from We Were There When Jazz Was Invented

Joy Harjo

copyright ©2015 by Joy Harjo



I have lived 19,404 midnights, some of them in the quaver of
   fish dreams
And some without any memory at all, just the flash of the
 jump
From a night rainbow, to an island of fire and flowers – such
 a holy
Leap between forgetting and jazz. How long has it been
 since I called you back?
After Albuquerque with my baby in diapers on my hip; it
 was a difficult birth,
I was just past girlhood slammed into motherhood. What a
 bear.

Beyond the door of my tongue is a rail and I’m leaning over
 to watch bears
Catch salmon in their teeth. That realm isn’t anywhere near
 Los Angeles. If I dream
It all back then I reconstruct that song buried in the muscle
 of urgency. I’m bereft
In the lost nation of debtors. Wey yo hey, wey yo hey yah
 hey. Pepper jumped
And some of us went with him to the stomp. All night,
 beyond midnight, back
Up into the sky, holy.

Scorched Maps

Mira Rosenthal, translated from the Polish written by Tomasz Rózycki

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



I took a trip to Ukraine. It was June.
I waded in the fields, all full of dust
and pollen in the air. I searched, but those
I loved had disappeared below the ground,

deeper than decades of ants. I asked
about them everywhere, but grass and leaves
have been growing, bees swarming. So I lay down,
face to the ground, and said this incantation –

you can come out, it’s over. And the ground,
and moles and earthworms in it, shifted, shook,
kingdoms of ants came crawling, bees began
to fly from everywhere. I said come out,

I spoke directly to the ground and felt
the field grow vast and wild around my head.

Mountain Pine Beetle Suite – II. summer: mating season

Chantal Gibson

copyright ©Chantal Gibson 2019



the female plays house    between
the bark & the sapwood    she is
hard-wired for love    in the phloem
her scent on the walls    she rubs
her Avon wrists together    & waits

the male finds her intoxicated    they
make love    under the trees    legs be-
come arms    hands grow fingers    nails
scratch    tiny love notes    in the bark

summer is short here    little time
for courtship in the North:    the cold-
blooded retreat to the woods    veins
pumped with antifreeze    the female
bores deeper    into the sapwood    she
drags her smokes    & her big belly    up
the tree    carves her birthing chamber
and her coffin with her teeth

from Liquid Flesh

Brenda Shaughnessy

copyright ©2012 by Brenda Shaughnessy



I’ve been melted into something
too easy to spill. I make more
and more of myself in order

to make more and more of the baby.
He takes it, this making. And somehow
he’s made more of me, too.

I’m a mother now.
I run to the bathroom, run
to the kitchen, run to the crib

and I’m not even running.
These places just scare up as needed,
the wires that move my hands

to the sink, to the baby,
to the breast are electrical.
I’m in shock.

One must be in shock to say so,
as if one’s own state is assessable,
like a car accident or Minnesota taxes.

A total disaster, this sack of liquid
flesh which yowls and leaks
and I’m talking about me

not the baby. Me, this puddle
of a middle, this utilized vessel,
cracked hull, divine

design. It’s how it works. It’s how
we all got here. Deform
following the function . . .

But what about me? I whisper
secretly and to think,
around these parts used to be

the joyful place of sex,
what is now this intimate
terror and squalor.

My eyes burned out at three a.m. and again
at six and eleven. This is why the clock
is drowning, as I said earlier.

I’m trying to explain it.
I repeat myself, or haven’t I already?
Tiny self, along with a tiny self.

I’ll say it: he hurt me, this new
babe, then and now.
Perhaps he always will,

though thoughts of the future
seem like science fiction novels
I never finished reading.

Liverpool Disappears for a Billionth of a Second

Paul Farley

copyright ©Paul Farley 2006



Shorter than the blink inside a blink
the National Grid will sometimes make, when you’ll
turn to a room and say: Was that just me?

People sitting down for dinner don’t feel
their chairs taken away/put back again
much faster than that trick with tablecloths.

A train entering the Olive Mount cutting
shudders, but not a single passenger
complains when it pulls in almost on time.

