Poems of the Week



On a Thursday Afternoon of His Life

my brother-in-law wrote a letter he never mailed.
In it he explained what a dog smells when it smells fear.
He described what he saw when he saw blue.
He mentioned a moment that afternoon:
he was alone in the house,
somewhere not too far off was the rumble of heavy equipment,
then he heard his name pronounced by a familiar voice he’d never heard before.
He gave two options for how things would turn out
and wrote “one or the other.”
He noticed how “or the” was almost “other.”
He mentioned that in the next line of the letter.
Why am I telling you this he wondered next.
He said Friday was his favorite evening, in the fall, the team just taking the field.
He knew he would not mail the letter but wrote it out long-hand with the pen he kept by the phone for taking messages.
The letter will be found years from now in the back a drawer that contains a hinge and a set of brass keys to doors that are long gone or I should say now always open.
The closing was good something, the last word smudged,
good luck? goodbye? good something, good.


Introduction to my Latest Effort

I wrote the next poem I’m going to read this
morning on a plane
I’m not sure it’s very good
but I kind of like it and I thought I’d share
my latest effort with you.
Would you like to hear it?
I think it’s going to be the first in a series
of poems about emergency exits
because I was sitting in the emergency exit row
and the flight attendant came around and asked me
if I was willing to assist in the event of an emergency.
I was tired and didn’t hear him
correctly and I thought he had asked if we were willing to exist
in the event of an emergency.
Which startled me because sometimes
I have suicidal thoughts and I must have looked
alarmed because he asked me if I knew
how to speak English and if I wanted to be moved.
I told him I thought he had asked me if
I was willing to exist and he laughed and said,
Oh sir, we assume the answer to that question is yes.


Bell Tower

Now that my heart is about ready,
who are all those gracile creatures
moving smooth as air around me
while I rest on my assistant, the stair railing?
I’m thankful not to know a one of them
and interrupt their neon-darting need
for somewhere else to vanish in.
I could almost disappear right here.
The one who I would talk to is ahead,
not because he’s hurrying,
that’s just how things work out
like his cheap, cement Buddha
achieving perfection losing its eyes and nose
in nothing unusual sun and snow.
He’s not moving either.
Me, him, and sleep that’s inside everything
like a tree’s shadow in the tree at night,
happiest night
while the crickets won’t let go.


In another life I was always drunker.
Planted bulbs. Liked how my arms felt.
My friend, when he talked about heaven
seemed to have nothing wrong with him.
The gravy came out. Jim would let the water run
the whole time he did the dishes
when it wasn’t his turn to dance the baby
and the stars felt their way through the lilacs
or frost whatever holiday.

I don’t know the eternal.
Don’t even feel kindly toward it.

The champagne I bought was so-so
but it was still champagne and lots of it.

You don’t have to do anything
to deserve sleep.


Inside every one of us is a staircase.
I have seen my love turn and look
down to me then continue her climb.
The smoke in her hair will keep finding me
until the world is all smoke.


I don’t know, something will carry me forward.
Drift of snow, hummingbird,
a baby’s birthday balloon.
I can’t think of my kitten now
rubbing his face against mine,
not while I’m trying to get out the door.
Every day is spring.
Lilacs, come fetch me.
Lacewings too.
Every day is winter.
We make no sound over pine needles.


all from New Ohio Review (nor) 8: Fall 2010, Ed. Jill Allyn Rosser

Poems of the Week



The Program


For starters,
there was twitch

or “shimmer,”

a resounding
“Let me out of here!”
which still echoes.

This made for “one

and for binding
one another
into orbits.


We walk through,

a haze of predilections
into facts:

purses, hats.

We mention
“the inevitable.”

identifies with the
serial killer.


A Day Without a Date

The foggy entrances, the stone-
Cold awakenings, the sea is shiny
And green. We had a contract
In the other world, shiny green
And blue, now it’s solitaire
And another memory and another.
What a child you were, with a fondness
For the truth, the sunflowers,
The daisies, the skein of yarn
At the cat’s feet, the background
Pulling at you, red and black.
Now I wander around like a derelict
In a dirty parka, you you you
Around my neck, on my finger,
Inside me, always inside me.
To say I love you is to say
That the wind loves the rock
And the sea reveals itself timelessly,
And that I am very very tired
But not asleep, love, I am not asleep.


Les Blessures Graves

My blood type is:
paper white,
a trill warble,
a new leaf.
The nurse
cuts my clothes off.

Enfin, my arms:
swing unhinged,
go soft like peaches,
can’t hold a needle.
You won’t be

to remember, or
to sign here.
The nurse can catch
those gauzy cottonwood
seeds for you—don’t move so.
She asks:
what shall I wish?



He sang orchid &
it opened
yellow lion-headed


I warned him but
he laughed
what teeth

put his fingertip



Wheat Field with Crows
(after Van Gogh)

The crows swim
in dense brushstrokes of sky.

Waves flatten them
to dark facsimiles of waves.

They rest on, are pressed on, arcs
whose shapes their bodies take.

Their metal cools in a mold
that will not crack.

Below them, wheat breaks
toward a different shore. It sways,

snakes upward, but is held down.
The thickness persists.

A path creeps deep
into the wheat, then drowns.


all from The Laurel Review 41.1 (2007), Eds. Rebecca Aronson and John Gallaher

Poems of the Week



The Sun Is Shining Above Europe

I’m still walking on damp sand
flat-footedly pressing upon the history

of the sea. Clouds are shedding from my body.
The day already fuller than usual

and the light lets its petals
fall all over your neck.

Previously I saw people carrying
thick bouquets of leeks, big as a meter.

Now the cold is spilling over the city
and outside on the doorknob

hangs a bag with two leeks,
upright and more ordinary in size,

while on the shellfish ever less visible
pearls are forming—toward the end of the year

everything returns to its usual routine.
Neglected thoughts are arching

through me, the city walking on me,
wrapped in a woman’s hair for a scarf.

I’d forgotten everything about this poem.
At times, the hand that softly holds us

suspended in air, shakes us like salt.
Of all the lives I don’t live, this one

is the best.

Translated from Slovenian by Laura Soloman and the author


Carousel, Ten Days after His Third Transfusion

I watch the horse
my son is riding
glide into gallop. Forward,

around: the proud, cratered
nose, serrated mane,
coat like black water.

Up! Down! my son calls, giddy,
holding the stake
driven through its body.


Verge of Summer

All I wanted to say was something

about you, the pears—or were they plums—left
out on the table—and reading this again

always recalls Cezanne, his world always
tilting toward landscape

each thing in it a visual event existing
at all times, there—the morning’s gray

lifting, and rising I would have seen you

asleep, your hair floating across pillows

and think of which flower—asphodel

is it, or tulips still closed against
the night’s coolness

under the cherry tree’s greening
fruit, and what was that music we heard

then, reminding me always of you, like the flowers
and fruit, asleep before

I step out, and down
stairs, to feed the cats, that swirl down

the stairs, the world still

verdant—there are words I still love
as we all must

perhaps, like verge of summer
coming new

as never before, each time

knowing there will be one less


Extinction Event

To burst in your mind with costly grace.

To mass in your faceted syllables.

The arrested movement of time; hours
in clusters, overripe.

Hours, like broken offshoots,
flourishing as they can;

possibilities in sleeves of limitation.
Whorled taut, each brittle

node to a flushed
bud, last needles

embossed in clay.
That we break

from your tongue
and now tease ash,

stitches of a titian


all from Crazy Horse 78 (2010), Ed. Garrett Doherty

Poems of the Week


The Oversized World

There is always time to choose new curtains. What to
keep: a lightbulb the size of the city, a tank bent on

reconstruction, pilots and bubbles, sixty-one ways
to evacuate a twin with a twin with more twins in it..

Imaginary babies ask for organic juice and whole milk.
I wait for each day to be over. I am the breaker of

interrogations. Remember: everything is a test. See
who protects you now, gardener of leaves, leaver of

sleeves, creator of estate jewelry and actual sizes. If you
remember, everything looks like it should be in motion.

Out-of-step, following inconstant signals and misfired
fires onto pages made of ham. The oversized world

passes its scream-test. The oversized world pulls out
its knife, but only for show. It’s like your bones died two

weeks before you did. People are saved when no one
notices they are there. Think how things shrink from

cold. Not just things, but things. We are retreating
from the touch of a hand equally unsure, hypnosis, its

static, its stasis, its desire to be drawn, to be filled-in.
Something will be built, bulleted, discussed, danced

a light two-step through, the naked, the pale, the
please stay here, the one who prefers to be with me.

It’s like taking down glass from a window. The
blessings have been blocked. The men stand around,

talking lawsuits out of their necks’ creases,
saying, Here, baby, let me do something for you.

