Archive for November, 2019

Saturday, 30 November 2019

Casa Grande by Hannah Gamble

At the Casa Grande disco, men hold on
to other men’s behinds, and women
hold on to men’s behinds,
and everyone is holding on
to what it means to be dancing
and holding on, and I am there
too, doing the two things
I am always doing:
holding on, and drinking enough
water so that tomorrow I’ll be able
to document all the things humans do
to endear themselves to me, conscious
of how dancing means that the music
will bring them closer,
and take them further away.


Date: 2012

By: Hannah Gamble (19??- )

Friday, 29 November 2019

Stomackes by Albert Goldbarth

We know far more about the philosophical underpinnings of Puritanism than we do about what its practitioners consumed at countless meals.
—James Deetz


Yes. So we must reconnect
ideas of God, and the definitions of “liberty,”
and the psychology of our earliest models of governance, with
oyster peeces in barley beer & wheet,
chopt cod & venyson seethed in a blood broth,
hominy pottage, also squirell.
Their heads might well have brimmed with heaven
and its airborne personnel, but still their mouths were a mash
of white meat [cheese] and a motley collation
of eel leavings, a fine samp, and a roast Fowl.
Worshipp first, then after—butter Biskuits!
David Ignatow:
“seeking transcendence
but loving bread”


And it is too easy to get lost in abstraction,
as if smoke, and dream, and quantum ersatz-states
are our proper environment… it’s easy to conceptualize in “politics”
and not in the clack of the black or white dried bean
we drop in the voting bowl. In some tribes, there’s a designated
“reminderer,” and when the shaman novitiate—or sometimes
simply a mournful family member—follows the star trail
into the country of ghosts, and lingers there, this person tugs
the wanderer back home: perhaps a light thwack
with a broom-shock, or the rising steam of a broth that one
can hungrily shinny down to Earth like a rope.
In the Mesopotamian Inanna myth, it’s water and bread
that resurrect the goddess and allow her
to begin the long ascent out from the craters of Hell.

We can spend all day, and many days, and years, in theorizing.
“A Computer Recreation of Proto-Hominid Dietary Intake:
An Analysis”
… we’ll float off, through these foggy lands of argot,
in the way that someone else might dissolve in the blue cloud
of an opium den… no wonder there’s such pleasure in uncovering
the solid fossil record of those appetites, and in emptying out
its evidence grain by grain, a stone piñata. How often
the stories bring us back to that grounding! In 1620,
a first exploratory party from the Mayflower went ashore
on the northern Cape Cod coast. The weather was bad
and disorienting: a half a foot of snow, in air
so thick as to be directionless. But we sense they recouped
their spirits that night, from three fat Geese
and six Ducks whitch we ate with Soldiers stomackes.


And it is too easy to lose ourselves in cyberthink,
untethered from the touchable, from even the cohesive force
suffusing through one atom. “What we keep,”
reports an archivist at the New York Times, “is the information,
not the paper”… everything e-storaged now.
A thousand years of pages, pffft: dismissiveness
as obliterative as a bonfire, in the long run. Oh, yes,
easy to cease to exist as an actual shape, inside the huge,
occluding mists of legalese: we say “repatriation
of native archeological remains,” and we mean
human bones, that’s what we mean: hard and dear
and contested. We say “ritual signifier of threat,” but
what the Narragansetts sent to the colonists at Plymouth
was a bundl of thair Arrows tyed about in a mightie Snake skin.

I died. And I was stolen
into a land of strangers—of not-the-People.
I floated all day, many days. And here
the ribs of my cage were empty: always
I was hungry, for the things that People need.
But this was not the sun, and this was not the soil,
of the People; and I was restless, I had no one
for between my legs, and no drum in my chest.
There was much war from this: the People
desired me back, they said “this one
is part of many-ones,” and after words and words,
their word was so. One day the breezes sent the fishes
and savory beaver parts, and I knew at last
that I was home: my mouth of my skull watered.


“When hegemonic identity-structures systemize cognition—” whoa.
There are times I think my friends might flimmer away in that
high-minded mush… and I concentrate, then, on the names
of those people from 1621, names that are true, specific
labor and specific, beautiful common things. Cooper.
Fletcher. Glover. Miller. Glazer. Mason. Carpenter.
Cheerfull Winter.
Oceanus Hopkins.
Lydia Fish, Nathaniel Fish and Steadfast Fish, of Sandwich.
Zachariah Field, father, and daughter Dutiful Field.
Pandora Sparrow.
Who wouldn’t care to meet Peregrine Soule?
And who could wish to let go of this life
when faced by Countenance Bountie?


