syntax :: maureen n. mclane

and if
I were to say

I love you and
I do love you

and I say it
now and again

and again
would you say

parataxis
would you see

the world revolves
anew

its axis
you

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the blind old man :: robert bly

I don’t know why so much sweetness hovers around us.
Nor why the wind blows the curtains in the afternoons,
Nor why the earth mutters so much about its children.

We’ll never know why the snow falls through the night,
Nor how the heron stretches her long legs,
Nor why we feel so abandoned in the morning.

We have never understood how birds manage to fly,
Nor who the genius is who makes up dreams,
Nor how heaven and earth can appear in a poem.

We don’t know why the rain falls so long.
The ditchdigger turns up one shovel after another.
The herons go on stitching the heavens together.

We’ve never heard about the day we were conceived
Nor the doctor who helped us to be born,
Nor that blind old man who decides when we will die.

It’s hard to understand why the sun rises,
And why our children are mostly fond of us,
And why the wind blows the curtains in the afternoon.

via the writer’s almanac

toasting marshmallows :: kristine o’connell george

I am a careful marshmallow toaster,
a patient marshmallow roaster,
turning my stick oh-so-slowly,
taking my time, checking often.
This is art—
a time of serious reflection
as my pillowed confection
slowly reaches golden perfection.

My brother
           grabs ‘em with grubby hands
                     shoves ‘em on the stick
                               burns ‘em to a crisp
                                         cools ‘em off
                                                   flicks soot
                                                             eats quick.

I’m still turning my stick.
He’s already eaten six.

eating fried chicken :: linh dinh

I hate to admit this, brother, but there are times
When I’m eating fried chicken
When I think about nothing else but eating fried chicken,
When I utterly forget about my family, honor and country,
The various blood debts you owe me,
My past humiliations and my future crimes—
Everything, in short, but the crispy skin on my fried chicken.

But I’m not altogether evil, there are also times
When I will refuse to lick or swallow anything
That’s not generally available to mankind.

(Which is, when you think about it, absolutely nothing at all.)

And no doubt that’s why apples can cause riots,
And meat brings humiliation,
And each gasp of air
Will fill one’s lungs with gun powder and smoke.

asking too much? :: marin sorescu

translated by michael hamburger

‘Suppose that, to give a few lectures,
daily you had to commute
between Heaven and Hell:
what would you take with you?’

‘A book, a bottle of wine and a woman, Lord.
Is that asking too much?’

‘Too much. We’ll cross out the woman,
she would involve you in conversations,
put ideas into your head,
and your preparation would suffer.’

‘I beseech you, cross out the book,
I’ll write it myself, Lord, if only
I have the bottle of wine and the woman.
That’s my wish and my need. Is it too much?’

‘You’re asking too much.
What, supposing that daily,
to give a few lectures, you had
to commute between Heaven and Hell, would
you take with you?’

‘A bottle of wine and a woman,
if I may make so free.’
‘That’s what you wanted before, don’t be obstinate,
it’s too much, as you know. We’ll cross out the woman.’

‘What do you have against her, why do you persecute her?
Cross out the bottle rather,
wine weakens me, almost leaves me unable
to draw from my loved one’s eyes
inspiration for those lectures.’

Silence, for minutes
or an eternity.
Respite. In which to forget.

‘Well, suppose that to give
a few lectures you had to commute
daily between Heaven and Hell:
what would you take with you?’

‘A woman, Lord, if I may make so free.’
‘You’re asking too much, we’ll cross out the woman.’
‘In that case cross out the lectures rather,
cross out Hell and Heaven for me,
it’s either all or nothing.
Useless and vain my commuting would be between Heaven
and Hell.
How could I even begin to frighten and awe
those poor creatures in Hell –
without teaching aid, the woman?
How strengthen the faith of the righteous in Heaven –
without the book’s exegesis?
How endure all the differences
in temperature, light and pressure
between Heaven and Hell
if I have no wine
on the way
to give me a bit of courage?’

if it all went up in smoke :: george oppen

that smoke
would remain

the forever
savage country poem’s light borrowed

light of the landscape and one’s footprints praise

from distance
in the close
crowd all

that is strange the sources

the wells the poem begins

neither in word
nor meaning but the small
selves haunting

us in the stones and is less

always than that help me I am
of that people the grass

blades touch

and touch in their small

distances the poem
begins

night dive :: peggy shumaker

Plankton rise toward the full moon
spread thin on Wakaya’s surface.
Manta rays’ great curls of jaw
scoop backward somersaults of ocean
in through painted caves of their mouths, out
through sliced gills. Red sea fans
pulse. The leopard shark
lounges on a smooth ramp of sand,
skin jeweled with small hangers-on.
Pyramid fish point the way to the surface.

Ninety feet down, blue ribbon eels cough,
their mouths neon cautions.
Ghost pipefish curl in the divemaster’s palm.
Soft corals unfurl rainbow polyps, thousands
of mouths held open to night.
Currents’ communion—giant clams
slam shut wavy jaws, send
shivers of water. Christmas tree worms
snap back, flat spirals tight,
living petroglyphs against the night.