The Storm

by Mira Rosenthal, translating from the Polish by Tomasz Rózycki

copyright ©English Translation and Introduction Copyright © 2013 by Mira Rosenthal



At night three elements enjoy our bodies.
Fire, water, air. One moment you’re water
then air the next, but flame encircles all.
At night we are reduced, small bits of tar,

soot on our skins, in cups. A storm enters
the room and clouds the mirror. There are others
from far away who look on us as food,
they eat and drink. They find each orifice

and enter us. Our bodies then become
the final element of earth and turn
to ash, dust, coal, compost where insects live
and snails leave tracks you ask about at dawn.

Once, at the world’s end, I threw a stone into
the open mouth of hell; I can’t complain.

from He Sápa

by Layli Long Soldier

copyright ©2017 by Layli Long Soldier



Three

This is how you see me the space in which to place me
The space in me you see            is this place
To see this space       see how you place me in you
This is how to place you in the space in which to see

Click to enlarge the poem.

from He Sápa by Layli Long Soldier

from What No One Could Have Told Them

by C.D. Wright

copyright ©C.D. Wright, 2002



     Once he comes to live on the outside of her, he will not sleep
through the night or the next 400. He sleeps not, they sleep not.
Ergo they steer gradually mad. The dog’s head shifts another
paw under the desk. Over a period of 400 nights.

     You will see, she warns him. Life is full of television sets,
invoices, organs of other animals thawing on counters.

     In her first dream of him, she leaves him sleeping on Mamo’s
salt-bag quilt behind her alma mater. Leaves him to the Golden
Goblins. Sleep, pretty one, sleep.

     … the quilt that comforted her brother’s youthful bed, the
quilt he took to band camp.

     Huh oh, he says, Huh oh. His word for many months.
Merrily pouring a bottle of Pledge over the dog’s dull coat. And
with a round little belly that shakes like jelly.

     Waiting out a shower in the Border Cafe; the bartender
spoons a frozen strawberry into his palm-leaf basket while they
lift their frosted mugs in a grateful click.

     He sits up tall in his grandfather’s lap, waving and waving to
the Blue Bonnet truck. Bye, blue, bye.

     In the next dream he stands on his toes, executes a flawless
flip onto the braided rug. Resprings to crib.

     The salt-bag quilt goes everywhere, the one the bitch
Rosemary bore her litters on. The one they wrap around the
mower, and bundle with black oak leaves.

     How the bowl of Quick Quaker Oats fits his head.

     He will have her milk at 1:42, 3:26, 4 a.m. Again at 6. Bent
over the rail to settle his battling limbs down for an afternoon
nap. Eyes shut, trying to picture what in the world she has on.

     His nightlight – a snow-white pair of porcelain owls.

     They remember him toothless, with one tooth, two tooths,
five or seven scattered around in his head. They can see the day
when he throws open his jaw to display several vicious rows.

     Naked in a splash of sun, he pees into a paper plate the guest
set down in the grass as she reached for potato chips.

Spain, Take This Cup From Me

by Clayton Eshleman, translating from the Spanish by César Vallejo

copyright ©The Regents of the University of California



   Children of the world,
if Spain falls — I mean, it’s just a thought —
if her forearm
falls downward from the sky seized,
in a halter, by two terrestrial plates;
children, what an age of concave temples!
how early in the sun what I was telling you!
how quickly in your chest the ancient noise!
How old your 2 in the notebook!

   Children of the world, mother
Spain is with her belly on her back;
our teacher is with her ferules,
she appears as mother and teacher,
cross and wood, because she gave you height,
vertigo and division and addition, children;
she is with herself, legal parents!

   If she falls — I mean, it’s just a thought — if Spain
falls, from the earth downward,
children, how you will stop growing!
how the year will punish the month!
how you will never have more than ten teeth,
how the diphthong will remain in downstroke, the gold star in tears!
How the little lamb will stay
tied by its leg to the great inkwell!
How you’ll descend the steps of the alphabet
to the letter in which pain was born!

   Children,
sons of fighters, meanwhile,
lower your voice, for right at this moment Spain is distributing
her energy among the animal kingdom,
little flowers, comets, and men.
Lower your voice, for she
shudders convulsively, not knowing
what to do, and she has in her hand
the talking skull, chattering away,
the skull, that one with the braid,
the skull, that one with life!

   Lower your voice, I tell you;
lower your voice, the song of the syllables, the wail
of matter and the faint murmur of the pyramids, and even
that of your temples which walk with two stones!
Lower your breath, and if
the forearm comes down,
if the ferules sound, if it is night,
if the sky fits between two terrestrial limbos,
if there is noise in the creaking of doors,
if I am late,
if you do not see anyone, if the blunt pencils
frighten you, if mother
Spain falls — I mean, it’s just a thought —
go out, children of the world, go look for her!…

Common Book Pillow Book

by Priscila Uppal

copyright ©2006 by Priscila Uppal



Long enough since the genre was popular
we’ve forgotten what to call it: weird mix of quotes and collectibles, private
thoughts and uncensored meditations in brief, like locks of hair and
child height charts of your considerations
and ponderings. An abandoned art, you practise it with care: each quote
equal to the other, simple entries like coordinates of unmarked
appearances
in the sky – twenty years, over
8,000 days – the weather is “what you make of sunshine,” and only
women “can
make a man successful,” haven’t you heard
“God is the messenger, and we are all brothers and sisters,” organizations
of hate “must be fought with the ultimate crest: humanity,” and you
note a quote with a love reserved
for precision and the unattained, and I
suspend like cracked meteors in the ether
of your common message: go to bed, what is truly important in this world
has already been said.

