December 20, 2010

winter ramblings -- part iii







Movers and shakers all hooked on Paxil
And the rest of us left to our own devices
Anything but the truth was not enough
A burden over strained shoulders

There's no such thing as an easy winter
Here in the Northern Plains
Weather Channel tuned the clock around
Noodles, bagels and franks
Noodles, bagels and franks
20 inches of snow

And she said:
For the soul is an empty auditorium
filled with ancient echoes
and ragged velvet seats

And the TV said:
How does one define a Utopian world
And Utopian experiences?
Well, you get to witness, enjoy and take bliss
Of the Utopian universe here

And the Internet said:
The sexiest escort walking
Hand in hand with you at your command
You can have her with you
For a splashy massage
A fragrant shower
Or even for physical entertainment

And I said:
Everything I've lent is lost now


g.r. butler (Des Moines, IA, 1977)

December 19, 2010

last days for 2010 poetry submissions







Yes, it's that time of the year again: our reading period is coming to an end. Deadline for 2010 is December 21st. Materials sent after this date will not be considered. The Young American Poets staff will resume poetry reviews on January 15th, 2011.

Want to submit? Then hurry up, but don't forget to read our guidelines here.


The Young American Poets team

December 18, 2010

jest after midnight







Desperate times call for drastic measures:

Drop the boredom bomb for good,
End the cool kid wars and fuck the blues

Crop your Facebook profile picture
Trimming out and weighing in

Props are fake like plastic trees
Troops, though, are dead indeed

Wrap me around your heart
Make it feel like crap

Shout out the Lost numbers to your neighbors
In the middle of the night -- Let them all wonder

Pet an illusion
Bet on a horse

4!
8!
15!
16!
23!
42!

Kick that nail biting habit
Easy to make it go, easy to get it right back

Set the rules and break them
One by one; like monkeys

(This works wonders when I'm sober,
Should do the trick for you)

Now, to a lesser extent
I wish I was viral
I wish I was viril

I really wish I was


matt sambarino (Dallas, TX, 1986)

December 17, 2010

a poet overcome by enthusiasm isn’t a poet







"Too much of anything gets you nowhere. Even logicians warn that someone who tries to prove too much ends up proving nothing at all. We see excess everywhere in life. Excessive or profuse sensation turns to numbness. It produces indolence, inaction, a culture of sluggishness among individuals and whole populations. A poet overcome by enthusiasm, passion, etc., isn’t a poet—I mean he isn’t able to make poetry. Confronted with nature, his mind is swamped imagining the infinite, ideas swarm in his head and he’s unable to separate, select, or grasp any of them; he’s completely incapacitated, in other words; he can’t harvest the fruit of his sensations—he can’t conceptualize and formulate, can’t apply himself and write, can’t theorize or practice."

giacomo leopardi (Recanati, 1798-Naples, 1837), excerpt from an article originally published in the November 2010 issue of Poetry. Translated from the Italian by W.S. Di Piero.


Further reading:

The poetry of pessimism: Giacomo Leopardi (Rice University)

The Solitary Life (The New York Times)

Leopardi: Selected Poems. Translated by Eamon Grennan (Princeton University Press)

Giacomo Leopardi (Wikipedia)

December 13, 2010

i want to dance barefoot on the grave of history







At the Alamo at the tourist hour, I don't mind the heat as much as I do the screaming children; maybe I should have paid for the audio tour to drown out the people. This was a church, it was holy, then it saw war, an unholy one. The plaques call this a shrine. More glorified war, more valorized shame, more hatred historicized incorrectly. The signs that instruct me to not touch the walls make me want to read them as if they were braille. The rooms have been retrofitted for air conditioning, the stones must feel refreshing, I want them against my skin. I want the nerve endings in my soles to absorb the chill and store it for when I walk back to the hotel in the middle of the day. I want to take off my shoes and let the past creep up through the base of my body.


allyson whipple (Cleveland, OH, 1984)

December 10, 2010

thirty years to the day







on my thirteenth birthday, elaine told me
now that i was grown, she would not be attending
anymore hockey games

when the tornado upended eighth avenue and logan
the four of us gathered at the streets of london pub in north capitol,
the pints were pricey and the band talked too much

i was the black sheep that ate the flock
i opened my box of letters
the three of you did not even know mom took up pottery


lawrence gladeview (Longmont, CO, 1983)

December 7, 2010

bring it on







I want to smash apart my computer and snort it up.
I want to melt my cellular phone and shoot it into my veins.

Let us all drink tumbling towers
and piss in our neighbor's yard

Spring comes in a can now.
Can I take pill for that?

