the witch has told you a story :: ana leavell haymon

You are food.
You are here for me
to eat. Fatten up,
and I will like you better.

Your brother will be first,
you must wait your turn.
Feed him yourself, you will
learn to do it. You will take him

eggs with yellow sauce, muffins
torn apart and leaking butter, fried meats
late in the morning, and always sweets
in a sticky parade from the kitchen.

His vigilance, an ice pick of   hunger
pricking his insides, will melt
in the unctuous cream fillings.
He will forget. He will thank you

for it. His little finger stuck every day
through cracks in the bars
will grow sleek and round,
his hollow face swell

like the moon. He will stop dreaming
about fear in the woods without food.
He will lean toward the maw
of   the oven as it opens

every afternoon, sighing
better and better smells.

Advertisements

cognitive deficit market :: joshua corey

She has forgotten what she forgot
this morning: her keys, toast in the toaster blackening
the insides of beloved skulls, little planetariums
projecting increasingly incomplete
and fanciful constellations: the Gravid
Ass, the Mesozoic Cartwheel, the Big
Goatee, the Littlest Fascist. Outside her window
a crowd gathers, seething in white confusion
like milk boiling dry in a saucepan—some
lift fingers to point this way and that
with herky-jerky certainty but
they’re standing too close for all
those flying hands so that eyeglasses and hats
fall—apologies inaudible, someone hands
a fist, the brawl overwhelms the meager traffic
of pedicabs and delivery trucks stacked high
with rotting lettuce. Meanwhile above it all
she’s setting out the tea things: ceramic cup and saucer,
little pewter spoon, pebbled iron pot, a slice
of Sara Lee. Waiting to remember
to turn the radio on, listen for the elevator, for
the lock to turn or a knock
on the door. In a little while she’ll put everything
away in the same configuration
at the bottom of a clean white sink
with its faucet dripping.
We who watch this, half-turned away already
toward sunny gardens or the oncoming semi—
being not the one dead but not exactly alive either.
The skin is a glove that wrinkles as it tightens.
The cerebellum’s the same. A game
of chess between walking sticks—I mean the insects
made up to resemble wood. I say we dissemble
from photos and repetition
our stakes in these weightless names.

ashes :: paula meehan

The tide comes in; the tide goes out again
washing the beach clear of what the storm
dumped. Where there were rocks, today there is sand;
where sand yesterday, now uncovered rocks.

So I think on where her mortal remains
might reach landfall in their transmuted forms,
a year now since I cast them from my hand
—wanting to stop the inexorable clock.

She who died by her own hand cannot know
the simple love I have for what she left
behind. I could not save her. I could not
even try. I watch the way the wind blows
life into slack sail: the stress of warp against weft
lifts the stalling craft, pushes it on out.

piano, new york :: julia kasdorf

Anywhere, like Idaho, women like our aunts
would save quarters in cups or sell pies
to buy one like this. They’d put it in a parlor
for hymns and rub it with lemon oil each week,
but here an old piano comes with the apartment,
and no one will pay movers to hoist
the beast out the window on ropes.
We think we’ve no choice but to saw into its side
that shines like the side of a horse.
We save the real ivory keys in shopping bags
and yank out the rack of purple felt mallets.
Behind it all is a harp, tall as the whole piano
and sprayed with gold. When wing nuts are loosened,
the strings twang then hang slack. We stop
for a moment, then rasp through its frame
with hacksaws and drag the thing, piece by piece,
down three flights of stairs to the street
where people walking by recognize—
just from its insides—a piano.

the scalpel :: william matthews

They’d stunned me groggy with Demoral and bland
assurances, but I could see it: a dour adolescent scythe.
100…I’d hate to meet that 99 tad when it grows to 98
up. And here’s what else I saw: my glowing corpse

amidst a huddle of apprentice docs—this is a teaching
hospital I’ve died in. Of course I can’t hear a word
they’re saying. “Let him be a lesson to you?” “What did
he do to be so black and blue?” I’m now curriculum

to them, but to the scalpel I’m the sweetest dream
that labor knows. And to myself? I’m like a dwindling
star. I watch the energy leap off me in tarry blobs
and writhing spurts of flame. How can they stand so close?

So this is what I came to, this last pyrotechnic dither.
The last imploding gleam of me winks out, reflected
by the scalpel. That’s a nice touch, I think, that mortal
flashbulb fading, first on the blade, then on the retina.

cook :: jane hirshfield

Each night you come home with five continents on your hands:
garlic, olive oil, saffron, anise, coriander, tea,
your fingernails blackened with marjoram and thyme.
Sometimes the zucchini’s flesh seems like a fish-steak,
cut into neat filets, or the salt-rubbed eggplant
yields not bitter water, but dark mystery.
You cut everything into bits.
No core, no kernel, no seed is sacred: you cut
onions for hours and do not cry,
cut them to thin transparencies, the red ones
spreading before you like fallen flowers;
you cut scallions from white to green, you cut
radishes, apples, broccoli, you cut oranges, watercress,
romaine, you cut your fingers, you cut and cut
beyond the heart of things, where
nothing remains, and you cut that too, scoring coup
on the butcherblock, leaving your mark,
when you go
your feet are as pounded as brioche dough.

poetry considered :: carl sandburg

1. Poetry is a projection across silence of cadences arranged to break that silence with definite intentions of echoes, syllables, wave lengths.

