Wednesday, October 9, 2013

I Can't Swim

Heather Christle (2013)

I can't swim because I can't fit

into the water

I am

two million feet tall

but thank you for inviting me

I am standing in line

inside my giant shirt

If someone wanted to weaponize me

they would tell me to lie down on New York

and the city I destroyed

would hurt me back

I eat stars

it's a riot

I know

my big mouth

full of their light

Thursday, August 1, 2013

We All Want To See A Mammal

Elizabeth Bradfield (2013)

We all want to see a mammal,
Squirrels & snowshoe hares don't count.
Voles don't count. Something, preferably,
that could do us harm. There's a long list:
bear, moose, wolf, wolverine. Even porcupine
would do. The quills. The yellowed
teeth & long claws.

Beautiful here. Peaks & avens.

Meltwater running its braided course, but we want
to see a mammal. Our day our lives incomplete
without a mammal. The gaze of something
unafraid, that we're afraid of, meeting ours
before it runs off.

Linnaeus was called

indecent when he named them. Plenty
of other commonalities (hair, live young,
a proclivity to plot). But no. Mammal.
Maman. Breasted & nippled
& warm, warm, warm.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Hermit Crab

Stephen Burt (2013)

That shell is pretty, but that shell is too small for me.

Each home is a hideout; each home is a secret; each home
is a getaway under the same hot lamp, a means
to a lateral move at low velocity.

I live in a room in the room
of a boy I barely see.

Sometimes the boy & his talkative friends raise
too-warm hands & try to set me free

& I retreat into myself, hoping they place
me back in my terrarium, & they
do, with disappointed alacrity.

Scatter patterns in sand, adnates, cancellates, gaping
whelk husks, a toy tractor-trailer, cracked
and dinged, beside the spine of a plastic tree,

the helmet-shaped shelter of a shadow cast
by a not-quite-buried wedge of pottery . . .

if I have a body that's wholly my own
then it isn't mine. For a while I was
protected by what I pretended to be.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Dream of a Fire Engine

Kimiko Hahn (2012)

Without the sun filtered through closed eyelids,
without the siren along the service road,

without Grandpa's ginger-colored hair,
Mother's lipstick, Daughter's manicure,

firecrackers, a monkey's ass, a cherry, Rei's lost elephant,
without communist or past tense,

or a character seeing her own chopped-off feet dancing in fairy slippers,
or Mao's favorite novel about a chamber—

the scientist of sleep has claimed
that without warm blood a creature cannot dream.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Ode to a Man in Dress Clothes

Gretchen Marquette (2013)

When I see a man
in a dress shirt, I want
to walk up behind him,
place my hand
between his shoulders,
to rest it there
for a moment. I think
about his socks, how
he chose one pair
that morning and the rest
are still at home
in a drawer.
And his shoes—
god those shoes, they break me,
especially when they're polished, what
does he do to make them shine
like that, yes, all it takes
is a pair of shiny black shoes and such
a wave of tenderness
collapses over me that I see
his ties, at rest
on their little carousel, imagine
that he held them up
in the mirror
at the department store,

Monday, July 1, 2013


Michael Ryan (2013)

What kind of delusion are you under?
The life he hid just knocked you flat.
You see lightning but not the thunder.

What God hath joined let no man put asunder.
Did God know you'd marry a rat?
What kind of delusion are you under?

His online persona simply stunned her
as it did you when you started to chat.
You see the lightning but not the thunder.

To the victors go the plunder:
you should crown them with a baseball bat.
What kind of delusion are you under?

The kind that causes blunder after blunder.
Is there any other kind than that?
You see the lightning but not the thunder,

and for one second the world's a wonder.
Just keep it thrilling under your hat.
What kind of delusion are you under?
You see the lightning but not the thunder.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

from Mankindness

Christina Davis (2013)


We kiss on lips, where the tenses attach.

We enter the conundrum
of another's becoming.

We look for someone who can raise us
up again to feet, or near to standing.

We tend in our terrors to forget (we
do not store them) felicities.

I try each day to stay near beings,
mornings when I am most
mild. And may I nothing harm,
in case it might be them.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Party Ship

Kay Ryan (2013)

You are a
land I can't
stand leaving
and can't not.
My party ship
is pulling out.
We all have
hats. I try to
toot some notes
you'll understand
but this was not
our instrument
or plan.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What It Means To Stay Here

Wendy Xu

I lie in a bed and away from all
my thoughts. I pledge all kinds of things
to the moon, how it speaks but not
to me. Giant land snail, you
are my friend. African prairie buck, you king
of going unseen, black horses moving
through the night. The wilds mean
many things and often we go on
into it. We put our precious bodies
in a tent. We have a lifespan and O how
we live it out. I don’t know much
about anything. I drink my coffee and wait
for what is next. My fine house blows over
on a Tuesday and the anthem of what
this means is awfully sweet. Where
shall I wander before I finally
am gone? What do I bring back
in my careless hands to show you?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Grace and the Chilcot Inquiry

Nick Laird (2013)

My daughter's two weeks old tonight
and my wife wants me to talk to her more
so I started to explain how the answer
I did the thing I thought was right
was enthymematic, and meant to obscure
another rather major conjecture viz.
I do the thing I think it right to do.

Her slow blinks mean that in democracies
the leader's not allowed to operate
according solely to what he or she decrees
is just or necessary; and my brand new
constituent looked appropriately cross
when I began to sing 'Amazing Grace'
to the tune 'The Sash My Father Wore.'

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Untitled Poem

Hafiz (Persian, c. 1320-89)

All I want to do
is get drunk with my wife

An endless glass of wine
both of us on the floor

So what if squares
Look down on us?

Boring and misguided
are their miserable lives

When my wife is in the city
and I'm home
I want to cry

The moonlight
on the cypress tree
is a bitter light

No book has ever kissed me
like she does

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Girl Watching

Dan Brown (2013)

In the years I've been at this
(Lots, not to be precise)
You'd think that once or twice
At least I would have seen
Some anomalies. I mean
Some major ones. As in
Not feet but little wheels,
Or crests like cockatiels'.
Where are they keeping the girls
With a chrome exterior,
Or and extra derriere?
Apparently nowhere.
Assuming my sample's valid,
The pool is limited
To the standard types I've tallied;
Such variance as there is
In the usual congeries
Of physiognomies—
And yet enough of it
To be worth looking at.
The walking by, for that,
Of the same girl over and over
Would be no cross to bear
If it were that one there.