Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tuesday poem #56 : Méira Cook : Wife of Saint Casaubon of the Long Silences at the Breakfast Table

To draw a halo use a pair of compasses.
When we lean together our burning profiles shatter
the black funerary urn between us.
Oh, nobody can work the negative spaces
like you, kiddo.

Embossing tools etch patterns onto gilt.
Then there is all that chewing to get through.
Tea? you ask suddenly, offering the teapot.
Sunlight cuts to the bone, the toast roars
flee not tea. Blight, thunder, famine, blood.

Angels spin like toys inside their whirling hours.
Your slow cistern rage drains, drains, and fills up again,
as it does every winter morning.
And in the eastern sky an advertisement,
for the Constellation Mercy, clicks off.

Breakfast is the worst time for stigmata, the linens
a bloodbath. Thanks be Sister Hen for the bounty
of your eggs, Brother Frying Pan for your Teflon surface.
Kiddo, even the forks in their narrow kitchen drawers
dun themselves on your scribble scribble flesh.

Tap lightly with hammer to preserve gold leaf.
Your bait hands loaded on the tablecloth. Fill.
And your spit-polished shoes, and the spaces between
your short ribs. Fill is what a marriage does, the opposite
is drip, empty, overflow, repeat.

Double the radius of grudging agreement
to measure fidelity, kiddo, grievance, or the radiant ascent.
But I, I am lifted into that rigging of violence and air,
where history and the stars come out, begin to shine.
And your head nimbus buzzes like a cheap neon sign.

Méira Cook’s most recent book of poetry was A Walker in the City (Brick). Her novel, The House on Sugarbush Road (Enfield & Wizenty), won the McNally-Robinson Manitoba Book of the Year Award. She is currently working as the Writer-in-Residence at the Winnipeg Public Library.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday poem #55 : K.I. Press : Mr. Niagara Falls Blows His Wad

Niagara Falls, what? You're supposed to pee your pants.
She did it me then, and then some. You think
it's gonna be all wax museum and neon,
until some geologic magic makes it worth it.
I was on Maid of the Mist and the captain
waved his wand and married us right on the border.
I was wet and wrapped in plastic.
She was streaked with rainbows.
My fellow passengers backed away
even as they applauded, hesitant to acknowledge
our startling difference in girth.
She kissed and kissed me with her drops,
as she did them all, the harlot,
and there she keeps flowing even as I sail away.

K.I. Press lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she is a poet, mom, and college instructor. Her books are Pale Red Footprints (Pedlar, 2001), Spine (Gaspereau, 2004) and Types of Canadian Women (Gaspereau, 2006).

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday poem #54 : Rachel Blau DuPlessis : Letter 9: Dear R,

Dear R—

and here's another other alphabet.

Leap into your excess
and compound the crisis. Deepen it.
                        It’s language talking through
itself --
to the void then. In which
this all takes shape.
                        (You the tube from end to end for echoing.)

Language wants language.
It uses us. It might as well.
But agency is ours to tell.
This is an endless process
of turning inside out and reaching back:
                        alimentary, my dear R.

The whole story of creation
is a displacement (a mystification?)
from actual human fabrication. Thus
“Stolen wages built this State.”

The cadence of a slogan
helps make (make do with?)
this cross-hatched system.
For still the objects made
stare back: it is their aura
                        (which is our labor once removed)

that makes us weep
and weep surprised
until all dry of tears
but not of care.

