4 Poems by Tiana Clark
Self-Portrait at Divorce
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
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
In the Nashville airport, in gate C-84, in the industrial carpet and molded
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
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.
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
Let me build a house
where their memories diverge.
Let me lick clean