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Ben Pease

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from KING OF THE FOREST

from City of Moths

 

My friend thinks that poetry has nothing to do with words. Poetry she says, is a mountain. An actual mountain. A thing that fools climb simply “because it’s there.” Poetry is there, but why do we constantly feel the need to prove it exists? To point to it? Like a mountain appearing in the distance. “Be an uncarved block of wood” is what the Sarah Lawrence kids, who hadn’t slept in 40-some hours, still high off ecstasy and acid, sitting Indian-style on the rock, otherwise-silent, would shout at me during tennis matches. They were right. What lies in the uncarved block of wood. Whorls and grains, stories and held smoke. Surrounded by. My block of wood, another person’s mountain. The sound of a finger pointing to some unseen thing. To be reckoned with, or perhaps, reckoned by. Something to draw a door in.

Poetry is exactly like sexual harassment. Don’t ask. Listening to James Brown I understood what you meant about poetry having nothing to do with words. Maybe my mountain is a woman…lying…down. Try me, a bridge, the black lightning of the body. Point to point, nearness to nearness, the point is always to get to the next poem. That’s it. Nothing else. There’s love, but either way, you end up going crazy. Pain is to have seen and tasted one’s desire, and to live with that apple in front of one’s face, forever, with no way to touch it. But that part of the story comes later. After we listen to Bob sing, One good thing about music, when it hits, you feel no pain, poetry is the opposite. Language gets in the way. What I’m really trying to say is, Please, please, please…don’t leave me…be…wildered.

 Things fit together. Two inconsequential things can combine together to become a consequence. The poem doesn’t exist by itself. There is only poetry. The theory of relativity. Which means our fears and desires, our angers and dreams are not unique, they relate, become one and like us, will die if left alone. Did I tell you I was watching Game 2 of the Playoffs between the Pistons and the Orlando Magic when suddenly there appeared on the screen this skinny little white boy with glasses, a Pistons fan, maybe 10 years old, shirtless, standing in the aisle, flexing imaginary muscles, and painted on the entirety of his chest in glittery pink and blue spray-paint was the message, “There’s No Such Thing As Magic” and POOF— you were beside me, naked and trembling in my arms?

from The Dreams

The sky is way too blue like a TV set after kids have fucked with the remote, and for a second I don’t even see it— an enormous hot-air balloon hovering like the perfect ending to a simile. Then it hits me—this is the bright-striped balloon from the chemistry book I’ve been editing. I’m driving as if the sky won the war and there are no more roads. Just drifting toward whatever the air offers up. Following the law of we-all-need-a-balloon-to-help-us-home. Hypnotized by the bright balloon and its exquisite interruption of blue, I barely saw them, had to slam my brakes to avoid hitting the four giant buzzards sitting in the middle of the road, their backs to me, congregating over the carcass of something I couldn’t see but knew had to be the air from that beautiful balloon.

 

_________________________________

 

Impossibly this is an attempt at escape. Gravity, his uncle once told him, is only in your mind. There is a scene from Before Night Falls where the dream of escape is so beautiful it outweighs any consequence of the real: one would rather drown going down in a hot-air balloon in the ocean on the way to Florida than remain alive another second without freedom. The dream of it. A carcass of air. Language is secondary to silence. The most beautiful things we do, we do without words. Once, when he was the King of the Forest, he was chased by his brother, Emperor of Grasshoppers into an old overgrown greenhouse, a good 15 feet in the narrow aisle he realized his brother was no longer behind him and alone with the sound of his own breathing, he turned to see he was surrounded by over a dozen giant buzzards roosting eyelevel on marble slats— the next 10 seconds of this story is the stuff that dreams are made of.

The People of Distress

Going through a box of old ephemerae
I found a tiny notebook called The People of Distress.
The day I found the notebook
was the day I started reading up
on the gnostic gospels
late at night in Vermont, stoned,
the laundry rinsed
by the thunderstorm,
its slow musk
behind our ears
and inside our wrists.
I’m not sure, but I suspect
we have all been given the secret kingdom of God.
Taking VHS into the shadowy back bedroom;
Gesturing to blackflies and moths banging at the windows
that we are mighty
and merciless—
this is how I sit, a box of old papers
between my knees,
a warrior beyond death.
Nothing comes to us.
We work with what is already here.
We live at the garrison
tinfoiling over half-eaten peaches
while out in the world
there are those who believe
Jesus never kissed Mary Magdalene on the mouth
with his great, red, pharmaceutical tongue;
and there are those whose bodies
are perfectly made for erotic positions
in the seamless electricity of stark apartments.

