Tag Archives: Joe Hall

Poetry Crush Valentine 2016, vol 3

14 Feb

Here is the 3rd of 3 Valentine Issues. Thanks to contributing intra&inter-special lovers:  Todd Colby, Joanna Penn Cooper, Bianca Stone, Christine Hamm, Christine Kanownik,  Kyle Erickson, Jackie Clark, Sara Lefsyk, Leah Umansky &  Joe Hall.

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♥♥♥ Todd Colby

 

I love the river  ♥♥♥ Christine Kanownik

I love the river
I love standing by the river
I love a night, afraid, by the river
I love the sunset over the river
I love a man, truly dead, over the river
I love it when there are so many pretty girls by the river
I love a starry night with a cup of coffee by river
I love being a traitor to my own kind by the river
I love being a disgrace to my family by the river
I love being a blight on my gender by the river
I love being considered an enemy of the state by the river
I love balmy evenings by the river
I love long walks by the river
I love a fast song, too fast for me to understand, by the river
I love the river that rivers myself to the river that rivers me
I love the regrets that make you my river
I love all the rivers that you have become
I love you when you cry me a river, becoming a river
I love the river that I would swim but unfortunately it is a river

 

 

I Want to Cry  ♥♥♥ Sara Lefsyk

I want to cry, pronouncing the names of all my dead pets, I said, in the Quaker’s garden, in February, burying a mouse. His little yellow teeth were needles in the circles of my memory and I wore the mask of a small blind mammal in a landscape of frost and daggers.

I refuse to leave this garden as a tourist, i said, and pushed the dirt with my ugly fingers.

“My true grief is as deep and as heavy as this thimble full of snow,” said the Quaker, “it puts the mask of a knife on a feather, but some people wear it as a gown.”

I handed the Quaker a Valentine made of ribbons and dust. It said, “My true grief is a Valentine made of ribbons and dust. It is a roof over a river, but some people use it as a spoon or as a chandelier.”

Then we ate sandwiches and practiced disproving each other for ten hours. The Quaker said, “love is tugboat full of pigeons and rust. If we fashion it into a crown, we fail to know the difference.”

I handed the Quaker a Valentine made of mouse teeth and dust. It said, “My true love is the dream-house where I wander the rooms alongside other strange animals. Though covered in the pure shadow of a moon, we fail to know the difference.”

 

Peacock Crossing ♥♥♥ Joanna Penn Copper & Todd Colby

We have no photographic evidence of our time together, save that one picture of you looking stunned at the border. You always were so fussy about your papers.

 

 

(love poem) 1 ♥♥♥ Christine Hamm

When the small gray wolf sees me at night, she slips her ears back, and lowers her chin onto the ground, then gets back up. She does this in a circle around me, a dance. I sit cross-legged in the weedy part of the garden as she locks and pops. She licks my chin.   She jumps up so her forelegs are on my shoulders: face to face. She turns her snout and looks at me with each eye. Her irises are bluish-white with navy edges. She whines and yips. Quick bite, a tiny piece of my eyebrow goes missing. Her breath smells like beer and squirrel. I wipe the blood from my eye and throw her down onto her back, loom above her. She wriggles and I bury my face into the gray and white ruff on her chest, into the fleas and mud. [1]

 

(love poem)2 ♥♥♥ Christine Hamm

A grey moon shining from the bottom of a river. On the field trip to the Natural History Museum, a sleek wolf pelt hung from the wall like a lost and found jacket. I pictured Shelly in that skin — Shelly the carnivore with a Peter Pan collar and Mary-Janes that had lost their shine. At 14 and a half, we still swapped beds and underwear. I told her everything as it happened — the blood on my chair during library hour, the yellow vomit on my hands on the way to the nurse’s station.

Under the kitchen table, I asked Shelley if I was still considered a virgin. A bag of useless cotton in my back pack. An invisible cross of blood thumbed on my forehead. She told me, “You were never a virgin.” She blushed and picked at the diamonds in the floor.

I agreed, “I’m disgusting”, and smiled through the ache of new teeth. One of us: the lamb. The other: the wolf. [2]

 

(love poem)3 ♥♥♥ Christine Hamm

“I’m just wondering, does it ever end?” he says. It’s still raining. I lick the scabs on my forearm, the neat thin lines. I close my eyes and replace Freud with a better Freud, a shorter Freud, a happier Freud, a Freud that pulls my hair only when I beg. A Freud who loves me so much he asks me to stop with my roommate’s scissors.

The real Freud kisses the dog’s black nose and giggles. “I wouldn’t”, the shelter volunteer says. The dog struggles, pulls away. Freud shoves the dog down. The dog shudders and hides behind the volunteer. I seize Freud’s hand and bite his thumb. He yanks at my teeth, wipes his hand with the hem of his shirt. “Awful child,” he says. I can feel him rolling his eyes. Later that night, he will write a sonnet about a girl like me, but with bigger breasts and intellect. The dog shelter will turn down our application.[3]

[1]          The incubation period ranges from 2 to 8 weeks… The disease begins with a feeling of anxiety, cephalalgia, and slightly elevated body temperature…The excitation stage that follows is characterized by… enlarged pupils, extreme sensitivity to light and sound, and increased salivation. As the disease progresses,… many experience spasms at the mere sight of a liquid, a phenomenon known as hydrophobia.

Pedro N. Acha, Boris Szyfres. Zoonoses and Communicable Diseases Common to Man and Animals: Chlamydioses

 

[2]          Suddenly the window opened of its own accord, and I was terrified to see that some white wolves were sitting on the big walnut tree.

– Sigmund Freud. “The Wolfman, A Case History.” (1942)

[3]          The wolf then dashed into a party of ladies and…bit [the] Private in two places… [T]he animal left the marks of his presence in every quarter of the garrison. He moved with great rapidity, snapping at everything within his reach, tearing tents, window curtains, bed clothing, etc..

–Bill Wasik, Monica Murphy. Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus. (2012).

 

 

PossiblePig_Eatery
♥♥♥ Bianca Stone

 

 

 

Prank Call From Fish ♥♥♥ J Hope Stein

] It begins with an ] UN-Beastlyknuckle
] If you see yourself
] in a dream sucking a bald-thumb:

] good: you are human
] Hide what’s human under/over
my UNlazy tongue ] there is no animal like you

] If you see yourself
on a wood bench fingering
today’s newspaper ] Hide

UN-quiet with lunatic
accuracy ] Thumbme UN-Beastly
dumb]   Champion

of all tickle-attacks everywhere
There is no animal
like you]

Hook in the eye, apologize
Apologize, hook in the eye

I have seen them disappear
] One by one
and all at once

] Raise them up
to the NOTHINGplace
] There is no animal like you

]]]]

]

 

]     who am i?

i am ] littlefishnobody
] i am the poor fish who found your phone

]
] hello I’m a fish I’m a fish
] hello

] if you are listening
]]]

]]] if you
] breathe through [ your skin:
if you are prone to spasming: ]

] tool
]     what teethes
] ANDAND
] gums

] I beg you be thumbs

Deputy of bath toys
and tugboats everywhere] tackle me up
] to the WORTHYplace
]

There is no animal like you

 

Hook in the eye, apologize
Apologize, hook in the eye

]

]hello
damn phone
]There is no animal like you

 
]]
] Hello I’m a fish
]] hello

]

 

]]

]

The Way Time Crows ♥♥♥ Leah Umansky

one tart interpretation       the slender of a girl
there were moments, molten, terrible, and lost.
the untidiness of life         a fresh scope
the lens: a storied equivalent to what is imaginable
that solving, or careering,             a secreted calibrated hope
growing sharper and sharper still
even the modest steps are full of worth
even the finely-drawn is sequential
one doesn’t control much when they are young
but, isn’t it a relief now, to watch the chilled, thaw?
to know the equal parts?   to know the weighted whole?
not everyone makes it back

 

The Lost Poems ♥♥♥ Jackie Clark

It is breaking instead of it breaks
Or it has already broke and it is breaking again
You have an image in mind
It is a car moving forward
It is sunlight on the dash
Souring is the last thing that you would expect
Except it isn’t really the last thing that you would expect
You have expected it all along
You wonder how there could be nothing else
to write about but this disconnect
Choosing to meet your gaze or choosing to sit blank
There could be meditations on any number of subjects
Only there is not
It is just this one

 

 

Screaming in Middle School  ♥♥♥ Bianca Stone

What we wore was very revealing back at the middle school dance
at the town office gymnasium above the police station
I wore a crushed purple iridescent velvet mini dress
with deep V—my boobs were like a pair of shoes that still
hurt and we all got our hair done
at the local beauty salon full of oldies under domes of heat in plastic curlers
while we squawked and fluttered around one another
hours of looking through the hair style books
I chose a ‘do one with a lock of hair
curled with an iron
as the finishing touch on the side of my face.
It was my first time in a salon
Mom gave me some spending money
and I bought a bag of penny candy at Ben Franklin’s
and we shrieked all the way to the gym.
I wore mom’s stockings and her jelly heals.
No one could stand to ask another person to dance
so we just stood under the basketball hoops, the guys in clean button-up shirts
and some took their tie’s off the moment they arrived
and stuffed them into their back pockets.
The pictures we took were terrible pictures without enough light—
but I remember afterwards, we all went to Mr. Ups
and got virgin strawberry daiquiris
driving all the other patrons away with our screaming.
I can see it so clearly in my head when liquored up
and moving around the room like a zombie on a Tuesday night:
the crushed-ice with its red dye, left over in the chilled hurricane cocktail glass,
the huge mess we made;
I can feel my hairspray loosing its hold; calling mom 1-800-Collect
on the payphone down by the restrooms to come pick me up
my face blazing like a hyena
who has just tasted human blood for the first time.

 

 

Encore for Leslie Goshko ♥♥♥ Kyle Erickson

While black vines of arms spiral
around a guitar that chug chug chugs
a broken moan, a vibration
through the rush hour commuters in the
darkness under Grand Central,
a tall boy lowers his pelvis,
with a wide stance, to his girl’s,
crotch to crotch,
soft chest to hard chest,
and wraps his hands around her ass.

Remember summer nights in our Tulsa apartment?
We were wrung out and wet, filling
the room with the aroma of sex, exhausting
the ritual of love grip wrapped ’round hardness.

Two nights ago my dream was shattered
with your sobbing. Your voice
echoed the hollow of our bedroom,
and I saw New York descending into you,
the spotlight of a thousand comedy basements
penetrating and filling
you with restless shadows,
swelling you with sorrow.

Remember when I’d blush
at your public kiss? In the hum of Brady Theater
when I dared to touch your hand, colors
spun out the speakers.
I got hard just smelling your hair.

Tonight alone outside Whiskey Sunday,
the spirit of New York
is a ghost of a ghost,
sprawled, aching, crawling
over the tree tops of Prospect Park.
But—uno, dos, tres and the dishwasher’s
apron twirls as he lifts and spins his girl
in the street light of Lincoln Road.

This morning you told me I fondled
your breast in my sleep till I
turned over on top of you—
you said, “Baby, I don’t think you’re awake,”
and I relaxed, covered you,
pressed you into the mattress.

The long winter is over, baby.
Spring is here.
And you’re wilting
among the applause
of tulips in the park, the applause
of footsteps off the Q, the clatter
of early leaves . . .
and the laughter, the laughter
amplified by your own microphone.

And I’m here. I’m applause, too.

 

E observes The Anti-Solo ♥♥♥ Joe Hall

I watch the room move through a final anti-solo.
They relax into their seats, relieved to be told
that the five proceeding minutes of willful
distortion hadn’t been meant to mean anything.
I know that under the stagelight, running a thumb
under the guitar strap where it bands his shoulder,
that the sound of no one clapping, of no glasses
clinking, of no words between a set designer
or dog walker or punk bike co-op member, no sound
at all, was his compensation for the impossibility
of ovation. Yesterday, Jean told me
about a dream in which they were in a field
Around a little pyramid of horse excrement
like briquettes of charcoal in the bowl of a grill,
and they were taking the horse briquettes into their hands
and painting each other’s faces with them and rubbing
it, like paste, into their gums until the pile was gone.
Jean ended the conversation with me on the
corner of Linwood and Bryant. We had our hands
in our pockets, were ducking into ourselves
in the cold, but before Jean did Jean said there was
another thing: it was in early middle March
in the dream, and they walked down with their faces
to a pond and sat down. The pond was mostly
frozen, there were still patches of snow where there was
afternoon shade, and they could hear the traffic
of unseen cars and the sound of water trickling
through ice. That was when they were hanging out with the art
instructor. I don’t want, the art instructor said,
to read a piece about your grandma. I want a piece about
her cock. That was the other thing Jean remembered
and told me that day, after I got the call about
J and how he could only sort of pay to have
his sore tooth pulled, and I thought I’d buy a red cabbage
at Guercios, make borscht in solidarity.
The anti-soloist is folding a guitar
in its little casket off to the side of where
the stage light had just been shining—the scene seems
drenched in an inch of lacquer, so I step
outside the bar, alone, into the cool night,
close my eyes, and remember how I used to look
into the darkest spaces between the stars on a
rooftop in South Texas with Jean who I don’t understand
anymore. I thought I was that big then. I thought
this body was climbing with my gaze into the
night whose poles were spreading until they were gone,
that I was that vast—I never believed I’d have
a door with my name on it but all that happens
is people tell me their problems because they
believe no one else will listen. I was there
on the border of South Texas and
Mexico touching the moon, pressed against Jean
in the cold on the roof, and I didn’t realize Jean,
too, was stretched thin as a curtain, Jean was touching
the moon, and we were humming that, cross waves—I am walking
home, across Sumner, and you, reader, should know
I don’t want your friendship. I don’t want friends
or an artisanal cocktail or a can of beer.
I don’t want to kiss any orifice right now
or to be dazzled by your capacity to negate
what I’ll realize tomorrow is good. It’s two
in the morning, back in the bar, and the anti-soloist’s guitar
is packed stage right. He’s talking to someone with
botanical tattoos who sort of liked his music
as much as the night is sort of sleepless and lonely.
I’m glad I’m not there. I do not want to laugh. So
his anti-solo, I think, walking home across Sumner,
between the stooping houses, I guess it
was ok.

 

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♥♥♥ Todd Colby

Poetry Crush Valentine 2016, vol 1

8 Feb

Part 1 of the 2016 Poetry Crush Valentine Issue with contributing sweetpeas: Bianca Stone, Timothy Liu, Jennifer L. Knox, Steven Leyva, Joe Hall, Loren Erdrich, Joanna Penn Cooper, Brynne Rebele-Henry, Lauren Gordon, Vanessa Gabb, Cheryl Quimba & J. Hope Stein (me, duh). ♥♥♥ 

 

Be Mine

Be Mine

♥♥♥ Bianca Stone

 

 

 

 

Summer Fling

Alone enough tonight
to settle for

a beer, crack

open whatever we
can get our

hands on—high

summer sizzle on
a wraparound porch

where voices

of our unborn children
are reciting Rumi

inside an oak.

♥♥♥ Timothy Liu

 

 

Shock Collars

“Where are we going?” Sandy asked Todd.

We’re not going anywhere. You’re getting shot into space,” Todd said and clicked Sandy’s belt into the buckle.

Suddenly, she understood. All the hours he’d spent with her, his slavish attention. How happy he was when she pushed the button and the pellets came out. Way, way, way too happy. Sandy had often wondered if Todd was actually retarded.

She didn’t bother saying anything as he flipped the final switches.

“You’re a good dog,” he told her, crawling backwards through the hatch.

“Go to hell,” she said.

***

“I don’t feel that you love me—I don’t even feel that you really like me,” Mishka said, on the verge of tears.

Sandy kept her eyes glued to a page in Where the Red Fern Grows.

Mishka waited, then lost her shit, “This is exactly what I’m talking about! You’re too—what?—busy?—to talk to the only other person alive on this planet? You’re nicer to the spidercats than you are to me!”

Sandy raised one eye to the window. Yep, the spidercats were still out there, waiting patiently for her in the light emanating from the window of the rocketship. Once the dust storms died down a little, she’d go out and toss the gravity ball to them. They loved that. And gazing at their own faces reflected in her mirrored helmet.

♥♥♥ Jennifer L. Knox

 

 

 

Dinnerware

Loren2

♥♥♥ Loren Erdrich

 

Aubade for Nuit #1 

Sunrise burst in like an angry lover
packed its things in a trunk of fog
And wasn’t heard of again for days

You said “fuck off” fogging the apartment window
your thigh pristine with sweat instead of sunlight
and I thought that curse was for the eye

of heaven not the swaying drunks
gawking on the cobblestone streets below.
What darkness filled the night’s yawn

did not wholly give way as we closed lips
around wizened mugs of coffee. All the x’s
had fallen off the calendar, and we sat

naked on the kitchen floor, two days married
laughing at obtuse angles of our fumbled sex,
under your breath you said “how do teenagers

do it,” and I had no answer, so we laughed
again, and watched men now free of vomit
walk unwittingly into the sky’s discarded nightshirt.

♥♥♥ Steven Leyva

 

 

 

 

from Easy Poem

3.

To be a poet and alive
is to be this river, to drink your piss.
That is, I want to drink your piss and eat your shit—
To watch you grow
a curious tail of feces
on the bank of the banks

of the bank of the banks—
divided by revulsion, to lick up
the hot
—scalding—and swallow
sin-eater for a funeral for something so large

—from Samir Naqqash, Mizrahi novelist, “My exquisite wine
has turned to vinegar. My blood
to excrement.” You blurt out: “What do you want?”
“Steal!…Steal!
…Steal!”

Taking care for awhile, that’s what property is.
Poor are God’s friends,
a thought could be worse.
Free sample,
expensive meal.
So long as there is the productive sun
how much does this life weigh
baked from crumbs?

So there’s that, Beloved.
Here’s another shot
at a song:

♥♥♥ Joe Hall

 

 

 

 

For the Purposes of Accuracy  

Toward the end of couples therapy that day, she looked down at the empty water bottle she was holding and had the urge to beat herself on the forehead with it.  As Mark Rothko once said, “Silence is accurate.”  Or, in this case, beating yourself on the forehead with a water bottle is accurate.

As she walked out the door of the therapist’s office, she shook his hand and chuckled, a shrugging kind of chuckle, by which she meant, “Whelp.”  In the car on the way there, she’d heard a song called “Sad Jukebox.”  On the way back, she listened to a song called “Strange Victory” and chuckled again, then muttered, “I’m not crazy.  You’re crazy.”

♥♥♥ Joanna Penn Cooper

 

 

 

 

Buckingham 

In the sad ocean the men say that two girls and
Four legs and a red gape is nothing new
I would purge/I would use my rib for a necklace
Go to the canal and let the sun burn us open
We spit out watermelon seeds like little organs
I crush grapes with my molars and grind until everything splits open & the juice
Runs into both of our mouths and we rinse it out with tepid water and citrus seeds
I say make my body a building and light it on fire and we
Walk to church with your wings stuck across your back with Elmer’s glue
Feathers sticking between my teeth and the glitter we doused ourselves in like gasoline Sloughing into my eyes and lips like a million small planets

♥♥♥ Brynne Rebele-Henry

 

 

 

 

That Old Chestnut 

everywhere and everywhere unfettered
in our bank rolls, and this looks normal

the dog snores in sleep, peanut butter
and bread-mouthed squirrels are porched

even the grubs in our loamy tomatoes
are dreaming of legs, muscular calves

to run on         this home an ocean
a cemetery of shitting sparrows

this bruised cheek an island, handy
figment of peace, the baby a white flag

everywhere and everywhere marriage
to batten, to seal the shutters

♥♥♥ Lauren Gordon

 

 

 

Before you leave

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♥♥♥ Loren Erdrich

 

The Lady of Civilization

Don’t get married. A great love does not exist without protest,
my mother told me, have a beautiful run without law, with protest!

Organdyed from birth, with a godless belief in the system of things,
in search of some twin belief, a diadem in your mouth, you were named protest.

I named you and you went, taking extremities into you for decryption,
opening into wheat fields, your hands passing along without protest.

Everything that passes for voyage is us awash in injustice, mortal,
mortal, being young we bleed, loving nothing more than protest.

What could be more legitimate than an idea between us,
fatal or not, here or not, time must pass and so we must protest.

A love poem begins with hazard somehow, the concept of time, a cloud
calling itself gas, only that, and I calling that protest.

♥♥♥ Vanessa Gab

 

 

 

 

A Stone Etching: Vows 

I, Edmund Dantes, do
solemnly swear to
burn the world
in effigy. Small flames.

What else is just? Here, name
revenge after me.

Next I plan to skin skin
as in a sack of wine
a time to flay and tell
all goats, “Get over it”
this cold sore on the lips
of every guard with a tray of food.

the lock up stole
more than my future
children, my great love
of sea, my ability to sleep

in a bed, I must be on,
at all times
the bare floor,

alone – I was
alone again – again
condemned to silence
and no trial, nothing like a trial.

To live is not payback
enough

some magistrates need hurt
and memory will kill.
The Reaper’s greatest gift
Is remembering

to show up. I keep
showing up

promising the only escape I
know; I am sewing
a sack of canvas
for god. The future is black,

Mercedes, as night in your hair.

♥♥♥ Steven Leyva

 

 

 

 

Into The Next Blue

We live
improbably

in this time with drinking
glasses

with green sprouting oh
how I wanted

savage like an undertow
break-necked
coarse

you only
that

loosely limping

mine

remember
remember

this entreaty: on and on is

improbable but still
sure

♥♥♥ Cheryl Quimba

 

 

 

 

The Violence 

It was so quiet you could hear
an envelope being slid

under the door. Even without

tearing it open, you knew
it was over. The same way

you found an orange rind

that still had a whiff of citrus
to it and knew it was his

though he hadn’t stepped

into your kitchen for years.
His hunger had been all

too casual, ear to your chest

late at night, the neighbor’s
TV coming through the walls

with much excitement even if

the voices stayed muffled.
Back then you knew his cock

was the best thing between

you as he peeled off the shell
from your hard-boiled egg

morning after morning

in one complete spiral without
saying a word—the salt

on the table left untouched.

♥♥♥ Timothy Liu

 

 

 

From: I Lob You

Sometimes two countries touching are too much for their people. Sometimes we talk about love like two professionals dismantling a bomb. The last time Millie saw Demetri, her neck was red from kissing & Demetri brought two mittens to her face & said – “Hey, try some snow.” —You can travel all the way to I-don’t-care-where but it’s not going to change the way you feel about this: When Demetri’s mother saw his body lobbed over the fence from the explosion, she said – “That’s not him—that’s just the body of a dead cat”— When we first met you crawled up my overalls & up my braids & sat on my shoulder for years.

♥♥♥ J. Hope Stein

 

 

 

The Small Self is Not So Real After All

The human being is dumb most of the time.
Raving on his phone on the street
like escaped gods. Raving like a plastic bag
caught in a tree for decades. Raving
like an electrical wire at the starlings.
The grocery stores are holding back
a great wave of perpetual sadness.
The famine is never coming. And panic lies
just under the little disturbances at the checkout
along with the frightening experience
of realizing the people who cared for you
are completely insane.

♥♥♥ Bianca Stone

 

 

 

 

Bye 

Loren3

♥♥♥ Loren Erdrich

 

Ping-Pong & Poetry Crush Reading in Seattle

19 Feb

butterfly2012-1

Thursday, February 27th 7-10pm, Ping-Ping (the official journal of the Henry Miller Library) & Poetry Crush (the official & unofficial digi-crush-journal), join cerebral cortexes in a mysterious and intimate reading at Seattle’s Butterfly Lounge.

Readers include:  Kim Addonizio, Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Joanna Fuhrman, Joe Hall,  Cheryl Quimba, Adeena Karasick, Amy Lawless, James Maughn, Sampson Starkweather, Dan Shapiro, J. Hope Stein, Rauan Klassnik, Janaka Stucky, Maria Garcia Teutsch, Peter Kline and Brittany Perham.

The Butterfly Lounge’s walls of glass-encased butterflies are sure to inspire courageous & metamorphic reading experiences.  Arrive as larva, depart as butterfly.

Poetry Crush: Everyday is Valentine’s (Vol II)

11 Feb

picnic-at-hanging-rock-still

From Picnic at Hanging Rock “To Saint Valentine!”
An honor to valentine with heartbreakers:  Joe Hall, Cheryl Quimba, Joanna Penn Cooper, Leah Umansky, Larry Sawyer, Peter Kline, Brittany Perham, Sara Lefsyk, Gregory Crosby, Kristy Bowen, Maria Teutsch, not_I (Ana Bozicevic & Sophia Le Fraga), Sasha Fletcher, Lauren Hunter, DJ Dolack, Stephanie Berger, Justin Petropoulos, Erika Anderson & J. Hope Stein (me).   

 

A WISH

Moving ever slower
just as square brackets
hug a sentence my
unfortunate nature is
to buckle as you bend.
Hailstorm our guardian so
expansive. Where to spend
all the soft paper. Just as
the only road leads
away from here, we
will not ever recover.

Joe Hall & Cheryl Quimba

 

 

VALENTINE FOR YOUR BOSS

Don’t hesitate to serve your boss.
Sit quietly and he will come to you.
The blessing of an employee
is in the corners of her mouth.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

When a great boss says “I kill you”
lay your head across his laptop.
Throw your documents in the river.
This is how we measure time.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

Do not despise small documents.
Do good for your body, but
there is no one who does not die—
Do not delay in your office.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

Be a cat in your boss’s presence.
Do not give a wary look
towards the elevator door—
You do not know the length of your life.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

Do not hesitate to serve your boss.
Do let linger without enquiry.
Put myrrh on your head, dress in fine linen.
Sit quietly and he will come to you.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.

J. Hope Stein

 

 

LOVE SONG OF FIONA AND AXEMAN

American Horror Story

The Axeman says, “never assume anything about me,”
but Fiona says, “I don’t believe in ghosts.”

He is still-at-heart man
with a do-not-forget-me tongue.

He is in tune and soulful
and she, she  is going by ear.

There is a cadence to their love
and a faith in their fear

*

He says, “I’ve been watching you
since you were eight years old
… and then I started to love you as a man.”

She is his pull of daylight
He is her remembered quiet,
and her fray.

When he says, “I love you more than jazz, babydoll”

She hears  more than
more than I needed.

For, Love has a delicate swash
and she, she swishes.

Even the dead want love,
but the dead at heart love nothing.

 Leah Umansky

 

 

A SMALL MAN LOOKED AT ME

A small man looked at me. He said “you are the Fritz Perls look alike
in the apartment complex of my life and I want to make a tincture
out of your saline eye drops and ride away with you into the desert
in a cadillac full of very small and miniature ponies.”

I told this small man ;oolong at me, if I had a mule, a parachute and long flowing locks
I would jump out of this plane, put you in my shopping cart and push you
clean to Brazil where we would change our names, cut our hair
and join the local militia. After that, we would lead a small army of chickens
to the sea and, after many days of floating, I would catch a small fish
and name it Pavlov. Then, we would all jump into the sea and swim
until we reached the large island of Europe, where we would start
a mariachi band with my birth family and yours and the sun would set
and we would all drink sugar water and go to sleep
beneath a large curtain of black air.

Sara Lefsyk

 

NEW YORK VALENTINE

Gently, let us sleep my love
our hearts entwined as one.
Forever you’ll be my Catherine Deneuve
uh, and I’m your Fifth Avenue John Donne.
Come, let us prove it, while we may
knowing ‘tis no sin love’s fruit to steal.
You’re hotter than anything off eBay.
Our banter’s straight off Key & Peele.
Use me for your street-side fashion show; take
refuge in these sculpted arms.
Sweet, I’ll get with child the mandrake,
even if this shit was a false alarm.
Look, I sought fit words, so now you know.
Forsooth, your boyfriend sold you oregano.

Larry Sawyer

 

 

FRAGMENTS (2)

1.
In January my grandmother says she is anxious for the little fellow to get here and join the troupe.

2.
In January a dapper man who looks like Buck Henry gives me a very kind look on 60th Street as I leave my third ultrasound that month.  “Advanced maternal age.”

3.
In February, after being in labor for 12 hours, I text my mom on the 13th that you will be a Valentine’s Day baby.

4.
In February the doula comes over on the 14th and tucks me into the attic bed to see if I can sleep, despite the two days of contractions.  C lies there with me.  The doula tucks him in, too.

5.
On the morning of the 15th, we head to the hospital.  The doula heats rice-filled socks in the microwave and ties them to me.  We call the car service.  I wear the rice socks to the hospital.

6.
In the early morning of the 16th, I am lying in a darkened room with a catheter in my back.  A nurse named Ashley comes in and out to make notations.  She is young and pleasant and doesn’t talk too much.  She is from a southern state.  I ask her which one, but I’ve forgotten what she said.

