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Poems of the Week

Vasiliki Katsarou

PIER AT CANNES

seen at a film (fish)
marketacross the bay, a string of lights

never thought she’d find herself

in an Antonioni film

yet here she is and so is he—
mere witnesses to an abstraction

the dark sea and dark sky meet somewhere

_________________she thinks,
_____directing herself to find a gesture
as apt as this moment

he stares back
in irreflection

The sea and sky may kiss at the horizon
Why not we?

_____________She turns
a cartwheel instead
_____________to approach him
and yet remain distant

absurdity strikes
at the very heart

of the proposition

What a child, an American!

He is of course a French polygamist
with several children by several wives in farmhouses
scattered about the French countryside

so fated to act out

two wholly different scripts,

he says

_____________Un écrivain a dit…
_____________[A writer once said]

là où toutes les eaux se mèlent, là où il y a un delta—
[Where all the waters come together, at the mouth]

la merde l’a créé.
[shit created it.]

But what about beauty
she wonders too late
_____________doesn’t beauty equal love?

she wanders too late
the sky darkens further

_____________La bêtise
_____________[Nonsense]
is his reply
_____________
_____________
from the edge
of that shore
they part

_____________________________________________________________

Vasiliki Katsarou was born and raised in Massachusetts to Greek-born parents, and educated at Harvard College, the University of Paris I-Sorbonne, and Boston University. Her first collection, Memento Tsunami, was published in 2011 and one of its poems was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has appeared in Poetry Daily, wicked alice, Press 1, U.S. 1 Worksheets, Agave Magazine, and Regime Magazine (Australia). Her poems have also been featured in the anthologies Not Somewhere Else But Here: A Contemporary Anthology of Women and Place; Rabbit Ears: TV Poems; and Eating Her Wedding Dress: A Collection of Clothing Poems, for which she also wrote the introduction. Vasiliki has worked in film and television production in France and Greece, and written and directed an award-winning 35mm short film, Fruitlands1843, about the Transcendentalist utopian community. She is the founder and director of the Panoply Books Reading Series in Lambertville, New Jersey.

Lynn_Levin

Faux King in the Parking Lot

 

It was in the parking lot
at the Samba Club
between sets at the Huxley wedding

and he was an Elvis impersonator.
We’d eyed each other during “Love Me Tender”
through his heavy lashes he nodded me over.

Ah, to be taken without being adored.
Though to be adored without being taken
is also a wonder.

Those silver studs on his white suit.
The Brylcreem (I didn’t know
they still made it)

left oil stains, dammit, on my nice
linen skirt. Techno boinked from a passing car
and we pumped to it.

He said his wife didn’t
understand him. “I never sleep with happily
married men,” I told him.

Curling his lip, the faux king shot
“Then you ought to sleep
with your husband.”

I should have slapped him.
But his thighs were hot
and the side of the car was cold.

 

From Miss Plastique (Ragged Sky Press, 2013)

______________________________________________________________

Lynn Levin is the author of Miss Plastique (Ragged Sky Press, 2013), a Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist in poetry; as co-author, Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets (Texture Press, 2013), a Next Generation Indie Book Awards finalist in education/academic books; and a translation from the Spanish, Birds on the Kiswar Tree (2Leaf Press, 2014), by Peruvian poet Odi Gonzales. A two-time Leeway grantee, Levin is also a Bucks County, Pa. poet laureate, and a 10-time Pushcart Prize nominee. She teaches at the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University.

Egan 1

Datura suaveolens

If there were flowers
on the moon they’d look like this,
droopy and luminous,
butter-colored, fading down
to white, I’m thinking,

swinging my bare feet,
sipping at some moon-hued wine
from the lunar landscape
of Sardegna, just as he
asks me if I know

they’re often called “moon-
flowers.” I did not know that,
but I’m not surprised that
he does, nor that he’s read my
poem-thoughts again.

I do know, though, that
this blowsy flower’s parts are
hallucinogenic
as all get out, something that
Rappaccini would

have been proud to bring
into existence were he
in that business rather
than that of breeding a toxic
daughter, beautiful

but unlovable.
And just then I remember
how we went for a walk
through the park behind Domus
Aurea one day

and I was angry
because he hadn’t listened
(or maybe hadn’t heard)
and we passed the Datura
in full moony bloom

and he pretended
that the blossom was an old-
fashioned telephone and
he was trying and trying
to reach me. I thought:

This is marriage, not
some lunatic delusion
of my or his making;
this is what you do,
and I
laughed, and we walked on.

Previously published in Southwest Review, and then appeared in Strange Botany/Botanica Arcana, Italic Pequod, 2014.

______________________________________________________________

Moira Egan’s poetry collections are Strange Botany/Botanica Arcana (Pequod, 2014); Hot Flash Sonnets (Passager Books, 2013); Spin (Entasis Press, 2010, for whom, with Clarinda Harriss, she also co-edited the anthology Hot Sonnets, 2011); La Seta della Cravatta/The Silk of the Tie (Edizioni l’Obliquo, 2009); Bar Napkin Sonnets (The Ledge, 2009); and Cleave (WWPH, 2004). Her work has won many awards and has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the U.S. and abroad, including Best American Poetry; The Book of Forms; Lofty Dogmas: Poets on Poetics; and Kindled Terraces: American Poets in Greece. With her husband, Damiano Abeni, she has published more than a dozen volumes in translation in Italy, by authors such as Ashbery, Barth, Bender, Ferlinghetti, Hecht, Strand, and others. Their translations of Italian poems into English have been published in many U.S. journals, as well as in the FSG Book of 20th Century Italian Poetry and in Patrizia Cavalli’s My Poems Will Not Change the World (FSG). She holds degrees from Bryn Mawr College, Johns Hopkins University, and Columbia University, where James Merrill chose her graduate manuscript for the David Craig Austin Prize.


Egan has been a Mid Atlantic Arts Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; Writer in Residence at St. James Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Malta; a Writing Fellow at the Civitella Ranieri Center; a Fellow at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center; and, in 2015, with Damiano Abeni, will be the writer in residence at the James Merrill House. She lives in Rome, and teaches English and Creative Writing.

Allison Joseph


The Downside of Superpowers


Invisibility makes you aloof,

brute super strength makes you an easy mark

for anyone with trucks to haul, no spark

of gratitude from them. The truth?

Your gift is only special if there’s proof

and ordinary mortals want your work

to entertain them day and night, til dark,

your life a kind of superpower spoof


where all you do is turn them on with speed

or x-ray sight or teleported flesh,

the way you walk through walls or dash through time.

Does anybody care about your needs,

grant you vacation days, an empty beach?

No wonder apathy’s become your crime.

_________________________________________________________________________

Allison Joseph lives, writes and teaches in Carbondale, Illinois, where’s she’s part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University.  Her latest books are _My Father’s Kites_ (Steel Toe Press) and _Trace Particles_(Backbone Press).

tom blood

what we treat it as

 

a hill so big it switches color when clouds push

armadillo red ember echo picnic

I dodder and I stray in crayfish streams

a man carrying a dirigible defense

the one we hand around is full

final and stifling, like a love or re-entry

the glove of Earth and staying seasonly

horse albatross table cloth sky

glass home pinball machine

visitation inertia, bear pawing at trash

acclimating

puff of fog, flash, resembler’s ring

string overflow feather piano and penny

our horses wander and field

a man carrying dirigibles over,

a hero as much as Kenny Rogers cries

on an airplane, about the alone

I ride trolley, trains and sky ferry bus

on a hollow rocket, I head forward by propulsion

to hold you as a soft packed strawberry

our love left, like a napkin on catered table

an embrace drawing of a yet to be

we cannot live in a world that does not distinguish

between the deep sea and our dropping off

as feathers mast our rhino sails

the overture above, expanding

bats creak the sky hero of what we rise,

we exchange keys

a brown coat and polishing tongue

we cannot accustom to disillusionment

satellites find and then we are nebulous

material only in the neighborhood

exchanged glasses

 