Date: 2006

By: Albert Goldbarth (1948- )

Thursday, 28 November 2019

América by Richard Blanco

Although Tía Miriam boasted she discovered
at least half a dozen uses for peanut butter—
topping for guava shells in syrup,
butter substitute for Cuban toast,
hair conditioner and relaxer—
Mamá never knew what to make
of the monthly five-pound jars
handed out by the immigration department
until my friend, Jeff, mentioned jelly.

There was always pork though,
for every birthday and wedding,
whole ones on Christmas and New Year’s Eve,
even on Thanksgiving day—pork,
fried, broiled, or crispy skin roasted—
as well as cauldrons of black beans,
fried plantain chips, and yuca con mojito.

These items required a special visit
to Antonio’s Mercado on the corner of Eighth Street
where men in guayaberas stood in senate
blaming Kennedy for everything—“Ese hijo de puta!”
the bile of Cuban coffee and cigar residue
filling the creases of their wrinkled lips;
clinging to one another’s lies of lost wealth,
ashamed and empty as hollow trees.

By seven I had grown suspicious—we were still here.
Overheard conversations about returning
had grown wistful and less frequent.
I spoke English; my parents didn’t.
We didn’t live in a two-story house
with a maid or a wood-panel station wagon
nor vacation camping in Colorado.
None of the girls had hair of gold;
none of my brothers or cousins
were named Greg, Peter, or Marcia;
we were not the Brady Bunch.
None of the black and white characters
on Donna Reed or on the Dick Van Dyke Show
were named Guadalupe, Lázaro, or Mercedes.
Patty Duke’s family wasn’t like us either—
they didn’t have pork on Thanksgiving,
they ate turkey with cranberry sauce;
they didn’t have yuca, they had yams
like the dittos of Pilgrims I colored in class.

A week before Thanksgiving
I explained to my abuelita
about the Indians and the Mayflower,
how Lincoln set the slaves free;
I explained to my parents about
the purple mountain’s majesty,
“one if by land, two if by sea,”
the cherry tree, the tea party,
the amber waves of grain,
the “masses yearning to be free,”
liberty and justice for all, until
finally they agreed:
this Thanksgiving we would have turkey,
as well as pork.

Abuelita prepared the poor fowl
as if committing an act of treason,
faking her enthusiasm for my sake.
Mamá set a frozen pumpkin pie in the oven
and prepared candied yams following instructions
I translated from the marshmallow bag.
The table was arrayed with gladiolas,
the plattered turkey loomed at the center
on plastic silver from Woolworth’s.
Everyone sat in green velvet chairs
we had upholstered with clear vinyl,
except Tío Carlos and Toti, seated
in the folding chairs from the Salvation Army.
I uttered a bilingual blessing
and the turkey was passed around
like a game of Russian Roulette.
“DRY,” Tío Berto complained, and proceeded
to drown the lean slices with pork fat drippings
and cranberry jelly—“esa mierda roja,” he called it.
Faces fell when Mamá presented her ochre pie—
pumpkin was a home remedy for ulcers, not a dessert.
Tía María made three rounds of Cuban coffee
then Abuelo and Pepe cleared the living room furniture,
put on a Celia Cruz LP and the entire family
began to merengue over the linoleum of our apartment,
sweating rum and coffee until they remembered—
it was 1970 and 46 degrees—
in América.
After repositioning the furniture,
an appropriate darkness filled the room.
Tío Berto was the last to leave.


Date: 1998

By: Richard Blanco (1968- )

Wednesday, 27 November 2019

Near the End of the Weft by Henry Bellyse Baildon

A patient toiler, Time’s mild veteran,
He sits, beset with frame and beam and shaft,
Caged in the gear of his monotonous craft,
Imprisoned there like some injurious man,
While mellow-dusted radiance has began
To thrust broad level spoke athwart the room —
Weft of bland light across an umber gloom —
That casts on wall and floor a slanted plan
Of that erect machine’s square scaffolding;
And, as in reverent pity, does illume
The worker’s pausing hand and pallid brow.
Noble with Thought’s and Sorrow’s chiselling.
To face intent, unmoved, it seems to cling.
And whispers, “Final peace approacheth now.”

