5 poems, 5 poets.
This week we are featuring five of the finalists from this year’s 42 Miles Press Poetry Contest.
The Mule Deer
Everywhere in California children
are crawling out from under beds.
The deer move like broken chairs rebuilt
in the shape of a horse. They have the faces
of cows, legs like awkward architecture.
They have killed several who lived on
my street – hunters or children who tried
to feed them pancakes. I see them every
morning as I draw my curtains. They are
destroying the garden, the squash, the tomatoes,
marigolds, string beans, the beetle-peppered
roses. They keep me awake at night rustling
the rhododendron – I imagine men with knives,
as sad children often do. The bucks rub their
antlers on the front step in the fall, the does
chase us down the driveway when we stare
at their fawns: they knock down fences, dive
through wind-shields, shadow us on our hikes.
We have town meetings, shriek about control
and acceptable losses, while they toss
our babies in the fields of wild wheat.
*from her manuscript, Some Are Horses.
She will be somewhere on the moon
waiting for me. Perhaps when it is
full a glow rose quartz.
The constant ticking will wake
this tired self. Oh the wandering
at night until I reach sand.
I will lie.
There will be cerebellum
exposed the neurons relaxed.
Come down from that luminous place
where dust is the point. Cover this body.
Melt this copper flesh. It is
waiting to be somewhere else.
*from his manuscript, Graze for the Captain.
Mischief Is a Reliable Antidote
Not without its deep studious ache,
the minute and the next one.
A canyon is residual, is lunatic.
Many rocks beside the gulley we can see
from the balcony of the high0rise;
and then, from those rocks, the next day
or the day after, we see the high-rise!
This always mystifies me. We gather
around the stereo. I’m glad for any music.
Mischief is a reliable antidote again,
and children crawl together on the carpet.
We are and have always been misfit,
disastrously unwilling to crawl-walk-run.
But to look at one thing and only one thing?
I’ve never been able to accomplish this.
Certain paintings, maybe, a few sculptures.
I do remember how light poured red
through a tall man’s ears as he sat
while the symphony warmed up.
I was about ten rows behind him.
I’ve always remembered this about music.
*from his manuscript, What It Looks Like, How It flies.
Gary L. McDowell
If we keep feeding the gods,
they’ll leave us to our sentiments,
or to some other irony: I’ve lusted,
coveted, drawn a map of my childhood.
What I missed: the route to school,
the stones we’d roll down the hill
behind the graveyard where an unnamed
person lay buried, always deer antlers
next to the headstone, bleached, white
like lightning on a moonless night,
heat lightning over a lake, and the lake
swallows it, and we’re back again
to what I missed: there was once,
there is no more.
*from his manuscript, Mysteries in a World that Thinks There Are None.
Poem for Lining My Lung
Last night, the sickness
flowering, I fell asleep
with glass lungs
hung from my clavicles
by threads. I dreamt
of pneumonia blooming.
: : :
first, not in the descent
of frozen ashes, not as delicate
curls of burnt paper,
not in small petals
punched from eyelet,
but thicker cells, drifting.
*from her manuscript, This Coalition of Bones.