It’s been along time

 we talked walking

you stayed peach and I parrot

there is no narrative to resolve

only what we make of trees

pursuing a squad car of questions with paper

pushing legs under clocks

photos that become indiscriminate in rain

we walked on both sides the river

what emerges is not clear

for a instance, the panther coats

illusion heart scenic mystery

crossed fence area before the Safeway moment

hand on a cold fish, mango in my pants

I doubt nothing more than my memory

this is not an Italo Calvino and Maya Angelou novel

wove in Mill City to hope

xerox hand will wave the wand

time, our arms

I am arranging the mane of a bus stop of rain

not a mystery of self escaping

as the world pretty much completes

stories on trains mirroring opposite location

rained on walk water

a sky missing no pieces

a rain maze, illusory and stable

the ghosts are heavy in spots

a forest is not only the trees seen

in a day with no home

a white dog loving its own for a night

_________________________________________

tom blood

Tom Blood is a poet in Portland.  He is the winner of the 2007 Oregon Book Award for poetry, and his work appears in rare realms.

carabella sands

carabella sands

And Now You Want Me One More Time

Your mother told me you were out with the stars. I tried to call but you left your phone on the counter. I went outside. The sun was up. I called your name to the sky. I couldn’t see anything but blue. I called out your name until it was dark. Above an audience of diamonds all laughed at me. They laughed until I lost my voice. Then they sent clouds to fill my cup with water.

I found a new boyfriend. He approached me while I watched birds pluck worms out of a rainy field. I asked him why the birds were able to find worms as soon as they landed. He said worms float on water. Then he kissed me. I felt like a worm.

The Open Eyed Dream Meets The Day Moon

There are people who look like my drawings because I drew them. They crawl out when I stare directly at the page but am thinking of something else. They introduce themselves as Ashley to my doorman when they leave. I’ve made a city of Ashleys. Everyone else has moved because the Ashleys took their jobs. I haven’t had to work in years. Instead I chase the dust from room to room. Sometimes an Ashley comes to help me. They call it praying.

She Read How When She Was Just A Girl

My grandmother wouldn’t let me do the dishes. She told me I would learn to orgasm through doing the dishes with my husband. I would put on the radio and every song would be about washing dishes while he dries with two different towels.

Perfect dishes. No specks. No watermarks.

She wouldn’t let me ride a bicycle either. They were too modern. I would break my leg open. Break my head. No boy would want me if I spilled my head. When skateboards fly, she’d say. Thank god it was 2015. I was upside down on my Hover Board. Look Grandma, I said, I can’t fall.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Carabella Sands has already bought her tombstone: http://carabellasands.tumblr.com/

bobby parker

bobby parker

Author photo courtesy of Matthew Wyndham

 

Jellyfish

There’s no doubt she thinks he’s lost at sea. A smudge of blood on her glasses.

She looks healthy. She wishes he looked healthy. Her weird stare drifts across his

sick face like the shadow of a murder weapon they called love. Her new boyfriend

is a taxi driver. He is a quiet man with at least one tooth missing, so obviously

he’s a paedophile. When their little girl says the new boyfriend’s name her father’s

fingertips go numb; he has visions of the taxi driver’s dismembered corpse

scattered on a cold beach full of baby jellyfish, broken phones, the nights he dies

without her. They share a joint in his parents’ garden, negotiating a future that bites

too hard. Her saliva moist on the filter, he takes the cigarette, inhales, wonders

if this is the last time her spit will touch his lips. The word divorce is sharp,

sound of sirens, fire alarms, flying saucers shining through a nightmare of winter

trees. He stares at her chest, the line of cleavage that may as well be a crack in his

bedroom wall, thinking maybe the sun will explode if he reaches out and touches it,that she might hold his haunted hand tight against her heart until it gets dark, and tell him their marriage was a message that failed to send, and tell him their

daughter is a dream, and tell him to go dig a hole far away from here, as their tears

scatter like silver shrapnel through his mother’s evil flowers and all the sorry

gardens beyond.

