Friday, November 20, 2015

Ice for the Ice Trade

Stephen Burt (2015)

Everybody wants a piece of me.

I have been weighed and measured,

tested and standardized,

throughout my young life. It happens to everyone,

or to everyone with my ability.

Now I live quietly

and mostly in the dark, amid sawdust and sheer

or streaky wooden surfaces. My role,

when I reach maturity,

may be to help people behave

more sociably, and reduce

the irritations of summer,

or else to make it easier to eat.

For reasons I cannot fathom, I weep when it rains.

My handlers keep me wrapped in awkward cloth.

They will not let me touch my friends

or show any curves. They have taught me how to shave.

A few twigs and dragonfly wings got caught

near the center of me long ago; they serve

to distinguish me from others of my kind,

along with some bubbles of air.

I am worth more when I am clear.

When I am most desirable

you should be able to see yourself through me.

Some of my distant relatives

will probably never go far,

because they are too irregular, or opaque.

Many of us will end on a cart.

I, on the other hand, have had my work

cut out for me by so many gloves

and tongs, pallets and barges, poles and planks

that I am sure I will go to New York;

there people who own

the rights to me will give elaborate thanks

to one another, and go on to take me apart.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Paul Farley (2015)

You’re told this deck was found

in some shattered bothy or croft

north of the Great Glen,

missing its six of diamonds,

shuffled and dealt to a soft

pliancy, greased with lanolin

and you’re told this deck lived behind

the bar in a barracks town

and came out to play most nights,

cut between the Falklands

and Iraq, its spring long gone,

dark-edged with mammal sweat

and you’re told this deck is the one

recovered from a halfway house

where fatty stalactites

grew in a microwave oven,

where a bottle of Famous Grouse

was brandished in a fight

and it might be a pack of lies

or it might be a sleight of hand,

and you can’t tell which is a bluff

because words are a good disguise

for holding nothing. I’ve found

that nothing is more than enough.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The Duck Shit at Clarion Creek

Idra Novey (2014)

We liked to stick it in a BB gun and shoot it.

We tattooed with it. We said hallelujah,

the poor man's tanning lotion.

Then the frack wells began, something black

capping the water and we got high

watching a green-backed heron die.

We got funny at Clarion, flung

each other's underwear into the trees.

Why was it we got naked there

and nowhere else? Maybe we knew

we were getting good and ugly, rusted inside

as the trucks we rode into the water.

Maybe we knew we only appeared

to be floating, but soon and wholly

we'd go under, and there

would be nothing in return.