Thursday, August 30, 2012

NEW! Poem by Brendan Lorber

Brendan Lorber


for Lee Holloway

The moment is as it seems except 
for those in it — look at the empty 
space and then the hydrant that 
keeps it tantalizing in perpetuity

The bruised thumbnail creeps out 
from the smash it single moment in 
the door of James Spader’s Mercedes 
to the unknowable future like a loft 
where others will live someday
but who and when nobody knows

I say it with flowers and mirrors — 
contingencies that make the room 
without being the room itself

Same old me with new hair or 
teacher in the room where one 
waits for me to take place

Once the truth of the moment
is discovered the moment is past 

We know how last summer 
turned out and also that 
knowing means summer’s over

What little innocence we have 
predicated on failure to notice 
our own corruption The 
redemptive inability that rests 
in the dirtiness of our hands

Once yoga is perceived as 
money laundering it ceases to 
be either fraud or Bikram 
White carpets or spankings 
we are not allowed without
a long gaze that the sidelong 

glance knocks to the ground

The neither here nor there
that was always all around
The medium relies on unrealizable 

refreshments to order the moment 
The moment orders rusty nails 
with extra tetanus in case
it gets joined by another

You’ll know me by the empty 
booth I’ve left Betrayal begins 
by definition with a vow and exists 
as the precursor for otherwise
unattainable truth Into necessity

I nailed my thumb and saw
for once that I existed over time 
The you know unknown
I’d been trying not to embody
was right there about to 
emerge from the sun that
allowed it to live but only invisibly 

