Poems by JOHN FREEMAN, MARCUS SCOTT WILLIAMS, MEGAN PINTO, and REILLY D. COX.
New work by our contributors:
John Freeman | Translation in Paris
marcus scott williams | meadow on Wabash
Megan Pinto | The Blind
Reilly Cox | Silence of the Lambs: A Matter of Height
TRANSLATION IN PARIS
By John Freeman
There are no editors in the café
called Les Éditeurs. There’s not
a single novelist in the Saint-
Germain store gilded by novels.
There are no beasts of the chase
paddocked in the park, but that’s what
the West Germanic word—parruk—meant.
It took the overrunning of London
by its immigrant population in 1680
to turn the word into the spot we’d
park humans, so they could stumble
around in bewilderment at how time
is translation, change is nature’s rime.
meadow on Wabash
marcus scott williams
iont remember my impressions before we installed the white picket-fence around the yard, but i like it now, makes the yard feel smaller, surrounding you like a bear hug. i know this yard. water balloon fights where balloons don’t satisfy-pop, jarring lightning bugs on sticky summer evenings, just appreciating existence from the screened-in porch.
i know this yard.
i love the softness of mornings w the yard. sun soaks the grass gold. dew sliding off the top of each blade. every Tuesday morning Daddy wakes up me & my younger brother to take the trash to the curb, in front of the yard, in front of a storm drain, reminding us to grab the spray bottle with ammonia to protect each black-plastic mountain from hungry opossums or raccoons. i ain’t never seen trash bags torn open on our street but maybe that’s because we were always prepared.
depending on the day of the week, the fresh-cut smell fills the air & calms my anxieties. resets that fight-or-flight. it’s distinct & pungent & if the wind blows with any enthusiasm, lil blades will flip & dance like plastic Walmart bags in the empty parking lot of the daycare diagonally from our house.
me & my lil brother never cut the front yard, that’s Daddy job. sometimes we cut the backyard, the front is sacred. Kentucky bluegrass creates our own private meadow. the white fence makes it harder to cut the yard, which slopes gently & subtly downhill, but i know that the front yard is Daddy’s pride so he holds on firmly to that responsibility. that’s perfectly okay with me. i’d much rather sleep in every Saturday morning.
In the world of the living, good works won’t change
your fate, but my father, in darkness, will ready himself
to wake. He will log his money in a notebook, fill a bucket
with loose coins–the receipts get folded in half. It’s hard
letting go of a way of life. When my father left India
he was drunk. He carried some clothes in a bag. What
he wished for, what he wanted– tonight, my father calls
to tell me he is losing his sight. I walk the length of the block
and back again. From my street, I can see the Chrysler Building,
the Empire State, the stars. I became my father’s daughter twice:
when I realized how little I knew of his life, and when
I realized how little he knew of mine. It’s not safe to fall
asleep among strangers, but we do anyway, late at night,
coming home on the train, I feel the steady slow beat
of my heart. Sometimes the woman collecting cans
along the street peers out from over her bags. People coming out
of the subway glance, and she smiles a shy, half smile. People
passing on the street do not smile. They hold only each other’s
hands. My father warned me the world would be like this–cold,
and that people would never understand. But then, I think,
why call at all? Walking along the East River, ships still pass
in the dark. They have names I cannot read. Across the water,
lights from the city find me. Somehow, I must learn to live
in this world and get by. The light is an easy metaphor, but I take
the grace I find.
Silence of the Lambs: A Matter of Height
The significance of the moth is change.
Caterpillar into cocoon into beauty…
Billy wants to change, too, Clarice.
But there’s the problem of his size, you see.
Even if he were a woman, he’d have to be a big one.
Even if I cut off pieces of myself, or asked doctors to;
Even if I starved myself until my body ate away the old body;
Even if I grew my hair so long I could be painted as Godiva;
Even if I am polite when I say, She/They;
Even if I cross my legs;
Even if, when entering the Men’s Room, I hide my face;
Even if I am patient in proving that I have a patient’s history
Even if I ignored the women when they say, You’re all just ugly men in dresses!;
Even if I painted my finger nails like coral;
Even if I tried, I couldn’t change what has happened, what will happen:
someone picking Marsha out of the river, floating beside all those beautiful flowers.
Reilly D. Cox is a MFA candidate at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where they served as Design Editor for Black Warrior Review. They attended Washington College and the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets. They have work available or forthcoming byNat. Brut., Always Crashing, Juked, Cosmonauts Avenue, Rust + Moth, and elsewhere.
John Freeman is the author of Dictionary of the Undoing and several other books, including Maps, a collection of poems. The founder of the literary annual Freeman’s, he is artist in residence at New York University. His latest books are Tales of Two Planets (Penguin, April), an anthology of new writing on the global climate crisis and inequality, and The Park (Copper Canyon, May), a collection of poems. His work has been translated into over twenty languages.
Megan Pinto‘s poems can be found or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Meridian, The Cortland Review, and Indiana Review among others. She has received scholarships from Bread Loaf and the Port Townsend Writer’s Conference, and an Amy Award from Poets & Writers. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson.
marcus scott williams is a writer and artist whose work is predicated on socioempathy, the creation of comfortable spaces, and radical vulnerability. He is the author of “Sparse Black Whimsy: A Memoir” (2fast2house, 2017). He has received residencies and fellowships from the Saltonstall Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, Ragdale, & the Bronx Council on the Arts. He loves and appreciates you.