Tuesday, May 23, 2017

from The Uses of The Body by Deborah Landau


from The Uses of The Body


Before you have kids,
you get a dog.

Then when you get a baby,
you wait for the dog to die.

When the dog dies,
it’s a relief.

When your babies aren’t babies,
you want a dog again.

The uses of the body,
you see where they end.

But we are only in the middle,
only mid-way.

The organs growing older in their plush pockets
ticking toward the wearing out.

We are here and soon won’t be
(despite the cozy bed stuffed dog pillows books clock).

The boy with his socks on and pajamas.
A series of accidental collisions.

Pressure in the chest. Everyone breathing
for now, in and out, all night.

These sad things, they have to be.
I go into the kitchen thinking to sweeten myself.

Boiled eggs won’t do a thing.
Oysters. Lysol. Peanut butter. Gin.

Big babyface, getting fed.
I am twenty. I am thirty. I am forty years old.

A friend said Listen,
you have to try to calm down.

 

Monday, May 22, 2017

At the Palais Garnier by Richie Hofmann


At the Palais Garnier
 
We always arrived late,
     sometimes in masks. You wore a sword
at your side. The heads that watched
     our little pageant were busts of the great composers
and not men lined up for the executions.
     The style was Second Empire,
but the Empire had already fallen
     by the time the façade was finished.
The casts changed seasonally
     like our lovers. I remember,
through black lace fans, Hänsel & Gretl
     eating a garish cake in the darkness.
We covered our mouths
     when we laughed at the children trapped
in the house of sweets. We ate cake at intermission
     in order to stay awake.

 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Horns by Kwame Dawes


Horns

In every crowd, there is the one
with horns, casually moving through
the bodies as if this is the living

room of a creature with horns,
a long cloak and the song of tongues
on the lips of the body. To see

the horns, one’s heart rate must
reach one hundred and seventy
five beats per minute, at a rate

faster than the blink of an eye,
for the body with horns lives
in the space between the blink

and light — slow down the blink
and somewhere in the white space
between sight and sightlessness

is twilight, and in that place,
that gap, the stop-time, the horn-
headed creatures appear,

spinning, dancing, strolling
through the crowd; and in the
fever of revelation, you will

understand why the shaman
is filled with the hubris
of creation, why the healer

forgets herself and feels like
angels about to take flight.
My head throbs under

the mosquito mesh, the drums
do not stop through the night,
the one with horns feeds

me sour porridge and nuts
and sways, Welcome, welcome.

 

Ode to Magic by Bob Hicok


Ode to Magic

Do the one where you bring the woman
back from the dead, his host, the king, commanded,
but the magician would not.

He did the one in which he was one half
of the folk-indie duo Heartwind.

He did the one that required a volunteer tornado
from the audience.

He did the one in which the lungs of a warlord
are filled with lava.

But he would not bring the woman back from the dead.

The king wanted to cut his head off
but the queen said, Perhaps this is just a poem.
This is just a poem.

Everyone is alive as long as the poem is alive.

The king wears a crown of a thousand crows.

The queen keeps three lovers inside the castle
of her dress, the third a spare for the second,
the second a technical advisor to the first.

The magician’s tongue is nothing but the word
abracadabra and the dead woman has just written
cotton candy on her shopping list, just written
antelopes and reminded the poet
he is running out of things to say.

The queen asks him, Do the one in which your heart
is folded over and pounded with moonlight,
in which you claim to miss everything —
I like how big your arms are in that one,
your throat the size of the universe
before silence gets the last word.

Oh, that one, the poet says, is this one,
is the only one.

Listen to it sound like shucked corn,
like a single blade of grass eating sun,
like any train or noisemaker or hallelujah
that will keep this line from being
the last line, and this line
but not the coming line, the hush,
the crush it is.

 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Rape Joke by Patricia Lockwood


Rape Joke

The rape joke is that you were 19 years old.

The rape joke is that he was your boyfriend.

The rape joke it wore a goatee. A goatee.

Imagine the rape joke looking in the mirror, perfectly reflecting back itself, and grooming itself to look more like a rape joke. “Ahhhh,” it thinks. “Yes. A goatee.”

No offense.

The rape joke is that he was seven years older. The rape joke is that you had known him for years, since you were too young to be interesting to him. You liked that use of the word interesting, as if you were a piece of knowledge that someone could be desperate to acquire, to assimilate, and to spit back out in different form through his goateed mouth.

Then suddenly you were older, but not very old at all.

The rape joke is that you had been drinking wine coolers. Wine coolers! Who drinks wine coolers? People who get raped, according to the rape joke.

The rape joke is he was a bouncer, and kept people out for a living.

Not you!

The rape joke is that he carried a knife, and would show it to you, and would turn it over and over in his hands as if it were a book.

He wasn’t threatening you, you understood. He just really liked his knife.

The rape joke is he once almost murdered a dude by throwing him through a plate-glass window. The next day he told you and he was trembling, which you took as evidence of his sensitivity.

How can a piece of knowledge be stupid? But of course you were so stupid.

The rape joke is that sometimes he would tell you you were going on a date and then take you over to his best friend Peewee’s house and make you watch wrestling while they all got high.

The rape joke is that his best friend was named Peewee.

