Tag Archives: poem

Hart L’Ecuyer

Hart L’Ecuyer has poems published or forthcoming in PARAGRAGHITI, Futures TradingZ-composition, and others. He has taken workshops at New York University and Webster University and has done readings for the Ethical Society of St. Louis, the River Styx Hungry Young Poets series, and the Webster Groves Art on the Town festival. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Phizzog Review and a guest editor for Red Dashboard LLC’s print anthologies. He lives in St. Louis.

 

Carnival in Neosho, Missouri

We rode golden-oldie carnival car-halves
That spun smaller-than-life in hard colors
On a fast October’s Missouri night
That dealt thrills like a highway’s turn
Straightening out. On that ride’s axel
We whipped our stomachs to the point
Of regurgitating roadside convenience chips,
Give or take a mouthful of salt.
It dug its steel claws in motel grounds,
Too small to grind a Ferris wheel.
“Motel” is all the low-down building said,
In decades of neon red. 

We passed up the popcorn trucks, all had a dollar
For rides, and passed a slouching woman
Waking in the corner by the bounce house.
She looked up from shadows of gold and shook
Her head, mumbling, turned us away
With a twitching dialect of the body I knew
Only in passing. Those rides,
Were they trucked in from the parking lot
My grade school shared with church?
Tangled extension cords, yellow fluorescents.
I’ve seen these stuffed animals before.

                         ***

We’d seen it glittering beyond waiting
And listening fields. They were cut
Now and then and this was then,
This was when ditches and burrows were like dads
With scratchy beards that carried by default
Skinny insects climbing lazy blades.
We were unpacked strangers sizing up
Neosho from our chain hotel’s parking lot, and
Thought police when we saw flashing lights,
A speeder, a drunk— but we kept walking, knowing
There was something good out there.
The guy with a cigar got it into his head
They were carnival lights, not the law,
But it was a small town—even if it was
A carnival surely they’d closed it down by now.
Another said, “Hey, well the lights are still on.”
We walked, and after ankle sprains and crossing
A ditch-lined road, we had a blurred hour
For the carnival. No one was there to stay.

 

 

A Subway in New York with Hart Crane

I ran down the avenues under hardworking streetlights
with an angry foot, browsing the windows and puddles
for wide-awake moons. In my starved insomnia, and looking
for a view, I went down the steps to the subway, reciting
your dreams. What destinations and what rats.
Whole families of rats having midnight picnics,
Trains full of ghosts, homeless men between the cars,
Businessmen under the seats—and you, Hart Crane,
I know what you were doing down by the subway map.

I saw you, frantic, unwelcome young guzzler,
Shoving through the corps of shadows
And checking out the midnight boys.
I heard you asking rhetorical questions
to the few of us listening: What stop’s next?
Are there not refunds at the ticket machines?
Are you coming to the Brooklyn Bridge?

We danced around the thundering subway car,
consuming advertisements, waving at every platform,
catching each other staring at the tunneling darkness.
I know where we are going, Hart Crane.
These doors always open again. I know which way
the wind is blowing, even down here.
Shall we get off and walk the bridge to sunrise?
With the street lights mimicking the moon,
the buildings’ fiery parcels,
we can both pretend it was some other time.

Will we strut speculating about the loud mechanical future
of America, after stopping in the middle of the bridge
to keep watch over the cityscape, back
to your old apartment in Brooklyn?
O ageless, lonely young prophet of torment,
what America did you have
when Whitman quit driving his ferry
and you got out on a dirty bank and stood watching
the boat disappear on the gray waters of the East River?

Cheryl Anne Latuner

Cheryl Anne Latuner lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she teaches writing and literature at a Waldorf high school. She has published two poetry chapbooks, Soon They Will Fly—A Mediation at Fitzgerald Lake and The Ballad of Sackman Street, based on her Italian grandparents’ immigration to and experience in America. She has also had poems in The Comstock Review, Blue Unicorn, Tar River Poetry, and The Spoon River Poetry Review and forthcoming in The Naugatuck River Review.

 

What Rests in the Earth

For these two hours, I am harvesting carrots,
furrowed farm acres before and behind,
half-plume, half-crocheted-handkerchief
green tops of carrots signaling from mud to sky.

