I have to vomit.
I will chant: Breathe in, I am here, breathe out, I am here.
I will feel distracted and a little more calm.
I will scratch my head and realize I haven't showered in 3 days.
I will listen to the radio and realize that I really, truly enjoy 80's punk music.
I will say "I want to die" when I pull into the driveway of the college i'm attending.
I will park my car and pull back my greasy hair into a ponytail.
I will re-do it several times and each time it will look no different than the first attempt.
I will be the first in the classroom.
I will be 30 minutes early.
I will sit in the back row all the way to the left and i'll like it.
I will not talk and i'll like it.
I will nod my head when my teacher says things like, "okay?" or "right?"
I will imagine a romantic relationship with my philosophy teacher.
I will tell myself that I have 'daddy-issues.'
I will not care.
I will smile at people who don't smile back.
I will commit to reading when around people.
I will feel alienated and I will know it's mostly my own fault.
I will not care.
I will look stupid all day.
I will want to bury myself under a picnic table.
On the way to my room, I will hope that my roommate is in class.
She will be knitting on her bed and listening to Serge Gainsbourg and I will think, "I want to die."
I will stand in the doorway and smile like an idiot.
I will not know how to behave.
I will say stupid things.
I will say I'm going to library.
I will get high in my car and feel paranoid.
I will think about good things to say to my roommate and other people.
I will fuck up every conversation I ever have with anyone.
I will announce that I'm autistic so people perceive my strangeness as out of my control.
I will get a tattoo as a form of passive self-mutilation.
I will cut off my hair to feel something like 'excited.'
I will look at my phone and see that it's only 2:00 PM.
I will sigh and think "I want to die" when I remember that there will always be tomorrow.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Joey Grantham

The Actress

He falls in love with the actress because she’s a different woman everyday. When she leaves the house in the morning she’s his wife. In the afternoon, she’s someone else. When she returns home at night she’s his wife again. One day she’ll be a brunette, the next a blonde. One day she’ll have a southern accent, the next a Cockney. She gives him time to think about worthless things. She makes money and sees results; a finished product. He’s stuck thinking about a novel he cannot possibly write because he wasn’t there at the right time or place and hasn’t seen enough interesting things in his life and doesn’t have the stamina to pretend each day that he has.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Isabella Casey

Wood

Hello,

I am one nasty carpenter with one nasty mouth. I am currently building a giant wooden udder the size of a giant loaf of bread. I have transcribed thirty-seven naughty phrases into different languages on each teat. I will place it inside of the elementary school (which I built) and force all of the children to look at it. I will convince them that if they do not appreciate my carpentry that they will die of the black plague.

If you are in need of romance or romance advice, I am unavailable. I cannot find you a hot date. I cannot teach you how to woo another. I cannot assist you with romance of any kind; I must focus on my woodwork.

My woodwork is very special. I make everything with my hands. I have made a gallery of noses and on each nose I carved the names of all of the trees that your grandfather has made out with/slept with/cuddled/ killed. I have multiple stacks of paper and on each of them is a sonnet about my love for wood.

If I could marry any kind of wood I would marry Knotty Pine because it is the naughtiest of woods. When we are together I feel extra popular! I like feeling popular! It means I am the man/woman of the trees. I can build whatever I want, like an airplane full of jokes or a termite full of pantyhose. I just really like stuffing things with pantyhose.

I am also a bachelor/spinster of some sorts. I have the contact information of every type of wood in my cell phone. Every day I call one up and plan a hike/date/boat ride or plan to slice him/her in half. If the woods are lucky I will wrap them up in pantyhose and call them beautiful lady.

This is just business, so I would like to keep things casual. I am looking for an assistant not a person to kiss on the mouth. I am looking for people to buy my woodwork and anyone who would like to discuss my woodwork with or without me. If you are interested write me a letter, since that is the most qualified form of communication these days.

Thanks,
the man/woman of the trees.

Ugly

ugly from Bathroom Poet on Vimeo.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Syeda Rumana Mehdi

How you left me

The cold wind blew the tiny frock,
My little feet throbbed with pain each time I stumbled over a jagged piece of rock,

The pale sun hung high in the sky,
Its barely warm streaks of light seemed like a promising lie,

My hazel eyes stared at the crimson drops of blood on the ground,
My heart beat accelerated each time I imagined the intensity of the wound,

It was eerily quiet,
Not another soul in sight,

Last night, this barren ground was a battlefield,
It was here that the future of the unfortunate was sealed,

They say my brother was among those who were killed,
That his blood was mercilessly spilled,

I moved on, walking past the dead,
Lost in the memory of my brother reading me stories in bed,

I had been dreaming happily when they dragged him out of the house,
My sweet dream became a living nightmare when they raped his spouse,

They say he is here somewhere,
Lying in this terrifying place that resembles Satan's lair,

I call out his name, waiting for him to respond,
My brother knows I need him, we had always shared a special bond,

I stumbled yet again but not over stone,
I looked down, fell on the ground and let out a soft moan,

I cradled his head in my frail arms, tears falling all over his mangled face,
His image swam before my eyes, my poor brother who had been the epitome of charm and grace,

The brother who would never hug me again,
The brother who had been brutally slain,
The sun hid behind dark clouds,
I could now hear screams and shouts.

I walked in the descending dark, clutching the head to my chest,
Determined to find a nice place for my brother to rest,

The silence was broken by a single gun shot,
I recited all the prayers I had been taught,

For the third time, I stumbled and fell,
This time, I would not rise again, I could tell,

My tiny fingers tightened around the head,
My hazy vision full of my brother reading stories in bed,

May 2015 - Comments Off

Hannah Lipper

In winter you are a lady in summer you are a lightening

Uncle you come to me dressed
in the fabric of seasons dressed
in cold light calling summer
calling. You slip through
the screens of my windows
beyond the meadow at night you
and me both know it’s been
a while send help. You
watch me wait in bed for E he
flashes on my screen, pixilated.
He is a complex man in summer sharp-
eyed in winter he is a lady in summer
he is a lightening.