Studies have shown lions are roaming our streets.
There are some side effects of course

Never trust a man with a mouth.


garrett west (Detroit, MI, 1984)

December 6, 2010

lorelei café







i lounged at the kaffeehaus–
identical to that fake german
café from epcot, if the huge
manmade lake was the rhine

i dunked a stale berliner in
my cappuccino and flipped
through the pages of my
fresh faced german diary,
purchased in a gift shop
for impulsive americans.

i traced the phrase
"übung macht den meister"*
etched along the binding
in flawless cursive script

the pastry crumbled and
oozed on a blank page.

three years later,
it remains, a lone
journal entry


stephanie gustafson (St. Paul, MN, 1988)


* Editor's note: "practice makes the master"

November 16, 2010

riddle







if a fly is a fly
why isn't a man a walk?
or a die?


ava grünberg (New York, NY, 1971)

November 12, 2010

to a poet a thousand miles away

for Laura Eglin






She's the one who started it all
By calling water by its name
Speaking in that soft sweet voice
Yet with a deadpan stare

Showed up unannounced and nesting
Her warm child under her armpit
I was intrigued and still
Happened to had just split

Since then name of water
And name of expatriate poet
Became familiar, longed for and aired
All poets, sooner or later,
become something of the sort (that is, expats, smoke or lonely bears)

My first guess was a mistake
Feelings grew not within but around
Early stories and skipped classes
Her bright joyful eyes behind her glasses

It's never virtual when she's typing:
Your story is my story
Rather hours ahead in hidden beds
Water sliding and pages seeming wet

Bringin on, miles away from home,
That same fresh air we endure through
The darkest winter and breathe
In January when it's hot here
And it's hotter there

My only hope is she knocks my door
With older children, a big hug,
Her smiling cat and healing wounds
For we both know sooner or later

Poets are meant to meet halfway
Across the page, through the borders, against the odds
Where miles turn stepping stones, the desert blinks
And proper names become oceans


bardo thomas (Jacksonville, FL, 1978)

October 6, 2010

The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival







Four days of peace and poetry is one slogan that could suit pretty well for The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, dubbed "Wordstock" by The New York Times. Based in Newark, New Jersey, and arriving this year to its 13th edition, the biennial event is North America's largest poetry festival. Sharon Olds, Martín Espada, Kay Ryan and Bob Hicok are only a few names from the long list of poets taking part in the evening programs, which are the centerpiece of the Festival. If you're nearby, don't miss it!

The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival
October 7-10, 2010
NJPAC and Newark's Downtown Arts District


Further reading:

Festival 2010

Festival Poets

Scheduled Readings

October 5, 2010

little red riding hood feels the tingle

"I want to be notorious,
infamous, androgynous,
barely innocent,
vaguely inconsistent
"
Giovanni Anderson (1742-1801)







Behold, a nightmare!
a porn star, a turtleneck, and no poet
So much energy towards a useless revolution,
Mother said -- What a waste of time!

And the higher the buildings rose the deeper we were drowning
Into recession, anxiety and Civil War, which was anything but Civil
The Rat Race was over, the triumph of Evil inevitable,
The smell of your panties, unforgettable

[PLACE COMMERCIAL HERE]

The story of Little Red Riding Hood, everybody knows -Or should know-
Is not about a girl shuttling a piece of cake for her grandmother, no
It is about the innate curiosity of the young
About the dawn of sexual arousal

So when The Wolf living in the dingle
Makes Little Red Riding Hood feel the tingle
From his signature swinging schlong
You can't help but remembering Anderson's words:
barely innocent, vaguely inconsistent

Because both Wolf and the red hooded girl are hungry
And she may not be as strong as him, but you know she has the instinct
To devour the black animal using teeth and nails
Were it needed -- and you can comfort yourself saying:

Poor little thing!
Just a little girl!
Good heavens!
Dear Lord!

The higher the buildings rose, the bigger our despair
Just like when you came back home -- just like
Only to grab your belongings
And walked out the door without saying goodbye.


richard krauss (Missoula, MT, 1975)

October 2, 2010

roadkill







I washed the Honda Odyssey
just yesterday-and now
the bumper’s splattered.
I dread the clean-up process.

Surveying the wreckage, I try to
recall the last time I witnessed
any expression on your pyrite face.
The trail of tears was absent
at your mother’s burial,
so why is your salt spilling
on the tabby's mangled body?

Fascinated, I study the feline's
anatomy: crushed skull bone,
intestines strewn across the
steaming pavement.

I wonder: should I be touched,
or annoyed by the tears that
dampen your graying beard?

