Sunday, January 20, 2013
Sample Poems: Volume 29, Numbers 1 and 2
By John Hodgen
Saturday afternoon, drunk already on the surprise sixty degree January sunlight
and the two scorpion bowls we just left empty as churches inside the Ho Toy,
not like the churches in the game we used to play with our hands when we were kids,
here is the church, here is the steeple, turn it all over and here’s all the people,
but totally empty, drained, even the fruit sucked dry, like two fishing boats abandoned,
the pink and blue straws like fishing poles hanging out over the sides. I mean Roanoak empty,
empty as hell, like the Mary Celeste, that ship they found floating out at sea with no one
aboard, the captain’s log filled, the table all set, the people nowhere to be found.
We toddle our way across the Great Plains of the worn and cracked parking lot
and you ask how many years we’ve been coming here and whether I will ever tire
of making the reservations under the name of the Donner Party. I say I feel a little like
the Donners right now coming down from the Sierra Nevadas after the luncheon buffet.
We squint stupid like Bush at what’s left of the rest of the day and wonder why anyone
ever drinks this much this early, or better yet, why everyone doesn’t, the day turned to lint,
horsefeathers, fuzz, the day rode hard already and put away wet, the day pretty much shot,
or at least winged a little, the day narrowed, divided into good driver, bad driver, drunk,
non-drunk, us vs. them, the other poor bastards who’d better get out of our way.
And I remember the day in junior high when we elected a bad class president,
when the word had spread from the snitches to the teachers to the extent that both
the principal and the vice-principal showed up at the meeting to talk us all out of it,
to warn us of the dangers inherent in voting that way, to strive in our hearts, in our better
selves against even considering the punk kid with green hair who had promised free beer
in the Coke machines and a class trip to Hell Mountain at the end of the year, but we did it
anyway, just for the hell of it, to fulfill perhaps the infinite prophecies of all our elementary
school teachers who had been screaming for years that we were all nothing but trouble,
that this class was different, to the degree that people all over town were actually wondering
what our parents had been up to nine months to the day before we arrived, the power outage
along the East Coast perhaps, all our parents having gone to bed early that night,
drunk and disorderly, except for one couple, the parents of the good kid, the one wearing
glasses, the one with perfect attendance, the one we didn’t vote for, the one we left standing
on the stage by himself, who, for all intents and purposes is standing there still,
tears in his eyes, looking at us, wondering who the hell we think we are.
By Cynthia Snow
You come to me at a bad moment (because
they are all bad moments, really, or so instinct
tells me). You lean across the table, place one hand
on each side of my face, my arms folding laundry.
It always begins like this. There is the moment,
and there is me considering the moment. I consider
your hands. Warm. I consider the morning sunlight
slanting across the room. Hazy and bright. I consider
the laundry. Wrinkled. I consider the papers waiting
on my desk, the tasks I’ve listed on the 24 lines
for each day in my pocket planner, the inevitable
pick up of children at 3:15, dinner, clean up,
phone calls. Most days, I look you in the eye,
kiss your lips, then swish you away. Today,
I tell my instinct to go to hell. I tell it
what my 6-year-old daughter once yelled, “You
are not the boss of me.” I close my eyes,
tell myself, “These are his hands.” I hold them.
I circle the table, press my cheek to his neck,
tell myself, “This is his blood, pulsing
through his body.” I adjust the length of me
along the length of him, rib cage to rib cage,
hip to hip, tell myself, “This is his breath
moving into his lungs. This is his breath
leaving his body, breath damp and circling
in rhythm with mine.” I stretch my arm
around his middle, tell myself, “This
is his belly. It is benevolent.” I hear,
"Take this. It is my body, and it is good."
Katie and the Poet
By Curt Curtin
Isn’t he grand?
The man has such a way with words,
how they flow like god’s own thoughts
from somewhere you wouldn’t be likely to know.
And he does it all with bits of talk
scattered about like a cunning puzzle
instead of a thought you could get all at once.
It’s deep he is,
and learned in things you wouldn’t understand
any more than a goat in church.
Ah, but wasn’t that a grand poem he wrote,
full of words that I haven’t heard more than
twice in my life.
And he read it all with such wonderful feeling,
you’d swear to god he was a priest.
My Tim was making eyes all the while,
but I can tell you I was deeply moved.
The whole thing just flowed, like water over a bog,
a river of words and not a one of them too plain.
I wasn’t all that sure of his meaning, but
I get the drift, as they say of fog in the morning.
We shouldn’t be too proud, you see,
pretending to know all the deep things
a man like that could say.
Still, I wonder, does he talk that way all the time?
It must be a fine headache for his wife
to be always thinking,
what does he mean?and does he expect an answer?