7.
In the early morning of the 16th, the doula says in a quiet voice, I think it’s snowing.  My thought is something like, I’ve been waiting for some beautiful thing.  A while after that they tell me it’s time for the pushing, which is less a beautiful thing than a necessity thing.  C holds one leg and a nurse named Eve holds the other.  Eve is my favorite, and I remember that she’s from Oklahoma, but I’m not thinking about that during the pushing.  At one point, the doctor lifts her hands back up, and they are bright red.

8.
On the morning of the 16th, you join the troupe.

9.
I study your hands for a month.  Their esoteric gestures.

10.
I skipped some parts.

11.
We are mammals with the fluid world within and between us.

12.
I sing you the hymn “Farther Along,” which I heard in a movie years ago.  I know very few of the words. You are listening then and interested.  When I look up the lyrics online, the sidebar says, Main subject: Encouragement.

Joanna Penn Cooper

*originally published in South Dakota Review

 

 

DON’T_PROMISE

not_I  (Ana Bozicevic and Sophia Le Fraga)

 

 

NOCTURNE

So what if one day you will need to be named,

need to have signal laid upon you.

So what.

The instruments polish themselves.

Some gods already laud you
with cheap satins

plastic jewels that click
when they collide

but do not chime.

And you don’t chime.
You bow

and your hair reaches great lengths to the earth.

Evening when you bow
your hair climbs across itself
and reaches great

lengths to the earth.

The moon almost fellates its own magic,

tosses back
a little yellow number and

look

I only want
a bit of trouble.

I only want to be codified,

the signal laid upon me.

So what if the instruments are named;

so what if they are only here to polish.

DJ Dolack

 

 

MIRRORFORM PSALM

For You, I’d strip down bare,
but won’t You lay me cover?
Dallying with forever
is a high-risk affair.

I’ve tried new underwear
to tempt a tempted lover,
made my whole wardrobe over.
For You I’d strip down bare.

Peter Kline

 

 

THE YEAR OF THE WATER

The bed we shared is kelp is kelp is kelp
anchored
on a foot of rock.

Your stomach
against
my spine in the year of water.

At night we rippled beneath the year of a tide
pulling us apart.

All the clarity
a marine layer gives you. Clarity

is your stomach
against
my spine in the bed of salt.

Maria Teutsch

 

 

A QUIVER FULL OF EROS

A quiver full of arrows for the river,
it wants to fall in love—
pulling itself from the spring, mirrors
the small boy in rouge. Memory sent him
to the water, far below
the python’s spewing apartment
meublé. When he left, he spat,
on the wall, basalt, down the hole,
venom, impressed
upon the wax tablet of my head.
In bed by eleven. In the morning,
applied my visage with a desert
palette. There wasn’t
ever any muse or music for makeup,
but Clio would remedy that
remedy for pallor, if she could, rewrite
with a rattle of thunder from
her father. I bared my face to him.

Stephanie Berger

 

 

house made of ghosts and small animals

For every love song, there is a broken dove skeleton
rotting in the eaves. A leaving, that requires
nothing but the door opening and closing just once.
A heaviness of suitcases and floor lamps and
record albums piled awkwardly in the trunk.
You see, my motives are mud dark, made of larkspur
and longing.   Soon you will find me replacing each dish
and hairbrush in someone else’s house,  replacing
p with q and mucking up the quick exit.  Will find me
ravenous and bleeding beneath the weedy undergrowth.
For every broken promise, I give you a ring of roses.
A prolific number of tiny mice inhabiting the baseboards.
Animal, vegetable, mineral.
The terrible goblin heart of my goodbye.

Kristy Bowen

 

 

DOUBLE PORTRAIT

Today my heart said you 
I want to be with you above all others
though not very long
ago my heart said her
I want to be with her more 
than I’ll ever want to be with anyone else
& because I couldn’t
go on living without her
not for another minute
I began living with her & all this
time I was happy I was happy
to be happy I believed
things would continue
this way every day always
but today all day 
& on & on through
the night & all night my head
on her chest my heart said
though I said no no my heart
said & would not stop saying
you yes you yes you 

Brittany Perham

 

 

the gospel according to tough love

i thought the world would revolve without us

flinging your hands into a darkness you can grab hold of, hold on little baby, how’d you get so goddamn strong? shall i speak to the spit flinging from my lips, the spark from your fingertip, (y’all seen that before), the corners rounded without guidance, watch her go zero to 180 without blinking, leather and spare skin cells underneath chipped nails

“hey, putting my DNA on things IS art”

the devil on your earlobe baby. the devil in my eardrum, demanding nothings. even during my first burglary, i wanted to touch things i had no business. i’m gonna leave some of myself here. i’m the absolute pinkest thing in this dark room. like a newborn before its first breath, let’s inspire empathy. hold it in; i’m asking you to not breathe with me, and we’ll keep them on those toes until we’re sure my superpower applies.

(i infuse myself, whole and unworried, into each and every cell i carry.  i’m a factory of my smallest selves, tags perfect and unaware. these i leave casually anywhere.)

that darkness is always getting velvet, soft on my skin and eyes. those times a seatbelt is a hug. those times you don’t regret a too-long embrace. you exhale yourself to the edge of this room, then inhale until the walls split on your precious face. the world collapses. i thought i could be the wildness, but find myself in every room i’m in. why i like to see my breath like smoke. why i like to be the last body in a room. i’m gonna touch everything, someday.

but nothing i know could slow us down

Lauren Hunter

 

dreamboats

Today the air conditioner exploded
in a scene of silent and totally imaginable futility.
Here I go again, starting to talk about the sunset
as though you couldn’t imagine it yourself.
A tree grew in the yard last night and we hung lanterns from it
like it was any other night
or any other dream. Dear Eloise
you are the albino alligator lurking in my heart
at unknown intervals and I
I am the top 40 station you conveniently forgot
and together we are a documentary that will be spoken of for years to come.
In the yard were the neighbors calling out
ANOTHER NIGHT ANOTHER DREAM
BUT ALWAYS YOU as though we weren’t all thinking this
every day of our lives. The lanterns from earlier
hung low and beat with every sharp breath
as we pulled each other closer and loosed the fabric
of our lives slicked with sweat and piled
in the corner. Someone got excited
and set off some fireworks
and the neighborhood committee got together
and shot them in the head. They said no one
is to celebrate on a school night but me
I could not disagree more. What better thing to celebrate
than a school night? Dear Eloise
I hear tonight it is supposed to storm
like nobodies business and the heat will finally break
open as wide as the sky.
Dear Eloise you can find me on the roof,
building a boat from the chairs,
waiting for something larger than everything
to sweep me away and pull me under and fill my lungs
with something heavier and more potent than air
and I can see that alligator surfacing again,
I can feel myself choking up as its red right eye rolls over me
and blinks once for yes, twice for no, three times
for I forget what. Dear dreamboat goes the alligator
If this is you trying to say I am a wild animal
good job. You did it. Tonight I will take you by the hand
and lead you adrift. If you make it back to shore
we can get married and I’ll let you put a baby in me
and we can eat spaghetti in the tub and give her three or four names
and teach her to grow up into a boat that will sail
in all kinds of weather and then I’ll let you put another in me
and another and another and their names will be like mountains
because they will be magnificent to behold
and one day one of them will fall down a well and you’ll dive in after him
and break every bone in your body
and use those bones to build a ladder
and our son will climb to safety
and in the morning there you’ll be, naked, in bed,
preparing to construct for us a porch, and just in time for summer!
and every night you’ll realize
that there is not enough money to take care of things
or to put away for the future because the future
died years ago and all we have is this, right here, and it’s terrifying,
and you’ll stand there watching the children sleep
and I’ll sneak up beside you like a knife in the dark
with my hand in your pocket stealing the last bits of love
you secreted away, because they’re mine now, because you’re mine now,
and as we stand there, waiting for our children to grow old enough
to resent the burden we’ve become to them, it strikes us
that it is a real mystery to us all how we’ve made it this far.
Then we turn slightly, and speak our vows to each other,
and they go something like this:
I will put up with you until we kill each other
because I will love you from now until we kill each other
and I will build you a home inside of me
and we will cook each other dinner when we’re hungry
and knife each other in a soft place when we’re angry
and I will hold your hand until it breaks
because I will never let go of your hand
and I won’t mind your problems because they’re a part of you and I love you
I love you even though that is a decision I deeply regret
and if you ever need a presence to keep things from getting too quiet
give me a call. I will be there with you when the lights are out.
If you want to know if that is a knife at your throat
the answer is that I will love you for as long as we both shall live.

Sasha Fletcher

 

[selections from because we go to the same places to hide]

//these maps because so casual fill the gaps reasoned for flowers
she eats stems
he paces
bed systems       holds her here

associative bearings
of bodies               all that disorder

fled through a rind of eclipse

contractual motion         she pears
instances             heels the limits of
to have held

curious
tympana or this hemisphere
rests on nothing but cause
and effect

ants distanced
in proportion to intervals
between musical notes

combed with sun

she is all
cataracts and shifting clouds

Justin Petropoulos

 

SPOOKY ACTION AT A DISTANCE 

Impermanence from permanence,
sound from plastic. A scarf, a shawl,
a shroud of static.

A sundial in the dark of a school night
told me this about love:

that there would be dancing
in the dark, walking in the park,
& reminiscing;

that piña coladas were the key
to all mythologies;

that even in the depths
of a so damned depression
you could set your sights
on Monday

& get yourself undressed…

A voice from the future
said sad songs say so much less

than you will come to know.

Turning, turning, AM amidst a.m.,
round & round… the child’s hand

is farther than the man’s. The Seventies
are over, man. The Seventies

are eternal. The voice said,

Everything that’s lost 
will be restored,
& then lost again.

The radar understands
what the grid cannot imagine.

The shadows cast themselves, while
tomorrow daydreams tonight.

Everything that’s lost
will be restored,
& then lost again.

Someone found a letter you wrote me.

They read it on the radio,
in the voice of the Future,

& I heard it just today.

The DJ translated it as
entanglement.

Separated by a million songs,
but not the speed of light…

& you gazed up at me,
& the answer was plainly seen,

felt

before it could be understood.

Every measurement agrees
that we
spin counterclockwise.

You & I, observed, by… …

Mystery, static. It does,
& does not, matter. Everything

restored last chance
will be lost last dance

& restored tonight

Gregory Crosby

 

ARMY OF LOVERS ROBOT VALENTINE

The army of lovers movement will give out handmade valentines to strangers this Friday.

Robot valentine

Erika Anderson

Poetry Crush: Celebrity Crush

3 Oct

My definition of “crush” in this special issue of Poetry Crush is loose:  To show an interest or fixation (good or bad) in someone that is disproportionate to the reality of the situation.  Celebrities are the highest incarnation of this phenomenon– where you don’t know this person, it makes no sense that you would spend time thinking about them, they have no direct impact on your life.  Yet, something about their existence is penetrating into the way you experience the world.  As poets, we process celebrity culture in different ways — some of us ignore it entirely, some of us challenge it, some of us find inspiration or infatuation.  Personally, the crushes of my life are accurate mirrors of my growth in the time period in which I was crushing.  And in that sense, crushes can be quite altering, almost acting as little portals to past, present and future versions of yourself.  (The answer to time travel is in your loins).  If you want to see your future, follow your crush.  In this special issue of Poetry Crush, I asked a bunch of poets I have crushes on to talk about their celebrity crushes and thereby give a glimpse of how they process celebrity culture.   — J Hope Stein.

Kristy Bowen on James Franco

from I*HATE*YOU*JAMES*FRANCO
8 out of 10 of my friends think you are a douche, James
Franco. Okay, I haven’t polled them, but it seems to be
a consensus. I pegged you immediately as yet another
sleepy-eyed, pouty pretty boy. Apparently you played
Ginsberg, but this seems very wrong. What I know of
the Beats is a lot of women in black turtlenecks getting
ignored while the men got drunk and high and semifamous
while their writing wasn’t all that great. I hate
to say it, but you don’t seem at all Jewish enough to play
Ginsberg. I am more a Ryan Gosling sort of girl, anyway.
Though sometimes I hate him too for that movie with
the redhead and that scene in the rain and the furious
kissing. That movie reminds me of something someone
told me once that even the best instances of love working
out usually end in death or disease one way or the other.
This makes me feel a little like I can’t breathe. 2 out of 5
people would want Meg Ryan to play them in the movie
about their life. I haven’t taken a poll, but it pretty much
seems to be true.
 

Joanna Penn Cooper & J. Hope Stein on Cyndi Lauper

There’s a lady here who stomps down the hallway like a mofo.  My God, she’s a loud walker. And not a large person.  And when she talks, she over-enunciates words, like “col-oss-al” and “ped-i-gree.”    She’s lodged there in my brain.   I came here to learn to breathe and write poems that have the formal quality of a river and all I hear is “col-oss-al, col-oss-al.”  I’m doomed.   At dinner, I sit always by the window— always with a view of the river, so I can take in its circadian rhythm.  So that I can link its rhythm to mine.  The river doesn’t especially welcome this, but it isn’t unwelcome either.  At night by the bonfire, I try the same thing, I impersonate the flame.   And the others come huddle around me, sit on a log bench and talk about the job market.  I don’t say anything:  I just act like a flame and do my best to seem like I am burning as the radio plays.  After about 20 minutes of this, the song  “She Bop” by Cyndi Lauper comes on the radio and I’m suddenly glad for Lauper, glad for this human company that moves with the play of flame.  And finally I say something:  “You know, Lauper never asked for anyone’s permission.  She didn’t wait for a response on a job application. My god, she dyed her hair flame-red and put on the greatest party dress of all time.  She didn’t ask anyone’s permission for any of it.”  The others look up, still huddled around me with sticks, ready to roast marshmallows.

Noah Falck on Bill Murray

CELEBRITY DREAM POEM

BILL MURRAY

At dusk, dogs spring loose
with freight train adrenalin.

They disappear down an alley
where my brothers huddle beneath

a cold rain, their faces the unlit chandeliers
of a 5-star hotel. They wait until

all of Chicago dies in the golf course of
my eyes, in the golf course of my heart.

Leah Umansky on Don Draper 

Don Dreams and I Dream

So, Don dreamt he was an angel. It’s sweet. I’ve dreamt about motherhood. [So what?] Now, it feels all downtrodden. I wish I knew the crested. I wish I knew what made the light twitch; what brings the light to the moon so I can carry it inside, and know there is glory in the in-between. That there is something here to be sought or sought-after. Something to be stared -down-beautiful.

I dreamt I was an angel. When a man walks into a room, he brings his whole life with him. I bring golden cornhusks, green apples and dung.
 

I want to dream an idea that is birthed through a carnival’s sawdust floor. I want to dream you and let you ride into the night –all shaky-hinges and crated -screams—I want you to ferris to me. Oblige to gravity. I want your fall to be planned.

*

[Do you even want that kind of attention ?]

[I want the aftermath. That germinating. ]

[I won’t let go of this.]

[I won’t let you.]

Sasha Fletcher on the Presidents

bedtime stories

Once upon a time there was a man named Franklin Pierce
and he had a really great haircut. One day
he was elected president of the Unites States
and then promptly lost his oldest son, his wife, his Vice-President,
the rest of his children, his nomination for re-election
and his lunch money. After that he buried himself
inside a bottle of gin while vultures
fed on the remains of everything he ever lost,
as was the custom of the time. It is said that William Howard Taft
dined on vultures using his keen legal mind
and custom silverware while an enormous bathtub
was constructed around him. People would come
from miles around and he’d give them his teeth
and this is how souvenirs got invented. One day
a man named Franklin Delano Roosevelt woke up
to find several birds in his chest that soon
ate their way down to his legs where they live to this day.
He spent most of his life keeping a blanket over those legs
because birds like to sleep when it’s dark. He’d tell them stories
about how William Howard Taft ate vultures
and how a man named Andrew Jackson ate bald eagles
which lived in hickory trees and that is why
they called him Old Hickory and also why
depending on what you have heard
there are no more bald eagles.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt hoped
these stories would scare the birds into going away
but the thing about birds is that they don’t speak English
or respond well to threats. When I tell you this
I will be smiling, because your life is a shining example
of all the things I have never done, and if I could
I would replace everyone’s face with yours so that every day
my heart would just break wide open and my head would catch on fire
and I could, for that moment, be surrounded by your love
right before my head explodes in a miraculous tribute
to this great nation, and we wake up in the morning
and do it all over again, but different, and better,
with a car crash, a shipwreck, a few rigged elections,
and a truly spectacular excuse for a dinner party,
with the sort of twist ending that just sends you staggering out
cold and wild, into the night
just waiting for destiny
to manifest itself all over your broken, anxious face.

Monica McClure on Lindsay Lohan

Lilo Spotting

How it must have hurt to hear your frenemies giggling in the background
when you were spotted as a fire crotch
 
Cocaine was at the scene
when you were spotted with trashy parents
 
You probably do get dehydrated
when you’re spotted asking Al Gore to help clean up your image
 
When you told Oprah you weren’t a party girl
you were spotted falling head first into a car
 
Cocaine was at the scene
when your dad spelled your name L-I-N-D-S-A-Y in a press release
 
Your hairless vagina was spotted as a baby rat
when you were spotted stealing a woman’s fur coat at 1Oak
 
At Dragonfly you were spotted
when you were spotted leaving Teddy’s with Steve-O
 
When Samantha Ronson changed the locks on her door
you were spotted violating your parole
 
Get revenge on your frenemies turned all out enemies!
Spot them in court with profane messages painted on their fingernails
 
A hollow person was spotted wearing an ankle bracelet
But it wasn’t you
 
$500k in jewels was spotted missing from an Elle photoshoot
when a curb in Beverly Hills was being struck
 
Cocaine was at the scene
when Michael was reading How To Be A Man For Dummies at your suggestion
 
Frenemies were driving with suspended licenses
when the sun came up at Promises
 
Spotted leaving Leonardo Di Caprio’s house
you discovered you had another life somewhere else
 
But the case was dismissed a month later
when you were spotted owing money
 

 

 

Amy Lawless on Mariah Carey 

The Speed of Sound

dolphins have been granted
personhood
and yet mariah carey’s
web site is still just
a vehicle for
consumers
to see what her body
has been up to lately
dolphins have consciousness
and we know that dolphins obviously mostly only talk
using their complex language
about doing it
in new, creative ways
positions we as humans have not yet imagined
dolphins have been acknowledged
as persons
by the government of India
it’s really just so some
government can regulate their awesome sex lives
& how humans must play nice
i came across an amazing piece of prose
last week that discusses how
entities always try to control
the basest acts of humans
(the government obviously)
but it’s about religion too
humanity’s crassest and basest desires
these entities keep us from fucking on the sidewalks
keep fleabag hotels in business
and prevent people from pulling each other’s necks back
to sniff the sex off each other’s ears
or slurping down his heart when we’re in bed
or then from tearing each other’s heads off with our bare hands
… moments after holding hands
desire is held
in a large and growing vase
the vase might be your government
religion is your clothing
and then there are
the quieter rules
your community
your workplace
friend group
that control who you have sex with
or what you wear
who you associate with
who you’re supposed to desire
there are books that tell you what to want
and who your desires should resemble
the years during which to find them, want them, and how
well, what if you’re still dolphin shaped
what’s to be done
who does the shunning
we like to believe there is
a right and a wrong and a that-which-ekes-by-as-barely-acceptable
“Who controls humans?” I googled
and I got a list of web sites about population control
and some country that offers voluntary sterilization
and great, there’s a black hole in the ocean to worry about too
we don’t know shit about the ocean
not the tiniest little turd about the ocean
it’s almost freeing to know this
we won’t be sucked toward the maelstrom
no matter how broke we are
we must fight recklessly
but by listening to mariah carey
it’s so easy to be sucked down
into the maelstrom

two dolphins swim into a café
dolphin 1: ‘sup
dolphin 2: (tucks chin to chest, coy)
dolphin 1: wanna ___________?