 

Odaxelagnia

She told him her new fella can do magic tricks inside her, then slammed a slimy

white rabbit onto the table, spilling cold tea into his crotch and putting him off his

spaghetti. He said, ‘My girlfriend has a tongue like a spinning clock, hurls me back

in time, when childhood sunsets were sugary ghosts and Grandma’s vegetable

soup. She told him her smile is so wide they had to rearrange the furniture because

the corners of her mouth scratched the new sofa and smashed the hallway mirror -

she used the shards to slash their wedding album and their daughter’s favourite

teddy bears. He told her his girlfriend is so good at head she sucks out his skeleton

and spits it onto the windy balcony where it dances the dance of life! She said, ‘Oh

yeah? My fella isn’t a drug addict… He can always get it up!’ He said ‘Oh yeah? My girl drinks a ton of wine, she’s crazy when she’s pissed, she bites my biceps so hard I growl joyful jungle music through my coke-damaged nose as my skin breaks like yesterday and all the days that came before! We use the blood to write shit about you on our parents’ bedroom walls. We use our cum to mask the stench of poems I never truly meant…’ Outside, two half-dead cats were fighting on the toxic lawn. They stopped to watch them awhile, tea-light candles reflecting off their broken fangs as she looked at her phone, and he looked at his phone, both of them pretending to read funny, sexy text messages, when in fact they didn’t have any funny, sexy text messages at all, only low batteries beeping in the absence of real grown-ups to guide them into paradise.

 

Thank You For Swallowing My Cum

I tell cats on the street, ‘Hey kitty, she swallowed my cum!’ I told the shy Indian

woman in the corner shop, ‘Do not be afraid, for she swallowed my cum!’ I even

told my mum but she burned her elbow on the frying pan, then showed me a pile

of depressing bank statements as my dad blew a perfect ring of smoke that broke

like the ghost of a cheap wedding band above the empty fruit bowl. Last week,

while pissing into the sea on a beautiful day in Wales, I cupped my hands around

my stoned smile and yelled, ‘Hey sunset, she swallowed my cum!’ but it shrugged

between misty hills as the tide rolled over my shoes, and my ex hates me. Or she

sometimes hates me. And she never swallowed my cum. What am I doing? Where

am I going? Are you okay? Can I get you anything? I won’t swallow your cum but I could make you a sandwich. I should probably send her a message, make sure it’s

cool to share this with my friends. I don’t want to make her feel awkward;

awkward that I saw myself clean in her company, my blood baptismal water;

awkward that I saw myself happily dying as her fingers scribbled sad stories onto

my pale chest; awkward that I tell cats and nervous Indian women and my stressed

parents and amazing, far out, gore-porn sunsets that Oh Wow! when she swallowedmy cum I forgot how dead I am, because when I’m living inside her mouth I don’t even need to breathe. My stupid life pops right out of my happy mouth, bouncing away like a scruffy old tennis ball under the wheels of the sky and all the things we thought we knew before we knew each other.

_______________________________________

Bobby Parker was born 1982 in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, in the UK.  His publications include the critically acclaimed Ghost Town Music and its equally oddball sequel Comberton (Knives Forks & Spoons Press). His poems, stories, artwork and journalism appear randomly these days (since he is often on the road touring) in places such as The Quietus and other reputable—and not so reputable—print and online magazines. His full-length debut collection of poetry, BLUE MOVIE, is due for release in October from Nine Arches Press.

 

KirunKapurFinal

Just in time for November’s end, this week’s feature offers a heady mix of augury and inspiration. Here’s the stunning title poem from Kirun Kapur’s new book, a powerful first first collection that charts indelible histories.

