December 30, 2008

i sometimes wish i was never eight

Mom dressed up like a clown
and arrived at school during recess on
my eighth birthday. She had this
plastic horn that she thought the kids
would like to hear her honk. Maybe she
thought the kids would be happy
to see a clown, but at eight you
are already miserable and jaded.
You already hate clowns, santa,
and angels. Your job at eight is
to be a snot: your work is to make
shitty volcano models out of clay
and make them erupt with baking
powder and vinegar. Your job is to
have a shitty attitude on the play
ground so no one would guess that
you still suck your thumb. So when
mommy shows up looking like an
asshole that is exactly what you
let her know. You take the cupcakes
without saying thank you and when she
leaves defeated you laugh at her,
unaware that twenty years down the
road you'll still be regretting that day
because she was the only person
to ever bake you a batch of your favorite
chocolate frosted vanilla cupcakes.

kristin dombrowski (New Haven, CT, 1981)

December 23, 2008

poem #47

for James Catto

breed and blend in-house talent
with the purity of instincts
avoid dilution, stop confusion,
stir the malt

the highland creams and afterthoughts
of an artisan becoming wizard
and man turning a refined beast
for good

a scotch in my hand
some money in my pocket
lust printed in black ink
across my carved forehead

confections and inventions
swim inside a green bottle
i presume, you keep blending
and it all boils up

distilling pain works this way
taking longer rides and easier girls
selling your craft to millions
happiness not included in your golden elixir

a nasty accident, lazy heirs
and vicious company lead a man
to fatal crossroads
and the sound of a bagpipe mourns the expected

we're all so proud and silly

drinking to your memory and trying hard to forget it may just not be today

victor chapman (Chicago, IL, 1982)

December 19, 2008

morning coffee

I missed you like summer
to a frostbitten

I missed you like a limb
lost to the jaws
of an alarm clock.

I missed you like
the spoiled flesh of young love
in the haze of separation,
and, though our divorce
was to be permanent,
your custody
of my consciousness
left me in a world of constant dark.

What good is a poet
without a cup of something?
in the evening,
or in the nearing dawn when creation stretches long,
but an early-hours citizen of a
I am not.

Returning to you,
carried like a queen
on the able-bodied shoulders
of your aroma,
you are again the warm sunlight
on my nearly withered leaves;
my steaming mug of photosynthesis
with a little
cream and sugar.

bryan borland (Little Rock, AR, 1979)

December 18, 2008

honey bear

after truffles we met
in pecan toffees we laughed
and slurping ice cream
remained silent, coy

I was prone and he was eager
but still we stood
four fruit jelly blobs away
from a first and only kiss, cherry

the grass felt like spikes
his shirt was stained, chocolate
there was mint in the air
and he was hot pepper

only one kiss
a fruitful red and cherry kiss
turned him into a wild bear
a young bear, unaware of the perils

of daring into the hive
sticking his nose
the honey pours
sweet savoring

ready for sting

audrey villisac (Indianapolis, IN, 1988)

December 17, 2008

a hiss

lean over pressing ear to wall
why, does it hurt?
stop breathing and hold your stomach still
hear the sound of disapproval
how loud it can be

one finger for a sunbeam
a palm for a custom personal eclipse
the grass has turned yellow, pale
why, are you scared?
are you alone?

(it's such a pity things turned out this way)

ride home sitting on the D1 bus
smile at the neighbors
smile at the kids
eat frozen patties
that taste like plastic
one pain at a time
check e-mail

the same sound
the contempt, the disapproval
the lonely crowd heckling at you
the turnstiles and your purple hip
the walking inside a studio apartment
that can barely fit one
so it was never apt for two and you

the same sound when you lean against the wall
why, it hurts?
the hiss
the roaring silence of a room with no view
same sound lean wall roaring black silence
and you deal with it

brian chen (San Diego, CA, 1978)

December 16, 2008

weird stuff going on when you're around (part iv)

a beautiful poem laid here,

and it just vanished.

berenice storn (Conroe, TX, 1973)

December 15, 2008

night lights

null is all, twenty somethings
bored, starved unhappy
a pocket grin sour
crippled athletic
a balancing act for decibels
pushing eardrum, a pin-up girl,
a skeleton dream
night lights

null is legions of them taking over
filling the gap, clearing the social
divide, saying we are this whether you
like us or not
whether you starve as well but live
night lights tearing the sky open
and again, we are etherized

null is crap mind bending tunes
peeing the walls
peeing the stores
peeing your American dream
and your American bidet
saying we are peeing our hot yellow pee over you
whether you like it or not
these are our very own home brewed fireworks

night lights
a plastic hope for the masses
amazing giant ant colony
cheap soda
rubbish all over
black sand is the shore
of languid brown river
illuminated by night lights

one deadly summer morning
a party of zombies
a piercing stomach ache
headlines and helicopters
bleeding nose
the sparks of Eden in lackluster comeback
noses up in the air pointing to the sky
to see nothing

to hold hope up in the air
like rotten corpse

christopher jenkins (Augusta, ME, 1976)

December 11, 2008

1 2 3

one abortion was bad luck
two abortions is, like, totally uncool
three abortions is you're being downright stupid

i don't really know you anymore
know not who you're hanging out with
what ever happened to your artistic ventures?

you freaked out you say
you cracked
lost all joy

i think to myself (this you don't know)
you never let me kiss you
not even touch your hair

i tell you on the phone (this you hear barely,
because of the cheap calling card)
that three is being downright stupid

you cry and suddenly
you're next to me
wetting my shoulder

we are older and what was light wear
turns into scratches and tear
our backpacks are not fashionable anymore

heavy burden, broken dreams
in ziploc bags standing
at the very bottom of our frozen hearts

i can't afford to fly there
and embrace this avalanche with you
you are a faint broken voice on a speaker

until a woman's voice speaking spanish
is saying something like credit is over
and then i heard a busy tone

bruce silverton (Rapid City, SD, 1977)

December 10, 2008

paper due six years ago

never absent, never late
is the sort of award
I could have never won
forget about it,
you're doing dishes

she said
and I'll take care of it
so I hide and put pen to paper
a paper due six years ago
a letter I should have sent right upon arrival
but I just didn't know better
stop, rewind, start over again:
clean head, clear mind, silly laughter
it's been six years now
why would you be waiting?
life goes on but I am stuck on you
there's no way you're going
a hamperful of dirty clothes is waiting for you

the silly laughter and then she grunted something else
and then I had to stop doing whatever I was thinking
I was doing
stop, rewind:
it's been six years now
and I'm still stuck
I'm running a house but I'm a mess
I'm always absent, always late
why don't you just shoot me?
don't forget tomorrow is mom's birthday
and please, darling, Xinto needs to be walked
at least three times a day

randall m. brown (Washington, DC, 1974)

December 9, 2008


Off to Middlesboro for the holidays
In the middle of nowhere
A road trip intrepid
I'm going back to old Kentucky

They know I'm visiting
I fear they are expecting
Someone else
The plains salute my pain

A flat tire makes me lonesome
Saving my last Nicorette for the
Six hundred miles or so before
I get there - home?

Who knows what ghosts await me
Not even God visits Middlesboro these days
The weather is nice, though,
But this journey is marked by disgrace

The ugly face of truth is wrinkled
Paths not taken have become interstate highways
Returns are not as epic as they used to be
Who would ever welcome the ungrateful? Missed exit.

Navigation screen goes blank
I regret not bringing a real map
A piece of paper with charted itinerary
Stretching over real distance, the one that hurts

Middlesboro I'm heading your lost, fateful way
I can hear them dogs barking
Wind is chilling and there is no moon
I must be getting there

seth ambrosio (Knoxville, TN, 1983)

December 5, 2008

a girl named yasmine

pearling away in the blue waters
against a giant rock
a piece of my heart hanging
from the wall

dwelling into cities underwater
fish, sand and amazement
for all this was here since
a snap after the beginning of time

a clock ticks and burns morale
magic wands turning your feet away
humming songs unheard
she then walked in, like swimming

she was a smile
a ray of light piercing into your stomach
melting your every sorrow

i dive again looking for pearls to match her eyes
yasmine turns serious for the first ten seconds
where you heading at?
i don't know, i'm resting now

hit me in the head
shake my boiling blood
and take me by the hand
shall we ride bikes?

yasmine brings the summer
though she is nothing but spring
and letters with fragrance
of a name so dearly remembered

again i try get hold of her
one arm at least
the child within whines for attention
then she levitates

wind entails and gale becomes
a clouded nightmare
isn't the weather crazy, she asks?
the rain makes yasmine come down

lightning tells us go away
families rush
we walk slowly
and i can't wait

thomas flack (Tacoma, WA, 1978)

