Monday, October 17, 2011

NEW! Poem by Micah Bateman

Micah Bateman


ONE


One starves, one
Activates a cigarette.
Outside the bush
Of limbs billowing: a
Mime’s glove.
One leaves, one
Selects a glossy
From a selection
Of glossies, hand
Deliberate, printless.
One’s eye dissects
The room like
Cut fruit, one
Swells like a pear
In the serpent’s
Unhinged entry, one
Streaks a blind flash,
One cringes, one’s
Mouth ejects
A deluge of grain,
Cascading brown
Gestalt of particles
Only discernible
By the lightning’s
Quick crack, rescission
Of verbs bonded
To nouns, plucked right
Out of the loop, one
Blowing a bubble, entering
It, only to wave
Goodbye, only to
Meet the wall’s
Ballistic exactitude.
A crop circle is stitched
Radian by radian
Into the mown rows
Of pasture, cows
Given over to the
Chore of sleep
And dream, of what?,
One wonders, flicking
Her toe too relentlessly
To answer one.

Monday, October 10, 2011

NEW! Poem by Stephanie Ann Whited

Stephanie Ann Whited


IT STARTS IN THE BELLY

I am losing prayers to these eardrums. In a whale
stomach that needs a scrubbing. A good detox. No
more shellfish for this fiend who just opens his mouth
taking in any old thing that comes along. I
dream the ark teeters on the precipice

of embargo. How about
some Palmolive to shiny

the hull? I hear
the figs have eyes

to rest on laurels
made of patent pig
skin and red #
40.

I spy something black and white and radioactive

All over.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

NEW! 3 poems by Douglas Piccinnini

Douglas Piccinnini


WILDLIFE

my green is my green”
and trending
and huge

woodlings porch
the ordinary forces

and caked w fur
and seasoned

the water beads
around my leathery beak.

Let’s not think about
breaking let’s not break
anymore of my things.



SERVING THE HEAD

Only smooth channeling.
Only soothing annuals
to ear the way.
Which that I see

tingling fury
so possessive following
doubling becoming.

All the states
throat up.

All the coin towers
tooth down.



PLAY

Por love of noon
cracks the grape
feeds the sky
pours its plain young
explaining on everything.

In the thistle I hear
wind coming too

maudlin wind
so full and filling.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

NEW! Poem by Kyle Booten

Kyle Booten


POOLSCAPE



You've heard about the order of the waves,



established many years ago by boys



and girls disguised as boys.  Wholly artless,



they plied the crests barehanded.



You've heard about their hands, but have not touched



or been touched, else you too would be clean



and constant, governed by the distant sun



or its viceroy umbrellas.  In their shade



you saw many people alive with sugar.



Every person is made of water; so



every person is, or could be, a radio,



a rudimentary song harvester



with no search-dial, bleating random tunes



or static.  I trust you've heard of static,



that place where songs surge and overlap.



Half-graveyard, half-battleground,



it grows more crowded every summer.



Songs have to go somewhere, after all.



They can't seek asylum in the future.



You've heard about the future, or even



leaned against it once, unawares,



mistaking it for a chain-link fence.

Monday, July 25, 2011

NEW! 2 poems by Sara Femenella

Sara Femenella


MARY SHELLEY

The second moon inflated like a lung,
naïve, organic, a quickstep’s heathered
horizon, peals of astral-ardor sung
above the noir, numinous she weathered

that storm, thank you. So arresting and how
it hurt when it hurt. The gathering gale
of father, redshift Tuesday on the prowl.
An off-key, minor diatonic scale,

a daughter’s parlor trick, she lay muttered
bone-cold in a watery tableau, bloom
affliction mulled and wooly, kill shuttered
away in two blue chambers, fears flood and flume

the ruins. The gamine’s keen and boozy urge
limns motherless aesthete, autumnal dirge.