fall into the maelstrom
of two dolphins in conversation
one wearing a beret, obviously
in oceans that one can’t control
The maelstrom can be anything
a brick wall with painted ivy
keeping you alive
with the hope
that there is something that keeps you living
like that sickly girl
who let that painted ivy keep her fighting through the night
because she thought it was real
she reached for it
sometimes during yoga
they say reach for both walls
as if that were possible
and yet
i try with my arms
i try
i come closer than I did today
(which I spent spooning my laptop)
i wonder if mariah carey
wonders if she might speak to the dolphins
and because she believes it, maybe she can
i have never been much of a mariah carey fan
her belief in love
is metaphysical
it exits her body
in a physical form
that has an impact
and my belief in love is lazy, pessimistic, and american
and despite the haters
mariah believes she can touch both walls and
& in its naiveté
is touching both walls with her mindhands

Two dolphins swim into a bar
dolphin 1: did you hear that?
dolphin 2: yeah, sounded like another human giving a monologue about love
dolphin 1: yeah, but more than that. it was like she was singing to me.

the only way
to do anything
is to touch
both walls

 

Lauren Gordon on Britney Spears 

Your Fear Is a Charcoal Briquette of Psyche

but also an upturned duck in manky water, spit curled bottom bobbing three seconds longer than it should, its flat bill devoid of breath. Your fear is your daughter’s lost shoe, now on the other side of the river, touched by a thoughtful or annoyed hand that moved it from the foot path to the lamp post in an un-ironic way.  Your fear made you hustle past a limp man in yellow Nikes sinking to the concrete like a prostrate angel only to spark a cigarette, his umbrella at his side under devilish sun, like portent.  Your fear is keen and musical.  Your fear sounds like a song by Britney Spears; all hips and sweat, was photographed barefoot at a gas station.  Once your fear was a two piece and the body in it, blustering along the lip of a swimming pool, toes clenched tellingly.  Admittedly, your fear still is.  Occasionally your fear is a skeleton army, how their bones knit together after being struck with a mace of your own making because this means you are never alone under your skin.  Your fear is a hallway with three closed doors and that is all you want to say about that.  Your fear has you straining to thunder, the thump of that child’s legs against her crib mattress overhead because your fear sounds like the static drone of a window unit taking its last heave.  Even statues can suffer, and your fear recognizes its own reflection in stoicism, granite, and bird shit.  Your fear looks a lot like Peter Pan, green tights and fringe; his own fear a dark plasma stain unraveling and dancing alone, held by thread.  A long time ago your fear was a tooth wiggling against your tongue, an archaic itch deep in your gum, the iron gush on the floor mat of your throat; now your fear is just a pencil, a white sheaf, pulp.

Rena Mosteirin on Kurt Cobain

High School Crush(es)

Listening to Tori Amos cover “Smells Like Teen Spirit” under the covers, on my Discman, crying and slightly stoned, I knew I wanted to do what Tori was doing. That was high school and everything felt so authentic and meaningful and I wanted to be able to take something meaningful apart and give it new meaning. (Even when I had to chew the words.) Nirvana colonized my dreams and then Tori Amos broke down those scary repetitions, panting and playing piano and exposing just so how heartbreaking the whole thing was. Oh high school…Taking song lyrics and re-arranging them as pantoums—a form I am obsessed with, as evidenced by their frequent occurrences on my poetry blog—feels like I am “covering” these songs. For this project I took each song from Nevermind and re-worked it into pantoum form. Re-writing them this way helped me develop a different relationship with the work. Here’s an example:

Sloppy Lips

(“Drain You”)

One baby to another says I’m lucky to have met you
I don’t care what you think unless it is about me
It is now my duty to completely drain you
I travel through a tube and end up in your infection
 
I don’t care what you think unless it is about me
Chew your meat for you/ Pass it back and forth
I travel through a tube and end up in your infection
In a passionate kiss/ From my mouth to yours
 
Chew your meat for you/ Pass it back and forth
With eyes so dilated I’ve become your pupil
In a passionate kiss/ From my mouth to yours
You’ve taught me everything about a poison apple
 
With eyes so dilated I’ve become your pupil
The water is so yellow
You’ve taught me everything about a poison apple
I’m a healthy student/ Indebted and so grateful
 
The water is so yellow
Vacuum out the fluids/ Sloppy lips to lips
I’m a healthy student/ Indebted and so grateful
You’re my vitamins/ I like you
 
One baby to another says I’m lucky to have met you
It is now my duty to completely drain you

Joanna Penn Cooper on Various Celebrities

Charlotte Rampling Is My Life Force

Or Neil Young.  Neil Young is actually my life force.  Marianne Faithfull is my id.  Or Marianne Faithfull is my celebrity guardian angel.  Think of her on your shoulder, talking to you in that voice all day.  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is my other celebrity guardian angel.  Sissy Spacek in Coal Miner’s Daughter is my ego.  Allen Ginsberg is my superego.  My superego, Allen Ginsberg, tells me to take things more seriously and also to lighten up.  So I pray every day at an altar to that woman from Dancing with the Stars.  The blonde one.  And why not?  “If you have prayed at an altar to that woman from Dancing with the Stars, you have done it for me.”  That’s in the Bible.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

It will desecrate my pure and true love for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar if I say too much about it.  I’ve said too much already.  You may think of me less as a triathlete and more as a person who has made up to five mistakes in her life.  You may ask me, “Do you have a sports hero?” And I will say, “No.”  But I will be thinking about goggles and earnest eyes and—oh, what movie was he in?—and then I will think of Stewart Copeland.  Han Solo.  Steve Martin in The Jerk.  Everything I ate in the last twenty-four hours, brand names and all.  How I ate some grape tomatoes with a funny name.  Something something farm.  Glee Farm.  No, that’s the name of Todd Colby’s blog.  No.  Don’t let’s give voice to it.

Brandon Brown on Amanda Bynes

UGLY

I’m reading this whole Amanda Bynes
debacle as a philosopher facing a crisis
of reception.  Nose-jobbed Socrates
who also reaped marketplace hate,
and we make her drink hemlock too.
When Amanda Bynes calls everybody ugly,
she doesn’t mean they have asymmetrical faces.
She’s having a vision of the soul she yearns
to name.  Our culture rejoices in her
crisis precisely to avoid hearkening to what
stakes she raises in that river of tweets.

Schadenfreude is so sinister.
The word makes me think of Steve Jobs
toasting aged Dom to Foxconn suicides,
watching security footage with his little
boner.  Amanda’s concern is beauty
and she is willing to sing it
though she extricates herself from future
film roles like a gangrenous tooth.
Count me out of this inverted envy
regime happy by her auto-demolition.
I’m trying to stay pretty.  Prettier than that.

I did see a skateboarder eat shit on
Telegraph and smiled after.  Vestigial
adolescent jealousy reappearing as smug
superiority.  It was so thoughtlessly
ugly.  No crown but one covered in earth.
No glitter without a slave to shave
long swaths of sparkling base.  It’s so
ugly.  Listen to Amanda Bynes.
She is trying to help us.

Maria Teutsch on John Coltrane

Sex with Coltrane

Are the children opening mouths like hungry saxophones
Clamoring for bread from my bread music?

This exhale of ours bellows in and out
And does not look like a wind instrument

Must be a fool’s hat collecting coins
Never earned by my frail mouth, not like Coltrane.

We never slept in the same bed
Coltrane and I: in the same bed I’d fumble.

Yet you wind inside of me and I become your instrument
Now the breasts on my lips

Soft like the rolls I’d bake
When I finally clamored myself to you

Earning that key no door will unlock
I wake to find you steamed against me, Coltrane.

Gili Malinsky on Christoph Waltz

A Glorious Bastard

Fateful Sunday in June
Under full-figured moon
Powered up my computer
‘Twas to iTunes I tuned

To a film about Basterds
About murder and gore…
Soon my heart was defeated!
SS Hans won the war!

With his “Pas si mauvais”
And his strudel au lait
His Ital masquerade
Charming medals and gray

What the fuck, Christoph Waltz?
I said somewhat loud
Sitting cross-armed in bed
Mouth agape, furrowed brows

How could your beautiful face so perplex me?!
Never a solid attraction so vexed me.