I wrap the tabby in a
flowered picnic blanket
that hides the matted fur.
And from the right angle,
she looks peaceful.


stephanie gustafson (St. Paul, MN, 1988)

September 28, 2010

scotch, lipstick, and alone







donaldina relocated to
steamboat springs twelve
years ago, she's originally
from scotland

donaldina has girlfriends, but
not friends, and on friday nights
she never has a date

how could
this be?

she is a respected bagpiper,
two handicap golfer, and
a champion curler.


lawrence gladeview (Longmont, CO, 1983)

September 27, 2010

wine in my throat, pen in my hand, you in my vengeance







If that was love, I rather go loveless
And well, yes, I am putting this into verse
After reading my metaphoric Monday paper

Where it is printed that I was so not
The kind of guy you expected
Or ever wanted as a significant other

It is all so lame:
Me and you, the metaphores,
Stating the obvious, not being able to see the evident

Your all new look
Favoring the clothes you once said
Were reserved for desperate wannabes

Your sudden new life
I can't compare
Friends all drawn from the liberal arts

Your new boyfriend
I can't compete
His clothes are so much better than mine

Tell me if it will ever stop hurting
Tell me if I will ever forget you
Tell me if this poem will do


carson newman (Boston, MA, 1987)

September 21, 2010

they call me hispanic







they call me hispanic, latino, brown
what do they know?

they call me wetback, chicano, tex-mex
they build a wall

they say we're good fo'nuthin', yet use our tax dollars
for pumping petrol in their border patrol

they call me hispanic, latino, brown
mandatory labelling, profiling frenzy

they knock our doors in the middle of the night
asking for josé, for hernán and rita

they won't let our children speak spanglish
and yet they order undocumented fajitas

they send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes,
but I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong

they call me hispanic, latino, brown
they build a wall


silvia arroyo (El Paso, TX, 1972)

September 17, 2010

summer work







subdued in the raw smell of office supplies
and paper bags with the tops rolled over,
you'll take down in your messagebooks
how they stapled you to a rolling chair,
made you dance for a man you don't know
and for a phone that does not want to ring
and does for anyone but you.

so you answer in a name that isn't your own,
pray at an arbitrary wooden desk
to not be there long enough to see
your name engraved on a rectangle paper card.


samantha zimbler (Staten Island, NY, 1991)

September 14, 2010

The Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize 2010







The Waywiser Press is now accepting submissions of poetry manuscripts for the fifth annual Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize. Entrants must be at least 18 years of age and may not have published more than one previous collection of poems. Manuscripts must be written in English. There is an entry fee of $25 for residents of the USA and £15 for entrants in the rest of the world. Read the full guidelines here.

Prizes:

The winner receives $ 3,000 or £ 1,750 and publication of the winning manuscript by Waywiser Press, both in the United States and in the United Kingdom.

Postmark deadline: December 1st, 2010.

September 13, 2010

about this poem







this poem has no first person singular
it is not about you either
and while it definitely has no nutrition value
it may contain genetically modified products

this poem was not written but produced
in a facility that also processes nuts, wheat and eggs
vacuum sealed for extended freshness
please see reverse for expiry date

this poem was enriched with sodium, iron and blood,
additives and preservatives approved by the FDA
no significant amount of metaphores or poetic license to be found
other rights may apply, such rights vary from state to state

this poem was not tested on humans
but it was indeed tested on rabbits, mice and a 16-year-old chimpanzee
they all seemed to enjoy it, except for the monkey
who scratched his head in sheer disbelief


[Poem parts made in India, Malaysia and Thailand. Assembled in China]


lex fairchild (Phoenix, AZ, 1982)