I’m down at the river
gnawing at a sugar maple.
I’m down at the local bar
sheathing famous drinks into myself—
and I see it all—
so give me the parables, natural graves,
the androgynous hallelujah national forestry
of mid-state; give me the lightening,
armament of antique hatpins;
and give back all the bad poems,
because one day you’ll have to answer for them,
all the things you didn’t say.
I am patiently waiting.
Reading my early manifesto
which merely explains that I will one day
write the People of Distress via words
but for now it is all pictures.
It ends magnificently: I am nine now.
And it’s never been judged. Never been typed.
I wish I could take the offspring
out of the gnarled nests of my life
and let them drop.
All the luck of the world would let me in.
And good people
would have me over
for endless bright bloodshot evenings.
The People of Distress would get smaller
and the essential classical masterpieces
would get bigger.
And they would come out—the great tutors,
into the cool night breeze,
perfect gentlemen, grand madams,
to look at the stars of our hemisphere. To recite,
and nod, knowingly,
that this is how we see things through.
This is how all things end.

__________________________________________________________
Bianca Stone is the author of several chapbooks, including Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Argos Books), and the poetry-comic I Want To Open The Mouth God Gave You Beautiful Mutant (Factory Hollow Press). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2011, Conduit, and Tin House. Bianca Stone is also a visual artist and her collaboration with Anne Carson, Antigonick, a new kind of comic book and translation, was published in spring of 2012 by New Directions.

It’s Fair

Our life is boring.
The fat caterpillar makes a ring
on your walking stick. I want

to be consumed by wind,
the smell of oyster mushrooms

and red horses. When folded, things become
unrecognizable like hotdog paste.
Thank god for the unresolved.

The corner of your mouth
a heron holding lavender in its beak,
headed east and west

where the unripe pumpkins jump
in the oven by themselves, covered
in paint chips. The old house

they uprooted from the stinging nettle garden
in Brooklyn delivered itself
like a baby, like a block of ice

sure of itself. Its roof was sleeping
swans laying eggs to feed the ghosts
trapped there from the era of edible roses.

They press the chickens
when they pluck them
and break the wishbone.

__________________________________________________________
Margarita Delcheva is a graduate of the NYU Creative Writing Program. Her recent poems have appeared in Sixth Finch, Fugue, Ep;phany, and Tuesday: An Art Project. The Eight-Finger Concerto, her poetry collection in Bulgarian, was published in Sofia, Bulgaria. Margarita currently resides and teaches in Brooklyn, New York.

from [Practicing Vigilance] 

I’m looting the altars of my former forgiveness
like a cacophony of snow blowers
I’m between making dinner plans
and opening a can of sunshine onto the supernal room
standing in a very quiet desert
forcing the mean soliloquies out
with their un-simulated volcanic ash
hardening my exact replica.
I used to put a miniature rosebush
in the ground each year
to counteract my squalor.
Don’t tell me that definition of madness,
doing the same thing over again etcetera.
The definition of madness
is a certain enthusiasm, then there has
to be another person there
to not share in it—who is oppressed by it
who can only stare into it.
Tell it to the bluebird rustling over my head.
Tell it to a satellite orbiting in its delusion of being a moon.
I’m coaxing the black bull out of my mouth
with a red flag and a beer. I’m constructing
out of my faulty genes, my last sentence, my last thing
which addresses the dilemma obliquely:
we shall perceive our own pain in others.
And we shall know if we are capable of loving them.

__________________________________________________________
Bianca Stone is the author of several chapbooks, including Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Argos Books), and the poetry-comic I Want To Open The Mouth God Gave You Beautiful Mutant (Factory Hollow Press). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2011, Conduit, and Tin House. Bianca Stone is also a visual artist and her collaboration with Anne Carson, Antigonick, a new kind of comic book and translation, was published in spring of 2012 by New Directions.

