garden :: h. d.


You are clear
O rose, cut in rock,
hard as the descent of hail.

I could scrape the colour
from the petals
like spilt dye from a rock.

If I could break you
I could break a tree.

If I could stir
I could break a tree—
I could break you.


O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air—
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat—
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.

spare parts :: trish dugger

We barge out of the womb
with two of them: eyes, ears,

arms, hands, legs, feet.
Only one heart. Not a good

plan. God should know we
need at least a dozen,

a baker’s dozen of hearts.
They break like Easter eggs

hidden in the grass,
stepped on and smashed.

My own heart is patched,
bandaged, taped, barely

the same shape it once was
when it beat fast for you.

a book said dream and I do :: barbara ras

There were feathers and the light that passed through feathers.

There were birds that made the feathers and the sun that made the light.

The feathers of the birds made the air soft, softer

than the quiet in a cocoon waiting for wings,

stiller than the stare of a hooded falcon.

But no falcons in this green made by the passage of parents.

No, not parents, parrots flying through slow sleep

casting green rays to light the long dream.

If skin, dew would have drenched it, but dust

hung in space like the stoppage of

time itself, which, after dancing with parrots,

had said, Thank you. I’ll rest now.

It’s not too late to say the parrot light was thick

enough to part with a hand, and the feathers softening

the path, fallen after so much touching of cheeks,

were red, hibiscus red split by veins of flight

now at the end of flying.

Despite the halt of time, the feathers trusted red

and believed indolence would fill the long dream,

until the book shut and time began again to hurt.

what the deaf long to hear :: peggy shumaker

We might have predicted,
those of us who eavesdrop
every day on the world

desire to listen
to a daughter’s fetal heartbeat,
or the practical

need to know
when to shift
to a higher gear.

Even the Moonlight
, wanting
notes of music to fall

into a life ghostly
as reflections from deep
in space. But would we ever

have thought
that on this earth
someone aches

to know for herself
the rest of the story
wind tells birch trees,

the syntax
of the splitting
maul, wrenched

out of chainsawed rounds,
the voice of fire
as it casts its spell

on cold skin,
of popcorn,

how to know
when anything is

ready, done.
Someone aches
to know

what clue
tells others
she’s hungry

for the difference
in sound when surf
breaks, when a heart

lurches, when water heals
after swallowing
a diver.


sonnet v :: mahmoud darwish

translated by fady joudah

I touch you as a lonely violin touches the suburbs of the faraway place
patiently the river asks for its share of the drizzle
and, bit by bit, a tomorrow passing in poems approaches
so I carry faraway’s land and it carries me on travel’s road

On a mare made of your virtues, my soul weaves
a natural sky made of your shadows, one chrysalis at a time.
I am the son of what you do in the earth, son of my wounds
that have lit up the pomegranate blossoms in your closed-up gardens

Out of jasmine the night’s blood streams white. Your perfume,
my weakness and your secret, follows me like a snakebite. And your hair
is a tent of wind autumn in color. I walk along with speech
to the last of the words a bedouin told a pair of doves

I palpate you as a violin palpates the silk of the faraway time
and around me and you sprouts the grass of an ancient place—anew

in the old days a poet once said :: ko un

In the old days a poet once said
our nation is destroyed
yet the mountains and rivers survive

Today’s poet says
the mountains and rivers are destroyed
yet our nation survives

Tomorrow’s poet will say
the mountains and rivers are destroyed
our nation is destroyed and Alas!
you and I are completely destroyed

turtle :: kay ryan

Who would be a turtle who could help it?
A barely mobile hard roll, a four-oared helmet,
she can ill afford the chances she must take
in rowing toward the grasses that she eats.
Her track is graceless, like dragging
a packing-case places, and almost any slope
defeats her modest hopes. Even being practical,
she’s often stuck up to the axle on her way
to something edible. With everything optimal,
she skirts the ditch which would convert
her shell into a serving dish. She lives
below luck-level, never imagining some lottery
will change her load of pottery to wings.
Her only levity is patience,
the sport of truly chastened things.

Addendum: enjoy her reading it aloud

aubade: some peaches, after storm :: carl phillips

So that each
is its own, now–each has fallen, blond stillness.
Closer, above them,
the damselflies pass as they would over water,
if the fruit were water,
or as bees would, if they weren’t
somewhere else, had the fruit found
already a point more steep
in rot, as soon it must, if
none shall lift it from the grass whose damp only
softens further those parts where flesh
goes soft.