 

Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist

I don’t know when I realized he had one eye that watched me, alive, the other free to read

the heavens. Could he see I grew where others couldn’t? Could he read my face, in its

lines all their faces—my aunt’s that morning, in the mirror beside mine, hissed, don’t

stare, don’t forget details, it’s your honor to look for all of us. Did he see I hated his eye,

sometimes, hated my honor: the hand always above me. Which eye reads that hand?

Which eye can judge its weight? I wanted to look away. Wanted to cry. His untethered

eye was milky as a teacup. Why have you come here, daughter? Couldn’t say, My father

made me. Couldn’t blame, You looked at Her hand, but you didn’t save Her from a firing

squad. I wouldn’t confess, I am afraid I’ll spend my life under a hand that I can’t stop or

hold. He never touched my palm, imbedded with pencil lead, or the moon under my

thumb, scarred while opening a can. He assured me I’d make a fine wife, a fine mother of

fine sons, prove to be a credit to my family, while his iris swiveled like a wobbly fan. I

made up my mind right then to open my hands—their forked wires, their lines of names

and places—take them.

 

First appeared in FIELD

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Kirun Kapur grew up in Hawaii and has since lived and worked in North America and South Asia. Her work has appeared in AGNI, Poetry International, FIELD, The Christian Science Monitor and many other journals and news outlets. She is the winner of the 2012 Arts & Letters/Rumi Prize for Poetry and the 2013 Antivenom prize for her first book, Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist. She is co-director of the popular Boston-area arts program The Tannery Series and is poetry editor at The Drum. Find out more at www.kirunkapur.com.

Potts
Potts

From the recently published collection, Trickster (University of Iowa Press), Randall Potts offers some uncanny arithmetic.

Math

I put 0 and 0 together
And arrived at nothing.
Nothing was accomplished.
I had done it perfectly.
I made 0 disappear into 0.
I made sure nothing was left.
There was no doubt of it.Next, I made 2 into two.
It was easy: numbers are words.
I made sure nothing was left.
I made sure nothing was said.
I made sure nothing was written
It was getting complicated.My thumb was black with ink.
So, everything I touched became
itself plus me.
Every addition complicated it.
Every mark was a number.
Every number mocked.

I settled on the number one.
I refused all manner of addition.
I was careful to touch nothing.
That’s impossible,” someone said.
I knew someone was right.

____________________________________________________________

Randall Potts is the author of Trickster, published this fall by the University of Iowa Press, Kuhl House poetry series. His previous collection of poems, Collision Center was published by O Books in 1994. His chapbook, Recant: (A Revision) was published by Leave Books in 1994.

He attended the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and has taught creative writing at the graduate and undergraduate levels at the University of San Francisco and California College of the Arts. He lives in Berkeley, California.

For more information on Trickster, visit: http://www.uiowapress.org/books/2014-fall/trickster.htm.

Dubrow

 Photo credit: Cedric Terrell

 

Casualty Notification

            The Only News I know / Is Bulletins all Day / From Immortality.

            – Emily Dickinson

 

Switch channels, stop

the breaking news,

press mute to hush

the anchorman’s reviews

of war, his litany

of each device

and bomb gone off today.

Silence the price

of bread or medicare

or gasoline.

Make the black pinpoint

on the TV screen.

Unplug the blackbox

from the mouth of the wall.

Uncradle the phone so

nobody can call.

Let the venetian blinds

blind everyone

to what’s outside—the dead,

indifferent sun,

the car pulled up along

the curb, the vexed

men in uniforms

looking for next

of kin. They bring a check

to pay the cost

of grieving. Their dark sedan

puffs out exhaust.

And now, the only sound

a daybird singing,

the only bulletin

a doorbell ringing.

