I open the doors of my house at night
I latch the screens
Allegory of love
Like a dog shaking all over
Like a bite that itches six inches deep
My old radio is like a toothache
Someone had in summers past
Another place set at the table
There are no longer any shotguns or guitars
In my house
There is a lotion for the hands
Each blister another
A yawn a blessing in disguise
A branch where a bush grows
Allegory of love
There are bookshelves I threw together
I took the lumber
From a horse thief’s barn
And there are books the dead light their stoves with
Books howling like pines on a ridge
Cats in heat
Deserted and cold
Like a handgun or a spoor
A gar looking for a wife in a swamp
A room where a raped adolescent
About her past sexual life
Wearing a hat of smudge candles
Up the fingers of the lake
Like a ring or a cobweb
You can pass my window you can pass
You can step on the blade of my hoe
All these maps
I have wasted nails on
The cut lines it took so long to clear
Are growing back
I have looked for furrows in the dust
On the banister
And long hair in the bed
Scabs like butterflies
Standing up for the flag
Rocks in the garden of love
The clouds are like fat grandmothers
Before they were mothers
Getting ready for a dance
All these spools of barbed-wire
I meant to put up
When the orchard was mine
I’m sore from mending
Small holes with tissue
Allegory of love
The rented tomb
Like a sour mash
Brewing in the ditch
They’re snoring underwater
They’re droning like ships departed
From the black holes of space
In the morning I’m going
A bottle on the stump
And packages of blood
The seeds in the hardware store
Like a stew for flies
It boils down
To a slop jar at the foot of this bed
by Frank Stanford
As it does not seem to stop on its own I crop my breath and bind it with gauze and surgical ribbons.
As if it were housed elsewhere, as in a radio, I leave parcels of it for later use and yet
even if I do not think, this chest remembers movements of an aerial dance.
Air is everywhere, its portions gauged by pinch or kisses.
For an instant my lungs were worried and still.
Air swirled from them as from a sink,
waving and signaling someone.
I tried to stop what started,
but everything emptied
of everything else
the sum of
by Kathryn Rantala
The cancer began in her tonsils,
she’d say that with a smile
almost expecting to be teased
for such a serious disease
rooting in that childish place.
She remembered her son at four
when he’d had his out,
the way he’d looked at her as the nurse
slid the cold thermometer up his bum.
She carried on as usual, cleaned the house,
fried a chicken for her husband every Sunday,
cutting the breast in four pieces, the wings in two.
The morning of the day she died
she took him down the basement,
showed him how to separate the clothes,
how to measure the soap, set the dials,
how to hang his shirts and pants
so the creases would fallout
The man with a worn-out heart, sold his tools
so his wife wouldn’t be left with that part of him
to deal with. How he had loved them
in his hands, each so perfectly designed
to fit the palm, the wheels, bits and teeth
made for one specific use.
On the empty walls of the garage hung the shapes
of all the tools he’d ever owned,
sixty years of wrenches, saws and drills.
He’d traced around them row on row
so he’d know where to hang each one,
know what his neighbour had borrowed,
and failed to return. From his pocket he removed
a black felt pen and in the corner on a board painted white,
he drew the perfect outline of a man.
Before she walked into the river
and didn’t come back, the woman
who couldn’t remember the day of the week
or the faces of her children,
made a list of all the men she’s ever loved,
left it for her husband by the coffee pot,
his name on the bottom,
by Lorna Crozier
filed acrylic nails tapping richly on thin glass. Here I bend,
balk, and bray, become something animal for you, curl
my talons into knots. Hunched inwards stealthily, I wait
like this for years, grow briny, fins, take to water—
in the end not bound by air, only breathing wetness, smelling salt.” —From Desire Not Well Tended by Gina Abelkop
We are now accepting apologies
for the universe’s indignities:
spitting stars, solar burnout,
the cosmic purgatory of hanging
from a fence by your underwear,
for gaseous ruptures, vortexes of nothing,
and certainly for the nothingness.
Could it have been more plain?
Frozen pupils, battered moons.
Weren’t we paying attention?
Even here, what is more worrisome
than the silence of an imploded
mountain, the meteor-pocked face
of a desert, the past coming back?
One moment you’re tending sheep
with an old Navajo woman, asking
for the Diné word for shape-shifter;
the next Crazy Harry’s gyrating
in the school yard as we bang
on downspouts in a downpour.
What were the heavens doing
before we lifted Harry and labored
to nail him with lunch-box fruit?
Did they inch a finger, did they
sleep as he wedged? Milky oval,
cry Uncle! Say you’re sorry
for leaving him with a soap dish
of Brillo pads and lemon juice.
Sorry for the ever-wanting
and scrub brush turning to flame,
for the teeth grinding and drip
like coal slag down our throats.
We’ll take them now: your volcanic spew,
salts and celestial bruises,
weary queries, notes, as Celan says,
and the bottles on the seas
swept up with schools of tuna.
