All Posts in Poetry

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

November 2015 - Comments Off

Jeremy Geragotelis

Me: I am in this meeting house
And the weeds outside are painted acrylic,
Crisp and obtrusive. It hurts me sometimes
To look at the world when it is so lovely.
There is someone speaking here,
In this meeting house.
But it does not matter; I do not have to listen.
I can let my eyes drag me outside,
Past a window where everything becomes
Color and water-soluble.

You are supposed to be here
But you are not.
Where are you and are you covered in paint?

You: you paint sometimes
But not often enough to call yourself a painter.
So is your world as colorful as mine
And when you skin your knee do you bleed yellow?
When I look at the world when it is so lovely,
You do not see the same. There is no Big Dipper
There. There is no spot of white there on brown paper.
You drag your way through the landscape
Of your evenings: that is mountains that have no end
That you have painted pasty beige.

You are supposed to be
But you are not.
Where are you and are you covered?

Me: I am in this meeting house
And the weeds outside won’t stop growing.
I am tired and sometimes the smell of the
Painted ground makes my feet and face hot.
I am lucky and you are not.
I am blessed as I splatter prayers
On the wind just like Jackson Pollock.

November 2015 - Comments Off

Tommy Melvin

Cat-Catcher’s Handbook

By day the bark peeled off in long hot
strips. By night the cats’ tails disappeared again
into grass. The voices ran them down, calling
and recalling the glade. By day the heat
of stretched-out cat bellies and, by night, cigarettes.

All day it rained, but it was only at night that the rain came
awake on the asphalt, and I pushed my chin
to the windowsill to breathe it, and the old tree spoke
in its sleep. I suppose I couldn’t ask for anything more.
But there were cracks—

Through the stone where the grass grew out. Through the night
where a scream spilled out. Every day I woke up planning
to steal a final strip of bark from the tree,
but by night I was looking again
for the troublemaker in the garden
and finding her with a twisted leg.

In spring the tree was cut down and falling.
Cut in the middle and taught about light
past its bark and into its bite. Into the soft red
apple-meat of wood. In spring I came home
to find the fence new and white. And I guess I didn’t know
that things would keep happening like that.

By day the bark peeled off in long strips. And when
it finally came, the slender evening rolling itself through
the gravel, the cool dark climbing down from the branches,
the streetlights quietly selected the moment
to turn on, saying gently, This is night, this is.

They said, This, the time when you breathe.
They said, This, the cat in the grass. And now
that the tree hasn’t spoken in years, the streetlights grow louder.
They say, Here’s the only tip I have for a lost thing like you
still hunting that cat through the weeds and the mud:
If you hang onto anything, hang onto me.

November 2015 - Comments Off

Katie Hibner

Nicholas Cage

<br>

(Interview with The Guardian, 2013)

Oh my god.

I just can't keep up with the affection

loaded with irony.

 

I'm at this point where I don't want to act.

It's about trying to be a naked,

marvelous, magnificent classical composer.

Extremely modest.

 

I was this little projector—

play it in the house.

All watch and have nightmares.

Refuse to go on any kind of medication.

 

I was the lesser celebrity?

Well, celebrity is a creative expression.

I got caught up in that bubble that exploded.

I thought it was real. I believed in all that magic.

 

I was still trying to live in a big splash with Cher.

Some folks in the media think that we're not in on the joke.

I love it.

 

I’m a Doberman; let the dog work—

I can't get used up.

I am open to the world.

 

 

November 2015 - Comments Off

Julia Herrera

Dogbutt

Outside five kids are yelling about Pop Rocks
on Sunday Morning after eating candy corn
for the first time in years I kind of like the taste of chalk
I don't think I'll eat it again not even on Halloween
I want to be something fun like a mop or a dog
What's it like to never have to wipe your butt

None of my panties fit me right they always go up my butt
I haven't been small since I liked Pop Rocks
when I was five and pretended to ride my dog
like a horse and under the table I'd sneak him corn
dressed up like a murdered bride on Halloween
I hid him from the kids while eating candy chalk

but candy can't make sidewalk murals like my chalk
sitting alone with my dog while he tried to sniff my butt
When Mom came home we made popcorn and watched Halloweentown
Mom once told me a scary story about Pop Rocks
disguising drugs that's why you don't eat opened candy corn
that's why my only friend is my dog

I was eighteen when I wasn't there to bury my dog
I came home and made him a plaque written with chalk
I bet it tasted sad like candy corn
He'll never come back to sniff my butt
To keep the flies away we piled rocks
over his grave but it wasn't fun like Halloween

