Aubade While Falling
From here, the smallest increment above the sheet, I plummet. We know the law: we are all repulsive. Nothing touches anything else. A café and some version of you, impatient, dressed in furs, but this alleyway circuit board. I never know who’s chasing me. Define close as nearby though not imminent: you are close, but not here. The warm vacuum between us, not your skin, but the sensation of force. I am a magnet. I am a pole. In this mountain village, gravity is a lie we tell to feel connected. I know what’s coming. Pigeons scatter. Nothing solid in the stairwell. From this height, I watch [...]
Vince Neil’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua, As Transcribed by Josh, in a Crowded Hotel Bar One Afternoon, Being a Poem Spoken in the Future, During the Upcoming AWP Conference of 2014, in Seattle, Washington
Of the latter heroes I was most supine, handed out warnings to women who were pregnant or were likely to become pregnant, hope tucked bloodless into saddlebag, neither hunter nor borrower, sometimes referred to myself as It— as in charity is its bird machine—a strap-on fashioned out of bits of the foregone cross coming at me from the future in the tiniest and the most lineal of dreams, my preferred haruspex pondering her retirement and [...]
Sockets You feed yourself frothy maple Greek
mousse whip. Each bite a virgin.
Promiscuity and sloth no longer sins
after what you've done.
Or you have perfect understanding
of past events which no longer
seem unjust. Your “Oh”
a sphere, a song.
But in the afterlife,
roots rip from your sockets,
new brains in their tips,
scouting for water
Rae Armantrout's most recent books of poetry are Just Saying (2013) and Money Shot (2011). Versed (2009) received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She teaches at the University of California, San Diego.
A Life in the Theater
I was wrong, I shouldn’t have picked up the phone
just to read you the line you already knew from the review
the reviewer wrote that said you were no good in the play I can’t remember
and only came to see because it was you alive somewhere else in it—shining below the fake sun
and I was in love with something you said or thought or willed into being
because of just being back in the boat with the living after swimming too far out and for so long just
to meet living again. I struggled to get on board and join the [...]
I will not think about tripe. I will not think about tripe and its opulent crate of brown sponge. I will not think about tripe because I don’t want tripe to be a thought of me stored in my dimpled entrails. I don’t want to be tripe boiled and thought about or fattened with grotesque drippings of phrene from head bending like tripe and its deep tube of encyclopedic justice. If tripe plumps I don’t want to eat just the fleshy leaves of cabbage growth. I don’t want your vegetable and arborescent creed to halve the pomegrantian blisters filled with red tropes and white homeomeries of advancement. When I [...]
54 Prince There exist 54 Goldilocks planets 54 planets not too hot 54 planets not too cold 54 planets where the living is juuuuuust right in that particular planetary zone
54 planets like Earth but not Earth Similar not the same 54 planets close but different Different except for Prince
Assless Pants Prince High-Heel Boots Prince Purple Rain Prince Paisley Park Prince I Would Die For You Prince Ejaculating Guitar Prince Jehovah’s Witness Prince Needs A New Hip Prince Wrote Slave On His Face Prince Took An Unpronounceable Symbol For His Name Prince Chka Chka Chka Ahh Prince
54 planets each with a Prince and every Prince exactly [...]
The Storm We Call Progress
Strum and concept, drum and bitterness, the dog of history keeps being blown into the present— her back to the future, her last supper simply becoming the bowels’ dissolving memory in a heap before her. A child pats her back and drones there-there while under her lifted skirt is a perfect today where a cult of ghost-lovers predicts a rapture but instead remains to inherit varicose veins, rubber knickers, douches with bulbs, douches with bags, girdles in a choice of pink, red or white, and in rubber, silk or twilled linen, enemas, clysters, oils balms, and other Benjamin etceteras burrowing like scabies into the [...]
It’s a cold rehearsal before we all drive off. The ride out is mindless and short on goodbyes. And in the flurry of parties she lost her passport. A slow smoke, a think in the old car… how they moved through their places and phrases and onto the bedroom where mostly we kept it all in. People won’t tell you, but if you lose enough things you do become something. All day the water endlessly filters so it’s not the same pool. In the morning our photos looked darker than us and the subject we were was a gamble (I know). The night winds came through and the [...]
The War Vase
None of the words in my voice are my own. What I can see I see only through your eyes: the tempera gold leaf—my vessel, my vim. The accumulation of all my reflections; your face is older now too. Still, I am rash— a prize above the fray. Spared in the minds of those who will not spare each other. Emanation is a light that can shine from one’s own body. But ruder powers do the job I cannot do myself. My only enemies are those who will not fight for me. Thomas Devaney is the author of The Picture that Remains (The Print Center, Philadelphia, [...]
