Friday, May 15, 2020

Prayer

by Laura Kasichke

The windshield’s dirty, the squirter stuff’s all gone, so
we drive on together into a sun-gray pane of grime
and dust. My son
puts the passenger seat back as far as it will go, closes
his eyes. I crack my window open for a bit
of fresher air. It’s so
incredibly fresh out there.
Rain, over.
Puddles left
in ditches. Black mirrors with our passing 
reflected in them, I suppose, but I’d
have to pull over and kneel down at the side
of the road to know.
The day ahead—
for this, the radio
doesn’t need to be played.
The house we used to live in
still exists
in a snapshot, in which
it yellows in another family’s scrapbook.
And a man on a bicycle
rides beside us
for a long time, very swiftly, until finally
he can’t keep up—
but before he slips
behind us, he salutes us
with his left hand—
a reminder:
that every single second—
that every prisoner on death row—
that every name on every tombstone—
that everywhere we go—
that every day, like this one, will
be like every other, having never been, never
ending. So
thank you. And, oh—
I almost forgot to say it: amen.

Again, a poem from the Poem-a-Day posts by the Academy of American Poets. The author says:
“This prayer of thanksgiving was inspired by exactly the things I put in the poem: the ordinary drive with my son beside me in the passenger seat; the man who rode his bike beside us and saluted us; the weather and the sense of stability and gratitude for stability I had at that moment; the sense that things were going to last and be preserved, if only in memories and snapshots, glimpses of recognition passed between strangers, or between human beings and what felt, at that moment to me, like a benevolent creator who deserved some acknowledgment, even if we are really, all of us, on death row, even if the immortality I felt I got a glimpse of might have been the kind of immortality one achieves having had her name chiseled onto a tombstone. But, I had a lovely glimpse of eternity there, for a minute.”

Thursday, May 7, 2020

You Rode a Loop

by Rosa Alcalá

You rode your bike from your house on the corner to the dead end of the street, and turned it around at the factory, back to the corner again. This was the loop your mother let you ride, not along the avenue with its cavalcade of trucks, or up the block where Drac the Dropout waited to plunge his pointy incisors into virginal necks. You can’t remember exactly your age, but you probably had a bike with a banana seat, and wore cutoff jeans and sweat socks to the knees. You are trying to be precise but everything is a carbon-like surface that scrolls by with pinpricks emitting memory’s wavy threads. One is blindingly bright and lasts only seconds: You are riding your bike and the shadowy blots behind the factory windows’ steel grates emit sounds that reach and wrap around you like a type of gravity that pulls down the face. You can’t see them but what they say is what men say all day long, to women who are trying to get somewhere. It’s not something you hadn’t heard before. But until then, you only had your ass grabbed by boys your own age—boys you knew, who you could name—in a daily playground game in which teachers looked away. In another pin prick, you loop back to your house, where your mother is standing on the corner talking to neighbors. You tell her what the men said, and ask, does this mean I’m beautiful? What did she say? Try remembering: You are standing on the corner with your mother. You are standing on the corner. This pinprick emits no light; it is dark, it is her silence. Someday you will have a daughter and the dead end will become a cul de sac and all the factories will be shut down or at the edges of town, and the men behind screens will be monitored, blocked. And when things seem safe, and everything is green and historic and homey, you will let her walk from school to park, where you’ll wait for her, thanks to a flexible schedule, on the corner. And when she walks daydreaming along the way and takes too long to reach you, the words they said will hang from the tree you wait under.

This poem appeared on Poem-a-Day, the daily poems from the Academy of American Poets, on May 7, 2020. The author information reads:

“One in a series of poems tracing the ways gender violence is normalized, ‘You Rode a Loop’ is about a first memory of being catcalled, and about memory itself, its iterations and gaps and grip. It is also about the messages girls receive, and the things that go unsaid between mothers and daughters.” 
—Rosa Alcalá

Sunday, April 7, 2019

I used to be a roller coaster girl

by jessica Care moore

(for Ntozake Shange)

I used to be a roller coaster girl
7 times in a row
No vertigo in these skinny legs
My lipstick bubblegum pink
                      As my panther 10 speed.

never kissed

Nappy pigtails, no-brand gym shoes
White lined yellow short-shorts

Scratched up legs pedaling past borders of
humus and baba ganoush
masjids and liquor stores
City chicken, pepperoni bread
and superman ice cream
                               Cones.

Yellow black blending with bits of Arabic
Islam and Catholicism.

My daddy was Jesus
My mother was quiet
Jayne Kennedy was worshiped
by my brother Mark

I don't remember having my own bed before 12.
Me and my sister Lisa                           shared.

Sometimes all three Moore girls slept in the Queen.

You grow up so close
never close enough.

I used to be a roller coaster girl
Wild child full of flowers and ideas
Useless crushes on       polish boys
in a school full of       white girls.

Future black swan singing
Zeppelin, U2 and Rick Springfield

Hoping to be Jessie's Girl

I could outrun my brothers and
Everybody else to that

recurring line

I used to be a roller coaster girl
Till you told me I was moving too fast
Said my rush made your head spin
My laughter hurt your ears

A scream of happiness
A whisper of freedom
Pouring out my armpits
Sweating up my neck

You were always the scared one
I kept my eyes open for the entire trip
Right before the drop I would brace myself
And let that force push my head back into

That hard iron seat

My arms nearly fell off a few times
Still I kept running back to the line
When I was done
Same way I kept running back to you

I used to be a roller coaster girl
I wasn't scared of mountains or falling
Hell, I looked forward to falling and dropping
Off this earth and coming back to life

every once in a while

I found some peace in being out of control
allowing my blood to race
through my veins for 180 seconds

I earned my sometimes nicotine pull
I buy my own damn drinks & the ocean
Still calls my name when it feels my toes
Near its shore.

I still love roller coasters
& you grew up to be
Afraid
of all girls who cld
                                    ride

Fearlessly

Like
me.


Image result for Sunlight through bullet holes





13 Questions for the Next Economy

by Susan Briante

On the side of the road, white cardboard in the shape of a man,
            illegible script. A signpost with scrawl: Will pay cash for diabetes strips.

A system under the system with its black box.         Disability hearing?
a billboard reads. Trouble with Social Security? Where does the riot begin?

Spark of dry grass, Russian thistle in flames, or butterflies bobbing
as if pulled by unseen strings          through the alleyway.

My mother's riot would have been peace. A bicycle wheel
            chained to a concrete planter. What metaphor

            can I use to describe the children sleeping in cages in detention
centers? Bird pushed fenceward by a breeze? A train of brake lights

extending? Mesquite pods mill under our feet
on a rainless sidewalk. What revolution          will my daughter feed?

A break-the-state twig-quick snap or a long divining          as if
for water? A cotton silence? A death?          Who will read this

in the next economy, the one that comes after the one that kills us?
What lessons will we take from the side of the road? A wooden crucifix,

a white bicycle, a pinwheel, a poem, ICE
waiting to be redacted:            Which would you cross out?   



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Unmarked

by Tim Seibles


     for Natalie

So much like sequins
the sunlight on this river.
Something like that kiss—

remember?
Fourth of July, with the moon
down early      the air moved

as if it were thinking,
as if it had begun
to understand

how hard it is
to feel at home
in the world,

but that night
she found a place
just above your shoulder

and pressed her lips
there. Soft rain

had called off the fireworks:
the sky was quiet, but
back on Earth

two boys cruised by on bikes
trying out bad words. You turned
to reach her mouth,

at last, with yours      after weeks
of long walks, talking

about former loves
gone awry—

how the soul finally
falls down

and gets up alone
once more

finding the city strange,
the streets unmarked.

Every time you meet someone
it’s hard not to wonder

who they’ve been—one story
breaking so much

into the next: memory
engraves its hesitations—

but that night
you found yourself
unafraid. Do you remember

what the wind told the trees
about her brown hair?—
how the cool dark turned around:

that first kiss,
long as a river.

Didn’t it seem like you already loved her?

Off the sidewalk: a small pond,
the tall cattails, all those sleepy koi

coloring the water.
x

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Parkinson's Disease: Autumn


by Andrès Cerpa


When I woke for school the next day the sky was uniform & less than 
   infinite
with the confusion of autumn & my father

as he became distant with disease the way a boy falls beneath the ice,
   before the men that cannot save him-

the cold like a forever on his lips.

Soon, he was never up before us & we'd jump on the bed,
   wake up, wake up,

& my sister's hair was still in curls then, & my favorite photograph still 
   hung:
my father's back to us, leading a bicycle uphill.

At the top, the roads vanish & turn-

the leaves leant yellow in a frozen sprint of light, & there, the forward
   motion.

The nights I laid in the crutch of my parents' doorway & dreamt awake,
 listened like a field of snow,

I heard no answer. Then sleepless slept in my own arms beneath
   the window
to the teacher's blank & lull-

Mrs. Belmont's lesson on Eden that year. Autumn: dusk:

 my bicycle beside me in the withered & yet-to-be leaves,

& my eyes closed fast beneath the mystery of migration, the flock's 
   rippled wake:


Monday, July 16, 2018

Walking

by Tone Skrjanec
translated by Matthew Rohrer & Ana Pepelnik


such a sticky day today.
coins clang in my pocket as i walk.
piles of ducklings are squatting in the shade of a tree
which could, at a quick glance, be a willow.
two women with legs bare to the knees are laughing
and gesticulating blessedly while crossing the street
that winds around the lake. walking is important.
thinking while walking. bodies while walking.
three cyclists on the top of the stairs are from another world.
covered with science-fiction helmets,
all red and flushed. looking like aliens.
while you walk you meet many almost divine creatures,
i.e. ducks, which i have already mentioned,
or this one here, sitting all by itself by the lake
and, seemingly without purpose, widely opening its beak,
so its long and slender neck is beautifully tightening.
such a sticky day, and yet
such a nice evening's silence.
just cars, birds, and oars
from afar hitting the lake,
and it seems that we animals are mostly satisfied.