Blunt-bladed, a tractor nudges them, arching and twisting,
into the light, and a bright orange glow, released
from the clay, uprooted, lolling, takes on form. Sometimes,
approaching a bridge, I have recoiled in terror of what seems

all too probable: a slip past the guardrail
into the immensity of sky and water, vastly more present
than the curving slice of bridge; as if it were possible
to be pitched too soon back into the ether. 

Sometimes, in the first awakening moments
of morning, the day stretches out like a bridge,
a continuation of yesterday too narrow to hold to,
while outside the window, birds beckon to me

with their startling freedom, their songs
like bells calling monks out of their cells
to pray. With each tug on a tuft,
a carrot, effortlessly, follows. Plump,

hard, cool in the hand, it knows how it is
to rest in the earth; how it is that body
and root are one; how it is to trust,
yielding, to the open air.

Adrienne Su

Adrienne Su is the author of three books of poems, Having None of It (Manic D Press, 2009), Sanctuary (Manic D, 2006), and Middle Kingdom (Alice James Books, 1997). Recipient of a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, she is poet-in-residence at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. Poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, New Ohio Review, and Best American Poetry 2013.

 

Procrastination

It was surely invented by demons.
No one else could make it the human
norm, defied only by those military
civilians no one can identify
except as aberrations everyone
resents, know-it-alls impervious
to temptation, misfit geniuses,
certain as engines. Released into
the world of people, they cling to
order, chronically surprised
no one else met requirements,
complacently holding the ruler
by which the rest of us measure
growth, as we quit, start over,
scale the hills of our failure,
and descend the other side,
telling stories of our lives.

Karen Craigo

Karen Craigo teaches English to international students at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. Her work has appeared in the journals Poetry, Indiana Review, Prairie Schooner, Puerto del Sol, The MacGuffin, and others. Her chapbook, Stone for an Eye, is part of the Wick Poetry Series. She is a former fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and has received two awards in poetry and one in creative nonfiction from the Ohio Arts Council. She is the nonfiction editor of Mid-American Review, and she also serves as an associate editor of Drury’s national literary journal, Gingko Tree Review.

 

Neither Created Nor Destroyed

For Tommy and Patt

Say you were entrusted
with a jewel of great worth.
Say it blazed red in your hand.
Then, let’s say, you were asked
to put it up somewhere,
a high shelf, just beyond
your grasp. From that point
it’s a matter of faith. Sometimes
you sense it in the periphery:
just around the corner,
just up the stairs. You think
the whole house is aflame.
When you hold out your palm
others would tell you it is empty,
but something still burns there.
You see it. You see it.

 

Naming What Is

for Aimee and Dustin 

You picture them in the garden:
a nameless animal presses its face
against her hand, and she offers
a syllable or two. The man with her
agrees: dog, monkey, snake. It was all
so pure then—they were incorruptible,
and language moved between them
like a beast, sweet and lumbering.
You can see them: a man and a woman,
in a grove, all of the trees laden with fruit.
There is a pond there, and one bird, yet
to be christened, stretches to touch another’s
white neck. It takes two to make a language,
and the animals were just the beginning.
Did they label how the nighthawk veers
through the dusk, or that splash the man hears
when it’s too late to spot the lake trout
twisting in air? There is so much
waiting to be named—we are surrounded
by things anonymous and strange for their lack.
And even now two heads bend together
in whispered negotiation. Their very prayers
acknowledge the power in the name:
Berry. Woman. Swan. Man. Miracle.

Nina Serrano

Nina Serrano is a poet, translator, and independent media producer. Her latest book, Heart’s Journey (2013), is available at estuarypress.com. In 2013, Nina translated Wild Animal by Peruvian poet, Adrian Arias. In 2012, she translated his science fiction work Beautiful Trash. Her earlier collected poems Heart Songs is available as well. Serrano is a KPFA-fm host/radio producer of La Raza Chronicles and Open Book. She has been the director of both Poetry in the Schools and Storytelling in the Schools programs. Follow her on her new website and blog: ninaserrano.com.

