A hundred men bear one girl’s bones
to catacombs. In her sarcophagus,
loose legs clink against a halfling pelvis,
pebble hard. Through cobbled tributaries,
bearers flow along a riverbed last lapped
by her red waters. . . .
I happened upon the poems “Accidental” and “Keep” by Jocelyn Sears in BOAAT today. They’re the sort of poems that, on first read, you just tumble through them, pulled by the gravity of the story, imagery, and language, and find yourself at the bottom of them breathless, covered in leaves, and eager for another ride down.
Today I’m reading and re-reading ekphrastic poems by Sara Biggs Chaney at The Boiler. They’re based on the photographs of Katerina Plotnikova, who uses live animals and striking color in her photographs — they’re very evocative. So, too, are Sara’s poems.
From “II. Brown Bear“:
I smell my death on your belly
and I do not flinch.
Your face a cannon
on the hinge of my neck
The “Five Poems in Five Days” thing has been going around Facebook, so all my lovely poet friends are posting lovely poetry. Today I’m loving this gem that appeared in Stirring’s Volume 15, Edition 5 issue.
Day they proved the God Particle I saw
the small spot I was, how I walk this town,
same pattern the universe expands from,
too old to see everything a sign.
I have happened upon a few poems recently that just …wow. Like, seriously, wow.
Here are links to them, with excerpts, so you can wow too.
“A Pity. We Were Such a Good Invention” by Yehuda Amichai
your thighs off my hips.
As far as I’m concerned
they are all surgeons. All of them.
Not one but two tire swings hang from the shattered maple
in the neighbor’s yard, part of spinning we never give up.
Since it hurts not to, being-with-you must be compulsory,
a respite from a heavy sigh that can’t be lifted.
“My Story in a Late Style of Fire” by Larry Levis
If my house burned down tomorrow morning, & if I & my wife
And son stood looking on at the flames, & if, then
Someone stepped out of the crowd of bystanders
And said to me: “Didn’t you once know. . . ?” No. But if
One of the flames, rising up in the scherzo of fire, turned
All the windows blank with light, & if that flame could speak,
And if it said to me: “You loved her, didn’t you?” I’d answer,
Hands in my pockets, “Yes.” And then I’d let fire & misfortune
Overwhelm my life.
Spending time today with this long poem posted at Word Riot, falling in love with its language and imagery and the deep, resonant familiarity of it.
. . . Everything—even the crickets—will stop
& listen as you split a screen door from its dry-socket frame
but I’ve heard the unfastening of hips, the careful click of human
exhaustion. I’ve heard a wooden door open its mouth for you
& I swear I would too, because it’s your not-quite-human quiet
that I want. I called you hazy field of yellowed grass, called you sleepy
heap of secrets. For a long time I plan to keep the slow motion
swing of you between my legs—here, at the joints, the fragile
rubbed against & held together. . . .
Read the whole thing. It’s beautiful.
Today’s “reading” is more of a “watching.” Words Dance features four videos of slam poetry around women’s issues today: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” by Brenna Twohy (or maybe it’s “Fantastic Breasts and Where to Find Them” — the internet likes it both ways), “Shrinking Women” by Lily Myers, “The Type” by Sarah Kay (my personal favorite in this group), and “Cab Rides and the Morning After” by Alysia Harris. Really powerful stuff. My inner feminist (and my outer one) definitely feel satiated.
This is such a beautiful issue I’m not really sure what to feature, so here are a few things:
She watches my hands for me
and I try not to let them shake,
the force of blood pushing
When I drop the needle, she tells me
secrets can keep you safe,
but never as safe as trust.
from “Book of Days” by Amber Edmonson
You saw Steve
naked? I asked
my aunt in front
of her mother
over a bowl
of Cocoa Krispies,
as if nudity
was the worst of it.
from “Sex & Santa” by Katie Manning
Occasionally light from other cars muses through the foggy windows. After it’s over, Michael can hear sweat sliding down a cheek. He reaches out but nothing’s there. It takes him hours to find the word pain blooming inside him like pleasure.
from “The Fall of the Archangel Michael” by Michael Schmidt
Seriously, do not miss even a word of this issue, guest edited by M. Mack.
Winter Tangerine has a fascinating issue that features poems alongside their earlier drafts, as well as the poet talking about the evolution of the piece.
Here’s an excerpt from Sara Biggs Chaney’s poem “The Engineers Lament the Inevitability of Foundation Collapse“:
The floor runs slant.
Drop a marble on the doormat;
gravity will attend.
And her final words on editing:
At any rate, I decided this poem was finished when I could find no more tangles through which to comb.
Process is such an interesting thing, and as individual as a thumbprint. It often even varies widely from poem to poem. It’s great to get inside the mind of a poet, and behind the scenes with their work.
That’s why I’ve stood here
for hours, naked
& now expecting a tide
to rise from a part
of me I do not know.
from “Nude Male with Echo #38”
The issue is also presented in video format, which is really lovely. Or, you can download a free PDF or purchase an interactive PDF of the issue here.