There are those
whom no amount of patience looks likely
to improve ever
, I always said, meaning
gift is random,
assigned here,
here withheld–almost always
as it’s turned out: how your hands clear
easily the wreckage;
how you stand–like a building for a time condemned,
then deemed historic. Yes. You
will be saved.

you made crusty bread rolls… :: gary johnson

You made crusty bread rolls filled with chunks of brie
And minced garlic and drizzled with olive oil
And baked them until the brie was bubbly
And we ate them thoughtfully, our legs coiled
Together under the table And then salmon with dill
And lemon and whole-wheat cous cous
Baked with garlic and fresh ginger, and a hill
Of green beans and carrots roasted with honey and tofu.
it was beautiful, the candles and linens and silver,
The winter sun setting on our snowy street,
Me with my hand on your leg, you, my lover,
In your jeans and green T-shirt and beautiful feet.
     How simple life is. We buy a fish. We are fed.
     We sit close to each other, we talk and then we go to bed.

untitled [the more I go, the harder it becomes to return] :: jennifer denrow

The more I go, the harder it becomes to return. To anywhere. There is no one at the ocean this morning. I walked by the campsites and smelled eggs and pancakes. And there were sweet Oregon cherries and watermelon. I wonder if I can go back—what purpose there would be in it—or in any other thing? There’s something expensive both ways. Yesterday a woman told me to get a tide schedule and if the people refused to give it to me, I had to insist. She usually gets hers from the Hilton but I don’t know where that is so I just imagine the schedule. There is a tide. I can tell that much about anything. What’s before me, what isn’t. How it got there is a mystery involving only itself—I have no part in that, none at all—my job remains in the thing as it is in the moment it’s before me, having left all of its other places, having come this far to show up at all.

the orange balloon :: kate gale

An orange balloon floats against the sky
let go by a small boy’s hand
the hand is unimportant here
it is the balloon on which our happiness depends
or is it the sky?
vast untended full and empty
clouds way too much feeling
but is isn’t the sky where our eye rests
it’s the small box of blue space
around the orange balloon
the space in which the balloon
moves wallows breathes
this box of blue is your space we say
it defines you
and the clouds drift sideways
the drifting takes years
it takes forever

what the dog perhaps hears :: lisel mueller

If an inaudible whistle
blown between our lips
can send him home to us,
then silence is perhaps
the sound of spiders breathing
and roots mining the earth;
it may be asparagus heaving,
headfirst, into the light
and the long brown sound
of cracked cups, when it happens.
We would like to ask the dog
if there is a continuous whir
because the child in the house
keeps growing, if the snake
really stretches full length
without a click and the sun
breaks through clouds without
a decibel of effort,
whether in autumn, when the trees
dry up their wells, there isn’t a shudder
too high for us to hear.

What is it like up there
above the shut-off level
of our simple ears?
For us there was no birth cry,
the newborn bird is suddenly here,
the egg broken, the nest alive,
and we heard nothing when the world changed.

a nation’s strength :: ralph waldo emerson

for Japan

What makes a nation’s pillars high
And it’s foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires passed away;
The blood has turned their stones to rust,
Their glory to decay.

And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
Has seemed to nations sweet;
But God has struck its luster down
In ashes at his feet.

Not gold but only men can make
A people great and strong;
Men who for truth and honor’s sake
Stand fast and suffer long.

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.

outliving the lyric moment :: leslie adrienne miller

Angel and muse escape with violin and compass; the duende wounds.
—Federico García Lorca

I didn’t expect to escape. I’ve stepped out of planes
into Madrid and Bangkok, Prague and Seoul,
each time a solo in a world that was, if not cruel,
supremely indifferent to the fact of my breath.

I loved where I could, did not imagine my mouth
without light, fish at home in my bluest wells.
I went in a stalk of pure wanting that knows
there’s no getting, and collected tiny lemons

of joy when they ripened in reach of a window
in Vence where I happened also on tangles
of grapes fallen and trodden on the road to the sea.
I plucked green stones from Spanish sand, wore

the white hibiscus for a day behind my ear
where it softened with rot in a pattern of etch.
In Andalusia the wine is new and ruby, breath
and aroma the tools of being in places where days

are paid out like so many queens on obsolete
coins. Now, not suddenly, but after long balance
of what there is against what might or might never be,
the never-was has dared to love me back.

So it was death all along who stood in the ferry
with his dirty blonde hair and bright nylon pack,
but I never imagined he’d be so young
as he slung the pack, leapt to the shore

and never looked back for me. That’s why
my flesh loves me today. There are salt and heat
and a body of bread, new if not endless, and a rumor
if not news of the future. It dies as it lived, the idea

of duende, a proximity, a song we don’t necessarily
need in a land of snow and icy green lakes where
the weather’s a tomb and the lover’s strong thigh
is white and marvelous as marble, a throne

on which I suppose I could sit and grow handsomely old.

rain :: edward thomas

Rain, midnight rain, nothing but the wild rain
On this bleak hut, and solitude, and me
Remembering again that I shall die
And neither hear the rain nor give it thanks
For washing me cleaner than I have been
Since I was born into solitude.
Blessed are the dead that the rain rains upon:
But here I pray that none whom once I loved
Is dying tonight or lying still awake
Solitary, listening to the rain,
Either in pain or thus in sympathy
Helpless among the living and the dead,
Like a cold water among broken reeds,
Myriads of broken reeds all still and stiff,
Like me who have no love which this wild rain
Has not dissolved except the love of death,
If love it be towards what is perfect and
Cannot, the tempest tells me, disappoint.

stars wheel in purple :: h. d.

Stars wheel in purple, yours is not so rare
as Hesperus, nor yet so great a star
as bright Aldeboran or Sirius,
nor yet the stained and brilliant one of War;

stars turn in purple, glorious to the sight;
yours is not gracious as the Pleiads are
nor as Orion’s sapphires, luminous;

yet disenchanted, cold, imperious face,
when all the others blighted, reel and fall,
your star, steel-set, keeps lone and frigid tryst
to freighted ships, baffled in wind and blast.

basket of figs :: ellen bass

Bring me your pain, love. Spread
it out like fine rugs, silk sashes,
warm eggs, cinnamon
and cloves in burlap sacks. Show me

the detail, the intricate embroidery
on the collar, tiny shell buttons,
the hem stitched the way you were taught,
pricking just a thread, almost invisible.

Unclasp it like jewels, the gold
still hot from your body. Empty
your basket of figs. Spill your wine.

That hard nugget of pain, I would suck it,
cradling it on my tongue like the slick
seed of pomegranate. I would lift it

tenderly, as a great animal might
carry a small one in the private
cave of the mouth.

that everything’s inevitable :: katy lederer

That everything’s inevitable.
That fate is whatever has already happened.
The brain, which is as elemental, as sane, as the rest of the processing universe is.
In this world, I am the surest thing.
Scrunched-up arms, folded legs, lovely destitute eyes.
Please insert your spare coins.
I am filling them up.
Please insert your spare vision, your vigor, your vim.
But yet, I am a vatic one.
As vatic as the Vatican.
In the temper and the tantrum, in the well-kept arboretum
I am waiting, like an animal,
For poetry.

the laughter of women :: lisel mueller

The laughter of women sets fire
to the Halls of Injustice
and the false evidence burns
to a beautiful white lightness

It rattles the Chambers of Congress
and forces the windows wide open
so the fatuous speeches can fly out

The laughter of women wipes the mist
from the spectacles of the old;
it infects them with a happy flu
and they laugh as if they were young again

Prisoners held in underground cells
imagine that they see daylight
when they remember the laughter of women

It runs across water that divides,
and reconciles two unfriendly shores
like flares that signal the news to each other

What a language it is, the laughter of women,
high-flying and subversive.
Long before law and scripture
we heard the laughter, we understood freedom.

she is awakened by a hair :: kim dower

She’s awakened by a hair in her mouth.
It’s not enough to kill her, no
that would take a locomotive crashing
through her window, a train way off track

thundering through her bedroom,
the moon on its back,
simply a hair
stuck to the roof of her mouth,

her tongue working to pry it loose.
Whose hair is it, anyway?
Is it the same hair she saw
floating in the bowl of vanilla gelato

she ate before bed?
Could it be this hair belonged
to that mechanic she once knew—
they made out on the carousel swan,

kissed til their lips bled—surely
a hair or two had been dislodged,
might have settled inside the cave
of her throat, only to resurface as a wish?

Is it possible the hair was placed
in her mouth by a higher power,
a mysterious donor, to remind her
that dreams are fleeting, even in sleep? No.

