Friday, March 12, 2010

Catherine Wagner reads her poem, day 52


In the little painting of love
Is a man repairing a fence.

A little crap love-object
And a too-big church in the background
   near the sea
  by a strip of valley
Lit up like surgical tape.

Metaphors can incline one
Toward healing thoughts.
I will have your experience.

The ocean uptaken in the wind
Rolls inland.
Heal, heal, fungus on toe,
Heal, toe.

If I lose this job
[I have other skills?/There are other workers].

If we all lose our jobs
We go to Ocean City
  and photograph ourselves
   as human pyramids.
My grandfather spent the thirties
Thus on the beach.

Abundant poverty to live in. Many years.

Between you and me is chestbone.
No meshing.
So eat my face for hours.

If a poem is active
Its action aborts in you
As colored light flies into black.

Keeps flying
The light from long ago
Until the night-blockade.

So shut the book.

The man who mends the fence

Leaves a space for the caissons to roll
    down valley from sea.

Let me eat your face, neighbor
   who owns the Bagel and Deli on High
and has two children,
Lily and Garrison.

Catherine Wagner's latest book, My New Job, is forthcoming from Fence. Her other books are Macular Hole and Miss America (both Fence). Recent chapbooks include Articulate How (Big Game Books/Dusie, 2008), Hole in the Ground (Slack Buddha, 2008) and the forthcoming Bornt (Dusie). She teaches at Miami University in Ohio.

Originally Posted March 12, 2009

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jeff Encke reads his poem from day 49

The Water in Which One Drowns Is Always an Ocean

           “If we are to win this struggle and spread those freedoms, we must
           keep our own moral compass pointed in a true direction.”
              –Barack Obama

It is the calm and silence that drown us.

Some people can disturb words
with a mere movement of the teeth.

The pouch of the mouth strewn with roses
                                   roofed with lost causes.

Pumpkins and habits have a smell
and breath is its beginning.

The womb carries on its shoulders
a beggar wrapped in earth.

                                            Absence washes
away love, taking the tint of all colors.

                              From the well of envy
the child teaches us to weep.

                Every sickness has its herb.

Heaven is dark, yet quiet and limpid.
Shovels of earth cannot quench a mountain.

Scum rises to the top of the heart.

                                        A bubble on the ocean
a taste the teetotaler will never know.

Do not pour on the strength of a mirage.
Do not torture thirst with shallow water.

A merchant in the rain saves only himself.
A shadow that always follows the body.

When your cheeks beg for fever
                         you are halfway there.

Habit is the shirt we wear for a midday nap.
Gray hairs its blossoms.

Hope a pearl worthless in its shell.

Death answers: I have a lot to say
                             but my mouth is full.

Those destined to drown
                 will drown in a spoonful.

The tears of strangers are only water.

Jeff Encke has poems forthcoming this spring from American Poetry Review and Kenyon Review Online. In 2004, he published Most Wanted: A Gamble in Verse (Last Tangos), a deck of playing cards featuring excerpts of love poems written to Saddam Hussein and other war criminals. He currently teaches literature at Richard Hugo House in Seattle.

Originally posted March 9, 2009

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Erika Meitner reads her poem from day 45

Slinky Dirt With Development Hat

O Mama. Juice. Pile of dirt.
Sand pit where the workers stopped
working. Home is a backhoe

with no keys, silent, yellow. Passing
cars buzz the lots for sale that still
have trees, have liens. Our development

is mid-cul-de-sac. There are half-moons
carved into hills, and when we walk
down the unpaved, unnamed road,

past the upright pipes marking gas
or sewer, there’s often a father and son
joyriding on one four-wheeler, sans helmets.

They wave hello and we wave back.
There’s bankruptcy court. A promised
swimming pool. There’s hope that bounces

down the stairs, slinks away, and hides
under a chair. My son pitches a fit
when we pass a digger and I won’t stop

for the excavation; when the other children
sing the alphabet he doesn’t join in.
After two servings of milk, there’s

water. Farther, further, father.
Mama. Juice. Pile of dirt, he calls
from the car window to the bleached

frames, empty and bowed as a set
of whale ribs, their cupped hands
spilling sand and clay. He presses

his red mitten to the glass and waves
hello to our master-planned community,
the houses that are just like ours, but for

the countertop finish, or optional bonus room
above the garage, or guns in the cupboards
beneath commemorative plates, tucked

next to receipts for winter and re-wear
that coat one more year. In the dusk,
the mountaintops flatten themselves

to escape the calcified bulldozers
that won’t come after them anymore.
It is March and there’s snow crusted

over with ice. Our jackets are too small,
but the snaps still snap. The zippers still
zip. We shiver and turn the heat up.

Erika Meitner’s first book, Inventory at the All-Night Drugstore, was published by Anhinga Press in 2003. She lives in Blacksburg, VA, and teaches in the MFA program at Virginia Tech. Her son Oz (age 2) regularly refers to Obama as “Omama.”

Originally posted on March 5, 2009

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