August 2023 Poetry Feature

New poems by LESLIE SAINZ, L.S. KLATT, and MICHELLE LEWIS

 

Table of Contents:

  • L.S. Klatt, “The Alchemist”
  • Michelle Lewis, “Vain Tenderness” and “The Land of Rape and Honey”
  • Leslie Sainz, “At the Center of the Story and Utterly Left Out”

 

***

The Alchemist
By L.S. KLATT

My neighbor really has nothing to do
but mow his grass & watch television.
It’s the quiet life for him. The adhesive

bandage of his tongue comes out as
rarely as his partner. And the dog? I
could say anything about him & no one

would know the difference. That sounds
cruel. I don’t mean to be that kind
of goldfinch. I like expressionism, e.g.,

the forsythia when my neighbor puts it
in an unorthodox position, I
know how to get to the ore of it. That’s why

the sunflower with its fire-eating florets
surprised me. Neither I
nor my neighbors had anything to do

with siring it. The stalk volunteered until
the gold had to be acknowledged. I think I’ll
walk over & introduce myself.

 

***

Vain Tenderness
By MICHELLE LEWIS

                          After Rodin’s Vaine Tendresse

Its darkness invites me in: to be Francesca, my legs a catapult
he grasps. Ear knitted to his chest, left toe dangling to stay
my imbalance. Rodin was said to sculpt the mind in heat, but
this isn’t sex. Here, she and Paolo are at their most despairing.
Outside the museum, rain a subtle music. Last night I said,
Do you want a picture of a big French bush and sent you Courbet’s
L’Origine Du Monde. He would have had to pay a prostitute to
sit for it, to capture the soft drapery of her thigh. Kabir said, Do
you believe there is some place that will make the soul less thirsty? which
is another way of saying wherever you go there you are, which is
a way of knowing that despite the entwined limbs of the two
lovers, their faces are as distant as prizefighters in a ring. I asked
you, What do you miss most, wait to hear if it is my cherry blossom
in peak season. But you say a thing only you and I would know.

 

***

The Land of Rape and Honey
By MICHELLE LEWIS

In Pujols, daubs of ochre foie gras
on our little bread palettes.

No one speaks of violence.

              Rodin said sculpt nothing
              useless to your impression.

When we fucked on your dining
room table, it wasn’t so much
an impression as
an anointment.

You positioned yourself
into me from its edge.

              Sacrifice is how I measure love.

In our velocity are the contours
of a better life,

              but my pain needs me —
              it wants me to fuck you where
              your family eats in this one.

The woman is perfected, Plath wrote at the peak of clarity,

by which I mean she was able to see better
the things tearing her apart.

Through the car window, a blur
of riotous rapeseed.

It’s hard not to want to sink into its
inflorescence. I know a person can

look up at snow falling
and feel they are ascending.

I know we look to our creations to
exalt us.

                                                  But I’d

              rather fall than rise,
              be the animal I am,

my flesh the bread of your table,
my wetness the honey of your bread.

 

***

AT THE CENTER OF THE STORY & UTTERLY LEFT OUT
By LESLIE SAINZ

                          Para Elena Milagro de Hoyos (1909 – 1931)

 

“I”-thoughts— 
all any of us have.

I’m having the thought it’s too late
in my life to stop crying.

Elena
can we practice this?

I notice I’m having the thought
it’s too late in my life to stop crying.

There are things beyond
belief, like garlic, like

we have the same wrists.
How 
did you place yours when you sang, sweetly?

                          .

Elena
yesterday I saw the reddest fire hydrant
imaginable.

It wasn’t beyond belief, but I was
startled. 

That kind of red should only exist
inside of us, I think.

I wish neither of us could recognize that
color.

                          .

Do you believe we want enough of ourselves?

Once a week I walk to the same construction site 
a mile away from my home.  

I kick one rock out of formation
from a larger pile of rocks.
No one sees me. No men have punished me.

Elena
I’m saying no men have punished me because of these walks.

                          .

Rudolph Valentino.
Did you know he was near-sighted? 

Elena
your favorite actor was near-sighted.

I feel quite unreal 
he said once, maybe twice
into a beautiful microphone.

You and I
the difference between us 

I look severe,
I don’t like having my picture taken, I just don’t.

                          .

I had
the nightmare again

about choking on a bay leaf,
real fear like girls are real. 

In real life, it happens 
most when someone else has served you.

Elena
on accident and not,
when have you ignored the dangers? 

Elena
Elena
they were wrong

Elena

our mothers were wrong about kindness

 

 

L.S. Klatt’s essay on Robert Frost was published recently in The Encounter: A Handbook of Poetic Practice (Parlor Press). New poems of his have appeared or will appear in New American Writing, Northwest Review, Seneca Review, DIAGRAM, 32 Poems, The Southern Review, Copper Nickel, and The New Yorker. More of his work can be found at lsklatt.org.

Michelle Lewis is the recipient of the 2018 Marystina Santiestevan First Book Prize chosen by Bob Hicok. She is the author of Animul/Flame (Conduit Books & Ephemera), and two chapbooks, Who Will Be Frenchy? (dancing girl press) and The Desire Line (Moon Pie Press). Her poetry has appeared in Bennington Review, Indiana Review, Copper Nickel, Hunger Mountain, and Denver Quarterly among others. She has written essays and reviews for Gettysburg Review, Rain Taxi, Electric Lit, Anomaly and others. You can find out more about her at whitechicken.com.

Leslie Sainz is the author of Have You Been Long Enough at Table, forthcoming from Tin House in September 2023. The daughter of Cuban exiles, she is the recipient of a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, the Yale Review, Kenyon Review, Narrative, and elsewhere. A three-time National Poetry Series finalist, she’s received scholarships, fellowships, and honors from CantoMundo, the Miami Writers Institute, The Adroit Journal, and the Stadler Center for Poetry & Literary Arts at Bucknell University. She is the managing editor of New England Review.

August 2023 Poetry Feature

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