September 10, 2010

fuck you, i’m from kansas







Two inches of snow in Norwich and this city shuts down.
“There just isn’t enough grit!”
Fuck you, I’m from Kansas
Where grit comes from the inside
Where blizzards bury children in as little as eight minutes
And you just deal with it.
Socialized health care?
Fuck you, I’m from Kansas
If you get cut, you die. Simple as that.
Sure, we’ll pray for ya’ll, but that’s about it.
We buried pa in a field by the Kaw River after the rustlers came,
And ma died while trying to birth that calf, kicked in the head to death,
Little sister was bitten fifty-two times by a rattlesnake before she managed to bite off it’s head, and we couldn’t afford the antidote cause the cattle died of blight.
The poison still courses through her veins today. Makes her mean.
And when the well ran dry, fifteen kids tripped and fell into it
Cute little blonde-haired blue-eyed kids,
Like the kind you save in movies
Movies that are never set in Kansas
And as they fell to their tiny deaths
We just watched.
Health and safety?
Fuck you, I’m from Kansas
I went to school in a class of four hundred
Only eight of us are still alive
We couldn’t find Billy Ray after that twister got him.
He’s probably somewhere in Missouri
Or Ohio
Or maybe Iowa.
Or maybe bits of him in all three.
Did we miss him, yup,
But fuck you, I’m from Kansas
It’s just part of God’s plan
We just got color in ’94, before that, everything was black and white
Except the people, they were just white.
I’m not racist, fuck you, I’m from Kansas.
Nineteen of my friends died of dysentery,
Cholera got the other six
My Facebook page reads like the book of the dead
The dead of Kansas.
I cried once, when I was two, and pa punched me in the face
Fuck you, son. We don’t cry. Not in Kansas.
Nothing tastes better in Kansas than pain.
We like our women to have teeth
But it doesn’t always work out that way
You don’t always get what you want in Kansas.
If you don’t drink a case and a half of Pabst Blue Ribbon a day
Fuck you, get out of Kansas.
If you don’t stop at the titty bar along the highway
Fuck you, get out of Kansas.
Our capital, Topeka, is built of sticks and mud.
We added a brick once, and the whole thing fell over.
Forty thousand people died.
So we just started again.
Fuck you, I’m from Kansas.
I graduated at the top of my class in Kansas because I went to the library and read the book.//
Now I’m governor. Governor of fucking Kansas.
So when the snow comes next, and ya’ll English are trying to push your faggoty French cars out your ever-so-slightly frosted over roads, don’t come whining to me.//
I’ve seen it all. On the cold, cold prairie.
Fuck you, I’m from Kansas.


will averill (Lawrence, KS, 1974)

September 7, 2010

what i see







what I see is dead umbrellas
skeletons lying on the streets
no traces of the fabric that once stood
between rain and being

the sky is plumber gray
roads are empty
looted malls in a take-it-all spree
by spirits riding cinnamon buses

what I see is the outcome of a plague
a deadly virus, heavy weather
and Miley Cirus, half naked
a storm of epic proportions

the ultimate open-zipper policy
vague notions of a nation's
leftovers, cranks and cramps,
marauding bodies seeking prey


eleanor day (Tacoma, WA, 1979)

August 11, 2010

you say explode







the red wine was a pouring in a whirlwind binge
soy sprouts and foul mouthed outbursts,
icicle! popsicle! bicycle! rats!

the tension building upon the tension in a fringe
must be the poetry of lonesome short skirts,
tonsils! advil! Brazil! maps!

you say explode
the way you say things when you matter-of-factly mean it
google! goggles! giggles! fuck.

it all goes kaboom when the summer's in bloom
your ass no longer mine, now Zagat rated
you say explode

the way you say things when in your please-all mode
the mode you say things when it doesn't go your way
still, I rather go to a bring-your-own-beer kind of venue

you say explode, I say yeah!
it all goes down the drain; banal expectations of a normal life
anal perspiration when hostile cruelty is rife

not uncommon, by the way, building up to 7200 degrees
you say explode, sucker
and when that happens, sadly, it all goes stale


norbert norris (New Haven, CT, 1977)

August 9, 2010

maturity







i recently
took up
fashioning
a beard

        for what
        duration
        do i let
        this thicket
        germinate?

        what is
        the jugular
        etiquette?
        barber every
        two days?

on second
thought

i am
not ready
for this.


lawrence gladeview (Longmont, CO, 1983)

August 5, 2010

snakes and ladders







hierarchy

prevalence

ambition

escalade

intercourse

solitude

vacuum

descent

hunger

anger

fear

aggression

bad credit loans

submission

hell breaks loose


game instructions:
snake bites pull you down
and you tremble in cold sweat
ladder accidents pull you down
breaking your legs and your morale

go up and down at will
if you can


talbot dillinger (Rome, GA, 1973)

July 26, 2010

misconceptions of a novice copy editor







I am fact-checking a piece on a new German luxury sedan
And I easily recognize in the cover picture
Of the digital brochure where the technical specs are
The Chicago skyline in all its grandiosity

I am suddenly distracted from my job
Thrown in a burst to a time past long ago
That one time we walked down Michigan Avenue
Is this accurate?: "Hand in hand"

I smell the iron coming from The Loop
I savor the deep dish pizza
I remember I was then, still young
I descend slowly, like in a panoramic elevator

* * *

The thousand miles in Greyhounds
And frequent flyer loopholes
I squeezed through just to get there
Speed up before me and before the tinted window

The wind in your hair, the woolen cap I gave you
Those endless phone calls in the middle of the night
Your friends and, why not, that other girl I dismissed
Because of you, turnstiles, plenty of turnstiles,
Ticket booths, phone booths and obstacles.