OK, the rape joke is that he worshiped The Rock.

Like the dude was completely in love with The Rock. He thought it was so great what he could do with his eyebrow.

The rape joke is he called wrestling “a soap opera for men.” Men love drama too, he assured you.

The rape joke is that his bookshelf was just a row of paperbacks about serial killers. You mistook this for an interest in history, and laboring under this misapprehension you once gave him a copy of Günter Grass’s My Century, which he never even tried to read.

It gets funnier.

The rape joke is that he kept a diary. I wonder if he wrote about the rape in it.

The rape joke is that you read it once, and he talked about another girl. He called her Miss Geography, and said “he didn’t have those urges when he looked at her anymore,” not since he met you. Close call, Miss Geography!

The rape joke is that he was your father’s high-school student — your father taught World Religion. You helped him clean out his classroom at the end of the year, and he let you take home the most beat-up textbooks.

The rape joke is that he knew you when you were 12 years old. He once helped your family move two states over, and you drove from Cincinnati to St. Louis with him, all by yourselves, and he was kind to you, and you talked the whole way. He had chaw in his mouth the entire time, and you told him he was disgusting and he laughed, and spat the juice through his goatee into a Mountain Dew bottle.

The rape joke is that come on, you should have seen it coming. This rape joke is practically writing itself.

The rape joke is that you were facedown. The rape joke is you were wearing a pretty green necklace that your sister had made for you. Later you cut that necklace up. The mattress felt a specific way, and your mouth felt a specific way open against it, as if you were speaking, but you know you were not. As if your mouth were open ten years into the future, reciting a poem called Rape Joke.

The rape joke is that time is different, becomes more horrible and more habitable, and accommodates your need to go deeper into it.

Just like the body, which more than a concrete form is a capacity.

You know the body of time is elastic, can take almost anything you give it, and heals quickly.


The rape joke is that of course there was blood, which in human beings is so close to the surface.

The rape joke is you went home like nothing happened, and laughed about it the next day and the day after that, and when you told people you laughed, and that was the rape joke.

It was a year before you told your parents, because he was like a son to them. The rape joke is that when you told your father, he made the sign of the cross over you and said, “I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” which even in its total wrongheadedness, was so completely sweet.

The rape joke is that you were crazy for the next five years, and had to move cities, and had to move states, and whole days went down into the sinkhole of thinking about why it happened. Like you went to look at your backyard and suddenly it wasn’t there, and you were looking down into the center of the earth, which played the same red event perpetually.

The rape joke is that after a while you weren’t crazy anymore, but close call, Miss Geography.

The rape joke is that for the next five years all you did was write, and never about yourself, about anything else, about apples on the tree, about islands, dead poets and the worms that aerated them, and there was no warm body in what you wrote, it was elsewhere.

The rape joke is that this is finally artless. The rape joke is that you do not write artlessly.

The rape joke is if you write a poem called Rape Joke, you’re asking for it to become the only thing people remember about you.

The rape joke is that you asked why he did it. The rape joke is he said he didn’t know, like what else would a rape joke say? The rape joke said YOU were the one who was drunk, and the rape joke said you remembered it wrong, which made you laugh out loud for one long split-open second. The wine coolers weren’t Bartles & Jaymes, but it would be funnier for the rape joke if they were. It was some pussy flavor, like Passionate Mango or Destroyed Strawberry, which you drank down without question and trustingly in the heart of Cincinnati Ohio.

Can rape jokes be funny at all, is the question.

Can any part of the rape joke be funny. The part where it ends — haha, just kidding! Though you did dream of killing the rape joke for years, spilling all of its blood out, and telling it that way.

The rape joke cries out for the right to be told.

The rape joke is that this is just how it happened.

The rape joke is that the next day he gave you Pet Sounds. No really. Pet Sounds. He said he was sorry and then he gave you Pet Sounds. Come on, that’s a little bit funny.

Admit it.

 

Temptation of the Composer by Airea D. Matthews


Temptation of the Composer
 
Oh Shepherd, our honeyed marriage
          bed in the meadow was too narrow
and though you herd wild things,
          you were deaf to my footsteps.
As you lay there in the dew of me, curled,
          satiated, I tiptoed backwards
toward our door under twisted reeds.
          Out where pasture led to brackish
waters and red-hot mists rose from quartz
          I lowered myself into rockpores
while rushing wings of screech owls
           seemed to sing: Welcome, Dark-Light
                                             Welcome, Wild-Love
 
Home
                         Home
                                                   Away

 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Slander by Franz Wright


Slander
 
I can just hear them
on the telephone and keening
all their kissy little knives
 
or voraciously taking turns
nursing a lie
still in its early white whisperhood
 
and I could do something
bad back to them
someday, I guess—
 
but why
 
Exclusion doesn’t hurt
that much, in fact
 
I’ve visited the stars on foot
 
Come disdain of the dreamhand for grammar
and fame, this Boston’s
gothic chilly April
night (new leaves the color
of her eyes) beloved
booknight real
real world, oh
prasini arachnid
s'agapo
 
Light green eyes dusk distant
tolling now fading
to heartscar
which says
 
I was loved, always
loved
 
And then they wounded me
so usefully—