22 February 2015

Black braids like hound dogs


                                  by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

                          Chavez Ravine, 1949

La Perrera lived with a handsome man
much younger than she.
Neighbor women gossiped across clotheslines
that she held him with witchcraft.
But it was long black braids streaked white
that kept him coming to her bed.
At night, she entwined his taut body to her,
braids weaving through limbs,
around iron posts of her bed,
between wooden slats of her shack,
until she, he and everything around became one.

But on August days, when want grew restless,
she commanded black braids like hound dogs,
like hairy henchmen, to sniff him out
of factories or construction sites
and guide him home. Once, he was in an orchard
as far out as Oxnard with arms full of oranges
when braids hunted him down.
Bright orbs dropped to the fertile soil,
and off he was led back to her bosom, to her lips,
to her hips, bed and shack. But he never minded
when he found himself wrapped in her.

From The American Poetry Review, January/February 2015.

15 February 2015

Suicidally beautiful galloping sons


                                    by Jared Harel

Go so you can come back,
says my wife, meaning go but don't linger
in frozen foods, or forget
where you parked, or chat up the cashier.
Go, certainly because something
needs getting while our daughter takes a nap
and the snow isn't snowing,
and here are some coupons that happen
to be expiring, so go before all the produce
turns soft and stringy,
and school lets out, and a tallish boy
hawking fruit snacks
by the entrance wins you over, and you throw him
cash, your wallet, everything for the sake
of his under-funded football team
because though you never loved football
you love James Wright's poem about football
and solitude, and those suicidally
beautiful, galloping sons
and go because I love you, though I also love
those parmesan pop chips,
and to love is to leave
room for longing, but come back
so that we might go out together, later,
in a perpetual rotation of goings and comings
which require nothing but patience
and faith that when we go
we remember where is home.  

From The American Poetry Review, January/February 2015.


                                        by James Wright

In the Shreve High football stadium,
I think of Polacks nursing long beers in Tiltonsville,
And gray faces of Negroes in the blast furnace at Benwood,
And the ruptured night watchman of Wheeling Steel,
Dreaming of heroes.

All the proud fathers are ashamed to go home.
Their women cluck like starved pullets,
Dying for love.

Their sons grow suidically beautiful
At the beginning of October,
And gallop terribly against each other's bodies.

08 February 2015

Bullet Park

                                                                                  by John Cheever

Holy Communion. Sexagesima. Nailles heard a cricket in the chancel and the noise of a tin drum from the rain gutters while he said his prayers. His sense of the church calendar was much more closely associated with the weather than with the revelations and structures in Holy Gospel. St. Paul meant blizzards. St. Mathais meant a thaw. For the marriage at Cana and the cleansing of the leper the oil furnace would still be running although the vents in the stained-glass windows were sometimes open to the raw spring air. Abstain from fornication. Possess your vessel in honor. Jesus departs from the coast of Tyre and Sidon as the skiing ends. For the crucifixion a bobsled stands stranded in a flowerbed, its painter coiled among the early violets. The trout streams open for the resurrection. The crimson cloths at Pentecost and the miracle of the tongues meant swimming. St. James and Resurrection fell on the first warm days of summer when you could smell the climbing roses by the window and when an occasional stray bee would buzz into the house of God and buzz out again. Trinity carried one into summer, the dog days and the drought, and the parable of the samaritan was spoken as the season changed and the gentle sounds of the night garden turned as harsh as hardware. The flesh lusteth against the spirit to the smoke of leaf fires as did the raising of the dead. Then one was back again with St. Andrew and the snows of Advent.

From Chapter 2 of John Cheever, Bullet Park, 1969.

01 February 2015

Nothing is more permanent than the temporary

                                                    by A. E. Stallings

             After a Greek Proverb             Ουδέν μονιμότερον του προσωρινού       

We’re here for the time being, I answer to the query—
Just for a couple of years, we said, a dozen years back.
Nothing is more permanent than the temporary.

We dine sitting on folding chairs—they were cheap but cheery.
We’ve taped the broken window pane. TV’s still out of whack.
We’re here for the time being, I answer to the query.

When we crossed the water, we only brought what we could carry,
But there are always boxes that you never do unpack.
Nothing is more permanent than the temporary.

Sometimes when I’m feeling weepy, you propose a theory:
Nostalgia and tear gas have the same acrid smack.
We’re here for the time being, I answer to the query—

We stash bones in the closet when we don’t have time to bury,
Stuff receipts in envelopes, file papers in a stack.
Nothing is more permanent than the temporary.

Twelve years now and we’re still eating off the ordinary:
We left our wedding china behind, afraid that it might crack.
We’re here for the time being, we answer to the query,
But nothing is more permanent than the temporary.

              Poetry (January 2012).