New Voices of New England
Chris Tonelli, Supplement Editor
The search for the poets who appear in this supplement originated with “The So and So Series,” a poetry reading series that began in South Boston. My search radiated out from there. This supplement, therefore, only reflects the readers of that series, the poets they admire, and the poets they admire, and so on. While the supplement is by no means comprehensive, it does exhibit, I think, some of the emerging talents on the New England poetry scene. With that said, the poetry represented here does not aim to constitute a school or a single tradition. Rather, what we see are poets negotiating the region’s rich tradition in poetry. By both internalizing and resisting this tradition, they suggest some possible directions for the future of poetry in New England.
Ravi Shankar is Associate Professor and Poet-in-Residence at Central Connecticut State University and the founding editor of the international online journal of the arts, Drunken Boat <http://www.drunkenboat.com>. He has published a book of poems, Instrumentality (Cherry Grove), named a finalist for the 2005 Connecticut Book Awards, and with Reb Livingston, a collaborative chapbook, Wanton Textiles (No Tell Books, 2006). He currently serves on the Advisory Council for the Connecticut Center for the Book, reviews poetry for the Contemporary Poetry Review and along with Tina Chang and Nathalie Handal, he edited Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from Asia, the Middle East & Beyond (W.W Norton & Co.). He is a recipient of a Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism (CCT) FY09 fellowship in Poetry and will have two chapbooks of poetry coming out in 2010. He’s conjured wet dog on a tasting wheel when drinking corked wine.
Ars Poetica with Grape and Litany
Poems are various approaches,
arcs shot towards the asymptote
of knowing, which can never be
reached, else once breached,
cannot be returned from.
The words I shape to transmit
are embodiment of a kind
of somatic knowledge, multiform
for the very reason
that any constitution of “voice”
holds the subconscious intention
of parodying itself unknowingly,
as well as the virtuoso’s avowal
that no expression, extant
or heretofore unrealized,
should be summarily forbidden
to profligate acts of creation,
which has the imagination
as its furthest horizon. The poem is simultaneously musical relic, tool for contemplation, embalmed missive, inspired litany, proof to define the nature of reality, confabulation of/ in/ for the divine, vestigial as a spiracle and just as sculptural, a political retort, pounce and jouissance, utterance drawn from inner depth like well-water, else an exploratory collage that tilts the gears and wheels of language to the light. It is, in Celan’s words, “a making toward something”; in Bachelard’s “a bud attempting to become a twig”; in Hejinian’s “under an enormous vertical and horizontal pressure of information.” The very thingness of the thing, the pith of the wood, the release of the pressure is at stake, and the making is a marking, transfiguring and unmasking, a reformulation majuscule in its music, unsustainable in any form other than that which moves it forward, removing or warding off the hindrance that sloughs in awareness, never to compost and give root to vines that will accrete sun and intoxication in thin-skinned, translucent orbs that can be crushed into wine. Sure as no day is sure but just as profound. Necessary.
Mary Walker Graham was born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and now lives in South Boston, MA. She is the cofounder of Rope-a-Dope Press, and her poems have appeared in Poetry Magazine, Poetry Daily, 42opus, OCHO, and PFS Post.
[Once, there was a revelation]
Once, there was a revelation; then all
color left. Bodiless, over all this,
something hovered; gray clouds
covered sea and shore, and each time
a wave lapped up it whispered, Someone?
The sand said, None.
Somewhere, over all this, the thing
hovered. Meanwhile not a word
was uttered; nothing clapped or sang or talked.
Only the sea-oats sighed a little,
stilling themselves: Someone?
What child is this? A giddy
and invasive air, a twilight time,
a passing. All the colors
are the same: red for blood,
peach for pain, for passion violet.
The sun slips from the world
as a child slips from its mother,
or a lover from the arms
of another and now all the air
is pregnant with it: potential.
Gathered in my arms it takes
the shape of borne fruit,
were I a tree, but being
only woman it’s more animate:
he places both his palms
on my chest and asks to suck.
My spine becomes the pendulum
of some great clock and all the world
rocks with it. Do not ask
what child it is; do not ask
who is the father.
Chiaroscuro: The Beach at Night
Because there was—at one point—
a story, I feel pressure
to tell you what is not wholly
true—and yet, these were things
I could scarcely see
in the first place: her legs
in moonlight, for instance, or
a sculpted curve of driftwood,
looking curiously like a hip.
