October 2015 Poetry Feature

New Poems by our Contributors

LUISA A. IGLORIA

 

I carry you 

an envelope enclosing a letter,
            bread spore poised to proliferate upon

 

clean surfaces of lukewarm milk and water—
            Dried sprig of sage or lavender,

 

evergreen whose scented spikes
            forever line my cabinets and drawers—

 

Garter stitch, you snake through my ragged
            hemlines; your name felts my wet lashes. Dark-orbed

 

iris, your aperture closes and widens. Your smooth
            jawline clenches and unclenches.

 

Keepsake, medal I pin to my underclothes
            like an amulet: you are varied as moss,

 

modular as water; molecular, and more maternal.
            No other raft of baggage compares.

 

Odometer recording my distances, unidentified
            perfume on the periphery of a waking dream: often, I

 

query your mutable nature, your
            repetitions, your irrefutable refrains.

 

Some days are marble, some are parchment:
            they lie in a mantle of heat then tear

 

under the pressure of what’s tender.
            Vise-like, your grip pries open, then

 

welds itself to my nature,
            exacting the perfect price.

 

You know me best by now: my vessel and pearl,
            zeitgeist, world I inhabit that inhabits me.

 

Luisa A. Igloria is the author of the eChapbook Bright as Mirrors Left in the GrassOde to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil EraserNight Willow, and other works.

 

 

The Air Raids

 

(From a book-length sequence entitled Barbarossa: The German Invasion of the Soviet Union and the Siege of Leningrad, forthcoming from Dzanc Books)

A line for bread forms quickly, then the men
and women scatter at the sirens, stow
themselves in entryways, at windows bricked
and mortared closed, in trenches cut in rows,
haphazardly, along the avenues.
The three or four times that a trolley halts
along a route and patrons empty out
into the streets, to shelters, sand-bagged halls,
becomes routine—they sway together still,
gaze downward, as if waiting for their stop.
At night, the silence in between the shells
becomes the louder sound, a type of rope
that binds, unseen, the sleepless in their beds.

It feeds.  It incubates inside the head.

 

To Protect Their Belongings, Some Leningraders Wear Their Finest Clothes

 

(From a book-length sequence entitled Barbarossa: The German Invasion of the Soviet Union and the Siege of Leningrad, forthcoming from Dzanc Books)

My husband stands before me as a groom

again, his best suit looser on him now.
I hold his waist, draw hips to my hips.  How
a part of me desires to be with him
again as adolescents when I drew
him to me, guided him, the night we found
ourselves alone beneath his father’s elm,
the sapling planted at his father’s birth.
The moon held lightly in the branches.  Leaves
turned slowly overhead, each shuddering
when wind would stir, then still.  That night recedes
in me at times until those children seem
unknown, as if they were my own.  I breathe,
then shyly dress again within his arms.

 

In the Workshops

(From a book-length sequence entitled Barbarossa: The German Invasion of the Soviet Union and the Siege of Leningrad, forthcoming from Dzanc Books)

The first time when I saw a person die

I was a child.  My father held my hand
as, huddling together, he and I
stood by my mother’s bed, the only sound
our breathing in the winter air, a crown
of exhalations over us.  The space
between my mother’s words grew long, unwound
in me.  I’d learned to lean into that loss,
anticipate it, day on day.  A burst
of fire in the factory, a shell
released among us, brings death hastily.
The arbitrary loss is hardest.  Held
in place by fear, I focus on routine,
say bombs are accidents, try not to dream.

 

Accusations

 

(From a book-length sequence entitled Barbarossa: The German Invasion of the Soviet Union and the Siege of Leningrad, forthcoming from Dzanc Books)

My brother’s always at the window, night

on night.  He crouches, waves his hand at me
for silence when I try to speak.  He sees
the phosphorescent arcs; small shells of light
release and rise against the ash-gray sky.
He startles as if waking from a dream.
He points and whispers names, claims enemies
and traitors dwell within the secret lives
of friends.  I tell him think.  Be calm.  He strides
towards me in darkness, clicks his teeth, regards
me from my forehead to my chin.  And what,
he says, my brother, might you also hide?
This room at night is like a cave.  His words
pulse awkwardly, flit through the air like bats.
Jonathan Fink is an Associate Professor and the Director of Creative Writing at University of West Florida.  