[from Interstices. Subpress, 2014]

Rachel Blau DuPlessis [photo of the author reading at Kelly Writers House in Sept. 2013, taken by Al Filreis] is the author of the long poem Drafts. Her newest book is Surge: Drafts 96-114 (2013) from Salt <saltpublishing.com>. The first  of several "interstitial" works, Interstices is due from Subpress in 2014. Also in 2013, translations of Drafts into Italian and French were published: Dieci Bozze (trans. Morresi) from Vydia editore and Brouillons (twenty works trans. Auxeméry) from José Corti.  She is also the author of the feminist critical trilogy, The Pink Guitar, Blue Studios, and Purple Passages.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Tuesday poem #53 : Susan M. Schultz : Rules of the Game:

for Radhika on her 12th birthday
September 14, 2013


Ball In and Out of Play: You were the tiny girl I couldn't see except as a hand held in your didi's hand. There in the room of the enormous wood desk and over-sized leather-bound book. You were the little girl in blue jacket and broken sandals (it was December) whose crib sat near the door of a high ceilinged room. You were the dour girl, the smelly girl, the girl who refused to smile for visa photos. The next morning you kept throwing a long-stemmed fake flower at your new brother. You never missed with either hand.


Offside: When you're young enough, there's no offside rule. A smart, immobile kid can score at will. When you're older, you dare not pull ahead of the crowd. You insisted on operating in English before you could utter more than a few words in it. On the phone with your sister, a year older, neither of you spoke the language you still remembered; the silences were all English. Second silences.


Scoring: The ball came off your left foot and curved, almost against nature, into the side of the net. You watched Bend it Like Beckham dozens of times; at first I thought it was only soccer that drew you in. Your legs and arms were scored with scabies; giardia doubled you over at dinnertime. The first bath I saw you take—Kathmandu's cityscape laid out behind you—you stood in the tub pouring warm water over your head. There was economy in your movements. Now you mark me, tell me how much everything costs.


Throw-in: In and out are metaphors, but first they tell us to stay on one side or the other of a line, then not to lift a foot, or throw to the side. You threw up at the top of a Rocky Mountain into a pink Colorado Rockies cap. It was the altitude. Now it's the attitude, all pointy and jagged, the sun's eye just glinting around rock formations. You who learned sarcasm from me are now my tuition in it.


The duration of the game complicated by stoppage time, or over-time, or penalty kicks, whose purpose is to save time. If you're in the zone, then I'm on the sidelines. If you achieve a meditative state while running the field, then I'm implicated in time's whiplash. If time stops for you, it cannot for me, your spectator, soccer mom, driver, fan. Ask not for whom time stops, it stops for free kicks and yellow cards. 


Fouls and misconduct. “Did I just see her lay that girl out?” asked the dad who could see the left corner from the midfield sideline. It's the second foul that gets caught. They were telling their players to kick us in the shins, you said after one game. I've known your narrations to be reliable and un-, to be angry and joking. I've known you to use your shoulder, but most of all your head. You hit a header in the net.


Red card. Red flag. I fell in love with Zinadine Zidane in Paris; by the time we were installed at the Hotel Ricoletos in Madrid, France was in the finals. I was in love with Zinadine Zidane until we entered the bardo of world cup soccer. Over-time. I was in love with Zinadine Zidane when—in an instant of exhaustion & pique—he head-butted Marco Matterazi in the chest. Your dad was in the crowd at the big-screen in the square. I was in the hotel. Where were you, who know what love and soccer mean?


Referees enforce the 17 laws. Maui refs enforced Maui's laws. You were laid out in the penalty area (area chica), the Makawao wind knocked out of you. No card no foul. A foul against an Oahu player on the other field turned into a penalty kick for the Maui team. To define “justice,” factor in tears of little girls, their coaches' screams. To define “justice,” consider how experience and memory alter us.


Step-over move. At game's end you analyze, say what team is good, which over-rated, what player had a good game, who will never improve. The heat in your voice diminishes. I call you Radish, your grandmother Fruit Bat, your father Jumping Bean; your brother uses a soft “a” where a hard one's needed. Rad, Radish, Radishnikov, Radhika the Destroyer. I do NOT like #46, said an opposing player beside the parking lot. She's my daughter, I say. I hear your name at school, at the mall, the grocery store. You're the one with names, and I am your mom. 


