Posts tagged ‘2019’

Sunday, 29 January 2023

Erratum by Norman Erikson Pasaribu

What was he thinking here, picking this body
and this family, where being match-made
with your mother’s niece was possible,
where first-born sons always meant everything,
and here, falling in love with the boy
who sat beside him at school,
when all that lingered of first love was that first kiss
they shared when cutting PE,
and here, not long after his first book came out,
as his family sat cross-legged together and ate,
he told them it wouldn’t end with any girl,
much less the Toba or Karo kind,
and here as he stood by the side of the road
that night, all alone, cars passing him,
his father’s words hounding him,
Don’t ever come back, Banci,
and he wept under a streetlight, frightened
at the first drops of rain misting his hair,
and here when he realised something odd about
the text that was his life and hoped sometime soon
the Publisher would print an erratum
to restore the lost lines, wherein
he’d know he was everything and also nothing
was wrong with him, and he’d know
what lingered of first love
was that very first kiss, bestowed
back when his family sat cross-legged together
and ate, grateful because he had picked
this body and this family?


Date: 2015 (original in Indonesian); 2019 (translation in English)

By: Norman Erikson Pasaribu (1990- )

Translated by: Tiffany Tsao (19??- )

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Smell is the Last Memory to Go by Fatimah Asghar

on my block, a gate
on my block, a tree smelling

of citrus & jasmine that knocks
me back into the arms of my dead

mother. i ask Ross how can a tree
be both jasmine & orange
, on my block

my neighbors put up gates & stare
don’t like to share, on my block

a tree I can’t see, but can smell
a tree that can’t be both but is

on my block, my mother’s skirt twirls
& all i smell is her ghost, perfume

on my block, a fallen orange
smashed into sidewalk

its blood pulped on asphalt on my
block, Jordan hands me a jasmine

by the time i get home
all its petals are gone.


Date: 2019

By: Fatimah Asghar (19??- )

Saturday, 5 November 2022

Sky Ladder by Pascale Petit

After Cai Guo-Qiang

Quick, before the sun
rises, get up one more
time, my grandmother.
The artist won’t mind
if you borrow
his sky ladder.
Place your foot
on the bottom rung
and keep climbing,
even though
you’re a skeleton
with a broken neck
from falling downstairs
on Guy Fawkes night.
The ladder is wrapped
in gunpowder, and he’s
lit the touchpaper.
Your bones are ascending
You’re half a kilometer
high now, halfway
to the universe,
my joy-gardener.
I hope you find a
garden with rich black
soil for your black
roses, hybrids like you—
half white half Indian,
half woman half flower,
their roots twined
through your skull,
you who were transplanted
among the pale roses
of a British family.
Your skin now a mix
of photons and soot.
What do you find up there?
Is there a hothouse?
Are there alien hands
with deft brushes
pollinating stars?
Remember how
your tomatoes kept
yielding more planets?
Are there constellations
of exotic fruit now
you’ve reached the top?
Have you gone back
enough in space-time
to when you were alive?
The ladder is charred,
the hot air balloon
that held it up
is about to collapse.
The explosions are over.
Cai showers his head
with champagne, as his
100-year-old granny
watches on her cell phone.
Did you see it? He asks,
did you hear the whoosh,
the rat-tat-tat
at the starry door?
You can go back
to sleep now,
he tells her.
Go back to sleep,
I tell you, but first,
if you’re hungry,
have a snack on one
of those quasars,
before you dream again
of the tumble
through air to
the stone landing,
fireworks the last
thing you hear.


Date: 2019

By: Pascale Petit (1953- )

Monday, 3 October 2022

The Last Party by Dorothy Derifield

When we finally gave up the bullshit and delusions
and accepted that she was dying, we decided
to have a party to try to understand the nature
of the universe. Einstein declined due to death,
“But that’s a poor excuse,” wrote Marie Curie
with blackened fingers, saying she would come.
And who better to talk about the deadly effects
of beauty? So we included the women who licked
radium from their brushes making watch dials.

Where are the snows of yesteryear indeed?
They have discovered boycott and saturation
bombing. The winds are petulant and overfed;
we were afraid to invite them, more afraid not to.
Kali stuck out her tongue at us, of course,
“I told you so.” And Baal said, “Thank you for all
the gold,” and made a raspberry with his sucky
little mouth. “How many men and maidens
will dive to the fire for me today?”

The astronomers of the Hubble Telescope
promised to bring images of planets in the Goldilocks
zone to show the sad bears and disgruntled cockatoos.
We drank champagne from our vineyards in Siberia
And toasted the cleverness of ebola and the zika virus.
Helios said he will continue to rise and set no matter
who goes home with whom so Henry Ford made
a threesome with Edison and Edward Teller
while the bodhisattvas and their entourage left quietly.


Date: 2019

By: Dorothy Derifield (19??- )

Sunday, 2 October 2022

Distances by Steven Ratiner

“Between this anchored pain
and the white-capped vial,
standing like a lighthouse on
the bedside table: an arm’s length,
a thousand nautical miles.
Water, water, everywhere and not
a drop to drink.
I call out
and my daughter strides across
the waves, a brimming glass and
two chalky tablets, her cupped palm
bobbing like a toy boat.
Down I go, fathom after fathom,
shafts of weak sun my Mercator.
But I am not alone. Wrecked hulls
and split masts litter the bottom.
All these broken hearts choked by silt.
And now you are calling me again, my sea-girl,
wreathed in seaweed red and brown.
What lovely syllables. My name
is a white sail somewhere, luffing in the wind.
But the distance, love, between your pale lips
and my wet pillow: unfathomable.”


