The Eggshell Parade brings you Connor Syrewicz reading (an edited-to-meet-FCC-regulations version of) his short story “Tomorrow ‘Dun Gone”, which appears in Issue 9 Spring 2012 of Superstition Review.
The Eggshell Parade brings you Connor Syrewicz reading (an edited-to-meet-FCC-regulations version of) his short story “Tomorrow ‘Dun Gone”, which appears in Issue 9 Spring 2012 of Superstition Review.
Zayne Turner grew up in the rural High Desert of Oregon. She is the author of the chapbook Memory of My Mouth, available from dancing girl press. She has received grants and fellowships for literary & visual arts from the Arteles Creative Center in Finland, Oregon Arts Commission, Vermont Studio Center and the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She also sometimes makes things on Storify.
The Eggshell Parade brings you a reading and interview from poet Emily Vogel.
wig confessional/ the bedroom
Bedtime (I says my name, hoping he will call it out)
it is just me (touch me like that velvet zodiac woman)
covered in collapsible silence (like the gal I once was)
until dawn (singing in church)
she clings to me (praying for honor)
like moisture in the desert (satin red)
on her seed coat. ( even vestiges of clouds hold rain)
Then she replaces me (but you gotta pull it from the sky)
every time the UPS man arrives (sing it, whistle with your lips, dance)
or when down Patton Ave to catch night. (lift up the tawny clouds, find a rhythm)
She stuffs me in the back of boxes (push them back)
I gasp and rebuff (use your hands)
any compliments— I thought (not beyond that)
about her hiding swollen pockets (remain there in the quiet)
of gray that envelope her (there is a gal there waiting)
place that sucked him (dying to be rained on)
in and released him. (be patient)
Like the blues (please patience)
I need a little steam heat (the body is water)
is what you play as you (the body ain’t no stone)
wait until he comes. (don’t leave)
He lifts up from the scent, (it’s lonely)
colostomy bag opening. (please)
He puts on his pants (hold me)
Barely touches the ashy hip (sweet)
Vaseline smooth. (dewy trip)
You lie there. (he hands the towel)
I, shifted over, see myself (I wash)
Sin in the mirror. (looking)
I don’t like what I’ve become (baby-bloated body)
what has become of us. (painfully still)
I don’t nap (but he doesn’t see or know)
when you need me; (this can’t be love)
Beauty never sleeps (not this way)
Colena Corbett lives between North and South Carolina. She has studied poetry at the Split Rock Arts Foundation at the University of Minnesota, The Hurston-Wright Foundation at American University, the Kentucky Women Writers’ Conference, and the Callaloo Writers’ Workshop at Brown University. Her work has been published in Obsidian III, Folio Journal and elsewhere. She is completing her MFA at the University of South Carolina.
The Eggshell Parade brings you an interview with writer Minrose Gwin.
Meanwhile, a Sanford Wife Burns Bacon
for Shellie Zimmerman
When he called home from the station begging a clean change of clothes
her nurse’s sense perked to danger but she kept cool. Not until
she got close enough to smell his adrenaline protect us stink
to see his wounds slinking down the back of his head like tribal marks
I followed him nose in a fresh torque, did she freak out. Her training
didn’t prepare her for the organs’ slow slip at seeing her new kin
seem so close slammed me on the concrete to killed, eyes widened
with war, words few and fidgety. Once home, they sat wrapped
hoodie up in the tender quiet of his safety while she calmed, reflecting:
matrimony intact. His explanation—breakneck whirlwind of suspicious,
self-defense, stakes: my life or his—was an equation she couldn’t compute
though she absorbed the faulty math, young wedding vows
bursting from the heart’s chambers, worming north, infecting her brain
with a chant: Believe him. I have to believe him. Believe him. I have to
zakia henderson-brown has received fellowships and scholarships from the Cave Canem Foundation, Callaloo Journal, and the Fine Arts Work Center. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Torch, Reverie, Burner Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, and the anthology Why I Am Not a Painter (Argos: 2011). She currently works as the Outreach Coordinator for The New Jim Crow at The New Press. zakia is a proud Brooklyn native and loyalist.
The Eggshell Parade brings you a reading and interview from writer Catherine Lacey. Catherine reads her short fiction piece “(Grew),” which appears in issue 12.3 of DIAGRAM.
Ko’ dóó łeeschch’iih [Fire and Ashes
The red off the far ridge, an eating dragon, slow
______coming down the valley
—my mom’s imagination over the phone,
______a quarter-mile of cars ahead.
No one has stopped, on their way north or south,
to capture Hotshots turning the beast to smolder.
Somewhere out in the burn, under dusk, a rattler
______den unfurls fast as brush fire
and clenches against the inferno draft
______that blocks entrance and escape.
For an instant, or minutes maybe, their unnatural
warmth is a comfort beneath the ablaze final day.
It’s the shape I’m in. I don’t tell her that I will
______leave, days from this moment,
the high, dry mountain we drive towards
______for the ashes of a different monster.
BOJAN LOUIS is a member of the Navajo Nation — Naakaii Dine’é; Ashiihí; Ta’neezahnii; Bilgáana. His poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, Platte Valley Review, Hinchas de Poesía, and the American Indian Research and Culture Journal; his fiction in Alaska Quarterly Review. He is the author of the nonfiction chapbook,Troubleshooting Silence in Arizona (Guillotine Series, 2012). He has been a resident at The MacDowell Colony. He earns his ends and writing time by working as an electrician, construction worker, and English Instructor at universities and community colleges in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The Eggshell Parade brings you a The Noisy Reading Series reading and interview from poet Katharine Coles. Katharine reads her poem “Tempo for a Winged Instrument,” which appears in the July/August 2012 issue of Poetry.
I owe my reading life to wildly disparate loves: an anthology called 101 American Poems, a copy of George Bernard Shaw’s Man And Superman, Wuthering Heights, and Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome. I read Wharton in the 6th grade. The librarian, Yolanda Zeke, the daughter of Cuban refugees–the fucking worst Republicans I know (Next to Irish Catholic republicans)–insisted Ethan Frome was too “advanced” for me. She stared me down the long corridor of her elitist Cubano nose, and I lowered my head the way an abject peasant should and said, ‘Alright Ms. Zeke.” (She was all of 21) Then I waited until the next day and stole it.
I can still remember both the bliss and terror I felt as I walked out onto Rahway ave, on a blustery day in the early 70′s, when “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” was a huge hit and I had a ranch style coat with fake sheep collar on, under which Ethan Frome lurched with every beat of my frantically pounding heart. I didn’t really “steal” Ethan Frome. You might say I borrowed it sans library card.
Two weeks later, after devouring it 4 times, I slipped it into the “redemption slot” at eight PM, well after dark. I loved the fact that this little metal shoot, tucked into a side wall of the library, was called the “redemption slot.” Soon I sought redemption on a daily basis. Thirty seven years after the fact, I can still remember Mattie fussing over the plate of pickles just before Ethan arrives. For some reason, I see snow in her dark hair, snow that melts almost instantly, though this never happened in the novel. I knew who Matty was. She was a dead ringer for the actress Bonnie Bedelia, who played both the lover of Jan Michael Vincent in Sand Castles (A great tv movie of around 1971/72), and Joe Cartwright’s doomed wife in the last season of Bonanza. Maybe it is a little scary that I do not have to look such things up. They are imbedded in my memory along with such lines as “A boy’s will is the wind’s will, and the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts,” or “All over the world, simple pleasures of the flesh are being ruined by people screaming to be understood.”
What is trivia? Are the blue, pinching sparks above electric trains, at that time of day when it is almost dark, but not utterly dark, trivia? And is the smell of dead leaves, or the sound of of your father, who you suddenly realize is no longer strong, the sound of his steps on the porch, trivia? And when it is not heard, and when all the “important” ideas have filled out your life, is that really significance? I love Christ, but I have always hated the followers of Christ because they scavenge through the details of his Gospel only for the generalities. I remember, that the first thing Mary wants to do when he reveals himself as Jesus and not as the gardener is to touch him. I cannot be an academic, except an academic of the concrete, the felt. I would like to teach a year long course in detail recovery. Oh stupid little girl who looks at me as though I have 3 heads, and thinks I am not the best writer to say of “I studied with”…what did you do on that perfect day when your mother could have made a fuss over the blue jay feather you held in your hand, but didn’t? Do we die by general truths? Take my Class!
