April 2023 Poetry Feature

April Is Poetry Month: New Poems By Our Contributors

MARK ANTHONY CAYANAN, DAVID LEHMAN, and YULIYA MUSAKOVSKA (translated by the author and OLENA JENNINGS)

 

Table of Contents:

Mark Anthony Cayanan

—Ecstasy Facsimile (These days I ask god…)

 

David Lehman

—The Remedy

—A Postcard from the Future

—Last Day in the City

 

Yuliya Musakovska (translated by the author and Olena Jennings)

—Angel of Maydan

—The Sorceress’ Oath

 

Ecstasy Facsimile
By Mark Anthony Cayanan

These days I ask god to restore my blindness. He comes in a dream,
shows me how they drove the nails through his palms, says Sure.
Meanwhile I’m back to watching ‘90s romcoms and porn, eating delivery
in my room, refusing to shower because there’s never any reason to.

I sometimes hope to learn the truth beyond my desires. I hope some time
to repair desire. Postpone until after your children’s deaths your doom,
a poet prays, stoppering his doubts with glib devotion. I’ll never have
children: though I’ve no need of this earth I strive to assemble your patience.

These days I imagine myself dead and wonder which of my friends would
mourn profoundly and in private. I begrudge them their callousness
but blame how I am. I hassle my guilt with fasting and incense and tears and
acts of kindness. But the body, as if sensing its lack of commitment, can’t

commit. These days I hide from everyone the hole through which goodness
leaks out of my soul. I draw the hole in your image and put it on a t-shirt.

 

 

The Remedy
By David Lehman

Although I do not have
the remedy for the isolation
despite the illusion
that we’re in constant touch
beyond the hectoring
that passes for discourse,
I console myself with
the knowledge that life
as a wounded old-timer
coupled with a loving wife
is superior even to sleep,
which is what one poet
wrote that she will miss
the most when she is dead.

 

 

A Postcard from the Future
By David Lehman      

                  — inspired by Armando Frietas Filho, “Cartão-postal sem fôlego”

Every verb in the infinite
tomorrow
rides beside the troops
as the stations

of ghost towns pass.
The tracks lead one way only.
The bystanders beckon
but love will not relent.

Nature never looks back.
From the top of the volcano
I shall send you a postcard
bathed in the lava of our love.

When we lose
the sea and choose
a stone, mountains go up!
But where do the clocks stand still?

 

 

Last Day in the City
By David Lehman

Tea lemon honey rum, and I’m
in the back of a cab thinking how
much I like having you
next to me in bed
you who remain my favorite person
and pronoun.

Friends come over
to say goodbye they ask you
what you’re going to do
on this your last day in the city
and you say well I’ve got a novel
to write and coffee to drink

and love (an extra toothbrush
in the sink) and you to do it with.

 

 

Angel of Maydan
By Yuliya Musakovska

The Archangel Michael
shakes soot off his wings,
his wooden sword is circled by a snake.
A child sings: I am Ukraine.
It is hot and crowded in the subway.
The sword’s handle is hurting his rib.
Let someone’s damned tongue slip,
saying: “This is not your war…”
Smoke can be a way home.
People are sleeping in tents.
Snow has melted along the edge,
The red metal is fusing in barrels.
The subway lines are lifeless.
The Archangel does not feel his arm.
A taxi driver is calling in the street: 
Brother, do you need a ride?
He will fall asleep on a sofa
with his shoes still on.
“Angel, do not take me away.”
For those who cannot close their eyes,
a man will roll out a moon in the sky.

 

 

The Socreress’ Oath
By Yuliya Musakovska

In the mirror, a new wrinkle furrows.
Rejecting sorcery means accepting normal aging:
the bare-handed kneading of daily clay,
breathing in the scents of a newly plowed field,
of freshly baked bread,
and a baby’s hair.

Emerging into the light of day
from the belly of a stone cave—to be blinded.
Now—proceeding by touch,
with music in your chest and stomach,
taming the dancing of the stars
beneath your skin—so prickly, dammit!
In fact, it’s a small price to pay, considering.

Shaking out the remaining pieces of dragon’s scales
from your pockets,
bonding with a local man
to provide you both with continuity.
Emerging into the silent night,
when everyone is sleeping, to embrace the unknown.
The black blue is so warm and familiar
when you pass it through yourself
and you are helpless.

Wringing your hands behind your back,
when seeing the mortally wounded,
a shattered porcelain memory,
weak green sprouts not fated to grow tall.

And only once in a while failing
by wiping away the painful memories
of a broken child.

—Translated from Ukrainian by Olena Jennings and the author

 

 

Mark Anthony Cayanan is from Angeles City, Philippines. They obtained an MFA from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a PhD from the University of Adelaide, where they received the 2021 Doctoral Research Medal. Their most recent poetry book is Unanimal, Counterfeit, Scurrilous (Giramondo Publishing, 2021). New work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Australian Poetry Journal, Bennington Review, and Indiana Review. They teach literature and creative writing at the Ateneo de Manila University, and are currently a postdoctoral fellow at the ICI Berlin Institute for Cultural Inquiry.

 

David Lehman’s recent books include The Mysterious Romance of Murder: Crime, Detection, and the Spirit of Noir, One Hundred Autobiographies, and Playlist.

 

Yuliya Musakovska was born in 1982 in Lviv, Ukraine. She is an award-winning poet and translator. She has published five poetry collections in Ukrainian. The most recent, The God of Freedom (2021), is forthcoming in English translation from Arrowsmith Press in 2024. Her collection Iron (2022) was published as a bilingual edition in Poland with a translation by Aneta Kaminska. Yuliya’s work has been translated into nearly 30 languages and featured internationally, appearing in AGNI, Tupelo Quarterly, NELLE, The Continental, Two Lines, etc. Having received her Master’s Degree in International Affairs, she has been working in IT since 2007.

 

Olena Jennings is the author of the poetry collection The Age of Secrets (Lost Horse Press, 2022) and the chapbook Memory Project (2018). Her novel Temporary Shelter was released in 2021 from Cervena Barva Press. Her translation from Ukrainian of Vasyl Makhno’s collection Paper Bridge was released in October 2022 from Plamen Press. She is the founder and curator of the Poets of Queens reading series and press.

April 2023 Poetry Feature

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