Date: 2019

By: Steven Ratiner (19??- )

Sunday, 28 August 2022

Haze and Gray by James Shea

Nothing moved in the sky for months.
The same blank cloud remained
over the capital for the length
of a work visa. I didn’t expect
to see the sun again or the moon,
comets or falling stars. A bird turned out
to be just something in my eye.
I longed for a cycle of thunder,
one more shriek of lightning.
I sought something to nudge
the cloud: fireworks, kites, smoke
from torn bits of a family album
burned at a picnic. Nothing can’t be nudged.
I fired my pistol into the air.
It bucked my hand like a reprimand.
I became subtle. So subtle, I might
be dead. The cloud may be gone now.
I’ve stopped looking at the sky.


Date: 2019

By: James Shea (19??- )

Sunday, 10 July 2022

I Am Writing This On My Head, My Hands Inside Gloves That Don’t Match by Silvina López Medin

I lose at least one
from the pair per season
and hold on to the other, that single
glove left behind still contains the lost one.
That is to say
on the winter break I read Pascal Quignard,
in each image there’s a missing image,
says he, I add
in each sound there’s a missing sound,
say: my mother
how she, because of her hearing impairment,
is permanently reconstructing
sentences from fragments, isn’t that
writing? I am
walking the nine blocks back home
from the subway, it is -18 degrees
and I’ll never know
how to turn that into Fahrenheit or how
at times I focus on something so much as to become
something else. Gloves
prevent us from breaking apart,
gloves are not relevant in Buenos Aires
this cold does not exist
the kind that makes you turn not only your head
but your whole body just to look at
what’s coming. I did not write much
back there, just brought
a couple of summer images: my mother and I
at night standing in front a white wall
killing mosquitoes; my mother,
my sons, I, in the backyard,
hurrying to take away the clothes from the clothes line
under light rain.


Date: 2019

By: Silvina López Medin (1976- )

Saturday, 9 April 2022

For Nothing Tender About It by Carl Phillips

If as shame is to memory, so too desire,
then is this desire, this cloak of shadows,
that I wrap close around me, that I
refuse to take off?

But the lake looks endless.
And my boat’s increasingly but a slowish swimmer,
across the waves –  I’ve known
hurt, I mean; and I have been afraid.  Sometimes

the difference between forgetting
to bring along artillery and showing up
on purpose to the war unarmed

is just that: a difference.  Sometimes a lost tune,
unreckoned on, unearned, resurfaces anyway. Just because.

Am I not the animal by belief alone I myself make possible?


Date: 2019

By: Carl Phillips (1959- )

Friday, 8 April 2022

To Someone Somewhere After All These Years by Richard Foerster

I thought divorcing was an art worth perfecting
over time, like a vintage coaxed through fermentation,
bottled, with a label, then consigned to a near-subconscious
cavern till it might mature, and decades later be ready
for a toast to old times’ sake and savoring. But after more

than twice the span our marriage lasted, when I uncorked
the email labeled Hi!, I sensed by the way it swirled
before my eyes that this was nothing I’d have chosen
for dining alone, and yet I sipped: We should be able to
, then more, I told you you’d win awards—I dreamt it.

Then came the subtler undertaste of I lost the real love of my life
to Alzheimer’s
, and despite the way my head reeled
I knew she clearly meant not me. I swallowed hard,
Were you ever going to tell me you were/are gay?
and I’m not writing with recriminations in mind, but

I just thought we might—I don’t know what—be friends?
I paced the room awhile, then turned and sat back down
to finish what she’d poured out for me, and after the final
dot and her new last name, I was amazed
how my finger wavered on “Reply” and then “Delete.”


Date: 2019

By: Richard Foerster (1949- )

Thursday, 7 April 2022

A Brother Like You by Brandon Grill

Your co-workers found you lying on the
Ground, “the tweak passed out,” they told us. You said
You were tired after drinking all night. I asked
Why you drank before work, and instead of answering
You recited some lines from your favorite movies.
Three minutes went by, and you went through the
Independence Day script, doing every voice.
Your Will Smith impersonation was unreal, and when
I asked how much you practiced it you told me
You’ve only seen the movie twice. You
Rocked back and forth in your seat,
and kept trying to hug me. It made putting on
Your seatbelt very difficult, but the joyousness
Of your giggle makes it worth it. Few others
Let you hug them, I presumed. You asked me
If the nurses would be pretty and if they would
Comb your hair. My partner whispers in
My ear that I shouldn’t let you push me
Around, but I don’t get the sense that you’re
Trying to take advantage of me. “Sometimes,
I just want to stop thinking over and over and
Over so I drink. My social worker won’t comb
My hair,” you tell me. I ask you about your
Living conditions, and you tell me you hate
Being at home. I ask you what medications
You take, and you tell me you don’t take them
Unless someone combs your hair. You put your
Arm around my shoulders as we walk into
The emergency room, and tell me you wish
You had a brother like me growing up.
“Nobody in the home laughs at my voices
Like you do.”


Date: 2019

By: Brandon Grill (19??- )