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Poems of the Week – 2013 Finalists Part 2

18 Jul

THREE POEMS BY 42 MILES PRESS POETRY AWARD 2013 FINALISTS

PAULA BONNELL
General Correspondence

Dream sea;
me adrift on a night-raft.
Dull metal-gloss water murmurs and wobbles,
wobbles to a wallop.
Going aground. I wash up on an island,
bed-white, flat amid wave flickers.
Water weights double over;
foam stipples the sands.
Temblors – shocking the waters aside –
steamboat-heart-suddenness – big!
Awake now
and it’s duck-soft, flight feathers down
around me
so, so,
and so away;
images float as passenger shadows:
themselves objectified,
and the river glows and darkens,
glows and darkens.
The moon is my head.
 
 
KIMBERLY BURWICK
July

Smell the son-of-a-bitch in the wintergreen field
riding the vines like pigs, so un-right even death
wants nothing to do with you.
Pale the erections of flowering spurge,
grass invisible to geese, moths too wet to rise
flicker and shake their way up the moldy stone.
I think of shootings where blood is true front
for pilgrimage, and come the green-eyed birds
to the body so blunt in its new white knowing.
But you are too wretched to waste on sin.
Milkweed shrivels aside the rifle.
I take my place among small bees.
 
 
MARY CISPER
Blue of the Sleeping World

Rising when dawn is a closed hand, night’s breath wrung out,
clinging to the year’s flung husks under final stars–
the turn, and how the birds attend.

And what else? Once you told me how you found a place walking
where there was no thought, only the day’s blue shell.
You tested it, turned back your steps,
the mind’s busy stitching resumed.

Submerged, do we notice anything?
The hush of a new building, only a few words snagged in hallways,
the corners like a temple except for candles.
If my childhood house still stood, the walls might whisper.
We joked after it was razed for a church, the confessing.

As part of the sleeping world, do I remember
the way a seed remembers heavy boughs, or bluebirds,
a dozen at rest, the tenacious garland of their singing?

Rime covers the brown grass with microscopic ledges,
the intricate stairsteps of frost.
Once we floated a raft, a companion swearing at the oars.
From the river’s eye–a heron’s unreadable gaze, the bank’s
storm-struck cottonwoods, your hand trying the creviced dark.
 
 
* all poems selected from submissions to the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award, 2013.

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Poems of the Week – 2013 Finalists Part 1

11 Jul

THREE POEMS BY 42 MILES PRESS POETRY AWARD 2013 FINALISTS
 
 
MARK WISNIESKI
One Week Before Heart Surgery

last night I dreamt
Hemingway was alive

& only he & I & his fourth wife
knew he wasn’t long
from his second death

he was leaning back
against an armchair
in a bungalow he
rented month-to-month

speaking quietly
& sometimes
incorrectly

his wife disliked
my presence but to him

it seemed

my interest offered a break
from a Sunday of thoughts

I could tell he wanted to write
but knew he shouldn’t

finally his wife
lost interest in me

& it was only
he & I in a cab

drive by no one
on the outskirts of
Sacramento: he was out
of his element & we
passed an indoor stream
he discussed just enough for me

to realize he no longer
cared about trout

ours was a mild friendship we’d
agreed could last until six days before
the next death between us

& then
by the way he sat–

with one hand
over the other
on his cross-legged lap

gazing neither at nor
away from me–
I knew

time was up
for one of us
 
 
 
DAN KAPLAN
+

Once we note how numbers change
appearances we try others.
 
 
The gray-headed albatross loops the globe
in 46 days and the extent of
migration is greater than thought.
 
 
Across the square
an ancient dog labors,
one day won’t wake.
 
 
Night develops a faithful copy
others will scrape across.
 
 
As with certain advances
countries become little
more than geometries.
 
 
As small areas burn
and distant shapes occupy
 
 
something like fields
of vision.
 
 
 
RICHARD ROBBINS
The House

Nudged into an inner wall, witness
to every squabble, there was a nest
where grief lay its eggs. Their footsteps led there,
even walking away. Sorry joists

bulged like ribs. Across humming, ancient
wires, their house talked and talked, the present
they gave themselves for a miracle birth
of something flying, tired, out their chests.
 
