Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Tuesday poem #399 : Jessica Q. Stark : Catalogue of Random Acts of Violence


A slap to the cheek sent me running

across the parking lot back

into the grocery to find my mother


among jarred salsas. They were strangers—

a couple—coaxing me into their car like

lines in a film without candy.


I knew it was wrong before


they asked, before my small body followed

them out of the store—ever-obedient calf—

before a hand tried to grab my skull and whacked


my cheek as I turned and fled. The Spring of my youth

brought cities that pushed hungry appendages into

my back, holding me still on public transit, at an


outdoor concert, at a crowded bar that smelled like

dead frogs. In SOMA in San Francisco

I felt the sun on my face before another


stranger’s violence punched it out of

the sky. Hulking, spitting. I saw him

coming and I did not change direction.

I steeled myself and looked him in the eye

before he took a fist plainly to my temple.

Stole nothing, said nothing, saw no one.


Tender, I watched him walk away as

he swore at the clouds about beasts

crowding the flood. Even this morning


a decade later with a child of my own to slip,

I sat beside a suburban creekbed when a man’s

dog’s nails dug into my back’s flesh from behind.


I eyed its owner who looked away and said c’mon git

in lieu of an apology, or any mortal word: another stony

finger extended from the deep, dark wood.


Back in the grocery and out of breath, a pink flower

bloomed on my cheek. My mother turned to look at me—

a rarity when we shopped. Her look seemed


to say, which kind? With silence

I said, neither. An inheritance and

a curse feel the same at the pit


of your core. Every day we are rounding

corners, observing the rack of frozen meat.

Every day I am sticking to my route,

fleeing the scene of perpetual undoing,

carving space for a red


writhing thing at the end of the street,

at the end of my wrists—something

soft and still and holding.




Jessica Q. Stark recently earned her PhD in English from Duke University and her poetry has most recently appeared or is forthcoming in Carolina Quarterly, Pleiades, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Hobart Pulp, Tupelo Quarterly, Potluck, and for the Glass Poetry Journal: Poets Resist series. Her first poetry manuscript, The Liminal Parade, was selected by Dorothea Lasky for the Double Take Grand Prize in 2016. She is the author of three chapbooks including the mini-chapbook, Vasilisa the Wise, that was published by Ethel Zine Press in 2018. Her first full-length poetry collection, Savage Pageant, which was a finalist for the Cleveland State University Poetry Center Book Prize, the 42 Miles Press Book Prize, and the Rose Metal Press Hybrid Book Prize, was published by Birds, LLC in March 2020. She writes poetry reviews for Carolina Quarterly and is an Assistant Poetry Editor for AGNI.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Tuesday poem #398 : Jérôme Melançon : BART Poem



Approaching the stationary view of dwellers
Les sacs emplis portés en épaule, en douleurs,

The motion sticking to my eyes, sitting earless

La connexion entre les deux plans un supplice.

From my seat the sky announces its other self,

Lourd de son bleu, dégage un arrière-goût de trèfle,

Of parks. Missions wait for future generations –

Avec l’âge, reliques d’une fondation

With the ocean; their materials vague coasting dreams,

Tombent sans trajectoire, bricolées de cimes.

They survived the trembling the quaking the saunter,

Happées par le vent se découvrent se font tendres,

Turned around by a future slid shut, found their rest.

Reprises en semelles, leur demi-vie pédestre

Pulls at my shins, echo and response to the hills,

À l’air, en baume, hésitation de la ville.




Jérôme Melançon writes and teaches and writes and lives in oskana kâ-asastêki / Regina, SK. He is the author of two books of poetry, De perdre tes pas (2011) and Quelques pas quelque part (2016) with Éditions des Plaines, one book of philosophy, La politique dans l’adversité (Metispresses, 2018), and has a bilingual chapbook with above/ground press, Coup. 

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Tuesday poem #397 : Nicole McCarthy : Maryhill



We climbed the ridge & chased the setting sun—
our skin still moist
from the heat.

The park ranger said this is the summer of planets.
Now when I think of Venus, seen with the naked eye that night, I think about your desire to keep me warm— an excuse for touch— up on that cold valley peak. The earth’s moon seen through a telescope is tied to the memory of you— your lips at my ear, an echoing voice of quiet wonder.

How can we feel insignificant under these planetary bodies yet so significant to one another?
My love— the center of my galaxy— even as ours steadily approaches its own interstellar crescendo. You are magnitudes while I am a star, enraptured and ever in your orbit.

Months are nothing to the Milky Way but everything:
to my fingers and the light patterns they trace in your hair
to your reverent, quiet worship

to sunday morning ritual— finding faith in book pages & rumpled sheets
to our beautiful aging bodies

So that july night, as the space station passed over us on its everchanging orbit—
you put your arm around me
& the dim yellow glow of park lights followed us home,

two binary stars in the dark.



Nicole McCarthy earned her MFA from the University of Washington Bothell where she worked with Renee Gladman, Amaranth Borsuk, and Rebecca Brown. Her work has appeared or in The Offing, Redivider, Glass: a Journal of Poetry, The Shallow Ends, Ghost Proposal, Tinderbox Poetry, Memoir Mixtapes, Civil Coping Mechanism's A Shadow Map anthology, FIVE:2:ONE Magazine, and the 2018 Best American Experimental Writing anthology. Her work has also been performed and encountered as projection installation pieces throughout Tacoma and Seattle and her written work can be found at nicolemccarthypoet.com. She is a 2018 Artist Trust GAP award recipient.

the Tuesday poem is curated by rob mclennan.