Uncle you are a racist for years until you
pass in the winter we both know bugs
don’t have prejudice. You slip through
the screens of my windows we see
the heat dissipate until there is none
left. Uncle I watch you
wind into the web of a spider above the place
where I sleep (if this is not a fever dream send
help). I save you I saved
your carrion. In winter there is wisdom
atop the floorboards of my room when
at night the meadow is still the hay
is baled. E is different
during this time
period (he has yet to exist).
In winter he lies dormant in winter
he is a lady in summer he is a lightening.

 

 

Salty Dog

I am a widow living
with a widow. Together,
we are two girls living

it up in the city! I dispose
of the remains
of my husband

via compost. Look at how
he molds to the skin
of my clementine peels.

He dissipates into espresso
grinds; Oh, how lovely
he is and how he will soon be

shit. Look
at the mess
he has made

via carbon.
What a hot
head.

 

 

we die long

deaths so our families visit across
coasts & country lines to touch
our feet at last. we are 21

with wrinkled mouths. we marry hard
marriages & celebrate the soldering of our hearts
at last. we hang white streamers. we die
hard in october 4 days apart; visitors sit

on the edges of our beds biting
nails. we marry well in some
autumnal season with drunk

relatives. we die along because we are
human at last. lo, our children
write elegies but they resume

with their tiny lives. when we die, we have little
estate. we have porcelain & kitchen
tiles. we marry hard & have children.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Cody Crawford

The Fugly Duckling

The fugly duckling goes to class
It watches the other ducklings take notes
and does not take any itself

The fugly duckling goes to dinner
It watches the other ducklings eat food
and eats itself into a food coma

The fugly duckling cannot ride a bike
but instead watches the other ducklings
ride their bikes to class

The fugly duckling is fuck ugly
The fugly duckling likes to do drugs
The fugly duckling makes whale noises when speaking

The fugly duckling walks through the park
and tries to smoke a cigarette
but gets too many dirty looks and goes away

The fugly duckling writes an essay
but does not proofread or edit
and turns it in anyway hoping for the best

The fugly duckling brushes its teeth
every night before it goes to bed but still
wakes up with a bad taste in its mouth

The fugly duckling breaks the mirror
and changes its outfit before going out
but still ceases to impress

The fugly duckling takes a selfie
and takes a few more and deletes all but two
and thinks about posting one but does not

The fugly duckling listens to music
and hides away to relax after a long
day of being so fucking ugly

The fugly duckling did not do the reading
but follows along in the discussion
well enough to give the illusion that it read

The fugly duckling smokes weed
so it does not have to interact with others
and watches Beverly Hills, 90210 instead

The fugly duckling likes to sing
when it is alone in its room and
maybe when it is too drunk to care

The fugly duckling used to play guitar
but got too tired of practicing
and sold the guitar to its brother

The fugly duckling does not like its home
It wants to move away but
it does not know where to go

The fugly duckling wants a tattoo
to look a little less ugly but
it is too broke to get one

The fugly duckling wants to live
in a mansion and be rich and beautiful
and help others that feel as ugly as it does.

The fugly duckling is stalked by the Big Bad Wolf
and has night terrors for weeks
and cannot sleep in its own bed

The fugly duckling has a hard time concentrating
and thinks it should leave school
but does not want to go back home

The fugly duckling is broken and alone
and wishes to find more ugly ducklings
so it can start a support group

The fugly duckling still feels like a child
The fugly duckling wants to grind its teeth out of its head
The fugly duckling moves to Swan

The fugly duckling goes to the market
and says hello to its friends the Three Little Pigs
and doesn't feel so fucking ugly for a while.

May 2015 - Comments Off

Charlotte O’Dair

PARAMUS FURNITURE HOMESTORE EMPORIUM ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EVERYTHING-MUST-GO LIQUIDATION SALE

90% off on Sofas, Armchairs, Loveseats, Kitchenwares and more! We’ve got way more furniture than we can handle! This stuff’s exponentially accumulated at an alarming rate! Hurry over and take it away! We are practically trapped in the store! We are trapped in the store! Furniture- blocking all exits! Everything must go! Send Help! Please!

February 2014 - Comments Off

gorgeous

Kathryn Henderson '15

first, swallow your hand. your teeth will scrape
along the back of it as it explores
the petals within your throat.

the neck strains. your mouth
will not fit around. your hand
hurts more than your gut.
Read more

February 2014 - Comments Off

Tornado Watch

Molly Kirschner '16

Air hovers blank as page. Mirror glass shatters;
it rains. Sounds like cracking oysters. Looks like pearls
dropping off a necklace. Rolling.
Read more

February 2014 - Comments Off

little hands

Tayler Jones '16

we barefoot hop step
carefully choosing extrusions of moss
over the growl of gnarled street rock
to fig tree canopy.
press thumbnails into leaves, beads
of milk well up like crescent moons
make skin itch.
we speak to the ghost farm
that burned down on this soil,
little fingers fumble through earth
for rusty horse shoes.
Read more

January 2014 - Comments Off

Micro Tyrannus

Parke Haskell '15

Oedipus should have had a hobby.
It couldn’t have hurt. Seashell collections,
glow-in-the-dark lanyard-building, prophecy appreciation. Read more

January 2014 - Comments Off

Queasy

Isaac Dwyer '17

Stop making me dinner, I’m an ungrateful bastard.

You should know that I puked up your lentil
soup in the trash bin outside the dance studio.

It was mostly water and cracked peppercorn
anyways. My stomach’s weak, that’s why
Read more

January 2014 - Comments Off

Stephen As Sergeant

Parke Haskell '15

Of all their many sons, you were called
Sergeant.  You were the first of your brothers
to grow a full head of brains.  They taught you
numbers so that each morning you could count them,
write down their names -- it took hours -- every day Read more

January 2014 - Comments Off

Reconfiguration of A$AP Rocky’s Trilla

Hannah Lipper '15

He is draped out or
dripped up, or
cough syrup with twist cap or
down-low like bisexual or
rap video vixen. Or
maybe he is Cartier or
feels falsifiable or
waiting for moon to phase him like lean.

