Posts tagged ‘2006’

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

The Orange Alert by Douglas Kearney

Picture the upturned millipede, dead,
and see the streets of Altadena:
palm tree rows against the concrete, stiff
to the horizon.
There have been no birds big enough,
we are comforted, to pluck
the chitins from before our yards
and vanish
into the sun like dog-fighting MiGs.
War bears litters of similes.

Altadena, smog hugs the foothills like mustard gas
where our rich peer through their blinds
into ravines, Santa Anas sway the mustard plants, yuccas
bob, some man—his cigarette,
a full gas-can, an itch. We’ve known
the orange alert, fires reaching for helicopters
like cartoon cats clawing at panicked birds.

Yesterday, fire engines and HAZMAT trucks
jostled at Alameda and El Molino
like beetles eating a four-legged spider.
That morning, radios warned of orange.
Neighborhood kids watched officers climb in
and out an open manhole,
consulting the entrails of the great dead millipede.
We watched the ground;
the sun hotter than all year.
The mountains hid Santa Anas,
the smog went orange with dusk, the growing shadows
of lingering birds.


Date: 2006

By: Douglas Kearney (1974- )

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Island by Kristin Hannaford

Standing with this map, unfolded
open on the hot car bonnet,
silver fittings heat white with glare,
you try to place my finger on the map, to place
the heart along seams of paper
small creases, origamis of river
deltas and highways.
Thick conduit of traffic
beasting past
as hordes of buffalo
drum the terrain of passage,
the singular hum of motorcycle
countering overhead bypass.
You run the fingers of your hand
along the inner rim of shirt collar
wiping sweat or fatigue,
uncertain gestures, which
you adjust as sunglasses and side mirrors.
Upholstery of our seats burning
until you lean forward,
the wash of cooler air signalling
you know the way, it’s resolved.


Date: 2006

By: Kristin Hannaford (1972- )

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Madness by Graham Catt

on and off and on
the shoplight flickers
like a nervous twitch
at the corner of my eye

the jammed cars creep forward
indicators tick off the seconds
I tap tap tap on the steering wheel
to the thud of the city’s heartbeat

stranded in the afternoon rush
an old man leans over a bin
mutters at the rubbish
his face clenched in anger

getting ready to fight
he takes off his coat
then puts it on again
off again, and then on.


Date: 2006

By: Graham Catt (19??- )

Friday, 13 August 2021

Some People Don’t Say Much by Han Dong

some people don’t say much
they are neither mute nor introverted
saying only what’s necessary
speaking only when courtesy demands it
floating on the surface of speech
this is how they are all their lives
summed up in a few phrases
some people live like epitaphs
long years reduced to a sentence or two
soberly like headstones they stand there
facing us.


Date: 2004 (original in Chinese); 2006 (translation in English)

By: Han Dong (1961- )

Translated by: Simon Patton (19??- )

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Rules for Captain Ahab’s Provincetown Poetry Workshop by Martín Espada

1.   Ye shall be free to write a poem on any subject, as long as it’s the White Whale.
2.   A gold doubloon shall be granted to the first among ye who in a poem sights the White Whale.
3.   The Call Me Ishmael Award shall be given to the best poem about the White Whale, with publication in The White Whale Review.
4.   The Herman Melville Memorial Picnic and Softball Game shall be open to whosoever of ye writes a poem about following thy Captain into the maw of hell to kill the White Whale.
5.   There shall be a free floating coffin for any workshop participant who falls overboard whilst writing a poem about the White Whale.
6.   There shall be a free leg, carved from the jawbone of a whale, for any workshop participant who is dismasted whilst writing a poem about the White Whale.
7.   There shall be a free funeral at sea, complete with a chorus of stout hearties singing sea chanteys about the White Whale, for any workshop participant who is decapitated whilst writing a poem about the White Whale.
8.   Ye who seek not the White Whale in thy poems shall be harpooned.


Date: 2006

By: Martín Espada (1957- )

Monday, 22 March 2021

The Raid by Ronald Alexander

The jail cell is cold
and crowded with queens.
Leather queens in tight pants,
transvestites in gowns,
preppies in baggy sweaters,
khaki pants, and blazers
with crests.
I sit in the corner
on the concrete floor and
watch the effeminate one
prancing back and forth
and yelling,
I’m sorry officer.
I’m sorry I’m a faggot.
I’m sorry I suck dick.
A young, fat cop
rakes his billy club
across the bars and
screams for him to shut up
before he gets something
in his mouth he doesn’t like.
I smile for a minute
then remember the television
cameras that watched while
the police herded us
from the bar.
The films will show us
being led in handcuffs
into the paddy wagons
like the man who has killed
his wife and kids,
like the man who
embezzled from his employer,
like the man who abducted
a child and left her
in a ditch.
I look at the fingerprint ink
on my hands and wonder if
the stain will wash off
now that I’ve been caught
in a place where
men dance with men.


Date: 2006

By: Ronald Alexander (19??- )

Thursday, 11 March 2021

First Things to Hand by Robert Pinsky

In the skull kept on the desk.
In the spider-pod in the dust.

Or nowhere. In milkmaids, in loaves,
Or nowhere. And if Socrates leaves

His house in the morning,
When he returns in the evening

He will find Socrates waiting
On the doorstep. Buddha the stick

You use to clear the path,
And Buddha the dog-doo you flick

Away with it, nowhere or in each
Several thing you touch:

The dollar bill, the button
That works the television.

Even in the joke, the three
Words American men say

After making love. Where’s
The remote? In the tears

In things, proximate, intimate.
In the wired stem with root

And leaf nowhere of this lamp:
Brass base, aura of illumination,

Enlightenment, shade of grief.
Odor of the lamp, brazen.

The mind waiting in the mind
As in the first thing to hand.


Date: 2006

By: Robert Pinsky (1940- )

Monday, 29 June 2020

Man in the Street or Hand Over Mouth by Heather McHugh

He claps a hand
Across the gaping hole—

Or else the sight might
Well inside to

Melt the mind—if any
Thinking spoke

Were in the wheel,
Or any real

Fright-fragments broke
Out of the gorge to

Soak the breast, the meaning
Might incite a stroke—best

Press against it, close
The clawhole, stand

In stupor, petrified. The dream
Be damned, the deeps defied.

The hand’s to keep
The scream inside.


Date: 2006

By: Heather McHugh (1948- )

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

The End of a Marriage by Patricia Smith

is totally silent, eerie in its zero.
Not even the clunk of paralleled possessions
dropping into cardboard boxes or the satisfying
slamming of doors, one after another, can slap
a period on chaos. It’s just one syrupy moon-eyed
gaze, taking in his overlapped belly, the dangerous
mole dotting her left shoulder, the blue veins
like roads to death behind his knees. It’s that watery
stare with no stop, the frenzied gulping of line,
curve, voice, all the stark unbended was of them.

Yes, we flinched against the losing, even our venom
was distinctly hued. Everyone kept asking, begging
detail, but all there was was the utter nothing, just
our eyes locked on our eyes, traversing that ragged
territory once more for the record, finally dropping
abruptly from the edge of my body, the edge of his.
It was a threadbare connect meant to end tragically,
one that was broken when we blinked and he turned
away and I turned away, our eyes fused open.
Then we began our walk toward separate sounds.


Date: 2006

By: Patricia Smith (1955- )

Monday, 4 May 2020

Language Says by Amir Or

Language says: before language
stands a language.  Language is traces
stained by over there.
Language says: listen now.
You listen: here was

Take silence and try to be silent.
Take the words and try to speak:
beyond language, language is a wound
from which the world flows and flows.
Language says: is, is not, is,
is not.  Language says: I.
Language says: come on, let’s speak you,
let’s touch you; come on, say
you’ve said –


Date: 2004 (original in Hebrew); 2006 (translation in English)

By: Amir Or (1956- )

Translated by: Fiona Sampson (1963- )