Cuz wanting an SS man
Reader, it’s true
Was deeply confusing
For this little Jew

J. Hope Stein on Poets & Podcasting

To me, just sitting around for hours talking about movies is the great luxury of my life.  There’s nothing more fun to me than going to the movies then talking about the movie for hours into the night until it’s all talked out and just hangs in the air.  Shit-Talking with Joe & Cheryl is a podcast in which the two most delightful people you could ever encounter talk about movies.    In each episode, we join poets Joe Hall & Cheryl Quimba who have just seen a somewhat buzzed-about movie together –The Great Gatsby, Before Midnight, One Direction: this is Us (3D), Zero Dark Thirty….  & There’s an immediacy to it -sometimes the podcast starts in the car on the way back from the theater, sometimes it’s in their kitchen and Joe will stop to point out that one ant is carrying another ant across their apartment floor, sometimes Cheryl will let on that they had a fight before the film… or just when Joe seems like he just wants to say that One Direction sucks, Cheryl will pull him back in by appealing to their greater shared nature of exploration.  Joe & Cheryl never talk about the film amongst themselves (like 2 jurors) until the podcast officially starts, so there’s a live tension that is created by these two beings and this film- they each have an individual relationship to the film they just witnessed and then there is the relationship they have with each other– and that is played out until there is nothing left to say.   Joe & Cheryl approach each film like an understanding friend – with an openness to accept choices they don’t agree with.  And in that willingness, what they are really doing is accepting a society going through some awkward phases.     This  is my favorite poetry podcast.  And one of my favorite podcasts in general.   There’s no institution or hipster scene behind this podcast – these are just two humans trying to be open to the world in which they find themselves living.

12 Dead Poets (I Would Fuck)

23 Oct

Sometimes you want to fuck a poet but can’t because the poet is dead.  — Boo!  — Last year we did “10 Dead Poets” and this year we did “12”!  Why??  Because it’s 2012.  Also because I meant to do 10 but I miscounted.

Thanks so much to my kinked-up & spooky-awesome contributors for sharing their innermost & wide-ranging necrophiliac tendencies.

Happy halloween & take care.

J. Hope Stein

1) Edward Taylor by Joe Hall

A CONFUSING SEXUAL ENCOUNTER WITH EDWARD TAYLOR

He’d be in his lab, preparing his sermon, and I’d blast down right in front of him, lens flares cutting across our eyes and waists. “Don’t worry, Edward,” I’d say. “I’m from the future, and I’m here to save you.” He’d take his hand from the book leather and touch his hair:

   

               His lovely love on his all
Pinked and masked face? Allowing
Not a kiss? Oh! Screw me up
And make my Spirit bed Blesst and blissfull
Flower, first Thou on me. Thy
Sweet print her shaft flies
Soaring up—Make for me mine
                Tender Bowells run Out streams
Of Grace dropt in thy mouth that   
Cries Eate, Eate me, me dub
With Golden Rod, set my knot
With Honeysuckles, a Rich stick in
My breast, my Spiknard in His
Bright Sedan, through all the Silver Stars
                Rocks and rock, Turffe of Clay, Clod
                Darker by far than any coal-pit stone
All Whirlewinde, All God, All Gone
 

The candles sloughing in convolutions of themselves.  Edward undulating upward like a mermaid to the ceiling of the sea.  I look at the open book on the table.  I guess this is where I live now.

 

2)  Emily Dickinson by Melissa Broder

I am loathe to fuck the dead. I am over the dead. I want to fuck many a living poetboy (rarely for their words) but this want is an illusion, just as fucking the dead is an illusion, because fucking the living is never how we imagine it will be.

I imagine a living poetboy writes the words RUN AWAY WITH ME on his palm and flashes it to me during a reading. Then he fingers me with that hand in a dark alley. I imagine there is kissing on the mouth, then my pussy, then back to the mouth. Eye contact must be sustained throughout the many hours of rotation from mouth to pussy to mouth. Somehow we are back indoors now.

The poetboy must tell me to take as much time as I need to feel pleasure, the longer the better (sort of the opposite of a poetry reading). He must convey a ravenous hunger for my pussy—an I WILL DIE IF I DO NOT TASTE THIS—and the hairier and dirtier my pussy, the more painful the death if he does not taste it. A woman’s casolette is the essence of the woman herself, so to die for a rank casolette is to die for the whole woman with all of her darkesses. Nothing is hotter than that.

But each of these scenes must be perfectly choreographed if they are to translate from fantasy to reality. This means spontaneity will be lacking. If the poetboyfuck does not live up to my narrative, then it is a destroyer of fantasy. It is no good. If the poetboyfuck turns out to be better than my fantasy, then I want the poetboy’s worship, obsession and “love” (as defined by my own solipsism) to come with it. And you can’t choreograph the feelings of another human being. So I am confined to my room with my computer and my fantasies.

When I was 19 I wrote a poem called “Eating Emily Dickinson.” The poem was about eating out Emily Dickinson. I imagined Emily’s casolette as a hybrid of an emmentaler and a vacherin du Haut-Doubs, a French cheese with a Penicillum mold rind. What made Emily’s casolette so special was not only its smell and taste, but some confidence that I imagined she possessed in its sheer beingness. She knew her pussy could be no other way than the way it was and she embraced that. There was a complete acceptance of selfhood: solitary and fermenting with the rhythm of the seasons.

Now I imagine Emily living in our world. I imagine Emily in the shower, a shower with a glass door and on the door appears three amorphous splotches. Emily identifies the shape of these splotches right away as phalluses with testes. She then perceives this moment as sort of a Rorschach: one that shows her where her mind is at.

I imagine Emily feels some shame in having immediately assigned the splotches a sexual identity. Perhaps they could instead be rocket ships blasting off or switchblades in fisted hands. She then wonders about the reductive nature of her own mind and whether it has been limited by her relationship to internet pornography. Emily wonders if she was in some ways more creative 5-10 years ago, prior to her immersion in internet pornography. She wonders whether this loss of creativity is her fault. She feels the opposite of good.

I imagine Emily then turns her thinking to sexuality in America. Perhaps she does this as a defense mechanism against her bad feelings about herself. She thinks about how sexuality in America is this weird hybrid of Puritan cleanliness and Capitalist exhibitionism, which leaves little room for the nuances of the cassolette. I imagine Emily feels momentarily rebellious and empowered, as it is no longer her own mind she must rebel against but an outside structure.

I imagine Emily then washes her bald pussy anyway with a citrus-scented body wash. I imagine she washes it twice.

3)  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe by J.Hope Stein

I read Faust (Part I) for the first time this month and had a pretty strong reaction to the architecture.  The compound nature of the story-telling – set-up on top of set-up, short quick scenes that move back and forth between each other – a narrative syntax I wrongly thought was first developed in the earliest era of film.  For this reason, and perhaps because I was starving for a friend who has pursued a messy long-form verse, Goethe has quickly become one of my closest friends (I am 4 years into my own mess).  The first translation I read, although I’m looking at a couple other translations now,  was by David Constantine who said this in an interview – “I believe in a sort of coincidence of reading and existential need:  I mean, authors arrive as we need them and help us along the way. The best loved writers arrive, depart and return again differently, according to our own changes and development.”

In terms of interpretations of the text itself, I can’t help but to think that the agreement that binds Mephistopheles and Faust is a simple story of sadomasochistic love.    Their premise of quid pro quo, seems only an excuse for two beings who are joyless & nonplussed in their own lives to exchange something at a deeper more feeling sensory level.  Yes, Faust conjures Mephisto, but Mephisto had already chosen Faust — to me that is one of the central points of the Prologue in Heaven.  And there are 2 scenes in Faust’s study, back-to-back, which I find structurally unnecessary other than to communicate this:   in the first scene in the study, Faust conjures Mephisto and in the second scene in the study, Mephisto comes to Faust (un-conjured)– which he continues to do throughout, including his obsessive instigation of Faust’s deflowering and destroying of Gretchen–  an innocent girl who is only foreplay to the affair between F & M. Which by the way, I think is a decent alternative term for S&M – F&M.

Mephisto says this to Faust in his study:

Your senses will enjoy, my friend
In this one hour far more
than in a humdrum year entire.
 
 

In other words– Love.

I think M is in love with F & F
in love with M.   &  this notion
of quid pro quo —

I think they’d do it for free.

 

4) Federico Garcia Lorca by Sara Lefsyk

It was the hour of sleeping crocodiles.  Federico, you tossed a wilderness of bleeding pigeons into my heart.  I said take me to the friend of dead-smashed butterflies.  Take me to the miniature priests of idiot-brains.  And Federico, you climbed the great mountain of burnt-up flowers in the dark saying “one must wait a thousand years under the cancerous moon to touch the dried-out body of the moth.

And because blood has no sadness one must drown her gods in a sea of infinite kitchens.”

Federico!  Seller of the sky and of gutted-out horses, of the lost landscape of the apple, and the eyes of dogs and skulls and of dug-up roots.  You wore a night-mask of phosphorous and sharp lilies and tore the hems of my gowns.

And I said, Federico of a million granite buildings and of tears, I want a strand that will tremble in the presence of your stillness.  But it was the moment of live fish and broken microscopes and you lifted the black curtains of air.  Your face a bud of light, you smashed the mute fossil of living air and gave to me an earring and handfuls of rope.

But I wanted to sleep the sleep of the infinite crocodile inside your golden chest, so I tied eight ghosts and a thousand sequins to your hair and wore the gloves of one hundred sadnesses under the lemon shadow of your actual dreams.  Federico of torn cloth and murdered grass, of the terrible violence of ants and the nocturnal rooster of madness.  Federico of a thousand tiny birds.