Because there was, only,
barely, a moon—what I could see
was less than what I could not:
a hand or hands, his hands—
as if held before his face, but
(as in a dream) I felt I was him . . . .
A few waves, cresting white,
legs lying in it—then,
the wings of the diaphane
descending, and as if someone
bound my eyes with cloth . . . .
Things fall apart: baskets, wicker, or straw—
the steady clop of a horse with a policeman on it and me—
standing there, staring at a puddle of rain
with a pile of shit steaming in it.
There’s no reason for it either. From the alley I hear
a woman calling out, “Federico! Federico!”
And she’s lifting up the tin lids on the trash cans.
I hear the clatter over all else.
For a long moment the streetlights seem
not mechanical but simply lit—and there’s just
the rain continuing, the buildings
getting taller and taller. I could live
a long time faceless like this.
Julia Story is a native of Indiana and now lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. Her first book, Post Moxie, will be published by Sarabande Books in summer 2010. Her recent work has appeared in Indiana Review, Octopus, Absent, and MoonLit.
from Post Moxie
Your dream inside my dream. Walked the
hill to the apartment where one person
mounts another. A stranger came down the
stairs to startle us. Before that I screamed as
you took out the trash in your new ponytail.
Then we remodeled as the rain came down.
Zachary Bos is a founding member of the Boston Poetry Union and the Union’s literary imprint, The Pen & Anvil Press. His current projects include a secular English-language redaction of the Koran; an erasure-poetry edition of the Bible, to be titled ‘HOLY’; and a translation of Vicente Huidobro’s 1939 novel, Sátiro. He is at present completing an MFA in Poetry at Boston University.
Walden: On building
Without me the cattails would explode
no differently. I tatter along the path
caught in the weak eddy of this fact.
If I have not wasted my life certainly
I have wasted too much time staring
blankly at the ruffled surface of this.
Wanting to fill the deep kettle of it
I gather a few glacier-brought rocks.
Unceremoniously, they are thrown.
I should keep and sort them, match
their broken edges and rebuild a hut
to doven in and heat with hot iron.
I should hermit here under these pines
instead of coming here as a pilgrim
each year to find a shrine empty of gifts.
THE FIRST CHURCH OF CHRIST, SCIENTIST
I. Edifice: Spirit and Mother Substance
This whole universe is no less a figment of one’s imagination
than is the world created in drama. Nor is it less beautiful.
– Bhattanayaka, 10th-century Sanskrit scholar
By isolating a structure in open space
the illusion of height is obtained; thus
the church seems to command a hill.
There, a colonnade marches nowhere
with a stony lack of bother. The dome
swells like the back of a pigeon skull,
and the long dark reflecting pool lies
like a collapsed monolith. To the west,
above Newbury, another cathedral rises
amid panels of exhaust, a trompe-l’œil
painted on a brownstone’s blank wall.
Bird shadows slide along the painting
like the shadows of passenger planes
flash over landscapes seen from above.
It flutters in the heat, defying the idea
that belief in bodies is a fundamental
misunderstanding of belief, of bodies.
II. Doctrine: Mary’s Beating Marble Heart
Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is unreal and material.
– Mary Baker Eddy, 19th-century spiritualist
There is peril in poring over scripture
in scant, irregular church-glass light—
I still need glasses after exegesis. Here
we read women do not have the vigor
to heat the blood and purify the soul.
Not her, though: a viper full of urges
and smelling like hot bronze. I think
of a test: if everyone in this sepulcher
is rigidly certain that we all really are
not here, let me wave around this stem
of spotted alstrœmeria. We can leave
when it turns into steam. I prophecy
the dust-covered phone in the tomb
will suddenly start ringing: we’ll pass
the handset down the pews until we
sicken of her preacher voice and from
the alabaster baseboard yank the cord.
In his December thirty-first column,
rural correspondent V. Klinkenborg
wrote that his barn was unexceptional
except for his being there at midnight.
At your party we dandled plastic flutes
half-filled with unmemorable champagne.
Softly his horses nickered, unaware
that V. had half-expected them to speak.
Mistaking their senselessness for some grace
he boggled at their pablum disregard
for the passing of the year: ‘Oh! To be
of any species but this counting one… ’
Lost in talk, we missed the significant tick
and clinked our glasses at half past the hour.
