August 26, 2011

devil's paperwork

I am told to sign documents I can read
But I don't understand
I am told to sign one, two, three times
I get a nod when I do the one
I get more nods with two and three
My signature is crooked and ugly
But they are happy with it anyway
And I am now getting a handshake, a pat on the soulder

I am told a new life is waiting for me
I am not sure how it will look like
But it will be new
I am not scared for it's just paperwork
And it will all work out ok, I know
Or at least I try to remind myself everytime
It will all work out ok
One way or another
As I see them walk away

An easy transaction
I now deeply resent
As I regret it all -- my blood as ink,
The shoulder pats, the stupid confidence
The sorrow I can't feel
Because I sold it, and I sold it cheap

But I seem happy anyway

hollis temple (Raleigh, NC, 1975)

August 24, 2011

paint over a black sky

I took my woman to the river bank
South by Jefferson
we were nude and everywhere
she moved like a fish out of water
we were past the city lights
and that night
she tried to move the moon
with one hand but couldn't
we kissed

her lips were bitter like lemons
this was the first time she saw the stars
carelessly thrown like paint over the black sky
and she saw the sun
stick its head out over the distant hills
and it was as bright as a thousand headlights
coming over the Van Wyck
that morning

drew degennaro (Baldwin, NY, 1985)

August 23, 2011


Whisper through woods,
travel quick under brush,
There are Dark Things lurking.
Black eyes to watch you pass
Big teeth you have,
could swallow poor Granny

Beware the tail, don’t let him
Fool you
Meat is sweet and
he doesn’t mind the fresh taste
of Innocence.
Your cloak Red from travel, Red
from fear, his teeth Red from

julia bodwell (Newton, NJ, 1989)

August 22, 2011

you become anything

Your callnotes can strike the empty
fairgrounds after the rodeo trucks home.
You can rip the frail tin from rooftops
and fling it over backyard gardens.
You can throb through the freckles
on a cute girl’s face, wait for the highest
wave to rise and bullet through the blue.
You can knot the nosehairs of old folks
as they nap, unsheathe the half invisible
prophecy, stare through isinglass, screech
at bluejays, trap rubies of sap from pines.
You can open a restaurant, serve only
Rocky Mountain Oysters and Budweiser,
shoot at the full moon with a scattergun,
and drive a Monster Truck, or you can
come back to life and squeeze our hands.

christopher lee miles (LeRoy, MN, 1982)

August 19, 2011

and lo!, a sad asian girl's memory card is full

The 8gb memory card.
The 10.1 mega-pixel camera.
The Asian girl is not a
Stereotype worth generalizing about.
Her Giga pet died years ago,
As Japan’s economy was crashing,
As China’s Great Wall was being
Repaired, this time for tourists,
The Mongolians no longer care to cross,
Though Koreans on either side will be
Shot if they do.
Busy massaging the world,
The Thai are not at home, while
Tibetans are, but feel as though they are not
As bad off as the Vietnamese, who
Are better off than the Burmese, who
Are not as well off as the Japanese.

And just when we fear that the world is
Spinning too fast, that time is rushing like
An elderly addict rushing to the casino,
Somewhere, almost everywhere,
Is an unassuming girl ready to
Record and share it all in spite
Of generalizations not worth
Stereotyping about.

luke armstrong (Kalispell, MT, 1985)

August 18, 2011

spousal anatomy

My three-year-old brother
points to my father
reading naked
on the leather couch
and asks,
Are those brains?
My mother
without looking up
from muddled folds
of laundry

mallory keeton bass (Jackson, MS, 1988)

August 17, 2011

piece of sunset

She’s so
I’d love to see her head spin
As her lips touch the clouds of that piece
Of sky she bought on the street corner in the dark.

Her eyes run glassy to marmalade spheres, lightyears gone and
Falling like an angel from the upper east side
Of a church façade.

Her orange n’ cream glass eyes starin’ and glarin’ and
Freewarin’ into your own as she stops
and shatters.

She’s so trippin’ and her body’s rockin’ in you hands
As that expensive, poisonous sky comes closer
and closer.

She simply fell off the edge of a gargoyle, skeetered
Past its fangs, and tripped into the clouds.

Lucy in the sky, my girl with the ice cream eyes.

nadya agrawal (Houston, TX, 1991)

the gift of language and the wounded ugly boy

“Poetry shouldn’t tell us what we already know, though of course it can revive what we think we know. A durable poet, the rarest of all birds, has a unique point of view and the gift of language to express it. The unique point of view can often come from a mental or physical deformity. Deep within us, but also on the surface, is the wounded ugly boy who has never caught an acceptable angle of himself in the mirror.”

jim harrison (Grayling, MI, 1937), excerpt from 'King of Pain', a review of The Pleasures of the Damned: Poems, 1951-1993 (Ecco/Harper Collins, 2007), by Charles Bukowski, published in the Sunday Book Review, The New York Times, November 25, 2007

Further reading

Pleasures of the Hard-Worn Life: An Interview With Jim Harrison (The New York Times)

Food for the Soul (The New York Times)

Indoors With a Poet of the Outdoors (The Wall Street Journal)

Jim Harrison at the Academy of American Poets, The Poetry Foundation, The New Yorker and The Paris Review

August 16, 2011


At happy hour, two weeks ago,
I began talking with a guy who
(as my interest waned) boasted,
that he was in Wikipedia.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia
of people.

I shrugged like it was nothing.

He wanted more admiration than this,
explained that
not everyone can be listed in there.
Apparently, there is a “process”.

And now, I’m obsessed with it.

I want to be able to Wikipedia myself.
If some schmuck in a bar did,
why can’t I?

I think about my life so far.
I’m not sure that religiously giving
spare change to the homeless will be enough.

I can twirl a baton and sometimes catch it,
but unless I learn to do it while
balanced on the nose of a seal
who is balanced on a ball,
it’s a forgettable gift and not
“Wikipedia” quality.

I could probably get in there
if I schmoozed my way
through social circles,
I could become the
blah blah blah to a yada yada yada.
But I have a knack for
befriending starving artists,
half of whom can’t even afford
their Internet access bill-
I’d end up only schmoozing my way to an open mic night.

jennifer donnell (San Clemente, CA, 1979)

August 15, 2011

the good life

We've lived like squatters
For a couple days
At her friends' house
While they are away on vacation
And the bed squeaks
And the blinds keep the afternoon
Looking as young
As 6 a.m.

"You need to stop talking
about money,"

She tells me.

"We don't have it...
We want it.
And someday,
With a little luck,
We'll have it.
But until we do,
We don't need to sit around
And talk about
How we still don't have it."

I smile,
And wrap my arm around her
In another couple's bed
As the rain and frost mix and slop
All over main street
And I debate this poem
Between each strand
Of auburn hair.

ryan torres (Lebanon, PA, 1987)

August 12, 2011

poetry on the refrigerator

It's the first of the month
The last day for excuses
The first day of
A lot of stuff I just won't figure out
For a few weeks or maybe months to come

Nothing in this room belongs to me anymore
Except this machine where I type
But it's so out of place now
Much like I am

My possessions reside
At a new address
Almost an hour from here
And what doesn't rest there
Is thrown into my car
Much like I have been for the last two weeks

In the morning
I don't know where I am
The new house?
My parents'?
My roommate's apartment?
My generous friends' home?

The dirt in the new house
Didn't originate with me
It came from the bottoms of the shoes
Of some nice people I only met once
{And their very hairy dog}

I'm not sure what to do with myself
So far from my new abode
So disconnected from any of these
New responsibilities that have suddenly become mine
Afraid to leave this house again
For fear I will no longer have protection
{I know that's not true}

I sit in my parents' house
In this room that is no longer mine
Feeling oddly placed
Waiting to be permanently imprinted someplace
Just like poetry on the refrigerator

abigail m. aycardi (Two Rivers, WI, 1985)

August 10, 2011

Philip Levine appointed U.S. Poet Laureate

Philip Levine (Detroit, MI, 1928) was named today as the Library of Congress' 18th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2011-2012, and will take up his duties on Monday, October 17th, during the annual literary season.

Levine succeeds W.S. Merwin as Poet Laureate and joins a long line of poets who have served in the position, including Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz and Robert Pinsky.

Levine is the author of 20 collections of poems, including News of the World, What Work Is, Ashes: Poems New and Old, and The Simple Truth, for which he was awarded the 1995 Pulitzer Prize.

Further reading:

Librarian of Congress Appoints Philip Levine Poet Laureate (Library of Congress)

More About Philip Levine - Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry (Library of Congress)

About the Position of Poet Laureate (Library of Congress)

Voice of the Workingman to Be Poet Laureate (The New York Times)

Profile of Philip Levine, poet laureate (The Washington Post)

Philip Levine interviews at The Cortland Review (1999, 2009, 2011 video interview), The Paris Review, The Atlantic

Philip Levine at the Poetry Foundation,, The English Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and The New Yorker