All in all, it's a misconception
And I get back to my work:
Yes, the horse power is right
And I am tight, sweating, sitting in my desk
A deadline away from an empty home


talco fischer (Monona, WI, 1976)

July 22, 2010

poetry of rock







A rock is king of its own salt -- washed again and trembling
Malaise, early bird bonds, frustration and raspberries kept
The mineral still for thirty three thousand years
Oh, how it hurts!

Has seen infants turn into old men and women
Been climbed time and time again, defied
Was unable to help the boy who wanted to impress a girl
When he skidded, hit his back and fell flat to the ground

With a thousand legs like ghost limbs -- so real
Just trying to keep a balance and a distance
Disappointed because skin turns into sand little by little by little
Yet the soul remains a stone forever

Wet and cozy refuge for furry lichen -- clothes you might be afraid of
Becoming bread as pebbles and twisting with ice hot frenzy
Has a skeleton indeed but not a single eye
Unable to feel what time feels like but for the painstaking erosion:

A rock is queen of its own grief...

And that's about it


arthur grobb (Decatur, IL, 1991)

July 21, 2010

high 90s







lip balm grease innuendo
good times please Nintendo
calm, seduced, stupendous
bill my room, follow through
embittered

there's friction in a fraction nanosecond
air is gone and sweat is prone
I'm on, he's in,
joy, pride, rubber souvenirs
tease it and squeeze it so it flows in rivers,
tonguewise

soggy
undressed but by my training socks
let them go too
please let them crawl out
it's you and me making Wii
surfing the crazy heat wave
feeling full circle for the first time
feeding empty random thoughts of sorts:
Magellan's friends just called him Nando


audrey villisac (Indianapolis, IN, 1988)

July 20, 2010

accidents waiting to happen







should you walk away empty handed
remember the ants, the skills and the black paint
remain professional at all times
be righteous, courteous and gorgeous
no milk spill can make you lose temper

like a loose skateboard in the dark
plugs plugging plugs plugging more plugs
in a wire jungle coming out of that one single outlet
ill-conceived at the sudden blow,
sputtering home, sweet anger

help yourself
help others
sound the alarm
be calm, locate the exits (should they exist)
smile

it could have been me, it could have been you
walking out of the building in flames
accidents waiting to happen
fighting fire with gasoline
lacking courage for in our chests pounded shrinking hearts

kind of we deserved the smoke and all

the blurry vision
the ugly aftermath


ruth labandera (Santa Fe, NM, 1974)

June 9, 2010

does color matter?







The outside of a black hole
is equally as black as
the inside of a black hole
When discussing black holes
our conversation should
never move passed the color
black
Unless of course we consider
white to be a color
And ask If a black hole is the absence
of matter and white is the
absence of color why isn’t a
black hole white?
I suppose the absence of matter
has nothing to do with
the absence of color

Similarly (though not)
The outside of a person
is equally as colorless as
the inside of that person


john kropa (Redbank, NJ, 1990)

June 4, 2010

heavy







Clench jaw
heavy lid
misses the breeze
misses the sun

clench jaw
heavy lid
misses the ease
misses the fun

grit teeth
red eyes
knows not the strength
knows not the will

grit teeth
red eyes
knows only the length
knows only the hill

frown mouth
drooping brow
once had the heart
once had the light

frown mouth
drooping brow
has lost the art
has lost the fight


claire audrey gallagher (Fresno, CA, 1991)

June 3, 2010

a thought or not







The prices of things have changed
and that is very hard to believe.
Our minds stay the same and I still know
which side the groceries are on.
That is something that is taking space in my head,
which can only hold so much.
Perhaps a memory was knocked out so I could remember this fact.
I am guessing it goes something like this:
I am standing the center of the food court wondering
if I should take a horse or a taxi.
It looks like rain and burning buildings,
and I must prepare for this party.
I forget.


garrett west (Detroit, MI, 1984)

June 2, 2010

ink received from the editor's pen







The trend now is to take song lyrics
and replace one word in the chorus
with a contemporary word
like tweet,
so, for example,
you keep on tweeting my love into the borderline
or
I would tweet anything for love but I won’t tweet that.
It's not plagiarism because we've replaced a verb.
The trend now is to avoid entire elements of language.
This is what I recommend.
Replace any adverb with the name of a television show.
It's something our readers will recognize.
She went down the stairs dancing with the stars™.
Readers will feel their living rooms.
And forget iambic.
It's been done to death.
The hot thing now is to correlate a poem with the speech pattern of
the actress who adopted all those children from Africa.
Pop culture and supporting a cause!
The trend now is to write a haiku
and delete every third word.
It saves us time and space
for ad revenue.
This is what it sounds like
when doves tweet.



