August 27, 2009

random thoughts for a second chance

High energy
Running on steroids
She always had it her way
Me, I’m alone

* * *

Carrot pancakes for lost drivers
Ban processed food
Like she knew
Me, I’m always wrong
Never said a word about it
Oh, dear
Make yourself at home
I want you at my doorsteps
Until I want you no more

* * *

Do you remember Mount Pleasant?
Our season in the sky
Cycling Rock Creek
One summer worth all the winters
We have been apart since

Herbal aroma
The farmers' market
Feeling it would all last
Until our scars completely disappeared

All we needed was a second chance

* * *

It was a test, are you apt as pet?
Somebody else’s wet nurse?
And her parents were as far away as they could be

* * *

Hello Lily
Welcome to this world
Guidance not provided

tristan bellamy (Richmond, VA, 1972)

August 20, 2009


oh boy
that was it

a spark

ava grünberg (New York, NY, 1971)

August 18, 2009

sardonic beast

sardonic beast
I wanted beauty
plain grass and stretching motorways
green pellets
irregular yarns
and homesick yearning

a cynic with no mercy
your average Joe on dope and welfare
pharmacy discounts
recession affecting librarian libido
Rochester becoming a far away, distant place
a nightmare

sardonic beast
I wanted knowledge
chicory, tagged down prices and a myspace angel
of gorgeous mischief and souped-up innuendo
a blind spot in my résumé
ancient love becoming pale, dead reflection on a mirror

least but not last remains the poetry
the willing rumble and seismic rattle
of an old-fashioned pretense seeking beauty and knowledge
a block party of two in a town with no neighbors
The ultimate board game that becomes a tapestry
a final stanza where you can use the word Americana
ravaged and bitten here and there, scorned fabric
suffering yet from another uptight moth
laying eggs in the fanciest corner,
Proud of her location, location, location

go try again, ask for a second chance
sardonic beast in quest for knowledge, beauty, misses the point completely
bestowed on a linear, broadband curse
Somewhat lost
heating up old stew in the mist
the limited visibility of toaster, coffee
a final plea and a sketchbook

I miss the point
still wondering what brought us up to here
and how we beat the crap out of each other
for no apparent good reason

brian hilton (Cambridge, MA, 1978)

August 17, 2009

The Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize 2009

The Waywiser Press is now accepting submissions of poetry manuscripts for the fifth annual Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, named after Anthony Hecht (New York City, NY, 1923–Washington, DC, 2004), American poet and essayist, winner of a Pulitzer Prize and inventor of the double dactyl, a humorous poetic form which begins with two three-syllable nonsense words such as "Higgledy, piggledy."

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.


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, 2009.

Further reading:

Times Topics: Anthony Hecht (The New York Times)

Anthony Hecht at, The Poetry Foundation and the English Department at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

August 14, 2009

fat girl on fashion

I stick to pants, avoiding pleated fronts.
I require pockets—places to put my phone
and keys—because purses have straps
that are too short, that leave the zippers
to cut into my armpit or
if I go with a longer strap that drapes
across my chest, the mouth of the bag
chews at the bottom of my breast.

When I wear a skirt I have to make preparations.
First, the skirt has to cover the stomach.
Then, I powder up my thighs to reduce friction.
Now, they have invented a gel powder
that not only soothes the skin but it softens
the little tags of flesh that have extruded,
matching on each like, like doglegs.

jessie carty (Portsmouth, VA, 1975)

August 13, 2009

a date gone bad

I'm drunk and I can't hold an erection
She's fat and she's naked in my bed
I say 'you are fat'
And she starts crying

I feel like a total jerk
She's fat, she's naked in my bed and now
She's crying as well
My timid hard-on of course disappears

Wait, I meant it like something sweet
Like, Winnie the Pooh is fat and he is cute
She won't take that bullshit
It's of course drunk blabber I just made up

She's fat
She's naked
She's crying
But she ain't dumb

I start sucking her nipples
Pink, extra large
I get aroused
She says nothing

When my erection is decent
I try to go for her
And then she kills all inspiration again
I don't lubricate well, she says

Fuck you, I say, you fat pig
She cries again
It feels like ages there
And then
She gets dressed and leaves

I'm drunk
I don’t even feel like jerking off
I go back to my bed naked
I fall asleep and try to forget

ian svensson (Detroit, MI, 1974)

August 11, 2009

pandora, december

Pandora’s outside smoking a cigarette.
Hope will be a moment.

"My hands are cold, Pandora,
What will you give me in return?"

I will write each sentence with a different pen.

"What will I receive in return?
Is this you or your brother"

Epimetheus opened the box,
I will do what my brother has not.

Scilicet ut speres nil nisi quad liceat.

"Hope should not be directed toward
that which is forbidden."


Begin by speaking.

"Here is the elemental--
The fire," Pandora says.

We were created from fire

Here is an anchor,
you may feel its weight upon you.

Here are the curves to shape,
"Each line has a point."

This is how I will graph the elemental

I will take your X.
(Here-- a beginning.)

I will remove my Y.
(Here-- an ending.)

"Pandora, where are the numbers?
What is the count of feeling?"

Pandora watches,
Hope delays.

This is the first step, Pandora says.

Hope cannot fail, she says.

Pandora on the couch,
chasing shadows on the wall.

Hope is still in delay, standing.

The image has not washed out.
-only it’s been delayed.
-only the shape is.
-only an X and a Y.

To forgive is to take away.
To forgive is to steal.

To forgive is to remove the lid
but do not cast it aside, Pandora

Hope is what you were given.

gregory brown (Fort Ord, CA, 1977)

August 10, 2009

pandora, september

Red letters hang from the side of the truck like leaves.

Moving day and Pandora's driving the truck--
one hand on the wheel,
arm hanging out the window.

This bitter heat is not mine, she thinks.

Pandora moves out of fiction,

"What do I have left to give?"
I want to allow you to think.
"What do I have left to give?"

Missing control, Pandora
rests sunglasses, turns dials.

Pandora, breathe.

Pandora isn't home yet.

The idea of the porcelain figure:
Pandora lays in the marble on shadows,
under the temple, undiscovered.

Hope still waiting in the tomb.
Hope expectantly.

Pandora in covers, a dance,
moving feet before feet.

"Speak," she says.

Pandora moving through:
hand over hip,
hand over mouth-
Fingers braced together.

This is the veil,
a permanence.

Mouth will not be seen,
The mouth moves the lips expectantly.

Pandora reviews another.

Pandora, ignorant of faith.

Pandora willing to walk on water.

Pandora willing to bite the fruit.


Pandora is unclothed in the bathroom.
There is marble tile.
A mirror.

Her shadow glances back upon the bathtub.
Her image is secrecy.

Pandora examines skin,
unfolds arms from side.

There is another word for this, she thinks.

Pandora is awakened by a knock on the door.
The wind she thinks,
wind she thinks.

Wind to carry away Hope.

Hope clings to Pandora's breast.
Pandora turns expectantly.

Pandora is alone,
this room is lined with squares, triangles.
"To bisect an angle..." she says.

Pandora willing to write things down:
There are shapes for faith.
Clouds can consume the sky.


Pandora looks over river,
A bird is standing in shallow water.

"A dream," she whispers.

A branch is above her head.
Softly the water comes ashore
and softly the water takes away

Erosion takes away expectantly


Hope is in the corner,
quietly playing with building blocks.

Pandora's belly is full,
she is able to notice
dimples on her stomach

Pandora is on white sheets.
In this room, the skin

is electric in                       anticipation.

This is what they call an abortion,
she whispers.

abortion abortion abortion
abortion abortion


Pandora closes eyes,
and waits expectantly.

gregory brown (Fort Ord, CA, 1977)

August 7, 2009



laughing out loud
not with but at


laughing out loud
lots of laughs

what do they think?
they don’t
they laugh

out loud

at you

go once
the longest distance between



hey marion
lost the kick
past your prime
no edge
less time



who laughs now?
not me
I’ve had it


I finally understand
I’ll never be like you
I’ll never be like your friends

I’ll stay in the galley

lots of laughs

you stop hearing them

after a                                          while


brett o'hare (Lewes, DE, 1983)

August 6, 2009

a couple of exercises from professor Cheever

"Meeting his first class at Iowa, Cheever was terribly nervous, and the more nervous he got the more gargly his talk became (...) He launched his students on a regimen that some of them -already in the process of writing novels- thought unnecessarily fundamental. He asked them, first of all, to keep a journal for at least a week, recording their experiences, feelings, dreams, orgasms, and even such quotidian details as the clothes they wore and the food and drink they consumed. Second, he required them to write a story in which seven people or landscapes that superficially have nothing to do with one another are somehow profoundly allied. Third, and this was his favorite assignment, he told them to write a love letter from inside a burning building. This exercise 'never fails,' he maintained (...) He had but one standard for grading the results: 'Is it interesting or is it dull?'"

scott donaldson, an excerpt from John Cheever: A Biography (Random House, New York, 1988)

Further reading:

Times Topics: John Cheever (The New York Times)

The Art of Fiction no. 62. John Cheever (The Paris Review)

Basically Decent: A big biography of John Cheever, by John Updike (The New Yorker)

Our Illustrious Friend (LA Times)

John Cheever at the New Yorker Archive

The Enormous Radio (1947) and The Swimmer (1964), two short stories by John Cheever

August 5, 2009

olive oil bottle smashing in the middle of an aisle

Goosebumps here in my forearm for the first time in
How long?
You endure the simplest things
Facing the little meaningless violence of doing groceries
Twice, maybe three times a week
The little meaningless violence that yet prides on slapping you
A little meaningless playful slap
Until you hold it no more when the bottle of import olive oil
Smashes in the middle of the aisle

No one taught you how to behave
That’s it
No one showed you any better
So it seems not every suburb is the same
The closer you get home the farther you feel from yourself
It came to this in your own device
You drove the U-Haul yourself

The golden liquid spread slowly
And you would love to dissolve in it
But then there is a customer representative offering help
And someone recognizes you
From school, right?
You would love to dissolve

Life is a badly played round of Tetris

nick sailor (Cleveland, OH, 1974)