2. Poetry is an art practiced with the terribly plastic material of human language.

3. Poetry is the report of a nuance between two moments, when people say, ‘Listen!’ and ‘Did you see it?’ ‘Did you hear it? What was it?’

4. Poetry is a tracing of the trajectories of a finite sound to the infinite points of its echoes.

5. Poetry is a sequence of dots and dashes, spelling depths, crypts, cross-lights, and moon wisps.

6. Poetry is a puppet-show, where riders of skyrockets and divers of sea fathoms gossip about the sixth sense and the fourth dimension.

7. Poetry is a plan for a slit in the face of a bronze fountain goat and the path of fresh drinking water.

8. Poetry is a slipknot tightened around a time-beat of one thought, two thoughts, and a last interweaving thought there is not yet a number for.

9. Poetry is an echo asking a shadow dancer to be a partner.

10. Poetry is the journal of a sea animal living on land, wanting to fly the air.

11. Poetry is a series of explanations of life, fading off into horizons too swift for explanations.

12. Poetry is a fossil rock-print of a fin and a wing, with an illegible oath between.

13. Poetry is an exhibit of one pendulum connecting with other and unseen pendulums inside and outside the one seen.

14. Poetry is a sky dark with a wild-duck migration.

15. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable.

16. Poetry is any page from a sketchbook of outlines of a doorknob with thumb-prints of dust, blood, dreams.

17. Poetry is a type-font design for an alphabet of fun, hate, love, death.

18. Poetry is the cipher key to the five mystic wishes packed in a hollow silver bullet fed to a flying fish.

19. Poetry is a theorem of a yellow-silk handkerchief knotted with riddles, sealed in a balloon tied to the tail of a kite flying in a white wind against a blue sky in spring.

20. Poetry is a dance music measuring buck-and-wing follies along with the gravest and stateliest dead-marches.

21. Poetry is a sliver of the moon lost in the belly of a golden frog.

22. Poetry is a mock of a cry at finding a million dollars and a mock of a laugh at losing it.

23. Poetry is the silence and speech between a wet struggling root of a flower and a sunlit blossom of that flower.

24. Poetry is the harnessing of the paradox of earth cradling life and then entombing it.

25. Poetry is the opening and closing of a door, leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment.

26. Poetry is a fresh morning spider-web telling a story of moonlit hours of weaving and waiting during a night.

27. Poetry is a statement of a series of equations, with numbers and symbols changing like the changes of mirrors, pools, skies, the only never-changing sign being the sign of infinity.

28. Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes.

29. Poetry is a section of river-fog and moving boat-lights, delivered between bridges and whistles, so one says, ‘Oh!’ and another, ‘How?’

30. Poetry is a kinetic arrangement of static syllables.

31. Poetry is the arithmetic of the easiest way and the primrose path, matched up with foam-flanked horses, bloody knuckles, and bones, on the hard ways to the stars.

32. Poetry is a shuffling of boxes of illusions buckled with a strap of facts.

33. Poetry is an enumeration of birds, bees, babies, butterflies, bugs, bambinos, babayagas, and bipeds, beating their way up bewildering bastions.

34. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.

35. Poetry is the establishment of a metaphorical link between white butterfly-wings and the scraps of torn-up love-letters.

36. Poetry is the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.

37. Poetry is a mystic, sensuous mathematics of fire, smoke-stacks, waffles, pansies, people, and purple sunsets.

38. Poetry is the capture of a picture, a song, or a flair, in a deliberate prism of words.

Nine Tentative (First Model) Definitions Of Poetry

1. Poetry is a projection across silence of cadences arranged to break that silence with definite intentions of echoes, syllables, wave lengths.

2. Poetry is the harnessing of the paradox of earth cradling life and then entombing it.

3. Poetry is a series of explanations of life, fading off into horizons too swift for explanations.

4. Poetry is a sky dark with a wild-duck migration.

5. Poetry is a search for syllables to shoot at the barriers of the unknown and the unknowable.

6. Poetry is a packsack of invisible keepsakes.

7. Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made and why they go away.

8. Poetry is the achievement of the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.

9. Poetry is the capture of a picture, a song, or a flair, in a deliberate prism of words.

(via, via)

 

I have a difficult time telling which version of this article/poem is definitive. From what I can tell (not having access to the primary sources), it seems like the first incarnation was an article called “Poetry Considered” in The Atlantic Monthly (vol. 131, 1923, pages 342-343). Then, the 38 “definitions” were republished in Good Morning, America (1928), perhaps as the opening poem? Years later, Sandburg selected and re-numbered 9 of the “definitions”, and published them in Harvest Poems (1960), as “Nine Tentative (First Model) Definitions Of Poetry”. Finally, people on the internet seem to have cherry-picked 10 of their own favorites, and labeled the poem “Ten Definitions Of Poetry, by Carl Sandburg”, but it doesn’t seem like those particular ones were ever selected and titled as such by the author.