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five directions to my house :: juan felipe herrera

1. Go back to the grain yellow hills where the broken speak of elegance
2. Walk up to the canvas door, the short bed stretched against the clouds
3. Beneath the earth, an ant writes with the grace of a governor
4. Blow, blow Red Tail Hawk, your hidden sleeve—your desert secrets
5. You are there, almost, without a name, without a body, go now
6. I said five, said five like a guitar says six.


in tennessee I found a firefly :: mary szybist

Flashing in the grass; the mouth of a spider clung
    to the dark of it: the legs of the spider
held the tucked wings close,
    held the abdomen still in the midst of calling
with thrusts of phosphorescent light–

When I am tired of being human, I try to remember
    the two stuck together like burrs. I try to place them
central in my mind where everything else must
    surround them, must see the burr and the barb of them.
There is courtship, and there is hunger. I suppose
    there are grips from which even angels cannot fly.
Even imagined ones. Luciferin, luciferase.
    When I am tired of only touching,
I have my mouth to try to tell you
    what, in your arms, is not erased.

the beach in august :: weldon kees


The day the fat woman
In the bright blue bathing suit
Walked into the water and died,
I thought about the human
Condition. Pieces of old fruit
Came in and were left by the tide.

What I thought about the human
Condition was this: old fruit
Comes in and is left, and dries
In the sun. Another fat woman
In a dull green bathing suit
Dives into the water and dies.
The pulmotors glisten. It is noon.

We dry and die in the sun
While the seascape arranges old fruit,
Coming in and the tide, glistening
At noon. A woman, moderately stout,
In a nondescript bathing suit,
Swims to a pier. A tall woman
Steps toward the sea. One thinks about the human
Condition. The tide goes in and goes out.

song for lonely roads :: sherwood anderson

Now let us understand each other, love,
Long time ago I crept off home,
To my own gods I went.

The tale is old,
It has been told
By many men in many lands.
The lands belong to those who tell.
Now surely that is clear.

After the plow had westward swept,
The gods bestowed the corn to stand.
Long, long it stood,
Strong, strong it grew,
To make a forest for new song.

Deep in the corn the bargain hard
Youth with the gods drove home.
The gods remember,
Youth forgets.
Doubt not the soul of song that waits.

The singer dies,
The singer lives,
The gods wait in the corn,
The soul of song is in the land.
Lift up your lips to that.

your voice :: alejandra pizarnik

translated by Yvette Siegert

Ambushed in my writing
you are singing in my poem.
Captive of your sweet voice
engraved in my memory.
Bird intent on its flight.
Air branded by absence.
Clock that keeps time with me
so I never wake up.

ecological poem :: brian kim stefans

Around the pool the hippos drool
as if the chloride wouldn’t kill them.
In fact, they like to play the fool,
the harbinger, the pilgrim.

The bird that plops into the glass
makes a sound, then isn’t there.
Spiders toss, in oleaginous mass,
Goo Gone into the air.

The ants that drag a beat-up car
onto the lawn are emissaries
of some forgotten prince or tsar
from an HBO miniseries.

The cheetah, panther, jaguar, and lynx
(some of these might be the same)
conjure images of Sphinx
and other trademarked names.

The dynamited hole now teems
with insects shiny and obscene,
crawling, dying, though it dreams
an ectoplasm of green.

My own two cats stiffen, confused
at this profusion past the door.
They bat at things they’ve often used
for sound therapy before.

I tell you this out of principle:
that spiraling around a theme
(while naming lots of animals)
can supercharge a meme.

My own skin founders in the rush
of allergenic, if cautious, beasts.
Eyes eye darkness, ears hear hush — 
the assassin’s humor feasts.

chiaroscuro :: natalie eilbert

The worry is always whether my indulgence like a regular subject-predicate is universal.

The worry is whether the scope of my writing now rests too firmly on autobiography and the sexual violence of autobiography.

Does the writing inure itself to the act, does it inflict too much falsity around the feelings, and what exactly even is a trigger.

I will not indulge I will not indulge I will not indulge.

My honeymoon with the Venus of Willendorf ended in the same bucolic lyric in which it began.

The field felt different then. Warmed and flattened by a body. The shade and storm of having been present is how we annihilate the sequence leading to now. I’m not sure if this body is mine.

Which is to say I am tired of poets describing nature in the correlative sense.

A stranger handed me a narrative of my life, and another made of stone.

I whittled a symbol in the shape of my body and handed it back.

Wrong. Imprecise. I am more fragile than the narcissist who lives in a glass dustbowl with her selfies. Sparrow-lipped alone with her followers mortally following.

This morning the city smelled of a brush-fire seventy miles away and I felt a pang of uncertainty followed by grief and it is chiefly for this reason that I cannot clearly communicate with animals or men.

Why is it only now that we smell that distant burning.

When I say stone do I mean a rock in a prettier pretense. Will the stone kill less against the temple. If I say the word that was done to me then I will become the act that was done to me.

I want love in the eating season, the white sun to whittle my body from prosecco flutes into the negation of bodily needs.

Progression broke down into figurines long ago. I cheated the fat out of progress to snuff out progress and look at my city, just look at it.

At night I fall asleep with my teenager scene still in my head, and its brutality coaxes me away, apart, into a capsule of safety.

Grandma Willendorf showers with me under her legs the next morning. I taste her residue, tarry nectar of her hovering belly.

I wanted to write this empty, disavowed of the tweets of universal pangs.

Disavowed again of my fumbling history. Forget forget forgetting.

Now as always it is difficult for us to see smoke without the interpretation of fire following after.

I read one detail of drone warfare in which its victims curse the clear sky, the blue coming from space down as a killing target, the drone’s narcissism needing the closeness of its shadow. Its bodily needs.

I’ve reviewed the terms of this contract and removed all maudlin clauses, all the melodramas of my finite skins. Now only the rock queens remain. The word no. No.

A helicopter razes the weather, fogged and becalm of smoke. My city snuffed in a bright modern weather, snuffed in a weather with no trigger in sight.