For safety’s sake, the iron escape folds up from the ground. Bad limb that won’t go down, I’m asking for it, party clothes the all of what I own. Even this cat I can’t claim, wandered-in thing clawing the low tulle in the closet, the dress my every memory, the cat a flame in an ashcan, batting the fringe of the window hanging: this is trauma.
Either that, or this is romance. He lived in an enormous house for artists, sufficiently dark and malformed to suggest the interior space of the body, small peace and the snaps of fever and light: ALMOST HEAVEN, he said. I hope to [...]
First Letter to David Berman and John Hodgman
Dear David Berman and John Hodgman,
In Bulawayo the bon-bon trees laugh and dance and smile in the happy giggle sunshine pavilion as the candy corn fields blush and bloom.
In the late afternoon, school teachers in white paper cones decorate the white paper cones they’re wearing with potato prints of cornflowers stained with oolong flavorings.
I sit nearby pretending not to notice.
Would it surprise you to know I wore a barely discernible worldly half-smile?
I installed a park bench out in the bush beneath an acacia tree boiling with black leather squirrels the size of Jots and squinted my [...]
5 a.m. (4 a.m. EST)
The island from above Became a hook, gesturing. Filled with sounds, The shape of three fingers.
The family, bereft, Witness to the 5 a.m. The bruise-colored money left. The motorcade on the left.
The slit, a haiku: Focused, deep as a tap. To stab a man, To write a haiku.
Crimson almost-morning: The abettor. Bermuda has One more flower.
The Driver Says
Like eight darlings picking corn from their teeth. I know how this looks. Like Portuguese churches on the moon, the strong arm of a place where space moves behind time and a box of old Playboys is just how it feels. Getting knocked down by the white of a callery pear, mistaking London planes for sycamores. When you have been ruined by small events, waking up always feels like walking alone in a woods; there will be no mark from a glass of cold water on your bedside table and the sounds through an open window (crickets, a highway) will frame how little I care for you. [...]
Bitterness in the Mouth
When did the word for stranger and bitterness in the mouth come to mean a kind of audacity? I’ve seen in some men a distinctly American gall— they glide over the rest of us in their socks like we’re one long hallway and they’re late for a banquet in their honor. Shameless they tell us they’ve done us a favor. We needed polishing. They needed traction. Frotteurs work like this— we come away wondering if we’ve been screwed, gorge rising as a hard little stranger gets off. Leslie McGrath’s Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage was a finalist for the 2009 Connecticut Book Award in poetry.
It’s hard to come back from a grand phase—
morning most difficult, its shadow a tucked-
under tail bringing us back to this century.
What century is it? I can’t see your hairstyle. Nuar Alsadir’s collection of poems, More Shadow than Bird, appeared in 2012, and she has new work forthcoming in Poetry London.
The poems never end, they go on and on and on and on. You may contact the editor at email@example.com.
Excerpts from my difficulty telling jokes
A shadow of a penis walks into a bar. No. A bar realizes it’s a Rabbi. No. A pope shits on a bear. Yes. A pope shits on a bear. Now we need a new pope. We have the bloody pointy hat just not the pope. A bear walks into a bar and asks what goes with pope. Fries, of course. How many light bulbs does it take to screw in the dark? Four. One to be left on in your head, one in mine, one to be smashed against the dark husk of night in celebration when the humping and lowing is over, [...]
I am going to tell you who you are. That your voice, claimed as mine, will drown. I wonder about the weight of your voice versus mine. I wonder what it would feel like in my hands. Would it be a suitcase of mirrors or a glass box full of lead? Would it be a sheet on which you painted all of your wrong thoughts—the ones you had candidly in the night, behind your eyes, unuttered as your limbs twitched? It was a dreamless night. All the houses went black. Words are something that can be applied after the fact: the fact of two people crossing the street. [...]
High School: Industrial Arts
The lesson today is: someone always gets hurt. Will it be you or another fool? This is a choice. We provide the tools and materials. The saws, the wood, nails, and supervision. Fall not now in love, for it is merely a distraction from your assignment. Now, create this uninspired name plaque, build stacks of unstable shelves, lament your lack of craft as the heat of your lust forms in vaporous pools on the floor just below your work table. You thought this class would mean an easy credit. Welcome to our workhouse. No one leaves this building whole. Consider now how this building’s roof’s akin [...]
Fire Island Song
It would be nice if you weren’t dead, you with your hair and skin flame-red and your way of getting me in bed. It would be nice if you weren’t dead.
It’s not time’s fault or even fate’s, though this second claim demands debate: Too many dead to live, you nearly said. You savored dread. You liked where it led.
You let death happen with your drinks and drugs, your tour of all the high points of despair. You were a living cigarette. You blistered and burned down. You let me down. This grates.
green bulb green eye green red light hangs in the neighbor’s window green issue shakes out green rugging
vie lets I could verge you vices I could kiss
yellow honey of the knot yellow tail not the rumble
blue clear linden in your blue in fired blue car our first car blue fullness of fired pointed blue raving
orange flowers in the grove orange sun do I dare
red paper tonguing the sun red and full and then material red bird endlessly flying red bell heads Douglas A. Martin’s books include Once You Go Back (Seven Stories, 2009), Your Body Figured (Nightboat, 2008), and In the Time [...]