Federal Bureau of Investigation

you give great masthead
take it from me
I have a microphone
where my soul is supposed to go
if you put your ear up to it
you can hear the future
ten thousand girls
going crazy
at a chess match
and we’re not coming
out of this closet
for any amount
of Klondike Bars
a bird with a broken song
is still a threat
wind can commit murder
and will
if left unchecked
my big black car breathes
or bleeds
a huge floating lung
above the parking lot
dripping privilege
and something yellow
what would you write
in the wet cement
is a test question
that blanks me
like snow arrested
for conspiracy
I need an air-craft carrier
of coffee right now
skin is our biggest enemy
untaxable & international
like the sky
freeloading
crowd pleasing
changing at will
without a pill or talk-show host
a hold over
a secret
history’s history
in other words
we never should have hired
those poets
to explain desire
jesus I’m famished
pass me a slim jim
what’s the deal
with all these babies
and how the hell
did they get Level 4 clearance
let’s talk about science
for a second
the mirrors in this place
make me look
12 pounds lighter
got a great glass guy
could blow god
wanna ditch these yomen
& kick it at the firing range
first dibs
on the anti-idea gun
I get an erection
just saying cold war
BTW
your tax documents
made a great mouse pad
for my spy porn
calm and hostile and alien
we hover above
the price of possibility
like a pissed off umlaut
that decides it doesn’t want
to be a part
of this sentence anymore
not concerned with making music
just content being noise
it is deep in fall
and I’m standing by my motorcycle
like a line of poetry
you take away from a dream
being alive is unbearable
and beautiful and sticky and bright
believe me
I’m not trying to tease this bull
I don’t want either of us to die
but if you wash off the blood
you’d see what I’m waving
is a white flag
and an invisible fist
through the street
through the flood
through the fire
love is a fleet
of tanks flying by
the soul grows dark
the trees turn gold
and the file on Alone
reaches the moon

__________________________________________________________
Sampson Starkweather was born in Pittsboro, NC. He is a founding editor of Birds, LLC. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his girlfriend, the escape artist Paige Taggart.

from THE  NOTEBOOK

the shoulder has zero light
the shoulder has no reason
to rotate its discus in
perpetual motion unless
it is seasoned for a
tennis serve, I swerve
when I talk, let my
speech reply, here is an
audio grandstand
a launch into the public
biosphere, oh dirty
laundry how crumpled
and full of sense, this is
a poem where every object
take on meaning, where
it extends its
existence into the
voyeur’s eye, there is no
needle to rescue in
the haystack, there is
no in the sack to recoup
from, here everything is
a velvet potato
a perfectly lauded gift
set on its own
blessing, if I give this
to you all you owe me
is respect in the form
of food, like cooking me cabbage
then laying it out like
pillows, this is all written in
my will so no need to try and
memorize it just yet
this is where the
poetry turns, this is
where it becomes genius
this is where the doldrum
uproots itself, this is me
apologizing to my brother for
rubbing his eyes with tiger balm
this is everything that you
ever wanted to coming true
this is real historical
mass, mass on the subway,
mass in the form of many
strangers falling asleep
at once, they almost look
hypnotized/head-slumped
forward, the subways
hum sings them to sleep
I have a pie at home
and a window full of the
paperless things I can’t see
past like white lies
& karate smoke & an abandoned
bicycle, there are the kids
jumping rope, jumping fences w/age
award reaped benefits for
a singular provider, here somebody
is turning over on a white horse
a location is building-up
in the vein of prestige
I am putting my French
sunglasses on, reordering the
oracle, a frosted wishbone
how absolutely still the pie
lies, how begetting of circumstance
the trolley is delivering eggs
throughout the neighborhood
there is localized insurance
if you fall skateboarding
an elder will clean your
wound, rehabilitating the oxygen
cavities takes a nexus of
cytoplasm, reverberated
toothbrushes, through the gold cap
everyone’s a dentist who needs
a friend, try quitting
smoking for a change, melodramatic
knight in shining armor
rescuing your lung from the curse
of a violent death, willpower
ensues, try sleeping with
lesions, with the biggest wound
in the woods with a cabinet
builder insisting on finishing
the bookshelves at 3 am
prying the orange paper machine
apart in your sleep
like a Chinese character bent
sideways, contingent on its
placement lending it a new
meaning, if I were to walk
around town on hand & not
foot, how might the fabric of
my belief change, the brash
cause to wrap my fingers with
gauze, or an elliptical—
imagine that, that we
dance holding feet, so attuned
to the clever immobility
when the risk of losing
action makes its way into
the poem, the risk is boredom
how there are many ways of
losing where you digest
a loop, like that game
of pickup sticks on
the trottoir where nobody
is talking not noticing the
eagle eyes unflinching for one
who drops the stick
can never recreate a habitat
is it inhibition that makes
the sucky people keep on sucking
the lack there of I meant,
but instead I was busy
catering the floss to my teeth
some sort of tectonic
light bulb needs to go off so a
posse of angels can come down &
bless me, I’m mad ungrateful
sometimes to have a job
feels like the opposite of
survival
I fear that once we start we won’t be able
to come down from this mountain,
domino effect on the inside
where all the pride gets dismantled
and takes the form of a rock
I’m trying to come back to some sort
of original way where you don’t
want to fix the poem cause
the poem is alive, an inverted
tent takes its shape from the
wind, so many meaningful
pictures spread-out so full of
language tropes you just
have to be the one to color them
in with whatever kind of
vision you can stick with
it’s difficult to swing the
lantern all the way through
a mystery caught on the
outer-hinge causing the
little metal hinge to swing open
and whisk out the light
or however you want to
label this effect
it’s not a defect unless you
struggle w/it everyday

