Some of what I know I’ve learned by rote:
My stammer under pressure, the blunderbuss
I make of anger, my business, my distress.
Some of love, some summertime, the bumble of
A bumblebee snagged in the drapes. Some of you.
But the words replace their feelings, so wordlessly
I turn to the light where the light turns in,
The dining room awash in astronomical nostalgia,
The sun a star that was, but isn’t what we see.
You should be here, you should believe:
Some of what I knew of you, I’ve learned of me
(Some of what I want I’ve learned to wish).
Light tinseled through the glass. Imprisoned in
The sheers, the bee buzzes on. Like this.
“Wednesday Sonnet (Some of You)” from elephants and butterflies by Alan Michael Parker, ©2008. Reprinted by permission of BOA Editions
Alan Michael Parker is the author of eight collections of poems and four novels, and coeditor of five other volumes. His honors include the North Carolina Book Award, three Pushcart Prizes, two inclusions in Best American Poetry, and the Medwick Award from the Poetry Society of America. Douglas C. Houchens Professor of English at Davidson College, and faculty in the University of Tampa low-residency M.F.A. program, he is trying to slow down.
On why poetry matters: “Attentiveness, the particularities of the eccentric self, the eccentricities of the particular self, history, music, and the discernment to tell the words from one another – these are the demands of poetry that makes it matter. That our humanity has been written in poems, and that we’re still writing poems, documents us, elevates us, and offers solace, spiritual and otherwise.”
It’s an important observation–the night sky
is black. If space is infinite,
then every point in the sky must point
to a star. The universe, not infinitely big,
not infinitely old, must end
at the edge of the yard, proof
that a river stops at its bend, that black
does not evade but absorbs,
that gray is immersion leaning toward
the reflection of everything, that a heart
yearns for what it thinks
it leans toward. Someone
once said to me, Gracie, all your answers
are inside of you, ignorance leaning
toward knowledge. What is left depends upon
what reflects, what photons are taken in, what
photons are reflected back. If you combine
red, green, and blue crayons
you have black leaning toward night,
each color sharing equally in the argument
From The Shape of a Box, (Dos Madres Press, 2014)
Grace Curtis’ book, The Shape of a Box, was published this year by Dos Madres Press. Her chapbook, The Surly Bonds of Earth, was selected by Stephen Dunn as the 2010 winner of the Lettre Sauvage chapbook contest. She has had prose and poetry in such journals as The Chaffin Journal, Red River Review, The Baltimore Review, Waccamaw Literary Journal, and Scythe. She blogs about poetry at www.N2Poetry.com. Her website is http://www.gracecurtispoetry.com
Thank you for sending the sparrow
to remind me of space
and to encourage light.
I miss your singing
voices and consequently mornings.
is now too much about myself. The cage
sits there. Insists that I’m an animal.
That I need to travel.
First appeared in Superstition Review, and soon to appear in the anthology, Queer Nature
Kevin McLellan is the author of Hemispheres (Fact-Simile Editions, forthcoming), [box] (Letter [r] Press, 2016), Tributary (Barrow Street, 2015), and Round Trip (Seven Kitchens, 2010). He won the 2015 Third Coast Poetry Prize and Gival Press’ 2016 Oscar Wilde Award, and his poems have appeared in numerous journals including: American Letters & Commentary, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, West Branch, Western Humanities Review, and Witness.Kevin lives in Cambridge MA.
Or was I in my marriage bed, stuffed with hay, or
was I in the field between the plants’ burrs and hard globes
of dust in sun, or was I on the ice floor, or was I in a river
as I pushed you from my body. Once I brought you here
I could take the hood of family, once you drank from me,
the name of mother. Here I am, your animal. You have made me
flesh. I have made you to consume what the world is flurrying
even now to make. You have bound him and me together
in a ring of muscle and bone. Your hyphen weds our names. Had I
a larger tongue, I would have cleaned you myself.
I have disappeared inside your making and the joy
unbearable in its steadfast thrum. I had the low call
of it inside me always. It quakes me, rearranges
everything. Give awe your lineaments—and I will birth it.
First appeared in Kenyon Review Online
Sasha West’s first book, Failure and I Bury the Body (Harper Perennial, 2013), won the National Poetry Series and a Texas Institute of Letters First Book of Poetry award. Her awards include a fellowship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a Houston Arts Alliance grant, and Inprint’s Paul Verlaine Prize in Poetry. She is on faculty at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX.
when our broken
sleep folds each face
we love and miss
into the vulnerable
flavors of raw oyster
and the spent petal
sentiment horizons out
so far that surface
tempers like opals
stretching beyond opaque
and just like all who live
by innards the slippery
to divert our eyes
from our saline switches
Clarissa Adkins is a co-author of “Chair Yoga for You, a Practical Guide.” Her flash fiction appeared in Nailpolish Stories: A Tiny and Colorful Literary Journal and her poetry in Writers Against Prejudice. Currently, she is working on her MFA in poetry with Lesley University’s low-residency program in Cambridge, MA. Clarissa teaches yoga and high school English in Richmond, Virginia, and she just became an intern reader for Sugar House Review.
Why poetry matters:
Poetry matters because it can uniquely express how we are together in our aloneness. This depth of connection is an endless comfort.
She decided that,
upon careful reflection,
there was, in fact,
We’ll Be Together
could, without falsifying itself,
someday we’ll be apart.
trying to find further reason,
she heard Stop
in the Name of Love
before touching my face
kill the chickens
while i sleep
Copyright©2017 Rosebud Ben-Oni. Reprinted with permission of the author. First published in B O D Y
Rosebud Ben-Oni is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a CantoMundo Fellow. She is the author of SOLECISM (Virtual Artists Collective, 2013) and an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Her poems appear in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, among others; recently, her poem “Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark” was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. She writes weekly for The Kenyon Review blog, and teaches creative writing at UCLA Extension’s Writers’ Program. Find her at 7TrainLove.org
Alone, he sits for hours at Enrico’s
carving splendid eagles into bone,
haunted by the wait-girl’s sad-soft smiling,
sliding off her clothes, the room aglow.
Carving splendid eagles into bone,
he’d laugh and think of her, the curve of moonlight
sliding off her clothes, the room aglow.
They never called each other by their names.
He’d laugh and think of her. The curve of moonlight
over coffee, tongues between their lips.
They never called each other by their names.
He kept her number, but his girlfriend called it —
over coffee: tongues between their lips.
Haunted by the wait-girl’s sad-soft smiling,
he kept her number. But his girlfriend called it.
Alone, he kills the hours at Enrico’s.
First published in Angle Poetry.
Siham Karami’s poetry and critical work has been published in such places as The Comstock Review, Able Muse, Tupelo Quarterly, Measure, The Rumpus, The Gay & Lesbian Review, Mezzo Cammin, Naugatuck River Review, and as featured poet in Orchards Poetry. A three-time Pushcart Prize and twice Best of the Net nominee, she blogs at sihamkarami.wordpress.com.
Why Poetry Matters:
Poetry is language’s legerdemain, its reproductive system, its courier of sonic and meaning interplay. It celebrates and refines the constant refresh of human discourse, incorporating it in new and imaginative ways into expressions of life and how we live it. People are by nature poetic. They seek meaning and passion, and language is still the best tool to achieve that, poetry being the apex. So yes, poetry matters, in a category beyond money: its value can’t be quantified and thus will not depreciate.
I always feel calm in a cone of lamplight, fabricated evening. You or him. The cat’s in the window chirping back at birds. It’s not a friendly chirp. Him or you. If I’m looking to my body for answers, the answer is clear: my vagina actually opens like a set of automatic doors when you’re near. Imagine standing there “mmm-hmm”-ing along to a conversation. Goddess Aphrodite, what is love? She replies, You are opening. Imagine trying to sit quietly in a folding chair. Chir-irrr-irrp! declares my cat, whiskers spreading like wings. If I am a set of automatic doors, you are a fire door, the color of danger. Cat, what is love? He replies, Sometimes my voice is a mirror. You’re a fire extinguisher, bottled velocity, and is it an emergency? Emergency. Upstairs, my boyfriend flicks the lighter of a poem. Goddess Hera, what is love? She replies, A hearth that must be stoked. Molten skyline, and I am attempting zen while a predator at my shoulder whispers, Feathered thing, you are my food.
Mornings I walk
Rough mountain trail
I leave my hands behind
There are other hands
At work inside me
I was water
All water flowing
Pure and alert
There are voices everywhere
Surrounding my thoughts
But I believe
There is fire inside of me
It will not die
”Poetry is something I make out of language to convey an essence, an opening, that is beyond logic and language, deeper than image and information. I don’t think of poetry, or poems, as a literary form but as a discipline, an awareness practice, to wake my spirit up, to connect into a vital ecology of energies. I find myself traveling new roads, new pathways in my mind, new perspectives on my experience, deeper interiors of the heart.
It’s the last purely human creative act we have that offers direct connection to the consciousness of someone else unfettered by online social categorizations or the trappings of commerce.”