Category Archives: Poetry

“The Future is Throttling Towards Us and It’s Loud and Reckless” – An Interview with Erika Meitner

Erika Meitner’s Holy Moly Carry Me, her poetry collection published just last week by BOA Editions, has been described by Ada Limón as “stunning, exact, and haunting…with a complex empathy for the violent, messed-up world.” sam sax says, “In this necessary unprecedented book Meitner has assembled the materials of our apocalyptic present & past and invites us in to revel & quake with her.”  Carmen Giménez Smith calls it “an urgent document of our complex ties with the past, and the dangers of letting histories, private and public, repeat themselves.”

Our Senior Editorial Consultant Maria Pinto recently spoke with Meitner about her book, as well as strip malls, Frank O’Hara, and America’s ideological bifurcation.

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MP: Holy Moly Carry Me took me road tripping across America, just before the apocalypse, now and yesterday, towards another fraught family holiday. Why does so much of the moment you captured, that the poems continue to capture long after we put down the book, take place on the road and in the parking lots of strip malls?

EM: Part of this has to do with the weird logistics of my writing life. Since I’m an academic, I write most of my poems during breaks between semesters. Much of Holy Moly Carry Me was written with an online writing group I’m a part of, where we convene for two or four weeks at a time and write a poem a day, then post our poems in a Google group for accountability. We often do this over winter break and in the summer months when I’m usually road-tripping to see family, so many of the poems were written while I was in the car, on my iPhone notepad. But also, I live in a semi-rural college town where most of our landscape (aside from mountains and farmland) is made up of strip malls and big box stores—like most of America. And I was tired of ironing out these landscapes from my poems because they seem “unpoetic” (whatever that means).

MP: All of these scenes and themes recall the idiosyncratic ways we, as citizens of this America, are called to remember and forget: a frustrating and omnipresent blankness, stuttering to a stop and getting picked back up again in the next installment (at one point, the first poem in the collection gets picked up halfway through the book), erasures that you can still see, tattoos and tattoos, reality show templates that get reused, messy forensics and the burden of proof, a cop waving us past today’s tragedy with light batons, towards the next. What is the poet’s role in preserving our collective memory?

EM: One of the poems I love teaching is Frank O’Hara’s “The Day Lady Died,” which—in addition to being an elegy for Billie Holiday—is a general recounting of O’Hara’s errands through Manhattan over the course of one day. He goes to the bank! He buys a hostess gift! He gets a shoeshine! It’s pretty quotidian stuff, but nearly all the places he stops at are gone now, so the poem creates a sort of ghost map of Manhattan’s streetscapes and storefronts in 1964. The poem ends with him passing a newsstand and seeing that Lady Day has died—and the poem closes like this:

“and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing”

That ability to create a lyric moment and bring readers backwards and forwards in time at once, and then stop it—that’s what I love about poems. Poets preserve the collective memory of emotions, and emotions are messy—they repeat and repeat on us, get erased and recast by narrative and image, and they’re imprinted on us indelibly and shiftily.
Continue reading “The Future is Throttling Towards Us and It’s Loud and Reckless” – An Interview with Erika Meitner

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“We Have Always…” – Poetry by John J. Trause

Still Life with Skull, Candle, and Book – Paul Cezanne, 1866

“We Have Always…” is John J. Trause‘s mysterious and musical poem from our Summer 2018 isssue.

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NAIL A BOOK ONTO A TREE
Memorize a word or three
Bury coins and golden watches,
Curios and witchy swatches.

Run around the yard and garden
Let your heart and feelings harden
Tidy up the little hollow
By the creek, both deep and shallow.

Put the sugar in the cupboard
Hide the watch behind the floorboard
Entertain the guests at tea
Memorize a word or three.

Store the books and don’t return them
Someday you will have to burn them
Memorize a word or three
Someday you’ll live merrily.

And remember, come September,
To be kind in May, November,
Even when the world’s an ember
And you are its only member.

