Thursday, February 28, 2019

February by James Schuyler

A chimney, breathing a little smoke.
The sun, I can't see
making a bit of pink
I can't quite see in the blue.
The pink of five tulips
at five p.m. on the day before March first.
The green of the tulip stems and leaves
like something I can't remember,
finding a jack-in-the-pulpit
a long time ago and far away.
Why it was December then
and the sun was on the sea
by the temples we'd gone to see.
One green wave moved in the violet sea
like the UN Building on big evenings,
green and wet
while the sky turns violet.
A few almond trees
had a few flowers, like a few snowflakes
out of the blue looking pink in the light.
A gray hush
in which the boxy trucks roll up Second Avenue
into the sky. They're just
going over the hill.
The green leaves of the tulips on my desk
like grass light on flesh,
and a green-copper steeple
and streaks of cloud beginning to glow.
I can't get over
how it all works in together
like a woman who just came to her window
and stands there filling it
jogging her baby in her arms.
She's so far off. Is it the light
that makes the baby pink?
I can see the little fists
and the rocking-horse motion of her breasts.
It's getting grayer and gold and chilly.
Two dog-size lions face each other
at the corners of a roof.
It's the yellow dust inside the tulips.
It's the shape of a tulip.
It's the water in the drinking glass the tulips are in.
It's a day like any other.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

And Now Upon My Head the Crown by Phillip B. Williams

And Now Upon My Head the Crown

             In the first place—I wanted him and said so
when I had only meant to say. His eyes
opened beyond open as if such force would unlock me
to the other side where daylight gave reason 
for him to redress. 
                                           When he put on his shirt, 
after I asked him to keep it off, to keep putting off 
the night’s usual end, his face changed beneath 
the shirt: surprise to grin, to how even the body 
of another’s desire can be a cloak behind which 
to change one’s power, to find it.   

                                                                 In the first place
he slept, he opened the tight heat of me that had been 
the only haven he thought to give a name: 

Is-it-mine? Why-you-running? Don’t-run-from-it—as though
through questions doubt would find its way away from me,
as though telling me what to do told me who I was.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Female Masculinity by Wayne Koestenbaum

Female Masculinity
Two guys sucking each other in the steam room
didn’t want anything
to do with me, evidently—
I left them to their comedy.
Legato longings:
wish for walnuts, wish for water,
wish to exorcise this morning’s debauch—
two Fauré nocturnes.
In slow motion
Steve tussled with a motorcycle
trying to run me over
on the boulevard of moon smut
splicing together bridges
and lagoons, like the bride
of Frankenstein rushing
to overtake the inert
Real, a mass
of facts, some conjugal,
some comic—
contrapuntal tenebrae!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Heaven Is a Heavy House: Axe, Drawknife, Augur, Crosscut Saw by James Galvin

Heaven Is a Heavy House: Axe, Drawknife, Augur, Crosscut Saw

You fell the trees,
You limb them, peel them,
And skid them out.
You raise a heavy house
With heavy rooms,
A heavy loft.

A heavy wet snow
Falls in May,
Snows you in
For five days.

That snow makes new grass heavy,
And heavy with flowers.
There is a heaven
And you are alone in it—
Not even a voice
To talk to yourself in—

Just swerving memories
Of hope and fear
So lethally ephemeral—
A girl playing guitar
And horses in the yard.
You wait for the horse

That comes to your gate
With a bullet hole in his forehead.
He doesn’t want anything.
He stares at you,
Then wheels and gallops away,
Leaving you

In the heavy house
You made from life.
A heavy wet snow.
It’s like the floor of the sky
Fell out.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Becoming Ghost by Cathy Linh Che

Becoming Ghost
I stand behind a one-way mirror.
My father sits in a room
interrogating himself. Bright bulb
shining like the idea
of a daughter.  
It looked just like the real
thing. The helicopters, the fields,
the smoke which rose in colors,
the bullets blank, but too real.
Coppola yells Action and we
drag slowly across the back
of the screen, miniature
prisoners of war to Robert Duvall’s
broad, naked chest.
What you’ll never see
written into the credits
are our names.  
Ghost of a daughter:
specter, spectator, from a future
we can only dream of. We never
dreamt that one day, you’d be
my age and too bitter
to talk to me. I who gave
every peso to your mother,
who sewed coins into the linings
of my pockets, so that you could eat
enough food and grow taller than
either one of us. I am asking you
to look me in the face and say Father.
I am asking you to see me.  
Morning yawns and today,
my father has deleted a daughter, today,
he’s blessed with two sons
who take after his fire and quicksilver.
Today he may be haunted by the grip
of a friend who died in his arms,
but not the scent of a baby girl
he held 37 years ago. Women,
he says, and spits out a phlegm-
colored ghost. There is plasm,
he says, and shrugs–– and then,
there is ectoplasm. What is a father
who has two sons? Happy,
he replies with a toothpick pressed
between his thumb and forefinger. Happy,
he says, looking into the mirror
and seeing no reflection.