Monday, August 27, 2012

NEW! Poem by Amish Trivedi

Amish Trivedi


If we have a plan, it’s 
unbecoming: we could

do nothing and let things 
happen to us, but that

just isn’t how we roll. Places 
we fly over have cities

and culture and cracked 
sidewalks too. Lines

that form the right side 
of your face want to

take me away. Each inch 
is covered in

creases and I think
the room wants to sleep

with you. My relationship 
to my body

has changed and we’re
here to discuss exchanging

faces and making arbitrary 
lines and separating

families with borders. This is 
my story of the generations

and how they collapsed 
and came back stronger

than ever. My version 
carries with it a stigma

and an American flag 
traced on your

body from the legs
to your collarbones. I

know tattoos which create 
the most pain, and I

want you to become 
them: a graft of old

skin, inked, and 
replaced; remnants

of a letter 
never sent; and

covered marks 
exposed. Where our

organs begin is a 
story to be told

in flightless language, 
grounded and

menstruated. They 
expect us to come

running when lights 
burn brightly or

ends of words turn 
in meaningless

symbols and repercussions 
of other faults. We push

to know how, but 
only when connected

in series does darkness 
get purged and then

an open fear is held. With 
teeth marks drawing blood,

only lust can penetrate 
doubt. I know places

that force your head back 
and words that

make you sing, but 
unfortunately, wind

has come in and 
gotten us lost. I’ve got

the whole thing down 
to numbers, but a chart

would be helpful. Figures 
one through nine

could lead us into 
the right species but

my orientation is spread
and bursting. I can meet you

where you tell me, but I 
don’t know the way there

by divine causality. Dismemberment 
is not the side-effect

of any drug I am
aware of, though a response

to an externality
it may be. I have learned

to think in one hundred 
word bursts and

keep myself to one 
thousand and eight words

per day to keep from 
repeating sounds and phrases

I know. I don’t know if 
you’re a boy or a girl, or

sometimes nothing
at all, but any pointing

could be helpful. As long 
as I can hear you

to know where you are, I 
am happy, though

I’d prefer to see 
or taste. I know I

should have kissed you 
but did you have to

tell me that when you 
were putting your

break up speech 
together? Every day

has grown from that spot 
in my lungs and I

cannot suture new 
feelings together or

tell them which way to spread 
because I’m just as nowhere

to be found. Wanting 
to believe each thrust

will be the last, we 
speak only in words

which cannot be seen. I’ll 
leave you part of my nails

in my will, though I 
plan to use them

to scratch my way 
out. I will crawl

in to find where you 
go, but I know I

can come back whenever 
I want. As your

breath is caught
in my mouth, another

desire washes back 
over my central

arteries: to feel 
unwanted and

forgotten primes 
my blood for

exaltation. My next 
performance will be

“The Abstract,” a 
novel in seventeen

words, but on 
nine hundred and

fourteen pages. I want to 
pull my legs up

to my heart and 
burn them

all at once. We could
require immediate infiltration

if our arms were to 
end up behind us

in a fire or a 
mélange of different

noises. If lies go 
too deep, we can

consume them and 
make them a part

of our lineage. I have 
a lingering desire

to be placed on a 

bullet but to force it 
back into stasis is a

trouble worth waking 
up to. I cannot complete

my own words 
without seeing

which you want to 
use first, a decision

taken too hard to 
remain uncaring

about. I don’t 
want to steal your

lips, just lease them 
for my revolution, as

private as it 
might be. When

I press my flesh to yours, 
I hear tiny music escaping

and ceasing to form 
notes, much less a

sonic argument. These are 
supplemental words to a

love poem that was written 
in a bloody bathtub over-

looking language as a 
device: how could I

be the last to know? For those 
who look to the sky

hoping for a better figment 
of this imagined prophylaxis,

I want to hand you my 
non-vital organs in the

hopes you’ll find some new 
destruction for them. As my

anemia leads me, so does my 
bile. I want to discover

a reverberation to sink into and 
become part of its silicate. I

refuse to accept that this is

the last memorized passage that will 
make its way into our canon, but

only rejected vowel sounds 
will please our ears, wherever

we might find them.

Monday, August 20, 2012

NEW! Three poems by Brendan Lorber

Brendan Lorber

Three Poems


Lip syncing just 
reminds me of all 
the other organs 
(which is) Why 
am I unable to
do simple things 
like own an aut— 


Erectile teleology & other ways
of getting ahead of yourself
in a city so new you’re compelled 

to call it Boston Hot redaction 
in the summer A false friend
to make room in a real shirt 
What we do for love vs. what
it does to us before we even 

know it's there It happens 
before first sight but one can’t 
own up to what’s one’s already 
been pwned by To be had
by secrets The heart of a 
zombie in a song in a dream 


The ER doc at the bar 
said anything less than 
a machete’s not worth 
coming into work for 
but you’ll know your 
cough is consumption 
if after you fall asleep 
on the Amtrack along 
the Hudson you wake 
up on a boat outside 
Livorno and Shelley 
says you don’t look
so good ye who tested 
the chariot of her 
dark wintry bed 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

NEW! Poem by Devin Gmyrek

Devin Gmyrek


Moving at incredible speeds
across a body of water
the wind seems to guide you
though you’re actually passing air
and without consciously raising your hand 
you meet someone you love in a high
five and that touch is stepped there 
like an orange stain on a white shirt

The outskirts of town troll
by on what can only be sound
and vision condensed into that reverie 

the future longs for

I take a tour about the country
and hardly anybody notices me 

though there they know everyone 
buying beer and cigarettes at the store

One thing substituted for another
and I’m drying off from a swim
at sunset till the engine hops off again 

Monday, August 13, 2012

NEW! Poem by J. Hope Stein

J. Hope Stein


Sometimes I can hear Husband turn his pages 
faster than mine & I
become irritated—
& throw a book across the room—

an ember
in husband’s eye that rounds his balls.

“Come here, sensitive, we are 
both turning
because the mind is turning...”

Save it for the factory, husband! 
Only animal pantomime
& balloons, please.

Husband moves like an inchworm 
across the carpet.
Does his best monkey.
Motions as if to offer a string connected 

to something in sky
& I take it.

We act as two animals holding invisible balloons. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

NEW! Poems by Amanda Cobb

Amanda Cobb

Four poems


He believes in toggle buttons,
and she says, here, wear my scarf
to the one applying fuchsia lipstick.
Sometimes, in photographs
they are illuminated seraphim
smoking cigarettes, smoking 
the way they should, dropping 
ashes on the eyelids of everyone else.  
Fanning coals with those wings.  
They aren’t boys or girls, 
just hot and soaked with gin.  
They kiss each other or in the mirror.  
They are mermaid hydra 
or a swan Cerberus and the only tears
are alone or over cow-tipping.  
So what if there’re kids to care for, 
jobs to keep. There is ardor
in their laughter. They laugh, 
because, why not? 
Caring is the biggest joke.
They high five for days.


