Monday, April 28, 2014

#126: Two Poems by Maryann Corbett

~This poem was previously published in Ruminate (2010).

Late Season Day Trip

Because it could only happen in summer, because
an early start was vital, because we'd run
outside in the grass by the driveway, our sneakers wet,
the air still cool, so early the light went sideways,
because it changed things, because we would be saved
by water from our humid suburban sins,

because we'd begin by driving into the sun,
in oriente, compass point of the pilgrim,
past New Life Church and Transformation Salon
and PMZ Plasma Services, where debt
is washed away in blood, because of hope,

because each year we forgot the hard returning
until it came, the late-night driving back
on the black, unbending highways, the cranky children,
forgot the trash on the seats, forgot the way
we steeled ourselves for the dark and the year's forgetting,

all this is why I can bear to stand on a corner
a thousand miles from the shore, in a second-hand suit,
and wait alone for a bus that will take me to work,
watching others leave at the end of summer,
the early sunlight barreling like a truck
down east-west streets, and the gulls of parking lots
wheeling in carnival arcs, screaming the sea.


Monday, April 21, 2014

#125: "The Bear" by Katherine E. Young

~This poem first appeared in Prairie Schooner (2009). 

The Bear


The bear marauds inside my garden,
plants his tracks among the roses;
his scent lingers in hollies, yews. 
I gather broken branches in
my arms, pocking hands and face
with prickled leaves.  Back inside
the house, my cats do not accept
the tang of bear upon my skin. 
They press their noses to the window,
seeking solace in the glass —
clear-eyed frame that holds us back,
bladed pane that keeps us safe.


The bear says, “I’m not dangerous! 
Let me make a den for you —
I will hang the walls with shells,
drape soft moss across your bed. 
Songs drawn from water will sweeten
the air.  Sometimes I’ll kiss your full,
pleading lips, although they’re not
the type to which I’m accustomed.”


I tell the bear:  “My prince will come
find me.” Clear, uninflected.  The bear
just laughs.  “Does his skin smell
of musk, does his flesh taste
of honey?  Does his fur warm you
in winter?  Does he know to stroke
your cheek with all his claws drawn in?”


When he holds me in his arms,
I hear roaring in my ear.


The bear says, “Look closely:  there’s
a ring set in my nose.”  And though
I’ve stroked his snout a thousand times,
I’ve never — until now — felt iron
beneath my fingers.  Says the bear,
“Once I begged for my living, I
recited rhymes, my paw outstretched. 
The ring came later, screwed it in
myself, thought I’d live better with
a chain, four walls to steady me.”


The bear shambles through crowds, snout
turning side to side, eyes
always seeking, I don’t know
what he’s seeking….  He seems to prefer
that I fall two steps back, that way
no one shouts, “Look!  A woman’s
chained to that bear!”  Although the chain’s
invisible.  Although at night,
when he leads me out, no one
sees he’s a bear.


Monday, April 14, 2014

#124: Two Poems by Mark Jay Brewin, Jr.

~This poem was previously published in The Los Angeles Review (2010).

From These Split Ends
            -for Jessica Keough

After I proposed marriage, we decided
to start cutting each other’s hair.

First time, I was drunk on vodka tonics
and used poultry shears, but she trusted me

enough to score off a few inches.
We did it standing in the apartment’s

old cast iron tub, naked, my hands trembling.
Her curls made it difficult. The blades

didn’t trim right, and I strained to snip each lock.
While inspecting the workmanship,

I dropped the shears, nicked her ankle.
I forget how exactly she reacted, but it was calm—

something of a soft glance down.
As I palmed the clutch of her strands,

worried over the neat horizon of hair,
her manner suggested to me, There is time

to get better. I planted the split ends in the wastebasket
and knew we’d both grow from this.


Monday, April 7, 2014

#123: "Solstice" by Richard Foerster

~This poem was previously published in Beloit Poetry Journal (2012).



how quick the plummet : moon-sharp
the flint-sparked air : our river crackling
on the full extreme of the tide : how pristine
this burden : snow coiled like a widow’s shawl
about the shoulders of the world : how

numbly we face this whiteness : its weather-worn
scars : our fading trajectories : like scavenging
deer : and into it all this rodent-thought
creeps its way out of troubled sleep :
a crosshatch of tunnels : vascular runs

where hunger follows blindly on hunger :
gnaws every tender tendrilling : brutal
and indifferent : like beauty : like this night’s
shimmered desolations : like a body : blanketed
yet beneath : so nakedly vulnerable :

how inexorable these silent turnings : as one
from a window : back toward the darkened room :
and returning : the thought : of you : downed in sleep :
as the tide of a sudden snaps the solid mask of things ::
how quick the widdershins flesh tinders into flame.