NewPoetry

I Sweep the Steps on Monday

David O’Meara

 

The future is needy.

All that hope.

Last week
it desperately wanted what this week’s
only background,

patchy developments yet to come.
Carry me around, I said

fetal in the duvet.

Outside, I pause below
clouds playing shadow-puppets on radar,
the air dark with radiance
like the nave in Sainte-Chapelle.

_______

A short climb to domestic views.
The sky jams the tree in its scrapbook.
One branch, like a witch’s finger,
scrapes the metal siding,

knotted knuckle keening in wind.
I push tumbled twigs about,
the hibernated slurry,
leaves, dust
and litter’s dregs, disassembled
fractions

of something whole we used
up and threw away.

New stalks breach rolls of soil
like a burst couch.

_______

My porch. My staff and straw.
My six treads down.
My peninsula amid compost bins,
sidewalk, chrysanthemum and linden, this
provisional mount to my works
and days, each plan
a false trail
where I play a poor man’s Hesiod

left to wait
in this shoe-gazer’s almanac
remade by the age
of Big Oil and plastic.

_______

Panic seems to live in my ear,
plus the radio

and a revving at the stop-signs.

I shift the piles, spray the lids,
curse drudgery,

but out here, free at least
from click-bait.
A squirrel’s eye
radars over movement’s
could-be predators, if only to outlive
the imminent, heavy rain.

The past, with its exhausted magic,
needs us too.

All façade, the gutters drip
and a Google search shows nothing.

I step toward the porch
and hold the storm between shattered
blades of light.
A predicted front
will pass this way, still completely startle,

and this day will have me for its dinner, or let me go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Prime Time Horror Story

Paola Ferrante

 

When they report about abandoned car seats used
to lure female motorists to a location next to
a wooded or grassy field
I know the way the story’s going like

little girls will go
through bloody mary
in the bathroom
mirror. Every time she looks
she sees scratches from

what the man looking in the window would pull out
of his pockets, not being sure if he wanted her
blood all over
him.

Later on it’s the man upstairs
where they say a woman’s place is
in the home calling to say

have you checked
the children why haven’t you
aren’t you
glad you didn’t turn on
the light

from the t.v. See what’s happening in America.
There’s a man with a hook hand
ready to tear off her roof
same shape as a coat hanger
used down a back alley;

the man will always say he’s concerned with the state
of the children. Doesn’t he know she’s heard it
before, way back from the babysitter around
a campfire where little girls are always told
the killer is right
inside the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ecstatic Temporality for Dummies

Matthew Tierney

 

Hat brims, lapel pins, taupe vests.
The class of portrait photographers
with vintage cameras
hops around me, my pint, the patio.
A single robin settles on a point of view.

Idealists ask grandiose questions.
Realists spring a pop quiz.
Like, when stranded on a desert island,
with what material and how large
should one spell out HELP?

Seconds, days, years,
we feel them pass psychologically.
Brain scientists can now use
reverse psychology
to transport you to the Roaring Twenties,
the Left Bank, Boulevard Saint-Germain—

Probably not your idea of a good time.
Forget I said anything.

Applause.
(One hand encounters the other.)

A ladybug plays dead on
the coast of my dampened coaster.
A plane burbles above my big wobbly head.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Young Money

James Lindsay

 

We want more brightness than money can imagine.
— Timothy Donnelly, “Dream of Poetry Defense”

This poem is an attempt at learning
how to wear flip-flops with confidence

around the oddball hub where acceptance
has begun to slowly settle in. Acceptance

in the understanding that this is home now
and will remain home for as long as it takes

the hazmat team to retard and tame the bed
head of fibrous crystals, promising cancer,

lurking in the nooks only contractors know.
Where privet money and imagination begin

to dim—childless as this space is—noon
is when first classes will start settling in.

Lesson One: exposed toes are much more
vulnerable to bloody stubs. Care for them

like a litter of hatchlings, otherwise, seeing
as there are no children here, watch out

for them with the vigilance of the young
money, who leave lights on in the hundred

rooms of this mega-mansion, ignoring
hydro bills higher than devout iowaska

decibels or burnouts hidden in the shadows
of dark parks, who’ve saved their allowance

to seek a new sound source, a heavy twang
with a tendril on the dimmer switch, an eye

out for subtle changes in the light, the same
old disagreement between dawn and dusk.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Epistemology of Balloons

Steve McOrmond

 

The boy trudging with his mother
along the windy street is little
and the bouquet of helium balloons
he’s sea-anchored to is very large
and cumbersome. Fine motor skills
are a work in progress. So far, most things
have wanted to stay put or else
to crash down with a satisfying thud, but these
bright orange balloons have minds
of their own; they twist and tug at his grip
on their strings – any moment they might
lift him into the air. The thought
produces a muddle of pleasure and terror
he’ll wait years to put a name to.
Anyone can guess what happens next, but
to the boy, it comes as a big surprise: The sky
took my balloons! Away they go, over the roofs
toward a blue gap between high-rises
and building cranes that angle
like giant pinball paddles. If they don’t
snag and go pop, they just might make it
all the way across the lake, coming down
in Buffalo or Rochester, but you wouldn’t
wish that on anyone or anything, not even
a balloon. Were the mother to speak,
her words would come out strange. Hold on
tight is a rule of thumb, but sometimes
a lighter touch is required. The boy’s
exaggerated gasp as good a response as any.
Once in a while (don’t count on it),
what has been taken is returned
to us. They’re huge! The snowflakes
that have just now begun lazily to fall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOUTHFEEL

Adam Dickinson

 

……………Catenibacterium mitsuokai
……………Bacteroides

The tongue map
is wrong.
There are buds down

to the commonwealth.
What was the bliss
point of African blood

in the table sugars
of Europe?
Every year,

spinach produces
a sugar
in its leaves

comparable
to the world’s
annual output

of iron ore.
Without hurting
the taste, a young child

can stand
to keep a hand
in cold water

longer
with a sweet mouth.
The faster starch

converts to Christianity,
the quicker each outreach
over police radios.

O my sweet tooth,
my oatmeal raisin,
my poisoned tipped

candy apple cart.
Pleasure from food
is the air waving goodbye

in heat,
distorted
like an inherited empire.

In this way,
we are closest
to people who touch

what we eat.
Captives of loneliness
stare into icing.

I know enough
about the cherry on top
to lick around the sides.

 

 

NOTE

“Mouthfeel” responds to microbial changes caused by the Western diet. High sugar and high fat have resulted in gut microbiomes commonly dominated by the phyla Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. This poem concerns sugar specifically. While its precise effect on the Western diet remains unclear, there is research that suggests the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes is influenced by sugar intake. In particular, the abundance of Catenibacterium mitsuokai and Bacteroides appear to be affected. I found these microbes inside my body after analysing my microbiome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BELLS

Gary Barwin

 

stars originate from
the same place as bells
what should I be thinking about?
apparently May 6th
is World Naked Gardening Day

if a school were a uterus
someone writes
the politicians would protect
the children inside

a cupped hand
a mouthful of water
snowball the shape of a hand

 

after 9/11 I remember writing
something sarcastic
intended to be Zen
a poem about not being able to find a sock
I pissed off the poet
George Murray

but I realize it’s true
anytime I’ve lost a sock
someone’s being shot
even when I haven’t lost one

 

once my son went with my in-laws and the rabbi
to the lake
Tashlich: dropping bread into water
casting off sins

why am I doing this
my son said don’t believe in it
what about making the world better?
the rabbi asked
yes my son said yes

my son and I
late autumn
walking under the golden leaves

on my desk
a stapler, paperclips, some books
laptop open to American news

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE PENDULUM OF FEMALE SURVIVAL

Robin Richardson

 

First build fires negotiate idiosyncrasies
….his micro her PTSD her desire for religion
his grids his symmetry his body which
….is crushing her varied reactions to this
sometimes roused sometimes dampened
….mostly bloodlust Kali is her space
meaning uninhibited meaning violence
….meaning creation beyond adjudication
next is nutrients placing the snake
….in the mouth placing the rat in the mouth
placing all bodies in the fire then mouth
….making traps making myths making
an agreement to share in some or other
….formal way so all the mouths touch
all the animals so all the myths make
….room for all the awkward inner skirmishes
next the sky resembles a mirror to the mirror
….goes desire also all the things she doesn’t say
next is a way to blame the mirror to make
….the mirror contain their uncontainables
so she gets charming gets quiet lets mirror
….be God lets God grow next a baby
postpartum fitfulness of God knows
….what should have been a lovely day
next negotiate language his energy increasing
….his pronouns her BDD the smallness
of her hands his pronouns pressed in stone
….then moveably in China then Gutenberg
the book of hours where her marginalia
….reveals Kali again or Gaia or Bea is burned
a building then a magistrate a record label
….her body resculpted her affable humility
his presidency her aptitude for hosting projections
….his sheer enjoyment until again she’s burned
or overdoes it with the bottles in a bed
….of his will her next carnation will be angry
her next body will be big and black and she will
….buy the record label will bury the ceiling then slay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frigatebird

