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Poems of the Week

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.

Doc, there was a hand

Doc, there was a hand, my bed
was pushed across the room,
the wallpaper looked, I drew
faces on the flowers, this one
with closed eyes, and when I woke
they suddenly opened. I watched
my father wash his hands with gasoline,
he always smelled of something
burning. He held out his hands,
twin flames, volcanic rock.
In the room, I mapped out
an archipelago of needs—
mine, then his, then my father’s.
Stray rocks, a map. Doc, you call it
schema, me shut-eyed, my cousin’s
hostile need. I dreamt
my arms were raised. I think
in surrender. I’ve been studying
Freud’s On Dreams, wish fulfillment,
my cousin’s hostile need. He returns
like a wild obsession. (There, like a skein
in my dreams.) Archipelago of desire.
I skip stones, one to another.
My mother’s shame, father’s cold
and brutal shielding. There was
more tenderness in the rain.
I woke with an archipelago
of bruises. It wasn’t my father.
It was a rolodex, scattering
pages. A child’s hips and fingers
long and thick.

_______________________________________________________
Cathy Linh Che’s first book of poems Split will be published by Alice James Books in 2014. She has received fellowships from The Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, Kundiman, and Poets & Writers. She currently lives in Brooklyn, where she co-edits the online journal Paperbag.

 

Author’s statement: In the summer of 2012, M.A, Vizsolyi visited Ronnie Yates in Houston, Texas, where it was hot as a mofo. They took walks beneath the live oaks, sweated their asses off, and at night, on the roof of Nick Flynn’s apartment (Nick was away in Paris), they began a collaboration tentatively titled, “It’d be a little cooler not to Rock This,” from which this poem is taken.

Houston Poem 26

this moment
she’s flowering
there were boys around her

that does suck
i agree with that
talk about that grief

i would have been like ‘whoa’
morality is a bitch

but dude

morality will grind your ass
it will fucking stripe your ass
it’s a cat of nine tails
rightous indignation
that’s a legion of decency

oh my shit

that’s like scarlet letter styles
that’s like dragging that girl by the hair

terrible humiliation

nah!

i don’t think that’s what one should do
i don’t think that’s what one should give one’s energies to

_____________________________________________________________
M.A. Vizsolyi’s first book of poems, The Lamp with Wings, was a National Poetry Series selection. His poems have recently appeared in the journals Ploughshares, Tuesday: An Art Project, Ninth Letter, and BOMB. He currently rocks it in Brooklyn.

Ronnie Yates‘ poems have appeared in Ploughshares, POOL, and Colorado Review. His manuscript, Inconsolable Garden, was a finalist for the 2012 Emily Dickinson First Book Award. He is currently rockin’ it in Houston, Texas.

When you fell asleep with your fingerprint on the sensor

I kept your hand warm. I kept my hand above the hand
on your controller, and we scrolled through the menus
together, punched your dream onto the screen.
It was a first person shooter. You navigated through
levels reserved for early adopters. Every portal
glowing in the dark. Of course I’d never dream
you’d cruise through rooms of memory. How you used to
sleeptalk about the startup, in the morning beg me
tell exactly what you’d said. A room filled with diamonds
and enemies, the exit a sewer stacked with rubies
and man-size rats. Aboveground, the circuits of the sky
surge on. A figure on a bridge rimmed with gold coins,
no railing, goes down. You muscle your way into a villa
stocked with backstabbers and portraits of riches.
I never recognize myself in any of the victims.

__________________________________________________________
Elsbeth Pancrazi works for the Poetry Society of America, serves on the editorial board of PEN Journal, and sometimes binds books for Small Anchor Press. Her poems and book reviews have appeared on BOMBlog, Bookslut, Boog City Reader, Forklift, Ohio, H_ngm_n, and elsewhere in print and on the web.

