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.
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.
“I spend all day in my office, reading a poem / by Stevens, pretending I wrote it myself,” the poem “Perfect Reader,” which appears roughly in the middle of Mary Ruefle’s Selected Poems, begins.
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.
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. . . .
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.…
I can picture Lia Purpura standing stock-still in the middle of Grand Central Station or Times Square, examining with unmitigated concentration a leaf or a cicada or even a washer, an item she has told interviewers she collects on walkabouts. …
“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. …
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.
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.…
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.…
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…
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.…
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 . . .
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. …
Kids run. Not like you and I run—measured, paced, with a grimace. They run voluntarily, racing to the car, up the stairs, to the corner and back. When they run they smile, they yell.…
Ted Berrigan—the poet best known for catalyzing the so-called second-generation New York School of poetry in the 1960’s and 70’s—writes more about Pepsi than any poet I’ve read:…
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. …
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.
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.…
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.
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.…
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.…
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.…
The first and last words of Jeffrey Yang’s new book, Vanishing-Line, are “place”: the first poem is called “Place” and the book closes with a quotation from Robert Duncan on place.…
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.
brand-new, still sealed in plastic wrap,
pile them in the back of the truck.
The dip bulges from L Ts lip and I imagine
The Dead Girls Speak in Unison
We’ll tell you
what a corpse is.
It’s a girl
with her shoes
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: