Posts tagged ‘2016’

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Advent by Heather Derr-Smith

Birds pulse above the blood-black line of horizon.
I walk out through the sliding glass door into the backyard,

hoarfrost on the fallen leaves like thrush on a baby’s tongue.

Over the chain-link fence, three bald eagles fight for their kill
on the train tracks. My brother writes a postcard

from someplace near Bagram, fog veiling and unveiling
the Hindu Kush. In a dream he lifts his arm to cover his eyes

and I kiss the top-stitch scars along his mended wound.

In the middle of the night, a child screams awake.
But it’s only the engine of the refrigerator, faintly.

The neighbor is a mystery, a stranger to us. He lives alone,
blinds shut at all times. I suspect what we all suspect.

Sometimes I stand in the dark of my window, facing the dark of his.


Date: 2016

By: Heather Derr-Smith (1971- )

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Willoughby, Ohio by Burt Beckmann

Hot months hang on the horizon drying.
Old moons in a wastebasket lie like eggs,
Their yolks sucked.

The fence (split phone poles) oozes tar by ten.
By noon the birds are stuck.
Mom keeps the cats in the kitchens for the sake
Of the wrens.

The moving is finished by one.
In the red shed with the rototiller
Are our garden shears. Peanut butter
Is what I like for lunch.

Every day at two the birds get clipped.
You can tell our fence by the legs on it.

From: Hiram Poetry Review, Issue No. 77, Spring 2016, p. 8.

Date: 2016

By: Burt Beckmann (19??- )

Monday, 5 November 2018

Scarecrow on Fire by Dean Young

Everything is brushed away, off the sleeve,
off the overcoat, huge ensembles of assertions
just jars of buttons spilled, recurring
nightmare of straw on fire, you the scarecrow,
the scare, the crow, totems gone, rubies
flawed, flamingo in hyena’s jaws, noble
and lascivious mouth of the gods hovering
then gone, gone the glances, gone moths,
cities of crystal become cities of mud,
centurion and emperor dust, the flower girl,
some of it rises, proof? some of it explodes,
vein in the brain, seed pod poof, maybe
something will grow, another predicament
of bittersweet, dreamfluff milkweed,
declarations of aerosols, vows just sprays
of spit fast evaporate, all of it pulverized
as it hits the seawall, all of it falling snow
on water, flash of flying fish, breach and blow
and sinking, far below creatures of luminous jelly
constellated and darting and baiting each other
like last thoughts before sleep, last neural
sparks coalescing as a face in the dark,
who was she? never enough time to know.


Date: 2016

By: Dean Young (1955- )

Sunday, 4 November 2018

Night by Andrea Cohen

Someone was talking
quietly of lanterns—

but loud enough
to light my way.


Date: 2016

By: Andrea Cohen (19??- )

Thursday, 25 October 2018

Quahogs by Frank Xavier Gaspar

It was for the wind as much as anything.
It was for the tidal flats, for the miles of bars
and the freezing runs between them,
blued and darkened in the withering gusts.
For the buckets, for the long-tined rakes.
For our skin burning and the bones
beneath, all their ache. For the bent backs,
for the huddle toward warmth beneath
our incapable layers, how we beat
ourselves with our arms. The breath
we blew, the narrow steam that spun away.
How we searched their tell-draggle marks.
Then the feel of them as we furrowed. Then it
was surgery and force together. Like stones.
Opal or pearl or plain rock, ugly except
they were beautiful, their whorls and
purple stains. The bucket’s wire cutting
with their weight. For the sky blazing, its
sinking orange fire. For the sky’s black streaks
with night rising, winter-sudden. Back,
shoreward, home, the tide creeping like a wolf.
For the little stove warming, its own orange fire.
The old pot, the steam, the air in savor,
the close room, the precious butter, the
blue fingers throbbing, our bodies in all
the customs of weariness, the supper,
succulent of the freezing dark sea come up,
and hunger, its own happiness, its own
domain immeasurable. It was for the hunger.


Date: 2016

By: Frank Xavier Gaspar (1946- )

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Proverbs by Martha Silano

Who knows best a pineapple’s heart? A knife.
Words are good, but fowls lay eggs.
A hungry stomach makes a short prayer.
The first may become the last.

Words are good, but fowls lay eggs
till the moon disappears completely.
The first may become the last.
Little by little grow the bananas.

Till the moon disappears completely,
a new moon cannot rise.
Little by little grow the bananas.
A woman is beautiful until she speaks.

A new moon cannot rise
while a hot needle burns the thread.
A woman is beautiful until she speaks.
If you know what hurts you, you know what hurts me.

While a hot needle burns the thread,
a good buttock finds its own bench.
If you know what hurts you, you know what hurts me.
A bad workman quarrels with his tools.

A good buttock finds its own bench.
Not even a bell rings the same way twice.
A bad workman quarrels with his tools.
The eyes close in sleep, but the pillow lies awake.

Not even a bell rings the same way twice.
The tongue has no bones yet breaks its skull.
The eyes close in sleep, but the pillow lies awake.
After we fry the fat, we’ll see what’s left.

The tongue has no bones yet breaks its skull.
A hungry stomach makes a short prayer.
After we fry the fat, we’ll see what’s left.
Who knows best a pineapple’s heart? A knife.


Date: 2016

By: Martha Silano (1961- )

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Soliloquy Against a Kudzu Backdrop by Alison Pelegrin

Audience of none, superstition dictates
that I peek through the kudzu curtain
like a starlet before making an entrance
and speaking yet again on the theme
of ignorance observed in waking life.
I would like to believe these are actors I see—
rednecks so loud in their stupidity
that rather than being frightened by their antics
I find myself waiting for the punch line.
If only “heritage, not hate” weren’t a thing.
A wasp stumbled into the muddy waters
of my coffee reminding me that words can sting
and later dry their wings in my hair,
and either because I am stupid or bold, I resumed
my work of measuring shadows and waiting
for wild foxes to travel in my line of sight.
Today, everyone laughed when I delighted
as a swallow tail kite dove for nestlings,
just like I knew they would. I thought we were friends,
but I could walk away tomorrow. How can we be
so different when the same trees
rustle in all of our dreams? Something wild
stirs in me. Something wild calls my name,
and vanishes, muffled beneath a beast
of green. When I look up nothing’s left
but the ghost of wind lurching through kudzu leaves,
the movement of a horse minus the horse itself.


Date: 2016

By: Alison Pelegrin (19??- )

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Ghazal for a Prodigy by Anne Pitkin

He was most himself when he danced.
An unlearned grace possessed him when he danced.

A child, he brought onto the stage
a landing heron, a deer mid-leap when he danced.

All summer, acrobatic purple martins woke the air.
He could glide like them and spiral when he danced,

adored the air he slipped through like their scalpel wings.
The air adored him when he danced.

Trees were aunts and uncles, birds messengers
with news of another country when he danced.

Sissy!  The town called him.  Pretty girl.
He was not normal when he danced.

He gave it up.  Normal meant more
to the child than joy when he danced.

It’s in the past, Anne.  Let it go—
how grace could save him only when he danced.


Date: 2016

By: Ann Pitkin (19??- )

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Privacy 2 by Shane McCrae

I tell the keeper I don’t know
What he or any white man means
When he says privacy

In the phrase In the privacy
Of one’s own home
     / I understand
he thinks he means a kind of
Militarized aloneness

If he would listen I would ask him whether
The power / To enforce alone-
ness and aloneness
can exist together

Instead I tell him where I’m from we
Have no such con-
cept if he thinks I am     / Too wise
he won’t speak honestly

And so I talk the way the men
He says are men like me
Talk in the books he reads to me
I understand

Those books are not supposed to make me wise
And yet I think perhaps
They show me what he means
By privacy     // Perhaps

by privacy he means / This
certainty he has that
The weapons he has made
Will not be used against him.


Date: 2016

By: Shane McCrae (1975- )

Friday, 14 September 2018

Rain Crow by Bobby Caudle Rogers

rain•bird (rān´bûrd´), n. any of several birds, esp. the black-billed cuckoo (Coccyzus erythropthalmus) and the yellow-billed cuckoo (C. americanus), that are said to call frequently before a rainstorm. [1910-15; RAIN + BIRD]

—Random House Dictionary of the English Language, 2nd Ed., Unabridged

Until I learned better, the song of a mourning dove could make me homesick. I might be walking
to breakfast down Melrose Avenue
in Knoxville, my first weeks up at school, and a wind-slurred call would startle me homeward. I
must have still believed
the town I’d forsaken was the only place that could produce a sad sound. Why shouldn’t the rest of
the world harbor a wild bird or two
with mournful songs to sing? That fall whenever the phone rang, some voice from home came on
the line to describe the circumstances surrounding
the death of another high school classmate. A dangerous time, those first stridings into the world,
not knowing what you’ll need to fear or even the name

it went by. More than one suicide that fall. And then Kirby was killed driving home at 3:00 in the
morning after playing bass guitar
in a nameless bar band. I had almost stopped thinking about it every single second when The
McKenzie Banner
 arrived with its hometown news
and gossip. There above the fold on page one was a picture of a volunteer fireman pointing a hose
at the burning car to cool it down
so he and his help might get at it with the hydraulic cutter, in no particular hurry. People who care
more about these things will tell you
the rain crow is a species of cuckoo, secretive and rarely seen save in the heat before a storm hits,
but where I come from

the rain crow was the mourning dove, its coo-coo-coo heard as plaintive whether it is or not.
Outside of hunting season, one was perched
on every fencepost, flocks of them evenly spaced along sagging power lines. When the sky grew
cloudy and made ready to rain the birds would take wing
to dart and converse with added urgency as the wind kicked up. Their fair weather singing had
been so much practice: now they dared us to write
consolation onto the notes of their song. I could love the folk wisdom handed me even if I couldn’t
believe it was true. The world doesn’t need a bird’s singing
to make it any sadder, but what harm trying to match a few words to the dove’s breathy triplets?
The rain will come—if not just now, then soon enough.


Date: 2016

By: Bobby Caudle Rogers (19??- )