 

The Angel of Death

(For Daniel del Solar)*
 
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

— Dylan Thomas

The angel of death last night was with us
who sat vigil at Daniel’s house in his long hours
struggling to let go of life
Daniel-—so devoted
to sucking its sweetness from moments and seconds
Discovering people antiquities rocks shells papers
vistas sunsets blown-glass and art of every description
in his hour by hour adventures
I had played his poem on the air that afternoon
and a listener called saying
he had met that man reciting the poem
in front of a glassed display of Jadeite
at the Olmeca exhibit at the de Young Museum
and the man gave him his card which he lost
and now hearing the poem
and the voice he was sure it was Daniel
who had admired the stone out loud
and in response the caller
pulled one just like it from his pocket
and Daniel had marveled.
Now, the listener said, he was sitting in his garden
in the sunlight listening to the radio
working on such a piece of Jadeite
when he heard the poem he wanted
to give Daniel this work
I said sardonically (to hide my pain)
“Too late he is dying”
He said, “I can finish today. I will bring it.”
So even in Daniel’s dying
these adventurous encounters go on
The poem the stone carving and me
witness of this marvel of flesh and bone
that shrunken and bloated with fluid and bruised
with the battle scars of wrestling
with the angel of death
licking at his heels for these last six years
as he jumped on and off planes as fast
as his electronic cameras could click
and I would pick him up at the airport —
Now the eternal angel spreads those mighty wings
We the caring giving sisters can hear
the invisible swish of air in our vigil
The Hospice brings its death by morphine
but it is nothing compared to this greater force
“Do not go gentle into that good night…”
Daniel would quote and I would think
“Gentle. Gentle is the way to go. Why rage rage rage?”
Now I watch him weakened and sedated
and Yes!  He is raging raging raging
I and my vigilant loving sisters and his glorious mother
the queen of art will bathe him in light
to go gentle gentle gentle
onto the next journey

*This poem was written on January 6, 2012 as 3 Kings passed following a star in Oakland CA.
 

 

56th Birthday Insomnia

I’m awake can’t sleep
even though my eyes burn
against the pre-dawn electric light glare
My inner critic hurls accusations at me
running them across the inside of my head
in banner headlines
Why am I
croaking my way through life
Where is my song
praising the coming of dawn
Where is the purposeful girl I was
her promise of success and courage
her talents shining
like a polished shield
against the shadow of oblivion
and the shame of mediocrity
I face today
I cannot lie in the bed I’ve made
nor sleep to unravel the knots I’ve dreamed up
where only nightmares of failure reproach me
My pillow is a leaky balloon of unfulfilled hopes
and unspoken wishes
I’m awake although the moon disappeared
and the sun hasn’t dawned on me
There is silence
Only the light bulb
speaks to me of modern life
Night and it’s dark cave of fear
calls my disappointed heart to task
There is no rest
No bright morning carol or falling dew
to herald the end of this restlessness
as I endure the reproach
of the timekeeper
Grains of sand
sting my eyes
in the unforgiving night

Peretz Markish

Translator’s Note on Peretz Markish’s Work:

Peretz Markish was a prominent Yiddish writer who was executed by Stalin on August 12, 1952, a date that has come to be known as “the night of the murdered poets.” His work is among the most acclaimed Yiddish poetry that has come out of Russia in the early to mid-twentieth century.  LW Markish’s greatest poetic accomplishment was his epic poem, Di Kupe (The Heap), which describes Jewish suffering through a metaphorical heap of corpses in a marketplace. This selection is an excerpt.

 

Rose Waldman (translator) is an MFA candidate and a writing instructor at Columbia University. Her work has appeared in Pakn Treger, The MacGuffin, Ami Magazine, Meorot, and elsewhere. Her translation of a I. L. Peretz story from Yiddish is forthcoming from Back Pages Books.

 

The Heap (15)

Night unbuttons her black mouth
Its teeth dripping with stars
Board, lonely ones, and sail
The silver ship of the new moon

Who has no rest in his bed
Who has no cure in the night-hour
Board, naked ones, without coffins
The silver ship of the new moon

Like the ark on Ararat
The new moon sits on the heap
They sleep.  Only the crow does not rest
She busies herself in the rotting trash:

“Enter, residents of mourning
The skin of sunset lies slaughtered
We the crows don’t want to sail
The silver ship of the new moon

Pack the new moon with victuals
Lay a pair of carcasses onto it.”
And the silent crows wander like clouds
On the silver ship of the new moon.

