Poetry Magazine : October : 2011


It’s memorial month with Spencer Reece, Ange Mlinko and D.A. Powell all giving powerful remembrances.

Favorite line from Spencer Reece’s poem The Road to Emmaus: “the moon’s neck wobbled on the Charles”

Pinhole by Kay Ryan will go down as the first poem read by my seven year old.

Top Ten Favorite Words from Ange Mlinko’s Cantata for Lynette Roberts :

  1. Coracle
  2. Hapax
  3. Kerned
  4. Penillions
  5. Parasangs
  6. Tormentil
  7. Uncial
  8. Subdural
  9. Geode
  10. Cotyledons

Rae Armantrout : Spent + the final section of Transaction is among her finest.


Poetry Pet Peeves

  1. People who write “e. e. cummings”
  2. People who like Edgar Allen Poe
  3. People who don’t like Robert Frost
  4. People who think poetry rhymes
  5. People who think poetry should never rhyme
  6. Billy Collins
  7. People who have only read Dante’s Inferno and not the rest of the Commedia
  8. People who think I’m pretentious for calling it the Commedia
  9. Any translation of the Iliad or the Odyssey that isn’t Fagles
  10. People who only read the sexy Neruda

Poetry Magazine : September : 2011

There’s something pleasingly off kilter in Mary Ruefle’s Women in Labor and Shalimar

A few lines from Kevin Young:

I begged the earth empty
of him. Death

believes in us whether
we believe

or not.

from Pieta

My favorites from Peter Gizzi’s Apocrypha:

3. To love the children, so full of neurons and consciousness. What a joy to clean up and put a shine on their mess.

5. I leave the voice, the wonder, the mirror, and my lens, bent and beholden to the worm, leaf-work in wrought iron, eerie illuminations and deep-sea vision.

11. To Time Roman I give my stammer, my sullennes, my new world violence, form and all that, forms, and all that paper gusts. Little buttress.

20. To the polestar I leave my alien regalia, my off-world headdress. I leave acoustic forms in time, blooming, sudsy, inconsolable.

28. To mercy I leave whatever.

“For you: anthophilous, lover of flowers” by Reginal Dwayne Betts is splendid.

Edwin Honig

Over the trading world I sang
songs of chalk and sand
songs of the diamond hand.
Down the thigh of day
up the arm of night
rubbing my chest of clay
pulling the moon-belt tight.
Over the fading world I sprang.

Thirteen More Ways of Looking at a Blackbird : After Wallace Stevens

Click here to read Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens

When a blackbird flies in the white sky
close your eyes to see
a black sky
swallowing a white bird.

Augustine’s inkblot, a blackbird,
sinking into the page.
He whispers, “privatio” to the wind.

A shadow across
a field of stones.

Night lifts, the child
sunk in blankets still dreaming
of blackbirds.

The haiku’s last two syllables,
after shadows, after stones,
is blackbird.

In the boundless sunlight
I held up my hand and found
a black as black as any puddle in the dark
where the blackbird drinks.

As the balloon rises we forget
everything we know of blackbirds.

The child groans after each cough,
lung weary and ensnared.
I hear from my bed
his heave of wind, like a blackbird
flapping, tangled in string,
unable to rise.

Beneath blackbirds flying
as I walked by
“Not the shadow,”
said the worm
in the valley
“but its bite.”

The old man wearing only
a blackbird black overcoat
spreads his wings…

Wrath boiled me in winter
and the rock I heaved
into the cloud covered sky
at its falling shattered the tree
into blackbirds.

There are no more blackboards in schoolrooms.
Nor blackbirds.

The earth is no blackbird nor the night sky its wing flying.
The earth is but a mote
in the eye of the blackbird.

[Click here to read my Spoon River Poems]

Ninth Month : Robert Lowell

For weeks, now months, the year in burden goes,
a happiness so slow burning, it is lasting;
our animated nettles are black slash
by August. Today I leaned through lunch on my elbows,
watching my nose bleed red lacquer on the grass;
I see, smell and taste blood in everything—
I almost imagine your experience mine.
This year by miracle, you’ve jumped from 38
to 40, joined your elders who can judge:
woman has never forgiven man her blood.
Sometimes the indictment dies in your forgetting.
You move on crutches into your ninth month,
you break things now almost globular—
love in your fullness of flesh and heart and humor.

-part 11 in Marriage from The Dolphin

Poetry Magazine : June : 2011

The French poet Lucie Thesee’s poem “Poem” tr. by Robert Archambeau runs pretty hot.

More romantic Frenchies, Claude Esteban’s The Bend tr. by Joanie Mackowski who, wisely “opted to translate “papillion,” which normally is a butterfly, as a moth, mainly because butterfly is a goofy sounding word.”

The middle sections of Antione de Chandieu’s “Octonaires on the World’s Vanity and Inconstancy” tr. by Nate Klug are very good.

An interesting idea by Ange Mlink to translate two Arabic poems Lament by Lapid and Last Simile by Abid B. Al-Abras incorporating Anglo-Saxon words.

A very fine translation of Eugenio de Andrade’s The Children by Atsuro Riley.

A very elegant Swedish poem The Portrait by Edith Sodergran tr. by Brooklyn Copeland.


13 Ways of Looking at 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Wallace Stevens : 13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Long haikus about blackbirds

A metaphor for racism

False starts and fragments from an unfinished blackbird poem.

An outline for an epic poem about Woden travelling by train the East coast in winter.

Premodern tweets.

A creative writing assignment from high school.

An elliptic, though devastating critique of Edgar A. Poe’s “The Raven”.

13 failed pick-up lines.

His philosophical text expressing skepticism that the existence of the world requires the existence of a description that is true from every possible point of view, a description that would depict it in itself as it really is.

A peyote fueled phantasmagoria.

Lyrics to his indie folk rap.

A spec screenplay for Groucho Marx.

The Kuma Sutra of Connecticut.