Thursday, September 27, 2012

NEW! Poem by John Fenlon Hogan

John Fenlon Hogan


In a country where the earth
is flattened under the big sky’s heel,
15 miles from the interstate—
the closest town a town in which 
the children are below average
and no one turns out to vote,
no one upholds the Sabbath—
—a yellow dot on a map— 
                                   In this place 
which is adjacent to the middle
of nowhere, by which it means
to be no place at all, there is a phone 
booth where you can go to graffiti, 
bury past sins and ex-lovers,
or marvel at the inane. 
                                     But if 
you were drawn there as I was
drawn there, necessarily and by some 
powerful blank, as though searching 
for answers or a new way
of unwelling, then go to the store 
and buy sunscreen, bottled water, 
flashlights. Stuff your haystacks
in a backpack or cram them in your boots 
as if rocks, and carry them
like intentions. 
                       When your GPS 
no longer has a signal or runs
out of battery or otherwise goes
kaput, you can stop panicking—
the Mojave Phone Booth
will manifest itself to you
because you have been cleansed
by ambivalence, and by your own sense 
of proportion. You’ll notice that the glass 
has been shattered by some vagrant
or a person much like the person
you once were, or will come to be,
and The Book has been ripped from its cord 
not as an act of thievery 
but because you are not beyond 
such temptation. As it rings 
—and its ringing for you—
you think about power tools
or stuffed animals
or the family you abandoned
to get here. But the hand has a will 
on this occasion and has already 
grasped the receiver, lifted it— 
there’s no need to bring it
to the ear, no need to do anything, 
really, an all too steady voice
which is your own voice, strange, 
repeating like a glitch in the system: 
Not yet... Not yet... Not yet... 
Whereas the system has no glitch. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

RIP Malinda Markham

from Verse, Volume 18, Numbers 2 & 3

Malinda Markham

On beds in different rooms,
or distant, the woman shifts the angle of her foot. In the light,
her hair moves from red
to the dresser’s dull wood, a signature begun
from the moment her stocking
slips just enough to remind us she is there.

When the phone rings, only language is wrong.
If my jaw were not angled like that,
she and I could be almost
the same. This is the virtue of paint:
The scene controlled by turning the choulders
faintly to the left.

Can you hear the birds? I can’t say their name
in any language. That sound you hear
is not a door closing: No one
has entered the room. I repeat. There is no platform
for disbelief, no memory, even,
of the right word now,
but it begins in the manner of signal,
as in traffic or truth.

Farther to the left is the bookshelf, a mirror cut
by an electric cord.
If you can tell me how many steps it takes
to words I cannot mean, then.
And then.

Friday, September 07, 2012

NEW! Poem by Peter Shippy

Peter Shippy


As the cellist played a gigue, Bach, 
at Virgil’s, a cantina on Salem Street

known for their garlic martinis, 
I overheard a man say to a woman: 

we’ll be flying to London to see Queen 
at Wembley, without Freddie Mercury, 

once again. And that’s how I knew 
how I knew it was spring, how I knew

it was time to wax my barque, my balls, 
wipe the dew off my cheval mirror

to reckon who’s the prettiest of all, 
and beckon the huntsman’s long knife.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

NEW! Poem by Gary Fincke

Gary Fincke


Like Beauty, she pricks herself,
Taking sedatives in the vein.
Whole days disappear. Always,
She rises to the mirror,
Remembering the distance
The drab adjectives travel.

The next meal is water, 
Lettuce and celery 
And the memory of bread.
She stills the teeth that need 
To tear through meat; she holds
Her sugar-loving tongue.

A week of elapsed time 
Is a size, a smaller
Circling of the waist and thighs.
A month, her husband says,
Promising his kiss
When she is perfect. So long
He hasn’t touched her he will
Excite her like a stranger.

During the fourth week
She dreams the brilliant alarm
Of his body, how she wakes
When he enters her,
How, afterward, he slips
Chocolate between her lips.

She is in love with sleep,
The way it lessens her.
Lying down is time travel,
Retreating until she
Retrieves her childish shape,
Her princess body.