“Distance” by Mary Ann Samyn from ROOMS BY THE SEA. Wick Poetry Chapbook Series, 1994.
“Manuscripts for the Wick Poetry Chapbook Series are selected through an open competition of Ohio Poets and through a competition for students enrolled in Ohio universities.” More information on the Kent State University Press and the Wick Poetry Chapbook Series can be found here.
By Leila Chatti
I like how easily I see
through you. There,
the slumbering bulb
of your heart
between the dead-branch-
thicket of your ribs.
Your fingers spindles
of air, slightly blue around
each tip. All
day I feel their cold
constant touch. You are heavier
than I thought; you cast long shadows
in the dark. I want to spend all night
talking into your silence.
In bed, you curl your whole nothing
against me, arm at my waist
my arm, breath on
my neck, my breath.
* poem from decomP, August 2014 (http://www.decompmagazine.com/ghost.htm)
THINGS THAT ARE MUFFLED OPEN
By Kristin Abraham
the stones tipping off our shoes, the snow.
Each second small and aspirin-flavored,
the learning of childhood. May I sit? May I
stand? Look both ways, please & thank you.
(Curtsy to the crowd.) (Pause for applause.)
May I sit? The world is gathering itself up
to answer, making hesitant check-marks.
May I stand? Lists of hurt already long
enough. Long enough, the world begins,
begins a sigh. So we’re looking at the
cracks in the lampshade. Looking for
the yellow to come through, where there’s biology: electricity: math, meaning
the more we touch it, the more it spreads.
Like menthol, heat rash. The louder it gets.
Stand back; I’m going to need that air.
(Photo by: Chad Forbregd)
GOOD NEWS BAD NEWS
By Bruce Taylor
Nothing’s what it used or ought to be:
always too much of this, never enough
of that, only a drop left to drink,
no one to drink it with. Everything is
a miracle, or the miracle fades,
the glory of the world goes or goes on
without us, as far as we know, which is
little or nothing, chosen, as we are, or
exempted, delivered or abandoned we won’t
know until it happens, if it happens at all.
*poem from Rattle #41, Summer 2014
By Byron Case
To find for yourself, at this late stage,
something like joy. To tease up her skirts,
a dirty old man. To moisten your fingers almost
jubilantly. To touch and be stirred, even a little.
To be content with this. Why not? Near-joy knows you well
enough. You’ve flirted with her all your life: the cream
sodas on hot afternoons, the colorfully wrapped birthday gifts
given and received, the sodden aftermaths of school dances,
the jokes well told, the long aimless drives in September.
She spreads herself wide through these.
Back when you still had all your hair, when you
didn’t buy E.D. treatments on the Internet,
you had no idea that joy wouldn’t give it over,
that she was saving herself for someone else.
She withheld, so you drunk-dialed the one who came
in that sorry dress six years hopelessly past fashion,
and you did what you did and liked it.
And that was okay, like now. But now
it’s better because you know and can smile
minutely that she’s what you’ve got, sure thing.
*poem from Rattle #43, Spring 2014
By Charles Rafferty
The girl who kissed me first never kissed me again. It’s as if I spat her out across the years, farther and farther, until the taste of her disappeared, until she was reduced to black ink on an ivory page. More and more things are ending up this way: mountain ranges, the cosmos of swamp water, the wind as it rolls across ripening hay—all of it rendered in a tiny font that shivers like ants beneath your breath, leaving the worm exposed.
*poem from Rattle #46, Winter 2014
(Photo by: Madison Blue)
A MAN ON THE SUBWAY
By Anele Rubin
A man on the subway is wearing a t-shirt
with New York City Mental Institute
stenciled on the front.
For a moment I think it’s real.
Then I realize it’s supposed to be funny.
Ha, ha, asshole, I say.
He is smugly reading his paper.
I am so tired of being sad.
*poem from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
It Can Feel Amazing to Be Targeted By a Narcissist
By Angela Veronica Wong & Amy Lawless
Let’s just see if it fits, and your voice blurred, your hand brushing away mine, me laughing because seriously who says that? I flashed out of my body picturing you saying this to other girls, and laughed again. Those are words that can only be said late at night in an outer borough, while Manhattan glitters in rows of mocking unison from over the bridge. Those are the moments when I think how did I get here followed shortly by okay whatever, like now, sitting in the park, watching couples strolling hand-in-hand. Once I made you cupcakes. In the morning before I left, I arranged them on a plate and left them on your kitchen table. Don’t worry, you weren’t the first one I’ve done that for. I’ll just think of the whole thing as a stretching exercise.
*poem from The Best American Poetry 2013, Scribner Poetry, 2013
By Anne Marie Rooney
It was July. It was my birthday. I
was still drinking then. I went with the men
to a lake with no clothing on. The men
who for a year I’d loved hardly and I
walked to the water. All that love hurt my I-
can’t-say-what. My hands knew nothing but men
that year. In snow I stand out. Every man
I’ve ever seen has seen me back. My eyes
sweat from it. Though from there the summer breaks
off, it felt sharp and bright through the last hour,
like glass fired to grow before it breaks
against its own heat. It’s soft, and then it breaks,
and, seeing itself, shifts light. For our
trouble, we were cold and wet for an hour.
*poem from Spitshine, Carnegie Mellon Poetry Series, 2012
There’s Grass Somewhere,
But I Don’t Know How to Find It
And if I’m wrong, what blue pulse
would darken? For years I went not knowing
why I spoke to water, why my fork stitched lace
over every plate. What thing did you water
to make me love like a socket? I do knit bricks
around my stomach, a stray licking itself sour.
As a child I lived like a crumb beneath the cushion,
now I wear pity like a dinner napkin. There are people
in this room who don’t want me.
I know them.
I must have been a girl someone spoke to—I knew
each word left the mouth. You’re sure I love
for the utility, but show me an oven who doesn’t
love her baker. Believe me. My first love was yellow
gloves my mother wore to wash dishes. Please, I won’t ever
be this young again. My mother still calls to say she made
my bed, each month she airs dust off the linen.
She lasts like breath in a stone lung,
but I could live one day, if or when
I’m ready to.
*poem from Stop Wanting, Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2014
FOURTH OF JULY
Sometime, said the paper queen, you will cease to be loved.
Maybe you will be lucky
and a kind witch will tell you why. It’s probably your personality,
for example. You will not understand your pain,
which is shaped like a windmill and moves
by the tug of a horrible moon
but you may learn to live with it, or forget it
for longer and longer stretches.
In this case, the story must rest
on my profound endurance.
What a long time I have gone on! Even after the baby dropped
and happiness has proven itself to parts of the world
like glow on a map of electric consumption,
a country of darkness
run with glitter.
I want to kill
you, with my glittering heart.
I can never stop
until I do.
But I am small.
Maybe, said vole, you are too small.
Maybe, said the naked mole, you will have to give up or somehow
eat it from the inside.
There are other things to think about, said the princess
in a dress made of leaves, such as art. Where is your worm gun?
Let freedom sprout. Show me how you love.
Spangled one, how precarious and plump you look
perched on a white fence. Happiness, said the paper
beggar, who is really a god,
comes from within. Oh, how he hobbles! Look on, look on.
Here is richer than you. There are forces
much larger at work here,
humming about like godmothers.
I am small, I am small. Here comes the parade! All that beauty!
I want to die! I want to die!
I want to die!
* from Butcher’s Tree, Black Ocean, 2012.