girls gone vile
gone ballerine ribbon splintered on the block already bruised body
in sweet crossing
time to cut in cut in with my dollface
lashes spoiled-heroine black
my mouth owed at least belle du jour
trinket me my wryneck stalky limbs hair in constant pirouette
I can’t let the brat down
the brat ligatures the brat pasternacks
the brat formerly known
as brickish house for my stray fingers
the brat spitdried so nothing falls out kind of like hunger
just keep biting down
down on the plank even with your pinky toe
The butcher breaks me open,
says bones are sticks for flesh.
Early I knew. I broke my sister’s arm
the night of her third birthday. Happy
I was in my oblivion, so cushioned
in my sleep. That’s when he wrestled me
out to the barn five miles west.
The neon stamped my eyes.
There: bleating lamb. There:
hands lassoed in the leather.
There: he hatchets ribs until the meat
is the size of my fist. Perfect portion.
He keeps at it. I keep at it.
My country says abundance
in its red drenched coat
and I grab my share and some
I consume and some I spit
to frankenstein the animal
for a feast. And how I’ve grown
so nervy and ugly and full.
Eighty-foot hemlock, spruce, fir, and pine–
They kept lifting off their stumps like so many rockets,
Smoke-trails and all. And I
Beheld the fire cross-lake from where I drifted.
I’d been pounding the water for bass when my eyes were lifted.
Fifty years later, I still recall my thoughts,
And how I thought that to think them was more than odd:
I felt gladness at having the faculties to notice
The hill’s spectacular, orange heat as it flared
To white with each explosion,
Then the whole of the conflagration bending toward earth,
A horizontal wall, a monolith,
That somehow tore downhill in a sudden blast
Of wind. It was gorgeous. Several hours would pass
Before I knew the flames had set Bo Tyson
Flying down Blake Cove Mountain on his grapple skidder
And into the lake by Stearns Island.
He had to take the loss. It was that or burn.
Donald Peavey, wielding an axe in his turn
With the makeshift crew, collapsed from labor and heat.
Mason the storekeeper dragged him away by his feet.
I knew Don, sadly, only a few more years.
He and Bo and Mason: all good honest men.
I can’t account for my dreams,
But last night I dreamed I watched that fire again.
Miles above, in what seemed pure quiet, serene,
The same jetliner crossed as did years ago,
The same scent rose– torched needles, caustic smoke,
The same diabolic roar coming on as I rocked
In the same canoe, the waves still slapping its hull.
In an hour five decades back
The length of that ridgeline turned as black as onyx.
My dear wife’s latest birthday will soon be upon us.
Is that why the dream passed smoothly into the next one?
I saw, precisely, a beautiful onyx pendant,
Hung on a chain from that comely woman’s neck.
I’d never dreamed such a lover as that rough ridge blackened,
Wouldn’t meet her for years and years. Nonetheless,
I drove to a jewelry shop upriver this morning,
Three hundred miles to the west of Blake Cove Mountain.
On buying the necklace, I felt some fire in my being,
Mild version of one that one ancient June got kindling,
And underground, for a long time after, kept burning.
The nurse wears blue gloves.
Her stool turns on four black wheels.
A shot is the first course.
I shouldn’t have picked up the bat,
wounded, vulnerable in the street.
The nurse wears blue gloves.
The violence of life, red in tooth
and black in death. Silence of the syringe.
A shot is the second course.
Bats deserve to live, who could
deny it, though we fear them (I should).
The nurse wears blue gloves
and tells me to call in case
of headaches, fever, malaise.
A shot is the third course.
We laugh as I turn down the hall.
I know she doubts my sanity,
this nurse who wears blue gloves.
It’s too soon for mosquitoes.
My children are grown and moved away.
The nurse wears blue gloves.
A shot is the fourth course.
Mother yanked her out. I filled my watering can with milk.
In the hollow, we could barely see my bedroom’s yellow
eye. I patted dirt over her bloody roots and stood her up
again. When I stroked her cheek, she turned toward me and
opened her mouth. And when she sang, she sang about a
sparrow and a leaf. And when she yawned, I saw baby
teeth. Would she grow? Would she live? She needed a
collar of feathers, a pillow of violets. A birchbark suit. A
firefly lantern outside a small house made of stones polished
in the creek. Mother’s shadow opened my window and
called. We didn’t have long. The tree frogs’ silver chorus
rose in waves as I ran back to my house. I could still hear
the girl’s faint sparrow song. Maybe she was calling me.
llena eres de gracia
crouched on a stump,
feet dug into the red dust,
you peel the mandioca
they feed you each day
to ten white blades.
Bless this home
bendita tú eres.
their hundred chickens,
fourteen pigs, six cows,
you counted them
before words turned
to blue gum
and you buried them
with your teeth
in the corner of the low hut
they built you
between the rows
of pregnant squash.
Bendito es el fruto.
They place your meal
on the fire
and you consider
the flame: a stranger
carrying a tiger-
and you have
what it all
Your rosary of flies
the days since
ahora y en la hora
they called you mother.
First Winter by Hala Alyan
Two Poems by Patrick Rosal
Reprise by Kathleen Hellen
Birthday by Lauren Hilger
Two Poems by Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Stack of Brightness by Rosalynde Vas Dias
The Smallest Man by Julie Brooks Barbour
Persistent Design by Nate Pritts
Two Poems by Joy Ladin
Two Poems by Lee Sharkey
Trees by David Lawrence
Light Installation at the Hilton by Iva Ticic
Breath Memory [Breath Alphabet] by Cory Hutchinson-Reuss
The Landlord by Peace Adzo Medie
Lipochrome by Nathan Poole
Singing Backup by Jason Kapcala