For three years in a row I was a witch for Halloween
This was until I was three I didn't have a dog
This was back when I hid Warheads and threw rocks
towards blank walls back when I loved chalk
drawing hearts and square bodies back when I had a small butt
when Mom wouldn't let me eat candy corn

I have no passion for candy corn
I always went for Twix on Halloween
I guess now I'd worry about it going to my butt
I guess now I really miss my dead dog
watching me draw pointy-headed people in chalk
I'm still afraid of Pop Rocks

I wish I was a happy corn-munching dog
fleeing Halloween and leaving tracks in chalk
biting the butts of men who sell Pop Rocks

November 2015 - Comments Off

Nathan Copperwheat

Christened

on the fly. His forehead
dripping the water of
one ruffled leaf dripping
the water of one rain-
heavy branch behind him

And Walking, and Walking

Kick the head off
a dandelion, think
about your pets.
Trail, trail. It gets so
hot so
fast. The triangle
of your head to my
head to the sun
can’t widen anymore, but I can
brace it with quiet,
with sleep.
What do you look like.

November 2015 - Comments Off

Molly Kirschner

Against Predestination

Lacunas in clouds where the city peeks through,
I’ve got a God’s-eye-view from this plane.
I’m an atheist because the beauty is better
when I think I’ve seen it by chance:

Spanish moss,
a man blowing his soul through his trombone,
Christmas Eve in New Orleans: fireworks and
bonfires on the levee: smoke and
sparks swimming out like minnows.
Marlboro packs burnt into black roses.

I’m an atheist because it’s funnier
when I think I shouldn’t laugh:
Jackson Square where people get palm readings under palm trees,
janitors find wads of cash on the street, wheel chairs are decked out like
Harleys, pigeons peck crumbs out of cracks in the ground,
and I hear ship horns, French horns and saxophones.

Somewhere I’m Dead Looking Down At My Still Alive Self

So you’ve got a stone in your soul?
Walk long enough, you’re bound to
get a pebble in your shoe.

Unforget
scent of pine, feel
of flattened pinecone,
how drizzle in the puddle makes it bubble.
Something’s brewing.

Icicles are jail bars. They melt off the walls.
Snow retreats from the field.
Some people

annoy you for no reason:
the man who clears his throat on the bus,
the girl who reminds you of Splenda
in tea you like black.
Pick a flower. Slip it under her door.
Trust me.

When the glade can’t take anymore
it makes a bouquet of itself.

November 2015 - Comments Off

Jorja Rose

The New Pangaea

What the end times brought forth was
a family reunion unprecedented, the buffet
fit for megafauna. The last time we managed
this was, God, years ago. In simpler times,
before the meteorite crashlanded.

I did not feel so divided from you then.
But alas, here we are! Once more.
It is so good to see you. It is so good to
see at all. The star-nosed mole cannot,
but he is still in underground attendance.

Uncle Frog -- now Aunt Amphibiana --
is gestating infants inside of her mouth.
Cousin trees go wild for musical chairs!
They are running quickly on root feet
but the weather, as always, is winning.

Delightful Domain! A throbbing barrage!
Camel and wombat pose for a photo.
The mosquitos are thrilled! There is
so much to eat here. The foliage dances.
Everyone is drunken and biosphering.

Who, you protest, will be guest of honor?
But you know it is little human you.
They lean over the stroller to coo and coo.
This avian avalanche, Insecta influx, it all
comes down to the Homo sapien hurrah.

We felines and we fungi have never
felt more alike, and of course, we are
all falling apart together. Mother is
close to brain dead, but by all means,
keep going. It is simply too spectacular.

We are boarding an ark now, grasping
hands and entering our last-ditch torpor.
I do not know if we will make it.

November 2015 - Comments Off

Matthew Tuckner

Rend

What else is the heir to breath?
Contained in wings that flip off night.
Light is light when there is absence of shades.
Shade is shade when light objects.
Fighting with fitted gloves on the floor,
you tempt me to drop your weight
Balanced on my shoulders. I can’t
talk, or hear, with one of your
many bastards banging on the,
basement door. I let in, what you
left out, I let in, what you let out,
I let in.

November 2015 - Comments Off

Joely Barber

June Sixteenth

I walked to the top of the mountain.
Bare feet on black pavement, pushing my bike
as the hill was too steep. Early summer.
Early evening. The sun had not set and my heart was still
racing, an unreasonable thing, but inevitable.
Sourceless momentum that carried me
past the parking lot and up the green path, past construction’s
orange signs, following it until there was nothing to follow.
I stood at the foot of the tall stone steps.
Carved out of time, some necessary blurring
of the true and the story of it. I carried my dead authors
in my hands, inhabited this landscape with their ghosts.