December 4, 2008

return of the prankster

for Marcia Walker

we don't want collision
not even late admission
since beverages are not included
and i'm thirsty and a professional stalker
a horndog with certified pedigree

women run scared and i've shown
only the tip of the melting iceberg
hell is cozy but rates are soaring
hell, i'm cleaner than politicians
and some kinky priests i've met

have you seen a monk in briefs?
they look funny yet scary
my soul will rot not before long
if i had a bullet inside
at least i'd be the poor man's iron man

the prankster is not funny anymore
the prankster got online degrees as
heavy duty sinner for the cynic age
lightweight telemarketer for the digital age
unionized actor for the porn age
(there eric, this is the porn age)

touch yourself, touch evil,
washed out sperm from the nation's couches
eating from dumpsters
squeezing squirrels for the fun of it
going to hell in a two stroke japanese bike

sodomize the squirrel
fuck the prankster
he's so over the top it's overkill
call it a day, call it an age

this is the porn age
and it feels so great i'm jacking off

ralph p. giddens (Minneapolis, MN, 1975)

December 3, 2008

i don't want your love, i want your records

spin and pinch,
you know i go around,
this time i will set it straight
and tell you in 45 RPM:
i don't want your love,
i want your records

CDs blow big time
and listen now
the frying pan,
diamond head is twittering
sheer audiophile pleasure

it's ok, we might as well go to bed
but i just want your records.
vinyl freak, record fetishist,
call me what you will
i am here for the round plastic
twelve inch tarts

the gorgeous artwork
in all its glorious square sleeve
black, clear, pink,
can you smell it?
i don't want your love,
i want your records

jack tenell (Pittsburgh, PA, 1987)

December 2, 2008

rude little girl

She shy but She shoots
hits target anywhere
leans against the purple wall
runs off in taxi cabs
models her own little world of broken stars
fancies a leaf out of gold medals
loves tv her blank stare

rude little girl
She talented and brave
but She won't dare admit what She spares
drawing loveless figures, period pieces,
pleasures gone wrong, visions turned bitter,
trimmed fingernails, vacation at will,
caged in fear, haunted, coveting

when you decide not to say hello anymore
don't forget I stood right there
when you decide to turn your back on me
don't forget the pain we shared
and one day, when you realize you have it all
don't you regret our trips together
don't you dare say I did not care

I was pierced and silly I know
and still very often I dream about you
rude little girl
our sudden trips and long goodbyes
I guess it was a big mistake

but enough I remember to say:
She not shy
She lost and wounded
from greater pains
She cannot bear
from older pains
She'll never share

vivian woods (New York, NY, 1982)

December 1, 2008

envious jealous impotent

gertrude stein can tell you what the box is like in her modish lavish style — i can tell you what living inside a box is. nothing to be proud of. nothing to brag about. twenty five square feet —bathroom included— of pure solitude and seclusion. t.s. eliot can break new literary grounds, win praise, the nobel prize, change the poetry world forever writing about a waste land — i can tell you what living in a real waste land is, true coexistence with flies and feces, organic refuse decomposing at an arm's length, the never ending stench of a dead horse, the slippery path, oily muds and grease. nothing to be proud of. nothing to brag about. allen ginsberg can howl and tell you what this skeleton said and what that other skeleton said. i can tell you what a really soul chilling howl sounds like: it's the outcry of a mother mourning over her dead baby, a brand new skeleton wrapped in dry flesh. a brand new skeleton that will never ever utter a single word. nothing to be proud of. nothing to brag about. poetry is embedded with a kind of subtle treason. the beauty of the profane. the lightness of words. the banality of beauty. i am deeply resented. envious. jealous. impotent. boxed. blocked. actually, not being able to tell you anything but a hint of my pathetic self.

ian svensson (Detroit, MI, 1974)

November 26, 2008

last call for 2008 submissions

Deadline for 2008 submissions is December 15th. Submissions sent after this date will not be considered. The Young American Poets staff will resume review of materials on February 1st, 2009.

Want to submit? Read our submission guidelines here.

We would like to thank once again all writers, readers and fellow bloggers that have kept this project alive with their contributions, comments and advice.

(We're just taking some time off from editing duties. The (almost) daily posting goes on!)

The Young American Poets team

November 25, 2008


I wish that I would have been there to follow you to the bars
to hand you pen and paper to capture your stars
instead of clowns handing you demons inside glasses
that made you more evil with each passing possession

been a tape recorder for your burning vibrant mind

been the sky for you to speak your stars onto

been the blank storyboard for you to glue your
cut-out cartoon characters and captions onto

been the empty notebook pages for you to sing
the symphonies of your mind and heart onto

been the film for your camera eyes to burn
hot stares and hotter pictures onto

captured these flashes of brilliance

caged your words before they flew away
to islands of forgetfulness to roost forever out of reach
and then released those words onto your mind's island
to where you could travel, aboard ships of your imagination,
to call their names -those birds- to your hands
to sing once again to you
to project those songs into the skies

but now, those birds will never sing for us
we will never hear their songs in your words
we will never hear of those other trips to your inner islands
or to the outer streets, vibrant and charged with electricity and souls
we will never even know where to find those birds to call out to them
to have them perch upon fingers
to educe lost, fragile, unknown songs from their throats

because the map to your inner islands - it was stolen
by those demons inside glasses
lifted from your lips before you could even
plot the coordinates to draw that map
stolen from inside your mind
melted into candle wax puddles
drowned in the alcoholic flesh of those demons

so we -I- will never find the way to your lost treasures

and I can only hope that there is some truth in reincarnation
some way that souls revolve in grooves on records
are songs spinning back around to be replayed
in diamond needles as the records turn

because if that be true
then maybe one day
I will hear you sing again

nicole nicholson (Milwaukee, WI, 1976)

November 24, 2008

mon visage

On this stage of life, we are just actors
Interacting with other actors with differing factors
And each effect is caused by the improvisation of these reactors
And each reaction has an equal and opposite causational direction
So we read faces and scripts but the words on not written for affection
The sentences you need are in my eyes like pages from your library collection
When I feel sad you change facial expressions but why?
I have not told you what to say next but still you say the correct lie
Because isn’t that what any of us tells, fibs and fables to make other’s knee high
We want to make ourselves feel better, but our character prevents such
So we read our lines off the faces handed to us as we walk with no crutch
But still, to emotional lies and being happy with just one person we clutch
So in this Globe Theatre we are all portraying the same anthropomorphized
And we react to others reactions until our own expressions cannot be prophesized
I wish to no longer be falsified and I need my own face back after being disguised

steven walsh (Rochester, NY, 1987)

November 21, 2008

ritalin nightmare

gorgeous spells for cast aways,
poppy fields, a new pair of shoes,
the likes of thelma svirsky,
the naked poetess,
reading her mildly erotic, mildly outdated
and mildly boring verses
before an audience of drugged up
ADD affected children

these profusely extravagant,
ludicrous attempts at celebrity and stardom
i watched from the last row,
near, so very very close to the emergency door
my face was dyed green by the exit sign,
trying not to be one of them, not wanting to fit in,
stretching verses to reach a second octet and
holding my first conscious erection with a hand in my pocket

* * *

all memories get messed up when thelma appears,
even now, like, two decades after,
even now, when time is not time at all,
it's just hot air inside a green balloon,
a dead folk singer making passes at the local beauty queens,
who happen to be siamese sisters sharing genitalia,
receiving the farewell of their lives, off to the statewide pageant,
imploding in confetti that looks like vomit and feces

and sitting right next to me
the girl who would not talk to anyone
so skinny you could break her in halves just by looking at her
thelma's teeth are melting, it's horrible, and i shout for mother
but i can't speak so i turn to her, the speechless girl,
holding her hands when someone points out i'm not wearing
any pants and thelma shouts and i kiss her, the silent girl,
saving me from a sure death and waking up in a puddle of sweat and pee

jonathan s. baker (San Diego, CA, 1984)