 
* all poems selected from submissions to the 42 Miles Press Poetry Award, 2013.

Announcing the Winner and Runners-Up of the (2016) 42 Miles Press Poetry Award

2 Jul

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Well, we are a day behind making this announcement, but what can we say, the competition this year was fierce. Thank you to everyone that submitted to our competition this year, without you, this press, specifically, this competition would not be possible.

Our decision was anything but easy, but we are pleased to announce that Nate Pritts has won the (2016) 42 Miles Press Poetry Award for his manuscript, Revenant Tracer. The award includes a $1,000 prize in addition to the publication of his book by 42 Miles Press in September 2017. Nate will give a reading at Indiana University South Bend upon publication. Congratulations, sir. Welcome to the 42 Miles Press family!

A little about our newest author:
Nate Pritts is the Director and Founding Editor of H_NGM_N (2001), an independent publishing house that started as a mimeograph ‘zine and which has grown to encompass an annual online journal, an occasional digital chapbook series, a continuing series of single-author books and sporadic limited edition/low-fi projects.

He is also the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Right Now More Than Ever (2013) and the forthcoming Post Human. Publishers Weekly described his fifth book, Sweet Nothing (2011), as “both baroque and irreverent, banal and romantic, his poems […] arrive at a place of vulnerability and sincerity.” POETRY Magazine called his The Wonderfull Yeare (2009), “rich, vivid, intimate, & somewhat troubled” while The Rumpus called Big Bright Sun (2010) “a textual record of mistakes made and insights gleaned…[in] a voice that knows its part in self-destruction.”

Pritts is an Associate Professor at Ashford University where he serves as Curriculum Lead and Administrative head of the Film program.

A poem from Revenant Tracer:Screen shot 2016-07-02 at 6.43.16 PM.png

*An earlier version of “Sonnet No. 44” appeared in Sonnets: Translating and Rewriting Shakespeare (Nightboat Books).

The runners-up for the (2016) 42 Miles Press Poetry Award are:
Graeme Bezanson – The Jewels Are For Luck,  first runner-up
Sarah Barber – Country House, second runner-up
Monica Berlin – Maybe To Region, third runner-up

A list of the (2016) 42 Miles Press Poetry Award Finalists (as posted on 6/24/16 ) can be found here.

 

Poems of the Week – Greg Rappleye

22 May

THREE POEMS BY GREG RAPPLEYE

 

At the Museum of Whiskey History

I find my dead, sneaking shots of Old Crow
on the line at Kelsey-Hayes–
bootleggers, priests, procession swellers.
Here’s Uncle Ted saying, Cheers to you all,
after beating a black man senseless
behind a blind pig. And there’s Aunt Rose,
fresh from the San, taking it neat,
after hacking a fistful of blood. My dead
drive from the freight yards and Dodge Main,
drunk for the Teamsters and drunk
for Walter Reuther, shattering windows
and tipping over cars.
They marry among the hill folk, who come
rattle-trapping north to work at Ford Rouge.
See their anemic wives–
my aunts with their melon-headed kids.
There’s my mother, retching among the violets
and my father’s foot tap-tapping the rail
after Sunday mass, needing
two shots of Jim Beam before a game of skittles,
the stone sent gliding along the boards,
sawdust parting in its wake.
And in this diorama,
where the warehouse burns
and the whiskey flows in rivers of fire
torching the sumac and yarrow, my dead
toast the flames. My dead fall down.
My dead rise from the ground and sing.

 

Were We Speaking, Had You Asked

I’d bring you cauliflower
and the leaf tips of artichokes.
Or tiny radishes and
wild fennel, the violet ribs
of chard, shorn of all flesh;
sliced gingerroot, the woody hearts
of parsnips–acidic, astringent.
You might try the leeks:
one end spring green, the other–
forged in mud–
resplendent, bone white.
You might cut through the pulp
of these purple beets,
splay them across wilted
spinach, swirl them
with turnips, pungent mustard
greens, weedy amaranth
or rapini, slightly past its prime,
sauté them all with olive oil
and chopped garlic.
Are they bitter?
That is something best known
at the root of the tongue, where
muscle and blood run thick,
where the nerve ends fire,
fire, fire
at whatever starts to gag,
snapping shut the voice box
and binding the heart to silence.