A wasted hand with veiny rivulet;
A brow pathetic, as some mountain’s head, —
Whereon the violent tempests struggling tread,
Whose patient front the restless torrents fret,
Where many thunders have for combat met,
Nor roused it from majestic dumb restraint,
Whereon the snow’s chill mitre oft is set. —
Meekly he works, dull Labour’s patient saint,
Unsorrowful, unfearfril, unelate;
In modest hope of peace, in faith resigned,
Devoid of gratulation or complaint;
Experience’ scholar. Life’s sad graduate,
A captive, being bound to humble fate, —
A victor, keeping an unconquered mind.

From: Baildon, Henry Bellyse, Morning Clouds, Being Divers Poems, 1877, David Douglas: Edinburgh, pp. 16-17.

Date: 1877

By: Henry Bellyse Baildon (1849-1907)

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

A Song by Anne Lee Wharton

How hardly I conceal’d my Tears?
How oft did I complain?
When many tedious Days my Fears
Told me I Lov’d in vain.

But now my Joys as wild are grown,
And hard to be conceal’d:
Sorrow may make a silent Moan,
But Joy will be reveal’d.

I tell it to the Bleating Flocks,
To every Stream and Tree,
And Bless the Hollow Murmuring Rocks,
For Echoing back to me.

Thus you may see with how much Joy
We Want, we Wish, Believe;
‘Tis hard such Passion to Destroy,
But easie to Deceive.


Date: 1684

By: Anne Lee Wharton (1659-1685)

Monday, 25 November 2019

Tantaliad by Ana Gorría

A raft capsizing
in your gut;
a far-off sun,
an empire of thirst.


Date: 2005 (original in Spanish); 2015 (translation in English)

By: Ana Gorría (1979- )

Translated by: Yvette Siegert (19??-)

Sunday, 24 November 2019

Southeast 24th by Ann Manov

“Somos una isla entre la sed”— “Mexico: vista aérea,” José Emiliano Pacheco*

What do you see
There, there from
The bed? The fronds that beat
Against the glass and stick
And unstick like silent
Their green, rain-drenched, slick,
Cheap and resplendent.

The plaster, shrimp-pink,
Cracking, cleaving.
The garbage truck casts the lawn
Fiery like a valentine.
The construction site
Is mountainous, a glacial white.
The used-up gray of thunder
Clouds: a natural eraser.

What do you hear
There, there from
The bed? The wish-wash of the shower,
The whistle that plays between
The bursts of steam.
The tile tip-tapped by the leak.
The sound of strangers
As they start their cars,
As the alarm trills joyfully;
With a click, it stops.

*We are an island amid thirst.


Date: 2019

By: Ann Manov (19??- )

Saturday, 23 November 2019

What the Gun Eats #85 by Darren C. Demaree

The quiet,
the accompanied
& the champion
of the barrel,
you selfless
you’re going
to need all
of your friends
if you’re aiming
at my hands.

From: Demaree, Darren C., “What the Gun Eats #85” in Sand: Berlin’s English Literary Journal, Issue 13, May 2016, p. 9.

Date: 2016

By: Darren C. Demaree (19??- )

Friday, 22 November 2019

Home by Alison Hicks

is the place the wasps come in.
You have no choice but to let them.
Buzzing the ceiling, flying high
when they need to fly low. Guide

them out the screen if you can,
goose them with a paper when they land.
Home is the earring with the missing stone,
the hole you probe, wondering what will fit

in the space and where the lost piece is.
The dog who went over the fence
not by plan but chance, paws on top
and feeling it give, giving in to it.

Mice who find their way in
to live through the winter—
and who doesn’t have
to live through a winter

of some sort or another?
It is the lover who left
and then came back,
unable to decide which is best.

The chipped glass marble buried in the dirt,
it catches your eye as you wait
on the corner with the runaway dog,


Date: 2018

By: Alison Hicks (19??- )

Thursday, 21 November 2019

Little Red by Peter Leight

Children are born brave,
hardly a day passes,
wedged into the hood like a soft room,
deliberate but not-always-knowing,
she has a lot on her mind,
her body is another story.
This is what she has:
a growing mind,
knowing body.
Or is it the other way around?
Hardly a day passes,
loosening her straps the way you leave a room without even thinking,
never wilting under cross examination,
she could have said
I don’t want any,
but she isn’t very good at word problems.
Her body is smooth,
her mind is rough
the way oysters are slippery while toast dries out.
Or is it the reverse?
It isn’t really an emergency, but the hunters arrive sooner or later,
they always promise to take you away.


Date: 2015

By: Peter Leight (19??- )