scrub jays :: ishmael reed

Free as a bird
You wish
Grounded
And cross old man
Glaring from the
Kitchen window
As I stab my beak into
The choice apples at
The top of your tree
You can ball your fists
All you want
You can grit your
Plastic teeth
But there’s nothing that
You can do about it

What good are apples
To old men, anyway
You have lost your bite
You have run out of
Ladders to climb

Your ultrasonic solar-powered
Animal repellent
The Honda among dissuaders
Might rid your garden of
The capo cats, but
The bandit raccoons
Figured out that one
Within 48 hours

Getting rid of one pest
Only invites others
You’re in your 70s
And haven’t learned that

Now that the coast
Is clear, our entire
Family can fly in
I know
We are warble-less
We are born thieves
We’ll steal an acorn
From a woodpecker

We’ve beat you out
Of your harvest
We, who are not the decorous
Fluorescent song bird of your
Dreams

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a night fragrance :: w. s. merwin

Now I am old enough to remember
people speaking of immortality
as though it were something known to exist
a tangible substance that might be acquired
to be used perhaps in the kitchen
every day in whatever was made there
forever after and they applied the word
to literature and the names of things
names of persons and the naming of other
things for them and no doubt they repeated
that word with some element of belief
when they named a genus of somewhat more than
a hundred species of tropical trees and shrubs
some with flowers most fragrant at night
for James Theodore Tabernaemontanus
of Heidelberg physician and botanist
highly regarded in his day over
four centuries ago immortality
might be like that with the scattered species
continuing their various evolutions
with the flowers opening by day or night
with no knowledge of bearing a name
of anyone and their fragrance if it
reminds at all not reminding of him

bomb crater sky :: lam thi my da

They say that you, a road builder
Had such love for our country
You rushed out and waved your torch
To call the bombs down on yourself
And save the road for the troops

As my unit passed on that worn road
The bomb crater reminded us of your story
Your grave is radiant with bright-colored stones
Piled high with love for you, a young girl

As I looked in the bomb crater where you died
The rain water became a patch of sky
Our country is kind
Water from the sky washes pain away

Now you lie down deep in the earth
As the sky lay down in that earthen crater
At night your soul sheds light
Like the dazzling stars
Did your soft white skin
Become a bank of white clouds?

By day I pass under a sun-flooded sky
And it is your sky
And that anxious, wakeful disc
Is it the sun, or is it your heart
Lighting my way
As I walk down the long road?

The name of the road is your name
Your death is a young girl’s patch of blue sky
My soul is lit by your life

And my friends, who never saw you
Each has a different image of your face

tonight no poetry will serve :: adrienne rich

Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon’s eyelid

later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping
elsewhere

Tonight I think
no poetry
will serve

Syntax of rendition:

verb pilots the plane
adverb modifies action

verb force-feeds noun
submerges the subject
noun is choking
verb      disgraced      goes on doing

now diagram the sentence

in memoriam (May 16, 1929 – March 27, 2012)

h1n1 :: robyn schiff

God knows how our neighbors manage to breathe.
No one is allowed
to touch me

for infection is a hazard of mercy
I will not transmit
as Legion transcribed from the mouth

of Error into his body
and sent into a herd of swine
who sent it to the sea

who’s been trying to return
to earth since creation
and nearly succeeds every day.

I just took my temperature.
98 degrees. I am better than healthy.
I am cooling even as earth

heats, even as it meets the sea
further inland and negotiates
distance from increasingly

disadvantaged position. I
am cooling because nothing
touches me.

Others may go to the petting zoo
and country fair
but don’t even tell me what they touch

there. I’m taking my temperature again;
my thermometer is digital and pink
and its beep is my name

being read from the book of life,
which is available on Kindle
and allows me to avoid the public library

but contains peculiar punctuation
errors and is transcribed by
evangelists while they wait

in line at gates you can’t see from here. 98.5.
Still cooler than life. I have another
glass of water, and feel you turning in me,

my little book, flipping over and over,
it’s time for bed little sow, little sow.
The book of death is open on my bedside

table and is called The Pregnancy
Countdown, and contains “advice from the
trenches” about how to level

the enemy the body.
It’s time for bed, little bee, little bee. I open my window
and find ten dead between the pane and the screen

which apparently has tears big enough
to enter and I leave them in state
in a pile and watch

the wind lift their
mighty wings in deathly
aspiration. It is the beginning

of flu season, Rosh Hashanah.
Every tear is recorded. I say tear
to rhyme with the chair by my window,

not tear to rhyme with the fear of God
here at the Fair of God
where the just

leer at the milk cow
and brush up against
captivity and slaughter

in the name of zoonosis
and the vector. Nothing touches me,
little scale, little scale

I will not be meted I will
not give the mosquito
her share even though the blood meal

is all she has to nurture her eggs
and mother to mother I hear
her flight even as she’s drawn

to my breath by fate and nature,
which are one and as interchangeable
as babies in soap operas. Dangerous angel,

I will not lie down
with the lamb who is
contagious. I will not

hear your name recalled for I
have not named you and fear
tempers my love of the letters

of this world which are as
pins through the body
while the wings flail, but I

will not fail to meet you
when you get here
with your shadow

attached and your
failure a promise
entering the success

of your first breath. On what
grounds, on what faith,
dare we aspire

together where Legion
hears the ventilator
and enters the wire?

read the q & a

variations on a passage in edward abbey :: robert hass

A dune begins with an obstacle—a stone, a shrub, a log,
anything heavy enough to resist being moved by wind.

This obstacle forms a wind shadow on its leeward side,
making eddies in the currents, now fast, now slow, of the air,

exactly as a rock in a stream causes an eddy in the water.
Within the eddy the wind moves with less force and less velocity

than the airstreams on either side, creating what geologists call
the surface of discontinuity. And it is here that the wind

tends to drop part of its load of sand. The sand particles,
which hop or bounce along the earth before the wind,

begin to accumulate,
        creating a greater eddy in the air currents
and capturing still more sand.
                                            It’s thus a dune is formed.

Viewed in cross section, sand dunes display a characteristic profile.
On the windward side the angle of ascent is low and gradual—

twenty to twenty-five degrees from the horizontal. On the leeward side
the slope is much steeper, usually about thirty-four degrees—

the angle of repose of sand and most other loose materials.
The steep side of the dune is called the slip face
                                                                        because of the slides
that occur as sand is driven up the windward side
and deposited on or just over the crest.
                                                        The weight of the crest
eventually becomes greater than can be supported by the sand beneath,
so the extra sand slumps down the slip face
                                                                and the whole dune
advances in the direction of the prevailing wind, until some obstacle
like a mountain intervenes.
                                        This movement, this grand slow march
across the earth’s surface, has an external counterpart in the scouring
movement of glaciers,
                                    and an internal one in the movement of grief
which has something in it of the desert’s bareness
and of its distances.

text messages :: jordan davis

A wave of love for you just knocked me off my chair

I will love you and love you

I will reach out my hand to you in the noise of carhorns and merengue and pull you close by the waist

I will call you my museum of everything always

I will call you MDMA

I love you ecstatic exalted sublime

I wish you were here—there’s an enormous cloud sitting off in the distance

It’s a beautiful walk from there to my place

I’m buzzing but the buzzer may not be working

There’s a raccoon rearing on hind legs twitching its nose from behind a short fence

Let me stew you some tomatoes

As long as I keep moving the overtones don’t jackhammer my skull

I am waiting for something very very good

My phone is like, what, I’m a phone