Other notable work by Lisa Sisler, Karen Dietrich and Dan Singer.
Where we always find ourselves
on the highway. Examining
the way letters flirt with time, opening
to cut reflections. One hundred
hours of the week have flown and we
get lost inside the tops of our laps.
Food enters through mute apertures
feeding the flavor of our character. Leaving
grounds in the bottoms of our coffee cups.
11 Years, 302 Days
She is embarrassed by the open discussion
of boys in relation to her.
Her tongue is sharp,
Not considering consequence,
she wants life now!
Forgetting that she should think before she speaks,
“It isn’t fair!”
A plea that has become a permanent
part of her lexicon.
Waiting for a Connection
Inching open like the Venus
Fly Trap, I watched as if a child.
You shut quicker— snap-to,
leaving me out here hoping
to find a key inside if I am only willing
I want to fix your algorithm, but all I accomplish
is complicating the mathematics between us.
See my formula is full of prime numbers,
but you want the geometry of my angles to total something odd.
Line brackets up on either side to solve me, but you don’t need to,
you’re sure of the solution.
The product of my variables are chocolate
times the square root of poetry, divided by love.
But all of the numbers don’t tell you I need a hand on my cheek,
a look that breaks the binary pattern we have set.
The way it fingers your throat,
blooming from the chrysalis
of your gasping.
the worst of my crimes
through this bursting life.
Ivy’s love of poetry stemmed from listening to her Grandmother reading poetry aloud to her as a child. It took shape as lyrics in the music she wrote during her late teens and early twenties, and turned to poems on the page and experimentation with performance poetry over the years. Ivy’s work has appeared in journals nationally such as, Poetry Quarterly, Grey Sparrow Press, and Night Train, and anthologized in Knocking at the Door Poems About Approaching the Other. Her first book, Any Other Branch, will be available through Salmon Poetry of Ireland in March 2012. Her second book, Elemental, will be out with Salmon Poetry in 2014. She is the editor and founder of Organs of Vision and Speech Magazine. For more about Ivy visit, poeticentanglement.
At the Train Station
I can’t write a poem about regret in a train station
filled with prep school boys in uniforms
and hope and working folks holding tight
to their briefcases and lunch pails,
all waiting, all eavesdropping
on better, on different, on the track
that leads beyond these garbage covered floors, tracks
all rowed symmetrically, uniform,
stuck in their place as we, stuck in the stations
life has forced on us, all packed tight,
three deep on the platform sweating, pale
and clammy and dropping
hints and packages. My shoes are too tight.
They pinch my feet and I’ve tracked
mud onto the train—the grime pales
by comparison—the muck of my days, uniform
in blanketing my morning, slides by each window, each station
as the train stops to drop
off passengers, picks up speed and drops
bricks to my stomach, tightening
with every jerk, jut, brake screech, signaling a station’s
arrival, and I can’t keep track
of where I’ve been, of who the forms
are before me—only their ghostly-pale
outlines. The taunting normalcy of their lunch pails,
the careful way the woman next to me unwraps her cough drop,
the un-tucked shirt and crooked tie of the boy’s uniform,
all of it on one train line, pulled taught
to release the knots, only a wrinkle in the track
of the past, an image of a younger self, drunk at the Station
Café Bar, crouching in a bus station
bathroom snorting dope off of pale
blue tile, my arms full of track-marks,
people banging on the stall door, me, dropped
off the edge of a noose tightening,
and me in my own prep school uniform.
My face pale, tracks clenched tight, my hands remembering.
I overstep my station, drop my bag, fall in—conform.
—Ones whose arms and legs bent
at the whim of their owners, dolls who cried
and wet themselves, flew from under the display
cases into the arms of paying customers,
but Agnes was often overlooked.
Expression frozen in mock pleasantry to hide
disdain for finger-smudged want and criticism
about her too plain clothes, her too expensive price tag,
Agnes learned to stare past those talking at her
and think of the day when someone would pick her.
Once she was taken home for three days
only to be returned to the store.
“She doesn’t do anything” the child said
when the clerk asked what was wrong.
Did you talk to her? Ask her about her
favorite book? Play her favorite game?
“I shouldn’t have to do anything,” said the child.
“The other ones just perform for me—
that’s what I want them for.”
And so the child got a new doll—one that sang songs
at the push of a button, and word got around:
Difficult dolls, unwanted dolls would be returned,
relegated to bottoms of toy chests, Salvation Army
Thrift Stores, trash bins.
Most of the dolls complied—even competed—crying
and singing louder and louder, pissing themselves
in bucketfuls, donning flashy and ridiculous outfits
that made them helpless.
This got many of the dolls out of their cases,
Cut her dress to show off her legs,
grew out her hair and curled it,
painted her lips red, ditched her socks
and loafers for a pair of high heels.
But Agnes’ knees were knobby,
her hair unruly wound up a knotted mess,
her teeth stained with lipstick,
her feet bloody with blisters.
And still no one ever picked her.
No one ever asked her what her favorite color was,
Or what she thought of just before she fell asleep.
Belly up to the bar, mahogany chipping, sticky and rueful, full of tradition, tonic and gin
Belly up to Nanny’s glass table, beveled and beer-stained,
Hiding secrets I’ve drowned, downed can after can,
Don’t you dare tell your father, don’t you dare move a muscle,
Rinse my mouth out with vodka, and swallow and swallow
Belly up in the bathroom, arms round the toilet, the walls start colliding
Guinness and Smithwicks, Scotch hold the soda, to poison the memory
Hands cupping my shoulders,
His belly exposed and me on the mattress,
Face pressed into pillows, my beveled body
Bankrupt of spirit,
If only I’d be face down in the casket
But God never hears these prayers that I offer
When I’m belly up to Him,
Pleas I’ve ceased speaking,
Waiting to rip open, cash in this old body
Who can stomach the night.
Lisa is the editor of Knocking at the Door: Approaching the Other, a poetry anthology from Birch Bench Press, an imprint of Write Bloody Books in April 2011. She received her MA in English from Rutgers University and her MFA in Poetry from New England College. She teaches Writing and Literature at Kean University and at various other colleges in New Jersey where she resides with her boyfriend and their cat army.
Two Little Girls
around our beds
We eat summer –
poison cheeks burst
red over white moon
River rocks smack
our hands, dirt caked
fish in thin graves
We swim upstairs –
swallow silver, beat
ourselves to morning
In the Suburbs
Boys spin silk to tie us up
labyrinth of dens, stoppered glass
bottles, emerald cut genies
Even trees smell like sex
roads smeared with sap
milk white seeds
Nights with nothing to do
we slide into borrowed
blue, carve liquid arcs
Thighs open to the current
we fly to the bottom
there is no sky
Mother wakes me under motel
blankets, whispers to her dead
The buried slip from tombs
rise clean from jars of ash
I want to stuff them full of seed
turn them scarecrow, faceless
We drive to Worthington, Ohio
where grandmother bit the rubber hose
A janitor swings the iron door
flips switches on a frozen wall
Mother sits in the metal
chair, closes her eyes
The green room swallows me
its mouth big as a fish
An egg white room undressed you
Your body pressed floor wax
slipped in borrowed socks
Your feet disappeared completely
A door opened and your padded paper
dress floated the hallway
Winter windows seeped thick trees
outside where I answered phones
made dinner, while you slipped
into vials, hummed like a vein
They’re figuring you out now
Watch me speak your name into black
Watch me call you from inside out
Rain splits dark sky, drops sizzling blue
pressing the iron, she listens for the hiss –
steam puffs over gray polyester jackets
Her fingers burn like father’s bourbon
in Ohio, where she hid in brittle cornstalks –
somehow he found her every time
Karen Dietrich is the author of Anchor Glass (Finishing Line Press, 2011). Her poems and essays have appeared in PANK, Main Street Rag, The Bellingham Review, Weave Magazine and elsewhere. She lives in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
To Two, Too
To begin be gin.
There is a drinking
Sound, to swallow.
At times the burrowing
is all I have. There is always
some under in the wing.
The small earth. Again
the small earth in my nose.
L says it is not the space
between me but a network.
Under my ear the armistice
is decided. It comes with the warning
prices. It says: you will cost, you, cost.
The going is elsewhere. The kindness
of its language is that
it speaks elsewhere elsewhere.
In a layer more hearth in the small
earth I dig low into the body of a wise
person jeweled in juniper
berries. It is an inside
L told me this secret
in his other language
and its. The menhirs are
here and I am at least
three intimate forms of you.
I miss the body like the song
misses the sky in the temple.
A nucleus of small
earth and the berry
sacred stone bodies all
that you come to bury
and swallow is here
to begin with.
Flamingoes, Ancient Chile
And when there was no answer we made
everything. The rice and the bean.
Cush‐cush and epiphenomenal
order of salt. The brothers
and sisters of the order of salt
learned to twist a pillar of earth
into the body. We were become
their impalements. My wife had
other husbands of more considerate
contour. When it came it became
the time we have called since
then. The salt rind made the body
sheen time around it stopped
its muscle. We minted. And packed away
all that was mine. We left under the cover
of promise and trade then and found a high
desert we could see from the flats. Some
expedition. Most we lost to the poison
waters which the pink birds drank some
to the pale flowers and some to the point
of death. Above the salt we made our homes
in the ice each night as the empty sky made
all things in the tundra slow. It made certain
the little blowzy body of vizcacha no fossil
preserved. Its body is come into the rind
where the crystals tell us the story of human
thing gone to the south most continent
to find the bottom blue salt . The blue
salt that powers. The blue that talks to time
and is his language or hers. I wish to marry him
and my wife also in the ice manque below
where we can never look back and not
ever look back for the body. Back then
we began to search the landscape for statues
one leg at a time not one foot in front
of the other on pedestals of salt like
the sands in Ozymandias are highly prized
but then we never had explorers among us.
L’s ambition is to say
which is to say. Please
you are lovely. I mean
some kind eternal
thing in your throat.
I did not know you
for the first quarters
science until class how
a hind is its own lab
rynth. I need to say
eternal. Eternal. Et
cetera and. The kind
things thing in your
throat to make milk
the color of your mouth
saying All Et Al Awl Or
that I know the problem
all my thinking is
made of knowing
things. At hand
you your mouth
makes milk colors
teeth some kind
of canine hunting
belt star incanting
or the cold star too.
It says what the star.
In your mouth the four
teeth of the hunter
each are known kings
one of all dogs and belts
another third of the heart
liver and sky the fourth
whose part is never
complete has the teat.
The distance is for ten
things held in the mouth
of which one could be
called a necklace there
will be no breastfeeding
and this is monumental.
When, A Traditional Graveyard
Ten times this morning
the news summed. First
it fashioned small ostrich
then canoned to make
the meat. Third there
was the banquet and
fourth there came section
a heat unrhymed rubbing
onto headstone where head
stone is found in nature near
grass that paints doing silver
hair one rare bird meet in root
less occupation of the meadow
land where the stone is un
impressed by headlines.
Fifth was in the fold cut is to
say remaining a propos a
propriate above or sub
textually white space
is not but the pictures
whiten. Sixth plates showed
through the rice paper
and the headlines
saw kin stones rubbing
so close words.
Seventh it went to the rest
and found a dead of legs.
eighth pictured children
smoking on a closed road
where no stone access
their bodies. Ninth is a parable
of dogswight wolfsbane also
the cuspid tastes like big
government saying fire
fire fire. Tenth may be the sale
of it remains as yet unprinted.
Dan Singer lives in Colorado where he edits φreHABIT Press and teaches writing, poetry, and compositional philosophy. His poems and reviews have most recently appeared in Horse Less Review and Reconfigurations: A Journal of Poetics and Poetry. He is currently completing a Ph.D. at the University of Denver.