All of this, while on the edge
of a teacup. There’s no way
you knew it was coming.
You weren’t raised
to distrust translucency up
against lights. Your parents
aren’t terrible—the kind who shake
or curse or bathe your wounds 
in alcohol while thinking 
I hate myself, my job’s a joke.
No, yours are stupid. You are too.
I hide under the lip of beautiful
things, ride on the lick of an envelope;
you won’t know that I knew your tongue,
everywhere it went—it sealed cigarettes,
kissed babies and many young men, 
tasted yarns; it grew and dripped, is still
dripping. I’m in your systolic dance
banging on the insides, sad fuck beats,
like from a car of young men
who don’t know anything but appetites.
Tomorrow you’ll wake wet
wondering if you really did drown,
if the school bus barreling down 
highway 12 really filled up
with water that tastes like where 
your hand was last, a salt popsicle.  
Was it taken over by children & strangers
& lovers all drowning, coughing sand
& bikinis & rainbow beach umbrellas.


After I couldn’t pay for my dental work
I let him comfort me in the worst of places,
the orange wool couch where
our skin reciprocated fabric.
He found me numb
from cleft to cheekbone
crying into my payment plan.
His name was Canyon or Cannonball.
Anyway, I forgot and called out God
like I used to do in secret when I was
twelve and the only one wearing a bra.
I left my damsel shoes on
and touched the news, or Canyon’s back.
Nothing new either way.
Same old rolling train, cup of juice, messy hair
and molded roses.  The birds howled and the cages
smelled of awful me-grief.  
My place ain’t a shelter, but stone and rage.
A choir somewhere sang cry cry cry
while God’s kisses hurt like thunder.
There’s gonna be a next life
when I won’t have to honey on by.
I’ll remember a time when maybe I loved someone,
but I’m not sure when.
Today, he was fast and done.
Tomorrow, my smile will never be cheaper.


Emily puts the rind of lime
in her mouth, and closes her eyes.
Delores fingers the bead
dangling from the end of her gold
necklace. Sometimes Lola wonders
if her toes might taste like cherries.
Regina chews the end of her black
pencil and all the girls sigh some.
It isn’t always night, but slants
of color, like Christmas lights, hazy
and on all night long, forgotten
daytime. It’s a queue, it’s waiting around,
it’s moving clocklike. There are rules,
ones they can’t break no matter 
their keening, no matter strange syntax.
No matter. Ruby will touch
the back of a spoon to her lips
for an hour and Sister Lenora reads
fables out loud. Claire pretends
to speak in tongues just to feel
a clucking in the base of her throat.
Amanda’s legs are soft and shaky.
Amanda’s dreams have bears
and snakes. Amanda keeps her mouth
shut and the girls come after her,
try to hold her nose so she’ll open
up, so she’ll fog up car windows
and write her name in them. Amanda
runs and thinks about hunting a deer,
about the hard handle of a gun.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

NEW! Poems by Michael Pagan

Michael Pagan

Two poems


I’ve seen myself backward— 
mouth hung open in a soundless 
moan; whatever it is that watches 
is not human

I awoke, slowly,
in stages, aware of nothing 

but, one, I was lying
on my back, and, two,
I felt terrible

That was the song
that was playing:
The Downside 
to Owning Your Own

If I could then just listen 
and watch,
and not say anything:

a figure in the rain
unable to fall—
I don’t really understand it because 
it was you that’s been stealing
the stars

My feet equal handsome,
and the gods spare no one—they

and the funny masks
they’d wear
What they don’t realize: everyone 
uses them 


We are cursed, cursed 
again like we’ve been, 

we’ll wind up dead this way, knowing 
very little, and that little fragment 
we’d get wrong, too—
always we are

tablescapes, we are, sat here 
and there, in better light;
a kind sea which lay above, 

and beneath

the spraypainted Peace Across 
A Stone, then tossed away
into a dried up riverbed,
to wait only for the rain,

with no red edges, a rain
of tenor, asking:
Are you finding 
what you’re looking for?
out here?
with me?

“But, you’re there and 
you’re busy,” I’d say, “and 
making my teeth
feel dry”

Then stay in the warm

“Then stay,” I’d answer

But, this conversation has lingered enough 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

new issue of Verse

We are delighted to announce the new issue of Verse, which includes an interview with Eileen Myles, excerpts from novels by Alissa Nutting and Allison Titus, erasures by Travis MacDonald, prose and photographs by Joshua Edwards, and a long poem by Francois Luong. 

Copies can be ordered for $8 (includes postage): Verse, English Department, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA 23173.