FOR IBRAHIM QASHOUSH

They found you like a river stone
in the Orontes where the people fished
you out. And like oil on water
you take the tint of all colors.
Now a streetwise nation wakes,
thousands on the Brooklyn Bridge,
down Broadway, Cleveland,
L.A., on the lawn of the Capitol
jailbreaking our jobs and mountains,
our houses foreclosing or falling down.
There’s no due process to undo
a quarter-century of bankers
clapping the beat of a pop tune,
people lost to a blindfold of interest.
Listen. They’re singing your song
in the square, old and young, a voice
wading out where the cameras can see.

____________________________________________
Laren McClung is the author of Between Here and Monkey Mountain (Sheep Meadow 2012). She lives between two cities.

from (Opera)
Asylum

1.

______Here is the proof,
____________everything about me.

I couldn’t stop thinking
___________about myself as him,
so the revelatory parts of me
_____like confetti undropped
grew dusty and apologetic.

“It isn’t enough
_____to tell you any more.”

____________*

_____“I’d like to think myself
_____a generation who stayed married.”

Back here, while walking past the foreign languages,
my daily discussion with the parrot behind me,

_____above all I am unaware
who is trying to help.

____________*

_____Given an infinity to write this,
___________you might. On courage:
so much is trial and error.

_____To adapt though, to take
the raw materials
_____of predestination and refine
to a convenient last name.

_____Once, my father
_____said something accidentally
better than any he ever thought.

____________*

_____The closest I get to being alone
an unanswered phone,
_____the showers even crowded.

_____Nancy the butcherbird changes
_____the sheets and rallies discrete
with nicknames and subtle blames
_____we carry
_____with teaspoons
_____to our bedrooms.

______________________________________________________
Brian Trimboli graduated from NYU with his MFA. While there, he held a fellowship for The Veteran Writers Workshop, and was the Poetry Editor for Washington Square Review. He has poems most recently in Gulf Coast; Forklift, Ohio; and No, Dear. He’s been pretty occupied lately with gardening and baseball, but still finds time when necessary.

Crude

H2
its smothered
O

circling
for sense

there is none

three-eyed
or blind

delirious
with repair

eventually
or now

_________________________________________________
Kevin Simmonds is a San Francisco-based writer, musician and filmmaker originally from New Orleans. His writing has appeared in jubilat, Kyoto Journal, Massachusetts Review and Poetry. His books include the poetry collection Mad for Meat and two edited works: the poetry anthology Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality and the late poet Carrie Allen McCray’s Ota Benga under My Mother’s Roof. He wrote the music for the Emmy Award-winning documentary Hope: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica and Voice.

 

The following is from a series of Pi Poems, or Cadae—the alphabetical equivalent of the first five digits of Pi (3.1415).

Pi is a transcendental number that is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter approximately equal to 3.1415926535897.

In poetry, it has been used as the basis for a syllabic form that obeys the following distribution of syllables and stanza lengths, resulting (by line length) in a kind of sonnet:

xxx __________(3)
x ____________(1)___________ } 3
xxxx _________(4)

x ____________(1)___________ } 1

xxxxx ________(5)
xxxxxxxxx ____(9)
xx ___________(2)___________ } 4
xxxxxx _______(6)

xxxxx ________(5)___________ } 1

xxx __________(3)
xxxxx ________(5)
xxxxxxxx _____(8)___________ } 5
xxxxxxxxx ____(9)
xxxxxxx ______(7)

 

from Cadae: The Pi Poems

1

The music
stopped
for a moment

then—

when we began
to savor in its absence silence—
started
again, maybe a bit

louder than before

or maybe
we only heard it
as such, a sudden intrusion
we had previously not noticed
and this is what disturbed us.

2

No matter
where
the city gays

there

confess their scene is
a sad huddle of hopeless bottoms
each one
wishing for some dream top

to plough him senseless—

an Eden
understood only
by those first barred who with an air
of almost tragic boredom insist
their loss is epidemic.

