The mouth full of rubies,
or teeth that look like rubies,
the obsession with value
the recurring dream
so young the memory of
faded glory jeans
tossed into a basket stained with blood
the color of rubies.
Beginning the obsession with value.
How much blood could I bleed
for any one thing.
The basketball thrown from half-court
at the end of the fourth quarter
smashing the backboard,
going in the hoop,
gold rains down.
Again priceless but I’d like to put a number on it.
Again and again, the recurring dream in different ways,
now a mouthful of teeth shattered and falling out
mouths the words “please,
tell me what I’m worth.”
On the bleachers
all the red faces in rows
all the red faces looking like rubies
and look how I try to order the world
in rows of rubies,
again an obsession
with structures of value
and giving value to structures-
“Please,” the mouth mouths,
“see the way the light hits all of this,
how it breaks into star shapes.
Look at my blood next to it,
see how the colors match,
and let it be precious.”
Colin McArthur is writing poetry, fiction, and recently started the film blog ‘Weight of Frames’. He currently resides in Portland, OR, where he plays music, cooks, and names geographies after his corgi, such as ‘Julep Lake’ or ‘Julep Mountain’. He studied English and writing for two years at Portland State.
You were buried in the afternoon
and yet the moon was lost
on its way to the sea –what’s left
is each night step by step
swallowing the light it needs
to swell –your grave will brighten soon
grow branches, more names, splash
–here is that sea and from the night
a grief-stone no bigger than a star
will fall into the waves rising as sunlight
made from sunlight and whitecaps
that pass by as spray that is not shoreline
right and left, smelling from salt
and your shadow with nothing left to let go
shimmering as if something happened.
Her chest no longer listening
though both your arms stay folded
one over the other, wet
the way these dead dare each night
to arrive without them –you stand in front
shirtless, refuse to shake hands
or take from her grave the rocks you left
as a threat to the others not to take what’s hers
not the dirt between the afternoons
not your fingertips, not this rain
growing more and more beautiful
over her breasts, homesick as a flower.
Your rub one shoe till the glow
rises side by side –like new
calms the other thought the knot
stays wet, unable to loosen
make a wish, let in air
end over end washed by rain
the way every death is covered with a dress
and the sudden whiteness
taking all the sunsets by surprise
and your limp between two shoes
giving off the light, sticks out the ground
as stone and more silence
It was a funeral :the slow leak
covering the Earth with emptiness
and your heart opening, closing
–now is not the time, this grave
can be seen from the air, is waiting
to be stuffed stone by stone –it needs
more and more, a rain
and every drop next to another
becoming a word and the word
a name –it needs this overcast
–it’s already half in the ground
here to here with the others.
Again and again it’s the paint
darkening from some shadow
that stops by, has her eyes
her forehead –this is the wall
where rotting trees appear
though on the ceiling
her breath thins out
as if it still longs for shoreline
–she won’t drown –with just a pail
you stand in front, empty it
and as the wall drifts in
lean over her, closer, closer
the way a sunset is disguised
as the beautiful night reaching down
with its tomorrow and its silence.
Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan Review, The Nation, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.
8888888888888888If there won’t be dancing at the revolution I’m not coming—E.G.
88888888888888888888888888888888Such chances arise, and they alter and direct a 8888888888888888888888888888888888888888man’s whole life—L.T. “After the Dance”
Yes, he is a pacifist, but does he believe
88888888in dancing? I don’t know
88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888if I could love a man
8888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888opposed to both war and dancing.
Would I choose a man, like my other
88888888men with their hands on the trigger,
88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888bracing themselves for the end of the line
888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888dance, over this man
with empty hands with open
8888888888888888hands? Not a word
88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888to say about dancing, except that once
888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888while drunk, he watched a soldier
beat a man to death. With nothing
88888888but his hands. And he still remembers
88888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888how the flies circled the body. The mass
8888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888of blood, after the dance.
Abigail Carl-Klassen’s work has appeared in Cimarron Review, Guernica, Post Road and Huizache, among others and is anthologized inNew Border Voices, Goodbye Mexico and Outrage: A Protest Anthology for Injustice in a 9/11 World. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2014 and Best New Poets 2015.
Coal trains sometimes wake me up at night,
their brakes wailing as they slow through town,
freighted with coal for Minnesota power plants.
Soon they clatter back for more like empty buckets.
The freeway runs east and west a few miles north,
carrying semi loads of wheat for bread and breakfast cereal.
Even the wind goes east and west here,
delivering mountain cold to the pothole farms,
bringing back manure and moans from the sales ring.
Out at the national park last fall I saw some geese
laboring south across the flow of commerce,
following the Little Missouri to its source
and beyond toward the ruins of Spain’s vanished empire.
The Poppers thought we too must abandon our settlements,
give the place back to the buffalo for safe keeping,
and obey the east-west tug of our national heart.
But the darkness south and north of town,
weightless and persistent as a goose quill,
still pulls at the occasional probing headlights,
that work their way up the section line,
like a cowboy keeping the fences strung tight.
Mark Trechock has lived in North Dakota since 1993. He retired last year from a career in rural community organizing. His poems have recently appeared in Canary, Limestone, Off The Coast, Wilderness House Literary Journal, Raven Chronicles, and Fracture, a collection of essays, poems and stories on fracking in America.