NewPoetry

Spells

Jaime Forsythe

 

This all happens where houses threaten
to slip into the sea, where no one crosses
on the stairs or sings at the table, where
odd scraps get socked away, a sparrow
in the freezer, nestled next to
the tequila, where the street
sweeper roars by under a strawberry moon.
No matter where, we don’t wash
for days and bonfire rises from every layer
of us. Chanting by the kindling, songs morph
into visions, into sketches on butcher paper.
Compatible zodiac signs hang out
around the picnic table hammered
from a kicked-in door. Words guard us
against unwelcome thoughts and shifty
visitors. Fragile alchemy gets a baby
to sleep, powered by a looping
articifical heart. The button flickers
violet, and we have entered
the right ventricle. Thirteen
beats before the curtain drops. Our lives shift
softly every time a new one arrives,
high beams interrupting the performance
and stalling the pendulums, the inner workings.
Small fuses, we disconnect and reconnect, willing
the charms we’ve created to catch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Tightrope Walker

Patrick Warner

 

The bearded grind-organ lady’s
Quaker-bearded monkey,
depressed elephants,
sedated lions, insouciant
ungulate dromedaries
and belligerent camels
will tomorrow be ushered
into confinement.

With these will go
the washing-machine-cum-
bisected-jet-engine that spins,
that basin of sticky wisps,
spun stratosphere that collects
on a dipped stick to make
edible pink insulation.

Stacked like ark runners will be
parenthetical sections
of the two-ring circus,
and with them the big top’s
bamboo poles a small boy
named Hal imagined were
fishing rods for whales.

His neck stiff from looking up,
his eyes so long fixed
on the glittering funambulist
he imagines he is up there
with her seeing what she sees
when she looks down:
eyes all gelatin and night,
like frogspawn in a ditch;
workweek complexions, a
shade of pale past exhaustion,
expressions as volatile
as empty petrol cans.

His stomach fills with butterflies;
butterscotch coloured they waft
and flutter as Ms Muffet makes
her way on bony
sheep-faced slippered feet
across the braided wire
from tuffet to tuffet.

Later he will not be able to say
when he got carried away
or why he hid in a wicker hamper,
under baguette-sized lace-up
bulb-toed shoes, itchy neon-coloured
nylon wigs and red ball noses,
on a bed of oily hawsers,
pegs with hangnail heads,
mauls all dents and nicks.

Tomorrow the pigeon-chested
lion tamer and the tightrope
walker will pick out his cry
from the cries of macaws,
the shrieks of parakeets,
from the ratcheting calls of toucans,
and drop him in the next town,
entrust him to the perfumed,
fire-breathing policeman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

from Bloom and Martyr

Helen Hajnoczky

 

Helen image

 

 

 

 

 

Elska mína

Sina Queyras

 

You created me, you should remember me; leaned your face into the canto of
…..my birth and broke air with me, breathed your best, your unrest
Into me even as you bled, and my father—a taut shock of muscle—caught me
…..as an Eagle takes a trout.
It was a rave, mother, a real wave and blue, a sprig of fur the three of us in our
…..first Pas de trois. You chewed the cord as he yanked,
Before that I was locked in the dashboard with Patsy Cline while you two
…..hurled and ducked. You bore me,
You should recall the blood you gave me, breathed your discontent, your
…..troubling, joyous, mysterious, unquenchable thirst for
Life in me: you shock of blonde, rare as Marilyn, a knubbly shudder of hose and
…..Almond Nougat
An edible parchment, a scroll so naïve, with such fine print, so in love with
…..your melancholy sex, you sleep as neat as a cat.

You bore me. You with your complicated luck, you should not desert me here,
…..not now, you should
Not forsake me at the lip of the mirror where the ego piques, at fifty, or fifty-
…..one, you slept on ice, do you recall?
You might have lived, you might have let go of history, made of sorrow a kite,
…..not a shroud to suffocate
Your Viking bones, wide and still as glaciers, your thin arms reaching out for
…..Valium, Ativan, Ambien. You gave into yourself my
Garbo, my tremolo, my Jeanne d’Arc, my dragon breather, mother, warrior,
…..pursuer, giver and taker of dreams,
You saved me, and then you left me, don’t you recall? Don’t you remember
…..your long arms slipping into the womb, not
Wanting that first painful separation, how you clung to me even before
…..I was breath, before
I was open my mother, my love, my jailor, your long nails like a claw raking
…..around my ears, clamping my eyes closed.
You saved me, wasn’t it that? Wrenched me into the world as you would pull
…..an arrow from your heart and
Pick your teeth? You should remember me, my two moles, my wracked brow,
…..the click of lungs, my fingers, the flat,
The round, my nails, more my fathers, like impish insect wings curled, too soft
…..to pull your hairs, grey one
For a penny, my mother myself, you said you would live for me, you said I
…..would live for you, to you, in you, you said, Tuck me
Into your pocket and walk me like a giraffe into Manhattan, just as you tucked
…..me in your bag when you ran to and from him.
You saved me, you should know me here with my palm of earth, with my
…..upturned yes, without a peony to my name.
I come for you on my knees, on my thighs, on my belly: I am so sorry I couldn’t
…..take you.
I come still, digging for your hand to find my head once again, to set me right,
…..to let me go.

 

 

 

 

November Analogues

Susan Glickman

 

For Martha Baillie

Any bird’s shadow darkening the window
is more ominous than the bird itself

In the overheated lobby a scarlet peony sheds its petals
like a woman shrugging off her fur coat

Toronto’s exiled elephants must miss their cold hectare;
even the Israelites, in the desert, hankered for Egypt

The lean shank of the dog curves to the curve of my thigh
the way a mug’s warm belly brings the palms together
while steam rises between them like prayer

 

 

 

 

 

The Waves

Rob Winger

 

Tonight, this Adrienne Rich poem
is a diamond dulled with dark pencil.