I Love How Your Eyes Close Every Time You Kiss Me

You are alone and you are easy. You see
the history of your life and lineage in your
mitochondrial genes, cells, confirming what
we suspected: bottleneck, enlargement, plague,
vulcanologists from everywhere, studying the
site, thinking aren’t you a cute disease. The
music is so loud you blink every time there is
a drum. Yes, best we heirloom quietly, for we
are powerful weak. Overcoat, spread your wings.
Almost a legend, knots laced with passed-over
glass, daddies in pastel suits next to the only
surviving witness from a life best spent in big years,
dreaming of sliding on your belly. Tough night,
wet ink, loose seams. There is plenty of time for
nothing and you should volunteer for it. Time allotted
is never enough. Roll over and tell me you’re a
sofa, backboned by an old quilt, tied to the notion
of design, of pattern, of words so staccato they bang
like rats atop the roofs of government embassies,
that is, without regard for what those below will
try to assume you are: harmless and preoccupied,
known through your gestures to be true.
The ropey cuisine of another planet awaits you
tonight, something freeze-dried and wet
just for you, and molded into whatever you
want: lids and caps, some beans or rice, coelacanth,
but the remains will leave their fossils
on your plate. Memory is like this, patterns
already laid out across neurons and blisters,
each occasion which follows will fit
into that shape, even sans arms or eyelashes,
rendered sharp-tongued with bad desire.

Like a Face

Any tale of spontaneous human combustion
must take place in the South. History’s wagon carries
me in its horrible mouth of an entryway. An arrow
relies on less, taste this, rising from the swollen
finger raised to measure air’s currents.
The girl allergic to water battles for aquagenics.
Sweat, blood, saliva and tears blister her skin.
She bends her head for the most dangerous of kisses.
She drinks whole milk and is allergic to her
own body. She will dream of swimming and touching
snow. Her lips feel as close and sharp as razors, the light
explodes, and you surrender your addiction to No-Doz.
Something in breath dies slowly, a fern, a stilted horseman,
a moon seen in daytime, or this harvest gone rotten badly.
How long will you stay in this mess, waiting to learn
when to duck, when it’s safe to run: a plate of eyelashes,
a walk on water, nothing more. Loving days.
A maze with no entrance, and we strain to see
it anyhow. I find myself on the wrong side of your
affections, afflictions, you say, and suddenly these are
sidelines. I tell stories so often, I don’t remember the event,
signs written in languages I never learned to read.
What I told you made no difference, lighthouse, philosopher,
my sleep. Oh, but it trickles down the side of
a bed I never meant to lie in. Say something
about the state of dedication. What I wish for you
is nothing but fraud and petulance, camphor in
your proceedings, a brick in your mailbox, a wicked
bitter woman stealing your truck. I hope you can
believe this is not about you. You wake up
to find you’ve been tying your shoes with a dead man’s
hand. You try to build a fire beneath a chimney
with no flue.


“I Love How Your Eyes Close Every Time You Kiss Me” and “Like a Face,” from Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century, Sarabonde Books: 2006.

“The Oversized World” from The Iowa Review: click here to view

Announcing the Winner and Runners-Up of the 2011 42 Miles Press Poetry Contest

Erica Bernheim, of Lakeland, Florida, has won the 42 Miles Press Poetry Prize for her manuscript, The Mimic Sea. The award includes a $1,000 prize and publication by 42 Miles Press, as well as a future reading at Indiana University South Bend upon publication. Her work has appeared in such places as The Canary, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, The Iowa Review, Barn Owl Review and 26.

We anticipate publication in Fall, 2012.

The runners-up for the 2011 42 Miles Press Poetry Award are

Christopher Bursk, Happiness Anonymous, first runner-up
Cori A. Winrock, Anti-Portrait at Flashback, second runner-up
Emily Toder, The Actualities Came to Visit Me, third runner-up
Frank Montesonti, Quick Study in Unhappiness, fourth runner-up

A snapshot from The Mimic Sea:


Entryway, the man in the doorway
murmured, or maybe it was incubator,
what you’d call those willing to hold
sixty-two hummingbirds, none bigger
than the common marshmallow, unmelted,

apodiformes, never meant to walk or to rest.

Consider: resting hummingbirds riding
raindrops to gramophones, heralding
concepts like sullenly perfumed lovers
from beyond the pale. Sideways, they
revise their patterns and pray for light.