January 2014 - Comments Off

roadtrip

Katie Foster '15

our hands touch three times in omaha
540 miles of mid-west road
i drive the space between us

to meet again, to eat falafel
to navigate beyond the end of things
we touch three times in omaha
Read more

January 2014 - Comments Off

john henry

Kathryn Henderson '15

I gingham
skirt too light
for february
tights
torn I
cry under
Manhattan
above me rains Read more

January 2014 - Comments Off

Mighty Taco

Kathryn Henderson '15

Miserable summer, miserly fast food joint.
Slapping tortillas down for you, fingerlicking mass
of flesh and thirst, you, baseball boy, crass
crooked teeth leaking guacamole, point
at the menu: “I want that”. Kid pig, oink, Read more

January 2014 - Comments Off

Prelude: RhymeRhythm

Graham Pirtle '14

I.

Was I collected
Like the soft rhythms of your daily sweat.
In rhymes of work and rest, made constant.
Like the hymnal or forgiven.
Or did I emerge like darkness from the fire’s dying
Born like lines bare intersects
Without intention Read more

January 2014 - Comments Off

Dear Little Bat Bird

Anna Eckert-Kramer '15

Dear little bat bird,
head crushed in.

I'm sorry for my stiletto.

I would hate to hurt
a defenseless being.

You must have deserved it.
Read more

January 2014 - Comments Off

Fat Fuck

Graham Pirtle '14

Fat Fuck,

Why do you
Mythologize your friends?
Make adventures out of farting?

You swallow time like useless air,
Swell pipes to clogging wrecks
With your ejaculate.

No, no: it can’t be beautiful,
This wanting to make things so.

January 2014 - Comments Off

Elegy for This-Guy

Graham Pirtle '14

This Guy-
He wants to be uncontainable.
He doesn’t know the first thing
About being uncontainable.
This Guy.

January 2014 - Comments Off

A Reason For

Jeremy Geragotelis '16

Our Vanity (or Why I Can’t Stop Visiting Your Facebook Page)

Someday.
I will open up an exclusive
club
In NEW YORK CITY.
And you won’t be invited
- to its opening -
.
Read more

December 2013 - Comments Off

i’m looking at the drawings

Katie Foster '15

seeing you seeing me
i put your mouth where there’s no mouth
this is how i know you
with my hand

i put your mouth where there’s no mouth
because that’s where i’m feeling it
with my hand
i draw a picture of you

because that’s where i’m feeling it
feeling the edges of your face
i draw a picture of you

December 2013 - Comments Off

Keats Probably Masturbated, Too

Jeremy Geragotelis '16

You sing a-a-a-a
An
Ode on a Grecian Urn.
Placing music on the pages of my high school text book.  It sizzles.
\                                                                                                and you’re choking\
On that fat one you just swallowed.  Recluse.
What it means to be lonely.  What does it mean to be lonely?

It means that fat one you just swallowed whole comes only in the nightmares
That ooze from the plastered ceiling of your parent’s basement
(Where you .sleep.).
And you don’t know that when I drive home every Wednesday night with X, Y, and Z in the
backseat
That all I do is talk about my love for you
(Platonic but .Not At All.).
And I bet you’re starting to realize you aren’t choking on a dick but on your own SOCIAL
inadequacies and
That you stop talking because you gag every time you open your mouth.
(Learn to take a compliment .baby.).

You’re waking up to shut it down.
Forget you have no one to tell your nightmares to.
Fall back to sleep.
Unknowing that 99% of the world is dreaming of you.

December 2013 - Comments Off

dendrochronologist part II

Mary Alice Stewart '17

the pond the children played in was clean
before the children’s children had children.
it was beautiful,
they say.
the kids pulled pieces of smooth drift wood
from the water’s edge,
pretending they were dinosaur bones
and buried them in the mud. Read more

December 2013 - Comments Off

I Am From

Hannah Lipper '15

New Jersey;
Gold chippings on a mirror,
I search for you
in the Colombian part of town.
I sell you my empire for ashes
like Dip‘N DotsTM sells ice cream of the future and you cut me
a discount. I am one derived from my own fractured rib;
This is not a riddle. Read more

December 2013 - Comments Off

Another Prayer

Molly Kirschner '16

So tilt your head to the wind after the rapture
of rain. Sundry in the field.
Under a tree. In a blob of Rorschach shade.
Read more

December 2013 - Comments Off

Adultolescent

Sumedh Chatterjee '16

Being callous
Is not I
However hard I
Try

A rundown
Of the
Irrational
Frivolously
Controlling
My aural fixation
Read more

May 2013 - Comments Off

Family of Four

Esme Franklin '13

Auntie Zee
Robert the Haitian Voodoo Secretary
Bambola
Bad Baby

As a pill is pinched from its pocket
one or the other of them climbs into her
bag each morning, prepared

with adequate humor and crazy
to face the bureaucracy of poverty,
free clinics, and men who like that,

woman. I stop noticing the difference
between plastic and skin when I am young,
before baby can be parsed from mother or doll.

Crack Baby
Crack Baby’s Nurse
The Spy
Bad Little Myrtle

When a day is good I hear the clucking
of polyethylene bodies and cotton minds
come from within her cave down the hall.

On bad days they are quiet and she is loud.
On bad days we require many more purses,
satchels and miniature accoutrements of power

to leave the apartment; we travel
in swaths of meldola blue and cigarettes
scotch-taped to immutable, yellowing hands.

Toussaint
Batty
Bizzle
Vladimir Anasthasious Schwartz / Volo / Vo

In January Mo, Vo and I pass Willem Dafoe
on Canal Street. He looks from the nappy head
and placid smile of Mo’s purse to her face.

His wink, woman, is not-unpleasant dejà-vu.
I try to mimic him later on the L when Vo wants
to pose for a photo. If I can capture the genus of celebrity

will I belong in this family portrait? The plastic
of Mo’s skin when she sleeps sweats the American
Cheese of real doll. Steady us, long train.