Stella Vinitchi Radulescu

Translator’s Note on Stella Vinitchi Radulescu:

Stella R.Stella Vinitchi Radulescu was born in Romania in 1946, and left the country permanently in 1983 at the height of Ceausescu’s communist regime. After seeking political asylum in Rome, she immigrated to the U.S. She received an M.A. in French from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Philology from the University of Bucharest. Since 1989, she has taught French, first at Loyola University, then at Northwestern University

Radulescu began writing poetry in Romanian at an early age, and published several collections in Romania. As she puts it, “Writing poetry was risky—it could have been ‘a political manifesto’ against the regime!—but it was also a refuge.” She faced a crisis of sorts when she left Romania, because she was uncertain how to continue writing in a new language. However, she enjoyed discovering other dimensions of expression through writing in English. She attributes part of her success in this area to her study of philology. She also began to write in French, which was always “la langue de la poésie” for her. She points to the fact that Samuel Beckett wanted to write deliberately in French, and asserts that “there is always something mysterious about the language.”

For Radulescu, it is difficult to translate her own poems. As she puts it, “I feel, think, act, perceive, smell, touch differently according to the language I write in.” She has been kind enough to allow me to begin translating her French poetry, and I gratefully acknowledge her partnership in finalizing these translations. These poems are from her collection, Un cri dans la neige [A Cry in the Snow], which was awarded the le Grand Prix de Poésie “Henri-Nöel Villard” and published by Éditions du Cygne in 2009.

In addition to publishing books of poetry in Romanian and French, Radulescu has published five books of poetry in English, including All Seeds & Blues (WordTech, 2011), Insomnia in Flowers (Plain View Press, 2008), Diving with the Whales (March Street Press, 2008), and Self Portrait in Blue (March Street Press, 2004).

 

Luke H.Luke Hankins (translator) is the author of a collection of poems, Weak Devotions (Wipf & Stock, 2011), and is the editor of Poems of Devotion: An Anthology of Recent Poets (Wipf & Stock, 2012). A chapbook of his translations of French poems by Radulescu, I Was Afraid of Vowels…Their Paleness, was published by Q Avenue Press in 2011. His poems, essays, and translations have appeared in numerous publications, including American Literary ReviewNew England ReviewPoetry East, and The Writer’s Chronicle. He is Senior Editor at Asheville Poetry Review.

 

 

the earth begins

the earth begins one distant afternoon
with the breast’s
ochre color
the transparent milk that flows and the mouth
that takes pleasure in it

with the memory of another land
which has just left us

the fear of losing that land     the breast withdrawn
the milk dried up

look—the earth is beginning
today
and ends with me as I wait     you’d call it
a withered place

pinched between two fingers of silence

 

la terre commence  

la terre commence un après-midi lointain
avec la couleur ocre
du sein
le lait qui coule transparent et la bouche
qui s’y plaît

avec le souvenir d’une autre terre qui vient
de nous quitter

la peur de la perdre le sein qui se retire
le lait qui tarit

la terre commence, voilà
aujourd’hui
et finit avec moi qui attends        on dirait là
un endroit rétréci

tassé entre deux doigts de silence

Howard Schwartz

Howard ScwartzHoward Schwartz is the author of five books of poems, VesselsGathering the Sparks, Sleepwalking Beneath the StarsBreathing in the Dark, and The Library of Dreams. He is also the co-editor (with Anthony Rudolf) of Voices Within the Ark: The Modern Jewish Poets. His other books include Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism, which won the National Jewish Book Award and Leaves from the Garden of Eden: One Hundred Classic Jewish Tales. 

The Angel of Ripeness  

While she waits for the sun to bestow
its blessing,
she rocks the cradle
back and forth,
tending the seed
the way a cloud and river
nurture the rain.

Every grain in the field,
every grape on the vine,
even the moon
listens
to the song she hums
under her breath.

Robert Stout

Robert Joe StoutRobert Joe Stout is a freelance journalist who lives in a small town in Oaxaca, México, amid bougainvillea and huge sunflowers. At night deer come to drink at the spring above the town. His most recent book is the novel Running Out the Hurt from Black Rose Writing.

 

 

Cactus in the Rocked-Off Grove
in Front of the Tourist Motel 

spined the gravel driveway
with shadows shaped like men
marching off to work. My son
dropped the leash to let our
dog race plastic bags blown
across boulders strewn every
which way against fossiled hills.
For a moment he stood
facing the horizon, fingers
of one small hand picking
at the brim of his baseball cap.
The dog, trotting back, stopped
and together they turned,
eyes drawn upwards
by the scratchy white
of rag-tag clouds revealing
some momentary message,
some indecipherable command
passed through the moonscape
growth to bind living things
to stones hunched
beneath that vacant dome
of fading blue. A wild bird
screeched, the dog spun back
to run again as my son wiped
his eyes and waved in wonderment:
Did you see it Dad?
It was beautiful.