What did we say: If you find this,
write back. If you are reading this,
you’re too close. My name is …
We’ll take them like slugs to beer,
everything we ever wished for
wrapped in sleeping bags, pupa, coma,
as the stars in their death march
move across the sky silent
as coyotes passing in the dark.
by James Hoch
some dogs who sleep At night
must dream of bones
and I remember your bones
in that dark green dress
and those high-heeled bright
you always cursed when you drank,
your hair coming down you
wanted to explode out of
what was holding you:
rotten memories of a
you finally got
leaving me with the
you’ve been dead
yet I remember you
better than any of
you were the only one
the futility of the
all the others were only
Jane, you were
knowing too much.
here’s a drink
to your bones
by Charles Bukowski
225 days under grass
and you know more than I.
they have long taken your blood,
you are a dry stick in a basket.
is this how it works?
in this room
the hours of love
still make shadows.
when you left
you took almost
I kneel in the nights
that will not let me be.
what you were
will not happen again.
the tigers have found me
and I do not care.
by Charles Bukowski
Jane, who has been dead for 31 years,
never could have
imagined that I would write a screenplay of our drinking
that it would be made into a movie
that a beautiful movie star would play her
I can hear Jane now: “A beautiful movie star? oh,
for Christ’s sake!”
Jane, that’s show biz, so go back to sleep, dear, because
no matter how hard they tried they
just couldn’t find anybody exactly like
and neither can
by Charles Bukowski
And then in Aliens and Anorexia you wrote about your own physical experience, being slightly anorexic — how anorexia arises not from narcissism, a fixation with your body, but a sense of its aloneness:
“If I’m not touched it becomes impossible to eat. Intersubjectivity occurs at the moment of orgasm: when things break down. If I’m not touched my skin feels like the flip side of a magnet. It’s only after sex sometimes that I can eat a little.”
And that by recognizing the aloneness of your body it’s possible to reach outside, become an Alien, escape the predetermined world:
“Anorexia is an active stance. The creation of an involuted body. How to abstract oneself from food fluxes and the mechanical sign of the meal? Synchronicity shudders faster than the speed of light around the world. Distant memories of food: strawberry shortcake, mashed potatoes…”” —From I Love Dick by Chris Kraus
There is a way of telling stories. A red pen. A teacher to move it.
Instead you have hands, and a Light inside you, and Bones.
Instead you have ideas, which ricochet, and an anger that won’t sit still,
and dogs from outside which come to die in the quiet spots inside of you.
And, deliberately, you have noise.
You have rape, and cities, the noise of the dumb, and of the very rape of the
earth, an ache, a strangeness like swallowing feathers, a bitterness, you have.
There is a way of telling stories. They tell you it is not like this.
So you remove your arms, that way no hands can find anything.
You reject the light to please the darkness.
You and I, we become just bones, moving with the stiffness of the dead, caught
in the riot of the rotting, and producing similar sounds.
A page opens before you like a new day
and this is where you find your story.
The earth sings with a thousand ways to tell it.
Lose your tongue.
Don’t be confused by shadow, and when you hit water, tread.
Find God, ask questions, don’t leave till you’ve tasted the tea.
You don’t need to multiply. Never divide.
Carry the one on your back if you have to.
When you meet the devil, don’t spit at him, but don’t make love to him either.
When you meet me, take my blooming, bloody palm.
You’ll know where to find me, I’ll be in every page held by greasy fingers.
I will be the bread that sustains you. If you remember your hunger,
I will remember you.
And when they tell you life is not like this, life is never like this,
life will never be like this, insist that the sun
has always found a time and a place, the moon too knows when and where to enter,
and you too have your stories,
and you too have your place.
by Shira Erlichman
They used to make pickles, squashes, jams, curry powders and canned pineapples. And banana jam (illegally) after the FPO (Food Products Organization) banned it because according to their specifications it was neither jam nor jelly. Too thin for jelly and too thick for jam. An ambiguous, unclassifiable consistency, they said.
As per their books.
Looking back now, to Rahel it seemed as though this difficulty that their family had with classification ran much deeper than the jam-jelly question.
Perhaps Ammu, Estha and she were the worst transgressors. But it wasn’t just them. It was the others too. They all broke the rules. They all crossed into forbidden territory. They all tampered with the laws that lay down who should be loved and how. And how much. The laws that make grandmothers grandmothers, uncles uncles, mothers mothers, cousins cousins, jam jam, and jelly jelly.
It was a time when uncles became fathers, mothers lovers, and cousins died and had funerals.
It was a time when the unthinkable became thinkable and the impossible really happened.” —From The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
across a stretcher
across a shoulder
over a leg
beneath an arm
in a shroud
in a crib
on top of a car
chained to a bumper
beneath a bridge
in town square
in the fountain
in the Tigris
under water boiled from smart bombs
in a cellar
in backseat of car counting streetlamps strobing overhead
under tendrils of phosphorus
in a burnt silhouette
on a cot
under a tent
still holding your breath
beneath dining table
beneath five stories
in a hole
by Solmaz Sharif