Perishable Gods

David Koehn

The road at noon, at dark, the mustard field, the field.
The dark barn door, a brown horse behind a white fence
—blindfolded, the white greenhouse, stone’s empty gate.
Inhale of air conditioner, hinge of the door, the moon.

Last Turnout

Lori White

It only took three days before the sheriff knocked on the hood of the van. Darryl nudged Tess awake, then pressed a finger to her lips before she could complain.

Arctium Lappa

Marco Wilkinson

I remember that my aunt’s backyard (the one where rows of corn and towers of tomatoes always grew in ordered abundance) when I was only three or four years old dropped off past the chain link fence, a precipitous cliff of fine sand molded by rains into colorless lava flows. And in the distance the half-constructed houses. The concrete foundations like swimming pools.

Meditation on Narrative, Dogma, and Flight

Jeff Gundy

My people are not natural storytellers.

Ask my father for a story, he’s still trying to get it going
when all the boys have drifted off to the kitchen.

Still, I want the reader as far inside of my skin as possible,
no matter the difficulties. . . .

The Cleverness of Crows

Kerry Ryan

My career as a parasite began in the womb. Mama was hospitalised because I took so much of her blood. When I was born, she ran out of milk and a wet nurse was hired from the village. After a month, the nurse could do no more and recommended her cousin. She too admitted defeat.…

Toward Being Of: Chris Martin’s Becoming Weather

Daniel Poppick

“Disequilibrium,” the first poem in Chris Martin’s Becoming Weather, challenges the conventional wisdom that a fabled fair-and-balanced stillness is the default setting of the human world, one we artificially disrupt with thought and language, one we could return to if only everyone would drink a warm glass of milk and put on a Norah Jones album. …

The Scream

Robert Lowell

A scream, the echo of a scream,
now only a thinning echo . . .
As a child in Nova Scotia, I used to watch the sky,
Swiss sky, too blue, too dark.

All About Skin

Xu Xi

I went to Derma the week before Christmas to buy an american skin. I was apprehensive because Derma’s expensive and doesn’t allow trade-ins. But their salesman gave me credit on pretty generous terms, and let me take it away the same day, which made me feel good.…

Lucky

Stefanie Wortman

The staggered line of teeth pushing back toward
their original chaos, the bracelets of condensation
left on tables, cameos of chipped pottery, clothes
turning into moth-lace and a lace of broken threads.…

On Influence: Starting and Stopping Cracks

Greg Gerke

Why not stand up straight for art? Rainer Maria Rilke’s older lover, Lou Andreas-Salomé, cared greatly about his relation to words and made him improve his handwriting, urging the poet to take control of everything in his life before communing…

“Go Quotiently”: Contemporary British Poetry from Shearsman

G. C. Waldrep

To read much contemporary British verse is—for an American poet—a dreary, disheartening affair. Vast swaths of careful prosody retailed by the major houses (especially Faber) run the gamut from the quotidian to the banal by way of the Minor Epiphany—which in practice is virtually indistinguishable from the Minor Disappointment—and the occasional turn of Audenesque wit, deprived of Auden’s wild and unpredictable ear.…

Dust; Interior Shot

Marjorie Stelmach

Dust

Inquire of the dust its component parts.

       beauty, brevity, blur.

Ask why the light can so easily lift it.

       hearts’ chambers, the torn
       legs of arachnids, broken bits of cricket wings . . .

weekend-readsLeft Leg, Just Above the Knee

Jason Lee Brown

Life would be livable if I could relieve this inner pull to amputate my left leg. Nothing wrong with the leg, but I’m incomplete with four limbs. It’s hard to share when your urge grows into obsession, then beyond, where thoughts of an amputated left leg equal the butterflies of budding sex. …

Chaesa

John Patrick Bishop

Hyun-ae’s family stayed on after most of the village had fled south. They weren’t sympathizers like the other holdouts. One year before, they’d brought Father’s body home from the tuberculosis ward and orphanage run by Catholic priests in Kwangju. …

The Servant of Two Masters

Amit Majmudar

Reflections on the Poem and the Novel

The poem makes the self strange. The novel makes strangers familiar.

Both the poem and the novel are tasked with rendering their subjects at once larger-than-life and lifelike. The poem begins with the larger-than-life and narrows it. The novel begins with the lifelike and expands it.

California State of Mind

Eric Weinstein

There’s a long tradition in poetry of psychological and emotional life taking on geographical elements—that is, the interior mirroring the exterior, and vice versa—and one that is specific to the borderland, the periphery, of California. Jennifer Denrow’s California continues this particular tradition, writing into the same space enlivened by poets like Robert Hass, Harryette Mullen, and Gary Snyder.…

Garden in Nazareth

Meena Alexander

In memory of Taha Muhammad Ali, 1931-2011

Already birds are flying into your garden,
Lark and quail, sand in their wings.

The garden is in front, the desert is not far.
Somewhere a bus is burning.

Sleeping Giant

Ashleigh Pedersen

Tonight you find out there is a Peeping Tom prowling your neighborhood. Your neighbor Mrs. Chong, a tiny black-eyed woman who reminds you of a beetle, calls your parents with the news. When your mother hangs up with a roll of her eyes you beg her to explain what’s going on—what secret she knows.…

Aaron Hibbs Attempts to Break the World Record for Hula Hoop

Paula Carter

Official hula hoop marathon rule number one: The record is for continuous revolution of a hula hoop.

Aaron Hibbs works as a janitor. He grew up in Sandusky, Ohio, loves lasagna, studied etymology, and hula hoops. Sometimes for hours, sometimes until his legs swell up, sometimes until he can’t remember if he is shifting from right to left or left to right.…

Muscular Heaps: Yván Yauri’s Fire Wind

Dan Rosenberg

The title of Peruvian poet Yván Yauri’s second book, Viento de fuego, could be translated literally as Wind of Fire. For this translation, Yauri’s first into English, Marta del Pozo and Nicholas Rattner decided on Fire Wind—the punchier, less melodramatic, more suggestive option.…

Daredevil; Sabbatical

Michael Ryan

Daredevil

Although he’s only seven, you can pick him out
from other first-graders: he’s the one wearing
a smirk that says, “What are you afraid of?”
maybe also to himself, if he already suspects his fear
won’t ever be crushed no matter what he does.

The Change

James Dickey

Blue, unstirrable, dreaming,
The hammerhead goes by the boat,
Passing me slowly in looking.

He has singled me out from the others;
He has put his blue gaze in my brain.
The strength of creation sees through me:

Sign up for Our Email Newsletter