Later in the washroom, I mull the logic of my gut
like I’d chew a mouthful of wafer, grinding it up
into paste: where does the torn-bread ghost go,
when the saving bolus is gone? While the deacon
washes up at the spattered sink, some congregants
wait—I notice how their bodies lean heavily against
the tile wall, the slack weight of their stomachs
unpleating their waistbands. Where in all the pipe
and porcelain are you concealed? In the quiet stall
even just imagining this question seems wrong,
but not a mortal sin, not infidelity, not theft,
more tantamount to walking out with unwashed hands
and shaking hands with palsied Fr. Lou as I pass
him where he stands outside the colored-glass doors.
Lori Shine’s poems have appeared in 6×6, APR, Boston Review, Conduit, New American Writing, and other magazines. A chapbook, Coming Down in White, was published by Pilot Books. She lives in Easthampton, Massachusetts.
I fell in love with a mortal man
Augustine says why love the world when you should love only the Creator from whom it emanates
Death was created to remind us that we should only love God and not love his Creation it is a reprimand for getting too attached
I love the sun on the snow. I am afraid my husband will die.
Some of your emanations are in love with other of your emanations and I cannot figure out if this pleases you
Your breath is the lilacs, your breath is burning flesh
You are ice in a broken flowerpot. You are the cold which made it break. You are the shards, but do you have sympathy for them? You are the sun on the snow.
I fell in love with a mortal man
I will take my pain, confusion and error and bind it up with my love. This is what I shall mean by happiness.
I am leaving out the part where you break me
I never said you were easy to love
How can I separate my voice from the organs of the universe that I might call to you
If I succeed how will I live with the gap forever looming between myself and the world
I cannot cry to you to mend the gap when it is you who demanded it
Maybe we are not supposed to love the world because you don’t love it either
Or maybe your love is as imperfect as our love
I am leaving out the war and one pain that took my breath
Do you find this command extreme?
Is it hard to poison the lake?
Janaka Stucky is practicing the perfection of effort while working on silent relationships with knives, hairpins, & a history of tentacles. Other passions include whiskey and pugilism. He is also the Publisher of Black Ocean and its literary magazine, Handsome. Some of his poems have appeared in Cannibal, Denver Quarterly, Fence, No Tell Motel, North American Review, Redivider and VOLT.
This is not your house this is your
that looks a lot like yours
our children’s tears when I
am blown into their eyes
Ben Mazer is the author of White Cities (Barbara Matteau Editions, 1995), Johanna Poems (Cy Gist Press, 2007), and The Foundations of Poetry Mathematics (Cannibal Books, 2008, 2009). He is the editor of Selected Poems of Frederick Goddard Tuckerman (forthcoming from Harvard University Press), Complete Poems and Selected Prose of John Crowe Ransom (in preparation), and Everything Preserved: Poems 1955-2005 (Graywolf Press), which collects the poems of Landis Everson. He lives in Boston, where he is a contributing editor to Fulcrum: an annual of poetry and aesthetics.
Elegy in a Windy Rain
Obviously your no means yes,
as in no babies,
no text messages,
no trip to Gloucester.
I am always with you
in the graveyard,
where a wind like white stone
carries the feeling of you to me,
Nothing else matters.
I sit here,
day after day,
following these same shadows
deeper into winter,
How much then
it must have meant
when I accepted you
at face value,
with a little patience.
Nothing meant more to me,
or still does,
than waiting for you
to find out how you feel.
Or to be thrown into blue
written on the sky
at the end of waiting.
I love your self control,
and your slow way
of making up your mind.
I think too much,
you worry too much.
I’m so happy for you.
of an ideal—
or is dreamed
(as if George Washington under attack)
in a harmonic accordance
with its image.
(and here his uncle’s eyes flickered,
subsuming thrust of futurity long unborn)
observation of pacts.
I laugh and cry and tell you all I feel.
Patience doesn’t seem like a big deal.
To be platonically in love
that is to admire as a moviegoer
your reasons for being.
Informing sometimes by opposites
and acts of silence
barring love itself
the weight that’s given.
If in the face of codes
old fairy tales
contract old love
it is endurance
and fortune defines itself
as a quintessence of beauty,
consent and vows of order
which honor love
are in themselves binding
and substantiate beauty
by what they honor.