I realize now this memoir is a class in details. Surface becomes interior. If I could convey, with all my heart, the exact co-ordinates of that cold day, and how I slipped
Edith Wharton under my coat, time would cease to exist; for the continuation of time constitutes a failure in style. In this respect, Derrida was right. The smallest gaps are infinite.
I am tired of my life, which is why I stroke it, and murmur into its fur, and hope it scratches me that I might bleed and revive.
I am walking out of the library. The sky is dark, but not completely dark–a Stonehenge blue. I have enough money on me for one slice of pizza and the angelus rings. I pass the cemetery in Elizabeth where all the revolutionary war heroes have a mixer with the homeless. I am vast. A book is under my coat. The stars are out. Last week, by accident, I saw a poem by Wallace Stevens, and, though he never mentioned blue sparks, I knew he had mastered them, and the poem was “The Rabbit as King of The Ghosts.” Yolanda, who is beautiful, and serious beyond her years, and a future doctor, would. no doubt, tell me Wallace Stevens is beyond my capacity–but God knows I am about to lose my mother, and my father, and the house I have lived in since I was three, and so I am, beyond all reasonable expectations, ready–not advanced, but beyond, a wholly different thing. Yolanda sees a gringo. She’s right, but I am also beyond. I do not wish to escape being white (That’s something fashionable people do). I wish to escape being a survivor. I don’t know it, but everyone in my family, within the next few years, will be destroyed. I must know this poem. The saddest thing is that, even at this age, there is nothing, absolutely nothing, too advanced.
for dg okpik
Layli Long Soldier holds a BFA in creative writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts and is currently pursuing her MFA at Bard College. She resides in Tsaile, AZ on the Navajo Nation with her husband and daughter and is an adjunct faculty member at Diné College. Her first chapbook of poetry is titled, Chromosomory (Q Ave Press, 2010).
Alfred Corn’s recently published tenth book of poems Tables is charming, confident, polished, ambitious, learned, elegiac, plus playful too, which makes the slim volume very seductive, poignant, intelligent, self-conscious, deeply-nerved and rooted; succinctly: humane. Tables brims over with both the visual and aural surprises we ought to expect from any and all great poetry, except here these serve Art and Humanity, not preachily, but indirectly, for the poet seems to be processing and re-processing both lived and creative experience for himself and us. A quick, direct listening in to this theme of re-processing can be found, for example, in these lines from his “Letter to Pinsky”: “…sheer chance/Which governs half of what turns out to happen/Can feel in retrospect like Destiny.”
Tables proves a raw, every-which-way roaming collection, an enterprise in full creative recall and exposure. Not only do we meet historical people here (Anthony of the Desert, Hadrian, Audubon, Brodsky), but also some related to the poet (Corn’s father, mother, grandmother, Pinsky, Hacker, Fenton, etc.), as well as some convincing shades of people affected by both personal and broader circumstances, like the imagined “senior chef” prepping bread in one of the towers on 9/11 in “Window On the World” and the “Unknown Soldier” who trails off by saying, “From nil and dark the self I knew calls out/For the small tag love once attached me to” in “From the Prompter’s Box.” The endeavor in Tables and its accomplishment/s are truly Dantean.
Corn’s latest poems consequently say there is no way through both the real and imagined life than living through them, which entails the facing and/or voicing of ugly or exalted extremes within families, relationships, friendships, the historical/spiritual, even such out-of-immediate-control externals as national or international conflagrations. Still, and this is what touched me most about the poems taken together, about the poet’s possible nature, if it may be deduced via the energy that made them and their sentiments be, Tables/Corn does not depress, does not sink into self-pity, sanctimoniousness, or misanthropy. Nor do the poems set the poet as above or better than the rest, though the poet is cognizant and communicative of his education, erudition, discipline, striving to grow, succeed, even please as an artist in our tragi-comical, rapidly changing world.
