Sonnet, with home

Steve Tomasko

1. My wife once said I should write more love poems. 2. So I wrote a poem about sloth moths. 3. There really was love in it—to a certain moth, a sloth is home. 4. Home is another word for love. 5. I hope that doesn’t sound trite. 6. Actually, I don’t care if it does. 7. Today I thought I should write another love poem. So, here I am thinking about Sherman Alexie 8. and his #’d sonnets (the form of which I am copying now). I don’t know whether to apologize to my wife or Sherman. 9. Once, while pretending to be bird geeks, my wife and I saw a Caspian tern. It was huge—it hung in the air like the Hindenburg (before it caught fire [the Hindenburg, not the tern]). It looked dangerous (the tern). I thought terns were supposed to be small and delicate. 10. I lied. We weren’t pretending. 11. A sonnet is supposed to have a tern in it. 12. That was just one of our many wanderings (the drive where we saw the Hindentern). 13. There’s nothing easier than driving or walking with, camping or sitting on the couch with, being a bird geek or reading Alexie with my wife. 14. With is another word for home.

Peltier Road

Charles Leggett

—After Stéphane Mallarmé’s “Apparition”

All the bells are ringing or have rung.
I heard them ringing in your mother’s voice
But the clapper alone is punctual.

I thought I sensed the boyhood superhero
Who, cordial and so unaffected, helped
In dreams to banish fear under a close

Brass-hued fog he’s rolling through the years
Along these lanes, the moon-sung valley cows
Regardful, still, between their shudderings.

Viscera

Trace Ramsey

I was ten years old the first time I butchered an animal. It was early winter, the sun low and cold. I huffed from running after the beagles as they chased a rabbit. The dogs howled as they ran, spreading away from me, galloping feet tracing lines in the snow. I fired once at the rabbit as it crossed to my side. The ear ringing mark of the shotgun echoed among the maples and oaks, long clear of leaves. I ejected the shell, took in the metallic whisper of it. I stood sniffling from the cold, looking at the lump of gray fur that no longer moved. My stepfather came behind me as I stepped silently towards the rabbit.

I wedged the rabbit’s head into the crotch of a tree branch as my stepfather growled instructions. He was a cruel man, always ready to raise his voice and hands. This is the man who kicked my brother in the stomach for forgetting to flush the toilet, who threw me down a set of concrete steps for raking leaves incorrectly, who left bruises the size of oranges just below my mother’s elbows from where he grabbed her and forced her to answer to a slight. Out there among the brambles in the squat forest, he smacked the back of my head and pointed to where I should make the first cut.

I didn’t say prayers at the butchering, didn’t offer thanks. I didn’t think I needed to. My stepfather said it was only a rabbit. Earlier that morning, as I walked the forest on my own, I shot a white-throated sparrow for no reason. I took aim and blasted the small bird into fluff as it perched in a thicket. I had imagined, briefly, that the bird was my stepfather’s eye.

Hospital (2)

Matthew Johnstone

There’s picture I take of some
of me
catching bone       from city floor.

Tearing

houses       to numb eyes. Sent from
the objects.       Fires seen
shooting from heads.       Death flower
sifted ash       as if it were many.
Floors       that cough. It cannot

be moved loyal away.       Some
mannequin       from its
primal building

apertures. Inside the houses I
lived under.

Hospital (1)

Matthew Johnstone

There is a wall I lean
at       when
the ice breaks apart the house.

Heaving

knives of wood rum
and milk.       I bite hands.
Clean in planes       intimate
with hooks       pounded
falling air. Sun went badly hail
slapped up       asps. There just

are no straight lines left.       It
loved the earth but could not say.
Pianist

could not type. Or axe
shut from peeling bark.

Burning

Bobbi Lurie

The arms of the trees open wide
We are here for such a short time

Do not imagine this dream is yours

The Codroy Cobblestones

Richard LeBlond

Near the wharf in the southwestern Newfoundland outport of Codroy is a small beach where the ocean stores cobblestones. They look like huge gray potatoes, their surfaces, angles, and corners smoothed and rounded by the constant rolling. One can hear a thousand disunited voices saying “cobble” as each wave rolls them twice, once coming in and again going out. One can also hear a thousand wooden shoes walking in a tunnel walled with stone, or a ruptured storage bin in a bowling-ball factory, or a thousand skulls rolling down a bedrock slope in a catacomb.

Initially I thought the cobble sound obeyed two pulses, the faster pulse with the waves, and a slower one with the tides. On a return visit I was greeted with silence at the cobblestone beach, and assumed I would have to wait for high tide to hear the knock-about rocks again. So I interrupted three fishermen working with gear on the Codroy wharf to find out when the next high tide would be.

“Looks high now,” one of them said, his tone indicating the conversation had run its course.

But I was not deterred. “When I was here last year, the tide was rolling the cobblestones on the beach below the road going up the hill over there.” As I pointed towards the road, I realized I was on the verge of profound silliness, but could not stop myself. “It was a wonderful sound, and I was hoping to hear it again. I thought it happened at high tide.”

“Those was probably storm waves rolling the rocks,” said another fisherman, the look on his face suggesting he was working hard at sounding normal for someone who wasn’t.

My Sad Farm

Susan Kay Anderson

My sad farm was never funny
just tons of work. Work we finished
too early and too late. In the summer
we were cowboys loading white-faced calves
at cow camp up in the mountains. In winter
we shoveled and chewed all over again.
Our inventions actually worked. Well.
One poem didn’t let go of another.
Each tractor parked next to the next.
I thought it might have something to do
with wild ponies just like in a song
about them. But that spoke of nothing.
The stuff about all those wild ponies
and their mannerisms. Their behavior
needing taming and how. Tina said
I should spray her wicker furniture under their
credenza. The last time she spoke to me.
How it was important to have a clean driveway.

Get to it. The neighbors are waiting. They never called.
Only to find out when we died. And how.

The Forbidden City – Beijing, China

Deborah Guzzi

Beijing’s north wind skewers bundled tourists rushing through the gates of the Forbidden City. A late afternoon, mushroom-orange, smog descends upon the capitalist infestation. Bug-eyed, the travelers scatter as parade troops enter: link arms, push them under eaves, and against walls. Make way, the leader growls, important people coming—not you, as a diplomatic entourage rolls past in flag-waving Mercedes. A riotous veneer of red-lacquer anxiety crackles through the gilt of the courtyard; a Kafkaesque scene unfolds.

bile rises
in the back of throats:
goose-steps ring

The group’s whisperers animate when the military leave. Elderly women peek into non-public areas behind grime-etched windows. They cluck, and tut-tut, at the pieces of teak furniture piled high, draped in rags and dust. The guide gestures toward the grand courtyard where “The Last Emperor” was filmed. The artful elegance of what was, now, a carapace, valueless to its owners, except for the yuan the gwai lo tourist trade brings.

The late start limits the time which can be spent in the hollow undecorated rooms. A New York Indian couple bemoan the fading sunlight and lost opportunities. Dwarfed by the architecture of the building, and the entering police cars; the group scatters, disturbed like wasps in a hive. The guide’s attempt to lasso the laggards meets with only minor success. Reality has, yet again, not lived up to the New Yorker’s imagination. They are hesitant to leave without their rupee’s worth.

speakers blare on
the police car in the park:
the bus is running

Kentucky Coal Mines

Maya White-Lurie

littered with canary bones, feathers and beaks swallowed by asthmatic shafts. Abandoned mine land’s muscles lean close, fingers curl into palm, never let go. Where birds kept singing, tunnels stretched deep, wooden support forests grew so well in that dark. Children heed stay out stay alive, magnates wind through sediment toward swelter.

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