Friday, November 30, 2012

NEW! Two poems by Molly Bendall

Molly Bendall

Two poems


I take to
her shoe-sized hovel and decaying forsythia. 
Let’s go for the instant snow fall,

get marooned on the stone porch.
Now too, tranquilized,

she’ll pad down the gnarled rope, tap the corners in.

Go again. Again. Lift her up
by the scruff

Pocket the thistle and vole fur,

and this one sings loose and regretful, a pollen-tinted face.
Right as doing. Wait for the drop date.

I’m near emptied
so follow the burned-out drawer

and the plastic shards in
a chain of wind. 
Pull a name into the chatter and wed it to
your fixes.

She’s got brooding duties and weaves with horsehair and cools
with her shadows.


When you’re
in too close
the mouse bones soften and settle in tight.

Come down when the tension wires undo. My glove
could smoothe
a network
but you’re part missing even as you kick up and up.

Every minute thinks
of passing sky, every milky bowl shuns a sooty back.

I’ve zeroed
in on your sumptuous reach. Lost when I remember

you most, and then you fall

asleep in the U petals.  

I’ll be one of those who talks back,
not dainty
too much.

A stone’s throw and a sob back to you,
and I’ll be one who gnaws at the capillaries

so sing your invitation now,
invite me to inspect

your starter home, place your decoy on the thin blue rim.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

NEW! Poem by Anne Elvey

Anne Elvey


What hammers next door replacing stumps 
weighs on my frame, as voices measure work 
and a saw circles through a post to level things. 

The angels dance on leaf tips, their skirts churn. 
I keep the windows closed. The Bureau says 
the northwest wind will turn to the south. Stumps 

lie on the drive. Doors slam. A roof lifts, sudden 
as the air that balloons and buckles the fabric 
of a world. There are no cicadas, only a fury 

of angels brushing wings against the sky. 
Forget the past, they say, you cannot level your 
house; the wind is your heart’s hammer.

Monday, November 26, 2012

NEW! Three poems by William Cordeiro

William Cordeiro

Three poems


The day so young 
it rivers with mercy.

Each body mostly water
in a world mostly water

but physics only make me
Look at the sun
skim across the eyes.  

You see, 
even logic’s innocent.

Then why—then why?
Some leak or fibrillation 

of my heart replies,
amid a twitchy phosphorescence

whilst squeaky shopping carts turtle down the aisles,
“if only fools were drunk with wishes.”


The landscaper trespasses to the river
gushing brimful of wanderlust and lady
slippers, great alphabet, goosepimpled
with a million golden bees, as daylight’s
dizzy sting keeps dazzling the naked eye:
from crown to soles, flaunt overflowing 
round each glitch, the heart’s ski lifted 
up a steep, a-dangle in the glitter over clastic 
rock and vatic air, before it’s gentled down 
a bank; meanwhile inside, his quick caged motor-
cycle gyroscopes as if he’d just been given 
tenure. Afterward, a volunteer, he’d tottle
back to wavy shelves or some faux waterfall 
to craft dry temporary tracks through pebbles,
twist bonsai into stunted runts and palps,
raking level mulch chips over little bird skulls 
into vegetative fables, sheering and tweaking
moss, or, garroting in hand another cranky 
leaf-blower, give one good tug to whoosh
dead mush into new monuments of gold 
amid a smoother hobble of the earth, that 
fund he trusts he could not but inherit. 


The sidewalks gridlock with their litter’s drift. 
Like oil slicks, the sunlight shocks and riddles

to crevice glare down every street; gray sky’s 
bloodshot. Over blank brick roofs, one flock 

zigzags. Flak of scattered pigeons hang on fire 
escapes. All Brooklyn’s mesmerized and blown

down turns of stale obstructed zones, a range
of snaggletooth cranes. Beyond a broken half-

hearted barrier: a muddy ditch, planks, links 
of pipe. Gulls pick bedraggled feathers, skip 

or shuffle; loose news-leaf hustles by—daily papers
ruffle a city’s schmutz, a pressed off smudge of ink.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

NEW! Two poems by Nicole Walker

Nicole Walker

Two poems


When the birds started falling from the ceiling 
we knew it was time to close the building. 

The alarms had been going off like smoke detectors.
Fathers in their open-backed gowns, their Pacemakers

twittering reflectors high on the mountain,
flashing warnings to planes and come-hithers

to more foreign, flying aircraft—like condors 
or moons. Those in the infectious wards kept

moving from floor to floor, continents 
drifting toward them. The quarantine signs hung 

around their necks—albatrossed Town Car drivers 
welcoming fliers at the baggage claim at JFK. 

The patients in the burn unit slid into their emissions,
the viruses coating the blistered skin in down. Gooseflesh. 

The cancer patients kept falling in bed with 
the amputees. Watching their sex was like watching 

parrots molt—more slow organization than rhythmic 
wandering.  The mothers in Labor and Delivery were

the ones to notice the air, how heavy it hung. 
They’d been staring at ceilings, pressing tectons closed 

with their thighs. The twigs and straw didn’t bother them. 
They could inhale past that. But it was the mud and the saliva

that began to tuck up in the lungs. Every cough reminded
the mother there was no going back now. Volcanoes permit

more options than this fluorescent system. The door out 
is the door out, not other. Sidewalks are for suburbs, not planets.