November 18, 2008

ok, well, you can break up with me if that's what you want but i need you to pay me back your half of our trip to mexico

you said you enjoyed every single minute of it
our romantic escapade to los cabos
the food, the shopping raid with my credit card
the expensive hotel i booked for us

and now it's been a week or so we have returned
back to our routines and you
immersed in your halted projects again
whining over quitting you day job

listen, i can't be more supportive than this
taking care of the house
paying your ever growing cell phone bill
and your terrier's vpi

so when you came up to me last night
saying you feel strange with me lately
i say, well, it's good to know because
it's been some time now you've refused all intimacy

at first it was your business partner leaving you
high and dry that was affecting you
and now you just say you don't know
mexico was nice, but of course there was no sex

and you won't resist three questions in a row
until you open up, honest for the first time in who
knows how long and say you want to break up, tears
fake as the papier-mache fruit you bought from that young artesano

do what you will, i really don't care, but i need
you to pay me back your half of our trip to mexico
and that had you snap, and you shouted at me
and had the nerve to call me jerk and a loser

when you are living under my roof, let me remind you
feasting on specialties and sushi from my fridge
pushing my friends into investing in your demented projects
wearing my dead mother's jewelry to benefit dinners

of course i don't need the money but i can't
play the fool here, i need to have some pride
i'm not treating you like a prostitute
just asking you to pay me back for that trip

because that was a week of hope i had for us two
that was yet another attempt to impress you
dance around you, do whatever it takes to make you happy
and still you didn't give a damn

stewart pellegrino (Hoboken, NJ, 1972)

November 11, 2008

be it now or be it never

kiss ride play pray
don't swallow spit your pride
blackmail your way
make the ends meet and tell your tale
choose wisely who your enemies will be
'cause they will be your only friends
watch carefully:
expiration dates
system requirements
the small print in contracts
disclaimers and conditions
all is subject to change without notice
accessories not included
batteries not included
picture for illustration purposes only
choose wisely and promptly and then choose again
no you are not blind this is just beginning

let go
let the sounds flow
let the meaning of words dissolve
let the air in, let the poetry out
let go off me
let go
repeat like a mantra
choose wisely who your enemies are
'cause they will be your only friends
fasting blind, dying fast on empty stomach
a sign of the times
a longing siren lamenting it all

hear the sound of words
waving and weaving nothingness
to become something erectile
and then hit the ground like cobblestone
pearls snooker balls

be it now or be it never
be it green or be it grayer
hit the ground
let go
let dissolve

the verse boiled down
watered down the words devoid
and the poetry upholstered
balding one hair at a time
a mantra that speaks of air
and pain bleak sounds that pair
the long awaited promise of candy
and gucci eyewear something fragile
not the type you expected
one size fits all you can handle plus
the shipping after taxes
why'd you care?

slamming down the trees
comparing better monkeys and playing
the piano the muddy keys and score like
faded watercolors
another sweet tragedy too many
for me to bare
my empty knuckle my bare hand awaiting
not giving nor waning
teddy bears with grizzly paws and deadly skins
for winters there across your street
where men die and people stare
the bell goes ding and fuck goes claire
go mix mingle and share
go pray

choose wisely because there is no second place
there is no medal
just a bus ticket back home
ride and kiss
ride as if you dare

bruno smith (Providence, RI, 1974)

November 10, 2008

landlock state with boiling river

a headache is all i need to stay out,
to think clearly, the waters are up to you,
dinner is up to you, and yet you chose to shoot
the satellite tv dishes and you know how
the neighbors won't call the cops just shoot you back,
playback, swim against a tide of broken barley
relax and think about the time already spent
two years ago i got married in vegas and divorced
in little rock, but i was never good enough of a poet
to write a true cowboy song, no golden ring but
a miracle of a boob job, saline-fill
but cowboys these days are not what they used to be
and poets these days are all over the place
screwing the metrics, sparing the message, teaching
just causes unheard of, a rocky chain disgrace
and horror, moving in then moving out but always
lingering behind on a wheelchair:
elegance i presume is what lacks
here, the lightning, the nuts and bolts,
the preemptive wars, the make-up,
all shook up for the rest of the day,
there is no future and there is no justice,
but there's enough fake orange juice to feed
a whole planet and then fix a couple screwdrivers,
three ice cubes please, feeling so sorry,
landlocked and about to swim against all odds,
about to jump in boiling water, the saline-fill,
the sally fields of this neck with no woods,
the boiling river, the weather channel as oracle
for the time already spent, squandered

evan longhorn (Tulsa, OK, 1979)

November 7, 2008

three stanzas for jerry, now he's gone

for Jerry Beauvoir-Ramirez, my friend and mentor

the space is defunct
windows are going kerplunk
john has left the building
and i live wired to a stolen typewriter

you had your chinese proverbs
one for every occasion
talkative like a chatter bomb
wise and warm like apple pie

even when you die
you take it like a serious project
having it your way, disguised
in old college sweaters you never attended

of course i had more than three stanzas
for you my friend, we miss so much your wicked wit
and resourceful liquor and wine cellar,
the triumph of blue collar over corporate America

for you, globalization was hookers from Albania
twin janitors from Uruguay
the cheap cambodian food joint at the end of 13th Street
and easy access to hardcore japanese manga

yeah, that was your subtle revenge
on everything imposed
on your bad luck as the smartest of the outcasts
may your awful taste be appreciated wherever you are now

jordan mcallister (Des Moines, IA, 1983)

November 5, 2008

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers

The sixth-annual Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers, presented by the Kenyon Review, is now open to high school sophomores and juniors. The winner receives a full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop in Gambier, Ohio, in the summer of 2009, each runner-up receives a partial scholarship. Entries must be submitted through the month of November, using the Kenyon Review Submission Manager.

Further reading:

The Kenyon Review

Past Award Recipientes

Call for Entries at the Kenyon College website

wet gunpowder

you borrow the car
mapquest her new house
drive for two days
and two nights
living on french fries
crossing statelines
not knowing exactly what you doing
not knowing what you looking for

you'd love not to be on this old buick
but drive a delorean instead
and go not to her house
but fly to the not so old times
when both of you were happy
(not so very much she would later admit)

there are no visions
no fuel for scribbling notes
wet gunpowder leaves a poet with no option

you stop at arby's
puke in the ladies room
get a token of southern hospitality
and your ass kicked

now you are definitely lost
now it's time to go home
was there any place to call like that
now you see your face on the stained mirror
and your eyes are yellow
your gums receding
your belly bloated

wet gunpowder makes the poet go mad
after the horrific confirmation
of history repeating itself endelessly

you borrow the car
mapquest her new house
drive for two days
not knowing exactly what you doing
not knowing what you looking for

you borrow the car

daniel bennett (Washington, DC, 1979)

November 4, 2008

nameless and disturbing state of mind, part two

It's not apathy
nor guilt
it's something else
for which I can't find a name

It's not about nightmares
becoming real or pain still
growing here
None such issues are my concern

If I knew the name
I could grab it all the way
But they say you can't beat
what you can't explain

All and all is about
time running back and forth,
the same awkward feelings of yesteryear
multiplied by ten, twenty

Plus confusion and delusion
a plenty, frenzy
and trendy, forever lazy
in my myriad apologies

It's nothing I can describe
Nor it makes me uneasy
It just drags me down
Every day yet another half inch

And in the long run
when I notice the apparent
movement I try to smile but
it's impossible

Because it's not apathy,
it's not pain, nor plain
getting older; but then it just maybe
the sheer horror of being here and being alive

david weinglas (Montevideo, MN, 1978)

October 31, 2008


Lately I've been absent from my duties as friend and daughter
My spirit is wandering miles away from here
Looking for you

Please know I am still functional
I go to work, return phone calls, even did taxes
By myself for the first time in my life

I've never been abroad so i can't really relate
But I do know I miss you
And I count each and every day

That last postcard you sent from Barcelona
I can tell you feel so happy there
It makes me miserable

You should have warned me
How life sucks when you are gone
Trained me for this awful pain

I've already said I am functional

If you want to stay, do
Make a nice memory out of me
Keep sending postcards

I will go to work, return phone calls, do taxes
And once you are dead inside me
I will bring it to an end as well

And then my soul will stop wandering
Maybe then I start to wonder
What life could have been like

With you

elizabeth block (Greaterville, AZ, 1989)

October 29, 2008

short, quick, sharp

the poem is short,
the verse runs quick,
the stanza stabs, sharp
in words not swords,
cuts the flesh

the words dictated,
the ears swollen,
the pain erased
by more pain and words
cut the flesh, stab

the poem is short,
quick, sharp
it stabs
it kills
it dies

will tognetti (Groton, CT, 1979)

October 28, 2008

wendy goes to the farmers' market
and speaks to god

Wendy goes to the farmers' market
just as any other day
she handpicks her heirloom tomatoes
and some eggplants
for she is trying some mediterranean recipe
a close friend jotted down for her
yes, and some basil too
and there
under an unusually warm day in September
she's almost ready to leave
when she hears this voice
sounds like Tom, his neighbor from downstairs
but it's not Tom
I'm God you silly
he is tucked in between some turnips
she laughs
I don't like red peppers, he says
but I'd love some beets!
Who said you were invited
she says with a laugh
Oh, c'mon! it's the least you can do after
I gave you that smile, brains and the two reasons
you wear a fitness bra even when you're not doing exercise

and she goes ok, ok, ok
now, let me off these turnips

Wendy helped him out
with a grin on her face
and her gracious movements
Wendy is so pretty
I wish I could ask her out someday
so they go back and she cooks
the recipe turns out delicious
it's an italian name and I can't spell it here, sorry
and they have a laugh
and then he offers to do dishes
they have tea and he leaves
the farmers' market closes at three
I go back home

steve konrad (Indianapolis, IN, 1980)


first 100 posts at Young American Poets

100 reasons to celebrate and thank writers, readers and fellow bloggers who have made it possible

Thank you!

