4 Poems by Tiana Clark

Self-Portrait at Divorce

Tiana Clark

After reading Stag’s Leap again and finally knowing

what the hell Sharon Olds was writing about

 

The day my husband left

I accidentally set off the house alarm

and the dog finally curled into my chest

like a warm croissant of cream fur and you

had replaced the trash bag for the last time

and the recycling and I walked into

your office and I wept and wept inside

your pillow on our bed (whoops) I mean my bed

a California king our biggest bed yet because

we wanted space for our long bodies to stretch

and room the for the dog to splay and I put water

in the dog bowl and I told myself that I had to remember

to do that because you had always done that simple task

Poem by V. Penelope Pelizzon

Of Vinegar    Of Pearl    (an excerpt)

V. Penelope Pelizzon

 

“The elements return to the body of their mother.”  —Paracelsus

1.

Like pulp-and-spittle wasps’ nests

built in their season to last

only until winter, bones

crumble in her as she sits.

She sections the day’s clemen-

cies into mouthfuls, hawks out

any bitter pips, swallows

good pungence with sips of smoke

—Lapsang Souchong or Laphroaig,

depending on the hour—

preferring solitude to

solicitude from the kind,

including her children who

were hard to bear and are hard

now to hear. Nine decades have

drawn her, masterwork of ten-

don and vein illustrating

frailty condensing to one

ferocious node, a will still

refusing to cede. But now?

When the heart no longer turns

the blood’s tide. When fluid pools,

refusing to be sluiced back

into its channels. She’s walked

so far down the strand that seals

barely lift their heads as she

steps over them, returning

finally to her sisters.

She’s up to her knees now in

a flosh of her body’s own

sea-wash. Dying? Or dying-

ish? Is this it? Is it this?

 

5 Poems by Nancy Reddy

Spooky Action at a Distance

Nancy Reddy

In the Nashville airport, in gate C-84, in the industrial carpet and molded

plastic seats

where we all wait to be carried elsewhere,

 

a baby sleeps against his mother’s

 

chest. His right foot is froglegged up to meet his chest. He’s that new, his body

soft and curled

as if to fit still the small space of the womb.

 

The universe is thin. Even across this gate—

 

Six Poems by Bruce Campell

I Hear the Continents Are Drifting Like Great Granite Pirates

 

I hear the continents are drifting like great granite pirates

and that matter hangs like a tapestry

whose threads are wove through vacuum,

that birds are fragments of dinosaurs and

whales invented algebra,

and I believe it

all for the sake of wonder.

 

And if philosophy might be science with a leaning toward hyperbole,

if paleontology could cohabit with quantum field theory

and plate tectonics meld with ethnomusicology (shanties, specifically),

if mathematics joined hands with cetology,

if we cared to make a whole of all we knew in part,

then birds are heirs to brontosaurs

and whales taught Newton calculus

—logic weds with art,

and wonder, like a weed the garden needed, grows through all we know.

 

Poems: Chelsea B. DesAutels

Maybe You Need to Write a Poem About Mercy

after Robert Hass

 

Start this one with the woman standing at the edge

of the woods. Or the desert, it doesn’t matter,

what matters is she’s standing under a darkening sky

and she knows, at this point, having spent months

in the hospital, that there’s nothing she can do—

no threshold between threat and tranquility,

no demarcation she can draw around herself

for her child for protection, everything is actually

everything else, the stone just kicked

and whatever comes next are the same.

Poems: Brandi Nicole Martin

No Market for Unfixable Suffering

 

So I watercolor my skin graft

and thereby beautify its hue,

reframe so I was never “crushed under”

or “burned by car muffler” but instead delicious,

a palatable image, a crumb on the lip

of the reader’s hungry God. The alternative,

more difficult: one day, doctors laced me to a table,

tilted it upward so my legs would avoid

forming clots. This was after the brain bleed,

but I was still a numb puddle, an inkblot,

nothing but regret and a hideous floating head.

Poems: Jane Satterfield

Costumery: Cento with Lines from Early Reviews of Wuthering Heights

Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë posed as Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell to publish their work and be taken seriously as authors; rumors swirled around the nature of their identity and their novels’ composition.

The whole firm of Bell & Co.

staring down human life—

 

a depravity strangely their own

one family, one pen—

 

provincialisms, blasphemy, the brutalizing

influence of unchecked passion

 

Scenes so hot, emphatic,

and so sternly masculine in feeling

 

Its sex cannot be mistaken

even in manliest attire

 

A sprawling story casts a gloom

one presiding evil genius

 

two generations of sufferers

the highest effects of the supernatural

 

an atmosphere of mist . . .

A more natural unnatural story

 

we do not remember having read:

But what may be the moral?

Poems: Teresa Ott

Trembling Was All Living, Living Was All Loving, Some One Was Then the Other One

In the amniotic gloss of the past, feathers floated to the surface, then flew

away. Jellyfish found poison and two dozen versions of beautiful.

Circulatory communication between the mother

and placenta in the human pregnancy is established by approximately 10–12 weeks.

Even limited eye contact can be oh, so sweet.

Poems: John Gallaher

Division (Architecture 5)

Let’s watch the process one more time. During the first stage of mitosis,

prophase, we see the classic chromosome structure. Notice the DNA

condensing. Outside, my neighbor is watering the new tree

they planted to replace the one they had to remove, and in both her and the tree,

microtubules are appearing and the nuclear membrane is breaking down.

So many places to go wrong: metaphase, when the chromosomes are aligned

at the center of the cell, or anaphase, as the chromosomes are moving apart.

Telophase is then marked by the appearance of new nuclear membranes.

And this is the end of mitosis. About 80 minutes, and two new cells

are ready to grow and perform their specialized functions.

Poems: Jamaica Baldwin

Forbidden

 

Let me go back to my father

in the body of my mother the day he told her,

Having black children won’t save you when the revolution comes.

Let me do more than laugh,

like she did.

 

Let me go back to my mother and do more

than roll my eyes when she tells me,

I think deep down, in a past life, I was a black blues singer.

 

My mother remembers the convent

where she worked after I was born;

the nuns who played with me while she cleaned.

 

My father remembers the bedroom window

of their first apartment; his tired body

climbing through. It was best,

 

they agreed, if she signed the lease alone.

 

Scholars conclude

the myths of violence that surround the black male

body protect the white female body

 

from harm. I conclude race was not

not a factor in my parent’s attraction.

I am the product of their curiosity, their vengeance, their need.

 

They rescued each other from stories scripted

onto their bodies. They tasted forbidden and devoured each other

whole.

 

Let me build a house

where their memories diverge.

 

Let me lick clean

these bones.