Sunday, May 22, 2016

Chloe Honum

On the Stairs Outside the Psychiatric Ward

February 3, 2016

I stand with the boy with the twisted body
while the smoke from his cigarette signs its slow signature.
He leans on his cane and the cane shakes.
It is late afternoon, almost dark.
We are day patients and soon will go home.
The boy says, I got into some trouble in Texas,
which is so far away it doesn't seem to exist,
not with what's going on now.
All around us autumn is throwing
gold and crimson leaves into the street
while starlings are holding tight on a telephone wire,
heads tucked in the cold. And the boy
and the Vietnam vet, who has just joined us,
and I are looking up with yearning, as though
we could solve that string of bird and sky arithmetic
and know the ages of our souls.

Nomi Stone

Many Scientists Convert to Islam

Related Poem Content Details

Conversations with a Muslim friend

So, if you don’t believe in full it means you don’t
believe. Words tumble onto the rock. A book

Okay then tell me about heaven’s beautiful
food and women. Who are these women?

My friend says, “This life is like a twenty-minute train ride.”
He says, “I live inside my
faith more fully every day.”

I am standing on soaked pavement outside
that majestic hotel in the center of town. Just before
dark, the birds come in a furious swoop like
hornets, stinging the sky to let in

what is on the other side.


Then the next life is equally
about the body, denied in the first?

“Do you know the Prophet knew the exact number of bones in the human
body? And why do you ask so many questions? You ask
more questions than you take in breaths of air.”

The birds beat. They crumple in
rivers of sky. At the same time every day. Kierkegaard said that

every instant a man in despair is contracting it. My friend is not
in despair; I am not in despair.


Kierkegaard says there are three kinds of despair: despair
at not being conscious of having a self, despair at not being
willing to be oneself, and despair at willingness to be

oneself. Listen, the train. Why complain about
the seat, the air conditioner? Just do
your best until you arrive.

During Ramadan, I fasted a week. I went to the mosque.

My friend’s uncle said:
“So you are becoming Muslim?” I said: “No.” He said: “Shame
on you.”

In the cold November current, there is a whirring of wings. Sometimes
they cloud into petals, sometimes they don’t.


When the forehead presses to the earth, the blood moves
down. In the joining, the self lightens. You must count the three perfect
joints of each finger to keep time. Make no mistake, you leave the body only

through the body. The train ride. This quiet voice that is borrowed or my own.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Eleanor Hooker (b.1963)

I kept my appointment with Rain.
We met in the wrong room. Upstairs.
Rain was . . . melancholy. She rinsed
a naked bulb that hung itself
on white wire. It ran out of light,
she said, spreading her fall
from the rooms unfathomed sky.

Rain enquired if I’d brought questions.
I was allowed four. Four only.
Before I could deny it, she pressed
her sodden lips to mine.
Not now, she said. They are come.

The sash windows unlaced their gowns
so that ghost ships, dragging nets
filled with memories absolved
by Rain, could sail through them.

And as we watched, Rain said,
These are your questions:
Why is it they hide in there?
Why is it they turn from me?
Is it to the same place they go?
And is it the same story they weather?

Rain said, There is no tenderness
in the absence of joy, and, in the absence
of joy, even songbirds squabble.

When there was nothing left to say,
Rain enveloped me; her hair lay on my face
like tears, and inside my closed mouth,
hummingbirds flew backwards into my throat.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Marius Burokas (b.1977)

Three Poems

Marius Burokas

powerlessness, vanity—
i repeated

                         —the city was oppressed
                            by a stone of heat

i cut down
those words
pulled out
syntax’s cartilage
ripped out the bones
of phonemes

reality wavers
language breaks
into the throat
with ache and lightning

                       —the city was oppressed
                          by stones of heat

only its labyrinths
and butcher shops,
only its graves, morgues,
and churches

are cool

language unplugged

like a drop of wax
on a stone wall


The capacious lungs of wind
blow through bones and meat. Letters
are no longer mine. I won’t be
scooping a handful like tadpoles.
At least my fingers won’t hurt
in the water of words. But the pool
holds no image of me. No voice.
Nothing chirrs in the heat,
nor wiggles by the roots. I don’t
believe in you. No. Only the wind
wheezes. It scratches the sky
with its horns, before tipping
down, breaking firs,
ripping off roofs. It blows
through bones and meat
with the last scent
of my soul.


God is
dark water
that scoops me up
with my mouth full
of crustaceans
myself a shell
a cuirass
filled with God’s water
that washes
and subsides

it leaves me chapped
of what I cannot catch
a shell
or empty armor
God is dark water
carrying me

God is the dark water
of my city’s stream
translated from the Lithuanian by Rimas Uzgiris

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Cesar Vallejo (1892-1936)

Paris, October 1936

From all of this I am the only one who leaves.
From this bench I go away, from my pants,
from my great situation, from my actions,
from my number split side to side,
from all of this I am the only one who leaves.

From the Champs Elysées or as the strange
alley of the Moon makes a turn,
my death goes away, my cradle leaves,
and, surrounded by people, alone, cut loose,
my human resemblance turns around
and dispatches its shadows one by one.

And I move away from everything, since everything
remains to create my alibi:
my shoe, its eyelet, as well as its mud
and even the bend in the elbow
of my own buttoned shirt.
Cesar Vallejo :

Friday, May 6, 2016

Michael Ondaatje (b.1943)

Notes For The Legend Of Salad Woman

Since my wife was born
she must have eaten
the equivalent of two-thirds
of the original garden of Eden.
Not the dripping lush fruit
or the meat in the ribs of animals
but the green salad gardens of that place.
The whole arena of green
would have been eradicated
as if the right filter had been removed
leaving only the skeleton of coarse brightness.

All green ends up eventually
churning in her left cheek.
Her mouth is a laundromat of spinning drowning herbs.
She is never in fields
but is sucking the pith out of grass.
I have noticed the very leaves from flower decorations
grow sparse in their week long performance in our house.
The garden is a dust bowl.

On our last day in Eden as we walked out
she nibbled the leaves at her breasts and crotch.
But there's none to touch
none to equal
the Chlorophyll Kiss
Michael Ondaatje :

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Rangi McNeil

The Heart Is a Foreign Country

Rangi McNeil

Ours is a partial language part pantomime,
part grimy guesswork: adulterated speculation
as to meaning & motivation.
Translated, heart suggests a familiar, universal
device but internal chemistries vary—
though components be the same & not uncommon.
The world owes us nothing. It promises less.
Call it: freedom. Free will. Or Wednesday.