These winds speak like the heart because
they see in them what they want to see,
undisturbed by any other by definition.
Quieter permanences of lesser consequence
awarded an equality that felt comfortable
in a highly unexpected way.
No wonder then now in October
the month of skeletons and halloween
would I want to hold in my arms
these images like a bunch of fallen leaves.
A naying and a braying,
wild winds are spraying.
In a cold rain
the bare petals
speak the heart.
Dan Chelotti’s poems have appeared in many journals, including Boston Review, Glitterpony, and Tarpaulin Sky. “The Eights,” a chapbook, was published by the Poetry Society of America in 2006. Recently, his work was anthologized in State of the Union (Wave Books 2008). He lives in Easthampton, MA, and teaches creative writing for Elms College.
The world felt too close, the empty picture frame screamed what it was, the stapler was a stapler so intensely that he felt its signified mass would send it plummeting through the earth.
Thus he watched the birds come and go, refusing to learn their names, imagining that if he did, they would stop flying.
He took solace in this form of responsibility, of false causality. This way, he could step from his door into a world free of things, a world where a hawk on a highway median was sent there to find silence, where the scattering rays of sun through a prism was the written language of trees.
She moved through the forest like scales through a song. She saw the tracks through the snow and began filing through the animals until coyote settled.
She had woken earlier than usual, hours earlier, and cited the tracks as the reason. Walks like this were rare. She took off her glove and put her hand against a tree. The sound of earth spin at a distance, the unnamed insects, the distant weed on the distant road she imagined when this happened.
Still, a wind above pushed the snow in the snow-rent air. She heard it land and knelt to hear it better.
The feeling wouldn’t last. Someone would knock on the door and point to her checkbook; she would notice the fire burnt to ash, but as she knelt she heard the approach of a plow, hid herself, and stayed ancient, palimpsestial, something the driver might have seen, but couldn’t see.
Richard Deming is a poet and a theorist who works on the philosophy of literature. He is the author of Let’s Not Call It Consequence (Shearsman Books), winner of the 2009 Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. Currently a lecturer at Yale University, he is also the author of Listening on All Sides: Toward an Emersonian Ethics of Reading (Stanford University Press).
In any place, denial, like night, makes itself
known, doesn’t it,
thus, as if to say,
a tattered map belies a murderous anger, or
an old story worth believing:
Once, a ship set forth…
Now, a shuttered window
frames false promises
It is dark and it is light and
these are not choices, but the most awkward invocations.
In my hand, there are five cards, all aimed toward failure,
or so go the odds.
Around this table, those who do
not look up at
the returned man
balance the one who does.
Count the coins.
Not every outstretched hand sketches a first desire
but Matthew, mouthing some rough plea,
calculates the very shadowed
place that opens athwart
a younger man’s smooth chest, another tongue’s
Follow me thatcalls its moment
like the sunlight falling around some hopeful,
some hapless thing.
Film Threat (2)
(after Takashi Miike)
If a black phone sits on an apartment floor, then a middle-aged widower will surprise himself placing a call and then he’s been alone for seven years; then on the other side of the city, another phone will ring nine times—each a small and reasonable hope; then on the other end a shy, beautiful woman with dark hair will answer. If she answers, then she is dressed all in white, and kneels on the floor. Then she will tell him, with her quiet and open voice, she is surprised that he would call. Then her head hangs down as she speaks, her long hair covering her face almost completely. If there are no windows where she is, then she does not yet know that he has already lied to her out of his sadness. Then he does not know that she has been kneeling like this, in the dark, for hours. Then they will make plans to meet for dinner and then she will smile and she will hang up the receiver. Then he will be relieved and excited and so then, in the room just beyond the black phone, a body inside a canvas bag cinched closed suddenly struggles one last moment, then stops. If so, and knowing we know that, we do not avert our eyes, do not stop listening, then there are such terrible, such familiar thirsts. These do not hide for long, no matter how white a dress may be or how many times a phone might ring, and so this cannot end well.
Film Threat (3)
(after Sam Raimi)
What is it we don’t do well enough that we’re constantly afraid? For the insomniac, night is a book that will not stop letting itself be read. Now it’s dark. A young couple, beautiful but not too bright, arrives in a yellow Oldsmobile. And when some uninvited thing rushes towards the door, anyone else would know not to open it. There will be a botched incantation and someone won’t survive because the words went wrong.
In an empty room, in the coldest shadows of some forgotten house, an older man’s voice echoes on a reel-to-reel. He is a disappointed father who tells a secret history over and over and who, once, long ago, was rent asunder by voices in a dark cellar. Remember me. Startled anew, don’t ask why it’s always like this. You already foresee an answer with bared teeth. And the things beneath the stairs will not close their eyes. Each of us a small, nearly forgotten body spinning and falling like a long kiss or a bad dream or the sound of celluloid catching fire.
Rob MacDonald lives in Boston and is the editor of the online journal Sixth Finch. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Octopus, Hanging Loose, New CollAge and Tears in the Fence. Last New Death, a chapbook, was recently published by Scantily Clad Press.
The feeling of having eaten
too much saltwater taffy.
And the wind won’t cool you,
though the summer is over,
some girl taking off
her bikini in a room alone,
and the word alone means
you’re not near enough
to hear the salting of sand
on the worn floor.
Maybe next year.
Maybe the sickeningly sweet.
DEATH IS MUNDANE. MUNDANE IS AN INSULT TO ALL YOU COULD HAVE BEEN.
The lone goldfish in the bowl
has white whiskers. He puts his ear
against the glass and listens.
You hint at fate, the royal flush.
But do fish really care
what we whisper? Let’s be
serious here—what were you
thinking, putting those whiskers
in the poem? Why not chase away
thoughts of mortality, replace them
with pure vitality, neon green?
Why not lip-synch along
with some ‘80s pop anthem?
The youngest Pointer Sister
sticks a ring finger in the air
to represent the fish, then we’re all
awash in synthesizer, waves
of utter disbelief—this is it?
This is what comes after the end?
In truth, not one of the Pointers
made an appearance at your wake,
not one spoke your praises
among the white roses and
finger sandwiches, tunas and
turkeys, stand-ins for real meals,
substitutes for the real deal,
like a fish told to act a whale
while the owner taps at the bowl.
It’s okay to trace a finger along
each hole, to be the bullet and
realize you’re not dead yet;
you’re a magic trick, a miracle,
though the sound of drowning
does seem to be inhaling
somewhere in the distance.
Chad Reynolds has published some poems here and there, most recently in SIR! and Absent Magazine. He is the author of a poetry chapbook from Rope-a-Dope Press entitled Victor in the New World and he keeps a blog called Massahoma, Oklachusetts. He spent most of the past year preparing for and getting to know his new son. So far, so good.
I see myself in the world.
Not as in, one day I’ll be there.
I mean, when I look at the things
of the world, I see myself.
The napkin bib of the lady
muttering to herself, the accordion
of the musician busking on the T,
the T platform, a baguette—
these items are full of me.
When Walt Whitman said,
“Every atom belonging to me
as good belongs to you,”
he was talking to his kitchen table.
He was talking to himself.
My hand is a stapler.
My heart, a hubcap.
I say to the kitchen table,
every atom belonging to me
as good belongs to me.
FROM THE ADHESIVE
To see a thing without
seeing something else.
To be, apart.
Not a counter in the kitchen
or a kitchen in a home,
But a counter. Kitchen.
A fleck. Dot.
To walk at night,
not along the line from sunset to sunrise,
but to walk at night.
Not amid the shadows,
but distinct from darkness,
a separate shadow,
my own ineffective black hole
drawing absolutely nothing
John Cotter is the poetry editor at Open Letters Monthly.
In the ‘80s my father led
marches down Broadway, ahead of
the mugging and tapping
K of C, Italian Women’s Auxiliary,
and the Rotary. No floats
gin boats at the cove,
Lydia Sigourney :
A blight came down, a blast swept by,
The cone-roof’d cabins fell,
And where that exil’d people fled,
It is not ours to tell.
Dad grand on podium
city cash in the air’s oil,
and the wire fence around
the green :
of the noncombatants.
I turned the dirt : how dare I be
the past … I pull the drum
in my chest :
brass blares quiet foliage waves …
Elizabeth Hughey is the author of “Sunday Houses the Sunday House,” which won the 2006 Iowa Poetry Prize. She is a contributing editor to the literary magazine Bateau, and a 2008 Massachusetts Cultural Council fellow. New poems have recently been published in Lungfull, Zoland Poetry & Caffeine Destiny.
