Posts tagged ‘2021’

Monday, 19 September 2022

Take the Bait by Adele Elise Williams

A student asks for eulogy guidance.
The next day, I have a brother and
we discuss sociopaths, cold worms,
how we ended up so undisturbed.
Memory. Now that’s a thing a girl
can get behind. I remember caring
for the strays under our house, coaxing
the squirrels out from the alabaster
walls. Always sick and on the edge,
I’d watch them die as we all should
—alone and unsophisticated. Was my
interest in salvage or ritual? Officious?
A sort of wasted communion? Or was
I simply a child whose home was framed
furred and alive. Memory. I remember
the first poem I ever wrote—a clementine
full-faced and gasping as I consumed it
whole, even the juices hollered.


Date: 2021

By: Adele Elise Williams (19??- )

Saturday, 27 August 2022

Waiting for ’97 and Godot by Yam Gong (Lau Yee-ching)

The torment
of a drop of water
falling into a lake
I know—
at times I am the drop of water
at times
I am the lake

The torment
of a drop of water
falling onto the parched earth
I also know
At times I am
the parched earth
At times
I am
that droplet

But what about the joy
of a drop of water
falling onto the parched earth?

What about the ecstasy
of a drop of water
falling into the lake?

Even though
at times I am the water
at times I am the earth
at times I am the rivers and lakes
at times ecstatic at times tormented at times joyful
at times
I persuade myself
that you
will arrive eventually.


Date: 1997 (original in Chinese); 2021 (translation in English)

By: Yam Gong (Lau Yee-ching) (1949- )

Translated by: James Shea (19??- ) and Dorothy Tse (1977- )

Sunday, 21 August 2022

[The suitors play make believe] by Vandana Khanna

The suitors play make believe, dream me up
wondrous and willing—with lace at my throat,
gold between my legs. A paper-thin myth, each
one calls wife behind my back. I learned to
swim with my leg’s thin tread of hope. I learned
to sin(k) kohl-eyed in a pool of slim chances.
You showed me how to come up for air, breathless
and sweat-soaked. Couldn’t wear white after that.
Couldn’t find my way back to that girl a decade
in the making, lying in wait, half-grown away
from the sea. My barely-there prayers made
of broken shells and sharks’ teeth, a prophecy
of how I could wreck everything in my path.
Let them wade in after me, let them beg
with their last breaths while I show you
where the half-wound of my heart is hidden.


Date: 2021

By: Vandana Khanna (19??- )

Saturday, 6 August 2022

Number Theory by Rosanna Phelps Warren

The four-and-a-half-foot black-backed rat snake swayed
up and across the kitchen screen door, seeking
a way in. Encountering, instead,

our eyes, it slowly, deliberately, withdrew
to slide across the stone porch, over the wall, and along
the foundation, inspecting every crevice,

feeling, nosing, listening its way
toward a solution, which it found
around the corner, up the back flagstone steps,

where it squeezed its impossible length and girth, inch by
patterned inch, into the crack beneath the topmost slate. So
we know we’re living with a patient

companion, like you, inquisitive. You sit
taut in your chair, whispering, as you probe
the gaps between prime numbers. Until infinity.

It’s pattern you seek. The opening through which
your thought will glide suddenly into a lit space
and be at home. In a shaky house, where wasps gnaw the walls.


Date: 2021

By: Rosanna Phelps Warren (1953- )

Monday, 25 July 2022

A Love Reckless by Cate Lycurgus

There may be virtue in restraint—: in distance, drinking,
or—like the child left to cry—in letting your savings
be. How, if you hold still enough to sense the veins’
valves click shut up & down both arms, the colt might
cool off. His pace slows to staccato steps, to deep heaves
beside the fence. Advocate for control—
but try telling this to daddy’s girl as she fords the border
piggy-back; maintain the merit of reserves despite a shattered
piggy-bank, an overdraft for diapers. SNAP. One might
at another frisk, another cellmate yet to return;
& if the brush were not on fire, I’d rather have two birds
in it. Today needs a little hum on hand, so I lift
my alto. Closed fist. Raise all my sugar crimson
to hang on the closest eave. Restraint is faith
in abundance—just another way to say tomorrow, more
where that came from. But iron filings leap & thistle—
who doesn’t magnet to earth? I love you so much, I run
through the house licking the rim of every cup your lips might have
touched. I’m calling & hanging up, calling again—mouth
open, lip snagged like a largemouth bass. Have no angle
in this gape or way to temper my flail when—we’re drawn down
every day. You are the uproar at the end of my cherry slushie
& this is practically holy. I am not afraid.


Date: 2021

By: Cate Lycurgus (19??- )

Monday, 18 July 2022

Audubon’s Peewees by Dave Smith

I fixed a slight silver thread to the leg of each.
—J.J. Audubon

for Jeddie and Jed Smith

He sat with them until the baby birds took him
for one of them, his hairless hand
a mothering none resisted, the sighing
French hum of homesickness their ordinary
when he came, treats of worms, grubs,
a drop of goat milk for the dying one. Useless.

Silver threads, light as moon slip on night weeds,
they plucked and picked at until freed.
Life being a game, he attached them, then
dark-riddled, one by one, they removed themselves.
Blended into the nest, invisible but for eye-gleam,
all but one lost when winter drove them away.