The birds feel it, though, and if you see
starlings in shoal, seagulls abandoning
cathedral ledges, or a mob of pigeons

lifting from a square as at gunfire,
be warned, it may be happening, but then
those sensitive to bat-squeak in the backs

of necks, who claim to hear the distant roar
of comets on the turn – these may well smile
at a world restored, in one piece; though each place

where mineral Liverpool goes wouldn’t believe
what hit it: all that sandstone out to sea
or meshed into the quarters of Cologne.

I’ve felt it a few times when I’ve gone home,
if anything, more often now I’m old,
and the gaps between get shorter all the time.

from mantra of no return

Kaie Kellough

copyright ©2019 by Kaie Kellough



the rainforest is a mixing board with infinite inputs and infinite outputs.
exponential root strata. riotous snakes. quarter-inch jacks & heads. male /
female. holes and plugs. slithering, electric water. liana cables. bloodvine is a
wire entering, plugging arrival in. line. current will be routed through the
circuit. i am an overproof, alcoholic signal, outbursts clipping. the levels
runneth. hover. kaieteur’s torrents kiskadee over. crackle & bloom in the
woofer. georgetown bubbles & skanks tougher. smoke thunder. the old chief
in the canoe gone to his mythmaker. makunaima overlooker. el dorado lover.
destroyer. high wine drifter. black & brown in the fever together. mix it darker.
mix it redder. babylon haunting the jungle swelter.     a tear, amber.
rupununi resistor, a decible louder. turn up the hemisphere. boost the mighty
rainforest’s canopy into the stratosphere. exceed ire. essequibo deliverer.
many rivers branch & spiel, spell black across the atlantic. liquid archive
parser. the wires crisscross & the curve is logarithmic. turn the dial on the
mix. haunt the tidalectic. run the console. channel one channel check. spin the
tape, magnetic. warble & flutter. wow & static. increase the gain ’til we overdrive
the terrific. boo. boom a lick. boost the lower end, swell the lower end, theorize
the lower end, occupy the lower end, the 99%, the apocalytic fundamental
fretting in the bass lean, the nothingness become boeing, becoming

          a body, a continental jut
       a density of times past
          an assemblage of others who are you, a being made of beings

Abundance

Louise Glück

copyright ©2009 by Louise Glück



A cool wind blows on summer evenings, stirring the wheat.
The wheat bends, the leaves of the peach trees
rustle in the night ahead.

In the dark, a boy’s crossing the field:
for the first time, he’s touched a girl
so he walks home a man, with a man’s hungers.

Slowly the fruit ripens—
baskets and baskets from a single tree
so some rots every year
and for a few weeks there’s too much:
before and after, nothing.

Between the rows of wheat
you can see the mice, flashing and scurrying
across the earth, though the wheat towers above them,
churning as the summer wind blows.

The moon is full. A strange sound
comes from the field—maybe the wind.

But for the mice it’s a night like any summer night.
Fruit and grain: a time of abundance.
Nobody dies, nobody goes hungry.

No sound except the roar of the wheat.

Homage to Gaia / At Ursula’s

Derek Mahon

copyright ©Derek Mahon 2008



A cold and stormy morning
I sit in Ursula’s place
and fancy something spicy
served with the usual grace

by one of her bright workforce
who know us from before,
a nice girl from Tbilisi,
Penang or Baltimore.

Some red basil linguine
would surely hit the spot,
something light and shiny,
mint-yoghurty and hot;

a frosty but delightful
pistachio ice-cream
and some strong herbal
infusion wreathed in steam.

Once a tomato sandwich
and a pint of stout would do
but them days are over.
I want to have a go

at some amusing fusion
Thai and Italian both,
a dish of squid and pine-nuts
simmered in lemon broth,

and catch the atmospherics,
the happy lunchtime crowd,
as the cold hand gets warmer
and conversation loud.

Boats strain at sea, alas,
gales rattle the slates
while inside at Ursula’s
we bow to our warm plates.

from Return from London

Sarah Riggs, translated from the French by Etel Adnan

copyright ©2019 by Etel Adnan / English translation © 2019 by Sarah Riggs



light blinds the animals. they
await the night, she is more likely their
messiah than ours

I went out to see the sea from my terrace.
it looked at me. I understood that
I mustn’t launch myself into
its fierce waves

put out your lights before going to sleep.
the sun kissed you, leaving
burns on your face. it
returned to its solitude