This is not a poetry/poet of self-indulgent escapism either. A poem like Corn’s “Window On the World,” which dares to offer critiques of and possible revisions for the way the 9/11 event has been told, its artifacts valued, proves it; just as do his more personal lyrics like “Resources” and “Series Finale,” where we only need an actual name or names to be dropped that we may have the personal drama/s more true-to-life. Alas, the poet errs on the side of manners/gentility here or perhaps what Aristotle termed “the universal.” Tables has its delicious moments of mirth, too, which lend a needed sweetness, for example, in the wistful, almost Disney/Downton Abbey-worthy poem “Dinner Theater,” where “Sharp Knife starts bantering with Mrs. Fork—/Quips and metallic whispers re Parsnip,/The fossil he’s been trying to butter up.” And more of this table-ready whimsy is at hand while deciding upon a dessert in “Fig”: “What’s to put forward but the sleek green fellow,/The veiny, five-lobed leaf your wineskin swelled/Beside?—like the one Vatican marbles wear/To spare shy gazers a betraying blush.”
So what exactly does Alfred Corn give to those who attempt an ambitious read, a daring to be moved by what is pondered over in Tables? Not only a voice that says life must be lived despite failures, gruesomeness, confusions, deaths, or residual/accrued pain, but a voice that says it is best done when we pause to reflect, consider, reconsider, talk, gaze, read, play, love, pray, eat, drink, fashion art; to pick, smell, consider not just the thorns on the rose bush of life, for they are there, but to acknowledge and celebrate the roses they protect! In effect, Tables shows how we can try and leverage as well as apprehend meaning in a rough and tumble, sometimes painful, sometimes misunderstood world of relations and situations with roots bitter and sweet and in-between. The collection insists upon a world and life that can be enjoyed, lived, examined, leveraged—personally or in community, over a meal, say, whilst at table, reminiscing, joking, or just breaking bread.
Poems from Tables that explore the above and ask for loving rereading: “What the Thunder Said,” “Resources,” “Series Finale,” “Window On the World,” “Coals,” “Dinner Theater,” “Corn, Alfred, D. Jr.,” “St. Anthony in the Desert,” “Priority,” “Vines,” “Upbringing,” “Audubon,” “La Luz Azul,” “Poem Found….,” “Futbol,” “Fig,” “Bond Street Station Underground,” “Letter to Grace Shulman,” “Letter to James Fenton,” “Domus Caerulea,” “New England/China,” “Antarctic,” & “Lighthouse.”
When I was 19, I read the Iliad, Robert Fitzgerald’s translation, which I enjoyed, except for the endless lists of boats. Later, I came to realize the Greeks who were listening to this were from the various tribes mentioned, so when their group of ships came up, they were probably shouting out like soccer hoodlums. This didn’t make me enjoy the list, but it gave me a modicum of empathy.
A list, structured with rhythm and imagery in mind can be one of the chief structural devices of both epic/bardic poetry and free verse. Whitman has more listings than an anal retentive suburbanite. How many people here have at least one parent who loves his or her to do list as much as they love their children? Whitman is a list nut: Whitman lists. One of the syntactic clues to listing is an excess of participles and gerunds, what we will call verbs murdered by “ing.” Whitman is the only great poet who gets away with having more “ings” than metaphors. He’s the “ing” champ. Ginsberg, for all his ings, can’t make a pimple on Walt’s gluteus maximus.
Gerunds are often a sign that a poet hates sentences. Maybe he or she hates them on aesthetic grounds. We tend to think poetry should sound floaty, ephemeral, pretty. Maybe he or she hates sentences because he or she does not know what a sentence is. Some people, especially very poetic middle class people, dislike strong verbs. They don’t like strong anything. It seems brutal to them. Strong verbs are violent. They don’t float. They commit. They create the action of the noun: shit happens. I try to make my classes brutal. I say, “From now on, you are allowed only two ‘ings’ per poem, even if you list. Anymore than that will result in ten points off your grade, unless, of course, with great brilliance, you can defend your excess of gerunds to me and the whole class. Screw Whitman!”