Like a Prayer
Everyone must stand alone with other loners. The black lace
veils from every other chapel- goer, all the doves mourning
a boy-star petered out too soon. Heaven help me slip through
the bars of this brick house shattered by blue light, glum moon
fidgeting with shadow. The boy’s black light vision. His sideways
ways of painting wings, crowns, anointed words and words
backtracked. Track back a beginning, what the cave muralists
meant. Not the death of the beast but the brilliant red, the rigid white
of bones. Raise folded hands and a fur-gilded skull. Crown yourself
with horns, most elegant weapons. And with slowly going embers
Consider Yourselves All “Debbie”
Dear Debbie, why is it so hard to understand? The accident was me. It was in me, it was on me, it keeps getting written all over my face. Watch your tongue, you might say, or, go ahead and fix your face. But help is on the other side, Debbie, my good one, it’s stuck in profile, Debbie, it’s not on its way. Use our arms as your arms, the ditch lilies beckon. There, they say, now you know what it’s like to be pleasantly ignored. We keep all the wrong appointments, Debbie. Sunday bleeds into Monday and unlike flowers, Monday will not be ignored. Because. [...]
Day My Father Died
Friday, June 24th. It’s easy to remember, being halfway before and after. Record low temperature. November 22nd draws close. By now, in 2005, he told me he needs to go somewhere. The day my father died, I could not cry; my mother did. His face on the pillow in the faux moonlight. Rote morning, black and white, I was walking home from the library carrying nine books. That’s the way my memory sees it, but I can’t know exactly nine. “It was the worst day of my life.” The Day My Father Died (updated with pictures). Rate: 36 Flag. Explain why. We laid flowers on [...]
Poem Ending with a Phrase from Federico Garcia Lorca The last time I saw Lorenzo he was wearing a blind man’s glasses and holding the leash of a seeing-eye dog
though he isn’t blind and he doesn’t have a dog and his name isn’t Lorenzo but Bruce.
Who can explain why a man might dance on the ledge outside his office five flights above the Hudson River?
The city with five boroughs and two thousand bridges fits on one side of the coin my father gave me to give to a beggar.
It remains in my pocket as I look out the window on the day of my [...]
In a Landscape: XXXVII
I think “getting out of the way” is a great way to be helpful to most people most of the time, especially when I meet one of those people who reminds me of the truth behind “killing someone with kindness.” And so we’re all, no matter what, trapped in our own heads, of course, and there’s usually nothing different about the day you started, it was the day you started, that’s all. What that has to do with being overly helpful, I’m not sure, it just kind of came to me. Maybe it’s just that it’s all some version of the unknown, and getting out of [...]
Net, Web I land fully formed like a cherub. Nothing pleases me. You least of all, with your fingers poking their grime on dreams. Behind thick drapes my code is plain and can’t account for your dismal nerves, twitchy joys and wounds. This is what you wanted. Guarantee of unplumbable lake. Forget you are greatly eased or disturbed by smells, where and how your nerves directly touch the air. Here, you will always have everyone wherever you go. Molly Brodak is the author of A Little Middle of the Night (University of Iowa Press, 2010) and three chapbooks of poetry. She lives in Atlanta and teaches at Emory University. [...]
Either everything’s a valley, a jelly donut dimpled down the middle, or else everything’s
a collision of plates, crustal thickening on its way toward muscled mountains. Either everything’s way,
way, beyond mid-gallop or a rundown shack haystack- still, a dog-patch immobilizing glory, gumption, get up
and go. Either everything’s a sandy path leading to a dune-saving fence or nothing’s guarded, out of reach.
Which is worse: too many walls or not enough, the laciness of shams or an endless hallway of bare
jalousies, dead fly lounging on each lone pane?
Pferd Marino Marini, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
Gift Swiss, holding American, art Italian, tradition Boeotian. The diabetic buckles on the expo path, dislodges the fizzy headset and—would it be cavalier to add—misses in the Snapple retrieved for him
the incidental part Marini plays in the tour of art a love poem once underwent, beloved incidental, he on whose behalf from all the world’s unconcern one circulating suitor contrived express concession.
Anyway if there is a homologue in the Frick what can it mean in Charlotte, stooped at the centerpiece, in powered-down posterity, in a sugar low, North Carolina? Not rearing, and no rider, right or wrong, so by [...]
I Grade Online Humanities Tests
at McDonalds where there are no black people and there’s a multiple choice question or white people about Don Quixote or Asian or Indian people I don’t want to be around people I want to be here where there is free wireless I do not want to sit at the Christian coffee shop nor the public library No I want religion to blow itself up My sister converted to Catholicism I do not want to sit at Starbucks I like McDonalds coffee because it is cheap and watery I like how it tastes I like this table where the old man is telling his old [...]
All the worrier wants is love, like anyone else. But he won’t seize it for himself; he needs you to come to him, admiring the way he keeps the background safe for everyone. He can’t—maybe you’re right, he won’t—descend the pole into the heart of the burning house, the hotspot between the sheets. But someone fastidious must man the radar, someone, unlike you, who is happy in the lukewarm broth between choices. One part of him is forever holding his foot above its first step, waiting for the all-clear that can never come. Another part is waiting for you—he may move if you take his hand.
Beauty School Dropout
I want to solve the problem of heterosexual desire like why do I love dick so much Is there something transcendent about self-abasement I’m not a licensed esthetician so I don’t know what scholars say about Brazilian keratin treatments The formaldehyde stylists breathe is Adam’s Curse To be a woman is to know one must starve I don’t feel very straight at all I masturbate to underground gay thug porn and still wind up thinking about the male gaze I want to be so skinny people ask if I’m dying Have you ever been on the roof of The Standard and noticed your tatters in the unforgiving [...]