That day I’d cut my finger while slicing a bagel in two.
Plastic gloves, serrated knife, a customer whose face
I can’t remember—nor which came first: the intake of breath
or the blood—the way it turns red at the first touch of air.

On the steps I faced the lion—as if he, too, were my mirror.
It was by then nearly dark, the forest heavy green.
I told the mountain I’d come back.
I meant it. How easy it would be to find endearing
the things I used to want.
The standing in a field. The looking out.

November 2015 - Comments Off

Livia Calari

La Torretta

I
In the beginning, there is a stretch of black, punctuated by flashes of light. When the light leaves again, the color beneath my eyelids is blue and sharp. I reach out, feeling for chair legs, something to pull myself up. But the marble is cool and musty, so I give up and lie there, listening to the flip and brush of pages. Out of the darkness, arms grab and swing me up, my legs a ticking clock. His face shatters into wrinkles and smile, and rough hands push the hair away from my eyes.

II
In the afternoons, Nonno and I sit in the garden. We like to lean against the well, mossy with an iron tang. We watch the gardener cut the tallest grass with a scythe, and he reads to me about the second war of independence. When I get bored, I take the wooden lid off the well and peer inside. I can barely see to the bottom, where my face distorts and pulls, a mirror girl. Absentmindedly, he reaches up and tugs my ankle, pulling me back down.

“Piccola, not there. Tell me who Camillo Cavour was.”

“Why?”

“Because he’s historically significant in understanding Italian unification.”

“Why can’t I look into the well?”

“Oh. Because. Because a little girl, just like you, fell into the well and never came out. Just don’t lean so far in… Giuseppe Garibaldi?” He grabs my nose, laughs, and goes back to his book. The water is flat and black. I look for her, but all I see are flashes of me.

When I wake up, he’s gone. He comes home in the late afternoon, when my nonna is already twisting her fingers and worrying at her rings. He has a gift for me, hidden inside a massive cardboard box. We run away into the bamboo trees, and when he opens the lid, hundreds of snails spill out. I place them one by one on the stalks, and watch as they slip down, leaving behind slick trails.

III
The candies spill out, clicking over the counter. Each is marked with little black numbers, and I line them up into colors and categories, refracting into a mosaic. Nonno eats the blue ones at breakfast. Nonna Luci has to make him, forcing them through his pursed mouth.

“Why can’t I have one?” I ask. It seems unfair. He won’t eat them, and orange is my favorite. Nonna Luci inhales sharply. Nonno laughs, a laugh that cuts at her face, making it fall.

“These are just for your grandfather.”

“Why?”

“They’re special candies.”

“Why does he get special candies?”

“He needs them.” My nonna’s face is flushed and red, particularly around the eyes. I continue, even though I know they must be bad, that these candies don’t taste good.

“But…”

Mom clutches my hand and squeezes just tight enough that I stop.
The orange ones are for after lunch, and he eats three of them with a tall glass of water. My nonna stand behind him and tries to speak to me, but I can see her watching the path each candy makes from hand to mouth. Sometimes he hides them in his pockets, maybe for later. I don’t know when he eats the white ones. I’m not there.

IV
We go back to Bologna for the summer. In the taxi, Dad pushes his fingers, taut and white, over the leather seat. The gates open, and my nonna strains out the window like a demented Juliet, calling my name. The house is very cold. Nonno’s study is closed. Mom helps me unpack my new bag. It’s blue, and has bunny ears on top. I leave it in my room, because it’s new and I don’t want to make it sad yet. We drive out to a new house, where Nonno lives now. It’s in the country, and filled with other old people in wicker chairs lining the walls. When he sees me, he tries to get out of his wheelchair, and a nurse guides him back down. Dad takes the handles of the chair, and the three of us go for a walk.

“Do you like the new home?” Dad’s face has this new tint to it. It’s still ruddy, with the little lines intersecting, but all of a sudden there is a quivering, as though his face could slip, and beneath it would be something entirely new.

“It’s fine.”

“I like your new nurse. She seems…capable.”

“She’s alright.”

“Papa.” Daddy’s eyes, then his whole body, seem to collapse in.

“Go a little faster, will you?”

The road is sharp and winding, and Nonno shouts to go faster, faster. Dad starts to run, and I sprint, but the wind stings my eyes and I can’t keep up. He’s steering the wheelchair like a racecar, over gravel and twigs and roots. Nonno yells to Dad, tells him to let go, but he keeps a taut grip on the chair, and
together they fly past the trees, out of sight.

V
I go back to Italy to help get Nonna ready before she leaves the house. She’s moving to a smaller one, something more manageable than a crumbling façade and sprawling garden. I pack up the things I want before we shutter it, just some books and a Madonna from the kitchen. When she goes out to the store, I wait until I hear the crunch of gravel and the clang of the front gate, then try the knob to his study. The heavy doors stick, then suddenly split open. It is still dark and hazy, and particles of dust hang suspended in the crack of yellow light from the window. I open the glass a little more and lie down on the musty floor, listening for the sound of the wind, and the way it makes the pages flip.

For Carlo Scarpa

Carlo, how you played the card of
artifice. You knew only of the
ancient, the gold seam in the stone, the primordial
circle.

Expert stonemason, crafter of
tricks. You built
watery geometry, stairs under circle.
The seam of a square extends and
touches the wall.

You returned, not
under pork and cabbage, through wet
tomb, but down a flight of
stairs in

Sendai. You beat
time, the lean line of history.
You rest in a column in Brion, in
St. Mark’s. The concrete
cracks. A hand extends.

November 2015 - Comments Off

Isabelle Parker

The Hannaford’s Bench

It might tell you that these people could be in an ant farm,
if the ants were slower, and smoked,
and looked as if they forgot where they were going.

Carts rumble past, children scream.
Bodies carry produce back to the mountains,
the cars follow telephone poles like a river.

When there are no bodies to hold,
the bench imagines better colors for the stretched-out grey.
It knows what smoke coils through its slats.

Once, before it was touched, cut and bolted down,
before the warehouses, and the metal teeth before that,
and the forests before that,

it didn’t sit through highway whispers, pale skies.
It was a whole body, trunk and limb and leaf,
and still able to hear the birds.

November 2015 - Comments Off

Kevin Hughes

QUICKIE

He buries himself inside myself
the way we buried the lone patient—
a ward of the state—quick
with as few sentimental words as possible.

NOTHING INHUMAN IS ALIEN

Dear Patient—

The absence of red on your door—red for blood, for healthy organ, for Do Not Resuscitate—was the reason I crossed its threshold, to intubate your mechanical lungs. I opened the mouthpiece, removed the blue-plastic bronchi, & bagged the atmosphere into your trachea. You were flat-lined, as in dead opposite of labile, with the spittle of tongue lolling down your chin. I tinkered with the circuits of your respiratory system while a woman, who you once mistook for your domestic whore, cracked your ribs like branches & leaves rotted beneath her hands. The turbidity of your urine hissing from your sheets nearly caused our own asphyxiation—we found reprieve through your heartbeat—we grew tired of our labor. The Charge Nurse, Monarch of this realm, signed your departure & had you whisked alive beyond our walls in the haze of sirens & flashing lights.

No Longer Yours,
‘that Tinkerbell’

November 2015 - Comments Off

Franci Revel

Mother's grief measures

The width of two hands
Pressed into sunburnt concrete.

Were she to open
The ground with her hands,
See my pasts sleep

Beneath as infants.
The Minstrel, Thief,
Gypsy the Owner of

Many and Girls who keep
Secrets to be nurtured
In limbs of mandrakes.

Anemone blood on The rope of a stillborn:
Flaking rust on

A spigot. Pasts in code, so
missed and asleep but not dead, asleep but not dead.

November 2015 - Comments Off

Cole Hersey

 

Walking with You, Finding a Pair of Nikes

Looking down to my Nikes, Stefan Janoski’s, fresh
barely chewed by the days since they found me
at the corner of our high school with only one faint
fray in the leather. Fresh, a present from you.

Tonight, I sat in a dark auditorium, listening to echoes,
echoes of a man reading poems on paradise. I looked
down to feel what my auricles felt, touching, vibrating;
instead I saw my Nike’s. Black, a swoosh, meshing into
the light and shadows birthed in the stillness and quiet
of the open room.

We walked in rain, in December, in Marin through quiet
streets where we didn’t say much, smoking, coffee
and cigarettes held in our hands — our hands like vices.
Tall bay trees walked, stood and waved in rain and wind as
we peer to the creek — now river — twenty feet below
us, a muddy flow reminding us of growing up.

We look. Back in the auditorium, paradise is spoken for you.
The rain gets harder in Marin. And, standing like a sign or
foreshadowing, a pair of turquoise Janoskis, new,
seeped in the rain, heavy with silence. You take them
with you. The rains dry on the pavement and the Janoskis.
You wear them when you leave.

Back in the auditorium, the poet still speaks.
Still searches for the paradise, asking where it lingers
or not. Asks why. A good question.