Then, they return! Ice-morning, on his palm the male,
his female hovering back, juddering, cocked
peeps of fear, him squinting his blue eye.
His hat swallowed both, settling, as if in his brain.
A silver ribbon, ratty in the end, pennant.
What far flight! Hadn’t they been everywhere together!

But where? A dream. With the moon sliding
past snow’s patches old nests welcome.
Father oaks wailed in wind, monstrous shadows.
Dear little fellow, waking him, he would ask.
Half-closed, black eye blinking until it stopped.
What path? By what water? How to prepare?

The frayed silver flag it bore quickening,
the would-be artist leaned close.
And held his breath, and drew it so.


Date: 2021

By: Dave Smith (1942- )

Friday, 24 June 2022

Fragrant Harbor* by Miho Nonaka

To be Lord to the four seas of China
a man must let men make verses
he must let people play comedies
and historians write down the facts . . .
—Ezra Pound, Canto LIII

You are determined to stay. The last
persimmon hanging on the top branch
against the winter sky.

A city, an ocean of colors dazzle
bird brains, lure them toward
lit surfaces, where they crash

headlong. Larger bodies, beaten to
death, are thrown into the sea, ruled
suicides. The new normal, don’t

dress in black, keep a voluntary curfew.
You need multiple cell phones
for separate contact lists. No more

crossing borders. Your old teacher
shot point-blank in the eye
for halting on the pavement.

The police are still after anyone
who holds up a blank sheet of paper.
At dusk or dawn, the city looks

beautiful from Sky Lounge,
the water reflecting pink, yellow, blue,
opalescent lights like bolts of fabric:

There have been a lot of such
suicides since July.
So you ask,
What is home? A cool hand

on the forehead when you awake,
suddenly a child and sweating
from fever and dreams. The only

light you notice in the middle
of dark plains from the train window,
because your companion, whom

you won’t see again after he gets off,
suddenly turns and speaks to you
in a soft voice, That’s my home. Look.

*Literal meaning of the name, Hong Kong (香港 ) in Chinese.


Date: 2021

By: Miho Nonaka (19??- )

Saturday, 18 June 2022

Georgia by Judy Loest

Even without all those strong women
In the house, a mother and two grandmothers
Who had traveled to Wisconsin in oxcarts,
You would never have stayed
On that dairy farm, sweeping pinecones
Off of the front porch, painting still lifes
Of turnips and aged cheddar. As a young girl,
You stood at the window and saw a great desert
Beyond the corn fields, flowers in the night sky
Instead of stars, the velvet fire of poppies
In the goldfish’s scales. The fixed notions
Of astronomy and arithmetic, the history
Of England and the New World, even
The economics of the Bell Telephone Company
Flew out of your head like prairie sand.

I saw you once in Central Park, or a young woman
Who could have been you back in 1908,
Before Stieglitz, before Ghost Ranch—
Though this was in 1985. Who knows?
You were wearing black, your thin body
Bent in the shape of a microscope,
Reproducing in pastels the back of your hand
Which emerged on the page as a bone-white
Trumpet flower, yellow flames curling
From its center. Sure, it wasn’t you,
But looking at that trumpet flower later
In the museum, I knew why you never wore colors,
Why someone with such a fire inside her
Might keep turning up someplace else.


Date: 2001

By: Judy Loest (1947- )

Friday, 17 June 2022

Glass Midden by Joanne M. Clarkson

I head into wind, combing
rock beds, glass in my hands.
This stretch of beach is kitchen
to forgotten porcelain, shatter
of beverage and clockface.

Everything but bone has fallen
from the cliffs above, a hundred
years past the county’s cast-off
acre. I stumble over car
parts and fuses, wood long sailed
or splintered into moon-salt.

I glance over my shoulder, stalked
by a sense of trespass. What do I need
with trinkets of smoothed blue,
rootbeer, fragment of flower
from a chipped rim? And a century
from today, who will finger

what held my wine, my wild bouquet
of pussy-willow, jar gone to pieces
through carelessness, anger or simply
replacement? Nothing is buried
forever, unearthed and re-imagined
into hand-hewn jewelry or the mosaic
of a frame. My small purse is almost

full. The tide is about to turn. Tonight’s
waves re-claim a dowry. I wonder
if she wept when her children’s
children gave her plates away?


Date: 2021

By: Joanne M. Clarkson (19??- )

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

Ring by Saddiq Dzukogi

I took a piece of chalk and drew a circle around my body.
In that ring, I engraved all the names of my loved ones

who are alive—until the only space left was under my feet.
Outside the circle, names of ones I lost.

We are eternal prey to the circle’s energy
looking to decongest its body from our own.

What I have is the beginning—in my hand,
it is what I can wield. Rubbing my palms on the ground

the white line of the circle became a mixture
of chalk and dirt on my skin—still the two worlds

stayed separated after my ritual collapsing their boundaries.
I unrolled my prayer mat on the melting snow,

sat facing a frozen lake, imagining the sun probing through
the ice, 4 inches thick. A man idling in the middle,

his machine drilling a wound in the solidified water,
ice fishing. I looked on, waiting for his hook

to find a trout. What if this is how death finds us—
by luring us with what we desire?


Date: 2021

By: Saddiq Dzukogi (19??- )