Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Tuesday poem #230 : John Barton : ENTRY FROM A BOOK OF HOURS

You return uninvited. The rain won’t stop knocking
   oak limbs can’t let the wind go. Without reason
I open the door. You step through the cold standing

   between us, sit across at my table, glare rubbed
Raw by our elbows, shallows catching your face
   its decoration monks might have hung in the dark

Of their cells, lit candles before, perhaps flamed
   incense, a sharpness scribed in your cheekbones
Smudged with beard, the shaved tones mixed

   from what was kept to hand, red lead, white
Chalk, your eyes remote orbs of lapis quarried
   in Afghanistan, glancing up from the spread

Leaves of any folio I could have browsed
   in facsimile at some Dublin bookshop an ocean
From where weeks ago we would laze more

   nakedly, our unhallowed silences a new world
Love cleared away. Until then we lived in
   our own time, were social constructs, self

Made men. Even now we contrive to talk
   using brand names, market dips, semiotics
To close in on shores our outlooks had overrun

   what we left behind unsettled, lovers hungry
And dispossessed, steadfastness humbled
   all we have felt for each other more aligned

With faith than contingency, us both claiming
   to embody what early on we failed to
Avow, your calm face since met everywhere

   arrested in the repose of living and dead
Illuminating the stained glass of nearby
   churches, descendants incarnated above

Pints of local bitter, downcast behind
   ersatz maquillage of the house drag queen.
Too long must devotion inhabit me.

   I should have never let you in.

John Barton has published eleven books and six chapbooks of poetry, including West of Darkness: Emily Carr, a Self-Portrait (third bilingual edition, BushcekBooks, 2006), Hypothesis (Anansi, 2001), Hymn (Brick, 2009), For the Boy with the Eyes of the Virgin: Selected Poems (Nightwood, 2012), Balletomane: The Program Notes of Lincoln Kirstein (JackPine, 2012), Polari (Goose Lane, 2014), and Reframing Paul Cadmus (above/ground, 2016). Co-editor of Seminal:The Anthology of Canada’s Gay-Male Poets (Arsenal Pulp, 2007), he is editing The Essential Douglas LePan for Porcupine’s Quill. Born in Edmonton and raised in Calgary, he lives in Victoria, where he edits The Malahat Review.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Tuesday poem #229 : Aaron Boothby : Sequoia

         Stone the flame cracked     minute    
grain emergent     fire-black     nestled
     in soil’s scorched arenas     Comes
         eruption of form     from implicit
potential of all flesh indefinite     an
     expectation     electric of greens
         varied nations     In divided dualities    
mute abilities     reign in matter’s assent
     without comprehension     Before names
         a kind of alchemy     antecedent
to shadows are the forms of needles
     limbs     pillars vaulting thrust up red
         A taunt of the idea     word’s shiver
violence of nature’s arts     eddies     gusts
     melodies of it making     unmaking
         scent’s pulse     wood’s circulation

What’s not limited by form     defined
     riddled     cursed by what code contains?
         Defiant material shapes itself     not
any I     no One     no accounting after all
     but sinews     utter responsibility
         bound to exhaustion     There’s
no resolution     only perpetuation    
     brushing off loam and needles caught
         while rain fell     bodies left shadows
burned into the damp     echoes of
         a kind of shattering     absence   

Aaron Boothby is a poet from California now living in Montréal. Work has been published in Vallum, Axolotl, Whiskey Island, and other journals while a chapbook titled Reperspirations, Exhalations, Wrapt Inflections was published in 2016 with Anstruther Press. Tweets appear @ellipticalnight and a website can be found at secret-interference.info.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tuesday poem #228 : Christine Stoddard : Jaguar in the Cotton Field

One month after my mother’s mother was raped with a knife,
she crawled into the coffin that was her kitchen,
drenched herself in kerosene,
and lit her flesh on fire.

Like the man in the park where the saguaros grow,
the flames made my grandmother pray for death,
but death was the jaguar in the cotton field
that fate forbade her from catching.

Fate eventually exercised mercy
when she died in the hospital one week later,
with the spotted pelt in her hands at last.

Though I never knew her, I visit her grave every Sunday
to pay homage to a woman’s pain,
to the ever-shrinking smallness she felt in the world,
to the smallness I myself know.

Christine Stoddard is a Salvadoran-Scottish-American writer and artist who lives in Brooklyn. She also is the founding editor of Quail Bell Magazine, as well as the author of Hispanic & Latino Heritage in Virginia (The History Press, 2016), Ova (Dancing Girl Press, 2017), The Eating Game (Scars Publications, 2017), and two miniature books from the Poems-For-All series.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Tuesday poem #227 : Aimee Herman : two strangers underneath a city

Found on the A train, two humans dress as love stains
crawl into each others laps to sop up the carnage of spit.

Mouths break their fasts on each other,
carelessly-shaped lips move back and forth like typewriter travel.

There are no letterpress invites for their tongues to RSVP.
Sometimes, mouths just know what other mouths are looking for.

Four minutes earlier they barely understood each other’s teeth,
yet here they are on plastic subway seats sending bits of forgotten food down throats.

The one in buttons dances fingers into the other’s hair, aftertaste of coconut milk.
The one with poison ivy hidden beneath shirt panics about last bath date.

Buttons begins to think of recent ex-girlfriend who could tie three cherry stems together using only her tongue.

During, molars and fillings are investigated.

After, both contemplate an exchange of phone numbers but silently decide against.

Before, they were just two strangers sitting on the same train toward differing parts of Brooklyn, high off the pungent smells of loneliness, looking to feel something other than that.

Aimee Herman [photo credit: Jun Liu] is a Brooklyn-based performance artist, poet, and writing/literature teacher at Bronx Community College. Aimee has been widely published in journals and anthologies including cream city review, BOMB, nerve lantern, Apogee and Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Nightboat Books). In addition, several chapbooks including rooted (Dancing Girl Press) and carpus (Essay Press) and two full-length books: meant to wake up feeling (great weather for MEDIA) and to go without blinking (BlazeVOX books). Aimee hosts a monthly series in NYC called Queer Art Organics, featuring LGBTQ writers and performers and plays ukulele in the poetry/band collective Hydrogen Junkbox. For more, go to aimeeherman.wordpress.com

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan