Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An Old Story

An Old Story
by Richard Hoffman 

A few days after my mother died
the furnace went out, and my father,
who had been sitting in his chair
across from hers since the funeral,

his unshaven chin on his chest,
heaved himself up and went down
the cold gray cellar stairs to see if
he could relight the pilot himself

or would have to call for help.
I know what it must have been like
because I remember him other times
on his back down there, cursing

match after match, god damning
each for burning his fingers, as he
reached through the tiny metal door
as many times as it took. This time

it lit, caught, and roared back to life.
When my father sat up he faced
the washer, the dryer, the empty
laundry basket, the ironing board,

and my mother’s radio above the sink,
her absence so vivid that climbing
the stairs he thought he heard her
behind him, and he turned around.

Foreign Song

Foreign Song
by Katie Ford

To bomb them,
we mustn’t have heard their music
or known their waterless night watch,
we mustn’t have seen how already
the desert was under constant death bells
ringing over sleeping cribs and dry wells.
We couldn’t have wanted
this eavesdropping
of names we’ve never pronounced
praying themselves towards death.
I try to believe in us—
we must not
have heard
their music.

Smoke in Our Hair

Smoke in Our Hair
by Ofelia Zepeda 

The scent of burning wood holds
the strongest memory.
Mesquite, cedar, piñon, juniper,
all are distinct.
Mesquite is dry desert air and mild winter.
Cedar and piñon are colder places.
Winter air in our hair is pulled away,
and scent of smoke settles in its place.
We walk around the rest of the day
with the aroma resting on our shoulders.
The sweet smell holds the strongest memory.
We stand around the fire.
The sound of the crackle of wood and spark
is ephemeral.
Smoke, like memories, permeates our hair,
our clothing, our layers of skin.
The smoke travels deep
to the seat of memory.
We walk away from the fire;
no matter how far we walk,
we carry this scent with us.
New York City, France, Germany—
we catch the scent of burning wood;
we are brought home.


By Mindy Nettifee

If a man is only as good as his word,
then I want to marry a man with a vocabulary like yours.

The way you say dicey and delectable and octogenarian
in the same sentence— that really turns me on.
The way you describe the oranges in your backyard
using anarchistic and intimate in the same breath.

I would follow the legato and staccato of your tongue
wrapping around your diction
until listening become more like dreaming
and dreaming became more like kissing you.

I want to jump off the cliff of your voice
into the suicide of your stream of consciousness.
I want to visit the place in your heart where the wrong words die.
I want to map it out with a dictionary and points
of brilliant light until it looks more like a star chart
than a strategy for communication.
I want to see where your words are born.
I want to find a pattern in the astrology.

I want to memorize the scripts of your seductions.
I want to live in the long-winded epics of your disappointments,
in the haiku of your epiphanies.
I want to know all the names you’ve given your desires.
I want to find my name among them,

‘cause there is nothing more wrecking sexy than the right word.
I want to thank whoever told you
there was no such thing as a synonym.
I want to throw a party for the heartbreak
that turned you into a poet.

And if it is true that a man is only as good as his word
then, sweet jesus, let me be there
the first time you are speechless,
and all your explosive wisdom becomes
a burning ball of sun in your throat,
and all you can bring yourself to utter is, oh god, oh god.

Their Sex Life

Their Sex Life
By A. R. Ammons

One failure on
Top of another.

I Don't Really Have A Plan A

I Don’t Really Have a Plan A
by Kat Lewin

The morning after, I drive to the drugstore still sweaty and ask for the box of emergency babykiller—generic? she asks; whatever’s cheap—then swallow the first dose with a can of flat ginger ale from beside the bed. The box is pink, in case you forgot it is for a woman. At the top of my trash can, a condom shredded like a sick ’80s guitar solo.

Twelve hours until the next dose.

I go online to masturbate to pictures nobody wants me to masturbate to. The Wikipedia picture for Guy de Maupassant. An infomercial for a robotic ping-pong server. I sign onto the Miller Family Blog and search for photos of Mama Miller wading into the shallow end at baby’s first barbecue, use my palm to block out the happy-drool infant, the corner of my pinky to blot away the maternal lovelight in Mama’s eye. Then I need two hands and I just squint.

Eight hours until the second dose.

Yesterday, our third date, driving across the busted-up city for pawnshops, looking for meth-money trinkets to buy at one store and sell to another. It is a mitzvah to set objects free, even if it is not very free or for very long. Later, pink and gold clouds painted across the sky, making our way, not holding hands, to a tree he knows that’s infested with hundreds of tiny, tiny bats. Watching their mass nightly exodus: they fluttered dark and deranged against that billion-dollar sunset, divebombed our faces when it got too dark.

My old middle school’s website, looking up forgotten science teachers, searching for signs of lingering attraction. The first A-bomb tests in the South Pacific created fireballs three miles wide. It is hard to masturbate when I am distracted. I am always distracted.

Five and a half hours.

Bat-gazing, in this ghost-town city. Walking back to the car, still not touching.

Sometimes when I look at pictures of strangers I pretend everybody in the shot is already dead. It’s not always to masturbate. Sometimes I just like to feel sad.

I paid cash for the pills—pills and a pack of cigarettes and a box of condoms—with a hundred-dollar bill, and I can tell anybody else that, but he’ll offer me money and I hate when people pay for half of anything. It didn’t come up, when he was peeling off the ribbons of exploded latex, rolling that thick ring down the base and flipping it into the trash. It’s nice to know a man who isn’t Catholic.

Three hours.

All day I have felt productive, sitting here still unshowered, not making a baby, and the thing about masturbating to pictures nobody wants you to masturbate to is that there are so many of them. I am a sexual terrorist. It’s not so different from being a normal terrorist, really, except my stomach is bent on itself and my fingers are sore and nobody else is scared at all.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I Don't Buy It

I Don’t Buy It
by Wendy Videlock

I don’t buy it, says

the scientist.

Replies the frail

and faithful heart,

it’s not for sale.