5)  Jean Genet by Janaka Stucky

THERE IS A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FLOWERS AND CONVICTS

 
Jean my love
for you is prison rape
is the vine of moon flowers strangling
the sign post outside the prison
where ex-cons wait with bowed heads
for the bus to return them to the world
 
Jean my love
for you is a tube of vaseline
tucked tightly in the pocket of my jeans
the cops find when they pick me up
is the hot shame I feel as I grow hard
handcuffed to the cold pipe
waiting to be booked
 
Jean my love
for you is a porcelain tomb
at the center of a black continent
is rose water is roses is thorns
tearing the tender palms
of my outstretched hands
 
Jean my love
my fire burning blackly beneath
every breath I exhale upon your neck
I bind my steps with ropes of honeysuckle
and tread sweetly on your naked chest
 
Jean my fire
my exquisite wound
my stone of blood in a lake of nails
I run my tongue along each vein
and quake and quake and quake
and quake
 
Jean my quaking wound
my alabaster chainsaw cleaving
the ocean from me
 
Jean my ocean
my night
I am blacking out
 
Jean my Genet
my Jean my Jean
I am forever pinned
at the limit of your eyes
 
Jean my forever
Jean forever
Jean
Jean
Jean

6) Henry Miller by Maria Garcia Teutsch

Henry Miller says about poetry: Write about what’s inside you . . . the great vertiginous verterbration . . . the zoospores and leukocytes . . . the wamroths . . . and the holenlindens . . .  every one’s a poem. The jellyfish is a poem too . . .

The Ocean Rectangles My Thursdays

Your absence tastes like a meteor shower
over the squashed moon of my head
setting in the mail of rust.
 
On the water, an ampersand carved by blue boats, I remember.
 
The tide erases the concept of a tide.
 
And I find you in this erasure,
sometimes a tin fish in a locket.
 
Around my neck a moat, a pod of tinges swim,
and you, Henry, are sometimes a sea-eagle floating
 
from out of nowhere. On days when you do not turn up
the sea becomes
the sea.

7) John Donne by Leah Umansky

My Dead Poetry Crush is John Donne(and it’s not just how great he looks in this hat). When you think about dead poets you want to $%&!#, the unforbidden comes to the mind, and so naturally, a priest who had a secret marriage fits the bill.  (Plus, my anglophilia plays a role). I remember reading Donne’s poems in the good ol’ Norton Anthology back in Brit Lit I during my undergrad days at SUNY Binghamton, and feeling connected to his love poems and sonnets.  I remember “The Sun Rising” was one of my favorites because of the intensity in which he talks about his beloved.

(I can’t lie -the priest factor is sexy,right?)  Then again, I could be regressing back to my childhood when I read sweeping romances like Gone with the Wind  and The Thorn Birds  and had my heart broken. At a young age, I remember sobbing over Father Ralph de Bricassart, from Colleen McCullough’s  The Thorn Birds.  Maybe Father Ralph is the reason I fell for Father Donne.

Below is a section of “The Sun Rising” that I especially love.  Especially that first line  … sigh…

She’s all states, and all princes I;
Nothing else is;
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.

8) Marina Tsvetaeva by Gregory Crosby

 

A man is invented and a hurricane begins, wrote her cuckolded husband, but it was Marina’s affair with a woman, they say, that drove him in desperation and depression to enlist. There were many men too, each a hurricane to spin and spend itself, leaving her spent.

There was revolution, separation, and a child, too, dead from starvation; the years of White and Red; the stranglehold of Comrade Steel. But that’s all in the future—here, in 1916, she and I, she and eye, across the blank whites and faded reds of time, find a communion:

Where does such tenderness come from?
These aren’t the first curls
I’ve wound around my finger—
I’ve kissed lips darker than yours.
 
The sky is washed and dark
(Where does such tenderness come from?)
Other eyes have known
and shifted away from my eyes.
 
But I’ve never heard words like this
in the night
(Where does such tenderness come from?)
with my head on your chest, rest.
 
Where does this tenderness come from?
And what will I do with it? Young
stranger, poet, wandering through town,
you and your eyelashes—longer than anyone’s.
 

Marina, have I told you—I address you, I can’t help it, and whenever I read Kenneth Koch’s “To Marina” I think somehow he too is addressing you, even though I know he is/isn’t—about my long eyelashes? From high school onward, so many girls, either close up upon the white of the pillow or across the impenetrable red of their lipstick, have told me I’m so envious, you have such long, beautiful eyelashes, it’s so unfair, you’re a boy, boys shouldn’t have such long eyelashes. I never knew what to say to this. I felt guilty and pleased and odd, since nothing else about me seemed to partake of such gifts.

But Marina, reading your letters, I know what to say. I know where this tenderness comes from now, and I have always known, even before I knew its origins, what to do with it. I have never heard those words in the night, and did not recognize at first my own voice, saying them. In the life of a symbolist everything is symbolic, you write. There is nothing that is not symbolic.

Ah, but symbolic of what, asks the professor, and the possessor, and the young poet, becoming younger by the moment.

I close my eyes, and open them, slowly, lashing out at the world, tenderly, and read you, your open eyes, the words, the page, again, again, again.

9) Henry Wadsworth Longfellow by Lauren Gordon

 

THEY’RE LONGFELLOWS

Later, when the children were asleep
we snuffed the candle and furled
under the heavy quilt and the ghost
of your last wife floated atop the bed
like a wax stamp and your breath rose
and your breath fell
amongst thread, the night air
the tickle of an American whisker:
I remembered the first time I fell in love with you
and your vigor:
Life is real!  Life is earnest!

Over coffee in a brass urn
with the children bed-headed
but polite, we butter our bread on both sides
and wait for the birds to lift the trees
with the surprise of morning —
Life is real.  Life is earnest.

A century later in pajamas
a leather chair holds us under a soft light
rain patters, the carpet in the basement dampens
and something in the attic is frantic to be heard.

10) T. S. Eliot by Kristy Bowen

Dear Tom.
I’ve thought about it and you’re right, April is the cruelest month. I think of you all afternoon at the bank, the sleeves of your dress shirt rolled just above your wrists, holding the short stub of a pencil bent over the massive wooden desk, wiping your forehead and beginning again to write. Oh Tom, my nerves are bad tonight. What are you thinking? When summer came it wrecked me. I dreamed of clairvoyantes and tiny pearl eyes for weeks. Your voice a yellow fog that licked its way up and down my spine. I wrote poems about coffee spoons and clties crumbling around me.I imagine you the calmness surrounded by tempestuous women and hundreds of unruly cats. I have known the hours, known them all. But really, that is not what I meant. Not at all.
 
At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Out of the window perilously spread
Her drying combinations touched by the sun’s last rays,
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest –
I too awaited the expected guest.
He, the young man carbuncular, arrives,
A small house agent’s clerk, with one bold stare,
One of the low on whom assurance sits
As a silk hat on a Bradford millionaire.
The time is now propitious, as he guesses,
The meal is ended, she is bored and tired,
Endeavours to engage her in caresses
Which still are unreproved, if undesired.
Flushed and decided, he assaults at once;
Exploring hands encounter no defence;
His vanity requires no response,
And makes a welcome of indifference.
(And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
Enacted on this same divan or bed;
I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
And walked among the lowest of the dead.)
Bestows one final patronising kiss,
And gropes his way, finding the stairs unlit . . .

11)  Rainer Maria Rilke by Joanna Penn Cooper

Once in my late 20s, I found myself walking along Lombard Street in Philadelphia listening to the Duino Elegies being read aloud by a tall young man who walked a few paces ahead of me as he read, occasionally half-turning to see what effect your words were having on me.  If I cried out who would hear me up there among the angelic orders?  [pause-turn-glance]  It was, anyway, one of those fall days in that city when the light hits the brick row houses in the late afternoon in a way that creates a feeling both pure and tempestuous, a feeling of being in the first throes of a soulful but short-lived passionate romance.  And this man, as I have mentioned, was very tall.  So, you can imagine.  He kept pausing as he read to say things like, “What does that even mean?  Do you know what that even means?”  He would read your words– Beauty is only the first touch of terror we can bear and it awes us so much because it so coolly disdains to destroy us—   then he would turn to interrogate me about it, and I would be speechless.

Rainer, I am no longer so young, and I have read the Duino Elegies on my own many times since then.  And I do, in fact, have an idea of what it means to me, even if I am, in fact, still speechless.  I will meet you in the afternoon, with the light like that, in a place where we can be together and also alone, as we always are.  You will chide me, Is it easier for lovers?  Ah, they only manage by being together to conceal each other’s fate!  I will choke back my own dark birdcall my sobbing.  Dear Rainer.

12) Edgar Allan Poe by Susan Yount

Sometimes I’m terrified of my heart; of its constant hunger for whatever it is it wants. The way it stops and starts.” –Edgar Allan Poe [with whom I’d happily get drunk and take advantage of.]

Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “Annabel Lee” was one of the last poems he ever wrote and the first poem to ever move me. It was quite literally the first time I had ever realized there was real love and lamenting in the world. Of course, I was a tween at the time and had more or less already experienced a rotten life of my own. Therefore, I was immediately drawn to the details of Poe’s life and charmed with his struggle, poverty, tragedies and of course, his triumphs too. Many nights I’ve passed with his poems and stories still in my bed, still in my head. His macabre and passion still turn me on today. I’d gladly have been his matron and I’d have begged him to take me. I’d easily have loosened my corset and exposed my wounds. I’d have caressed his head and taken his jingle into my soul. Furthermore, I’d have whipped Whitman for suggesting Poe had no heat, for I would have known. There is indeed lasting heat in the haunting.

I leave you with my dead lover and I banging The Bells; the last poem Poe ever wrote.

I

Hear the sledges with the bells –
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

II

Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight! –
From the molten – golden notes,
And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle – dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! – how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells –
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

III

Hear the loud alarum bells –
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor
Now – now to sit, or never,
By the side of the pale – faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear, it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows;
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells –
Of the bells –
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
In the clamor and the clanging of the bells!

IV

Hear the tolling of the bells –
Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people – ah, the people –
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All alone,
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone –
They are neither man nor woman –
They are neither brute nor human –
They are Ghouls: –
And their king it is who tolls: –
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
Rolls
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells: –
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells –
Of the bells, bells, bells: –
To the sobbing of the bells: –
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells –
Of the bells, bells, bells –
To the tolling of the bells –
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells, –
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.