Now, moving on to more new poetry from America's new poets

Again, thank you!

The Young American Poets team

October 27, 2008

three hundred tigers in your backyard

Little we knew it was the end
better both of us felt
like derailing and crashing

Your fate unknown
my will bewildered
feeling is painful dreadful

(this is one good-bye too many)

Singing off-key
sitting on a plastic bench
bring it on, that sweater

I told you, it's cold in here
Bring it on and wish us luck
in this our new good-bye

I sat alone and I was bitten
I waited and I was eaten
three hundred tigers in your backyard

Hors d'ouvres for empty lovers
these are bruises and wounds
to admire for a lifetime

We lost our dignity and this
is way past your lunchtime
snack on me

Let me forget you once again
snack on me the hollow man
have a bite and maybe one day

You let me out chewed but alive
tame three hundred tigers
and wait to be seated

paul christo (Olympia, WA, 1979)

October 24, 2008

turning thirty

they say it's cool
you look so young
but inside i feel so old,
a creep

they say the future stands before you
but all i see is debt
an estranged family
and selfish friends

they promised a career, money
they want a bride, kids, money
i don't have anything
i am lost

turning thirty is like giving birth
to yourself
only that nobody smiles
and you look suspicious

if you like younger women you are a perv
if you like younger men you are a perv and a fag
if you don't like anyone at all
you are deeply disturbed

pills won't cut it
counseling is not worth its price
turning thirty is like giving birth to a monster
and dying at the same time

jeff simmons (Providence, RI, 1978)

October 23, 2008

what we look for

Poetry is a game with no rules, as much as reviewing poetry is a hazardous activity that lacks a scientific basis. However, here at YAP we fiercely combat the idea of reviewing and editing as an obscure procedure fueled by mystical powers. So we began to think about what we like the most in the vast universe of the ars poetica and have come up with a few guidelines that serve our editorial team as common ground for submissions assessment.

This is what we look for:

A distinct voice. It does not matter whether poetry is about eggplants, elevators, turnips or monster trucks. It does not matter if it is yet another poem about love lost, loneliness or despair. But we do care about finding distinct voices that tell us about what we already know in a new, different way.

An eye catching title. The title of a poem is like a movie poster. It may make you curious about what it is "promoting". So we love well crafted, smart, witty or plain silly and playful titles.

A great beginning, an even greater ending. If a poem grabs you from the neck right from the start you will probably keep reading it until the very final verse, where we love to find a bold, elegant, significant ending, something that reads like "thanks for traveling with us", or maybe even "rot in hell".

Flow, rhythm. Was the travel soft and easy, was it rocky and rough, was it fast, slow paced... we enjoy all types of rides, as long as it is a real, compelling ride.

Emotional impact. We read poems to ourselves, we read them aloud, we look for snippets that we like within the poem, we dissect and reassemble, we read poetry upside down... but in the end all we are looking for is emotion, in the widest and wildest of senses.

The Young American Poets team

i dreamed of grinding your eyeballs

fall semester once again
the sun sets in new england
a cool night
and i wish i could set you on fire

last night i dreamed of grinding your eyeballs
and you were laughing
while i finished reading Also sprach Zarathustra
an annotated edition in German
that i got when i went to Frankfurt in my sophomore year

your silly meaningless laugh
and i was there
plucking every eyelash
plugging my energy saving grinder
it felt so good

let me put this clear: it's fine
that you go fuck half the dorm
but let me remind you we live
in the information age
you dumbass

and knowledge is not power anymore
it's on midnight madness sale
flows from the tap
facebook, myspace, anyone?
you idiot

so you had to satisfy you manly instincts
making passes to whoever crossed your horn stenched path
and after a few clicks i could trace your slimy deeds
you are such a loser baby

i hope your family dies
i hope your dog dies
and i hope my dream comes true
i really do

beatrice kaplan (Pembroke, NH, 1985)

October 22, 2008

tearing at the border

lock and block the entrance
for the greater walls lie only miles away
not in China

lock, block and patrol
and then taste this guacamole
is good, isn't it?

madre, hay un policía en la puerta*

no sir, we haven't seen anyone with that name before
you know how young men are all stationed in Iraq
maybe la migra** is the real migraine

a fifty nation army of the poor and the outcasts
a fifty nation army locking the door for good
a fifty nation army tearing at the seams

vamos ya†, roll your taco and finish it

I spent time in the desert
I still remember my sweet sixteen
life has not changed much

my grandfather was drunk and then he killed himself
and we mourned for a year
dressed in black, locked and blocked

we are no mojados†† eating Doritos
we dwell in borders, the mere transitions
overflown by the transactions

the greater walls are not built
they grow within
and you try tearing them down

lock, block and patrol
and then taste the enchiladas
is good, isn't it?

silvia arroyo (El Paso, TX, 1972)

Editor's notes:

* "Mother, there is a cop at the door"
** Slang for "federal immigration authorities"
† "Come on"
†† Offensive term for a Mexican laborer who enters the U.S. illegally, wetback

October 14, 2008

chasing foxes

Speeding to Wimberly
Kicking up dust and dirt

They call this nowhere
They call us

Your vision condenses
And comes into focus

The windswept rock
Was formed
By a river
Before I knew the wor(l)d

A swallows dive, accented by my whisper
How foolish
Always the last to learn

Approaching me with stern judgement
Rushes the water
Passing Gideon

I can feel you,
Sliding into the river
Soft and suppl(iant)

This took billions of years

I recognize my wretchedness
Next to you

russ hamer (Ventura, CA, 1987)

October 13, 2008


i feel as though i've been crafted at
the malignant hands of an apprentice god...
an insane child of a god.
what darkness awaits me as the sun expires
and the storm quickens its pace?

murderous thoughts have returned
and compartmentalized speech is uttered
it is a veneered walk, empty and spacious
i have no dreams, no hopes, only screams as
a bruised sky threatens to tear me away

i feed off the lives of others
wondering if i'll ever be happy again
because surely i remember truly smiling, laughing
once before... running through fields of poppies
and daffodil and rose, lavender filling my nose,
warm sands between my toes

now though there is only anger and melancholia
no moments sublime... only a torturous belief that
it will all improve, a restraining fear lashing my
hands from pulling a trigger and blowing myself
back to the dust whence i came

i don't even want to cry, i can't remember
what i've lost... only a vague memory of blood and smoke

d.c. massey (Albuquerque, NM, 1972)

October 11, 2008

all work, some play, no words



sweat / well

then there ---> here



i build with them




the heat of urgent expression



hard times for me

all work

some play

no words

brett o'hare (Lewes, DE, 1983)

October 8, 2008

crisp versified carrot cake (recipe)

Time: 30 minutes

2 pounds (about 3 medium) inspiration, peeled and sliced very thinly

1 tablespoon household spirit, or as needed

freshly sharpened no. 2 pencil

1 tablespoon minced fresh ideas

1 tablespoon moldy anger

4 carrots

3 blank pages

olive oil



edge (to taste)

1. Pat inspiration dry if very starchy or moist. In a sauté pan large enough to fit disturbing thoughts spread 1 tablespoon oil and sprinkle with words and pepper to taste. Starting in center, arrange carrot slices in a closely overlapping downward spiral. When pan is filled, repeat to make a second signifying layer. The more layers, the tastier reviewers will find your cake.

2. Place pan over medium heat and cover. Slowly cook carrots until well browned on underside, about 15 minutes, occasionally shaking memories lost to avoid sticking to the past. Wipe your tears when chopping onions. Close eyelids as needed to keep them dry. We don't like to see you cry. Lest when cooking for us.

3. Press with a flat spatula and remove from heat. Place a larger platter over pan and flip it upside down, transferring carrots to anywhere they make themselves at home. Add anger. Bleed.

4. Return to medium heat. Spread over blank pages, not lined. Use pencils, ink or blood. Cover and cook until well browned. Season. Bring it on. Do your homework. Dare write.

5. To serve, slide onto a serving chaplet, season to taste with salt, and garnish with amazing grace or thyme. Let it sit forever. Sing remote echo chambers. Blush. Start all over again.

