Category: Issue 07

The Stream

I heard the stream
below and to the left of me,
and it pleased me
to leave it there awhile.
I’ve always had a flair
for the intentional.
Hence: all of this blessed breathing.
Hence: the police I found
by looking behind me
where their bodies went
lazy in the vacant light,
slouched in vague positions
where they waited,
tuning their scanners down
to a gossiped static
among the luminous rabbits
and tiny hits of moon
shot across the moth-clouds.
I felt rich again
when I tried to remember
every dollar I ever spent.
I felt good
about leaving fingerprints
where the beech trees stopped
right over the bank,
their tentacle roots
exposed and suspended
by the drift and wash
of every idyllic afternoon
lazed away there by wastrels.
When you take out the visual,
what’s left is a feeling.
It messes up your joie de vivre
and it is chronic,
like dust, but more of an obstacle.
I visited some pyramids.
I donated to watch a witch
do a spell and then hang out.
I guess I must have been an optimist,
stuck in this raw belief
that if only I could stop living
outside the poem,
its words would open up
the way shadows do
when you view their source
and then the sun.
The day got shorter,
barely even registering
upon the pates of the great poets
who came to visit me
because I paid them,
oh I would have
paid you anything,
Max Jacob, Alexander Vvedensky,
to stand there
in the riparian area
with one hand on your drinks
and the others pointing out
what I could do better,
what I should do better now.

***

Christopher DeWeese is the author of The Black Forest (Octopus Books). He is Assistant Professor of Poetry at Wright State University and lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

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The Marsh

The marsh is so full of bog-men
that it must be
the world’s oldest crime-scene.
Preserved in strange angles,
their skin looks superior
than that of their contemporaries
(the down to just the bones,
the inevitable mummies).
Most of them were murdered
and simply disposed,
thrown in quick and softly sinking,
so now they go faceless,
genuflecting quietly
through the peat.
In this land of reasons,
most of us only get to be one of them,
is why I’m so afraid
of all the terrible company
I’ve been keeping.
Most explorers set out
with better intentions
than being remembered
for eating one another
as they waited out the 1800s,
their perfect handwriting
filling seal-skin diaries
first with imaginary pathologies
to explain the missing
unto their cruel posterity,
and then the scientific measurements
they kept collecting
as if tethered to their own breathing
at last, finally, only by numbers.
They buried their tools
facing due north
to point the way
for those who would go farther,
and then fell cold
in momentary poses
to await their own discovery.
Ah humanity! goes the ending
of my favorite ending,
which begins Ah Bartleby!
And I guess it never really ends,
this life between us
and the what it is
in our best moments
we glimpse just past the data
we’ve spent so long gathering.
It’s cold tonight,
and I can’t decide
if it would be worse
to disappear completely
from the historical record
or to be repeated
as some old hag
on the liminal periphery
of a condescending anecdote
about why some kids were crying.
Every day, I use my bones
to triangulate the person
I’ve been harvesting.
I keep trying to get it right,
I mean I keep yelling
very quietly
because my love is sleeping,
and yes, I do love her,
but also I am furious,
I am a furious voter,
and my mouth is full
of dollars.

***

Christopher DeWeese is the author of The Black Forest (Octopus Books). He is Assistant Professor of Poetry at Wright State University and lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Solzhenitsyn on the Beach

The ball bounces to rest at my feet.
All around me, beautiful bodies utterly blank.

My heart races with each head ducked
beneath the waves.  My hand is a glass

that never empties.  Sails litter the ocean
with bird wings.  Water takes centuries to caress

rock to the sand that supports our weight.
I watch the surf until the sun goes down.

None of that storied violence is visible.

***

Andrew Kozma’s poems have appeared in BlackbirdQualmSubtropics, and The Kenyon Review Online.  His first book of poems, City of Regret (2007), won the Zone 3 First Book Award, and he has been the recipient of a Jentel Residency, a Houston Arts Alliance Fellowship, a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship, and a D. H. Lawrence Fellowship.

Patricide

Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, a contemporary of Tubman’s and dictator of the Dominican Republic for thirty years, exercised power in a similar fashion.  During his rule, the church organized mass baptisms of Dominican children, with Trujillo standing in as godfather.  With time, he became the godfather of all his subordinates.  The CIA could find no volunteers to organize a coup against the dictator: no one wanted to raise a hand against his own godfather.
~Ryszard Kapuściński, The Shadow of the Sun

I am father to the world, husband to a million mothers, and this
is how you treat me?  You can’t cut the root of the God tree.

A red butterfly like a rose petal falls up into the sky, a stain
on a starched tablecloth, blood from a nail-less thumb.

This life you live is the dream of a man waking up
to being me.  I am ineradicable.  If I die, another will rise

who remembers your face and your family history.  Bring your heart
to my altar, my wayward child.  Blood is the means

to the end, either way.  You can kill me, but I will never stop being
your loving father.  Slit my scapegoat throat.  I’ll never be so proud.

***

Andrew Kozma’s poems have appeared in BlackbirdQualmSubtropics, and The Kenyon Review Online.  His first book of poems, City of Regret (2007), won the Zone 3 First Book Award, and he has been the recipient of a Jentel Residency, a Houston Arts Alliance Fellowship, a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship, and a D. H. Lawrence Fellowship.

from The Thread

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***

Paige Taggart is a Northern Californian and currently resides in Brooklyn & is the author of three chapbooks: DIGITAL MACRAMÉ, Polaroid Parade, and The Ice Poems. In 2014 her first two full-length collections will be published: Want For Lion (Trembling Pillow Press) and Or Replica (Brooklyn Arts Press). She works as a full-time jewelry production manager & additionally makes her own jewelry (mactaggartjewelry.com)