birthday poem

By Adam Soldofsky

Poem

 

with blasphemies

and great things in my head

i woke up

but you’d already gone to work 

 

anyway none of it was new 

 

why aren’t they fucking off

the ones who should be

with their insane appeals

to modesty 

 

i’m not about to leave the earth

The Riots were the week before my prom
A month & a half before my graduation
Southern California was a time bomb

Race relations warring like Vietnam
My crew more like the United Nations
The Riots were the week before my prom

So Cal needed mindfulness like Thich Nhat Hanh
Multicultural coalitions for communication
Southern California was a time bomb

Catch

By Jed Myers

Poem

All the fathers are gone, under
the grass, above us in the earth’s
greenhouse haze, in stream silts
where the burial hills are awash
in the unprecedented monsoons,

some never found, swamped shot
in the rice marshes and ultimately
part of the crop, some taken in bits
as they sank into the mouths of fish
and bottom scavengers, some chopped

into manageable chunks and wrapped
to be kept from the air and stashed
behind Sheetrock while the cops passed
for unbroadcast reasons—all
the fathers, it sometimes seems, are gone,

for ruth weiss

1
where’s a pebble birthed?
the river delivered you
an ancient infant

2
rare egg of rock
rest upon my frail heartline
nearly translucent

3
clouds at your back
floating you down the river
innocence erodes

On the Plane Home

By Rick Lupert

Poem

I
I would like to visit Budapest
I tell the airplane magazine
in response to its article titled
“Visit Budapest”. Send me a
paprika sample and we’ll
seal the deal! I’m not as
interested in the shirts
designed to be worn untucked.
Sorry, airplane magazine,
you can’t win them all.

When I was fifteen
I suddenly knew
I would never
understand geometry.
Who was my teacher?
That name is gone.
I only remember
the gray feeling
in a classroom
filled with vast
theoretical distances.
I can still see
odd shapes
drawn on the board,
and those inscrutable
formulas everyone
was busily into
their notebooks scribbling.

I’ve hurt you: I’ve loved you.
I’ve vacuumed all the rooms.
I have no idea what became of us, yet
there are endless possibilities for happiness.
Once, when my lover betrayed me,
I greeted him at the door with a knife.
Now I am on my haunches, unvalued and unused.
Am I to be blamed for wanting absolution?
Am I to be blamed for keeping what I conjure
in a vial of formaldehyde beside my bed?
Idiot savant, death is my downfall.
My students fail, repeatedly, to deploy
the correct conjunctive adverbs
in everyday speech. Consequently,
I fold my napkin into a perfect square.
Henceforth, the night ends so quickly,
bringing forth the vulgar day.
When images become inadequate,
I shall be content with silence.
When images become inadequate,
I shall separate the chaff from the wheat.
I feel I’ve learned so little, here.
The soul pressed flat is matter, unsexed.
The heart pressed flat is meat.

she radiates
billowing acumen
in the velvet mouth
of monochrome paint

she holds her shoulder
up to an albino
thought

‘here I have no purple,
no red rhythm,
only this slow,
grey,
shrill, thinking
thing within’

I am a wild woman
Greñuda woman
Shut your lips type of woman
Dance on table tops kind of woman
I am made from my grandmother’s stubborn rib
And my great grandmother’s had-too-much-to-drink liver
Made from the dirt on the faces of children at play
And from the sweat of my father
Working underneath a summer sun

They climb a slender ladder. From
stitched-together metal, my
daughters disappear into the plane, a mother’s
intuition wanting them to sleep
longer in their not knowing. I
want to conceal how people fell
from the sky, how bombs glided into
their targets, how it happened in the
daylight, so everything hit. This State,

I’ve hung on to what’s left over –
what you touched, what fed you,

taken stock of the refrigerator’s gelid interior,
sought evidence you were here.

Behind the yellow mustard,
and a half-squeezed tube of disappointment,

that Tiger Sauce you loved.
Best Before: Sept. 2007.

Some things I needed to keep.

I

I do not believe in this slice of time, but in the tremor.

Not in the bird, but the shoulder.

Not in the bear, but the honeypot. Not the near future,

but in the constant memorization

of all my mistakes. Not in the thunder, but sneaking out

of the party, but not in the rain.

Not the umbrella, but the cock, the gravel, not the sky

turned black, not the eyes, but in the music

of flies over new rot, the fruit and not the vine. In the swollen

moment of climax I believe in the self,

as a well, as other, as the therapy of being wrong. In being

wronged, but not forever. I believe

in the hand on my throat as evidence of being, but not alone.

Please don’t let me be alone.

Woods and Clouds Interchangeable, Michael Earl Craig

[This is a poem from Michael Earl Craig’s new collection of poems, Woods and Clouds Interchangeable, out now from Wave Books. Order it here.]

 

 

At midnight a blinkered pony clopped up the winter road.

A single toon, weirdly amid twin rows of slippery elm.

I am called Honcho. Irrevocable have been my words.

I flick my fingertips violently, as if sprinkling a crowd.

The demitasse broods. Is alone. Is lonely.

I find I cannot go over to it.

 

The pony looked aggrieved, moved only to bossa nova

(ears perking to “Dumpling”). Flanked with trees

the road was white, and very straight. We stood

at the pie safe wanting in, some of us knocking,

while blue dream-tassels shook gently at the cuffs

of the robe of a well-meaning cad.

 

 

 

 

Bob sucked the golf ball through the garden hose, reluctantly.

Dot said she had toe-danced her entire way through college.

I had my head down, I was thinking. A hand reached casually

into my field of vision—the waiter touched my fries with his

Band-Aid. Baby chicks stepped into the clubhouse. Each one

tripped a bit on the rug’s edge. No one stopped them.

 

Bob sucked a second golf ball through in half the time.

Dot held one of her ankles beside her head like a swan song.

The season unbuttoned itself in little burps of pink and white.

They fed the racehorse pot brownies in his stall. He ate them

thoughtfully. The jockey fondled his heavy snaffle. It rained

only over Roanoke. Which I guess is why I’ve asked you here.

 

This is farther than I think I meant to take us, but that’s okay because in many ways—ways like this way or that way or maybe some way that no one has thought of yet, because everyone knows this way and that way—this was exactly as far as we were supposed to go when we went, and we went and went because going and having went is the way we say it’s us together and no one else is here and we love each other and I love you and you love me and screw the rest of everyone back at the place we left because it was a bad and terrible place with nothing for us.

Gone are these camps, smooth-floored
clear of tents and all that filled them.
Desolate the realm of the departed
brimming is the wind that rings of
war cataclysm and buoyant love months.