              have you ever walked across the
              floor to find another floor?
              how to be desperate, I mean
              in a situation where you’ve
              locked your keys in your car
              why do my wheels spinning feel
              like triangles, clunk,
              clunk, clunk
              batter up— hit the
              dinghy across the bay

all that was selfish became
prismed by our desires
to keep one another healthy
in the most acute perceptions of
our lives we’ve managed to keep
one another holy, with all the
growing sounds around us & the
obtrusion of light in our sleep
like whisks of smoke
that hold the ground by fire
after the wolves attack
after love is one of the causes
for fantasy that holds
the vinegar into the
lemon, sometimes such taste
such sour artifice recedes
into a velvet damask
this is what I say, what I fear
that we are all fake, no real
compass or station to hold
as I once was a sergeant
in my past like the dream of
myself inside a space shuttle
like the self that came
before the self before I
fingered the wreckage in
the dark before sifting
through the silt of an
underwater vessel, after
we were all attacked
and leaned back and attacked
others and saw that it was
identical, the same thing
standing in the same way
of one another, the
record breaking human
condition, the active body
of peoples, the peoples like
the squirrel’s acorn if we
were god that’s what sight
would be like, all a seen
protocol, the same for sadness
one takes washing-off
& clutching to a library of panic
“the pain parade”

from Gift Horse

you carry me
I bend
I bend so you can
carry me
I carry me you bend
you bend
beggetingly

the earth is on
crow fire
don’t forget
to powder
your wig

I’m a museum
with a hat of gold
my education only comes
once a year
I am w/out friends
standing in a field
my imagination is a hinge
endless swinging door
upon grass and pale sky
the frame
the only obstruction

yr. dog bites off
yr. doll’s talky head
dripping with starch
you bury the head in
a lilac field
plastic bones
bloom
begin again

my plastic Neanderthal
has a tongue ring
carries a flag
faux gravitas
etched with lions
somebody should
really stop him

into the black sky
one wing open
a French door
unlaundered by intuition
rain come over me
still prism
black market holiday
the new symbolism

root canal in summer
a hot bleeding waterway
lift your head to the nurse’s call
Gideon’s crossing
you slap your cheek against it
it’s gonna save you

I have a big gift
for a horse
a quilted water vest
you make your mark
across the lake
shimmy a row by
aren’t we all adults?
I stand in
as proof

POST SCRIPT

MACTAGGART JEWELRY

Buy Paige’s handmade jewelry and make sure to check out the impressive selection of poems she has published online!

Digital Macrame from Poor Claudia.

Polaroid Parade forthcoming from Greying Ghost Press.

The Ice Poems forthcoming from Doublecross Press.

Warcloud
The gentleman who collaborated and experienced paranoid delusions with Paige’s brother.

Paige’s brothers’ music:
Sydney Ducks
Blue Sky Black Death

REVENGE OF ALL THAT IS CAPABLE OF BEING REVENGED

Stand underneath my window
I have a piano for your head
And O sweet sunset you
Are only beautiful because
People who are finished making people
Smoke cigarettes
And those cigarettes are made in factories
With smokestacks
And those smokestacks release poison into the good sweet
Air like the mouths of the people letting out their smoking
And all of this letting out of poison marries the air
And the air marries the poison
Invisible as wind until it lifts
A skirt and a woman shows her beauties
To the entire boardwalk
How come beauty gets all the silence of eyes
And ugly is committed to the dumb of the mouth
I’d like to be so ugly
So that someone would want to let a piano
Love my head
I’d like you to be so ugly
That no one in the audience will listen
To me because they’re busy telling their love
How ugly you are and how if you were beside
Someone uglier
Or just as ugly
You would cancel out
Like the light through a prism
And both of you would become the base of all that is beautiful
And this is what I want to happen
This is what I want.

 

- – -

 

REVENGE FOR ALL THAT IS FRESH

I’m on a mission to do nothing but rise up inside of myself
To plant flowers inside my brain
And deny them a prairie
And once upon a time this solution
Was an easy A
Until I loved a man so well
I killed him with my breath
I was so much about beating
The air between my lips
And hovering around him like he was the last
Delicate fawn in the forest
I made him believe he was a god
Then our neighbor drove up with a dead Irish Setter
On his leather car seats
Because he hit the dog trying to make a left
And my man saw he wasn’t the only god
He was just another heartless handsome
In a pyre of desperate fires
Which means he was wanted by many
But only I had him
And he realized he was only a drug
I sometimes took to feel sane
About myself to prepare the world
For people who didn’t want to know what a woman
In a black dress looks like when she’s alone
Fuck the first tree that sprouted in a treeless field
And called itself the only of its kind in that part
I will have to reinvent the rectangle
So that it falls somewhere between a cube and a square and a parallelogram
And a placenta when it still has a baby