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photo by Jill Greenberg

JOHN J. TRAUSE, Director of Oradell Public Library, is the author of six books of poetry and one of parody, Latter-Day Litany, the latter staged Off Broadway.  His translations, writing, and visual work appear internationally in many journals and anthologies, and Marymark Press has published his visual poetry and art as broadsides and sheets.  He is a founder of the W.C.W. Poetry Cooperative in Rutherford, N.J., and the former host/curator of its reading series. For the sake of art Trause hung naked for one whole month in the summer of 2007 on the Art Wall of the Bowery Poetry Club.  He is fond of cunning acrostics and color-coded chiasmus.

“Knock Knock” – Poetry by Todd Dillard

Laughing Boy – Steve Wheeler, 1949

“Knock Knock” is one of three vivid & tender poems of love, parenthood, and mortality by Todd Dillard in our Summer 2018 issue.

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YOU WILL LAUGH
after I am dead

today I laugh knowing
after I am dead
we will laugh together

today you laugh
and do not know
one day I will not
be there to answer the door

I have a secret: I laugh especially
when things are not funny

a mouth without laughter
is a river that’s lost
its water

I laugh to forget
I laugh too to remember

the autumn air saddles the tree
and the tree whinnies with laughter

I laugh for the times
I could have laughed
but didn’t

I laugh for the times
I would laugh
but will not

my laughs love and mourn and see
they are like living that way

just now your tiny finger
touched my nose
and you laughed

and when tears
tripped down my cheek
that same finger
touched their snail-shine

you said, No cry

and I laughed

you are
so young and wise

I will take
your advice
to my grave

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TODD DILLARD ‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous publications, including Barrelhouse, Nimrod, Superstition Review, Crab Creek Review, and Split Lip Magazine. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and daughter. You can find him on twitter via @toddedillard.

“Too Late for Anarchy” – Poetry by Marc Harshman

The Funeral of the Anarchist Galli – Carlo Carra, 1911

“Too Late for Anarchy” is one of three (or five) wry and wistful poems by Marc Harshman in our Summer 2018 issue.

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I SEE THE PRESIDENT ON THE NEWS.
I curl up on the floor.  Play dead.

I open the envelope containing my paycheck,
              accidentally tear its little cellophane window.
Carefully, close all my windows.  Weep, regret,
              and think how a pound of flesh is inadequate.

Sorry excuses come across my desk.
I’m sorry they do, sorry they are,
              sorry they’ll not be enough.

It might have been a victory.
By the time we got there
              it was just blood and roses; not quite
              a cemetery, but something solemn, sacrilegious
              about which words fell like ashes
              into and out of history.

I look the winter in the face.
The bare trees straighten
              their crooked branches
with heartbreaking enterprise.
              The pond freezes over.
The arthritis flows through me
              one sorrow at a time.
I’m no longer sure I can
              clench my fists, let alone
              close my eyes.

You asked me to tell you.

I no longer watch the news.
Sometimes I remember who we were.
Sometimes I open my eyes.

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MARC HARSHMAN’s collection, WOMAN IN A RED ANORAK, has won the 2017 Blue Lynx Prize and will be published later this year by Lynx House/University of Washington Press. His fourteenth children’s book, FALLINGWATER, co-written with Anna Smucker, was published by Roaring Brook/Macmillan in 2017. His poetry collection, Believe What You Can, was published in 2016 by West Virginia University Press and won the Weatherford Award from the Appalachian Studies Association. Poems have been anthologized by Kent State University, the University of Iowa, University of Georgia, and the University of Arizona. He is the seventh poet laureate of West Virginia.

“American Beauty” – Poetry by Trista Edwards

Chateau Marmont #1 (Vintage) – Mark Fugarino, 2014 [CC 2.0]
“American Beauty” is Trista Edwards‘ hauntingly ethereal poem from our Summer 2018 issue.

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Chateau Marmont. Hollywood, California.


I HANG LAVENDER SACHETS IN OLD HOTELS

               to ward off the quiet humming
                              of ghosts. I drape wilted roses

off balconies & burn a candle at dusk
               to feel the silky glamour of light.
                              Resurrected moon shine

when the moon is not enough. I kiss the back
               of your hands with wine-stained lips
                              & raise them to the hunger

of my body. Yesterday, in the graveyard,
               we brought gold to forgotten starlets
                              in the form of violets, totems,

& fire. I gather vials of dirt & fallen petals.
               We sweat among the dead
                              in the little operetta of ourselves.

Our breathing—that sweetness we flaunt
               among the headstones. But on the balcony
                              we are ravenous to wither

as Sunset casts its wicked spell below.
               Crimson brake lights & smog.
                              Empire of dreams.

I tell you I could die here. You say,
               You already have. The essence of lavender
                              floats through the sapphire evening sky.

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TRISTA EDWARDS is an associate editor at Luna Luna Magazine. She is also the curator and editor of the anthology, Till The Tide: An Anthology of Mermaid Poetry (Sundress Publications, 2015). You can find her work at 32 PoemsQuail Bell MagazineMoonchild MagazineThe Adroit JournalThe BoilerQueen Mob’s Tea HouseBad Pony, Dream Pop Press, and more. She creates magickal candles at her company, Marvel + Moon.

“A Threefold Invocation” – Prose Poetry by dave ring

Spell Words – Nicholas Roerich, 1922

“A Threefold Invocation” is a powerfully magical prose poem cast by dave ring in our Summer 2018 issue.

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FIRST, YOU MUST OPEN THE DEEPEST PART OF YOURSELF.  Lay a promise there.  You will find it again.  Cast your memories of it into the pool like a stone.  Wait for them to touch the bottom.  Know that the weeds and silt will soften their landing.  Send the most secret part of yourself to the wood, the heart of it.  Lay on the earth.  Close your eyes, and wait.  Eventually you will forget from which way you came.

The ritual is born of sex and blood.  You must fuck the darkest part of yourself, you must own it.  That is the person that you can claim when this is all over.  The self that understands what it truly wants, not merely the clear shallows of your easier yearnings.  Your blood should pound in your ears until the drumming is both a command and a question.  When you are ready, when it tells you to, answer it.

The words should burn your tongue like whiskey, like shame, like difficult truth.  You’ll feel something stir, in the oldest part of yourself.  Don’t be afraid.  This is the beast you can come home to.  This is the future you can claim without recrimination.  This is the joy you’ve always wanted, but didn’t yet deserve.

Take it.

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dave ring is the community chair of the OutWrite LGBTQ Book Festival in Washington, DC.  He was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow and a 2018 Futurescapes resident. More info at www.dave-ring.com.  Follow him on Twitter at @slickhop.

“Fetish / Recluse” – Poetry by Rita Mookerjee

The Day After – Edvard Munch, 1895

“Fetish / Recluse” is one of two magically sensual & intoxicating poems by Rita Mookerjee in our Summer 2018 issue.

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I TOOK NIGHTTIME TO HIDE IN MY HAIR AND
considered how I confused lust with
a periscope. How intimacy was a seeing eye,
people’s faces in orgasm.

Through muscle memory, I learned to grab a bottle
from thin air. Since it only takes 21 days to make a habit
I hammered this magic in like ideology,
fists unsure what to make of sleep.

I dreamt of whiskey bottles with false bottoms
filled with index cards listing coping mechanisms
that I could call my own so I could stop
living as a caricature of myself.

Then sleeping alone started to feel like a victory
because I could pass out with wine in my mouth
a lump of gleaming brie on my nightstand
and for all my social inclinations, my time

in bed alone increased. I read the news and
considered myself lucky. I tucked corks into
jars around the house: awards for effective self-
medication. Smug quotidian trophies.

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RITA MOOKERJEE‘s poetry is featured or forthcoming in Hollow, Lavender Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, Spider Mirror Journal, and others. Her critical work has been featured in the Routledge Companion of Literature and Food, The Bloomsbury Handbook to Literary and Cultural Theory, and The Bloomsbury Handbook of Twenty-First Century Feminist Theory. She is a PhD candidate at Florida State University specializing in contemporary Caribbean literature.