Tag Archives: Poems of the Week

Poems of the Week – Raymond Carver

5 Jun



Woman Bathing

Naches River. Just below the falls.
Twenty miles from any town. A day
of dense sunlight
heavy with odors of love.
How long have we?
Already your body, sharpness of Picasso,
is drying in this highland air.
I towel down your back, your hips,
with my undershirt.
Time is a mountain lion.
We laugh at nothing,
and as I touch your breasts
even the ground-
are dazzled.


Sunday Night

Make use of the things around you.
This light rain
Outside the window, for one.
This cigarette between my fingers,
These feet on the couch.
The faint sound of rock-and-roll,
The red Ferrari in my head.
The woman bumping
Drunkenly around in the kitchen . . .
Put it all in,
Make use.


The Attic

Her brain is an attic where things
were stored over the years.

From time to time her face appears
in the little windows near the top of the house.

The sad face of someone who has been locked up
and forgotten about.


* all poems from New Path to the Waterfall, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989.


Poems of the Week – Graham Foust

29 May




Look at the sky, go
back inside. Cocaine
makes its way to Wisconsin.

The TV’s thick with burial, hilarious
with seed, and while the moon,
my mind, and the real world stay home,

I will walk walk
walk unkilled around
a new year’s clumsy gallows.

Anything’s impossible. I’m not
you. Here’s to music
to be in the movies to.


Iowa City

Compelled to pretend, I get
all elderly. As in beer was a quarter

and everyone would dance.

That boy is cutting buttons from
his jacket, sad miracle–that girl,

that one there, is collapsing a bird.

Graveyard. Graveyard.
Graveyard. Groceries.

I’m the only one on this bus.


To My Student Loans

A stanza, a stanza.
A room, a room, a room.

Suddenly unemployed
I wonder:

how much per sway
is the wind worth today
in these trees?

I know and will know
that there is only
ever money.

Birds are money.
Trees are money.

There are only ever breaks
in its remaining.



All the fish look shitty
on their ice today,
the fruit like a dull
pile of metal.

A dead bag commutes
between the street
and the trees.

The sky goes
every way.

I never find you.


* all poems from Necessary Stranger, Flood Editions, 2007.

Poems of the Week – Greg Rappleye

22 May



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.



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



Creation from Chaos

In the great river gorges
a misguided bird

breaks the egg of the world

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,
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 – Liam Rector

5 May


Liam Rector

I see Eliot banking his way towards work
in the underground tube,
see his clothes, his hair, how it all suited him.
A “subtle conformist,” Williams called him.
He sees currency moving in utter stillness–
I hear him saying It is not a problem to be solved
and living with it. In Boston
my best friend, my memory of him, measures
the Numorphan in the void
of his cleaned-again needle.
“It’s synthetic morphine,” he says. “Here they call it
new blues.” He draws the blood
up into the new blue, boots it a few times,
lets himself have it, then sinks back,         mated
for the night                     Mississippi still has
half moons
on the doors of its motels by the bay.

from The Sorrow of Architecture, Dragon Gate




Liam Rector

Dressed in an old coat I lumber
Down a street in the East Village, time itself

Whistling up my ass and looking to punish me
For all the undone business I have walked away from,

And I think I might have stayed
In that last tower by the ocean,

The one I built with my hands and furnished
Using funds that came to me at nightfall, in a windfall. . .

Just ahead of me, under the telephone wires
On this long lane of troubles, I notice a gathering

Of viciously insane criminals
I’ll have to pass

Getting to the end of this long block of eternity.
There’s nothing between us. Good

Thing I look so dangerous in this coat.

from American Prodigal, Storyline Press

Poems of the Week – Alissa Valles

3 Apr



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.



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 – Christopher DeWeese

13 Mar



The Wizard

Where is my wand?
The snow is getting thick
and I want a dome to live in.
Tricillian, I mean it when I tell you
all of this is evidence.
I mean it when I forget to mention
the evidence is against you.
I am sitting in the bedroom,
trying to wipe the sky clean
while watching this movie.
The stars are easiest,
then the planes, the clouds.
Green-light the owl incursion now!



Tusk, don’t leave me withered.
Spring, butter my skin.
All night, I’m rented out:
the somnambulist blues again.
All of this is dangerous.
The blankets. The compass.
What it means to be a hero
shifts inside me like an extinct wind.
Like some false god
put a fume within me and lit.
Shannon, I am so sorry every night
for whatever I have done
and for the certainty
with which I can’t remember it.



The thing about being dead is
you keep dying forever
in the spangled bones
of those freaks who
must have believed in you.
The fields are blindfolded
and the shadows are contagious.
The pastures keep wilting
because the night is conducting
a whispering campaign
in league with all the feelings.
It’s a cheap place, this heart of mine,
and it’s covered in blood,
and it’s that way by design.


* all poems from The Black Forest, Octopus Books, 2012.