Anniversaries, End of August

by Russell Thornton

copyright ©Russell Thornton 2014

Anniversaries circle round again. My grandparents
marrying in the sun. The guests in their best attire.
The filled vaulted room. Then the clinking glasses.
Then the private rites of those who waited long.
It is there in the light. Light that is a window.
And is a mirroring seas for my grandmother
out in the sailing ship of her wedding dress. Her ashes.

Someone I loved dying alone. The month the wide frame
of her final leaving. It was also her birth month. Light
opens its window, and is window upon window.
Her living hair darkens beyond its living black.
That black is another light, no visible sun
burning in its origins but a dark transparency,
and it arrives like another her, again and again.

I too am a window. In August, two people
among the dead look out of it. They do not know
the window is me. And I am what a window can wish.
To open endlessly because it is light,
and because it is a mirror, let the silver erase itself
and arrive and wait flawless on the glass,
and darken, and erase itself, like life, like death.

Slow Black Dog

by David W. McFadden

copyright ©David W. McFadden 2007

Meditating in the back
of Jack’s green Volkswagen
rolling along Highway 2
east of Paris

I’m conscious only of the motion
of things speeding against me
on both sides of my head,
eyes closed, and a sudden braking

and a breaking of that dream.
I’m in a moving car among green hills
and cow grazings of the world,
motels, gas stations of Ontario

and a dog slowly walking across
into our speeding lane, a black dog,
and in tall grass at roadside, a boy,
waving his arms, screaming.

from The Dragon of History

by Fanny Howe

copyright ©2004 by Fanny Howe

I have seen it happen
A face with fangs and gills

represents history and an angel
is beating the beast on the back

Both are made of marble
One is a dragon

Its head is flat
like the iron tanks
in muddy water
that drove the men into the Gulf of Tonkin.

In my experience

the angel with his wings up
is trying to kill the dragon of history

to prove that air
is stronger than the objects in it

and if he wasn’t made of stone, he would.

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


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!

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
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?