Its margins announce shorthand:
men still distant, it tells me, doorframes = violence,

see famine, later, elsewhere.
The lead: silver against type.

On the cover of the book is a black and white wave
swollen to its absolute peak, beautiful and angry.

The distance from the lens that takes this image
to this particular angle of super-moonlight

by which I’m reading is at once millennia
and millisecond, is at once a yawning constellation

and a blanket, heated, to comfort some palliative nobody.
Our dreams are not what we remember.

The damp sheets, twisted; the sweat caught there:
maps for charting lost midnights.

Every body has its limits, they say.
Everyone is born in blind blood.

Across the dark fields, gasoline burns.
In shacks and dungeons, chained women still scream.

There’s just enough free speech left
for these fists to press delicate glass shards

into the shining spines
of every woman in the republic.

 

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

Michael Redhill

 

Dog is like eat good. The kid is like
read and sigh. The baby is like us am.

Someone finds a book on Buddhism in a box
and she’s like go undead. The dog is like eat good.

Nothing happens. Then things get tense. The girl is like
wokka wokka and the guy is like boinggg and then

It walks into the room. We’re like get scared.
I was like can’t and you were like won’t and they were like

chemical drowsing. Someone finds a book
and he’s like dream alert, he’s like this was me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden

Carmelita McGrath

 

When the grey jay calls, its hoarse cacophony, it has swallowed too much of the day into its mouth.
Greedy for the sun, it chokes on fading light.

I held golden in a bowl. It emptied in winter. I watched its chalice shape from a picture window.
I waited for it to fill up.

It filled with longing. It seemed it was a long one. If you know a short winter, call me.

It filled in summer. There was no spring. It seemed a goddess had vomited on us.

So suddenly. I made a bed under the lilac; the rockets stretched–hesperis matronalis–intoxicants.

It was like lying in a dream of a new world; I spread a canopy
to encompass and surround me; the maples were pushing out.

I could hear them near me.

All summer I cast diversions on a theme.

A goldfinch crashed into a wall of glass, then revived in my hands:
who shook more I thought as it flew, and are you too leaving?

The bowl was emptying. I took autumn as a state of mind. Sell everything.

Park a few treasures and just go. Clean out as the leaves cleave space wide open
and tell me what is it that you own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN I OVERSLEEP

Julie Bruck

 

I wake Judeo-Christian, guilty as sin,
surrounded by my newly Calvinist family
who demand an apology for my abdication.
Meanwhile, I’ve backed the Toyota onto
Seventh Avenue, and hit something,
maybe someone, and slept with a hybrid
of former lovers (one dead, another
unseen for decades), and the sex was way,
way better than I remember: such
elaborate tattoos on their perpetually
strong, young backs! Afterwards, my late
friend Katherine stopped in, but she’s always
in a rush, which makes things fraught.
The dead will do that, since they don’t
keep time the way the rest of us think we do.
Don’t forget the mammoth plumbing problems,
epic, almost Acts of God (I’ll spare you),
and horses to gallop over huge stone walls,
and as always, a British Airways flight
to catch to an uncertain destination,
which I’ve yet to board, since complications
must ensue before I even reach an airport,
what with having so much to pack and carry.
When I’ve overslept, there’s been no
rest whatsoever, and this waking
is aching, dropped here as I am,
washed up on time’s hard shore.
So back away from the bed, my bald
man of the cloth, my teen of tefillin.
Tend to your purer sheep, steer
them clear of the Lake of Fire,
of vile books and bad company.
I’ll be there in a minute.
Busy yourselves. Elsewhere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crying Jag

Michael Crummey

 

The weeks he worked 8 to 4 at the mill
Dad deked home by way of the Union Hall
to stand his shift a round in the lull before

supper, hustling across town to preside
over grace, doling out our daily bread
with a little glow on, a devil’s smile,

sneaking morsels from everyone’s meal
while our heads were turned, making off-colour
proposals to our mother that we were

too young to grasp in their prurient detail
though the gist came through in her dismissal:
saucy, fondly annoyed. They both seemed more

or less content with their lot, I’d have said,
if a mirrored smile is any measure.
Only once was he late through the door,

crutched in on a shift-mate’s staggered feet,
dumped and steadied in his waiting seat
where he bawled and listed hard to one side

while his sons stared and the half-eaten food
on our plates went cold. We were terrified
to see him undone—too shaken to speak,

unable to pry his eyes from the floor
even as Mom tried to coax him back
to sense, to all he asked of pleasure—

the kitchen’s fare, his young wife, fatherhood.
It seemed more than alcohol that crippled
the man, some omen of teeming failure,

and nothing he owned could staunch the flood
that rattled through and made him look a stranger,
flailing in front of his own flesh and blood.

It was a mother’s instinct to protect
her kids that placed us in a neighbour’s care
while she poured her husband into the car,

drove the blacktop to a gravel detour
ravelled through woods above Red Indian Lake
and they spent most of the evening there

watching the water’s strobing white-caps,
the sight like static on a radio’s wave,
almost a comfort, a murmuring salve

as they waited for the jag’s ragged kick
to break, for fatigue to shut off the taps.
There was no row, no needling the lapse,

as if my mother somehow understood
it was just the void peeking through a tear
in the day’s fabric that ailed her passenger,

the stone stare of all we stand to lose while
our heads are turned, that dark lull we disregard
though the gist beds in our hearts like a seed

and blooms on occasion in bald detail.
My brothers and I were already sound
by the time they idled back to town,

bewildered and spent, but undamaged.
Nothing was the same, except what mattered.
They had a life to be lived. They managed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 64 other followers