 

Gentians

Naked, I hold my finger to my lips,
eyes wide, the field green and rising
behind me. No horizon, though the air
is honey-lit, wine-lit. Somewhere,
a hive, busy with the tremulous work of bees.
Amid the matted hair of my chest
and the root of my sex,
purple flowers with sea-green leaves
begin to bud, massing where the hair is massed.
And from these, gentians spread across the field,
as the bees work in a peaceful drone
while I keep my finger to my lips,
having dreamed this through those long years
I had nothing to say.

 

* all poems from Figured Dark, University of Arkansas Press, 2007.

Poems of the Week – Katie Peterson

8 May

THREE POEMS BY KATIE PETERSON

 

Creation from Chaos

In the great river gorges
a misguided bird

breaks the egg of the world
unceremoniously,

unclear whether eating
or hatching is in order.

The trees so full of gibbons
no flying thing can nest.

And the gibbons will not rest.
Screechings accumulate

like round peelings
of bark, seasonal and shed.

Everyone desperately present.
The accident begins.

 

Twilight Adam

A light breeze,
the sound of coinage.

How did things
get this way,

arranged, particular?
Who placed the lavender

in this one window,
scented across

what was once perfect,
trio of trees?

I don’t believe
in gut feelings,

don’t believe that
we are likenesses.

My hands grow raw,
writing this–

 

The World

No one took care of it: it wintered.
Then you wake up, someone gives you whatever,
whatever,
pink trees in your head,
silence, silence is the shape of your head.

You wake. The Yard. A distinct world.
Not wintering, no. Shoes left out.
Someone approaches, his shyness
like a more forthright self beside his self.

As if redemption could be deliberate.
He seeks redemption, deliberate.
And you seek music, like a motion writ,
like a motion writ in the trees.

You can remember nothing.
A conversation as the house grows dark.
Agreement with your hands.
Agreement. Neglect of the trees.

 

* all poems from This One Tree, New Issues, 2006.

Poems of the Week – Alissa Valles

3 Apr

THREE POEMS BY ALISSA VALLES

 

In the North (Westerbork)

Winter came and went, spreading its iron grain;
the earth the color of ash, trees the color of bone.

In an interval between wars, spring and summer
passed, color advertisements for another country.

At a place where trains departed every Tuesday
a stick probes the exhausted mouth of morning;

the North shaves and washes in its cold mirror,
a wakeful child in a house deserted by the elders.

In icy furrows a thin wind is rubbing its face raw.
On a branch an oriole is punishing its one vowel.

 

Knife

From a plush seat in this restaurant
I see it grinning at me like a dandy,
its smooth surface distracting nicely
from the low direction of its thoughts.

As I am talking blandly to my party
it lies between us, a great authority,
an officer in plain clothes, a loose
prosthesis, toy of a tyrannical child.

It has the cunning of a desperado.
Sister, put a chair against the door.
It has the style and charm of a spy.
Waiter, did you see that man arrive?

Hold it not like a gear shift, or a pen.
Hold it so that it doesn’t cast a shadow.
Before they carry out a steaming lamb
I’ve got a taste of metal in my mouth.

 

Relics of Cluny

Petrified cross;
a child points:
papa il est laid

indulgences sell;
an image stirs
in a letter’s walls

A white hand grows
in a field of rabbits,
Mantegna’s garden

But no agony here
No, there’s nothing
on sin’s menu for her

the weight of a beast’s
hoof in her lap
gold standard of virtue

The lion has nothing
to do – she holds
the banner herself

Outside French girls
sit under cumulus
clouds of irony

an old Algerian
polishes a pair
of doll’s shoes

an old woman
sits down nearby
asks for a cigarette

she smokes it
holding my hand
fondles the warning

a man in a suit
books a cremation
on a mobile phone

the head waiter
weighs evidence,
sits in judgment

 

* all poems from Orphan Fire, Four Way Books, 2008.

Poems of the Week – Frederick Seidel

6 Mar

THREE POEMS BY FREDERICK SEIDEL

 

Fog

I spend most of my time not dying.
That’s what living is for.
I climb on a motorcycle.
I climb on a cloud and rain.
I climb on a woman I love.
I repeat my themes.

Here I am in Bologna again.
Here I go again.
Here I go again, getting happier and happier.
I climb on a log
Torpedoing toward the falls.
Basically, it sticks out of me.

At the factory,
The racer being made for me
Is not ready, but is getting deadly.
I am here to see it being born.
It is snowing in Milan, the TV says.
They close one airport, then both.

The Lord is my shepherd and the Director of Superbike Racing.
He buzzes me through three layers of security
To the innermost secret sanctum of the racing department
Where I will breathe my last.
Trains are delayed.
The Florence sky is falling snow.

Tonight Bologna is fog.
This afternoon, there it was,
With all the mechanics who are making it around it.
It stood on a sort of altar.
I stood in a sort of fog,
Taking digital photographs of my death.

 

A Fresh Stick of Chewing Gum

A pink stick of gum unwrapped from the foil,
That you hold between your fingers on the way home from dance class,
And you look at its pink. But you know what.
I like your brain. Your pink. It’s sweet.

My brain is the wrinkles of the ocean on a ball of tar
Instead of being sweet pink like yours.
It could be the nicotine. It could be the Johnnie Walker Black.
Mine thought too many cigarettes for too many years.

My brain is the size of the largest living thing, mais ous, a blue wale,
Blue instead of pink like yours.
It’s what I’ve done
To make it huge that made it huge.

The violent sweetness in the air is the pink rain
Which continues achingly almost to fall.
This is the closest it has come.
This can’t go on.

Twenty-six years old is not childhood.
You are not trying to stop smoking.
You smoke and drink
And still it is pink.

The answer is you can drink and smoke
Too much at twenty-six,
And stink of cigarettes,
And stand outside on the sidewalk outside the bar to have a cigarette,

As the law now requires, and it is paradise,
And be the most beautiful girl in the world,
And be moral,
And vibrate into blank.

 

The Owl You Heard

The owl you heard hooting
In the middle of the night wasn’t me.
It was an owl.
Or maybe you were
So asleep you didn’t even here it.
The sprinklers on their timer, programmed to come on
At such a strangely late hour in life
For watering a garden,
Refreshed your sleep four thousand miles away by
Hissing sweetly,
Deepening the smell of green in Eden.
You heard the summer chirr of insects.
You heard a sky of stars.
You didn’t know it, fast asleep at dawn in Paris.
You didn’t hear a thing.
You heard me calling.
I am no longer human.

 

* all poems from Ooga-Booga, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2006.

Poems of the Week – Noah Eli Gordon

20 Dec

THREE POEMS BY NOAH ELI GORDON

 

A point of view apart from a personal embrace

watching the unfolding of an envelope

a red thread from a felt purse

landscape pulled in increments

or another anchor to architecture love

to the voice-over of someone older

if this desire for narrative outweighed

our willingness to concede an end

 

A due measure of duration

already dusk bringing a different feeling

to the scuttle of leaves, billboards outlining the city

outliving directives in a little book of prayers

a cue to place the pencil down & wait

for the refrain to repeat itself

somehow we sustain history

one hand making a fist, two a steeple

 

Simple as a wall painted blue

scaled from sovereignty to ethos

the logic of a button worn from overuse

I’d change my shirt to say “story of the day”

like a coin that previously fit the slot no longer deserving

another city’s disorder or the bird’s moronic circles

evolving a gentle etymology of sky

memory comes to sister the missing handles

 

* all poems from A Fiddle Pulled from the Throat of a Sparrow, New Issues, 2007.

Poems of the Week – Jonathan Johnson

7 Nov

THREE POEMS BY JONATHAN JOHNSON

 

Thirty

Give me a moment, sun gone to shapeless
cloud at evening and wall of trees where field
is done and the unspeakable questions begin,
birch, oak, beech, poplar, hemlock, black bark spruce,
fence of wrought iron companions and stone block
corners, stone, grass, leaves, and tear the moment
down the middle. A mower has shaved the lawn.
Thin, tip broken sabres of grass are softer
than air, by which I mean absence, and cold.
Tear the moment open, the sentence of
your life falling in two, a space wood ducks
on the pond swim into. One Moment. One.
And another. Incidentally, a Jeep
Cherokee is parked on the mini-road,
feet from headstones, owners absent since before
I got here. It’s a Grand. Gold trimmed forest.
Green of starting over, a deeper green
than the new grass growing from the cut ends
of the old. Don’t give it another thought.