bryan borland (Little Rock, AR, 1979)

June 1, 2010

daughter of a fisherman







I remember two things

November late afternoon sunlight
exclamatory sparkles of dust
upon lashes a fence to blue eyes
the dull scent of cat litter and coffee grinds
&
pacing a guttural song against the glued down tiles
counting pills from green tubes
white miniature cupcake molds, catch,
then dispose down toothless gaps
a sacrament with red ink confessing

walking and watching
a curious peer around corner
lingering waiting strangers in my home
why you here


matthew wedlock (Taunton, MA, 1984)

May 28, 2010

zombie girl tries sitting at the back of the bus







For some reason, that day, she decided to play
Truth or Dare. She dared.

She leaned over to kiss the blondish boy
and she did encounter

soft, like she thought she would but there wasn’t
any movement as she expected.

She opened her eyes onto her first real penis.
The other kids had had

to prop the boy against the back of the seat
so the zombie girl would be properly

aimed at his crotch. Did she think of crying?
Of throwing up?

What she did was crawl under the seat, swerving
to her right to reach the aisle

before she stood up and walked, without looking back,
to her normal seat at the front of the bus.


jessie carty (Portsmouth, VA, 1975)

May 27, 2010

distrust







I distrust foundations, think tanks, non-profits, NGOs, the church
-- in all the wild and colorful forms it has adopted in this scornful nation of faith//
I distrust the Federal Government, its multiple agencies like tentacles, the police state we live in and the Library of Congress//
I distrust the media, televised singing contests, public transportation and the notion of a collective us, happily marketed as one nation under God, indivisible, the unfulfilled promise of liberty and justice for all//
I distrust the Internet as a means of better understanding and better communication, corporate slogans, retirement homes, hedge funds and Wall Street//
I distrust pop music, big-hair heavy metal and alt-country, Monday Night Football, discount coupons and free popsicles//
I distrust digital photography, fashion magazines, smartphones, iPhones, iPods and iPads//
I distrust my neighbors, their born-again christianity, their new car and beautiful kids, their financial struggle and capability to project themselves into a future of neverending debt but still happy they'll manage to send their offspring to college, just like their parents, and their grandparents who actually didn't go to college and were in so many ways blissed by ignorance//
I distrust the easy way out, no future nihilism, I distrust those who, upon questioning, can only say they sold out to the man//
I distrust the paranoid conspiracy theories abounding, about how it's all said and done, the notion of this world as theatre, people as puppets, and some string-pulling entity above all//
I distrust the convenience of convenience stores, hot water bottles and people who dress up in super hero costumes for comic conventions//
I distrust the power of the mind, the hope for a better tomorrow and, as I type,
I distrust to nausea my very own verses


dan kraut (Cincinnati, OH, 1981)

May 25, 2010

a greasy summer morning







Getting off when it was too late
Was the easiest part
An emergency exit never before opened
The boiling cauldron of misery

Hear an echoeing siren
Incendiary vowels coming
Out through your nostrils
Golden weasels, electric blue heat

Contact paper for wet endings
The beards in glue and please:
Fleet must return home
I must return home

The pavement was lava
The sweating needles through my temples
The dripping distilled alcohol
The rain grease drops over my head

There is no glory after a roudy night
A path stolen from the golden arches
Tell me what is true in you -- for reals
Tell me what is and maybe we can work something out


bernard wilson (Chicago, IL, 1976)

May 18, 2010

our bed







our bed is a contradiction
you say it’s loud like cotton balls
if that’s not enough under a muffling comforter
the dip brings us together, how I like it
you see a hole that chases dreams away
I don’t feel the dip, just you in my arms
my soft pillow of breathing warmth
keeping me alive, snug while I slumber


victor kondratas (New York, NY, 1981)

May 17, 2010

a passing storm







1000 suns bend upon the sparkle of your eye, and swallow whole the river
of life bursting from singing sails. Windswept tears sway before the storm
starts its moaning, while the gleaming tides take flight in search of refuge
from our decadent carnage. The skies begin to boil in their acid-splitting
cries, melting through each and every person that I've been, till the wells
that feed my veins gargle in gasping rage. But now rising, floating, sailing on
the breath of dreams through violet seas of exploding stars; lost in
archipelagos long since swallowed by the deep; reaching across rainbows into
the eyes of children begging them to tell of their secrets.
Crying Life! Singing Light! Dancing to the rhythmic Destruction!
And it's here I shall sail, till our dreams have stopped breathing, till
the tides have fallen and the sails have torn, till once again the storm
has passed.