3

Imagine
some
body you would

love

to fuck then try to
find this body somewhere in the world
and while
you look and encounter

as you are bound to

encounter
one disappointment
after another imagine
just how thin and stripped of incident
your life would be otherwise

________________________________________________
Tony Leuzzi is a writer and teacher living in Rochester, NY. His second book of poems, Radiant Losses, won the New Sins Editors’ Prize. In November 2012, BOA Editions will release Passwords Primeval, a book of interviews with twenty American poets.

 

Assumption, The

Climb, the
Premise, the—

What drama
_____of the size of signs, of sighs
Seized at zero.

A dry soul is best
_____because combustible—

But to stand
_____beyond witness, burying the sun

_____or else writing fire
_____along a circumference of unclosing

—this is my faith & my reason.

I enter history
As a secret agent or stone effigy

_____dedicated to communism
_____but eaten away by music.

My chorus
_____vacuum-crowded, I
_____beg to begin—

If now
_____is a precipice, then
A human voice predates the universe.

Everything sends, never to receive
This message

Premonitory to a shriek—of
Shredded
_____immensité the vocable, irrevocable
_____Proof.

_____________________________________________________
Andrew Joron is the author of Trance Archive: New and Selected Poems (City Lights, 2010) and translator of the German fantasy writer Paul Scheerbart’s The Perpetual Motion Machine (Wakefield Press, 2011). Joron lives in Berkeley, California, and plays the theremin in the dark ambient quartet Cloud Shepherd.

[Then there is this dream with its other bright edges]

Then there is this dream with its other bright edges,
a piece of paper spread over the flowering field,

thin as a reflection. You know what’s wound
tight there, wanting to undo.

Even when you don’t look, it is still there,

all brazen and sting, all blast-net of stars:

a single-walled room that is eating itself,

one big hole of hallway,
pale and crustacean. And inside it,

the milk-film bristles with light. Inside,

you keep filling with water,

and the water keeps filling with copies of you.

_____________________________________________________
Niina Pollari wrote two chapbooks of poetry, Fabulous Essential (Birds of Lace 2009) and Book Four (Hyacinth Girl 2011). With Judy Berman, she is editing the essay collection It’s Complicated: Feminists Write about the Misogynist Art We Love.

The 8th of May: A Vow Made for the 7th of May

Upon seeing a video of a man in North Carolina firing his rifle
into a sign asking citizens to Vote Against NC Amendment One.

There are oaks that remember
what we would forget—the burn of the rope,
how a body takes on more weight
the moment it breathes its last, how
the earth below shoeless feet grows
hungry for the slaughtered. There are rooms
where paint has been rolled over
blood, where the body’s salt has been
vacuumed into bags of dust, where the veneer
of a nightstand still bears the imprint
of a living hand’s last message. Ghosts
of children and men and women hang
from fences, linger in the corners
of dorm rooms, courtrooms, churches.
This is how we deal with it around here, he said,
after emptying his gun into a plea for equality, and some people
were shocked by his quivering pride. I will try
not to think of him when I stand in a room
in DC and vow to love the man
I have loved for 16 years. I will try not to remember
that 17 years ago, a friend of mine opened his door
to a plea for help from the other side, only to be robbed
then stabbed to death with his own kitchen knife
because the thief felt threatened that my friend—
while begging for his life—revealed that he was gay.
I will even try not to think of my grandfather
who cannot forgive me for loving the man
who held me steady as I purchased the dress my grandmother
was to be buried in. I will try not to think of the memory
of these oaks, of those fences, of some rooms. I will say I will
and mean carry on loving you until death. I will
think of the dorm room where we first made love,
I will think of the fence around our house
and its roses that change color in the heat. I will
think of the Carolina oak who might just remember
the night we kissed in the first bands of rain
from a hurricane just making landfall.

_____________________________________________________
Daniel Nathan Terry, a former landscaper and horticulturist, is the author of Capturing the Dead (NFSPS 2008), which won The Stevens Prize, and a chapbook, Days of Dark Miracles (Seven Kitchens Press 2011). His second full-length book, Waxwings, is forthcoming from Lethe Press in July of 2012. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in journals and anthologies including New South, Poet Lore, Chautauqua, and Collective Brightness. He teaches English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Cape Fear Community college, and he serves on the advisory board of One Pause Poetry.