Notes to “Family of Four”:

The Italian word for doll is bambola. Bambola was adopted from an outdoor market in Naples.
Bad Baby is approximately 3 inches in height. He wears a crown of golden laurel as a sign of his affinity with the authoritarian grandeur of the Roman Empire.
The inspiration for Crack Baby’s personality was taken, in part, from Diane Arbus’ “Child with Toy Hand Grenade in Central Park,” NYC 1962.
The Spy is a Barbie jointed at the knees and elbow, with a video camera installed in her forehead that projects footage out through her stomach.
For further information on Volo: https://www.facebook.com/volo.theking?ref=ts&fref=ts

May 2013 - Comments Off

Sisters

Laura Creste '13

At 10:30 my sister and I were pulled out of school.
My mother stopped at Shop Rite to get water, in case
of another attack. In the backseat, I hesitated to take
my book out of my backpack. I thought I should
be thinking about the people who were dead and dying
that very minute. I opened a biography of Eleanor Roosevelt anyway
and my sister said Laura you shouldn’t be reading right now.
I was already prepared to be ashamed. Years later
I recognize my chronically guilted boredom and Allegra was careful
about appearances, even then. There was no water left in Shop-Rite.
We didn’t leave the house for the rest of the bright blue day.
After midnight my father came home from lower Manhattan,
where he’d been reporting for Telemundo. On the back porch
he took off his clothes, caked in carcinogenic white ash.
The three of us were already in his bed, excluding him,
which was not unusual. We are inescapably ourselves.

May 2013 - Comments Off

Deadly Seven

Hannah Kucharzak '13

I throw electric lightning bolts. I yawn
my godly grievance with white-knuckled force.

I dig and scoop the mire. I pile it on
my body, stinking happy piggy corpse.

The mirror tells me buxom bitch. I lick
the glass. My tongue tastes just like diamond pearls.

My mattress holds me: fleshy, concrete brick.
The beast gets what she wants, she lies, she snarls.

My eye strips off the clothes of everyone.
I see your meaty sex. I’m plump with drool.

I slather lard and headcheese on a bun.
I leap, gut-first, into the vodka pool.

I watch you touch yourself. Can I be you
for once? To feel my love and touch you too?

May 2013 - Comments Off

Kepler Trail

Brittany Kleinscnitz '13

I.
I tried to keep hell
in a box outside of the body.

My footfalls on the mountain’s backbone
opened hell up again

in my thighs and the shallow of my lungs.
Heat whines down -

the sun beats the tops of my hands
till they swell purple.

The shoulder straps so tight
the blood stops moving. Does the white flower

that grows above the bushline
represent hope.

II.
I left my mother seven hours in,
on a raised wooden platform.

The god in my head says
Carry this boulder

until your toenails fall off
until your toenails grow back again.

A parrot lands on the rock face,
his green scales dirty and rustled.

He looks down at me, shrieks,
he tells me my mother is dying. He insists

on the last skins of my almonds,
or a toenail.

III.
I see my mother’s white body
where it staggers along the ridge.

With my two fingers
holding down the tongue, I whistle loudly

into the valley and hear the same whistle
back. I throw a rock into the valley and

the valley throws the same rock back.
My knees break. The flower is able

to find its breath
before the boulder rolls down.

May 2013 - Comments Off

Agritourism in Florence, Oregon

Esme Franklin '13

At two hundred feet down
the cliffside is still scrabbling
towards the highway’s edge
as though seasonally rediscovering
it was born a bastard.

Sea lions rest on battered rocks
at its base, screaming their ablutions
to the sea. Tourists descend
an industrial elevator to photograph
the beasts—to find their fat

pooling on one side of the body or the other.
Going down, I smell the sweat of children
who have never sweat before.
They do not believe monsters can be real.
Choosing an animal close to me

I imagine rubbing cooking oil
counter-clockwise onto its pelt,
feeling for the fetus of a form
that is neither fearful nor beautiful
but slow to discern the difference.

My sea lion heaves onto its back.
A sign tells me they have been here
much longer than we have. Corpulent
symmetry fills the cavern, glinting
from one figment of a god to another.

May 2013 - Comments Off

Indiscretion 14

Kimberly Kirchner '13

A hatchback in the parking lot at Joe’s—
I’ll never eat a hot dog there again
without a secret smirk at how you froze
when I demanded “Shut it, and get in”.

Today I found your sock beneath the seat,
took twisted pride in knowing it was there.
Remembered trading words for tangled feet,
driving home self-crowned with tangled hair.

I plucked you from a field of broken glass,
and asked you what you saw in neon signs.
Beneath their lights, the boy with so much class
discovered how to let himself recline.

I’d heard you didn’t have it in you, kid,
but the footprints on my windshield say you did.

May 2013 - Comments Off

Qui Que

Laura Creste '13

My father has flown back from the funeral in Spain because his brother has died in exile. There was a service in an old church in Valencia.

In an email my father said it looked like a church for rich people, and we were happy
with the line. A few days later he returns with the ashes of Enrique,
a plastic bag inside his leather carry-on. Some of the ashes were sunk
into the Mediterranean, some remained with the family in Spain.
He was lucky the last two years of his life were peaceful.

If you call him lucky, it isn’t meant to be ironic. You think of luck as reprieve from something imminent and worse. Luck is always edged on misfortune.

Lucky that the son he abandoned came to rescue him. Lucas is a very good person, my father and Marie de Enrique keep saying.
Enrique was killing himself in Argentina, drinking on top of his meds, and starting bar fights with the provocation You live in a third-world country; this is fucking Africa.

Lucas is a very good person. Enrique left him at two, came to America to stay forever, and did not call or write to him.
Lucas became a cop. He flew to Buenos Aires and rescued his father, so that he could die in a country he did not hate.
In Spain, Lucas’s mother, Maria Jose took him back after thirty years and was satisfied.

The only women they would love were named Marie.
When the abuelos were alive, Christmas presents were marked Marie de Enrique (my aunt) y Marie de Esteban (my mother).
For the memorial in New York we meet his wife in the West Village.

My father drives like an asshole through the Christmas week traffic.
It is my sister’s car and in the backseat, she clenches her palms against
the idea of a crash.
I tell him to slow down and my sister is angry. The decorations on lawns
are misplaced. I hate the warmth of a world not yet green.