We kept pointing the flue out the window, pushing it further 
and further into the stratosphere to find new sky. The babies

in the NICU were turning blue. It didn’t look good but there was
a chance this blue turns Jay and flight becomes a regressed chance for air.  


It is our hospital, this concrete. In the hot
sun it is as sterile and white as linen.

The sidewalk squares, once sutured, now
rupture. The ground underneath is seething,

infected like the little boy who is lying on 
it now (it is not flat enough. We’ll have to bring

the backboard. An old ironing board, my aunt uses
for just these breaking occasions. The ironing can 

wait.)  His fingers dig into the new earth and we 
tell him that it’s rotten but he wants to feel the cool

under his nails and what else can we burden him 
with but stops and pleases. We know there is no

doctor to call. We had called the 911 before and they told us
St. Charles is not on their map. I gave them directions—

Follow the L until you run out of gas. Our street
is the one where the cars don’t run. But it turns night here

before it turns night anywhere else in this city and 
this city has already sold its share of the moon to a drought-

ridden state. Now the streets buckle, the kids tumble,
the ice packs are warm water and the sea under

the street heaves. It wants its antibiotic. We’ve run out
of spackle and glue and sand for mixing. We’ll have

to give it the boy. He seems to want in anyway and even
though he’s  lying flat (The ironing has been waiting days now),

the sores are open. Catching. The ground as it breaks still 
wounds him. We turn him over so he can’t feel a thing. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

NEW! Poem by Molly Bendall

Molly Bendall


If squinting made them
all sail steady,

I’d try to find them that way. Their oval terrain I’d learn. Who else
wants it? 

I’ve been stung
with a green heart and dragged

out backwards. That one snaps
and a year of ashes appear. Its bouldered head shifts and leans into its breeze.
Hoofprints deface

the little earth. Land of no requirements
and the sadness of not
listening. Sounds are just too wide. Here’s one who gallops against the rules. 

Aloneness is an image to work with so I sketch it
along the divots in the soil. I tick

gently to the voice-overs.

New members come around
lately, and I invite them
to see the armature. Because

now my knees are tired. Because now the faint reek
settles into musk. 

Because now I’m deaf
to where the clock leads me. 

Some are browsers

and frolic in an underworld.

The service there is witty. One sneers at
the hills folding against

the flat vista.
It huffs into its own squared chest. 

I could climb on its back and tour the lawlessness.

Monday, November 19, 2012

NEW! Poem by Tracy Truels

Tracy Truels 


I cannot blame the starfish for they are small and hold on to things.
I woke up next to a man not my husband but who still kept me warm.
I once slept in the field like a buried body, so long slips of grass grew between my wrist bones.
When we sleep you sink into the bed like a fish thrown back into water,
so deep I don’t know if I could reach you with my arm.
We must take something unknown to our grave so that the ones we love will follow us.
I cannot blame the places I’ve slept. I held onto our bed until it broke like a dam.
The grass sleeps above our buried bodies, and the stars hold on to my things.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

NEW! Review of Édouard Levé

Autoportrait by Édouard Levé. Translated by Lorin Stein. Dalkey Archive, $12.95.

Reviewed by Astoria Aviles

In one of many photographs taken during his three-month visit to the United States in 2002, esteemed French photographer and author Édouard Levé captures an abandoned home in Paris, Texas. The haze of the blue sky over cracked and sunburned white paneling with a boarded up window and crooked roof abide in direct contrast to the grand limestone architecture of Paris, France; and the overgrowth of dandelions surrounding the front certainly do not evoke the grandeur of the Parc du Champ de Mars. The home, titled Maison abandonnée a Paris, it would seem, has failed to live up to the expectations of a Parisian home. It is this disconnect of place and discordant existence that Levé sought to capture. The photograph is part of a series entitled Série Amérique, in which Levé visited American cities that shared a name with a city from a foreign country. In addition to Paris, Levé photographed in Berlin, Florence, Oxford, Canton, Rio, Amsterdam, and Rome, among others, all in the United States. 

During his travels, Levé wrote the third of his literary works, Autoportrait, published by P.O.L. three years later. The work is composed entirely of declarations, rather like a series of snapshots. Levé’s passion for capturing the moment is unequivocally an earnest one. Appropriately titled Self-portrait, Levé lists fragments of thoughts, ideas, memories, personal opinions and confessions to build a collage of himself. Each sentence exists on its own, almost devoid of a clear narrative or context, yet somehow relating to the whole of Levé, the man behind the lens. 

