February 2022 Poetry Feature

New work from our contributors: MARK KYUNGSOO BIAS, SARA MUNJACK, and DANIEL TOBIN

 

Table of Contents:

Mark Kyungsoo Bias  |  Visitor

                                   |  Meeting My Mother

Sara Munjack  |  Friendship Talk after Love-lives

Daniel Tobin  |  The Door

                       |  Prayer in Passing

 

VISITOR

By Mark Kyungsoo Bias

When I counted my   brothers,  I saw a
fin of fog—moving outward   from   the
city—dividing      into        fingers    that
touched  my world’s   dulled edges. One
day it became  the  rain. The next, a god.
I saw the years  between  my unfinished friends as a   flickering   streetlight. And
then a war filled  in   their  outlines until
there was  nothing left  of  what I  knew.

 

MEETING MY MOTHER

By Mark Kyungsoo Bias

So, this is how it ends: your body 
lay flat like the hyphen between 

two years. The salt licked 
from the hollow earth. 

In another life, I am sure
I loved you. 

In this life, I think we were
singing.

Hiding is also a form 
of living / of staying

alive. If you are no longer—

I pray you are 
in a place unimaginable.

Haunting your sons with gentle air.
Moving a glass of milk 

across the table. I promise 
I will put our eyes to use. 

The best parts of this country 
are where we can be 
alone. 

How relieving the quiet. 

How handsome the night becomes 
when it is covered 
with light.

 

FRIENDSHIP TALK AFTER LOVE-LIVES 

By Sara Munjack

 

Any speech pathologist will tell you the same thing: how different dialogues are arranged in a
catalogue, the ahs and ohs tucked neatly away into drawers.

You told me a story once about a man who had mailed himself to his lover, but his lover didn’t open
the box in time & the man died & rotted away until the lover finally opened
the box & found her lover dead.

You told this story to me in the park, the one with the hippo with an indented seat at the front, a
spot in the marble where people have stored their old candy wrappers for months. A woman with
fake eyelashes passes us by, she cups a small Chihuahua in one hand & a bald baby in the other.

You tell me a baby babbling could be the best language for desire; knowing what you want before it
gets taken away from you.

Someone told me you started to wear baggier shirts, even mesh ones where your nipples show & I’m
wondering how that impresses your Catholic mother & her mother, the one who believes the world
is for traveling & counts each visited country like tick marks on her skin—like ticks stuck to the
tertiary layer of her skin foraged away somewhere in Long Island where the bagels are god & no one
knows why.

When you loved me, you obeyed me—an ocelot folding in on itself, concentric & undulating,
shaking for its master. You have tucked yourself neatly away now, every vowel of you.

 

 

THE DOOR

By Daniel Tobin

Those two at the door,
mild-eyed, chosen,
carry their booklets
and crosses in bags
to save me who needs
saving, Through his wounds
the world is healed.
And I’m for healing,
though what follows,
talk of second deaths,
pits, eternal anguish,
transports me to nights
like the last, long moans
beyond our garden,
mewling—the way
a siren can wind down
streets away to gunshot
or stroke, some portal
to wreckage, between
those slow sounds
of pain a life draining—
and that low, reverent
growl from the throat
at the throat: not good,
not bad, just the wheel’s
mastery under a moon’s
blind eye. And me
past midnight listening
as I listen now,
O my discomfiting
comforters, turning
from me having given
what you could give.

 

PRAYER IN PASSING

By Daniel Tobin

Heart, my hesitant predator,
lashed into your niche
between two folded wings,

are you not the hummingbird
flickering before the open
bud of your stillness? Lift me.

 

Mark Kyungsoo Bias is a 2021 Tin House Scholar and a recipient of the 2020 William Matthews Poetry Prize. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Adroit Journal, Best New Poets, and PANK, among others. He is currently an MFA candidate and REAL Fellow at The University of Massachusetts Amherst and an instructor at Grub Street.

Sara Munjack holds an MFA from Rutgers-Newark. She has poems published in Cosmonauts Avenue, Pigeon Pages, BOAAT, Gandy Dancer, ISO Magazine, tele-art mag and forthcoming in Grist Journal.

Daniel Tobin is the author of nine books of poems, including From Nothing, winner of the Julia Ward Howe Award, The Stone in the Air, his suite of versions from the German of Paul Celan, and most recently Blood Labors, named one of the Best Poetry Books of the Year for 2018 by the New York Times and The Washington Independent Review of Books. His poetry has won many awards, among them the Massachusetts Book Award and fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. His critical and editorial works include Passage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney, Awake in America, The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present, and To the Many: The Collected Early Works of Lola Ridge. His most recent work is On Serious Earth: Poetry and Transcendence. A trilogy of book-length poems, The Mansions, will appear in 2023. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston.

 

February 2022 Poetry Feature

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