alex gale (Durham, NH, 1988)

May 16, 2010

American Poetry 101: Emily Dickinson







"I started Early -- Took my Dog --
And visited the Sea --
The Mermaids in the Basement
Came out to look at me --"

Poem 520, excerpt


"I'm nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there's a pair of us--don't tell!
They'd banish us, you know"

Poem 260, excerpt


Emily Dickinson (Amherst, MA, 1830-1886)



* * *

"The one power Dickinson trusted was the power of language, which she loved (...) By her own account she experienced an acute physical reaction to words, a euphoric shock. I know exactly what she meant, because her poetry has that effect. Ambush is its strategy. It knocks the breath out of you and leaves you giddy, like a nanosecond-long roller coaster ride."

Holland Cotter, excerpt from ‘My Hero, the Outlaw of Amherst’, published in the Arts Section, The New York Times, May 16, 2010


* * *


"Had I a mighty gun
I think I'd shoot the human race
And then to glory run!"

Poem 118, excerpt


Emily Dickinson (Amherst, MA, 1830-1886)



Further reading:

Emily Dickinson (Poets.org)

Emily Dickinson (Poetry Foundation)

Project Gutenberg: Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson. The Complete Poems (Bartleby.com)

Times Topics: Emily Dickinson (The New York Times)

Emily Dickinson (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Second Debut of Emily Dickinson (Virginia Quarterly Review)

Emily Dickinson Museum

Dickinson Electronic Archives

Emily Dickinson: The Poetry of Flowers (The New York Botanical Garden)

May 12, 2010

a few broken verses on the thin
moral grounds you stand on







Hitchin’ a ride with a demon inside
Pulling the lever and letting it all out
Have you ever been comfortable, baby
You said we’d reap the benefits together

No prophets and no promised land
Let alone fat research grants
I'll vomit if I hear the words
Endowment for the Arts

You said awful things about me
So we could reap together the profits
Parking lots and minimum wage
That's what I call moral turpitude


amanda santorini (Portland, ME, 1981)

May 11, 2010

love of commodore 64







Before Blogger
There was Blagger
Boulder Dash
Arkanoid
Entombed
Aztec Challenge

Giana and Maria
better known as
The Great Giana Sisters
Flip & Flop
Oil's Well
Super Pipeline

A whole universe
My entire childhood
In less than 64 kilobytes


thom peabody (Los Angeles, CA, 1976)

May 10, 2010

hepatic maelström







You say you're driving thru the Santa Fe mountains
While the nauseating memories of a deep throat accent
Invade your visual field and ears
Westbound traffic follow ramp, yield,
Last exit before bridge ahead

It's been too many years burning miles neglected
And I've followed you from a distance
Moving around for the sake of forgiveness
Apologies that quite never made the cut

Last exit before bridge, roadworks,
Detours, U-turns in the middle of the night
Suspicious calls and empty smiles
Last exit lost and I'd be better off
Just jumping off the bridge
A road not taken

I hear you hauling a bed, bad memories
And a worth seeing record collection
Out in the fields there's bad reception
You're driving thru deep forests,
Across the big damp nation
An escape to the nearest coast
Thru hostile reminders

Neon light binge
Eyes wide open staring at the road
The black scarred road leading you
Further and farther
Across rivers and bridges
Your true last exit to complete redemption

On the phone, of course, there's bad reception
Hepatic Maelström from the abuse at Arby's
Greasy chocolate from the creepy gas station
Vodka bottles loosing traction in the back seat
It seems we're driving our exact opposite ways

Across rivers and bridges
Thru mountains and salt beds
A growing black bile tide indeed
My very own inner Maelström
While you swiftly cruise thru the mountains
And skip for good that last exit
before the bridge ahead


andrew miller (Virginia Beach, VA, 1974)

May 4, 2010

Rae Armantrout, 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry







Rae Armantrout (Vallejo, CA, 1947), author of ten books of poetry and a professor of writing at the University of California, San Diego, won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Versed, published by Wesleyan University Press.

The Pulitzer citation calls the book, which dwells on war and cancer themes, "striking for its wit and linguistic inventiveness, offering poems that are often little thought-bombs detonating in the mind long after the first reading."

Influenced by the likes of William Carlos Williams and Emily Dickinson, Armantrout is one of the founding members of the West Coast group of Language poets.

Finalists in the poetry category also included Tryst, by Angie Estes (Oberlin College Press) and Inseminating the Elephant, by Lucia Perillo (Copper Canyon Press).