Stephen Brockwell

 

To be shat upon from the stratosphere
is no small miracle of gravity
and trade winds, but to be shoulder-splattered
with an eye, the carob-centered white dot
of soaring sea bird stool, is to be granted
the voice of the bard for a few seconds
to tap the Saxon spring for expletives.
Frank Ebanks tells me—in different words—
the frigatebird is no Canada goose;
it plies the up-and-down draughts with the grace
of a Martha Graham gossamer dance—
breathtaking. But it’s air-bound; one wet feather
and say goodbye to soaring with the clouds.
An exercise in breeding: the frigate class
never get their feathers wet. If they did,
they wouldn’t breed or wouldn’t feed the brood
they leave on shore. One takes the privilege
of effortless flight to an extreme, cleans
its feathers, preens while hanging with the clouds
—no, not like an open mic poet washing
stains from her shirt as she reads an ecstatic
ode to gods who have yet to believe in us—
but like a ten-million-dollar southpaw
driving his Telsa to the mound, sliding
out the gull-wing doors to throw a slider,
nicking the strike box at the bottom left
while polishing his alligator wallet.
I was going to say, “Who wouldn’t love to be
that bird, not the crane in a Basho haiga,
but the poet painting word and image
with a single stroke while slicing finest
maguro from the belly of bluefin?”
Such effortless excellence is a joke.
If the geese waddle on the muddy shore
and wade near riverbanks to feed on sedge,
cattails, and snails among algae-plagued reeds,
or make a way-point of cattle corn fields
to graze on abandoned cobs, when they fly,
they shit on us with artless abundance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sisters

Ayelet Tsabari

 

I should have told you in that synagogue
in Montreal during our brother’s wedding
to a girl from Hampstead.
Our entire family had flown over
from Israel, unabashed and un-Canadian,
me from Vancouver; you, from your
once-in-a-lifetime backpacking trip to India.

While the rabbi spoke of faith and matrimony
one of our sisters-in-law leaned
over and whispered, jerking her chin
toward you in the other row: Her ex-boyfriend.
A motorcycle accident. But don’t tell her.
She’s travelling. She’s having fun.
Don’t tell her. And so, oddly obedient, I didn’t.

I didn’t at the reception, you: luminous
in your green dress, bought in a market
in Jaipur, sparkling silk speckled
with mirrors like a Bollywood disco ball.
I didn’t in my Vancouver basement
apartment, where you came to stay,
backpack and all, woke up one morning

from the bed we shared and said, “I dreamt
about him. He lived on Dead Street.
What does it mean?” And still I didn’t
on Wreck Beach our skin sand-studded
and sprinkled with salt our black hair blazing
tar and strung with gold, and when we swam
naked, gasping and squealing,

our Mediterranean bodies stunned then stung
by the Pacific waters. I didn’t when you broke
your toe from dancing barefoot on the sand,
or when you weaved funny plotlines for patients
at the ER, elaborate love triangles for the doctors
and staff, and we were stupid stoned—for the pain!
I almost told you many times, but didn’t;

because our father died when you were 17,
because two years later your first love
shot himself with an Uzi, and because we were
having the sunshiny, shimmery summer
of our dreams. “I just found out my ex died,”
you wrote in an email from India.
You flew back there at the end of summer,

leaving me alone in my subterranean suite,
with cool tiles that stabbed my feet,
and slivers of grey, mucky skies wedged
in small windows. And then, a moment
later: “I’m so stupid.
………………………..You must have known
all this time.” My heart dropped like an elevator

with a snapped rope, and I wished
for the weeks to unfurl backwards,
for time to unfold back upon itself,
for my words to unlodge themselves
from my throat, unsilenced,
the way as a child I pled with our father
……………………………………..to undie.