Yield: enough servings for a hungry troupe. You get nothing.

maxine applebaum (Baltimore, MD, 1980)

October 6, 2008

darts against you and the goddamn universe

my sophomore love died on the beach four summers ago
but it seems ages now and I rarely feel staring eyes anymore
the rattle snakes in the backyard
the speeding tickets
flaws and foes piling alike
and either you lied or got it all wrong
your constellations
they were all wrong

time is not taking toll
time is making us troll and frolic
because time has stopped for goof but nobody noticed
and there is something
or maybe someone
pushing the buttons
someone who has not read the user's manual
navigating on sheer instinct

pardon our dust, our bumps, our bad temper

notice: there are potholes in the galaxy big as this whole planet

warning: the universe is for sale in a seedy second-hand store

* * *

that summer you saw my flesh becoming pale and traced my stretch marks
magnified every scab, every little mark made visible
by that horrible swimming suit that was my birthday present

a young couple yards away was making out
she was gorgeous
and you said I looked like her when we met
she was a brunette and he was well built, a handsome surfer called john
weren't they happy?

* * *

time has not stopped
we become weaker
the strain hasn't made me any stronger
but the body is a wrinkle, the burning sun, the scars inflicted,
the pain concocted over flesh as yellow canvas of history unfolding
while you predicted storm and the honeymoon was over

you drowned on the beach
four summers gone
his name was john
and I didn't look at all like her
your constellations were wrong
as were your predictions
weren't we happy?
too soon it was over and I'm still trying
to bear you close and hear the rattle snakes
in this impossible endeavour

arianna leighton (San Francisco, CA, 1971)

October 3, 2008

sonnet for the singles bar soldiers

the bouncer smiles and nods open the door
an ocean wave of cheap fragrance stench
a deck outside, crippled cleavage on a bench
and we dare them ladies hit the dance floor

they are generous in flesh and maybe more
i crack some very bad jokes, my friend speaks french
in singles bar men seem out of the trench
hungry hunting for prey and carnage, gore

all of us kings with no crown
courting queens with no castle, hideous chambermaids
a few hours of hard earned diversion

we want to score, not frown
turn lights off and kick off the plaids
smoking out, horny as hell in drunk confusion

michael cole embers (Ithaca, NY, 1972)

October 2, 2008

Poetry Center calling poets for Juried Reading

The Poetry Center of Chicago invites poets to submit unpublished work for consideration in the 15th Annual Juried Reading. Eight finalists will have their poetry published in a chapbook by Dancing Girl Press as well as on the Poetry Center website. The Final Judge for the 2009 edition will be Brenda Hillman.

The Juried Reading is open to all poets residing in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Poets may be unpublished or have published no more than one full-length book of poetry. Send poems to: 15th Annual Juried Reading, The Poetry Center of Chicago, 37 S. Wabash Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603. Poems will be accepted by US mail only. There is a $15 jury fee, check or money order. The contest is free for Poetry Center members. Read the submission guidelines here.


1st: $1,500
2nd: $500
3rd: $250

5 finalists receive $50

Postmark deadline: January 29, 2009

Further reading:

Past edition winners

More on Brenda Hillman

October 1, 2008

middle finger march

You grab with an open palm
But your grab is a stab opposite calm
Frantically I panic as I bleed automatic
It flows as the beat slows until finally static
Words cannot express the knot you tied
When I open wide, each syllable seems to hide
Emotionally over you, so over us two and us too
So I'm looking for new, a new boo among so few
I'm not looking for hooking up with just anybody
But looking for hooking up with that special somebody
Lonely I've become and overcome with fear and anxiety
So overshadowed, not hallowed but still haloed tried to see
I want to be me, but me is the nice guy who finishes final
Why does my kind fall behind like a continuum of loves denial
It's happened repeatedly again and then when I think it's done
She comes along, it's been so long but now I've found the one
Or have I? Nope, I fall ass over face, what a waste it seemed
I guess friendship was on her mind, but I find that kind to be dreamed
So you see, you sleep but I keep on scheming and writing
Well, not so much scheming as teaming words in poor lighting
Damn this lamp is like you, bright, slight and slender but easily turned off
It's apparent that apparently I was not the correct guy to help you get off
So get off, get bent in the jail sense, it's going to hurt but rough it
A finger or two to linger a few while I sit on my tuffet eating Ms. Muffet
Was that muffled, apologies for my middle finger policies
I know that blow wasn't rough but hoe right it was slender mockeries
Well, I'm off, I mean, I'm high like loft, liftoff bitch
Peace out, I doubt you care what I write about you bitch

steven walsh (Rochester, NY, 1987)

September 30, 2008

oh well

Plastered by the yellow gaze
She looked annoyed, disgrace
How is it when you falter?
I don't know, she said
Good Lord, and the singing
was all around, prayers for our dead ones
It was time to go and she called it quits,
Knew well they were both in it together
No more
Now you long and love is torn
Nothing you can do to fix this mess we are in
Dear, I beg your pardon?
There's nothing you can do to fix it
Forgive me if I'm not
As damn perfect as you are
The air stood still and I could feel
A heart bit, the one for the zero
Is it me leaving or you going?
Well, it doesn't fell at all bad.
Are you leaving?
The head aches.
Nobody remembers what happened.
There is no justice.
I parked my car outside, walked for some minutes three minutes.
I wish my head exploded now.
I wish I could sleep three hours.
Oh well.
It goes without saying
And it goes off; you dwell
In panic, sterilised
I'm not here for the prize
I'm only taking a break

nicole davis (Seattle, WA, 1990)

September 29, 2008

steal and conceal

lit the long cigarette again, your pillow is
an overused ashtray; split
my mind in two, the easy tremble
of a wish unfulfilled

the heart is a lonely hunter with nra membership

rumble hits the floor,
the lightweight champion,
shouting from a crowd, the roads not taken
because of the roadworks not the indecision
(robert frost is in my freezer)
time to wonder

spend and cut the flesh
spill the syrup
smell the blood and sell
your organs on ebay
bid for bits of me
bid for bites of life
bid for time lost
which is lost for good

why don't you go recherche yourself?

you feel hungry
and you are so scared
repeat with me
you are hungry
and scared: how bizarre

catch me on tape, the glitter, shining motorcycles
and your platinum credit cards
paying for unused dreams
celebrities in jeopardy
the monopoly of glamour
the kid outside the window

no hollywood dreams, no airplane food,
no gas stalkers, no clonazepam honeymoon,
no taxicabs, no anger, no vibrating dildos,
no kettle, no time, no more time, no guantanamo bay,
no downpayment, no anaphora

repeat with me
you are hungry
and scared
how bizarre

alvin ehrlich (Austin, TX, 1980)

September 26, 2008

eye candy

Look again for you just missed a zillion
Bursts of fishered eyes,
A million miles and counting
Broken, blinking, unsurpassed

Livid jets of neon paint, eye candy
Leaning over lackluster weather
In this early Fall eager to make us
Trip like her with no elegance

Because elegance was lost
But the war was won
And that's what ultimately
Matters, you see?

You need more gas for
Blind aesthetics so you don't blink
And curb your ethics
Over the odds of loosing

And I'm sure you'll get an entry
On Wikipedia while you last
Your wishes are commands
Not heard by anyone, or maybe we do

Pretending we don't care
Truth is nobody cares anymore
'Cause someone must be paying our bills,
The never ending mortgage of this world

Still we have the jets
Criss-crossing the sky above
But not that much
For the fuel surcharge

Celebrate again we should
With profit lust and while the APLs blast,
Some gay porn would make me happy
Since the real intercourse is lame

Do they know imma ne'er-do-well?
Have they smelled my armpits expel
The fragrance, stinking flowers they repel
Until they choke and die

Giant screens for that matter won't make
You nor them healthier and live longer
Asking over Twitter once again the same old question:
Will it blend?

uriel zeminsky (New York, NY, 1983)

a real advance in american poetry

"No matter what final verdict is passed on them, these poets represent a real advance in the dull world of contemporary American poetry. The mere fact that they are interesting to read puts them almost in a class by themselves, and their commitment to modernism gives them a relation to the other important art of the century that is not very widely shared in a poetry scene that since 1945 has become more and more provincial each year."

stephen koch on The New York School of Poets, an excerpt from The New York School of Poets: The Serious at Play, an article published in The New York Times, February 11, 1968

Further reading:

A Brief Guide to the New York School (

The Artists & Poets of the New York School (

Rebels (The National Portrait Gallery)

Stephen Koch interviewed by Derek Alger (Pif Magazine)