THE STORY OF THE EGG


Born an arctic circle of cautious
physics, it’s a closed system of calcified
brides and orphans, chitinous and whistling
northern lights. It is Oedipal, sanctified,
a black wing slick with membrane.
If a palacial city, handsomely baroque,
dressed in snow, twinkling with carriages
and holiday parties, then it is the waltz,
the stroke of midnight, the glittering
champagne. Love doesn’t have
to be real. It’s the actual abstraction
of call and response, the soloist’s standing ovation,
the flowers at the door. If every biography’s
unsung accolade and greatest mythology
glows amber in a coal dark,
wreathed in ideology, then it is the proverb,
a disciple to Petrarch’s descent, the Laura,
kneeling in a curved prayer.
What gratitude that every confession,
every hunger, every mistake
from this one small thing, and that you can hold it,
organic, opaque, cool and weighty in the palm
of your hand.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

reading period closes next week

VERSE remains open to submissions until next Friday, July 15.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NEW! another David Bartone

David Bartone

The Prince’s Downfall Involved Li Po in a Second Exile



The trouble with being good at courting patrons.

The prince’s downfall involved Li Po in a second exile, though they spoke of it an excursion.



The fall has now entered fog fall as a way to help Li Po understand himself, which he accepts.

He’ll be back by Indian summer.



Exile: drink, write nothing until Indian summer.

The energy of his thighs enough to carry him.



Attention wolf fans:

Indian summer has already garnered tons of praise and will arrive just in time for Halloween.



It has been thus far a four-colored fall.

Kitchen window light. Stove light. Sink light. Lamp.



Spry sprung into a full force of passion, lovers obey this time of year approaching with their ears to the leaf crinkle.

Old lovers leave-taking in old friends.



To see through the thick now, sense of a band playing down low over the hill.

This, the prince’s downfall: always sensing down low over the hill.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

NEW! 2 poems by Jesse Nissim

Jesse Nissim

Your city with love on the benches

Where the harbor shrinks back
from its edge

Thousands of dead fish
take a nap
in the library.

Smell the harbor’s ordinary
objects, trusting us, with
all that stuff in here.


If you string them
together, will these fragments form
a recognizable mirror?

If you trust in
the frictionless
narrative.

We’re all the same
down to the lawn ornaments
Christmas & Hanukkah
black and white and even
down to the lesbians.

We coordinate mailboxes in taupe
our names curled in gold.
All the same font.

Yellow stakes flag the yard’s perimeter
indicating our pests

Yes, every neighborhood has pests
even here

Where we can benefit from
the foul smell
that deadens the wonderful.



Someday

The light presses down
imitating summer
and need presses down
imitating a fire-escape
and want falls empty
unloved and alone
and bushes flop like
need imitating belief and
the church is a true
empty head alone imitating
an oven dying.

They need never escape.
Some of them like stones
sleeping under firelight.

The spying dawn
alone is light
pressing in
upon the fire escape.

I was alone and unloved light.
I was as hot as a church.
I was the dying swan. For a long time
I could not escape the fire of that swan
and little girls’ who believed in it’s existence.
The girls pressed down instead of falling
while I was imitating a stone.
When I escaped from falling. I escaped from my heart.
In my head, I was need, belief, and truth.
My head was a peculiar bush.
It flopped in an empty oven.



This poem is constructed almost entirely of lines- randomly taken and freely scrambled- from The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara, Ed. Donald Allen.

i want someday / to have a fire-escape (471)
this would mean, i think, that summer need never come (471)
and snow falls down upon / the streets of our peculiar hearts
the Seine believed it to be true / that i was unloved and alone (473)
the light presses down / in an empty head the trees / and bushes flop like / a little girl imitating / The Dying Swan the stone / is hot the church is a / Russian oven... (475)

Friday, June 10, 2011

NEW! David Bartone

David Bartone

Beekeeping and Hearth-cooking


Consider what Thoreau proposes:

