Hard Child

by Natalie Shapero



So I had two lists of names for a girl, so
what. The president’s allowed to
have two speeches, in case the hostage
comes home in a bag. The geese
in the metropark don’t want
for bread crumbs, despite the signs
proclaiming the land provides them all
they need. I was a hard child, by which
I mean I was callous from the start.
Even now, were I to find myself after
a grand disease or blast, among the pasty
scattering of survivors, there isn’t one
human tradition I would choose to carry
forward. Not marking feast days, not
assembling roadside shrines, not marrying
up, not researching the colloquialism
STATEN ISLAND DIVORCE, not
representing paste pearls as the real
things, not recounting how the advent
of photography altered painting,
soured us on the acrylic portrait, thrust us
toward the abstract, sent us seeking
to capture in oil that which film would
never be wasted on: umbrella stands,
unlovely grates, assorted drains, body casts.
I typically hate discussing the past
and treasure the option, rarer and rarer,
to turn from it, as when K’s twins
were born and one of them
nearly died — I don’t remember which,
that’s how much they got better.

from Vaporative

by Layli Long Soldier



However a light may come
through vaporative
glass pane or dry dermis
of hand winter bent
I follow that light
capacity that I have
cup-sized capture
snap-like seizure I
remember small
is less to forget
less to carry
tiny gears mini-
armature I gun
the spark light
I blink eye blink
at me to look
at me in
light eye
look twice
and I eye
alight
again.

Epistolary Correspondences

by Susan Howe



Before I was sent to Little Sir Echo I had an imaginary friend who lived in our Buffalo mailbox. His name was Mr. Bickle. When we moved to Cambridge he vanished as transitional objects tend to do although his name lives on as a family anecdote.

     Strange that one half-suffocated picnic in the course of life can disappear into Lake Armington’s hanging rock echo portals. Until the replication of love prevails in art and Periscope – one of Paul Thek’s late “picture-light” paintings, bubbles up from puddle blue depths

     So many things happen by bringing to light what has long been hidden. Lilting betwixt and between. Between what? Oh everything. Take your microphone. Cross your voice with the ocean.
     I’m here, I’m still American

from Heaven Is All Goodbyes

by Tongo Eisen-Martin



Father’s ashes on the back seat behind two sons

In a lane not for metaphor
Well, maybe a metaphor about something unfinished
-One million hands passing us through the Midwest

Last wishes by way of fishtail / Day dreams by way of collision /
   Home in the badlands of translation / Relaxed passing / Great
   grandparents’ finger bones / Father’s ashes / No longer arms /
   Just tattoos

Badlands imagination
Barreling
Translating
A father’s last trip home

We don’t know what else we good at besides this traveling

Exits in collage / Exits in pieces / Pieces of 1970s kitchen plates /
   In a good luck refrigerator / We still ain’t ate / The narcotic
   swing of how we see yesterday

Get out of the car against desperate white supremacy

b)

by Jordan Abel



he heard snatches of comment
going up from the river bank

all them injuns is people first
and besides for this buckskin

why we even shoot at them
and seems like a sign of warm

dead as a horse friendship
and time to pedal their eyes

to lean out and say the truth3
all you injuns is just white keys

The Fable of the Open Book

by Don Paterson



Once upon a time there was a book.
The book lay open to a page. The page
had a margin, and they shared a dirty look –
though the truth is they were practically engaged.
The page said roughly what it thought it should,
the margin said exactly what it wanted,
and all was grand. But one thing spoiled the mood
of the wee verge. ‘I’m so squished and tiny-fonted!
Why the hell should that guy hog the floor?
I’ll shove that silly bigmouth out the door!’
And soon the page was lying in the gutter.
Now it could weep and wail, and spit and splutter!
‘Time,’ the margin cried, ‘to make my mark!’
And suddenly it went completely dark.

First Flowers

by Hoa Nguyen



Wasps out of the birdhouse
for spring     my boys shook
    out the dead wasps

New fly west
New fly west

for spring? To sip it?
Little gatherings of birds

Why does this feel like weeping?
    (snowdrops)

My friends     we love

It is two kinds of lost
that I’m lost in

On Clear Nights

by Suzanne Buffam



At most two thousand stars
Can be seen with the naked eye from earth.

A difficult number to grapple with,
Too large and, on the other hand, too small.

A simple mathematical equation
May throw the problem into relief.

Consider a battlefield.
The fighting has ended

And the bodies lie still in the grass.
How many dead soldiers

Equal the sky overhead?

from Flagelliform 61: Tilted Away

by Shane Book



      1
I broke off the dangling shrub     and inserted it     above my ear.
Bent in at the belly     I sweated,     to fit     to try to fit.

      2
The dangling shrub     was bruised
It moved a little move     and Lady Song-of-Jamestown
said in my hear: Why     is broken.

      3
Spooked     I
leapt     a leafy thwart
into my thinking vessel     the aluminum canoe
and in my here said Lady Song-of-Jamestown:
“Why     its smelters long ago felled at The-Task-Is-
    Incomplete,     a falling
artist felling them     name of
The-Coriander-of-Mother-and-Child
who wears     crown of shells     partly concealing
a turban of layered light.”

      4
I stared straight ahead,     paddling
My canoe walls hung with barkcloth     a giant dentalium
and four figureheads in lignified paste     (We watching).

The ivory one, called     Tapping-Out-of-Time.
And the dark muscular one,     Below-the-Galleon-Decks.
And the remembered one named,     Palm-Thatch-Floor.
And the little one called,     Fruit-of-the-Distant-Weep
    (mothered black,     from sleeping).

      5
Lady Song-of-Jamestown     mending her fishnets
pulled the water-hook     from my hand.

Citation for Ken Babstock’s “Methodist Hatchet”

by Heather McHugh



Babstock is the live wire in the gene pool: stirring things up, rocking boats, disjoining easier conjunctions, jolting the culture’s DNA. From sea-and-skyscapes literally lettered, from the suspect core of our ‘décors? (‘lost heart’ informs that fashion’s stock and trade), he winds past mere mundanities to find the world again, with words for his divining wands. ‘Money’s the more virtual virtual,’ Babstock writes. ‘I don’t talk this way in Real Life.’ Cable-stitched by shopping channels, across northernmost America and more, desire is wired: With HGTV’s IV, or the PC’s ICU, we feed our merchandizing minds. ‘We bought this stuff,’ he says. Disclosure’s what he’s after, as wary of the cosy center as of the so-called cutting-edge. But get a load of those poetic closures: master craft in ‘Wikileaks and sea smoke’ weaving worlds of words together. Man of letters, he remarks the X’s on workmen’s safety vests; the V’s descending out of Gander, headed for the kind of down discounted in an Army-Navy store. A shapely mind will note the uppers, too; they’re cut with aspirin and talc. This guy is one ferocious logophile. A signature device, the ‘disconnected current gauge,’ trips all the switches: current cut off into currency – but also presents. It was ‘a gift,’ writes Babstock, with ‘its needle stilled between / ‘Reverse clips’ and ‘Start charge.’ Consult it / and it shivers on a hash mark.’ Thus, in a flash, the disused item (mere décor) becomes occasion for a gift: the wordsmith talent, not the dollar sign, with other hashes hinted, other hushes marked. The old and new worlds hackable in just one comprehensive stun, this shock of shiver to be had. Methodist Hatchet lets us have it. Thus do local gifts turn into global ones.