Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Persistence of Vision: Televised Confession by Solmaz Sharif

Persistence of Vision: Televised Confession

You are like a daughter
to me—the prisoner’s
mother tells me. Meal by
meal she sets then clears. She

rinses some tablewear
the prisoner never
held, then a glass she did,
then recalls her daughter’s

mouth opening softly
to drink water on state-
run TV, then water
over everything. The

glass appears in hundreds
of frames before reaching
the prisoner’s lips. In
between each frame, the grief

our eyes jump to create
movement: dark strips to keep
sharp the glass lip, water
skin trembling, hand that

trembles it. These mothers
move as flipbooks, tiny,
stuttering pasts, sobbing
at the sink. It is death

that sharpens our sight each
sixteenth second, slender,
blocking enough light so
that the prisoner’s face

is again and again
alive each light-punctured
frame, her mouth: in hundreds
of stills is still opening

softly to drink.


Monday, September 18, 2017

The First Person Who Will Live to Be One Hundred and Fifty Years Old Has Already Been Born by Nicole Sealey

The First Person Who Will Live to Be One Hundred and Fifty Years Old Has Already Been Born
Scientists say the average human
life gets three months longer every year.
By this math, death will be optional. Like a tie
or dessert or suffering. My mother asks
whether I’d want to live forever.
“I’d get bored,” I tell her. “But,” she says,
“there’s so much to do,” meaning
she believes there’s much she hasn’t done.
Thirty years ago she was the age I am now
but, unlike me, too industrious to think about
birds disappeared by rain. If only we had more
time or enough money to be kept on ice
until such a time science could bring us back.
Of late my mother has begun to think life
short-lived. I’m too young to convince her
otherwise. The one and only occasion
I was in the same room as the Mona Lisa,
it was encased in glass behind what I imagine
were velvet ropes. There’s far less between
ourselves and oblivion—skin that often defeats
its very purpose. Or maybe its purpose
isn’t protection at all, but rather to provide
a place, similar to a doctor’s waiting room,
in which to sit until our names are called.
Hold your questions until the end.
Mother, measure my wide-open arms—
we still have this much time to kill. 


Sunday, September 17, 2017

When You Are Old by W. B. Yeats

When You Are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.


Saturday, September 16, 2017

Death Barged In by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

Death Barged In
In his Russian greatcoat
slamming open the door  
with an unpardonable bang,
and he has been here ever since.  
He changes everything,
rearranges the furniture,
his hand hovers  
by the phone;
he will answer now, he says;
he will be the answer.  
Tonight he sits down to dinner
at the head of the table
as we eat, mute;
later, he climbs into bed
between us.    
Even as I sit here,
he stands behind me
clamping two  
colossal hands on my shoulders
and bends down  
and whispers to my neck,
From now on,
you write about me


Yellow Rain by Mai Der Vang

Yellow Rain

First, the sting
in your nose.

Then in your eyes,
a furnace flared

To hollow
your face.

Flies above
your empty sockets.

Maggots made
your split skin.

Another cow dies
from breathing

as you swallowed
from the same air.

How many days before
it wintered you gray

in this wilderness turned

How many hours
before the lesions,

before your vomit
hardens the earthen

floor. Somewhere
a house ages cold,

no longer warmed
by the hearth

you once tended.
No one lights

any spirit money.
No one chants the way.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Another Country by Jim Harrison

Another Country

I love these raw moist dawns with
a thousand birds you hear but can’t
quite see in the mist.
My old alien body is a foreigner
struggling to get into another country.
The loon call makes me shiver.
Back at the cabin I see a book
and am not quite sure what that is.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Fusion by Rae Armantrout

When we recognize we  “think again”
without knowing what or if
we thought before.
I confuse copper
with brass.
To recognize is almost
always a pleasure;
perhaps it is pleasure itself.
I confuse Melissa
with Melissa.
To recognize is not
only to give something a name
but to give it the very name
that was waiting for it
as if thing and name had been
sad without each other.
That’s a woman
in an arctic-fox costume
singing,  “Don’t you worry
‘bout a thing,
I confuse worry with
Darkness in the shape
of leaves
flows over a building;
black ellipses
on the bay
and falling into place