We meet Marie de Enrique at Our Lady of Pompeii on Carmine Street, around the corner
from where she and Qui Que once lived.
The happiest years of his life were in that apartment, they say.
We are waiting on my other uncle; my father and Marie de Enrique smoke cigarettes.
My sister and I are full of sympathetic faces and deep pauses, because we
are impersonally sad. When Enrique was deported in 2002 we were twelve and nine.

Marie says she would tell him we don’t like this city, this country anymore. You aren’t missing anything, baby. New York isn’t the same.
But if New York isn’t the place, than the world isn’t. Not wanting to live
in New York sounds like not wanting to live.

This was Qui Que’s church, Marie says. Even after we broke up he liked to come here.
He wasn’t religious, my father qualifies, lest we think badly of him.
Oh he was open to everything, my mother says, he wanted all the help he could get.

His wife asks is he here? Do you have him? She sounds choked when my father pulls out the plastic bag.
She tells us that Jim Carroll’s funeral was in this church, and Patti Smith comes in to pray sometimes. Marie gives walking tours of the village.

I am shocked at the beauty of the church. $1 is the suggested donation for an electric candle. For a dollar my sister and I light fifteen.
It is gorgeous, the illusion of fire.
They sit down to pray, a rare event but sincere. I walk around the back, where little alcoves house the iconography.
I remember from long ago Mass the smell of incense or candles, the red-electric of it,
the Virgin-blue of it.
I hated church until I was allowed to quit, then when I was older I hated it more.

The stained glass windows are saturated in color, with round figures, cartoonish.
Beneath the altar there is a Jesus baby doll wearing a crown and lit by white lights strung along the bassinet.
His arms are supplicant, not a laid aside toy, but a set piece, a dollar store baby doll.
I dip my hand in the holy water then wipe it on my coat.

In a Tibetan shop across the street from the church Marie de Enrique wanted something pretty.
She buys a soft cloth blue box to keep Enrique on her shelf.
My sister and I buy mittens, to encourage the idea of winter.
A warm December is wrong, the breeze not insistent. Our coats were open
even at the mouth of the river, where we went to leave Enrique.

Qui Que was 51. Qui Que had a hard life. If it is his own fault for dying, it was never
on purpose.

After the coup d’etat, when Enrique was in the prison camp at 16, they sat him and another
Qui Que at a table.
A confusion of identity: the older Qui Que was shot in the head a foot away from him.
Lucky then, to be the wrong Qui Que.

On the night the military entered the apartment they were looking for Qui Que’s father, a leftist playwright, who had already fled to Spain.
The soldiers put a bag over Qui Que’s head, taking his children as game.

His sister was in the camp with him, but she was 20 and stronger. She grew beyond trauma. She lived in Argentina as an adult,
until she died of breast cancer in 2007. Alicia was the only sibling without
a drinking problem.
The mind and body can heal. She forgave Argentina, but blamed her father for putting her there.

The luckier Qui Que escaped death twice. Deported back to Argentina, he moved into the old apartment, with the stain on the wall from the firebomb.
He had not been back since the night they were kidnapped.
There was no record of him after the dirty war and when they erected a monument to the desaparecidos of the town, his full four names were on it.
He made phone calls but they never got around to effacing the name.

The second time was in America. In the early 90s he tested positive for HIV: a false positive, not uncommon in the cautious face of epidemic.
He resigned himself to fate, and drank heavily, stopped taking care of himself.
After years with no symptoms he realized he must not have it. Escaped death twice.
But the weight of that sentence, the positive – it might have all gone differently, we say now.

The monument was a gesture missing the mark. A living man’s name carved into the public gravestone.
It might remind him of his good luck, that he survived when 30,000 others did not. But he looked at the stone and thought of the inevitable.
He survived the episode but would not survive his life.

The body was burned and dissembled. There is no stone. A portion of Enrique
already spooned into the blue box, the rest pours into the Hudson.
In a rush it empties, coughing a pile of him onto the edge of the pier, behind the railing beyond our reach.

Marie de Enrique looks younger than the rest of them. She is happy and she believes in everything; God, spirits, palm-readers, reincarnation.
On the pier she touches the white pebbles of bone, and says urgently
“You’re back, you’re back, you came back” –
triumph of the material return to New York.

She had not touched him in eight years. Now he will sit on her bookshelf in a smooth Tibetan blue box.

My father got on a plane when Lucas called, said he was losing consciousness.
If Enrique would last one day more, he would see him alive.
From Mexico, he landed in Newark to make the next flight. A few hours to spare, he came home to wait.
I was making him a ham sandwich when he got the phone call.

Enrique loved to sing, and drink, and sometimes there were drugs.
If he was self-destructive it was only accidental.
He would croon to the cat, I’m sorry baby, your mother rejects you.
The cat’s mother was crazy and they took her babies away from her immediately. This cat, Oscar, was crazy too.

We drink Johnnie Walker and my father splashes a swallow into the Hudson.
She churns fully, darkly. There must be fish we can’t imagine it because of the proximity to the city. You stop thinking of pigeons as alive.
Enrique’s body will meet the fragments of things once-alive down there.
He will conglomerate to the sand or dirt bed.

If grass is the uncut hair of graves, then what of the ashes?
Why do some choose earth and others fire? Choosing melt the flesh, are you afraid of claustrophobia , being broken down by time?
In fire you are violated only once.

May 2013 - Comments Off

Wednesday Night at the Publick House

Laura Creste '13

On Wednesday, a fifty-year-old man drinking beer
in the Publick House says Take your glasses off.
I say No, with little affect.

C’mon take em off. Four times he says it
until I say I like my glasses. I didn’t mean
to offend you. I say nothing.

An Irishman asks me to buy him a drink,
with his own money, because it’s cheaper
for women on Wednesdays. I can’t think

of a good reason to say no, so he slurs into my ear
about James Joyce, getting spittle on my cheek
while we wait for the attention of the bartender.