It was Crescent City. People were having regular Saturdays, standing in doorways with washed hair and coffee cups. And yet, at the hotel, there was a holiday. A tight one-piece on a girl floating towards the smokers in the pool. Three girls with still much to discuss. To be the swimsuit, the girls and also the new lovers. To be melting in a tall glass stolen from the pub. To be passed around with other berries. To be peed out into cold chlorine. A swimmer, like a worry, way down below the cliffs, thinks of another swim, in a shallow river, where surely someone in a passing car saw, felt, wanted to be pushing through a soft current. I was passing that day. We were in three different cars.
Sumita Chakraborty recently received the Morris S. Smith Foundation fellowship for emerging writers from the Writers’ Room of Boston. She is the assistant poetry editor of AGNI Magazine and a graduate of Wellesley College. Most recently, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Salamander, BOXCAR Poetry Review, White Whale Review, and Muddy River Poetry Review. In her critical work, she focuses on poetry and literary theory; her reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in Gently Read Literature and Boston Review.
Why is there nothing more to do than stifle near minor,
diminutive gods who invented things like organza bustles,
the first glass bead. The piecing together of brick with slime
no longer the stuff of enchantment. From here promontories
emit imagined noises, gold-plated tongues run in muck,
bone-locks tear—and I will have to learn again of old
dogs, or leopard spots. When you say what your comings
are, I will release the bull I house in a crystal cage.
A note on “seanoses” and “bonelock”: these compound words are not inventions; see the corresponding Old English “sænæssas” (literally “seanoses,” meaning “cliffs” or “promontories”) and “bánlocan” (literally “bonelock,” meaning “joints”).
Nancy Kuhl’s first full-length collection of poems, The Wife of the Left Hand, was published in 2007 by Shearsman Books; her second book, Suspend, is forthcoming in 2010. She is the author of The Nocturnal Factory, a chapbook published in 2008 by Ugly Duckling Presse. She is co-editor of Phylum Press, a small poetry publisher and Curator of Poetry of the Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. www.phylumpress.com/nancykuhl.htm
Confession Scenario (Dream of Drowning)
Enormous and terrible, the sea. We two
we are hungry as a bride. Ever the same
ocean; mine all over again. Into this tide
and breaking. Sand skin sun in that order.
Smooth-eyed fish open slivers barely seen
through, trembling. I am caught, gush-white
and green-curl. Surrounded or surrendered
(here, this was the dream’s ruthless turn;
impossible to tell you now even what falls
short of panic and the choking dreadful
suddenlywideawake). Mine again, this edge
this ocean: silt and salt-lung, burnt shoulders,
burnt eyelids. Ache. How sunbright marks
on skin signal such depths, such surfacing.
Confession Scenario (Late August Dream)
Haze drift hazy oblivion bare blue
rippled as if by breath and we
forget the pine-heavy coast lungful by
salted lungful forget not rocking into
sleep into waking; at sea it’s possible
to crack open the chest to see the moonlit
heart still beating in its too-wide bonecage
its wet cavity its insistent its reckless dark.
The Story about the House
We sense grass sometimes past the open door and especially after rain. A long table all along: and the plums threaten blue at the center. Suddenly the gate and narrow road: a growling truck interrupts what you were saying. But this is a new Wednesday and mail drops thud through the slot straight through. Glass on two sides walls where walls should be. And no end of light reflected. We have studied wind current and meadow pitch. And low mountains unwavering, visible in the distance like a dare. Day dissolves late but without warning. And the house radiant. O to find you there.
Stephen Sturgeon is the editor of Fulcrum: an Annual of Poetry and Aesthetics. His poems have appeared in Boston Review, Cannibal, Harvard Review, Jacket, and other journals.
Star and Field
I have lit up a vision of drowning. Green
waves ripping soil and people from shore.
The yells in opaque thrust
trundled through a moraine,
bent saplings back earthward,
aroused sedate autumn.
Now to arrange the truth,
now to arrange for truth.
Passing stars, passing fields; you may require
pencil to sketch a likeness of your life.
stooping, modesty of
defrocked chant and hanging
hands. Deep in a forest,
you can’t live like this, can’t
walk stretched star-fields aimless.
Delaying the dead dawn, pray to the dead
night, up to your old godless tricks again.
Dray-horses slip in stone;
strewn on crumbling street stone.