Brought To You By
take Coke Zero my white Apple charger this Old Grand-dad logo with its hair line sunken eyes hey & give hot potato skins a whirl they're good lunch conversation but just skins in the end & you can only dance so long around something till it dissolves in Zero most likely yes you'll be sipping on a glass if you want ice please call for rocks please sit back & that glow off the TV is kinda making you famous it's honestly making your head overshadow the far wall & everyone knows today's celebrities are only caught dead in Italian labels they wear their faces so loose in full sun Ben Purkert’s poems [...]
TERROR OF THE ZYGONS
Je sais bien, mais quand même.
This one they call the Doctor is a threat to us. Already he has found out too much. He must be destroyed. a very drab term Doctor comprises any passive attitude toward her oiled hand returned to my one, the Doctor, increasing her is she a threat until it popped out of us from the already. With each has, I found harder through too much. O, me alone! Extreme instance of which appears to be that in which threat is conditional upon suffering physical or mental much at the hands of the Doctor. The Doctor grew must and be as [...]
Someone No One Everyone Anyone
and I put all this blood in, but things just get sticky No one’s a mess anyone
wants to pick up after, so I marched my ass down to the shack that flashed
LIVE MODELS in red and asked if they needed someone good with light.
Everyone was bronzed and someone was covered in glitter.
“Here,” I said, “hold that glow
lower” and motioned to someone who shone a weird green
light too high the shadows made everyone’s eyes onstage look
like pulsing suckholes. Limbs in that angle
seem tentacled with darknesses. I tsked, “That’s no way to shine a body.” Paula Mendoza's poems have [...]
To Wendy from the Crow’s Nest — Portland
My Dear — If not from dream, before dawn, When the rain has not perished over the house, And you have sworn off four nights of sleep, And I have wrestled with a mind of airplanes and birth, And to know that you are leaving again in the morning, With me staying — or is it the other way around, Me leaving, and you staying, or both of us Boarding another flight to a strange city? — And always, too, both of us wondering If any of this exists, sleep, skies, birth, Mumbling in the frontiers of hotel rooms, Hauling our slender [...]
The man in the moon is a woman in China: Chang’e, moon goddess, twinkle-checked, chic night-speck in the black that smears and tacks like an anemone.
While the world sleeps, Chang’e sleeps next to her husband Houyi and his jade rabbit and jade arrows and penchant for archery.
Each night is lithe vinyl: stars dimpling like quartz in hand, the quilted scalp of space-time and Chang’e’s moon slowly fuguing into the middle: the fingers of gravity; the Chang’e yo-yo.
Thanks to Chang’e, the moon is eyed. Green fish have eyes in their pistachio hulls, so too spiders, and circa-bauble flies, and the tiny spacemen that float equidistant from the [...]
When California Arrives It Lasts All Year
Dreadful sorry and packed for balmy air, I’ve no use for this shudder of adventure, these conspiracy-worn streets puffed with pollen and froth.
There’s nothing like nurture to seduce a frontier into collapse. In a cavern, in a canyon, violet roses hung like bats.
I bend myself over the bed this time just to see if I break, and when I don’t I belly up, sick from the rotten bill of goods
I keep selling myself, herring boxes without tops. It’s not that I didn’t exist here, ankle deep in the foaming brine.
I have tried to keep the chalkboard clean even as [...]
Flamingo tongue with a Saturn-ringworm shape, mainly very polished, part abalone sea-ear, probably named “cowrie”
for the fissure’s resemblance to the vulva of a sow, or the breast-implant- function it would later fill. The Romans called it
“porculi” for porcelain and little pig. The Greeks, “a column, a spiral staircase, a rococo currency.” Today they’re
known as “turbans,” “seizing Europe with the same fervor as Tulipmania.” Nonetheless, cowries use holes to breathe. “The raised parts”—
nervures and aureoles—protect by hugging “mantle lobes, labral portions,” when movement occurs. They live on submerged reefs emerg-
ing suddenly and slide over them with ease. Sara Sutter’s work appears [...]
Today the government talks about a mysterious octopus which attacked civilians boning their hookers in the bushes by a lake. Pox-colored piranhas nest inside a stupa, they ordain deathless figs. I am fed up with spastic devas. There was another in my beans this morning.
I spend my day deleting vowels from my doctor's prescription. A group of journalists lines up to lick the gold off the city hall. In a sleazy bar, a group of young tourists eats rhino balls from shot glasses. The end of a year is not a string of pearls at all.
I download Depeche Mode & I download The Cure. I download [...]
I’d like a bunch of un- lit lilacs, please. A lie
lacking malice. A black eye.
I’d like a palacefull. A pool
of lack to lie in. A lilac lacking pull. A slack sleep.
A new rule for lying. A slick slap. I’m a sap
for lilacs—shouldn’t tell you that. I’d rather
unwrap a Cadillac.Jameson Fitzpatrick lives in New York, where he's pursuing an MFA in poetry at NYU.
We drew you for Secret Santa, and we decided to get you a whole bunch of poetry. You're welcome! You may contact the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.