From amazon.com you can buy a Pele-autographed Limited Edition Artist Proof Lithograph (Limited 72 of 120) hand signed both by Pele and artist; Pele is the volcano goddess, the one who makes the land on which your fields are built. Waipio is near Waipahu is near Waianae. In Madrid, where Beckham played, you fell in love with a painting by “Pisaco.” We traveled to the Reina Sofia to see the real thing. Walk, take subway, walk, hike up cold stone stairs. And there she is! “Mom,” you said in a side volley, “I need to go to the bathroom.”


Nutmeg. In Mexico you sold paper towels in the bathroom of the bar where we held our readings. In Mexico you learned to love sopa Azteca or Tortilla Soup. When you were four years old and Dad said he was making tortillas for dinner, you panicked. Tortilla is our cat. The difference between a noun and a name, I thought, between a being and the word we place upon it. You are Radhika, wife of Krishna, and there's a song about you in Nepalese. Incarnation of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, fortune, and the embodiment of beauty. That's from Wikipedia; wiki means “fast” in Hawaiian.


Arsenal.  In north London, 1980, a conductor kept me on the bus, my pound notes unchangeable, because football fans were flooding the streets. My trip was all stoppage time til she had the change and I got off in the City. That was 20 years before we had our first photo of you in a red dress, before our first mother-daughter kiss, awkward as any. Yesterday, your favorite player left Real Madrid to sign with Arsenal. Mesut Özil: Turkish-German, as hyphenated as you, as me, as all of us who live between first and last whistles, before time is finally called.

Susan M. Schultz is author, most recently, of Dementia Blog volumes 1 & 2, as well as Memory Cards: 2010-2011 Series, all from Singing Horse Press. She edits and publishes Tinfish Press out of her home office in Kane`ohe, Hawai`i, and blogs here.. She teaches at the University of Hawai`i at Manoa in Honolulu. As a lifelong St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, she is looking forward to another post-season of happy anxiety with her family.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Tuesday poem #52 : Paul Vermeersch : WATER

after Georges Rodenbach


Water encloses the warm wind and nothing else,
silvering where it is purified, becomes glass.

Night, brief as the shadows of a tall tree
on the sun, does more damage to the water now.

The game fish fanning their fins, willingly
captive, listen through the glass to the world,

and no wind destroys their fragile universe.
Light plunges no longer for the reeds; birds

are reflected branches; stars are the diluted
face of Ophelia, an identity we hardly suspected.

The water here swarming with monsters at war,
and gravel bearing pink anemone.


Left to sink on the river, his eyes are stigmas,
sadly immense like the mirage of a willow.

His head was taken. Is this a flax field, is this
his hair? The green water, endless, branching,

melts his last tears at the beautiful eyes, dislodged
from flesh like two anemones, hair turned green

in the aquatic weeds. The lunar window is opening.
The sky deepens like a hothouse in silence.

The water, embroidered by the passage of a fish,
becomes charcoal quickly erased. Stillborn,

the fish fades into a mist. Pale and emaciated,
its fins are already stars in the aurora.


All they heard in the mud deposits:
life has grown aquatic. The entire fleet,

lost, faces the bottom. The eyes are little
tattooed fish in the tangle of the willow,

blind fish, capsized sleepwalkers, constantly
striving to keep their abyss from rising

to the surface. Still shivering, we do not know
what we laid eyes on. Something staggers

in this water. Sometimes, it resembles
somnambulists swarmed into silence.

It feels like caves where, without knowing,
some sleeper still wanders, or flowers, or swims.

Paul Vermeersch [photo credit: Patrik Jandak] is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently The Reinvention of the Human Hand, a finalist for the Trillium Book Award.  He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Guelph for which he received the Governor General's Gold Medal. His poetry has appeared widely in international publications. He lives in Toronto, Canada, where he is senior editor of Wolsak & Wynn Publishers Ltd.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan