“Dear Ancestors” a poem by Filip Marinovich

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I lit a votive candle for you tonight in Sacre Coeur and cried
“I know my time in your church is not long”
It says on the sign
The cygne
The swan the lone swan says
Don’t be afraid to fish alone Filip
Crossing the channel between fresh water and salt water
A field of sun points
The swan in space outer space this is outer space too

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“Construction of Objects” a poem by Circe Maia, translated by Jesse Lee Kercheval

Construction of Objects

They are made in time
and they are made of time.
They are made little by little, as small blows
of a chisel make a statue.
Like a blanket, knit stitch by stitch,
day by day.
But after that, they are. They are like a table
resting on the floor: this way of speaking, for example
these gestures
this circle of routine acts
such objects
such things
only death unmakes.

Construcción de Objetos

Se hacen en el tiempo
y están hechos de tiempo.
Se hacen de a poco, como a pequeños golpes
de cincel, una estatua.
Como un tejido, punto por punto
día por día.
Pero después están. Están como una mesa
apoyada en el piso: ese modo de hablar, por ejemplo
esos gestos
los círculos de actos rutinarios
tan objetos
tan cosas
que sólo se deshacen con la muerte.

“Self-Portrait in Euphemisms” a poem by Samantha Zighelboim

Isn’t she pretty. A thin film
of moonlight on a stag’s antlers.
No. Sleep depletes memory
 
and should therefore be welcomed.
Also no. A permanent realization
of everyone else’s medical bills.
 
She drapes a veil over the altars.
The opposite shore. La Santa
Muerte at the ceramic typewriter
 
with a toothy grimace. No one
minds migrational patterns.
Blue jays arrive too early and freeze.
 
April deeply confused. Sun and sleet
equally disconcerting. Isn’t she funny.
In earnest she steps uncertainly,
 
excuses to not emerge readily
available. And isn’t the blank sky
the same as surface-deep sleep.
 
And hasn’t the tea gone cold while
she waited. And hasn’t she become
an expert by now. Of course not.

Last year was big for Big Brother, and 2014 is shaping up similarly. The queasy ethics of observation continue to fill front pages across the country, from the Snowden affair to the limited release of Google Glass. What is privacy, anyway, in an age of drone strikes and targeted advertising? What are our rights?

These poets—heightened observers by profession—have contributed new works, political and personal alike, entering into a larger dialogue on what it means to have open eyes and ears in the twenty-first century. Poetry is not a mirror held up to the world; it is a lens.

Read the poems: http://bit.ly/1s2XI0X

from The Self Unstable

The Self Unstable is a forthcoming collection of poems by Elisa Gabbert



We can’t help wanting the pure word, though the corrupted word is better. Music is corrupted. Film is corrupted. The ’70s in particular were beautifully corrupt. I was born in the ’70s. As such, I am a kind of sublime porn. What is the sublime? I don’t know. I like sex, which is an approximation of porn. I like sports, which is an approximation of war. In the ideal human experience, we get as close as possible to suffering, veering away at the last second.

(o)

They slowed down Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony so it stretched over 24 hours. The effect was of a continual climbing, with no resolution—just an ever-building terror, the slowest imaginable scream. In a state of heightened time, everything reduces to fear, a sublime fear. Death gives us a reason to live.

(o)

I read about a man with severe amnesia, unable to form new memories, his diary filled with entries like I am awake for the first time … This time, finally really awake—the torment of perpetual now. I rarely transgress in a dream; I dream of the guilt that follows transgression. The weird double-bind of time: we don’t act in accordance with consequence, but we’d do nothing if we wouldn’t remember it. Our lives are lived in the past.

(o)

He said it was “an elegant scar.” My sex dreams are too realistic. We watch the sunset from a plane, and later, the city lights approaching in the dark, copper and green. Why are they all orange or green? My enemy. My enemy. If you tell me you love me, accidentally or automatically, I will always forgive you. How quickly the unexamined becomes the overexplained.

(o)

I was bitten by a feral cat, who left her fang behind in my hand. My dream life has its own past, memories I only access when asleep. When something hurts in a dream, where do you feel the pain? Is there an analog in the real world? And likewise, for the beauty? If we can’t change the past, regret is a waste of time, but not worry or longing. Still, I prefer regret. If time is a vector, we are passengers facing the rear of the train.

(o)

You can read a text just fine when the letters are out of order. This isn’t “my best work.” I admit I’m depressed for relief from depression; the effect doesn’t last. I say “Be careful flâneuring around with someone who loves you.” Happiness should be all that matters, but it’s not even high on the list. The hangover is one known form of regret that transcends culture.

(o)

Koans are used to provoke “the great doubt.” Contentment isn’t happiness. I told a student that desire comes from boredom. But I seek out desire, so why do I fear boredom? Maybe emotions are ideas. I believe in the end of history illusion but I also believe in the end of history, the failure of all imagination. The future isn’t anywhere, so we can never get there. We can only disappear.



This is the last offering from our National Poetry Month package.