If we must have violence, then let it be
the violence of violets, how they burst
into spring, before most anything else—
vanguard of the voluptuous—
unravelling their petals, their leaves
to attract whatever will love them.
If we must rant and rave, then let us
do so as they do, inconspicuously,
close to the ground, in all the wet places
until something with a stinger comes
and mounts us, turning us inward
where we learn what it is to sweeten.
Copyright © 2017 Jose A. Alcantara. Reprinted with permission of the author. First appeared in Rattle
Jose A. Alcantara works in a bookstore in Aspen, Colorado. His poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Spillway, The American Journal of Poetry, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Midwest Quarterly, Spoon River Poetry Review, Little Patuxent Review, San Pedro River Review, and 99 Poems for the 99%. Jose is a former Fishtrap Fellow and was the winner of the 2017 Patricia Bibby Memorial Scholarship from Tebot Bach.
A body is sixty percent
ocean & the rest, sediment —
A ship at sea bears load to
the plimsoll, its safe burden —
If a limescale fresco remains
to mark history, the flood’s rise
& fall, without me jumping in
to live it again, the scene
where I don’t wear a diving bell,
where I free-dive grasping
one breath —
there’s no line for that,
only the primal sense
of treading water in bed.
First appeared in Foundry
Tanya Grae won the 2016 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Poetry Prize, selected by Yusef Komunyakaa, and is the author of the forthcoming chapbook Little Wekiva River (Five Oaks Press, 2017). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, New Ohio Review, Fjords, New South, The Los Angeles Review, Barrow Street, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Tallahassee and teaches at Florida State University while pursuing her doctorate. Find out more at: tanyagrae.com
On why/how poetry matters Tanya writes, “Poetry distills language into form and music that translates knowing on a cellular level, a type of soul elixir, saying what must be said.”
Now that the sun has set and the rain has abated,
And every porch light
in the neighborhood is lit,
Maybe we can invent something; I’d like a new
Way of experiencing the world, a way of taking
Into myself the single light shining at the center
Of all things without losing the dense, eccentric
Planets orbiting around it.
What you’d like is a more
Attentive lover, I suppose—. Too bad that slow,
Wet scorch of orange blossoms floating towards
The storm drain is not a vein of stars . . . we could
Make a wish on one of them; not that we would
Wish for anything but the impossible.
First appeared in Pleiades
Jay Hopler’s first book, Green Squall, won the 2005 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. The volume went on to win numerous awards and honors including a Florida Book Award and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award. His work has also been honored with a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and the Rome Prize in Literature. His latest collection, The Abridged History of Rainfall, was a Finalist for the 2016 National Book Award in Poetry.
To be made
like this: outside
the painted window
rain falls hard
on a field—window
without the bars
it would have had
in life—and because
they are not, you
the field and walk
between stripes of rain
to stop you or show
for it but
the damp briefly
darkening your hair
and the shoulders
of your coat
“Window and Field” from Keeper by Kasey Jueds, © 2013 Reprinted by permission of The University of Pittsburgh Press.
The Bat by Kasey Jueds
First dark, then more dark
smoothed over it.
First sleep, then eyes
open to the ceiling
where something circles. For a moment,
you can’t name it. And for a moment
you’re not afraid. Remember
Blake’s angels, how they leaned
toward each other, and balanced
by touching only the tips of their wings?
Between their bodies, a space
like the one just after rain begins, when rain
isn’t rain, but the smell
of dust lifted, something silent and clean.
“The Bat” from Keeper by Kasey Jueds, © 2013 Reprinted by permission of The University of Pittsburgh Press.
Kasey Jueds’s first book of poems, Keeper, won the 2012 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press. Her poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Crazyhorse, Prairie Schooner, Manhattan Review, Salamander, Crab Orchard Review, Women’s Review of Books, and 5AM; it has also been featured on NewsHour and Public Radio International’s “The Writer’s Almanac.” Jueds has been awarded residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Soapstone, and the Ucross Foundation. She lives in Philadelphia.