September 25, 2008

harsh words from letdown parents

going back home was a long delayed matter
because I had nothing to bring back,
as in no news, no stories to tell,
no girlfriend and no money

and then it had been long enough,
the truth was known
and so that was the news:
the news is there are no news

no stories to tell,
and I haven't seen Amy
in a very long time now,
no money whatsoever

years ago, out of who knows what stupid
angry unclear reasons
I set this riot loose inside
and my grips I can tell no more

this moody and grim person I become,
a loner, barely going out
I sit in front of the tv
no questions asked

so going for the long delayed task
I was exposing what was left
of my alcohol drenched guts
and my stench was all over the road

when they opened the door and looked at me with pity
but then it was just sheer shame
my mother cried

you wasted your education
you wasted your life
is this how you show gratitude
to this family?

no mom, I don't have a girlfriend
and I wouldn't have asked you to wire cash, dad,
if I had a real job; it's just me here, at home,

there was no welcome dinner
but I stayed for the night
mom sat with me at the table
for breakfast the next day

the cold autumn breeze smelled like pancakes
and I had shaved and felt I had never left
mom gave me a kiss and poured some coffee
the kitchen door was open

maybe I hadn't woke up yet
there was something glowing outside
I sat and felt at peace
toast was burning

and still, there she was standing with lost eyes
early that sunday morning
isn't it sad, she said, have you read the paper?
and I was delighted to look at her into the eyes again

there is no welcome dinner for the son defeated
but mom will always
give you breakfast
and a kiss, I thought

I ruled out staying
not out of pride
because I lost all of it years ago
out of who knows what stupid angry reasons

it didn't work out the way I wanted
it just didn't
so spare the harsh words
you could tell right from the start

I was not the brilliant child you always wanted
I'm still trying to come to terms with myself
and you always knew
I was not the kind of child you wanted

ron kenan (Colchester, VT, 1972)

young american poets, the facebook group

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Young American Poets

September 24, 2008

cereals in the morning

an empty bowl, medium size,
the golden tokens crackling, taking over,
tsunami soy milk (she's vegan)
now the job's done

can you do this every single day
for the rest of your life
out of something that is not

we're out of orange juice
i complain
well you didn't want to do groceries
she replies

and we sit down
start our little daily routine
and when i look into her eyes
she just makes me feel so happy

tom s. legrand (Portland, OR, 1976)

September 23, 2008

vixen under california sun

sing the summer above, the frail encounter
of roasted beef and a blonde cheerleader
over inflatable raft floating adrift
this is california

sing to me being the impromptu DP
fighting my boner to do the task
clearing the mind
if is at all possible

i take my shirt off while the stand-ins
awkwardly pose and raft overturns
it's so hot you wish them well
the blonde cheerleader is now naked

so here comes the stud
someone inside has kept him
still, his manhood, and oily his skin,
sound, lights, ok, we are rolling

sing, love the weather, love
the shine of her skin and love work
above all, drawing on the lust of millions
over the net, hidden in sordid peepholes

you could say it's all a setup
and bring your barthes inspired analysis
the sontag infused anger, the gonzo eye,
you could say so many things but this, too, is america

the poetry in motion of repeated penetration
despite whatever is fake in this frame, and the vixen
with the off-screen shyness taking it all and
then she's steaming not from the high california sun

sing the summer above and sing
'cause you are alive and the pool
reflecting the sky, the tripods, the script girl
and there is water, enough to wrap you; water

john b. reynolds (San Diego, CA, 1976)

September 22, 2008

real freedom

"The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing."

david foster wallace (Ithaca, NY, 1962-Claremont, CA, 2008), excerpt from a transcription found at of the 2005 Kenyon College Commencement Address, Gambier, OH, May 21, 2005

Further reading:

David Foster Wallace, Influential Writer, Dies at 46 (The New York Times)

The Salon Interview: David Foster Wallace (Salon)

David Foster Wallace at The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, Rolling Stone, Playboy

Note: An adapted version of the same commencement speech was printed in the Books section of The Wall Street Journal

September 19, 2008

poem #34

fast talk, cigars, a scotch,
three laundry lists, a broken egg,
a pint of red beer

next east-bound train is my train
rolling thrill, swollen anger
over rails, the steel,

come over, sit and rain,
pray again, sit,
come on over, hang on,
should i begin?

scarce is scared and it could be all over
templates, forms and backorders
white pain over pure thought
the pus

we heard the knocking
and there was no accident waiting
no frills, no perks and maybe your mistakes
are all accounted to me now, but how?

it could really be over when you heard those words,
when you saw their backs
and had the spirits, drank some more while getting ready,
fast, steady, the curves curving downwards
making it all a spiral

don't be afraid and let them in

the monkeys have arrived

victor chapman (Chicago, IL, 1982)

be the poet of erectile dysfunction

"Trust me on this one. Americans don’t want to know how to die. They want to know how to lose weight. How to get rich. How to sustain that erection! Be the poet of erectile dysfunction, and you might just be the poet who can afford to pick up the check. You’ll start living so well that you won’t care how you die."

michael lewis (New Orleans, LA, 1960), an excerpt from the article How To Make a Killing from Poetry: A Six Point Plan of Attack, originally printed in Poetry, volume 186, number 4, july 2005

September 17, 2008

long gone

i had this great idea for the first verse
of this sure hit poem for the masses; i had this
great idea, last night
but then it was long gone

i am prone
to this forgetful behavior
irresponsible versification
one time too many, one time after another

poetry for the masses is
none of poetry's business
for there is a sure hit for every gazillion misses
the unwritten suffering of the poet

the nerve to keep defying the blank pages
to spill the ink, the blood, drooling saliva
over dreams drenched in sweat and alcohol
the fever of the verse uncanned, raw, urgent

so painful, every word so painful,
the poet dies a little bit
in every verse
his ideas are long gone

the writer is blocked
the poet is dead

i had this great idea for the last verse too,
of this sure hit poem for all classes; i had this
great idea, just a moment ago
but then it was long gone

jackson earl (Wichita, KS, 1971)

September 16, 2008


a friend of mine just got back from south america
he told me there you can get
a blowjob for two dollars
not from some malnourished aborigine
but from a cute, educated, young girl

i can’t remember now which country it was
but anyway, i say we take over them
and have them brush our shafts
while singing the star-spangled banner

o! say can you see
that all these is for free
but then somebody
has to pay for it
can you see?

rob giuliani (Boston, MA, 1976)

September 15, 2008

up for grabs

the future is up for grabas
said my friend erik neumann
erik is not a cardiologist
actually he dropped out of med-school
but he made an awful lof of money with the internet
and sometimes that gives him the right
whose future?
what's up?
there's no such thing as a free lunch
what is the future?
what's up?
it don't make any sense talking about the future
the uncertainties of life
to people who think they shaped their own
the future is not up for grabs
because time, that you can never grab
time flows and spills
and the future, so elusive
has a stubborn tendency to turn into the past
flowing and spilling, elusive - we're never there

marisa everly (Memphis, TN, 1979)

September 14, 2008

you call these people your friends

late at night you wonder, watch tv, do dishes, and again ponder and measure accomplishments, not many of them you must admit, while you knew right from the start you had to compete alone; at the reunion party you find yourself lost, and again you wonder: who are these people, anyway? making an effort to stay sober, you find comfort before it's over in these two girls you met at a seedy pub once; they remember you, the girls, and they laugh about the sheer coincidence, they laugh, and yet you wonder: why did i come here in the first place; the beats pound your chest, another scoth with soda and now you digress, you find everyone so attractive and well dressed, your outfit so outdated it hurts, shame on you, shame and laughter, the silent laughter, the poor guy thought of these people that you call your friends but they are no more; the toilet is crowded but nobody's peeing actually, you wait, you walk, and try to dance, you are sweating and now you just may have caught a cold, sneezing, and you can smell the sickening odor of your sneeze, tiny drops, stale and frozen floating in the air, the beat, the smoke, a girl, and your arm accidentally scans her chest, up and down, and of course you get aroused, now the bottles are getting empty, now you wonder why did they invite you here, why did you accept the invitation in the first place; you wanted to be here and, for at least one night, belong, but belonging is never a one-night stand, and you ponder the ups and downs of everything, of that girl's chest, the ups and downs that make your crotch tickle. do you understand now that love is theft, that promises are burnt, and that people ultimately change; the games you played, the respect you deserve, the money you don't have, the façade you built for yourself, the eagerness, the need for recognition, the mishaps, the mistakes, all in all, time doing the eroding, you doing the enduring, aging in this cage called life, surrounded by strangers who look like mobsters; and you call these people your friends

mark drever (Philadelphia, PA, 1974)

September 13, 2008

death of a young american poet

David Foster Wallace was found dead in his California home on Friday. He was the author of The Broom of the System (1987), Girl With Curious Hair (1989), A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again (1997) and Infinite Jest (1996). In his writing he captured the contradictions and absurdities of present day America, ultimately unveiling a nation obsessed with wealth and pleasure. "If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough. It's the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly", he said once. He was not preaching. He just noticed something may be not quite right in America. "Among people my age, even those who belong to a well-off class who has never suffered any type of discrimination, there's a feeling of discomfort, a profound disconnection and sadness", he said.