Note: This poem will also appear in the October issue of r.kv.r.y.

The Meaning Comes Close

All the cognates. This knowledge we’ve invented. Refracted by motion. Disguised as the
moon. Built of shells. All the stranger. And without a word for.

Materiality has a fulcrum. Where these narratives move. As functions of the wind.

_________________________________________________________
Sophie Sills‘ full length book of poetry, Elemental Perceptions: A Panorama was released from BlazeVOX Books in the winter of 2010. Her poems and literary criticism have appeared in various journals. She lives in Los Angeles and publishes the Peacock Online Review.










__________________________________________________________________
Phoebe Giannisi is a poet and architect. She works as an assistant professor at the University of Thessaly in Greece, where she teaches design and poetics related to urban space and landscape. She is interested in the performative and acoustic dimensions of poetry, and she organizes in situ poetic performances in public spaces. In 2010 she was co-curator for the Greek Pavilion of the 12th International Architecture Exhibition (La Biennale di Venezia). She is the author of several poetry collections including Loops (Nefeli Editions) and Homerica (Kedros Editions), as well as the chapbooks Sea Urchins and Ramazan. She has also published numerous books on Ancient Greek poetics and architecture. Read one of her chapbooks here.

The Scottish Play

The Scottish play the bagpipes with dignity to escort people from here to there.  You can read about this in Wee Gillis. An English teacher was teaching himself Finnish:  “Every morning my wife and daughters ask me, Have you finished your Finnish?”  Well, had he?  Finnan Haddie!  It’s an appealing idea, costumed musicians accompanying you wherever you go.  Bath is an antithesis of Scotland, fount vs. tarn.  Elsewhere, a mighty pinto was named Atlas not because he was strong (which he was), but because his markings described the Americas.  Suppose you are headed up the crags to visit this tarn.  In the US your car has bumpers; in the UK, guards.  Bumpers is defeatist, isn’t it?  As if you knew you’d crash.  This text could be set in Helvetica. ________________________________________________________ Caroline Knox‘s sixth book, Quaker Guns (Wave, 2008), received a Recommended Reading Award 2009 from the Massachusetts Center for the Book.  Her eighth book,Flemish, will appear in 2013.  She has recent work in A Public Space and Denver Quarterly.

Sad Indianapolis

I go to the movie theatre
to look at the rows of exit lights

just to feel like I’m landing in my life.

I tried to pull the world back
from the explosion;

but it is snowing;

the sky looks like
falling ash.

Each morning I stitch together
a moment, say,

the muted
light around a bowl of peaches,

but soon the junior
senator in me so timidly casts
his vote for desire

I can barely pour the milk.

Sad Indianapolis, famous
only for a race

that comes once a year,
the noise so loud it evacuates
the head briefly
and orderly

like a fire drill; then it all returns:

worries, regrets,
Yvonne, the hilltop, endless strip-
mall parking lots

where I would sit
as a teenager, the tongue
of the world on my battery,
and feel a huge, yet exact

emptiness, as if someone
were unfolding thousands of
little origami cranes in my chest.

This is a thankless town. You could burn
it and it would look better.

But still my heart
still wins, its penny slots

sometimes just walking
the neighborhood, admiring leaves:

How do I say this?

What I want is some ugly little
animal to be invented,
unloved, unnecessary

to represent
what can’t be

put back in order. To live in place
of where I live.

_____________________________________________________________
Frank Montesonti is the author of Blight, Blight, Blight, Ray of Hope (Barrow Street Press), and the chapbook A Civic Pageant (Black Lawrence Press, 2009). He has been published in literary journals such as Tin HouseBlack Warrior ReviewAQRPoet Lore, and Poems and Plays, among many others. His second full-length collection, Hope Tree, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2014. He has an MFA from the University of Arizona and teaches poetry at National University. A longtime resident of Indiana, he now lives in Los Angeles, California.