I lean away from his side-armed embrace.
You’re a very tactile person, he says. I know
something about me is inhospitable.

At the table the same middle-aged man scolds us
for checking our cellphones – my friends laugh
in apology: it’s a generational thing. I feel nothing

like remorse but we must think our lives are long,
if this is how we spend them. Let me ask you something –
he says, Do you think you’ll find Mr. Right in a place like this?

But I never wanted righteousness, only a drink.
I am most myself when I am disagreeable,
without any expectation but a gin and tonic.

Someone says that the Hamptons are ugly,
the ocean repulses. But when is the earth’s violence
not beautiful? The Atlantic on the east end,

dark concentrate, breaks the back of the sand bar
as the wave gives birth to itself. Arriving out of nothing,
the ocean says something about obedience.

May 2013 - Comments Off

To Be a Wishbone is an Awful Fate

Hannah Kucharzak '13

I would not do this to myself. I cannot
split apart my body at the legs.

For the poem I am a granite slab. But
for the mountain I show off pretty.
For the man I look so snap-able.

After he toils over me I watch
the single curtain gently flap against the pane

while his sweat seeps into my pores.
I wonder if he got a wish out of me.

A single birthday candle. A dismembered
pink rabbit foot. Seven seven seven heaven.
The meal before walking to the electric chair.

May 2013 - Comments Off

At the Foot of the Bed

Esme Franklin '13

My mother who art in bed
lifts her goosey comforter:
an invitation.

Our father who art in Heaven
calls a woman to prayer

and so called,
she does not
Lead me from temptation

but fingers the edge
of mother’s down.

Father forgive
her eyes. They assume
deference to the floor.

Our mother who art
raises her gaze

to the woman in white,
Give us
our mother’s figure

impressed on goose down.
Hallowed be thy bed

May 2013 - Comments Off

Margaret in Mass

Katie Foster '15

Lace of veins beneath skin
discernable valleys and blue

soft palms
soft white palms

three rings, all gold
cupping Eucharist
sun through stained glass window on jewel on hand

May 2013 - Comments Off

Theory of Panacea

Sam Dolph '13

for B.

I feel like a whale, she told me,
referring to the tissues suspended from
her nostrils like fluffy tusks.

She meant a seal because only
narwhals have tusks: coiled cutlasses
of the brow used for who knows

what—to assert dominance or beauty,
(underwater peacocks circling their lovers
in songs of virility), to thrust them deeply below

the duvets of the sea, to stab predators in the gut,
to spearfish for dinner? To hang themselves
from the ocean floor in effortless headstands of

resignation? Doomed from the start: corpse-like
and colorless, just some ugly dolphins, there are no
unicorns of the sea here. The males have been seen with

their tusks crossed and rubbing one another, a dance for Poseidon
and Pelops before this kind of love was forbidden.
Her own tusks keep falling out as she reads in bed (female

narwhals have stunted tendrils too, backwards ponytails
of knots cocked to the clouds) face tilted downwards,
lips contracting and relaxing into one another as she soaks

up whatever she’s reading, simpering when she knows
I’m looking at her. I stick the tusks back into her
nostrils when she doesn’t and tell her the garlic

oil is good for her sinuses. Ptacek taught us
this trick a few months ago while telling us stories
about his road trip across the US: shortly after

the closeted and lonely old man, naked from the waist
down tried to seduce him with years of bad poetry,
someone told him to stick garlic up his nose when

he wouldn’t stop sneezing. Did you hear about the
woman who cured her cancer by eating ten cloves
a day? It works. No animal protein (not even

babička’s weekly duck), a shot of slivovice upon
waking, some holy basil in between meals, and sunlight.
I will cure her every ailment, I have every trick in the book,

classical music for the heartbeat will reverberate in and out
of her humid pores, her body my church without prayer.
I will lick every joint and pour vinegar through her veins,

plant citrus trees all over the room and make them grow
in winter. Years from now everyone will know
how I never let her die.

May 2013 - Comments Off

Dairylide

Brittany Kleinschnitz '13

A cow lies in a paddock,
a dead eucalyptus.
A cow lies in a paddock,
dead, beside the fence.
A sheep scratches its wooly side
on the fence, brown.
A cow and a horse share a paddock,
the paddock is not yet burning.

There I am on the cliffside
above the stone water,
above the dam on the cliff rock.
On the bus, questioning the authenticity
of this experience.
A girl has drowned in France
and at evening, the body on the bank
bloats white, the skin blues.
In the morning
a dog finds her but does not whimper.
In the afternoon
the same dog herds wooly sheep
through matchstick trees.
The eucalyptus peels her own skin off
in downward pinkish curls.

A farmer skins the dead cow by hand.
The meat is pinkish, soft and heavy,
much like the milk. Intestines
bloat white, blue-veined.
Atop the beehive boxes passers by
place towers of rock totems.
Or tie their boots by the laces
to barbed wire fences.

May 2013 - Comments Off

In Malibu

Julian Delacruz '14

In Malibu you left me waxing Sapphic on a cliff:
sandy dunes, rocks, sea moss,
vertigo of clouds, sun like faded china.

I always said I would die in California.
When I watched you impale another man’s mouth
I fell asleep behind your car.

I waited for the wheel to break me,
hibernating like a bear in despair
in the hollow cave of your driveway.

I used to think the Pacific was a beautiful steel sheet.
Now what lies between us is an inner malice of the sea.
The ants are eating me alive.

I’m not your Ariel. I’m not the bedpost you have sex on.
I’m a moth on a light fixture in a subway.

May 2013 - Comments Off

Summer Morning

Laura Creste '13

The sun exposes the shy anatomy of leaves.
Sheer greenness here where we aren’t speaking –
purposefully or for lack

of anything to say, I can’t remember.
I turn a page and find blue hydrangea
pressed in a book: the stem like a throat giving

way to mouth, the blue-veined crush
into the cream page: collapsed
impulse for delicacy. Soon we’ll get up.

Soon, I’ll find him a train schedule.
I hate sex in the morning –
Outside next to the loose maple leaves

are the stronger trees, leaves darker, glossy
and folded. Vines harass the bark
and the maple falls open like an offering.