Going back to his literary legacy is the best tribute we can pay him. The infinite jest lives on.

Further reading:

Novelist David Foster Wallace found dead (AP)

Postmodern Writer Is Found Dead at Home (The New York Times)

The Howling Fantods

September 12, 2008

the strength of american poetry

"The strength of American poetry depends on the fact that hardly anybody notices it. To emerging poets, eager for an audience, this marginality may seem frustrating, but it is the source of their freedom."

james longenbach, excerpt from Writing in the Margins, a review published in the Sunday Book Review, The New York Times, July 22, 2007

Further reading:

James Longenbach at The New Yorker, Slate, The University of Chicago Press

September 11, 2008

jesus, the certified electrician

How many a Jesus do you need to change a lightbulb?
How many of them? How much do you pay for the job?
'Cause Jesus, you know, he's supposed to be one damn fine expert
In the illumination business, a certified electrician

So let me ask you again
How many a Jesus do you need to change a lightbulb?
How much do you pay?
Minimum wage?

He works long hours, this Jesus guy
He changes the lightbulb
But he doesn't quite like what he gets
The minimum wage, the long hours he spent

And in the end you realize
You need so many a Jesus you don't stop to count
This is no lunchtime joke, no wisecracking
Enlightenment, surplus value, lightbulb mass production

The cost-efficient methods of a well-oiled machine
Enlightenment, illumination, minimum wage?
How many a Jesus do you need to change a light bulb?
How many of them?

eduardo ruiz (Washington, DC, 1986)

September 10, 2008


stepping stones, the muddy waters
of a dirty pond; two leaping frogs
under a golden sky,

no, you don't remember
the treachery of that soggy incident,
you don't, you won't, you can't recall
how you forced inside
the bodily fluids, the excrements,
ravaging every cavity

a leaping frog nailed to the ground,
a cutting board; the flesh,

screams are silenced
since you don't recall
the awful treachery
forcing the pain inside,
the soul, hollowed; the scream,

belinda murphy (Richmond, VA, 1979)

September 9, 2008

only this

darkness rode a blue flame into my heart
and i burst on to the horizon of imagination
no more sorrow, no more joy
only this

i came to you once in a dream
to ride that brilliant stallion to death
but we came upon tomorrow... and now there is
only this

bring me your red illusions
while vengeance breaks my peace
i work in shadows, sweating blood... yet there is
only this

i draw upon the board
and see a manifestation of light
but it is only a lonely ribbon of hope
only this

d.c. massey (Albuquerque, NM, 1972)

September 8, 2008

the runner-up

You gave your best and it was not good enough
Yet you tried again, and tried hard

Facing rejection with no rejoice
You stand up once more

Atlas had it no easier
Like him you carry a World

A World that is all yours
And you hear the laughter from the top

You fail and you fall,
Blind with no cane, frail,

Pluck the schmuck, slam dunk him into the trashcan,
Yes; thrashed, slashed, crushed, slowly becoming

Detritus, debris; no word games but
Rubbish, Bullshit and stinking Manure; crap

The second Buzz Aldrin of this one and only Life,
Always in second place; the nominee, the runner-up

That's me

peter hsu (Los Angeles, CA, 1971)

September 5, 2008

Glück receives Wallace Stevens Award

Louise Glück (New York, NY, 1943) has been selected as the recipient of the 2008 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. Since its inception in 1994, the award is given annually to "recognize outstanding and proven mastery in the art of poetry". The prize bears the name of Wallace Stevens (Reading, PA, 1879-Hartford, CT, 1955), considered one of the major American poets of the 20th century.

Brigit Pegeen Kelly (Palo Alto, CA, 1951) was named recipient of the Academy Fellowship, given since 1946 in memory of James Ingram Merrill.

Further reading:

Former US poet laureate receives $100,000 prize (AP)

Poetry Award for Glück (The New York Times)

More on Louise Glück

Brigit Pegeen Kelly at Google Book Search

young poets are alive and well

Back in May, when we came up with the idea for this blog, we thought it would be just like so many other projects of ours, developing in a sequence that boils down to three basic stages: startup excitement-stagnation-abandonment. Truth be told, it all happened over a couple of sixpacks one cool spring night at Daniel's rooftop. That day we also flirted with relaunching our old high school fanzine (we omit the name here to avoid being ashamed of ourselves), putting together a Poetry for Pets business, renting a mechanical rodeo bull for a poetry tour (we would recite while riding the bull).

After three months online we find it hard to believe this project is still alive and well, growing more ambitious. As cheesy as it may sound, this was fueled by the positive response and encouraging feedback. And it wouldn't have been possible without the collaboration of all the young poets out there that have submitted their work, nor without the support of fellow poet-bloggers (you know who you are!).

So this rare post just wants to acknowledge everyone who has helped us make YAPs what it is today... and to anounce that, by popular demand, we will add a new sister site called Young British Poets. Still under construction while we finish up gathering texts, it will be edited by our friend Kevin Bacon (yes, just like the well-known actor). Kevin is a poet and musician based in London, and he will help us collect and review materials for this new site. He runs the underground poetry fanzine Thamesick and plays the accordion with the balkan-pop group Dead Slobodans.

Again, thank you all very much.


The Young American Poets team

September 3, 2008

the raw cabin

late that night and after
a good three days hike
we got to the cabin,
it was dark

you forgot your flashlight
i thought i hadn't brought mine
but i might
a fight ensues

you see footprints where i see paws
you see scratches where i see claws
you disguise your fears
i hide my awe

this lost cabin is the end of it all
lost in the forest
lost and raw
who has pulled the shortest straw?

right when you expect the slasher movie outcome
nothing happens, we are blank
and desperate
it's so cold outside

you hear accusations
and silly voices
get a grip
cut the nonsense

a cabin is the end
lost in the forest
painfully stark

terrence benz (Boulder, CO, 1990)

September 2, 2008

dad came home

dad came home
he never does during golf season
so i guess something must be wrong
but he smiles
looks happy as ever
his membership at Augusta
was cancelled without warning, he tells me
and he laughs dryly, asks me if I want
to join him for lunch; something must be
really wrong

mom is abroad
in Switzerland i think
she couldn't get a room at the same spa her girlfriends were staying
but she managed to book something a few miles away
just to be there, couldn't afford not to
she texted me before she left; that's the thing
with these overseas pamper parties
you need to play along
you have to be there

my credit card got rejected
when i ordered my klonopin
is everything okay, dad?
he smiled
looking happy as ever
and only now i can see all of his smiles
are in fact the cracks all over the façade
of this sumptuous life of ours

dad came home
and the whole world seems to be falling apart
but we play along
we have to

emily thompson (New York, NY, 1990)

poetry about food fights

"When I was a kid, I was not crazy about poetry. I had a teacher who, in retrospect, I realize didn't care for poetry herself. The syllabus said she had to recite a poem for her captives once a week, kind of the literary equivalent of liver. I wanted to hear poetry about kids like myself, about food fights in the cafeteria..."

jack prelutsky (Brooklyn, NY, 1940), as quoted in a transcript from the Poetry Series featured in PBS's NewsHour, originally aired May 11, 2007. The NewsHour Poetry Series is funded by the Poetry Foundation

Further reading:

Jack Prelutsky's website

Biography at

Author Spotlight at Random House

September 1, 2008

dog days

the air was stew: hot, thick, oily.
my spirit stymied; i was boiling
in my own juices.
i need a bathing suit
and a free pool pass

my old trunks rendered unsuitable,
to say the least,
my pride abashed
after the shortlived stint

so i peddle and paddle
up and down mount pleasant
to face the ultimate horror
of the thrift shop

all else looks pale in comparison,
heat advisory, asbestos warning,
terror alert: orange; this soul, dry;
i got the trunks

now i only need a free pass
but i am told i have to be somehow disabled
to get one;
this is not my winning streak

it don't help to be adrift
in the dog days of summer,
stranded, lost and dry;
i may be loosing it now

so i peddle and paddle again
and finally make it,
a crowded pool,
the ultimate relief, a splash

one skinny girl smiles, i smile;
my trunks don't fit very well, i'm exhausted happy.
there is hope, is there any?
a splash

daniel bennett (Washington, DC, 1979)

young poets wanted

write poetry?
short stories?

then yap!