“There are certain pursuits which, if not wholly poetic and true, do at least suggest a nobler and finer relation to nature than we know. The keeping of bees, for instance, is a very slight interference. It is like directing the sunbeams. All nations, from the remotest antiquity, have thus fingered nature. There are Hymettus and Hybla, and how many bee-renowned spots beside! There is nothing gross in the idea of these little herds—their hum like the faintest low of kine in the meads. A pleasant reviewer has lately reminded us that in some places they are led out to pasture where the flowers are most abundant. ‘Columella tells us,’ says he, ‘that the inhabitants of Arabia sent their hives into Attica to benefit by the later-blowing flowers.’ Annually are the hives, in immense pyramids, carried up the Nile in boats, and suffered to float slowly down the stream by night, resting by day, as the flowers put forth along the banks; and they determine the richness of any locality, and so the profitableness of delay, by the sinking of the boat in the water. We are told, by the same reviewer, of a man in Germany, whose bees yielded more honey than those of his neighbors, with no apparent advantage; but at length he informed them, that he had turned his hives one degree more to the east, and so his bees, having two hours the start in the morning, got the first sip of honey. True, there is treachery and selfishness behind all this, but these things suggest to the poetic mind what might be done.”



Consider a recipe from The American Frugal Housewife.

A task to divest oneself then from worldly gods.

On election day, eat election bread.



During the Q&A portion with experts on Lydia Maria Child, an audience member tries to sell one of the speakers a $125 library licensed video on Lydia Maria Child, and as though I could be a community college professor for the rest of my life, long long past retirement age, a minor tangle begins up in me, that I must understand as a certain dying of youthful ambition—the sentiment I could write anything, not gone but going.



The Child’s didn’t have any children, were abolitionists.

They were poor, sugar beet farmers for a time.

He took up the last dollars on a ship ticket to France to learn how to raise sugar beets in central Massachusetts. She remained to raise the sugar beets in central Massachusetts.

The abolitionist movement had come this far: beets not cane then in the North.



Later in a barroom the kingship is abandoned.



Today now all this time passes.



Today now as ever.



The sum of exiles, greater than Christ and the meek—the mind making Emily Dickinson of the Old Testament.



Not wanting to leave myself behind on any worried walk inward, I decide to step outside of myself for a few days.

I read six poems in the New York Times, six poems to mark the end of day-light savings.

What the Pulitzer Prize winners have to say.

The couch in the basement.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NEW! Poem by Stephanie E. Schlaifer

Stephanie E. Schlaifer


The simulation is an understatement--



the tract  not wide enough
too brief. Still, those cautioned
and those cautioning cannot believe
that it is not an unlikely cinema,
indemnity against
grievances and grief.

Friday, April 01, 2011

VERSE is now open to submissions

VERSE is now open to submissions. See below, or follow the link on the right, for guidelines.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

NEW! 2 poems by Stephanie Burns

Stephanie Burns

TWO POEMS

Spring in the Winter Garden

I’ve known you to be cross-eyed for a while now.
Like the flared fat pigeon on its crumbling
headstone, you mix your lefts
and rights until the whole world is less
stable than before. In the shops,
in the malls, they are folding
clothes into shapes that can never
be emulated in real life.
I guess we are all facing south when we die.

There is, ever so slightly, something
to be heard on this balcony.
I’ve watched others writing it down
in complicated twirls and all too ordinary
snapshots. I know that the backs
of their heads want to breathe.
Then again, I am all that strives to be,
but is not, more than too-tight pants
and curled hair.
We are taking notes on each other.

Dear Good Sir—
I am not dangerous. Kindly stop thinking it.
Sincerely yours, etc. etc.

This year we will not smoke in the hallways
or clack in high heels. I am meeting
only people too bored for me.
You have been one of them.

You are letting it be too obvious.
You are staring too much.
You cannot let it be known
that things have gone radio electric
in front of you. Keep a distance
and healthy swagger.

Otherwise, you will glint into the scene
and everything you’ve collected
in a dusty shoebox under a bed
will slip away into trash.
We are only the poses we can commit to being.

Secret doors and miniskirts meet
under your eyes. They rile against
your skin. Toys turn to roses
and sad hands are held.

