your hair of snakes and flowers :: hakan sandell

see notes by translator bill coyle

When I saw one of those men touch your hair,
I heard for the first time in many a year
the ancient battle trumpets and I saw
the banners of an army winding off to war
and felt that blind power urging me to knock
him out with one punch, send him tumbling to the floor.
If nobody had held me back, stopped me,
I would—God help me—have killed him on the spot,
stomped out his blood, and spit in it. I’m sorry,
but you must be aware your winding hair
is different now, a hornets’ nest, a snakes’ lair!
Yes, like a ball of snakes in a flower basket, dear.

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fireflies in the garden :: robert frost

Here come real stars to fill the upper skies,
And here on earth come emulating flies,
That though they never equal stars in size,
(And they were never really stars at heart)
Achieve at times a very star-like start.
Only, of course, they can’t sustain the part.

variations on a trance :: joanna klink

Robins in the cottonwoods,
holding still as the thin snow comes.
The sun seems to flood them with blood.
They have settled in the empty branches
while the storm-lamps spit in your limbs,
red evening swinging across the sky then dropping,
ragged, into your frame to stay with you
as you move and smile and have opinions.
Then a woman’s torso white with dawn—
their rich perch is yours, there is nothing you need
to expect or retrieve, like warm fields
floating toward an invisible moon.
A person learns stone-throated composures
and barters for days of calm weather,
like a man in a dream who understands the answering
pressure of eyes—you ask too much.
But the birds are not reckless.
Every minute their fat shapes are filling with sun,
and I apprentice myself to their candor.
Their bodies drift on the moving branches, solid—
they are not taking and keeping.
They are not torn papers in a rumor of wind,
their small backs brown fields holding thunderclouds up.
Inside their bodies, nothing falls to the earth and dies.

not writing :: anne boyer

When I am not writing I am not writing a novel called 1994 about a young
woman in an office park in a provincial town who has a job cutting and
pasting time. I am not writing a novel called Nero about the world’s richest
art star in space. I am not writing a book called Kansas City Spleen. I am
not writing a sequel to Kansas City Spleen called Bitch’s Maldoror. I am not
writing a book of political philosophy called Questions for Poets. I am not
writing a scandalous memoir. I am not writing a pathetic memoir. I am not
writing a memoir about poetry or love. I am not writing a memoir about
poverty, debt collection, or bankruptcy. I am not writing about family
court. I am not writing a memoir because memoirs are for property owners
and not writing a memoir about prohibitions of memoirs.

When I am not writing a memoir I am also not writing any kind of poetry,
not prose poems contemporary or otherwise, not poems made of frag-
ments, not tightened and compressed poems, not loosened and conversa-
tional poems, not conceptual poems, not virtuosic poems employing many
different types of euphonious devices, not poems with epiphanies and not
poems without, not documentary poems about recent political moments,
not poems heavy with allusions to critical theory and popular song.

I am not writing “Leaving the Atocha Station” by Anne Boyer and certain-
ly not writing “Nadja” by Anne Boyer though would like to write “Debt”
by Anne Boyer though am not writing also “The German Ideology” by
Anne Boyer and not writing a screenplay called “Sparticists.”

I am not writing an account of myself more miserable than Rousseau.
I am not writing an account of myself more innocent than Blake.

I am not writing epic poetry although I like what Milton said about lyric
poets drinking wine while epic poets should drink water from a wooden
bowl. I would like to drink wine from a wooden bowl or to drink water
from an emptied bottle of wine.

I am not writing a book about shopping, which is a woman shopping.
I am not writing accounts of dreams, not my own or anyone else’s.
I am not writing historical re-enactments of any durational literature.

I am not writing anything that anyone has requested of me or is waiting
on, not a poetics essay or any other sort of essay, not a roundtable re-
sponse, not interview responses, not writing prompts for younger writers,
not my thoughts about critical theory or popular songs.

I am not writing a new constitution for the republic of no history.
I am not writing a will or a medical report.

I am not writing Facebook status updates. I am not writing thank-you
notes or apologies. I am not writing conference papers. I am not writing
book reviews. I am not writing blurbs.

I am not writing about contemporary art. I am not writing accounts of
my travels. I am not writing reviews for The New Inquiry and not writ-
ing pieces for Triple Canopy and not writing anything for Fence. I am not
writing a daily accounting of my reading, activities, and ideas. I am not
writing science fiction novels about the problem of the idea of the au-
tonomy of art and science fiction novels about the problem of a society
with only one law which is consent. I am not writing stories based on

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s unwritten story ideas. I am not writing online dat-
ing profiles. I am not writing anonymous communiqués. I am not writing
textbooks.

I am not writing a history of these times or of past times or of any future
times and not even the history of these visions which are with me all day
and all of the night.

hospital parking lot :: terri kirby erickson

Headscarf fluttering in the wind,
stockings hanging loose on her vein-roped
legs, an old woman clings to her husband

as if he were the last tree standing in a storm,
though he is not the strong one.

His skin is translucent—more like a window
than a shade. Without a shirt and coat,

we could see his lungs swell and shrink,
his heart skip. But he has offered her his arm,
and for sixty years, she has taken it.

horned toads :: richard schiffman

If they were about a thousand times bigger,
no one would think them cute anymore;
their unswerving reptilian stare might appear
life-threatening rather than goofy and endearing.
As it is, their antediluvian rock-like posture,
leathery dorsal spines, ashen-scaled underbelly,
general lack of elan vital, not to mention ambition,
good looks and animal magnetism, disqualify them
from the World Wildlife Fund’s list of charismatic species.
Still, they soldier on with all the squat charm of armored
vehicles hunched between a bayonet yucca and a mountain sage
awaiting lunch, or to become some raptor’s lunch–
whatever the next roll of the Darwinian dice ordains.
Poster children of the food chain, they never complain,
just do their lizard pushups, swivel turret heads– then wait.
The toughest muscle in their body is the heat-seeking missile
of the tongue. If you mess with horned toads, they’ll spit blood
in your eyes. With two pinholes for ears, they can hear an ant
scurry from a foot away. Dust-colored, cold-blooded, gumby boy
pterodactyls from the bottom of nature’s cracker jack box
hugging their square inch in the sun.