* * *

"People who want to write should read. If they want to write poetry, they should find a poet who speaks to them, and they should read everything by that poet. And then they should find another one who speaks to them and they should read everything by that poet. I don't think people do that enough these days, somehow."

rae armantrout as quoted in a transcript from the Art Beat blog at PBS.org


Further reading:

Conversation: Pulitzer Prize Winner in Poetry, Rae Armantrout (PBS)

The 2010 Pulitzer Prize Winners. Poetry (Pulitzer.org)

Where Every Eye's a Guard. Rae Armantrout's poetry of suspicion, by Stephen Burt (Boston Review)

‘Versed’ by Rae Armantrout: California Poet, National Recognition (Paper Cuts, NY Times)

Versed, by Rae Armantrout, Wesleyan University Press, 2009 (UPNE.com)

Rae Armantrout at the Poetry Foundation, Poets.org, Electronic Poetry Center at SUNY Buffalo, UCSD Literature Department, The New Yorker

Audio

Rae Armantrout at PennSound

Video

Video from the 2009 National Book Awards Finalist Reading

Rae Armantrout reading from her Pulitzer Prize winning book Versed (92ndStreetY channel at YouTube)

February 16, 2010

endless possibilities







Since we broke up
Or better, since you left
I've been juggling with
Endless possibilities

Considering the odds
Scrutinizing different options
Probing the multiple paths
Unfolding before me

For you see, it all seems so blurry
and yet so clear to me now
That I'm walking the extra mile
Just to hear the sound it makes

I hung out with an ageing ex-model
Who bought me dinner at an upscale, fancy restaurant
And then took me to her apartment
Where we fornicated a few times

I dated fat chicks
With a college degree and boring jobs
Little or no self-esteem
Always eager to please

I flirted with men
And quite enjoyed the company
Of old ravenous guys
Looking for adventure

But even when I hit rock bottom
At some other not so pleasant times
I never considered being like you
That's the one gate I left unopened

I never ever want to be like you
Not even faintly resemble
The childish smile, freckles, bangs and polka dots
The artsy, cutesy, curvy, pushy type

Who turned me upside down, rocked my world
And left me considering, juggling, agonizing,
Probing the multiple paths that inevitably
Send me straight back to your door like a hungry stray dog


jon kutcsa (Corpus Christi, TX, 1971)

February 15, 2010

lemon juice from a plastic lemon







wreaking of insincerity walking to the mailbox
lost in front yard hands look gold
touching grassy knoll
head a raging suffocating battlefield lost to patriotic intoxication
failing deep in voiceless shadows
concrete path boxed, regulated weeds confronted and decimated
faces box house a tan shade against jack o lantern twilight

drink whiskey from dirty glass,
no dishes soaped tonight
kids lick television
fornicate social networking sites
wife rests head a pillow side
responsible trickster with a shrill voice at dawn

here her voice tempos deep, dull
vibration off stomach, meteor show pierces silent night
roman candles eating atmosphere with silver sharp teeth
electrolyte water sits bed side a recourse booze to sleep medication
dignity latches a fornicated blanket to our sleeping sweaty bodies
growing pounding heart beat claims
retreats, acts as a demigod,
plays with pets sleeping betwixt feet
poisons a gelatin mind
smooth teeth with that keen smile upturned


matthew wedlock (Taunton, MA, 1984)

February 5, 2010

a poet of malls and semi-lighted highways







"Hoagland is a poet of malls and semi-lighted highways and CNN feeds, more suburban than rural or urban. An awareness of the natural world hovers around the margins of his work, but don’t look to him for rolling lists of place names or ecological elegies. In one poem a bird has 'a cry like a cell phone,' and a creek trickles 'from dependent clause to interrogative.'

Elsewhere, 'tipsy drivers swerve/under the breathalyzer moon.' Smelling a woman’s perfume, he can’t help thinking of 'the destruction of a hundred flowers.' And not knowing what to do on a date, he thinks: 'If I were a bull penguin right now I would lean over/and vomit softly into the mouth of my beloved.'"


dwight garner on tony hoagland (Fort Bragg, NC, 1953), excerpt from ‘The Free Verse Is in Aisle 3’, published in Books of the Times, The New York Times, February 4, 2010



Further reading:

Tony Hoagland at The Poetry Foundation

Negative Capability: How to Talk Mean and Influence People (Poetry Daily) and Self-consciousness (nidus), essays by Tony Hoagland

February 3, 2010

and we're back!







Young American Poets, year three. Now open for submissions.

Read our guidelines!

Read our poetry!


The Young American Poets team