I know you are hasty and that
you can’t stop actively being pretty.
This is how it all portraits—protests
and steamy hot mornings.

If I become cold or undernourished,
I will know it is because we have built
ourselves this winter garden,
but shattered its glass with our first breaths.



Poem on Talking to You

Out of a cut
in my arm I pull a dove,
a tightrope, a bright red sunset.
My arms are useless in this way.
Their gestures are worthless and awkward—
awkwardness the tragedy hovering over me,
resilient as fruit flies.
I’ve killed the impulse for natural reactions.

Pronunciation slips in and out—
I hardly know what I am saying.
Now in the back of the scene,
I don’t talk. I paint
my face to mean, “Stardust,
appleseed, march hare, revolution.”

The paint chips away
and blankets the area, nearly
as inconsequential as it could have been
in my head.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

NEW! Laura Larson & Brian Teare


Haze, 2003



There is neither God nor nature in photography. Like faith
a discrete series of disappearances; like God the abrading of
arrested motion—landscape is active absence, part of the
design. That’s why photography’s trees can never be the trees
of painting or of nature : we expect them to correspond to
themselves and then they slip, asymbolic, outside of religion,
outside of ritual until the upper limit of our nostalgia seems a
high green canopy and its lower a mat of rust-colored needles
so thick and acidic it permits no undergrowth, a perspective
intended for reverie. Nature is essential to photography’s
invention, but it’s the picturesque—a way of picturing nature—
that aids photography’s development. It becomes more difficult
to position the frame : does photography simply wipe out one
space in order to invent another? Good-bye, perhaps. The first
art in which God never existed, its trees arranged by men.

Discursive Glance





A Picture That Includes by Means of Its Structure the Excluded Space



I’ve held this
smallest forest


sticky with sap
haptic branches swaying


in nonce wind—
a syntax


outside the frame
of the visible—


and longed to be struck
as I should
to say I’ve loved


It’s no small thing


Let each eye
be believed


the way cicadas leave
clinging skins


split to drone
umbra’s grass


Let matter rest
in belief


it has lent itself
to all our purposes


liminal and image
the way veronica is


a flower
a girl watching
a matador


wave his cape
over charging eyes—


each only once
given one


of matter’s many
possible nouns


Let each pass by


picture
difference
or surprise


In that still space
we won’t stop


finding and losing
what we love


all day
we’ll keep on



thinking
because it once existed


it still exists


very arbor very body
very smoke

Monday, January 31, 2011

NEW! 3 poems by Stephanie Burns

Stephanie Burns

THREE POEMS


The Park

This is the day for a newfound gorgeous melody.
I guess I don’t mean that.
I guess I mean it’s a day that should be captured—
This park, its strollers and one-handed bikers.
Everything is just fractionally above disaster
and that is, of course, why it works.
Babies are creaking into their shoulders
and dogs squat in painful contemplation.
It’s the traffic that blesses this spot—
the red-bottomed sailboats and two-
tiered zephyrs. Airplanes and helicopters
and truant little islands straining to sea.
Here, the hair before its first cut,
she’s allowed cappuccino.
There, two boys with sweaters tied
around their necks.

Some buildings will slide off each other,
but some will cling and pull us all down.
We are all thinking about each other—
caught in wonder—and the horizon
conceals all the more obvious paint jobs.



Route 66 in Decent Light

Sweet-toothed drumbeat in the desert―billboard
of dinosaurs and the cut-glass sky.

The mesas in their ignorance upend
the road out of town. Soldiers and nuns―

our scented headache. We are unscathed
in the hungry nunnery of the soul. The food

is good. Tumbleweeds loop themselves into repeat
behind the only two cacti available.

My snaps pop and drop―no revelation
in this swimming pool of sand. The chalk

of possible endings unfolds without glamor.
The charge is only so high. Earlier flights

and histories are available upon request,
as well as bathrobed blue skulls.

They are subject to change.
No touching, no pictures, no faces.

The salt-soaked sky taps
these questions, and is sullen.