 

Previously appeared in West Branch (issue 74, Spring 2014)

 

______________________________________________

Jehanne Dubrow is the author of four poetry collections, including Red Army Red and Stateside (Northwestern University Press, 2012 and 2010), and is the co-editor of The Book of Scented Things: 100 Contemporary Poems About Perfume (Literary House Press, 2014). In 2015, University of New Mexico Press will publish her fifth book, The Arranged Marriage. Her work has appeared in Southern Review, The New England Review, and Prairie Schooner. She is the Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House and an Associate Professor of creative writing at Washington College, where she edits the national literary journal, Cherry Tree.

 

 

Kathryn Rhett

Photo credit: Cade Leebron

As autumn deepens, poet and essayist Kathryn Rhett meditates on the magnetic forces of inner weather.

In Bed

I can’t stop talking about the weather.
You say not to, and I can’t stop.
Did they say it would rain?
The white light pours down—I don’t
think it will rain, but did they say?
I don’t know. It’s eight o’clock
in the morning—
one child has a fever
and another is in a play about death
and nobody’s slept.
He’s performing all the parts about death,
death itself and the one who doesn’t want to die.
The rain and the one who waits
for what they say—
they didn’t call for snow sometimes they’re wrong
it’s no wonder with all this
change in weather he has a fever.
You say not to, and I can’t
stop the white light that filters in
through fabric blinds.
If only you would with your hand
cover my mouth, lay down some violence
like what we watch with satisfaction on TV—
lay down some violence against me
while we wait for
death and what they say we’ll get.

The poem alludes to the play “Death Knocks” by Woody Allen, originally published in The New Yorker, July 27, 1968.

___________________________________________________________________

Kathryn Rhett’s essay collection, Souvenir, has just been published by Carnegie Mellon University Press. She is the author of Near Breathing, a memoir, and her poems and essays have appeared in Harvard Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, River Teeth and elsewhere. An associate professor at Gettysburg College, she also teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte, and in the Pan-European MFA at Cedar Crest College.

For more info about Souvenir, visit: http://www.upne.com/0887485893.html.

Dan Brady

The Lost Ark

Between their wings, space only
for God. The air, charged. Within,
only dust. What shall we put in the ark?

Nothing, but the tablets. The gold
flaked away, baring acacia. The poles
broken. We cannot carry it any further.

What shall we put in the ark? Nothing,
but the testimony. The sand, cemented.
The faces, muted with time. Silent. Eyes closed.

What shall we put in the ark? Only that
which has been commanded. Only that
we may listen. Our attention. Our obedience.

Our vigilance. What shall we put
in the ark? Our ears, our hearts. Nothing,
but the testimony. How He speaks

and moves. The sound of his laughter.
The sound of our cries. His provision.
His victory. The walls, fallen. The necks,

broken. The hands, struck down.
The ark, untouched. Buried, unseen.
What shall we put in the ark? It is over,

destroyed, yet not undone. Nothing,
but what is there. Two tablets. Dust.
The power. The sound. Nothing. The dust.

But what?

 

___________________________________________________________

Dan Brady is is the author of two chapbooks, Cabin Fever / Fossil Record (Flying Guillotine Press, 2014) and Leroy Sequences (Horse Less Press, 2014). He is the poetry editor of Barrelhouse and lives in Arlington, Virginia with his wife and son.

Jill McKenna Reed

Jill McKenna Reed

To-Do During Riots 1

To-Do During Riots 2

To-Do During Riots 3

To-Do During Riots 4

________________________________________________________________

Jill McKenna Reed is a poet, writing instructor, and beekeeper living in Portland, Oregon. She is co-editor of “Winged: New Writing on Bees,” an anthology of modern literary writing, forthcoming in October of 2014. Jill earned her MFA in Creative Writing Poetry at Portland State University. She is a native of the Chicago area.

Jess Burnquist

 

Jess Burnquist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Difficult Drama of Nature

How cool the air above the horizon—the sky lights up
As you take your leave. And this leaving feels severe
It feels the way trees look as they clutch rough edges of land
All the while being shaped by a persistent wind.