Witness the lake moaning
in thaw, the thrall, pity
of convoluted force.
Kim Garcia’s poetry collection Madonna Magdalene was published by Turning Point Books in the fall of 2006. Her work has appeared in Subtropics, Birmingham Review, Mississippi Review, Inkwell, Cimarron Review, Rosebud,Southeast Review, Tampa Review, Lullwater Review, and Negative Capability, among others, and has been aired on Writer’s Almanac. She is the recipient of an AWP Intro Writing Award, a Hambidge Fellowship and an Oregon Individual Artist Grant. A graduate of Reed College and the University of Houston Creative Writing Program, she teaches creative writing at Boston College.
Even combing his hair was difficult
without the means of reflection.
The empty glass with its shock
of furniture, mouths open.
They have eaten me away
with looking, he thought,
thinking a piece at a time,
each puncture an old wound.
He was afraid of daylight,
of coins. He hated a plain pine box.
Hated death especially, couldn’t see
what people got out of it. Gave up
explaining this to others. The house
slept, dreamt, dreamt some more.
Bag caught in the crabapple, looking more and more like a living
thing as it is harried to tatters. Not the big-breasted
bloat that waxed and waned all winter. You can leave now. You’ve done
all the signifying that I can stand—warning balloon, whim (sic) al
ghost. The course of your dying is too long—each molecule clasped
by another in infinitely reproducible embrace.
My sympathy doesn’t extend
so far across the periodic table of elements we share.
Here I am. There you are.
I begin to bleed again—elaborate show—
the end of capacity. Why all the drama
over a few bad eggs? Couldn’t I quietly tip
the shelf, wipe down the counters, empty
the trash? Why the flag? The endless bier
with its mourners, crepe stuck to their shoes.
A mess, a Mass. Keep the ground warm;
I’m coming. Where the spade last turned.
Dinghy—unmoored cup of clear water shipped slowly from the clouds
reflecting back clouds, gull, line of brown pelican with sandy heads
awkwardness left ashore, throats likewise cupped, tucked in flight.
Oarless boat, paint-peeling boat, not quite seaworthy, not quite wreckage,
I could make up a story about you either way, and it might be true, but this
is the only song worth singing—now you rise the waves on your back
taking what comes, cupping fresh water, clearer than any eye.
a body of cones, counter-clockwise thought, the brew of blush, incessant
and gentle, incessant again. Gentleness worn away, grains
behind my eyelids’ fallow (seeing cones, whirlwinds). Small.
Dream hazelnut, this hazelnut, will have some crown to throw.
Ay, lamentations. The twig twitches in my fingers, goes down
inky ejaculate, the tongue’s nib, tasting the dream air blue.
Lilies of the field
We have forgotten to consider them—five
at the palm’s corolla,
the tangle of touch,
rooting searchers. A water table
at the soft place—elbow’s hinge.
When you reach my heart, Lily,
I will awaken from the dream my golden-
fingered father read into me, stamen by stamen.
It was love or
some cousin. The same family—
genus, species, kingdom.
Kate Schapira lives in Providence, RI, where she teaches writing to college and elementary school students, makes chapbooks, and runs the Publicly Complex Reading Series. She’s the author of several chapbooks published by other people, including The Love of Freak Millways and Tango Wax (Cy Gist Press), Case Fbdy. (Rope-A-Dope Press), and The Saint’s Notebook (forthcoming from Flying Guillotine Press), and her work has appeared in Narwhal (Cannibal Books), A Sing Economy (Flim Forum Press), Women’s Studies Quarterly, and Ecopoetics, among other places.
The passing of design.
Hers were so elegant
we like to died.
Her tantrums built
up a picture:
black under things
swift movement on all sides.
Distance between the art of the possible
Who knows what she was trying
to measure with this.
Distance isn’t the heart of lack:
sometimes, architecture is.
Bombs from outside
the pure region
math in their
trajectories, not forgiveness.
Not in their function.
On the true
and untrue alike,
like snow, settle accusations.
Chris Tonelli co-curates The So and So Series and is the author of four chapbooks, most recently No Theater (Brave Men Press, forthcoming) and For People Who Like Gravity and Other People (Rope-A-Dope Press, forthcoming). New work can be found in LIT, SIR!, Sixth Finch, and the Tusculum Review. He teaches at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where he lives with his wife Allison.