*part one of the poem, “A Dissimulation of Hummingbirds,” published previously in Canarium One, 2008

Finalists for the 2011 42 Miles Press Poetry Contest

Here is the list of semi-finalists and finalists for the 2011 Contest:

Laurel Bastian – Rapacity
Erica Bernheim – The Mimic Sea
Christopher Bursk – Happiness Anonymous
Joshua Corey – The Nature Theater of Oklahoma: A Singspiel
Todd Fredson – The Crucifix-Blocks
Stuart Friebert – Floating Heart
Henrietta Goodman – Hungry Moon
Erin Malone – Hover
Frank Montesonti – Quick Study in Unhappiness
Mary Quade – Local Extinctions
Kirk Robinson – The Classics, and Other Close Calls
Tim Skeen – Six Coefficients of Friction
Emily Toder – The Actualities Came to Visit Me
Cori A. Winrock – Anti-Portrait at Flashback

Rebecca Aronson – Understory
Judith Azrael – Twelve Black Horses
Ansie Baird – Strategies for an Enclosed Space
Tina Barr – Kaleidoscope
Anne Caston – The Empress of Longing
Dion N. Farquhar – Wonderful Terrible
Mary Flanagan – The Myth of Continents
Les Gottesman – Just Ask and Other Poems
William Greenway – Self-Deliverance
John Wesley Horton – A New World Where We Could Stand To Live
Amy King – The Biennale Book
Donald Levering – The Dog of the Apocalypse
M. Loncar – but i’m not a dick (i’m a reporter)
Richard Lyons – Living Time
Amy McNamara – the new head chronometrist
Eric Rawson – Dead-End Bridge
Cedric Tillman – Lily in the Valley
Cody Todd – Portraits and Motion
Sasha West – The Immaculate Conception of Loneliness

Poems of the Week



The Doppelgänger in the Museum of Subtitles

Here we all have small voices. We trail our slight hands
over the polished bones of diacritical marks
couched in their reliquaries.
Umlauts freeze in mid-leap behind glass.
The high, vaulted ceilings are help up by exclamation points
with the emphasis just! a bit off.
In the drab corridors, there you feel Finnish.
Your packed lunch anchored with smoked herring,
your thermos brimming with dolorous consommé.
We are ponderous, our sentences run
their stock quotes of the human soul
across our floating ribs:
Soren, I have forded the Danube to bring you these biscuits!
The colonials were thrown off balance
by our tweed coats, and we overbore them.
Keiko, she was eaten by her pet crane and no more
will come
. Our disasters are quaint,
our expressions almost our words, conscripts
paid with italics after a long march
through hinterlands
filled with hostile tinkers.
When the cherry trees are in bloom,
we will realize the stevedores
have been unkind. We bury the hornpipe
out back, and the burning snapshot of our silent uncle
gives off a monochrome smoke
reeking of oysters and gin. We watch our phrases
mate in block script, far behind
our bodies, our deprived faces
hungry for subtext as we stare across
the cold Volga at the broken handcart
pressed down into the mud
by its load of gendered turnips.


Camera Lucida

From this angle you’ve a rooster on your shoulder
A blue, cotton-polyester-blend sea, cocksure
At necktide, and my chest is a rookery
I’m all aflutter over your ears I’m sure are windows to something
Dark and beyond comprehending
I stub my toe. I bleed for months
It can get so foggy in our bathroom. Sometimes
I think we must be very old souls, or else very young ones
You were very young when you planted that sapling in my ribcage
Now its roots are so well-integrated
They’re indistinguishable from my nervous system
And I drink with my feet, now
Wish desperately that you would hang a tire swing from my arm
And in my left buttcheek carve the initials
Of some young, beautiful-in-love people inside a heart
So that I could not verify but have to trust you that they were there
Across plus signs from one another
From this angle your forehead is large and reflective
And your body looks so far away
Which makes me think that we are very very medium-aged
Souls, or very tall children, or else ghosts
Of very tall children


My Wedding

Mother had a path for cows to walk before their slaughter.
I’m a pick to play the lute of mother.

Attendant, tell me your name.
A frosted bouquet? My mother,
with fronds?

I made the meat of me. I asked it to come to this.

To the holy. I took a nap as safe as a star.

A fish in a bucket catches the light of the sun,
my monk shimmers like that. My body fell on him.

And I said thank you
for my real name.



I gave you a flower and began to pull out
its petals
from the gales of groundwater
from the marsh slime
to the light, and the flower screamed,

blossoms leaves stems roots
were cracking and growing
and no one could see who’d won
that battle of the flower, and the flower screamed

when I wanted to drink,
in the morning it stood between me
and the window
devoured the light
and in the sudden darkness under its leaves
I saw
hordes of little pale creatures
eyeless, bloodless
feeding on silence and blackness
the servants who died
of their gifts

translated from the Czech by the author, Stuart Friebert


all from Pleiades 31.2 (2011), Eds. Wayne Miller and Phong Nguyen

Announcing Finalists for the 2011 42 Miles Press Poetry Contest

Here is the list of both finalists and semi-finalists for this year’s 42 Miles Press Poetry Contest.

Keep in touch here for further updates. This list will be updated to distinguish between finalists and semi-finalists on July 1.

We also expect to announce the winner of the Contest before July 4.

2011 Finalists:
Rebecca Aronson – Understory
Judith Azrael – Twelve Black Horses
Ansie Baird – Strategies for an Enclosed Space
Tina Barr – Kaleidoscope
Laurel Bastian – Rapacity
Erica Bernheim – The Mimic Sea
Christopher Bursk – Happiness Anonymous
Anne Caston – The Empress of Longing
Joshua Corey – The Nature Theater of Oklahoma: A Singspiel
Dion N. Farquhar – Wonderful Terrible
Mary Flanagan – The Myth of Continents
Todd Fredson – The Crucifix-Blocks
Stuart Friebert – Floating Heart
Henrietta Goodman – Hungry Moon
Les Gottesman – Just Ask and Other Poems
William Greenway – Self-Deliverance
John Wesley Horton – A New World Where We Could Stand To Live
Amy King – The Biennale Book
Donald Levering – The Dog of the Apocalypse
M. Loncar – but i’m not a dick (i’m a reporter)
Richard Lyons – Living Time
Erin Malone – Hover
Amy McNamara – the new head chronometrist
Frank Montesonti – Quick Study in Unhappiness
Mary Quade – Local Extinctions
Eric Rawson – Dead-End Bridge
Kirk Robinson – The Classics, and Other Close Calls
Tim Skeen – Six Coefficients of Friction
Cedric Tillman – Lily in the Valley
Cody Todd – Portraits and Motion
Emily Toder – The Actualities Came to Visit Me
Sasha West – The Immaculate Conception of Loneliness
Cori A. Winrock – Anti-Portrait at Flashback

Poems of the Week



Aspirin and Shadow

Moon I swallow at dawn
to unsludge the blood,
haul it along: clump
of dust dissolving
that I might not
dissolve too soon

into this dust
I trudge across,
moonlight fashioning
a blackness I drag
behind me, long
blank flag of myself.


Elegy as a Red Dress

We open our red dresses
and underneath

you are gone. What

thousands of wingless
bees that

when true, are blue, that
no longer make

goods, that no longer

clearly, drunk baskets
of fuzz.


From Thought’s Divan

I came to a valley amid mountains where no valley was.
A wind full of gentle bells rushed through the soft grass.
Almond blossoms floated like foam on the rich darkness.
Above the high mountains bitter-cold air bit into crunching snow.
Behind them the moon strewed its light like sugar
over the blank mystery of the sea.

And peacefully
stuffed on its sumptuous beauty, I cursed

and ruminating
sprawled out on thought’s divan
conjured up the notion that behind the stars

the angels are waiting—the universe’s seamstresses in white—
who each with an arch smile and a quick scissor snip

rips the heart from the chest and throws it
high up and catches it
throws and catches
throws and catches
until it is weightless and floats away in the dark.

translated from the Danish by Roger Greenwald


Aubade, Iraq

Sulfur-mouthed nightcrier, rooftop
harbinger, bringer of the gut-shot

dawn—What I would do to keep you
at rifle’s reach, stifle you, drown you

in the Tigris’ muck and swill, touch you
aflame on its kerosene spine

I could wait out artillery skitter, crater-
blast, stay here long into next empire

dreaming fingers and the Fertile Crescent
of thighs—if not for your voice

risen like Babel’s ghost from the ruined fortress
Ash-haired rider come to tongue open

dawn’s torturous eye—


all from Pleiades 31.1 (2011), Eds. Wayne Miller and Phong Nguyen

Reading at Fiddler’s Hearth

On the third Sunday of this month, June 19th, 42 Miles Press’s Managing Editor, McKenzie Tozan, will be reading at Fiddler’s Hearth in the Hearthside Readers and Writers Series.

The featured writer for this month at Fiddler’s Hearth is Jennifer Stockdale.

The Hearthside Readers and Writers Series takes place at Fiddler’s Hearth on the third Sunday of every month, including a group of new writers and a different featured writer each time. Previous featured writers have included Monica Mody, Kelcey Parker and David Dodd Lee.

For more information on the Series, go to the Fiddler’s Hearth Special Events page.