 

- – -

 

REVENGE FOR REVENGE

Just like you
I am alone in the world
I am alone just like you although no one is really ever alone
I only said that so I could enter
What it means to be alone
In the world
Even if no one
Ever is
No one ever finds a way to be
Entirely alone
Even when you are dead you are the most
Unalone even when you are sleeping you are the most
Unalone because so many are dead and sleeping at the same time
Even when you are the only person in the planetarium
There are all those stars
And planets without names
That have the possibility of life
Even if that possibility is in the inkling of a paramecium
And the paramecium with its almost-brain
Has a millennia or a thousand millennia until it has
To consider that being alone is a lot like
Being in a crowd of people you don’t know
Yes I think that is closer to being alone
Being with so many people
And not one knowing
If you believe in a god
Or if your dining room is bright and welcoming
With comfortable wooden chairs
Or if you are really a woman who sometimes feels
A little bit like a child
Trapped inside of her mother still

 

- – -

 

from I am going to save your life

Be my sister and spit into me.
Or spit into me so you can be my sister.
I’m hollowed out and its high time the coyotes hauled
out from the woods and gave mothers a good run for their babies.

They smell the way I smell between.

It took eleven minutes for me to lose my virginity.

He said thank you.

 

 

If I were a zombie, you would not be a zombie.
You would be the first time I touched myself
on a bicycle. Or the dynasty in China with all the white
and blue vases. I keep fucking up in love and not even by fucking.
I think of friends, O my good and tiny friends in Nate’s seaside house.
How easily friends laugh,and their ha-ha’s slide over from the summer
into September. We watch zombie movies that show zombies touching.
We discuss relativity and space
and we beat off to the flowers
until no one knows the difference
between us and the sun.

 

 

Being as small as me is a very large feat.
I am small.
Smaller than you have ever imagined
even though as a woman I have very long fingers that look like it—
but will never touch a piano in a way that makes it surrender.
We are always living in the same oval. I think we are so elliptical
that religion is just a way of keeping my grandmother and all her ghosts
on the treadmill in the guest room. I sleep in that room and know its scent.
I know its scent as if a fox has come and gone.
Come and gone and into the sheets
I screamed as I was coming.
You know how small I am.
A very large scream, a scream as loud
and howling as mine is also very beautiful if you know how to get it out of me.
Get it out of me.

 

 

November 3rd, 2001. November 4th, 2001.
I made a grave of my car and left Nick dying.
I couldn’t save him. I still can’t go to his grave, not even as a woman.
I can’t see a pile of dead flowers and know how everyone else’s
mouth touched his name. (Nick touching me in the treehouse.
Me in his velvet mouth.) The SUV hit him and fucking
is not like dying. I never wince when I run over a dead cat.
Like I’m finishing something twice.

 

 

There were rocks in the back of my high school
called The Love Rocks.
They were huge and wide and flat and Suzy
loves Davy and Miriam love(d)
Paul but someone came and bulldozed
the rocks when I went there to lose It
to some tall blonde boy. We decided to do it against the bricks.
It left scars where a pressing of hers into a pressing of his. His erection
was like the Empire State Building
from where I knelt and from my apartment
I can see the Empire State Building
when the leaves fall out.
I stare and stare and stare and think of you naked.

 

 

I stand just far away enough so I can cover you
with my thumb.

We fuck in between all the fighting.
You’re over me, hovering over me and I’m reminded of Pompeii.

Watching bulls gore men that look exactly like you.

I’ll stand just far away enough to look like a painting.

I’ll build and build and build and build and build and build, build, build, build,
build. I’ll say I’m sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry.

 

 

You lit my cigarette and it would be years before I would bust your lip open
with a closet door. Circumstance after circumstance you misappropriated
my salute to the ocean and dropped a dinghy on top of me every time
I came with my mouth against your mouth. In the event of an emergency,
take the fire fighter and spray it all around. When I said fire fighter I meant
a transitional phase where all the pronouns associated with you will be
little smears of butterfly on the windshield.
I disguise myself in good teeth and dance moves.
I cloak myself in men I don’t care about.
Everyone misinterprets my pretty.

 

- – -

POSTSCRIPT

 

Get REVENGE POEMS
Get GIRL BOY GIRL BOY (scroll down a little)
Stain of Poetry Reading Series where Christie Ann is co-curator

Some of Christie Ann’s work online
EOAGH
La Petite Zine
ROBOT MELON
My name is mud (British online mag!)
Houston Literary Review (includes an earlier version of the first poem she read from her chapbook, Idiot Heart)

&c
More about Mercury in RETROGRADE
Remote-Controlled Kite
Jean Macpherson responds to two of Christie Ann’s poems that were in Lit. She reads one of these on the show, too!
Five stages of grief

After Catullus and Horace

only the manners of centuries ago can teach me
how to address you my lover as who you are
O Sestius, how could you put up with my children
thinking all the while you were bearing me as in your mirror
it doesn’t matter anymore if spring wreaks its fiery
or lamblike dawn on my new-found asceticism, some joke
I wouldn’t sleep with you or any man if you paid me
and most of you poets don’t have the cash anyway
so please rejoin your fraternal books forever
while you miss in your securest sleep Ms. Rosy-fingered dawn
who might’ve been induced to digitalize a part of you
were it not for your self-induced revenge of undoneness
it’s good to live without a refrigerator! why bother
to chill the handiwork of Ceres and of Demeter?
and of the lonesome Sappho. let’s have it warm for now.

______________________________________________________
Bernadette Mayer is the author of numerous volumes of poetry and prose, including Memory (1971), Midwinter Day (1982), and Poetry State Forest (2008). Her book The Formal Field of Kissing, a series of translations, re-interpretations and poems inspired by Catullus and Horace, will be reprinted by Monk Books on June 7.

VII

Beneath the black jungle palms, monkeys.
They remind me of me, my tools, my cartoon
heart that’s shaped like a heart. Other better animals
are pronounced as being heavenly, in this native island tongue.
I’m not true and I’m not free,
I know I should go somewhere official, somewhere right,
like make my way back to the mainland, get home
from my violet days of taming parrots and sunburn.

If I could slather on my own tame desires
instead of the monkey’s touch while I sleep,
I would not want but still I would burn and for
next to nothing. Some coconut milk, a better name,
this is no way to get back home. There’s time.
Turn black.

IX

Saying the word sonar is satisfying.
During the Cuban Crisis, we smoked sugarcane and
they dropped depth charges by our family home.
I watched one soldier walk into the river and float away.
I barely had time to speak. Little paths above the wheat
pennies strewn there filled with water. Eddies. The industrialist
got on his hands and knees. Short-sighted, he gathered change in.
There was nothing on his mind. Ripples moving through.

A dream so violent I awake actually afraid of myself.
A way of decoding trees. A way to hear the night air.
Somewhere, a low beeping. A sleep-start.
Bring me back to the glory I felt that day when
we only knew the beaches as a liminal space.
(________________________________)

___________________________________________
Ben Estes, Ben Fama, Ben Kopel, Ben Mirov, and Ben Winkler wrote these poems as part of a collaborative heroic crown. The sonnets and a group erasure of Yeats’ “Under Ben Bulben” are forthcoming as a chapbook.

Canoe

How might we & the waters labor over
now the new naming of the rapid

by those who first travel that stretch

of river named rightfully The Bronco
after the tributary from the South & also

after the way in which they advise

it be treated as a Bronc be
loose in the hips guided by The Elder

look into his eyes his bluebeard

braid please expect the shortest rapture
as danger in those fleets that fly through

the body where the past itself flees then

fixates from the gulches to the minarets
then from the moment to the map

made from the legends told of that

voyage by first the namers then the Russian
trappers the bartenders the riverguides then

the fieldguide sold with illustration

________________________________________
Dawn Marie Knopf is a writer-in-residence with California Poets in the Schools. Her poems have appeared in the Boston Review, Bomb, Black Warrior Review, and Verse.

Extract from My Ragged Company, #19

I asked Alice to ask me to marry her. She asked
if I wanted to lick the painting on the hotel wall.
That’s a poster, I said. Just a paper Hopper: a sad
woman in a red teddy sat on a hotel bed reading
a yellow letter: He’s not coming back. I asked
for a kiss. She asked for a testament. Outside,
I asked a man to point me to a lake or
a liquor store. In Michigan, the man said,
a liquids most obvious attribute is repression.
But, he said, all taverns in Michigan share
one trait: inside is someone that will make you feel
at home. I followed his pointer. I walked across
the street. I took the ferry. I climbed a hill and a tree
and sat in a deer blind for a week until two hunters
found me and took me and carried me to a bar
and resuscitated me with schnapps depth charges
and I drank until I felt very at home and then
I passed out and dreamed my way back to Alice.
The next morning I walked to the bathroom.
My penis was stained. Merlot. Rust. Tide. Blood.
I jumped on the bed, naked before her.
“You’re free,” I said.

__________________________________________________________
Peter Jay Shippy’s most recent book is How to Build the Ghost in Your Attic (Rose Metal Press, 2007). These poems are from a new project, My Ragged Company.

Reach into the cloud
architecture, almost to the stars.
I lived where they are made
growing up as a kid.
I just wonder what people
are thinking sometimes,
or what happens to ideas
too un evil to endure.
Out there near the edge
the ferocactus has begun to bloom.
I heard once some skaters
were murdered there.
Today I would only
take advice from an angel.
She says soon you will grow
into a beautiful girl.
Soon you will become a planet,
moons and everything.
Sometimes I feel so happy
I forget I’m going to die,
then I go to the desert
with just my sticks
and wait for the shaman.
He always comes.
And raises a temple up
from the dirt, to give to my life
a gleam of delirium, that I may
accept the final results with grace.

Dear Mary Anne, I’m listening

This is where the world begins

When I lay on the bridge the city flattens

If we lived together I wouldn’t be bored right now, making stuff etc.

The doctor got off the couch

Said I’m not dying but he can’t be sure

I put my head in a cloud and really learn to breathe

Just in time for the wedding

The same picture in every horizon

A woman having her hair bobbed and a deserter from the navy

are the images for the full moon today

Once I lived in a place where the mountains would

glare down upon our symbolism and noise

Before you, the pattern of reality changes

A balloon ride is right around the corner from your office

Where the meaning is new but words have the same vibrations

Live a life on one

Smart people have the worst nightmares they say

To lay a pattern in order to survive a future crisis

Did you see what they did to Heather?

Yes I understand completely

Hot wind untangles complicated worries of the day

And blows all the tarot cards off of the table

Am I wasting my life?

Watching the leaves go like that toward the sky

What is the river doing?

Staring up at the bright ass sun

I want to make something two thousand people like

Daylight blankets what’s cared for and not cared for

Shitfaced, I demand human touch

Dreaming, I cosmically rule

The doctor’s a surfer

He rides from the window to my room

I filmed it in Seattle

At night I return to the sea

The facts in this case haven’t changed

Moon in Aquarius pushes us forward into our vision of the future

This morning they mowed the lawns

All day the breeze blows sweet

Here I made a memory

You can have it

Shake out the quilt of everyday talk

To get at a vision of light and pleasure

Where on water each ship is a promise

White sails of white satin sorrow

Roll your neck to the left and the right

To receive a change in headspace before a funeral

Or a mystical gift like a polka dot dress

A nap drifted in and out of my mind

All things for santeros, but forget all that

Here I am brand new

Lush as a dream, too punk for a sad heart

If you see the doctor tell him I said happy birthday

Tell him the panther caps are in the mail

And the black candles I never burned

Tell him my palm lines say wherever people go people are in love

Tell him I’m in the countryside with all my sorry breaths

Tell him I’m on my knees with my hands to the sun

Tell him he’s trapped, sure to make a tragic move

Tell him about the tulips with the pistils made of crystal

Tell him inside me there is an unsunny afternoon

Tell him to take his eyes out of my neck

Moon in Gemini squares Jupiter making today for releasing things forever

Like a fraying black cape or unreliable refrigerator

There’s a light outside that is too bright to bring in

And a Chevrolet wrecked at the edge of the trees

Before wet weather bird cries come quick on the air

Grope at the sky and pull down black clouds

In them sew the last days

Here becomes worshipped what is easy to understand why

A death prophecy everyone always will never talk about

My first friend died in another country while I slept

The second left the note: Yes, this is exactly how it feels!

She is, I’ve heard, still alive, combing down snows from the side of a mountain

It melts into a creek where the farm kids bathe

Their symbols are all the rainbows

They grow into music

Then they get birds and the behavior of birds

The old get public parks

Let the dying have a view of the mountains

Stars are for later

Pull me through a dream

Every idea, of course, is a spell

Mix four ounces of rosewater and pour it into a bowl

Carve one side of a thick white candle with a quick portrait of yourself

Rub a layer of amyris oil around the side of the candle and inside the grooves

Place equal parts frankincense and copal resin in a cauldron

Slowly light the edge of the mix in a crescentic circle

Light the candle

Insert the end of the blade into your hand

If you see light stop immediately

Cut past remorse and future trepidation

Tilt your palm toward the center of the bowl

A turn in weather provokes emotional rush

Memorize the shapes as the drops touch the water

Memorize the sounds

This is what you own

Reach through the sunny dust of day

To ripple the still with your exorbitant limb

Farther out than earth ships could be

Lean out the scene of a moving car

To go into it means to make a mark in the dirt

Moon in Aquarius pushes us forward into a vision of the future

An entire forest just for you

This world repeats a soft etc.
Invisible wind,
open up and feel.
It must be a part
of the daily breezes
that roar down the mountain,
the mountain you prefer.
I live inside a crystal ball
that only sees behind me.
Once I was a teen king
thundering over the peasants.
I was born in the image of Steve.
Once I was a farm boy
on the level of clouds.
Float me back to those heights.
I remember yellow heat
in my yellow clothes and
an idea like a campfire
telling me it wasn’t sure
I’ve ever done the right thing.
Now when it asks for cures
I retrieve an amulet from a secret
altar of things that make me calm
to look upon, and when it asks
Fama, where is your love now?
I think about eating poutine
from the small of her back.

