Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Tuesday poem #442 : Allison Pitinii Davis : OLD WORLD ORTHOGRAPHY



One version starts with villagers smiling,
their smocks rough with pine, their eyes squeezed shut
from all the sun.  Oranges dot their thoughts in place

of periods. Ordinary soil cruds their phone booths.
Observing custom, nothing goes to waste: they fuck

on top of flags to stripe them beautiful with sweat. 
Oldest daughters are unionized.  October wind

reweights the branches until red apples swing,
brave & shy.  One morning, there’s a vote to name the land,

“which is required for official tax purposes,” & all at once,
it’s barren.  Olive groves give out.  Observing custom,

villagers accept that they can’t fix the world
nor desist from it, either.  On cue, they form a circle

in the dirt, where everyone starts arguing.  Over time,
this works: the fruit trees reacclimate; blossoms

vowel-out in budding green. Old villagers finish sweeping
around their condos, which everyone calls

“a good sign.”  Occasionally, allrightniks still lean out
car windows to yell “Give up!” or “Move to the city!”

but the villagers only nod
& cast smiles obscurely as seeds into the dirt.



Allison Pitinii Davis is the author of Line Study of a Motel Clerk (Baobab Press, 2017), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in Poetry and the Ohioana Book Award, and Poppy Seeds (Kent State University Press, 2013), winner of the Wick Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her work has been published in Best American Poetry, POETS.ORG, and elsewhere. She holds fellowships from Stanford University's Wallace Stegner program, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Severinghaus Beck Fund for Study at Vilnius Yiddish Institute. She was born in Youngstown, Ohio and lives in Wheeling, West Virginia. www.allisondavispoetry.com

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Tuesday poem #441 : AM Ringwalt : On Hill Street


Your voice: projected knife
in my side

Speak and
blade my feet
off ground 

for an instant—

Ride that shit, baby


Your voice, potion of cum-smear,
beer, glass bottles cracked

To behold you, give into?
I bleed, believe

the spirit of flesh
that it should understand all this . . .

O come
disembodied voice
from moving car, 

you: metal, rubber, scum

I throw my body into a cave
in Qumran

I throw my body into
a funeral procession
of roses in virgins’ hands 

Throw my body
into Palomino


All this

O, that Palomino toy,
plastic and played with
in a southern backyard 

At five, I sang to no one,
propelled and was propelled
by fake mammals


Is it
my sonic propulsion
disembodied gloat 

Is it honey or amber
blood between my legs?

Am I vortex, nameless?

how should I,
anyone, repeatable,
re-namable nothing 

throw myself into
what is flesh



AM Ringwalt is a writer and musician. The author of The Wheel (Spuyten Duyvil, 2021), her work appears in Jacket2, Bennington Review and Washington Square Review. Waiting Song is her most recent record. 

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan


Tuesday, September 07, 2021

Tuesday poem #440 : Nathanael O’Reilly : Freight Train



I can always hear a freight train
from beyond the cemetery
the rumble of wheels on steel

tracks carrying across the tomb-
stones, crosses and graves

I can always hear a freight train
from the east end of the street
traveling through live oaks

magnolias and crepe myrtles
over the traffic islands

I can always hear a freight train
under the gap beneath the window-
pane between the door and the frame

horn blowing before level crossings
blasting warnings through darkness

I can always hear a freight train
crossing the continent
negotiating the great divide

traversing the great plains
from Omaha to Cheyenne

I can always hear a freight train
reminding me of lost homes
absent loves, missed opportunities

boxcars not taken, doors never
forced open, wagons left empty

I can always hear a freight train
when I lie awake before dawn
remembering distant homelands

yearning to go back in time
act, move, love, risk, jump, fly, fall

I can always hear a freight train
moving oil, coal, steel and grain
echoing through the night

never letting me forget
there is always another journey



Note: The line I can always hear a freight train is from the Counting Crows song “Raining in Baltimore.”


Nathanael O’Reilly is an Irish-Australian poet; he teaches creative writing at the University of Texas at Arlington. His books include (Un)belonging (Recent Work Press, 2020); BLUE (above/ground press, 2020); Preparations for Departure (UWAP, 2017); Cult (Ginninderra Press, 2016); Distance (Ginninderra Press, 2015); Suburban Exile (Picaro Press, 2011); and Symptoms of Homesickness (Picaro Press, 2010). His poems have appeared in journals & anthologies published in fourteen countries, including Antipodes, Anthropocene, Cordite, The Elevation Review, Mascara, Skylight 47, Strukturriss and Westerly. 

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan