Saturday, June 8, 2019

Navel by Robin Coste Lewis

We crawled out of her navel
one by one, then waited
until we were all here.
That lucid moment when
the last wet child learned to stand,
we began walking.
We walked slowly.
We took some time.
We took more than that.
When we began to grow
hungry, some offered to turn
themselves into animals.
Smiling, they said, Here, eat me.
Others turned into water, rivers, trees.
Some turned themselves to dirt
so we could walk a path. We crept
toward the edges, clawed and crawled to the top
of the world, and there we clung.
Instead of a mouth, a woman
spoke through a vibrant yellow
bill. Sometimes we visited the man
on the moon. Sometimes he let us
inside his house. Sometimes
his transparent hollow wife would dance.
Later, when people asked us,
Where did you come from?
We could only answer water.
A whole language comprised
of just one word. We walked
onto the water. We built houses
on the water. We had babies
on the water. We sewed clothes
made of water with needles made of ice.
The night so constant
changed us. The planets
taught us a vocabulary
without any alphabet.
The trees began to walk.
At night, the ocean glowed
green from underneath.
Our roofs were made of whale
ribs, our lamps were stone
that burned clear oil. And now
I’ve turned my face into this page
so we could sit here together again.

Friday, June 7, 2019

French Novel by Richie Hofmann

French Novel

You were my second lover.
You had dark eyes and hair,
like a painting of a man.
We lay on our stomachs reading books in your bed.
I e-mailed my professor. I will be absent
from French Novel due to sickness. You put on
some piano music. Even though
it was winter, we had to keep
the window open day and night, the room was so hot, the air so dry
it made our noses bleed.
With boots we trekked through slush for a bottle of red wine
we weren’t allowed to buy, our shirts unbuttoned
under our winter coats.
The French language distinguishes
between the second
of two and the second
of many. Of course
we’d have other lovers. Snow fell in our hair.
You were my second lover.
Another way of saying this:
you were the other,
not another.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Genesis by Mary Ruefle


Oh, I said, this is going to be.
And it was.
Oh, I said, this will never happen.
But it did.
And a purple fog descended upon the land.
The roots of trees curled up.
The world was divided into two countries.
Every photograph taken in the first was of people.
Every photograph taken in the second showed none.
All of the girl children were named And.
All of the boy children named Then.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

For Chiara by Rosanna Warren

For Chiara
Leaves crackle beneath our feet—tinder, kindling—
as we walk by the brook, the crab-apple tree
a crimson pointilliste nimbus.
You want to hold each wounded soul in your hands.
Autumn flares. The damaged, the human berserk,
find their way to you. I don’t know how you sleep.
In the Gorgon’s blood, one drop is poison, the other heals.
Fevered autumn, autumn I adore
croons an old song. We stroll the road
scuffing dust. And come upon
a garter snake lying motionless,
its tail, we guess, nicked by a passing car.
When we nudge it, it flips to its back in an agonized S,
squirms, but can’t advance. Its belly gleams.
We edge it into the grass. Do we stop seeing
when we walk away? The brook prattles on.
Home’s far off. Dusk settles, slowly, among leaves.
That’s not mercy, scattering from its hands.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Joint Effort by Amit Majmudar

Joint Effort

             Let the hunchback lie hump down
upon the Bactrian camel. On that snug foundation
let the leper stand tiptoe, balancing
the cripple’s cane on his nose, while the cripple,
upside down, balances atop the cane, index finger
on the hook handle. Let the cripple’s legs scissor
and interlock with the gymnast’s, whose chalked hands
should support the flat-footed orangutan.
Let the orangutan be trained beforehand
to hold a dead veteran overhead, the body draped.
On the veteran’s shoulders and hips let the retiree
align the rubber-nubbin feet of his walker
and, standing tall, wear a hard hat with a flagpole
coming off it, atop that flagpole a circus elephant,
one leathery foot planted, the body rocking back.
On the top curve of that elephant’s S-shaped trunk
let the seal lie arching its back, on its whiskery snout
a beach ball that looks like a globe, spinning.
Let the five-star general clap his hands on that beach ball.
You know he wants to. Let him do a handstand on it.
Feet on his feet, let the poet turning clockwise
support a fruit bat on his head, and let that fruit bat
in turn support a larger fruit bat, between whose ears
should rest the toe of the ballerina’s vertical left shoe.
Let the ballerina hold the stepladder steady.
At this point, the tower will have crossed the cloud cover;
the shelf should be in view, and what is kept upon the shelf.
Now let the child skip school. Let the child
climb the tower to its tippy top and place her hand
inside the jar and bring the cookies to earth.