POSTSCRIPT

SUPERMACHINE

Brian Eno bio and a youtube
Barbara Guest’s Forces of Imagination
Twin Peaks
Scorpio Rising

Fama Links
New Waves Tumblr
Aquarius Rising
HTML write-up
Fama at notnostrums
at I am a Natural Wonder
Fama on Eno

Brandon Kreitler

Cardinality

1.

The shotgun shines
___radiant history across the mantle.

2.

The wind rips through a rolodex of the names of the dead.
___It could be a litany, almost
______like the registers of Audubon societies
___and the Who’s Who of West Virginia 1974
______begging for a trumpet in morning,
a waltz and then a nap
___in the hush of a million miraculously lit libraries.

3.

And in waking,
___a waking more this time than a polite not yet to the idea of death,
the atom of speech.
___Not like an old man mumbling to himself in baseball metaphor,
______but like a drop of rain in the palm,
___reminding that above there are stars in the continual ricochet of triangulation,
______bodies positioning themselves
_________in relation to a reference for which
______we have no analog.

But one can take comfort in the miscalculation of the heights of see-saw fulcrums,
___a child running around with a gold wrestling belt,
______brave men on Massachusetts quarters,
___Silver State on silver,
______———-, American.

4.

The wiper does not draw barren Nebraska across the windshield,
___and the merry-go-round children are not about to be
pulled from their fiberglass horses in rapture.

I am acknowledging this.

And yet the story doesn’t end.

An act is a draft for the acts that follow.
___We say forward and pinewood cars fly down their tracks.
After/at and a mother makes the wedding.
___Like a bow.

5.

I haven’t earned this but I’m hitching myself to your kindness.

There is a photo in my living room
___on the back of which scribbled are the words
______memory is an anachronism.
In the picture a child is
___dragging a stick though the sand
in the vacuum of summer.
___And I am sure that each grain had to pick a side.

 

John Wayne in Municipal Projection

A movie playing on the courthouse lawn,
________________________specked light flooding
__________________the summer air.
John Wayne in a panorama of desert
______against the stone wall. Beyond this city
the actual desert stretches
for more miles
______than we have ever known what to do with.
Like the air an empty category, unthinkable
alone.
__________________Enough cannot be said of his horse
in its unfathomable redness,
______surveying the prop buffalo in the basin,
____________the rigor of the battle dead.
You said there is nothing true of love
______that is not also true of the Waffle House.

______In the real heat some kids are dancing to an unheard music
in the grass,
______in the light before image,
as though to say these, my feet,
______are the circumference
of my world,
______as if to say I.
____________Stars drown
like pills
______in a soft pink mouth.
The gold dust in the projector light
______has yet to stop falling.

 

In the Cordage of the Municipality

The aperture of dawn breaks
over the government lake
embalming our long apprenticeship
to dust stalled in the tertiary gloss.
The scrutiny of a man between needs.
The wanting less to be oneself
than to hold one’s place—
to insist sincerity is only
the desire to have said
what one has said.
The rooms replenish themselves
with a stable of objects:
an apple core browning in the drain,
button shirts hung in the limpid forms of bodies elsewhere,
in a stable of rooms which relay their tedium
like figurations in a language made of a single word.
The city remains and the city is grammar.

 

POSTSCRIPT

Paul Horn’s Inside the Great Pyramid
William Basinski’s disintegration loop
Gun on the wall
Quabbin Resevoir
Cardinality
Cardinal Numbers
Origin of looking a gift horse in the mouth

Poems

Diagram
Boston Review
Eoagh
Poem of the week here on The The!
Web Conjunctions

Articles

Brandon’s article on William Basinski
Another on Animal Collective and the like
Feature article/interview with Matt Wolf on his Arthur Russell documentary

Brandon’s blog .

See some of Ken Chen’s poems and find links to items mentioned in the podcast.

Ken Chen Interview

See some of the poems Colin reads in the podcast and find links to items discussed during the interview.

Colin Cheney Interview

See the poems Solmaz Sharif reads in the interview and find links to some items discussed during the interview.

Solmaz Sharif Interview