 

 

Code Switch

 

Sophia (a real person, not

an allegory) sat on the

top row of seats in

the amphitheater at

Ephesus.  I stood

way down at the

center of the theater, below.

Sophia said Hello Caroline

quietly.  I said Hello

Sophia ditto, this was

1959.  We heard

one another exactly.

How great when a poem

does an extra job,

like Robert Morgan’s

piece on PoetryDaily,

“History.”  He made “each”

and “teeth” rhyme.  “History”

could go between any poem

and any other poem in a

book, on a screen, and would

ennoble the context. (“[E]nnoble

the context” is a code switch.)

Sophia and I, teenagers,

thought the context

of Ephesus was pretty

ennobled already, what

with St. Paul and all

in Acts, and Artemis.

Morgan biographed

Daniel Boone, prolific

frontier hero in the

theater of the Seven

Years’ War and else-

where, same age almost

as Washington, who was

there, too – how about

that?  Whom Ron Chernow

biographed nobly.

Boone is the subject

of tons of fakelore

(Morgan set

the record straight),

and fakelore itself

is a form of code switch;

it’s like decay, the half-life of radium.

 

Rubric

A rubric stands out on the page in hot color.

Seraphs ornament its components, engrossed in the work,

stronger than brickdust (a basis for stain).

Not seraphs, idiot! – serifs!

– in manuscripts and early printed

books.  Plenty of seraphs in the

gothic illuminations, though.

The red only introduces the

instructions, which are black.

You’re supposed to follow them.

 

Stronger than brickdust, a rubric is

red earth, suggesting clay,

an ocher called a “ruddle,”

cheerful matte scarlet

“thus marking in a distinctive manner

that to which attention is to be drawn”

(says the 11th Britannica).

Sanguine, a rubric makes bold to say

(for example):

Here may be sung a

 

Song

 

Caroline Knox has new work in A Public SpaceThe BafflerNarrative, and Tin House.

 

RON WELBURN

Vicuña Twilights

Dreams orbit the night land’s twilight pillars,
those cedars standing sentinel to their elusive paths
marking ellipsis around the cape of memory.
Vicuña has extrapolated their meanings,
chewing on the cedar’s leaves and twisting
its bark strips into manitou eyes.
Orphans and needy heretics seek
her prognostication of the fifth world,
the smoke and thunder of transitions
to the reversals enveloped in her dreams.
Listeners find in dreams fickle sonances,
some emitted by a Dr. Jackle
whose lyrical cries are distempered fever.
They drive deluxe sedans invisible in the fog,
grillwork on the wheels mincing knives for dancers.
Vicuña’s hut by any other name
sits in the orbiting paths hidden by forests.
Nights of the panther’s visits are without mists,
are really bad orbits reversed in envelopes
stained with its orange and rose-colored semen.
Who offered the panther’s walking amid madrigals?
Where are the cedar boughs when she needs them?
The panther, issuing disclaimers on the future,
reclines across the doorway to Vicuña’s house of dreams,
having swallowed the stick barring entry,
and chewing the secrets as they arrive or leave.
That deluxe panther sent by the thunderers
to trifle dreams and sex with his barb;
that panther seeking Vicuña beyond the equatorial plain,
his legs awaiting her bola,
and a sharp blade flashing in the night.

 

Ron Welburn has published in over one hundred literary magazines and anthologies, such as volumes I and II of Susan Deer Cloud’s I Was Indian compilations, Yellow Medicine Review, Callaloo, and The Best American Poetry 1996.

 

October 2015 Poetry Feature

Related Posts

The book cover for Ricardo Maldonado's "The Life Assignment"

Poems From The Life Assignment

RICARDO ALBERTO MALDONADO
I feel from dignity and calm. I, / anxiety grabbed me // with sciatica, although I recited poems / at a stone’s throw, inside the machine // elevator. The clattering of the empire / its capital / an arsenal of pain, it made for a rough // odor. Now can you see the monument?

Golden Eagle Michael Eastman

Ghost Town

SALLY BALL & MICHAEL EASTMAN 
St. Louis is the center of this series: middle-class (or once middle-class) St. Louis, and the layers of depletion and reinvigoration and depletion-again-anyway-despite that are visible in the facades boarded over, or enlivened (once) with murals, or not painted going on 30-40 years.