Desks, insults, movie sets--the things stripped
and shouldered forth. We are the fish.

The ink and paste we’ve produced mix
into my coffee with subtle soft curls.

At the gas stations,
we sew ourselves into each eye.


Several

This is not unlike what I wanted you to know.

I am saucy (drunk), fatigued,
Talkative in the times we grasp for silence--
the clumsy piano player
in the red-lit bar at the back of your mind--
all you never knew you
always wanted.

I know all the neat lines
in your gardens--the way you order
memories (playground--hot dog--pretzel).
I negotiate these sandboxes
but these are not the secrets
as I want them.

You flinch at me. I buy you presents
but they dissolve at your harsh touch--
so much burning paper. I keep
to the middle of your thoughts,
listening for the right instructions.
is there something you want known?

You shrug at us, the world, yourself.
You come to the part where you must
walk a tightrope above yourself
and I just want you to know
I wasn’t going anywhere with that question.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

NEW! 3 poems by Robert Fernandez

Robert Fernandez

THREE POEMS

Flowerheads


I

Red today, and like a wave-field fanned along the length of Overtown, a hummingbird-red universe or saturnalia, St. Keith. Avail us of your administrations. Certain dead president mythotypes perched on the topmost peak of Watts. Delayed. Abetted resolutions. I enter the studio and of these sour, convalescent faces: a logopoeia of flayed reds.

II

What moves along the course of a line must learn the single line, single statuary’s flanked revision of scan, and learn reluctance. Is hateful. Pools wrath in porcelain. A mandrill clutching the throat in the billiard hall of Pele. Hasten to work? Wither goest, Ruth in strange corn: the concise fft of levitation. The backs of the knees sloped like rock elm. The tonal steps of the eyes pushed vaguely on.

III

Boom. Gainsay death metal is a window, ram’s-horn ripple. RZA shaved the track, niggaz caught razor bumps. Ascyltus: “To sell ‘em piece by piece, brick by brick, a catch!” Encolpius: “Twice the street value…” Homage gainsays a death-work of preterit lexicons. Tramlines etched adept, colossal rounded patterns.

IV

Printed “adagio, et in Arcadia ego.” The caryatids of Miami, our golden bough. Because we endeavor to end in a fuck-all of resolution: blooms of the crotch and raining credit. THE WORLD IS YOURS. Laundered ax of draconian abilities. A fast, red-eyed vireo hollows the duodenum.

V

Of all your lauds, thinking like a course in statistics but not yet raw of wheat uninhibitedly pounded not yet sun, wild in your ears. Then, anxious for news of Mike Tyson. Then I seemed (Thanatos) to Wifredo Lam (sought) a concise logic revealed, of my situation: forearms like reddened glass lovely, able to move freely.



Victuals

Then violence and practice and make it happen. On the map with the delicatessen that falls through your mind, that shudders in its hide of brick and awning. This is not how we would have wanted it. Village and music box with a little pentacle on its back, and not what we would have wanted for anyone involved. I escape arrhythmias into the heart’s normal operation. The valves run smoothly. The hide’s parched and pleated but runs smoothly: a bucket of ice and a rhinoceros, a Syrian flag and a recliner. Falling through the rug in the grip of a stomach that sees, we slip past the odds; we feel fortunate. From the bedroom, from closed booths, we plot our victuals. What illuminates the morning better than the souls of the dead?



Coast

Lethal as ever. We link up. We stay exact. We are the clean cut through the middle quadrant—with box cutters, through pin-stripe, though cardboard—we have not yet decided. We are the letters spilling out onto the bare table today. These rash communications. A virus, like carousels of glass; like flame poured on the table, cut cleanly—into quadrants—whether in lattice-work or arabesques we cannot decide. Whether a young man walking up from the asphalt or through shadow, we have not yet determined. Look at the waves, they are like blood packets rising, falling. Look at the gulls. Look at the clean shore and the bodies, the parables (I glide a muzzle over the sun’s oscillating bands of purple and white).