Poetry

May 2024 Poetry Feature: Pissed-Off Ars Poetica Sonnet Crown

By REBECCA FOUST

    1. (Written after the workshop)

Fuck you, if I want to put a bomb in my poem
I’ll put a bomb there, & in the first line.
Granted, I might want a nice reverse neutron bomb
that kills only buildings while sparing our genome
but—unglue the whole status-quo thing,
the canon can-or-can’t do?  Fuck yeah, & by
“canon” I mean any rule, whether welded
by time, privilege, or empire, & also by
the newer memes. Anyway, I want the omelet
because of the broken eggs. I want to break glass
into dust, to spindrift it into new form. I want
to melt mortar down into quicklime that burns.
Less piety, please. Any real response to my poem
will do—laugh, cry, yawn—or STFU & go home.

May 2024 Poetry Feature: Pissed-Off Ars Poetica Sonnet Crown
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Friday Reads: Braving the Body

Review by JENNIFER FRANKLIN 

Featuring poems by DIANE SEUSS, FRED MARCHANT, JUSTIN WYMER, and BRENDA CÁRDENAS 

Walt Whitman famously wrote, “I am the poet of the body and I am the poet of the soul.” Braving the Body (Harbor Editions, 2024) a new anthology edited by Nicole Callihan, Pichchenda Bao, and Jennifer Franklin is a collection of poems that are both embodied and soulful; they spring from the imaginations and lived experiences of 116 brave bodies (including one who is no longer alive after a long battle with cancer). But in Karen Friedland’s exuberant poem, “It Recurred,” the speaker is present, alive, defiant, “At this tender moment, my death is merely theoretical, and life is all I’ll ever know. In Diane Seuss’s hair “the color of a field mouse” the speaker holds space for a painful teenage memory, Jesus “writing / parables in his head” and the body as “a world / of massive disappointments.” and Justin Wymer’s “pill the color of her hair;” JP Howard’s poem mediates on the body as home and the home as sanctuary in an often inhospitable and unsafe world, “this is a safe place for black boys becoming black men” and Fred Marchant’s prescient speaker tells us “thus i announce the world is burning.” But this is also a collection of the body as conduit of pleasure, joy, love, and freedom as when Brenda Cardenas cries, “Perhaps we lick the nape of a lost lover’s / neck, just to remind them we once tangoed / In the blooming garden of their chest.” As Nicole Callihan writes in her introduction, “Absurd, sublime, anxious, and tender—these poems resonate in the very place they were born—the brave body in all its gore and glory.”   

—Jennifer Franklin 

 

Cover of the anthology braving the body

Friday Reads: Braving the Body
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Call and Response

By TREY MOODY

My grandmother likes to tell me dogs
            understand everything you say, they just can’t
say anything back. We’re eating spaghetti 

            while I visit from far away. My grandmother
just turned ninety-four and tells me dogs
            understand everything you say, they just can’t

Call and Response
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Around Sunset

By JAMES RICHARDSON

The days seem kindlier near sunset, easier
when they are softly falling away
with that feeling of sad happiness
that we call moved, moved that we are moved
and maybe imagining in the dimming
all over town of hurry and resentment
that difficult loves rekindle

Around Sunset
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Black-Out Baby

By JULIET S. K. KONO  

This poem is excerpted from Eh, No Talk Li’dat.

Eh, No Talk Li’Dat, an anthology forthcoming from Kaya Press, is centered on Pidgin, or Hawai‘i Creole English. The following poem is excerpted from this anthology.  

Pidgin began as a dialect of trade between Native Hawaiians and Western seafarers and merchants and evolved as a Creole language in the sugar plantations in the 1920s and ’30s, yet, until today, it is deemed substandard by school administrators and is not recognized as a Creole language by the State Department of Education. It is the only language I can think of in the U.S. that was co-authored by the various ethnic groups in the islands: Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders (Samoa, Tonga), sugar planters and migrant laborers from Asia (China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines), Portugal (Madeira and the Azores), and Puerto Rico. Recent speakers and innovators of Pidgin include transplants from Micronesia. In addition to the poems, stories, and excerpted plays, all written in Pidgin and contributed by over forty of Hawai‘i’s writers, the genre-defying Eh, No Talk Li’Dat includes archival materials, newspaper articles, transcripts of televised comic skits, and comic strips.  

R. ZAMORA LINMARK 

  

Da Japs, my strange kine relatives, 
wen jes bomb Pearl Harba. 
Ebery nite from den on, each house 
had only one black-out light with  
a puka in da center. 
People had fo tar dea windows 
and craks unda da do-uz 
had fo be stuf wid rags, 
scolding da lites dat dare fo show up. 
If not, da block checkas go come, 
jes like termites come aroun da lites. 
And those who broke da law,
going hea banging on dea do-uz 
and if you one Jap, 
you gotta be careful cuz 
dey can sen you  
to one jail kine camp, 
somewea in Colorado.  

One nite, one woman wen go into layba 
wen was real hot unda the black-out lite. 
Into this dark-kine time, one baby wuz born. 
Da baby was me. One black-out baby— 
nosing aroun in the dark 
wid heavy kine eyes, 
and a “yellow-belly,” 
filled wid one real angry cry!  

 

Juliet S. K. Kono is a poet and fiction writer born and raised in Hilo, Hawaiʻi. She is a survivor of the 1946 tsunami. She has written extensively about the Japanese American experience across the generations. Author of four books, including Hilo Rains and Anshu, she is retired and lives with her husband in Honolulu.

[Purchase Issue 27 here]

Black-Out Baby
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Was to Get It

By MATTHEW LIPPMAN 

I tried to get in touch with my inner knowledge.
Turns out I have no inner knowledge.
I used to think I did.
Could sit on a rock contemplating the frog, the river, the rotisserie chicken
and know that everything is connected to everything else.
Or, that I had a messed-up childhood and never fully left the home.
Or, that abandonment was a product of eating too much candy.
But then the dog saw the squirrel.

Was to Get It
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Ecstasy Facsimile

By MARK ANTHONY CAYANAN

Longing to make his life compact as sushi, my shame
borrows the saint’s apron, shackles his swivel in her cincture. My shame
walks the earth with an electric blanket, goes to the gym to window-shop with
            it, heads for the hills where he takes selfies meditating. To the person
            on the bus who inquires, my shame

Ecstasy Facsimile
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