Meter is not rhythm. It is a kind of rhythm, but it isn’t rhythm. We can create rhythm without meter, or rhyme. We can even create a pattern of rhythm without meter or rhyme. We can do so by enumeration (a type of list), repetition, refrain, by a system of alliterations. All these devices are used. We can create rhythm by emphasis: a series of imperative sentences, for example, or by suspense (holding off the payoff of a sentence until the very end–something gerunds are good for). I would suggest you all read Paul Fussell’s Poetic Meter, Poetic Form because it is a beautifully written and lucid book, especially his chapter on free verse. Every time I read this chapter I grow warm and fuzzy, the way people do during slow dances at proms. I am weird that way. Intelligence and lucidity make me stupid with pleasure. So let’s take a look at a list, or enumerations that does not indulge in “ing.” Let’s look at Theodore Roethke’s “Elegy for Jane (My Student Thrown by A Horse)”:
I remember her neck curls, limp and damp as tendrils;
And her quick look, a side long pickerel smile;
And how, once startled into talk, the light syllables leaped for her,
And she balanced in the delight of her thought…
This is a list and it gives us information: not only about Jane, but about the voice of the poem. The “I” of the poem seems, at the very least, charmed by her. He is both listing her qualities and building his relationship to her, and the reader’s sense of his feelings for her and it is all done by a list. Let’s steal the technique for a moment:
I remember her nose, red nostrilled by a cold;
and the way she said “danks” when I tossed her a tissue;
and how, she fell asleep, head on my shoulder,
all the way to Chattanooga…
See how we can steal? Musicians cop chord changes all the time. We have thousands and thousands of effects we can build on. Why not? Poets must find a way to render the emotion. Expression depends on devices, on tricks. Sincerity depends on a strategy of approach. By the way, this use of enumeration is also common to prose. Most devices of rhetoric belong neither to prose nor poetry. They belong to utterance. Okay, so here’s another device: parataxis.
In some ways parataxis the opposite of what we just did. There are no conjoining words such as “and”, “but”, “as”, and so forth. An example of parataxis:
Pluck It– Janet Lynch
It is late. The moon rises in the east
over the Episcopalian church.
Why did I give my heart to an idiot?
The moon in the East will not answer me.
Oh moon, oh eastern rising moon,
why do I expect you to say something?
Idiot! Idiot moon. Idiot me.
I keep hoping he will call.
Hope is the thing with feathers.
There is little order of priority here. Parataxis is what translators of Chinese and Japanese poems often employ. It’s one thing after another.
Alina Gregorian‘s poems have been published in Sink Review, Boston Review, GlitterPony, and other journals. She curates a video poetry reading series at the Huffington Post, co-curates Triptych Readings, and co-edits the collaboration journal Bridge. She teaches creative writing at Rutgers University, and lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is here.
Ode to the Beloved’s Hips
Bells are they—shaped on the eighth day—silvered
percussion in the morning—are the morning.
Swing switch sway. Hold the day away a little
longer, a little slower, a little easy. Call to me—
I wanna rock, I-I wanna rock, I-I wanna rock
right now—so to them I come—struck-dumb
chime-blind, tolling with a throat full of Hosanna.
How many hours bowed against this Infinity of Blessed
Trinity? Communion of Pelvis, Sacrum, Femur.
My mouth—terrible angel, ever-lasting novena,
O, the places I have laid them, knelt and scooped
the amber—fast honey—from their openness—
Ah Muzen Cab’s hidden Temple of Tulúm—licked
smooth the sticky of her hip—heat-thrummed ossa
coxae. Lambent slave to ilium and ischium—I never tire
to shake this wild hive, split with thumb the sweet-
dripped comb—hot hexagonal hole—dark diamond—
to its nectar-dervished queen. Meanad tongue—
come-drunk hum-tranced honey-puller—for her hips,
I am—strummed-song and succubus.