I dislike animals and that is why
no one will ever trust me. We have come
together again to answer the question

would you rather suffer now or later?
The rain is coming; the heat breaks and does so violently.
By August Queen Anne’s lace is blanching dry.

The ocean on the east end has been calm
for two summers now. We have been deciding
about each other for five years. They are nothing

like the waves when I was child – when I stood at the shore
darting hesitantly close like something feral.
I don’t know why you need me; I know why I do:

I am an obsessive compulsive.
You’ll console yourself with a cat.
You had to love something, to be made weak.

May 2013 - Comments Off

Arcadian Beauty

Hannah Lipper '15

She is substance;
Arcadian beauty, or so she is told;

and under once cerulean,
now sometimes grey,
she lost two years of her life
in what her lovers may refer to as

a boating accident.

But she had never been on a boat where she didn’t deposit
her stomach into the sea and return ashore and she
had never spent a morning doing the same.

No, it had been
some ugly Greek God that had stolen
these years and I know she looks to replace them.

She says she wants to remember what films she loved
and what she built out of blocks with her hands;
Falling Water, perhaps;
or some

masterpiece unknown to the world because it had been
sold to pay for her health; organ market.

And suspicion never grew because of her ingenuity.

She has different voices for different days. She is
over-zealous, flat-chested, half minority.

May 2013 - Comments Off

Messages I Received

Julia Mounsey '13

Subject: blow his ego up suck it down again blow it up again

Body: blow his ego up (balloon)
suck it down again blow
it up again that is how

Subject: blow up the bank

Body: suck his dick and
blow up the bank
no one will know

Subject: do not fall asleep in the kitchen

Body: knives there

Subject: these are our lives and we slap them against each other like dead fish

Body: these are our lives and we
slap them against each other
like dead fish these are our lives

Subject: your boyfriend

Body: watch out
don’t try it

Subject: went to italy did not eat anything

Body: the italians hate me because I never eat
have you blown up the bank yet tell me

Subject: fell asleep at an outdoor cafe

Body: the italians hate me

Subject: things are getting fishy

Body: don’t stand by the window
I have settled comfortably
into myself, do the same

Subject: slept with an italian man his dick

Body: tasted much better I think it is
the diet here I still hate the food
did you blow up the bank tell me

Subject: no longer in italy

Body: prepare ( for arrival, etc )

Subject: airplane food

Body: fully comfortable now

Subject: terrified

Body: I ordered the fish

Subject: what did you decide about the dick and the bank

Body: what did you do about
the dick and the bank
what have you done

Subject: knife

Body: your boyfriend

Subject: that was just a suggestion

Body: that was just a suggestion did it put you off

Subject: bank

Body: what did you decide

Subject: these are our lives and we slap them against each other like dead fish

Body: looking forward to arrival

May 2013 - Comments Off

Portrait of Reality via TV

Catherine Pikula '13

We eat the same meals every week.
Red velvet cupcakes with a side of

ten minutes to go. We make it work or
swallow African cave spiders whole.

Our heads like TV screens flash images
out of context. The cats are tired.

We say I love you then kiss.
We say I don’t love you then kiss.

We buy pills from the men
in lab coats, we don’t feel

better. We watch ourselves
collapse in the shower.

We are not this bad. In bed
we dream of eating roses,

cut each other’s bodies open.
From blood spatter, we determine

the weather will be rain. For weeks
we float in the ocean gelatinous

as giant squid. On ice
we find capers and rapists.

Aliens, we prove exist.
Without hieroglyphs to hold,

we mistake hands for helicopters,
err submarines for birds.

May 2013 - Comments Off

Between Jobs

Kimberly Kirchner '13

What filters through
the overpass falls
in broken angles

over the bedspread
while you sip coffee
from a shot glass

and I count wrinkles
in your shirt. An
eighteen-wheeler

rips the sky and
buzzes through
my chest on the

way to Buffalo, and
I laugh. You look up
from last Sunday's

paper for the first
time since it left
the presses.

'You know, I think
I was always meant
to be a steering wheel',

I say, and mean it. But
this is not the answer
to forty-six across,

so you toss me half
a bagel and we
chew our thoughts
in silence.

May 2013 - Comments Off

What is the Story

Laura Creste '13

Transcend, says the box of tea,
a promise or imperative I resent.

I thought I lived in my mind because
the body can be forgotten until it is called
into use. I remember when I could drink
without the headache.

I think there once was buoyancy.
Imagine the brain. Imagine
writing a poem without being in it. I

pretend the pills are growing
my skin and I won’t be raw nerved.
Tell me about the usefulness of pain.
Tell me we’ll be better for it.

The therapist wants me to talk
about my father but I say
that’s not what the story is about.

May 2013 - Comments Off

Hickock

Esme Franklin '13

I neglected my business
and came to know helplessness.

Like that branch too high to cut,
beatpanting on the pane

of night’s inked bleat, I
felt myself adopt insistence.

And what stomach, lying with
sweated yearn, goes unchurned &

lets the man say to his woman
spent more money than I earned?

Wrote bad checks, wet pussy mine,
and in the end became a thief—

for this last I am a snake in the grass,
moaning at the girls’ bare ankles.

December 2012 - Comments Off

Explorations of Honesty / Investigation of Lies: Traveler’s Log

Lila Cutter '15

A Midwestern woman called
the “remote” a “switcher”. She left
the Midwest and called it
just the same.

Tuesday, September 28, 2007
a man flew to Australia.
In Australia, he arrived
Thursday, September 30, 2007.
The flight was 32 hours.

At fourteen I hitchhiked
through Quebec
with my brother. We were
picked up by a bus
for handicapped children. I miss
those roads.

When Spring packs it takes her
hours. When Spring unpacks
it doesn’t take her long at all.

My uncle is a monk
in the Himalayas.
He said he’d only come home
for a death.
(No one has died
yet).

December 2012 - Comments Off

Hicksville

Laura Creste '13

An hour west toward the beginning of Long Island, we drive
to a party in Hicksville. We pass streets of one-story houses.
Airplanes fly over more than birds.