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Wild Silk by Brian Russell

Wild Silk
out in the wild the kingdom
of worms spin in silence
in separation and live
to leave behind
what’s become to them
useless such as luxury
begins and again becomes
the meticulous work
it took to shape a pattern out of
patience wore down a continent’s
grasses into paths and passed
through dangerous terrain for what
for something so indisputably beautiful
you’d be willing to trade everything for it
you’d be willing to go to war to wear it
under your armor as close as anything
might get to your heart, it’s hard to believe
something so small so easy
to kill for even less could produce this dress
this red mess it makes of my senses


Monday, September 11, 2017

Ditat Deus by Eduardo C. Corral

Ditat Deus

In high school I worked as a bag boy. To prevent shoplifting my boss had me follow the Mexicans and the Native Americans around the grocery store. I was slightly troubled by this. So I only followed the handsome men.

I learned how to make love to a man
by touching my father.
I would unlace his work boots,
pull off his socks,
& drag my thumbs
along the arches of his feet.
When he slept I would trace
the veins of his neck,
blue beneath my fingertip.
He would lift me each morning
onto the bathroom counter,
dot my small palms
with dollops of shaving cream
so I could lather his face.


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Here and There by Juan Felipe Herrera

Here and There

I sit and meditate—my dog licks her paws
on the red-brown sofa
so many things somehow
it all is reduced to numbers letters figures
without faces or names only jagged lines
across the miles half-shadows
going into shadow-shadow then destruction         the infinite light

here and there            cannot be overcome
it is the first drop of ink


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Witness by W. S. Merwin


I want to tell what the forests
were like

I will have to speak
in a forgotten language


Friday, September 8, 2017

Planet by Catherine Pierce


This morning this planet is covered by winds and blue.
This morning this planet glows with dustless perfect light,
enough that I can see one million sharp leaves
from where I stand. I walk on this planet, its hard-packed

dirt and prickling grass, and I don’t fall off. I come down
soft if I choose, hard if I choose. I never float away.
Sometimes I want to be weightless on this planet, and so

I wade into a brown river or dive through a wave
and for a while feel nothing under my feet. Sometimes
I want to hear what it was like before the air, and so I duck
under the water and listen to the muted hums. I’m ashamed

to say that most days I forget this planet. That most days
I think about dentist appointments and plagiarists
and the various ways I can try to protect my body from itself.

Last weekend I saw Jupiter through a giant telescope,
its storm stripes, four of its sixty-seven moons, and was filled
with fierce longing, bitter that instead of Ganymede or Europa,
I had only one moon floating in my sky, the moon

called Moon, its face familiar and stale. But this morning
I stepped outside and the wind nearly knocked me down.
This morning I stepped outside and the blue nearly

crushed me. This morning this planet is so loud with itself—
its winds, its insects, its grackles and mourning doves—
that I can hardly hear my own lamentations. This planet.
All its grooved bark, all its sand of quartz and bones

and volcanic glass, all its creeping thistle lacing the yards
with spiny purple. I’m trying to come down soft today.
I’m trying to see this place even as I’m walking through it.


dream where every black person is standing by the ocean by Danez Smith

dream where every black person is standing by the ocean
& we say to her
                         what have you done with our kin you swallowed?
& she says
                         that was ages ago, you’ve drunk them by now
& we don’t understand
& then one woman, skin dark as all of us
                         walks to the water’s lip, shouts Emmett, spits
&, surely, a boy begins
                         crawling his way to shore 


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

April Snow by Matthew Zapruder

April Snow

Today in El Paso all the planes are asleep on the runway. The world
is in a delay. All the political consultants drinking whiskey keep
their heads down, lifting them only to look at the beautiful scarred
waitress who wears typewriter keys as a necklace. They jingle
when she brings them drinks. Outside the giant plate glass windows
the planes are completely covered in snow, it piles up on the wings.
I feel like a mountain of cell phone chargers. Each of the various
faiths of our various fathers keeps us only partly protected. I don’t
want to talk on the phone to an angel. At night before I go to sleep
I am already dreaming. Of coffee, of ancient generals, of the faces
of statues each of which has the eternal expression of one of my feelings.
I examine my feelings without feeling anything. I ride my blue bike
on the edge of the desert. I am president of this glass of water.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Unpacking a Globe by Arthur Sze