They are the sign: hip. And the cosign: a great book—
the body’s Bible opened up to its Good News Gospel.
Alleluias, Ave Marías, madre mías, ay yay yays,
Ay Dios míos, and hip-hip-hooray.
Cult of Coccyx. Culto de cadera.
Oracle of Orgasm. Rorschach’s riddle:
What do I see? Hips:
Innominate bone. Wish bone. Orpheus bone.
Transubstantiation bone—hips of bread,
wine-whet thighs. Say the word and healed I shall be:
Bone butterfly. Bone wings. Bone Ferris wheel.
Bone basin bone throne bone lamp.
Apparition in the bone grotto—6th mystery—
slick rosary bead—Déme la gracia of a decade
in this garden of carmine flower. Exile me
to the enormous orchard of Alcinous—spiced fruit,
laden-tree—Imparadise me. Because, God,
I am guilty. I am sin-frenzied and full of teeth
for pear upon apple upon fig.
More than all that are your hips.
They are a city. They are Kingdom—
Troy, the hollowed horse, an army of desire—
thirty soldiers in the belly, two in the mouth.
Beloved, your hips are the war.
At night your legs, love, are boulevards
leading me beggared and hungry to your candy
house, your baroque mansion. Even when I am late
and the tables have been cleared,
in the kitchen of your hips, let me eat cake.
O, constellation of pelvic glide—every curve,
a luster, a star. More infinite still, your hips are
kosmic, are universe—galactic carousel of burning
comets and Big Big Bangs. Millennium Falcon,
let me be your Solo. O, hot planet, let me
circumambulate. O, spiral galaxy, I am coming
for your dark matter.
Along las calles de tus muslos I wander—
follow the parade of pulse like a drum line—
descend into your Plaza del Toros—
hands throbbing Miura bulls, dark Isleros.
Your arched hips—ay, mi torera.
Down the long corridor, your wet walls
lead me like a traje de luces—all glitter, glowed.
I am the animal born to rush your rich red
muletas—each breath, each sigh, each groan,
a hooked horn of want. My mouth at your inner
thigh—here I must enter you—mi pobre
Manolete—press and part you like a wound—
make the crowd pounding in the grandstand
of your iliac crest rise up in you and cheer.
Natalie Diaz is Mojave and Pima and was born and raised in Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, CA. After playing professional basketball in Europe and Asia, she returned to Old Dominion University and earned an MFA. Her poetry and fiction has been published in the Iowa Review, the North American Review, Narrative Magazine, Prairie Schooner, and others. Her first book, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press in May 2012. She recently received the 2012 Bread Loaf Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry and a 2012 Lannan Residency in Marfa, TX. She currently lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona where she works with the last speakers of the Mojave language at Fort Mojave and directs a language revitalization program
The Smoke that Settles
The smoke that settles comes from somewhere else.
Carried by breath exhaled like word of mouth.
It’s the bastard offspring of old things and delivered by fate.
Thick with the smell of fresh endings brought on too soon.
Sneaking up on you making eyes burn,
constricting airways and reminding us of what power is.
The smoke that settles travels miles and miles.
Looking for just the right place to weigh heavily
on the hearts and minds of men,
with no regard for their strength or season.
In time, they may rage with fiery passion
or wither in cold air doused by fear.
The smoke that settles will cover us all at some point
forcing us to inhale its conquests and either become a victim
or to exhale new fire warming those around us.
Igniting wild across old lands and forging new justice.
The kind that matters only if you believe
that from old must come new
despite time and sometimes in spite of you.
For I never want to be the smoke that settles.
How sad to be stagnant and blue.
It’s the fires’ job to inspire and create new life.
Leaving behind a legacy drifting behind
smoldering and smoking.
It finds where it belongs and sings songs in remembrance of those it took
with unchained fervor and blind desire.
Because let us not forget that the smoke that settles
will always taste like fire.