Table of Contents:
—Timothy Donnelly, “Eglantine” and “Mill”
—January Gill O’Neil, “Us”
—Nguyen Binh, “Two of the Graves by the Highway” and “Uncle”
Eglantine By Timothy Donnelly
after Marceline Desbordes-Valmore
Thorn-blossom! Tender thing, prone to solitude
like yours truly, don’t get it twisted if I reach out my hand—
it isn’t to pluck you, who are my beacon down this path, but a gesture
of acknowledgment common among my kind.
May 2023 Poetry Feature: New Poems by Our Contributors
We cherish ourselves even to the bones which like some mother’s rigid hangers hold us to our lacquered shapes in the smug dialetheia of am and briefly was until we come to our raveled ends everyone just taking up space until space takes us back one washed-out moment at a time like tea leaves steeping in a cup until we’re ready for someone to bow in close and take a quick ceremonial sip then turn the cup wipe clean the rim and hand it carefully to yet another honored guest who mindful of what we might let go to waste will not leave until every drop is drunk.
Thomas Aquinas prescribed fervent prayer,
and I do pray, but, oddly, a bird has been
my best medicine when I find myself shrunken
and absent, as I do each year as the anniversary
of my son’s death approaches. And so I turn again
to this: a dipper I watched in Zion’s Virgin River.
John Ashbery called me after he died So you can imagine my excitement When in his droll hyper-nasalated Timbre quite undiminished by death He chatted on about the bowls of Pitted cherries provided as snack-food In the upper worlds and of afternoons Climbing trees with Edna Millay to read Comic books with her in the branches. Then his voice dropped two octaves And he spoke solemnly of Jack Benny: ‘You can say funny things or say things Funny but silence was the punchline For Jack Benny.’ And he was gone.
Whatever Walden is to me—we swam there two Julys—
I hope to skirt that never-ending trope,
Drowning like a pilgrim in that pond.
We pushed past mothers and their kids,
Cedared summers in Wellfleet cottages,
Past foreign languages that hummed across
The narrow circle of that one dirt path
I drive through the yellow ribcage of maples
arching the road, past the butch woman I want
to be, raking leaves in her front yard, hair
slicked back at the sides. Yesterday, searching
the internet for winter tights, I found crotchless ones,
a model’s diffident fingertips barely obscuring
the hairless glow of her pussy, and remembered
the years I spent lying on a table in a quiet room,
piped sound of harps descending from the ceiling,
while some other woman carefully made my body
as smooth and unthreatening as a child’s.