Unpacking a Globe

I gaze at the Pacific and don’t expect
to ever see the heads on Easter Island,

though I guess at sunlight rippling
the yellow grasses sloping to shore;

yesterday a doe ate grass in the orchard:
it lifted its ears and stopped eating

when it sensed us watching from
a glass hallway—
in his sleep, a veteran

sweats, defusing a land mine.
On the globe, I mark the Battle of

the Coral Sea—
no one frets at that now.
A poem can never be too dark,

I nod and, staring at the Kenai, hear
ice breaking up along an inlet;

yesterday a coyote trotted across
my headlights and turned his head

but didn’t break stride; that’s how
I want to live on this planet:

alive to a rabbit at a glass door—
and flower where there is no flower.


Girlfriends by Carol Ann Duffy

That hot September night, we slept in a single bed,
naked, and on our frail bodies the sweat  
cooled and renewed itself. I reached out my arms  
and you, hands on my breasts, kissed me. Evening of amber.  
Our nightgowns lay on the floor where you fell to your knees  
and became ferocious, pressed your head to my stomach,  
your mouth to the red gold, the pink shadows; except  
I did not see it like this at the time, but arched  
my back and squeezed water from the sultry air  
with my fists. Also I remembered hearing, clearly  
but distantly, a siren some streets away – de  
da de da de da – which mingled with my own  
absurd cries, so that I looked up, even then,  
to see my fingers counting themselves, dancing. 


Monday, September 4, 2017

Summer, 1995 by John Freeman

Summer, 1995

Three rooms, sight unseen, rented from a nurse and
her husband, the floors filthy, one working burner
on the stove. Every morning I left her behind
in bed, holding me with a fierceness
I did not recognize as desperation, because
both of us were blind, we had invented this,
the parenthesis of a day between lovemaking,
the meals cooked naked, novels read to each other
aloud, the slow walks to a train station, floating,
holding hands as if one of us might zeppelin
away if untethered, and the pain, a knife through
the chest, at departing for just a few days.
I had six jobs, one for a traffic planning
firm, Tom and I would drive in the dawn hours
to an intersection, lay hose, then count cars
through our hangovers as they rolled to a four-
way stop. Someone, somewhere, would use
this data to widen roads, erect new signs,
trim the summit ash and red oak, so drivers
could reduce their speed in time. Astonishing
to realize there was such a thing as too much
beauty. I was nineteen, I had another lifetime to
learn this, but all I could do then was stand
near the flame, and marvel at the blisters.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Breezeway by John Ashbery


Someone said we needed a breezeway
to bark down remnants of super storm Elias jugularly.
Alas it wasn’t my call.
I didn’t have a call or anything resembling one.
You see I have always been a rather dull-spirited winch.
The days go by and I go with them.
A breeze falls from a nearby tower,
finds no breezeway, goes away
along a mission to supersize red shutters.

Alas if that were only all.
There’s the children’s belongings to be looked to
if only one can find the direction needed
and stuff like that.
I said we were all homers not homos
but my voice dwindled in the roar of Hurricane Edsel.
We have to live out our precise experimentation.
Otherwise there’s no dying for anybody,
no crisp rewards.

Batman came out and clubbed me.
He never did get along with my view of the universe
except you know existential threads
from the time of the peace beaters and more.
He patted his dog Pastor Fido.
There was still so much to be learned
and even more to be researched.
It was like a goodbye. Why not accept it,
anyhow? The mission girls came through the woods
in their special suitings. It was all whipped cream and baklava.
Is there a Batman somewhere, who notices us
and promptly looks away, at a new catalog, say,
or another racing car expletive
coming back at Him?