The show in the backyard has a porch as a makeshift stage, blocked
by a blue hydrangea. The hosts are wide-eyed on coke and their mother
spoons baked beans and macaroni salad onto paper plates.

I am creeping out one of the boys with long hair who stares too long
when I speak. A. begins unpacking his keyboard case
and I sit on a lounge chair, buy a beer, and break mosquitos open

against my legs. I think I should stop eating sugar. I am tired
of the grotesque blood-suck-burst. My boyfriend does not attract
mosquitos, only women. He was born without wisdom teeth or myopia.

I feel primitive with childbearing hips, peasant hands.
Hours pass, as they should, on time. Inside I wait for the bathroom,
and watch a Proactiv infomercial in the dark living room that smells

of cigarettes and family dinners. In the bathroom, boys are busy dividing
$100 worth of cocaine. “What’s she doing in here?” the longhaired boy
whispers, pulling a bottle of absinthe from the freezer.

People drinking absinthe are boring in their need to be acknowledged.
He will talk about it for the rest of the night. “I’m waiting
for the bathroom.” “Oh, sorry.” He is startled that I heard him.

Still he takes me aside to tell me, sincerely, that my boyfriend
is so talented. “Hold on to him, he’ll be famous.” The glow
of the infomercial throws light across his face, the eyes exhaustingly alert.

His brother is purported to be a professional pick up artist.
He gave lessons in cunnilingus at Stony Brook.
“Like the school actually hired him?”

On the lawn I’m sitting next to the pick up artist
because he’s asked me if I like his band. I see my boyfriend
taking down a girl’s phone number. “I liked the Neil Young cover,” I say

because it’s half true. He’s speedy and feels like talking.
“Smell my hair. It’s women’s shampoo, you know why?
Because girls are territorial, and they’re more attracted

to a man if they smell a woman on him.” “That sounds like bullshit.”
“It’s true. You know what else?” - he is giving me his innocuous secrets
because I don’t matter to him. “Fear makes a girl more attracted

to the guy she’s with. So that’s why you should take a girl
to a scary movie, or on a rollercoaster.” “Alright, pheromones,”
I allow. “Yeah. I give lessons on this, you know.” A. returns

to tap me on the shoulder. By midnight we drive the rest of the band
to the LIRR station, to deliver them to the city. We head east on 27
until we stop at a diner when I am lightheaded in a way I can’t identify,

like an eyeglass prescription made a fraction too strong.
“I think there’s something wrong, but I might just be imagining it”
which is a problem for me always. The diner was voted best

on Long Island in 2004 and 2006. We order a Belgian waffle,
two eggs over easy, and fries. Abruptly he says “That girl wants
to go to my shows. She lives in Queens - She likes my brother, anyway.”

The neat yellow yolks sit like closed eyes.
“I wouldn’t flirt with a girl right in front of you.”
He asks me who I was talking to earlier and I say a very sober boy,

who asked pointedly what I do. I shrugged write, and he guessed poetry.
Emboldened by his rightness he ventured, I bet you have a special place
where you write in your house, like by a window overlooking a lake.

No, I said recoiling. A. tells me, “I can imagine you’re impossible to flirt with.”
“You think I’m not funny?” I hate the word flirt with its awkward phonetics,
the frivolous letter f, the harsh end of consonants. He cuts the waffle

with the edge of his fork. He is never worried someone could take me
from him. I realized I’m not stoned from the downwind of a blunt,
only sickened by my sister’s perfume on the cardigan pulled out of the hamper.

Victoria’s Secret is a poisonous vanilla. For fifty miles we pass
deer grazing on the Sunrise. I hate them for their stupidity.
They wait to be harmed like a lesson in repetition.

December 2012 - Comments Off

Nothing is Funny

Julia Mounsey '13

This is true: sometimes
I wake up spitting.

Not just drooling or
sputtering, but spitting,

like you’d spit into a sink.

There’s nothing funny about it. Sometimes
there’s quite a bit of kick behind it, and

a big glob flies out and
slaps against the wall

and it’s not the spitting that wakes me,
but the sound of it hitting the wall.

My whole life I’ve always fallen
asleep facing the wall, but

the whole spitting thing has
made me consider new options.

If I fall asleep facing the door, my spit
will fall over the edge of the bed.

It will fall onto the floor.

Then at least it won’t be
stuck there to the wall

staring at me all night.

December 2012 - Comments Off

The Bulb Isn’t Really Fire

Laura Creste '13

At night in the backyard
A. smokes a spliff, offers it
to me. I decline. The sick
tree cut down last week

leaves us exposed in the garden.
In the neighbors’ window now
the light is harsh yellow at dusk.
I stand on the lowest step

with A. on the ground at eye level,
and he can’t see the fireflies,
electric behind his head.
I used to think they turned

into fairies at night.
No you didn’t, he says.
Yes I really believed that.
I caught them, stored

in jars, the acrid insect
fear smelling on my palms.
My hands cup and it’s easy again –
their slow, drugged movement.

Preening in their own light
they beat still like a helicopter;
a hummingbird I’d have said
if I grew up in the country.

Catch and release three in a row.
A. waits; for now there is nowhere
else he would be.

They glow, radiantly pained.

December 2012 - Comments Off

Directive on the Mal Occhio

Esme Franklin '13

To keep the evil eye from entering the home
hang mirrors on the outside of doors.

Direct the hoary eye back on itself. Remain behind mirrors.
To prevent yourself from feeling envy for others

hang a talisman around the neck. Direct the gaze
from the body. Do not gaze at the body. The eye

is a light blue circle, a dark blue oval, a woman coveting
another woman’s baby, a woman coveting the body.

The eye is a woman, passed between women.
Do not look upon children for they are defenseless.

Do not envy the lithe girl—she is marked
by the women who have born her, who have thought

of white skin pulled taut over high cheek bones.
They cover her nakedness with white muslin,

hang a blue talisman around the neck. Where the women
see blue tarnish white she sees white beg blue—an eye

in the small mirrors hung throughout the house,
refracting color into the blind night.