I can be traced by satellite. Here is my house on a virtual map
But what of your soul? What of this next-phase?

I might be the tree clawing to stay. Also, you might be the wind.
The moon pulls these thoughts across a barren sea named Desert.
You dwelled here for a time with your lens—finding the synesthesia
In the mindlessness of the mesquite. What did I forget
To tell you before you splintered from your body
So fraught and pale—so tired of the process of breath?

You should know that your intended stillness
Gave way to the most difficult shifts of voice.
Your lithograph—the tea stained print
Of hallway and woman in three point perspective
Would form a constellation. And, dear friend,
We spoke once about the dead light of stars—the endless travelling
To briefly illuminate. I ask of contrast, why life/death? Why black/white?

There are no areas unmarked by this gasp
Of collective color. I gaze through darkness
Upwards to notice the moon. How it forms
A shy smile—a knowing wisp of light._________________________________________________________________

Jess Burnquist was raised in Tempe, Arizona. She received her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from Arizona State University. Her work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Persona, Clackamas Literary Review, Natural Bridge and various online journals. She is a recipient of the Joan Frazier Memorial Award for the Arts at ASU. Jess currently teaches English and Creative Writing at Combs High School in San Tan Valley, and has been honored with a Sylvan Silver Apple Award and grant for teaching. She resides in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area with her husband, son, and daughter.

 

Jen Ashburn

Jen Ashburn

The Flight Home                                                                  En Route to Louisville

Remember the laundry that hangs on bamboo fences, on the edges of corrugated tin, on the rafters next to fishing nets that clump together and billow like 18th-century petticoats. Remember the blue jeans, the yellow t-shirts, the thick-hooded sweatshirts. Remember the slender brown legs that slide into the jeans, the fat lips of the toddler who sat on your lap, the hands of the man who, while working his day job as a security guard in front of an ATM, tied the knots that made the nets. Remember the brown waters of the Mekong, the Nam Khong, the Nam Song, the heavy rains in the afternoon, the early morning mist. Remember the clear rising song of a gibbon family at dawn. Remember the Chinese rock music. The gristle and fat in the meat. Even remember the mosquitos and salmonella. Remember how to say, “Do you speak English?” in five languages. And thank you. And please. Let me remember even when I’m hunched with work, when I’m old and crumpled with life. This life. Thank you. Please.

_________________________________________________________________

Jen Ashburn recently completed her MFA at Chatham University in poetry and creative nonfiction. She has work published or forthcoming in Grey Sparrow, Pretty Owl Poetry, Anak Sastra, The Poet’s Billow, Puff Puff Prose & Poetry Vol. II and the anthology Make Mine Words (Trinity University Press). She lives in Pittsburgh.

sumana roy

sumana roy

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

At night, after you close the day like a book,

you grope for a bookmark.

That is peace, the house’s morphine,

for which you pay the bank interest.

The neighbour switches off the lights –

darkness becomes a sound.

The moonlight rests somewhere on the terrace,

making of your house its inn.

 

On a day like today,

you want to send your house on a holiday,

knowing that it will return to you

like a little child does, when thrown up into the sky.

Once the house was your child.

Now you are its slave.

It behaves like a pensioner.

 

(There are the cobwebs, the house’s cuticles,

always in need of paring.

Dreams make the skull of a house, you know.

You spend your life looking for the house’s tail.)

 

Once camels could pass through eyes of needles.

I laughed at the folly of my ancestors.

Now, as if in revenge, the three storeyed house passes through my eyes.

I see other things – impossibilities:

It is possible to hate humans, even those we love,

but your house?

Love returns after every bout of housekeeping,

like saliva in your mouth.

 

So every night you lock the gate.

And the boundary wall becomes an engagement ring.

sumana roy illustration

(Illustration by Avirup Ghosh)

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Sumana Roy writes from Siliguri, a small town in sub-Himalayan Bengal. Find her at www.sumanaroy.com