“When people deserve love the least
is when the need it the most,” we are the axis
of cliche, “like mother like daughter,” sign your name
on this one before I turn out the light
and resume my interrupted prayer.

from Where do you feel?

by Donato Mancini

copyright ©2017 by Donato Mancini



in my eyes

 

 

in my face

 

 

in my voice

 

 

in my neck

 

 

in my throat

 

 

in my shoulders

 

 

in my heart

 

 

in my lungs

 

 

in my whole bloody body

 

 

in my social organs in general

 

 

in everywhere, flushing, sweating, pounding heart

 

 

in my collarbone and neck area

 

 

in my hands, tingling and prickling sensations

 

 

in my left shoulder blade, aches and pounds

 

 

in my stomach, and my back is paining too

 

 

in my arms, my arms feel big and heavy

 

 

from Skinned Alive

by Donald Nicholson-Smith, translating from the French by Abdellatif Laâbi

copyright ©English language copyright © Donald Nicholson-Smith, 2016



How easy the inquisitor’s questions are!
Compare them, he says, with the questions
I sometimes dare not ask myself:

What hidden tribe gave you gangrene?

Are you utterly untainted by power?

Have you broken all the mirrors?

From what weaknesses do you draw your strength?

What taboos govern your rectitude?

Why do you pay only lip service to the scope of your ignorance?

Do you not sometimes settle for a mere approximation of what you really wanted to say? Are you not sometimes annoyed by your own most righteous passions? Do you not sometimes tend to curse your fine reasons for living?

Are you not a little prone to play the martyr?

Three buildings make a tide

by Tongo Eisen-Martin

copyright ©2017 by Tongo Eisen-Martin



I do not regret the things I said to that wall
stories about hand ratios in brawls
and a hotel kitchen entrance killer
and steamboats where they dedicate their one-night stand to
   driftwood

While we look at all the pretty kingdoms floating
   over our tents
      While we get the surplus treatment

Don’t put your shoe on my shoulder
And call it a hand (one building makes a jail)

“that’s a lot of people for
only a little bit of commotion”

The bookshelf looks alive to me
Alive and my opposition (until the devil lets me go)

My sidekick is the bootlegger

I tied up our friend as soon as a couple rich people acted like they
cared about him

A painting of a sun watched me end lives

The point I was making began scaring other patrons in the pool hall

“who would name themselves after this city?”
– to which I reply, “the only woman for me.”

Calling my drug the scoundrel and cousin / an axe handle in its
   five minutes as a twin

Painting my walls with pieces of other walls

I wandered to the edge of the parking lot

Thirty-Seven

by Sue Goyette

copyright ©Sue Goyette, 2013



According to our scholars, the newly birthed Milky Way
was rhinestoned with souls, which proved the soul’s

existence. The lifeguards, when asked, said they’d tasted
the hard candy of the soul when they tried reviving

an ocean victim. But we’d always been suspicious of souls.
We knew they could escape because we often heard

their hooves, the slap of their tails. They’d wander off
at night and when we’d wake, we’d feel emptier,

our great finned souls swimming against the current
and further away. We’d cover our mouths when we laughed,

when we yawned. Once they broke out, souls were just a nuisance
to coax back. There was a trap of words the poets had sugared

and we’d take classes to learn how to enunciate without sounding
desperate. When they returned, we’d have to swallow our souls

like the pit of a plum or a vitamin. It could take several days
to feel enriched, to see the sky in the puddles again.

Gay Incantations

by Billy-Ray Belcourt

copyright ©2017 by Billy-Ray Belcourt



i fall into the opening between subject and object
and call it a condition of possibility.
when i speak only the ceiling listens.
sometimes it moans.
if i have a name
let it be the sound his lips make.
there is no word in my language for this.
sometimes my kookum begins to cry
and a world falls out.
grieve is the name i give to myself.
i carve it into the bed frame.
i am make-believe.
this is an archive.
it hurts to be a story.
i am the boundary between reality and fiction.
it is a ghost town.
you dreamt me out of existence.
you are at once a map to nowhere and everywhere.
yesterday was an optical illusion.
i kiss a stranger and give him a middle name.
i call this love.
it lasts for exactly twenty minutes.
i chase after that feeling.
which is to say:
i want to almost not exist.
almost is the closest i can get to the sky.
heaven is a wormhole.
i first found it in another man’s armpit.
last night i gave birth to a woman and named her becoming.
she is four cree girls between the ages of 10 and 14 from northern saskatchewan.
we are a home movie
i threw out by accident.
all that is left is the signified.
people die that way.