Monday, July 13, 2015

NEW! Two poems by Aidan Forster

Aidan Forster


It is unbearably hot and it is not even my birth month yet.
June half-open, already dripping, in the foreground.

The underside of the kitchen curtain is strewn with palmetto bugs—
they drink its whitenesses, that curtain, that milken sheet.

Consider the architecture of the skin and the curtain:
the folds, the tangles, the sun damage. What is ours is ours.

I am not here to be consumed. 


The house is the dream inverted. It is not a cave,
but has the same aura of myth. It is my job to usher
the insects out of the garage and carry the birds’ nests
to the curb. All the little blue eggs may go rolling out

but that is none of my business because I cannot flit around
them and care for them properly. This may be an issue of nature
and nurture but I can do nothing about that either. We skin
the animals and remove the plastic bags outside of the house

and take their sweet offerings inside. And inside I pour
the green liquid into the little white lid and press my cheeks
against the mirror. Inside, the couch is a place
to slope, waxen, into one another. In the kitchen 

there is a half-eaten pound cake no one will finish. 
I wish to core the green apples in the wire bowl.
The windows brim with insect carcasses curled all around each other. 
I wonder why they draw into themselves before dying.

What lies in their formic stomachs, beneath the glossy skin?
If only everything could be cut into and its center removed
for study or consumption. If only it was easy enough to say 
the name of the dead insects and know what they are hiding.

I am nosy. I want to know what the white insects
in the piano room’s windows are because they confound me.
I want to sit in the sun room for hours and study the dead insects
that have accumulated in the two years since we came here.

(And in that time— what has occurred? We have cut down 
three trees and painted the fence almost-black. We have fixed
the sinks and broken a shower and a toilet. We have ground
lemon peel in the sink and affixed white curtains to the walls.

And what else can be done but continue to polish?)
Outside of the house I know the insects perch on tree branches
and the earthen lips of hills. There, they do not fear death.

What is ours is ours. What is left is for no one.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

more James Tate from the Verse archives

James Tate

Vale of the White Horse

That’s where I first met my bride. She was standing under a chestnut tree during a summer shower. I stopped my car and offered to give her a lift. She didn’t seem to hear me. I got out of the car and walked up to her. Her skin looked and felt like porcelain. Are you okay? I asked. She blinked her eyes as if coming out of a trance. “I was looking for the white horse,” she said. I drove her to a hospital where the doctor diagnosed her as being my bride. “There’s no doubt about it, she is your bride.” We kissed, and thus the Trans-Canadian Highway was born.


A man and a woman meet in an alley. They kiss but they don’t really know one another. You smell like violets, he says putting his head on her breast. You’re strong, she says rubbing herself on his thigh. He runs his hands through her hair and pulls her tighter to him: I must have you, he says. Yes, I want to make love to you, she says touching him between his legs. Yes, you must give up your treasure to fructify the crops, he says. Oh yes, I want to fructify very much, she says. The crops, I mean.

[originally published in Verse, 1999]

RIP, James Tate (1943-2015)

James Tate

Where Babies Come From

Many are from the Maldives,
southwest of India, and must begin
collecting shells almost immediately.
The larger ones may prefer coconuts.
Survivors move from island to island
hopping over one another and never
looking back. After the typhoons
have had their pick, and the birds of prey
have finished with theirs, the remaining few
must build boats, and in this, of course,
they can have no experience, they build
their boats of palm of palm leaves and vines.
Once the work is completed, they lie down,
thoroughly exhausted and confused,
and a huge wave washes them out to sea.
And that is the last they see of one another.
In their dreams Mama and Papa
are standing on the shore
for what seems like and eternity,
and it is almost always the wrong shore. 

[originally published in Verse, Volume 14.2, 1997]

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

15 days to enter the 2015 Tomaž Šalamun Prize

The Tomaž Šalamun Prize honors the great Slovenian poet who inspired several generations of poets around the world. Because Tomaž was especially supportive of emerging poets, the Tomaž Šalamun Prize is open to poets of any age who have published no more than one full-length poetry collection. (Publishing multiple chapbooks or books in other genres is not a disqualification.) Previous publication is not a requirement for entering the prize. Translations into English are acceptable if the original author is still living and has not published more than one full-length collection. Prose poetry and hybrid forms are also acceptable.

All submissions will be considered for publication in the print edition of Verse, which has been publishing only chapbook-length portfolios since 2009. All finalists will receive offers of publication in Verse. Published portfolios receive $10/page, $250 minimum. The prize winner will receive $1000.

Because the winning portfolio will be published in Verse and because every submission will be considered for both the prize and publication in Verse, everything in the portfolio must be unpublished. Response times to submissions will be 3-4 weeks (longer for finalists).

Entry fee: $15

Deadline: July 15, 2015

Requirements: Do not include your name anywhere on your submission. (Manuscripts will be read blind.) Your name should be listed only in the required fields in Submittable. Your submission must be a .doc, .docx, or .pdf file.

Contest Process: 1st round: all manuscripts will be read blind, and up to 10 portfolios will be selected as finalists (finalists will be notified at the time of selection) / 2nd round: finalists' manuscripts will be read blind by the judge, who will select the winner

To submit, click on the link above or follow the SUBMIT TO VERSE link on the right.