read our simple guidelines and e-mail your submission to

Young American Poets
New Poetry from America's New Poets

August 29, 2008

life and death

"The deepest thing I know is that I am living and dying at once, and my conviction is to report that dialogue. It is a rather terrifying thought that is at the root of much of my poetry. To have such a thought is, of necessity to relate the imagination to primary issues - moral issues, spiritual issues - and that separates me from those who think of poetry as a literistic game."

stanley kunitz (Worcester, MA, 1905-New York City, NY, 2006), as quoted in an article published in The New York Times, March 11, 1987

Further reading:

Archives of the Poetry Foundation

Biography at

Modern American Poetry

August 28, 2008


Low and below, time bent and catered for, the hole of night; again, the scarred flesh//
of Rita and Amanda, lovingly yours and stupidly waiting for Him to come.
God created sea monsters, they said and tingled; their hymens still intact.
Can you draw him with a fishhook? Press down his tongue with a cord?
Love your brothers and sisters, love them forever until Kingdom comes
and no more beach house in Delaware when the light of dawn shines on the horror,
horseshoe crab hordes pave the way for the coming of the Leviathan

* * *

Naked in the open daylight I stumbled upon the old poet; he was climbing out of a taxi//
Sir, I just heard you on the radio, I said. He gave me a sad, cold look, the old poet;
when he was young he shouted parricide
I have to kill you, sir; his moribund inventions, scripture for America's housewives,//
verse with discount coupons; a big editorial success
Son, I've been dead for a long time now
He disappeared in the early autumn fog
The old poet

* * *

God created the great sea monsters and iPods, lentils, guinea pigs, spiders, not seven but a hundred plagues; the cancer//
His wrath became a mere joke, He watches Monday Night Football while we crack the code, and He laughs since there is no code; there is no code//

Let those curse it who curse the day, who are prepared to rouse Leviathan
Let the cities fall apart, let the trains derail; let them eat a thousand Wal-Marts
like fiery locusts after their 3G iPhones,//
let them feast again and eat their children for desert, because their instincts shall not deprive them from fornication,//
let them strip these fields clear until they can scrape the bones;
let them curse, let them know you can't draw him with a fishhook,
and let them curse again while I lay myself to rest in your burning cathedral

david weinglas (Montevideo, MN, 1978)


noun · a quick sharp bark

Young American Poets

August 26, 2008

three haikus

petroleum spill
breaking news, at the beach
a penguin dies on tv

* * *

my parents
they didn’t like roberto
because he was latino

* * *

this bland cosmic hole
you call earth, home, life
my pain and hell is

felicity johnson-clark (Silver Spring, MD, 1982)

The Yale Series of Younger Poets

The Yale Younger Poets prize is the oldest annual literary award in the United States, also one of the most prestigious given to new American poets. Yale University Press will begin accepting submissions for the 2009 competition in just a few weeks, so it is now an excellent time to start preparing your entry according to these guidelines.

Take note: entries must be postmarked no earlier than October 1, 2008 and no later than November 15, 2008. The competition is open to any American citizen under forty years of age who has not published a book of poetry. There is an entry fee of $15.00, only one manuscript may be submitted.

The winner of the 2008 competition, as chosen by judge Louise Glück, was Arda Collins’s It Is Daylight.

Further reading:

Website for The Yale Series of Younger Poets

More on Louise Glück

Arda Collins at The New Yorker, Reading Between A and B, GutCult

August 25, 2008


and they came
marching in...
those little blue
men, and their
gaping maws --
swallowing ideas whole,
sans Tobasco

those thoughts didn't
belong to me
so i thought
alien presence in
the upper dormitories

an American heritage
and earthly solutions
coffee and nicotine
in an asphalt oasis
bolts of lightning
surface on the
purple fissures
of my cerebellum

and i think of
yesterday's tomorrows
and sigh
"change your light bulb!"
said the attendant
as he handed me a
towel to dry my imagination

what's your destination?

Hades on a toothpick
H'ordeuvres picante for
your more particular tastes
habeas corpus
carpe corpe mortis say i

dancing on marbles
in the ballroom of
Festus Xavier
with the Mistress of the Moon

golden lamps
and silver sheep
lavender mudflaps
whipping up mud
from the lips of dogs

S is for stealth
as i step deftly
through the gardenias
of your soul
tap out if you must

d.c. massey (Albuquerque, NM, 1972)

More from this author at Musings of a Mad Celt

August 22, 2008

julia roberts

so I had a dream last night
I don't have any idea where it came from
but it was so clear and crisp
so vivid
it was a little bit disturbing
it still makes me uneasy

it goes like this
at the very beginning I am with my girlfriend and her family
at some lame time share resort
everything looks old
run down
but I'm stuck there
with her parents and all
we are at the side of the pool
I am kinda bored
not really understanding how i got talked into that

I mean, I love my girlfriend
but I don't need to go on vacation with her whole family
to prove that
as it turns out, I learnt
loving is about proving things all the time
a constant show and tell
a very demanding exercise in patience and self control
but I digress

so we are now at the dining room
which actually is this couple of long tables under a thatch roof
as I said, everything is sort of poor looking but it's ok
I stand up and walk to the salad bar
not because I like salad but because
I need a break from my in-laws
and then I see her

it's Julia Roberts

you know how in dreams you take these things as natural things
Julia Roberts is there
and she just is
no whoa or anything
she is there

I walk past her
and I can see she's with some guy
like his boyfriend or something
she notices me though
and I notice her of course
because she's gorgeous beautiful
all stretched over a deck chair
still wet from a recent splash

and now it gets tricky and blurry
I can't remember exactly how it was
but I notice she's not enjoying herself
the guy is being a dick with her
am I still holding my plate for the salad?
I don't know
but all of a sudden I am holding her in my arms
man, she's so pretty it hurts
we're laying there, I am hugging her
I just can't help to utter what I always tell my girlfriend
"it's such a pleasure being with you. how did I get so lucky?"
and she goes: "it's such a pleasure being with you. I am the lucky one"
and we kiss

I spare you some details here
but right then something I could only define
as a primal rush of guilt
makes me stop and stand up

wait, I am with my girlfriend here
and her family
I can't do this
there's some more stuff happening around
and it is all so vivid and real
and she's so beautiful
but I go back to the table
with my salad plate

my girlfriend's there
I know she saw me kissing with Julia Roberts
but she doesn't say a thing and acts cool
as if nothing had happened
out of some sort of weird dignity
I know she knows
I can tell in the way she looks at me
it's all in her eyes
and I feel guilty as hell

then it all derives into something else
I find myself being pestered by my own family
but somewhere else
and then I woke up

jesus h christ

it was fuckin' Julia Roberts

and she looked damn hot in that pink bathing suit

val ordoñez (Ft. Lauderdale, FL, 1982)

the new interest in poetry

"Nowadays people talk piously about 'the new interest in poetry,' but it's not altogether clear what they mean. More people, no doubt, are writing poetry today, with professional intent, than at any previous time in American history. It may also be true, paradoxically, that a smaller proportion of people are actually reading poetry than were a century ago. Nobody knows for sure; many express opinions."

peter davison (New York, NY, 1928), an excerpt from the article "Discovering" young poets. How some of the best-known poets of this century got that way, originally printed in the The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 281, No. 6, june 1998

Further reading:

The Atlantic Monthly's Fiction & Poetry Pages

Peter Davison's bio

August 20, 2008

a book, my cell phone, an apple

woke up to the sound of construction work
across the road
it was raining

still confused by it all
i managed to take a shower
the skill of man producing rain inside

i had coffee, with milk
went over credit card bills i can't afford
and waited

mental checklist:
don't forget the book
my cell phone, an apple

it was still raining outside
i watched the construction workers
with their fluorescent orange rain jackets

laying the framework of future
luxurious apartments
for picture perfect families

i walked out in the rain
with no book, no cell phone, no apple
living a life i can't afford

michael wallace (Syracuse, NY, 1973)

August 19, 2008

ok, you're right, but what was i supposed to do? it's not easy for me either

it had been a mild winter in vermont
not the kind we got used to endure
and i was sort of unemployed
selling stuff on ebay, walking dogs

my friends were gone
my not so friends were stoned
and you, self-absorbed and focused
in that damn soon-to-be-opened position

so yeah, i screwed up
she was the owner of that cute beagle
and was just as cute herself
just as a lonely as i felt

and you're right, it was horrible
but what was i supposed to do?
abandoned by you and everyone
who ever thought i'd become someone

i would have never talked about this
while speeding on the road
but you insisted to know
where those missed calls were coming from

you called me names, how many of them
but since that day after the crash
i can only remember you calling me
a sad pathetic liar

stewart pellegrino (Hoboken, NJ, 1972)