Such a fragmentary work, however, does not exist simply as a reflection of a passion for photographic spontaneity, but rather as an exhibition of a new kind of self-exegesis. Levé writes, “I dream of an objective prose, but there is no such thing” (55). Such decisiveness in Levé’s declarations engenders a level of objectivity, but his actuality lies in his uncanny ability to both engage and estrange a reader. The reader must learn to navigate through a constantly changing tide, and only after such adaptation can the reader begin to understand the meaning behind everything that has washed ashore. There are moments, however, where Levé is more explicit. In the midst of arbitrary fragments like “I would rather have someone tell me about an exhibition than see it with my own eyes. I do not lie” (55), or “I sleep in absolute darkness. I have dry skin” (98), Levé then interjects a series of statements that act as seismic reminders of the work as a whole:

I do not write memoirs. I do not write novels. I do not write short stories. I do not write plays. I do not write poems. I do not write mysteries. I do not write science fiction. I write fragments. I do not tell stories from things I’ve read or movies I’ve seen, I describe impressions, I make judgments. (96)

Levé’s work rejects the autobiographical narrative, the “I was born,” etc. and in such a rejection of chronology pulls the reader along with him in an extensive act of introspection. In a brief moment when describing his travels Levé writes, “I like meeting new people when I travel: these brief and inconsequential encounters have the thrill of beginnings and the sadness of separations” (23). Autoportrait is indeed a series of such encounters, where Levé himself demonstrates the objectivity of his prose, and consequently argues for an objectivity of memory. He is, in his fragmented self, written in black ink upon the white page, being read, reread, believed or disbelieved, recognized for his playfulness but remembered for his sincerity. 

Autoportrait was published in France in 2005. Levé killed himself two years later, just ten days after submitting the manuscript for his fourth work, Suicide, to his editor. His works had been published only in France until April 2011, when Suicide was published in English in the United States. This year, Autoportrait appeared from Dalkey Archive Press in a translation by Lorin Stein. When asked about the translation process, Stein describes the act of translating as being “part of a conversation” with Levé. To translate any text is to enter intimately into the reformation and recreation of a work. However, given Levé’s unsystematic work, recreating a narrative and objective voice presents a daunting challenge. Stein says that capturing Levé called for the translator “to disappear.” Given such dynamism and sense of detachment in each translated statement, Stein has indeed achieved his vanishing act. To recreate such an ardent work, in its erratic and intrepid composition of such a man, Stein has demonstrated his loyalty to Levé’s voice. 

When asked what contextual or informative materials he used in the process of translation, Stein mentions Joe Brainard, whose I Remember is similar in its deployment of declarative statements (most begin with “I remember”). Levé even directly mentions Brainard: “Joe Brainard is less affirmative than Walt Whitman” (28). While familiar with and evidently influenced by Brainard’s work, it is perhaps more pragmatic to consider Levé’s foremost passion for photography (take, for example, the Maison abandonnée a Paris). The discord between Paris, Texas, and Paris, France aside, there is an emptiness in the Maison abandonnée, something beyond the photograph. Levé’s picture is an argument for the striking disconnect between a home occupied in Paris, France, and a home abandoned in Paris, Texas. Yet, too, the photograph becomes reflexive of Levé’s work with the mundane or detached perspective. As he writes in the last pages of Autoportrait, “I prefer a ruin to a monument” (117). 

From both his photography and his literary works, Levé’s voice contains a passive yet surprising tone, blunt and frank in its delivery but also refreshingly sincere. Levé is present in every moment of this self-portrait, but his presence is inherently an absence. Such a work cannot be read without simultaneously being reread, for each fragment is part of Levé as a cell is part of a body. In the middle of the work Levé writes, “I am always shocked when people give me directions and they actually get me where I’m going: words become road” (88). Now, perhaps, despite the sharp turns and surprising dead ends, English-language readers can now navigate Levé’s road in Autoportrait

Monday, November 12, 2012

NEW! Poem by Jon Davis

Jon Davis


Outside now, gray sky leaning to rain now,
last leaves clinging, pale green now going paler,
light breeze now twitching, now battering the branches, 

while inside Monk is dragging the notes,
behaving himself in homage now, playing
in the dinner jacket now, trying
to play the cracks now between notes now
between beats now, the minor seconds, the slur now, 

sopping up gravy when no one is looking now,
left leg jitterbugging under the tablecloth,
all the madness stuffed now into that tremor,
all the clowning now, half in now
and half out now of every now game. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

NEW! Poem by Curtis D'Costa

Curtis D’Costa


Salmon; blue; yellow; repeat.
Then our strategic objectives shifted.
Umbrellas unfurled, fork chimed,
and the Dumpster stench
characteristic of seafood queso
staggered among tables and chairs.

This woman entering the café
blew her arm off at the elbow
lighting fireworks.

Corralling her heel with his ankle, this girl’s 
date shows her, with a twist of his knife,
the polite way to juice a lime.

“All the Girls are like, You Can't Multitask.
I'm like, Damn Fucking Right: That's why I, I
Focus and you have to Do a Bunch of Shit.
I I I offer, and and you can't even figure out
What You Want for Breakfast.  I'm like . . .”

She picks the bacon
from her teeth with a hairpin, far away,
heart bent on another,
the one who has rhythm and a full-time job,
the one who

The rain keeps pouring down; it won't even cool us off.

I had no idea turbulence could shake a plane so hard