No. She realizes this is the same strand
she twisted ’round her tongue
one night when she was young,
sitting straight up in bed,

shadows from her closet
moving in beside her, as she slowly
closed the knot making a promise to herself
she still struggles to forget.

i google myself :: mel nichols

I Google myself
I want you to love me
When I feel down
I want you to Google me
I search myself
I want you to find me
I Google myself
I want you to remind me

I don’t Google anybody else
When I think about you
I Google myself
I don’t Google anybody else
At home alone in the middle of the night
I Google myself

I Google myself
And see you before me
Any fool could see
Just how much I Google myself
Get down on your knees &
Friend me and Poke me

I don’t Google anybody else
When I think about you
I Google myself
Ooh I don’t Google anybody else
At home alone in the middle of the night
I Google myself
and I like what I see
Oh oh oh oh I can’t stop Googling myself
1,690,000 results for Googling myself
When I haven’t Googled myself for a while
You’re the sun who makes me shine
I’m one of millions who constantly Google themselves
I want to make you mine
I don’t Google anybody else
And when I think about you I Google myself
Ooh, ooh, oo, oo ahh

snapshot :: dorothy terry

Snow falls on frost-seared grass,
Ore boats slice ice; silty water flows downstream.

Belching stacks rob air of air,
And steaming river bears waste to Cincinnati.

Your name limned on a crumbling headstone
Traced lightly on yellowing Kodak film.

You — a gathering of genes,
Their imperfections cleansed by careful selection.

A hundred years of cropping out the extraneous,
Until your image disappears along with all the rest.

Mouth sewn shut; eyes shuttered, sealed with glue,
Veined hands loosely folded on sunken chest.

Tell me, now, you never felt a thing.

via poetrydispatch

on the origin of things :: troy jollimore

Everyone knows that the moon started out
as a renegade fragment of the sun, a solar
flare that fled that hellish furnace
and congealed into a flat frozen pond suspended
between the planets. But did you know
that anger began as music, played
too often and too loudly by drunken performers
at weddings and garden parties? Or that turtles
evolved from knuckles, ice from tears, and darkness
from misunderstanding? As for the dominant
thesis regarding the origin of love, I
abstain from comment, nor will I allow
myself to address the idea that dance
began as a kiss, that happiness was
an accidental import from Spain, that the ancient
game of jump-the-fire gave rise
to politics. But I will confess
that I began as an astronomer—a liking
for bright flashes, vast distances, unreachable things,
a hand stretched always toward the furthest limit—
and that my longing for you has not taken me
very far from that original desire
to inscribe a comet’s orbit around the walls
of our city, to gently stroke the surface of the stars.

zero holding :: robyn sarah

I grow to like the bare
trees and the snow, the bones and fur
of winter. Even the greyness
of the nunneries, they are so grey,
walled all around with grey stones —
and the snow piled up on ledges
of wall and sill, those grey
planes for holding snow: this is how
it will be, months now, all so still,
sunk in itself, only the cold alive,
vibrant, like a wire — and all the
busy chimneys — their ghost-breath,
a rumour of lives warmed within,
rising, rising, and blowing away.

venus transiens :: amy lowell

Tell me,
Was Venus more beautiful
Than you are,
When she topped
The crinkled waves,
Drifting shoreward
On her plaited shell?
Was Botticelli’s vision
Fairer than mine;
And were the painted rosebuds
He tossed his lady
Of better worth
Than the words I blow about you
To cover your too great loveliness
As with a gauze
Of misted silver?

For me,
You stand poised
In the blue and buoyant air,
Cinctured by bright winds,
Treading the sunlight.
And the waves which precede you
Ripple and stir
The sands at my feet.

remaking a neglected orchard :: nathaniel perry

It was a good idea, cutting away
the vines and ivy, trimming back
the chest-high thicket lazy years
had let grow there. Though it wasn’t for lack

of love for the trees, I’d like to point out.
Years love trees in a way we can’t
imagine. They just don’t use the fruit
like us; they want instead the slant

of sun through narrow branches, the buckshot
of rain on these old cherries. And we,
now that I think on it, want those
things too, we just always and desperately

want the sugar of the fruit, the best
we’ll get from this irascible land:
sweetness we can gather for years,
new stains staining the stains on our hands.

and the stars :: robinson jeffers

Perhaps you did not know how bright last night,
Especially above your seaside door,
Was all the marvelous starlit sky, and wore
White harmonies of very shining light.
Perhaps you did not want to seek the sight
Of that remembered rapture any more.—
But then at least you must have heard the shore
Roar with reverberant voices thro’ the night.

Those stars were lit with longing of my own,
And the ocean’s moan was full of my own pain.
Yet doubtless it was well for both of us
You did not come, but left me there alone.
I hardly ought to see you much again;
And stars, we know, are often dangerous.