WORK by Tina Cane
I can’t stop horses as much as you can’t stop horses,”
“Other Horses,” Michael Klein
What is work but a horse is a beast to be one with the broom I bristle
toil tool and trade work is a poem I made is my children is family a broken
phrase difficult to say with a mouth full of teeth sore from grief is another
kind of work or driving long hours through the night only to start each day
in its middle Spartan with a sparse meal to break the fast a private kind
of penance one man makes while another says We use water to start over
how Baldwin used snow from the Alps to write his way back to the Harlem
streets of his youth whereas Debbie from Seekonk says I’m Switzerland here
meaning you can tell me anything and I almost do keeping the most arduous
parts of the work to myself for myself sometimes comparing
my heart to a horse sometimes fast & beautiful often beastly
& burdensome with my six shades of brown in each eye I see work
in every corner of the earth the way work always finds me where I stand
list in hand a clover in my pocket
HACK by Tina Cane
He left his hack license on the bed-stand with the pocketknife
we gave him reluctant to renew in case he didn’t make it back
there was a wall of books by his bed stacks of articles he would have read
had he returned to spend the $65 on a photo of his eyes squinting
into the middle distance of the gaunt days ahead
it’s said that every unworn shoe in a closet represents a unit
of work a mark of time wasted or money earned but however
you look a shoe is a shoe is a shoe
An embarrassment of riches
my dad always chimed as he ripped open his gifts at Christmastime
when he finally let go they gave me his belongings in a clear plastic bag
that read Belongings I couldn’t carry his clothes while also carrying my baby
in my belly down into the belly of the train I took the buckle from his belt
and put the bag in the trash on the corner of Lexington Avenue
then caught the downtown express empty-handed brass in my pocket
unable to end even this poem the way I want it
KILLING THE KOCH BROTHERS by Tom Paine
Would Jesus love them?
If your capital is love,
there is no time.
With you, I look at time
in light, my love.
Time was once deaf,
and signed off
with clownish arms.
An hour the short,
then the long, angry minute—
but now, I dream of
the long, perfect plié
of a second—
in your hands,
seconds spin like a blade,
blur into a halo
America’s Hill by Tom Paine
On the climb up the trail to the plantation ruin I did the ‘star prayer’.
I opened my arms wide like Jesus on the cross and spread my legs.
You said it was a pagan way to the divine. It was that or explode.
After the star prayer (and feeling pretty silly) I opened my eyes,
and saw the starfish web of an Orb Weaver blocking the trail.
Plump in gold and black, big as my fist, she sat regally in her web.
Blazoned on her hairy back: a yellow star. I doubled over and blindly
grabbed a little sapling as I wept for the first time. I don’t know why.
When the retching was over, I glanced at my hand, still clenching.
Around the silver bark, some stranger had tied a delicate grass bow.
Tina Cane was born in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC in 1969 and grew up in the city’s East and West Village. She attended the University of Vermont, the Sorbonne, the University of Paris X-Nanterre and Middlebury College. Tina is the founder and director of Writers-in- the-Schools, RI and is an instructor with the writing community, Frequency Providence. Her poems and translations have appeared in numerous publications, including The Literary Review, Two Serious Ladies, The Tupelo Quarterly, Jubilat and The Common. She is the author of The Fifth Thought (Other Painters Press); Dear Elena: Letters for Elena Ferrante, poems with art by Esther Solondz (Skillman Avenue Press); and Once More With Feeling (Veliz Books). In 2016, Tina received the Fellowship Merit Award in Poetry from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and she currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Rhode Island, where she lives with her husband and their three children.
Tom Paine’s poetry is upcoming or published in The Nation, Glasgow Review of Books, Volt, Fence, Blackbox Manifold (Cambridge), Epiphany, Green Mountain Review, Forklift, Tinderbox, Hunger Mountain, Hotel Amerika, Gulf Stream, Tampa Review and elsewhere. Stories have been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s, The O. Henry Awards and twice in the Pushcart Prize. His first collection, Scar Vegas (Harcourt), was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and a Pen/Hemingway finalist. He is a professor in the MFA program at the University of New Hampshire.