 

In Season

We hunt from horseback, down on side
of the ravine and up the other. The fact
is wounded. We see her blood on the snow,
but don’t know which of us got off
the good shot; we all fired pell-mell
when we saw her step clear from the confusion
of spruce and deadfall shadow and spot us.
Our horses are good hunting horses and
don’t spook at the rifle report over their ears
or the smell of Fact blood up their nostrils.
We got the horses, high hats, and spurs on loan,
part of a package that includes the Fact stuffed
and mounted in a predatory, hunched-shoulder
pose, Fact ribs, round, and sausage
in a FedEx cooler home before us as we toast
the hunt and toss our Marlburo butts
into a rock-rimmed fire. Or, the Fact
will give us the slip. It’s wild country,
the Fact’s home range, after all.
What do we know? The fact may be healing
already, then hit a mere graze. Looking
from this ridge across vertebrae of mountains,
it’s easy to believe that Fact is far out there
and has perhaps rejoined her pack of Facts
to run free as inside her new young grow
strong and as yet both blind and unseen.

 

Red like Rust

One example of communication
is when truckers flick their lights off and on

so passing truckers know it’s safe to slide
back into the right lane. See what I mean. Stand

in Dakota fields, watching from the dark.
Stir your fire for the lift and swirl of sparks.

Time is an abundant commodity
when considered collectively, beauty

in rivets in a steel hull at sea.
Turned table legs of blood red mahogany,

inches into miles of asphalt tell
how human hours were lived, lives spent, fuel

for the blaze all names become. Circle the wreck
you’re pulled from and believe what you suspect.

The jaws of the jaws of life are built in. Go home.
There the park deer are plump and eat from your hand.

Lie down on the rocks of the river beach
and let your fists uncurl. Practice dying

in this way, spruce rising, like arrows
shot through your body, the copper sound of swallows

and shallow water running fast over sandstone
cracking your heart which had turned against you.

Would you have a woman touch your sun warmed face?
Don’t count on her. But here, count on here.

 

* all poems from Mastodon, 80% Complete, Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2001.

Poems of the Week – Molly Brodak

11 Oct

THREE POEMS BY MOLLY BRODAK

 

Whoever Said Hell Is Not Beautiful

The doorknob was not hot.

If death meant

framelessness in landscape,

then I must’ve closed my eyes

at the next alarming vista–

moving towards the gigantic

until I became as small as I needed.

I felt for the edge

& left everyone.

The devil was a man taking bets

while his wife lived alone in bed.

Their trees grew aggressive

on the grade. We shouldered through

the abandoned bodies, made of crime–

bent to fan the gill of a fetus.

He said we couldn’t be human

until we grew something opposable.

Down here you can walk way back

to that black vent in a Cambrian sea

and the thing at the lip

that wanted and tried.

 

Niger Lullaby

Night comes,
icky baby,
born under the four coins–

on our reed raft,
even the good storm
moves off.

So the heart’s room is black.
Listen, cloud curls, even
grackles bear a gold mouth:

they say stay in dreams
born on a sickbed
,
o night beach–

bring your flame
under black burlap
,
no matter what.

 

Midwest Wilderness

Over the interior sea a fields grew,
patchy snake grass, cold path:

drowsy quartz gravel muttered some,
warned me against the bad old future

as the sky cooled behind the elms
& the dogs went jewely eyed, rubyish, sapphiric.

I met a former friend at some distance.
she put on her hat like if you’re different

then I am too. I forgot her lake-wave hair,
and frowned out I’m not lonely either.

While wind burned from the inside
and cats weaved around, homelesssly,

I saw or thought I saw,
which is the same thing,

outer space, only a few miles away,
close and vast, spreading apart,

in the arbitrary palette of Uccello:
those corals, olive, aquamarine, chrome,

ecstasy in any direction. Black self, white self
lead the way into clouds stony & unreal–

a mourning dove blinked a sky blue eyelid
over the black pupil, the good wound.

 

* all poems from A Little Middle of the Night, University of Iowa Press, 2010.