Matthew Lippman

Matthew LippmanMatthew Lippman is the author of three poetry collections, American Chew, winner of The Burnside Review of Books Poetry Prize, Monkey Bars (Typecast Publishing) and The New Year of Yellow (Sarabande Books), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize. He is the recipient of the 2010 Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize from The American Poetry Review. 

 

 **Recipient of Best of the Net 2013 Finalist**

 

In the Basement of the Holy House

I sat in the synagogue
and decided not to be a Jew. 
Just for a second. 
I wanted to see how it felt. 
It felt like the yellow traffic signal
on the corner of South and Center. 
Why don’t you want to be a Jew? my daughter said. 
How did you know? 
I can read your mind. 
No way, I said.  She smiled. 
Try me. 
I closed my eyes. 
You are thinking about how stupid mid twenties hipsters are
when they fall into their Existential free-fall,
four to six years after university, then wind up doing what most people do in America–
head out and make some money. 
Someone close to us said the word Adonai[1]
How did you guess?  I said.
I told you, she said. 
You are only seven, I said. 
Seven goes a long way in this world
and that is no joke. 
When I came back to being a Jew
The Torah had been put away and Kiddush[2] was happening
in the basement of the holy house
I was all alone in the sanctuary except for God,
I swear to it, who didn’t even yell or scream
or sink a blazing fireball into the middle of my chest
for not believing, even for just a second. 
Thanks, I said.  Not a problem, God said,
and it was like we had just shared a tuna fish sandwich
and there was nothing left, not even one little crumb.

 


[1] In Hebrew, this means God.

[2] In some Synagogues, this is done at end of service on Friday nights. There is a prayer recited and a type of bread called Challah is broken and sampled as well as a sip of wine from a silver cup

 

Benjamin Norris

Benjamin NorrisBenjamin Norris is a poet from Bristol, UK, whose work primarily deals with blending the mythic and the mundane, exposing the two to be little more than opposite sides of the same coin. Between writing projects, he lectures on Indian cultural history, and works as an academic linguist. He is currently putting together his debut poetry collection and developing a second novel.

 

For The Days 

We grow inside houses, and remember each spring
how it seeped through the flooring–
                                          bringing such thoughts, a cracking of dust–
the air will change, even now, as we lie
all bound in to our notional seasons,
fading grasses, and reasons to leave.

 
Clamber at the windows, catch sight of
woodsmoke, the tricks of trees, language held
in breathing bowls. Hammering, and
a child’s laughter cuts through old years.
These clocks, they do things you wouldn’t believe–
                                        bringing such thoughts, a cracking of dust–
in places, the snows have already come
falling with the precision of needles.

 

Paul Hostovsky

Paul Hostovsky is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Hurt Into Beauty (FutureCycle Press, 2012). His poems have won a Pushcart Prize and two Best of the Net Awards. He has been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer’s Almanac, and is a 2013 Featured Poet on the Georgia Poetry Circuit. To read more of his work, visit him at www.paulhostovsky.com.

 

Poem

When I finally figured it out—
you know, life, the whole thing—
I couldn’t write it down fast enough,
and I was shaking my head in disbelief,
and smiling at the sheer dumb luck
of each new line revealing itself to me
like a winning scratch ticket, hitting it
big. I mean really big. The kind of big
that comes over you slowly but all at once,
like what it will mean for the rest of your life,
how you won’t have to work at it anymore
because everything will be different now
and the same. It was a little scary actually,
and my stomach started to hurt. But the pain
was different now. It was part of the joy.
And the joy was different too because it was
unbelievable. I mean I knew it was true—
I just didn’t believe it. And that hurt, too.
Then the old hurt gave way to the new
and suddenly everything rhymed a little.

Premiere Issue

Issue 1.1: Summer 2012

Click on the author’s name to read their work(s) and bio. Let us know what you think on our Facebook page and on Twitter using #BlueLyra.

“Photosynthesis” Photo by Gin Conn

 

“Gray with Warm Lights”
Photo by Robin Grotke