My body opens like a highway sinkhole. It’s a baby someone shouts and I know they are wrong. It’s a baby I shout, still wrong.
We’ve worked / for this / intimacy—
/ me, letting go / of my need / to know, // you, trusting me / to let you / be.
Why do they want to see pictures / of what they looked away from / in disgust?
People never want to leave the party, do they? Drinks full, lips / red, lies told to the point of truth. We’re waiting out the silence.
I’m a fair sacrifice. Steel tools pass in and out of me / like parishioners through the threshold / of a heavy door. My flesh holds too much / that I cannot see.
The street was quiet. A dog pissed on my motorbike chain / & I waved away the smell with my hand. / I got home, I gathered up my cat Zelda, / we listened to Leonard Cohen “One of Us Cannot Be Wrong” …
this toddler toddles up to my table / and says Hi over and over, like fifty times, / or maybe he’s saying high because honestly / he’s behaving like a meth head who just got / out of a mental hospital
two children are rolling side by side / through images projected on the floor: // a train runs across the wheat field in Montmajour / onto their T-shirts
I google the name of the bird that is looking at me. / The black bird with red on its wing is called / the Red-winged Black Bird. / This has given me confidence in naming the rest.
We ate our youth from the knife. / Night fishing trips, moonlit dates, / and you, a jug-eared hero, / burnt yourself with naked girls’ flesh, / like with hot fish soup.
October 25, 1917 and the place is Petrograd, Russia, / and the horse pulling my stagecoach is whipped / mercilessly all the way to the Mariinsky Theater
He was my best friend in 2nd grade / and 3rd grade and maybe 4th grade too. I don’t remember / when it happened exactly, but he had a sledding accident / at the bottom of that hill
I will never entirely approve of the Frenchmen I meet, because they will never be the true Frenchman I apprehended in childhood.
I’m adorably playful while he never says / anything about my own womanly tush / (because he’s not insane) or my clothes or tits.
We are in bed talking about Queen Elizabeth’s death / and the ascendance of Charles to the throne. / “They should have made me king,” I say. / “You?” she says. “You’re too lazy to be king.”
As if without a man, winter could take over. / But I loved winter, love winter still, so / what am I trying to say?
My violence astonishes me some days, the way I regard the lesser / goldfinches in the lavender, each the size of a thumb, I want / to cram them into my mouth
I would tell him I told the officer you didn’t rape me. Because I was awake that morning before six. Because I was dressed for work. For the world.
Trust my inabilities. They are / reliable as gold. Count on the / gravity of my fragility. It will / always let you down.
He holds the cigarette far out on his fingers. Like they teach in acting class. Tight to the chest. Tough guy. Tip of the fingers. Aristocrat.
I have been asked to teach / a workshop at the public library / about found poetry and I / do not know what that is.
The suspension slips pile up / like maple leaves in October. / The golem’s parents enlist a therapist / and a tutor, a rabbi and a cool college student / from the Troubled Youth Mentor Center.
All I really want are the Seven Wonders / of a Marriage. Find me standing in line for / the Marvels of Your Many Moods.
Your books, I still can’t find them. / For years, when I remembered to, I looked. // Your legacy: an image of a split head / bleeding into a river.
Even / though I loiter on the cliff / of a love that wants me, I refuse / to fall.
oh I love / how a tree bisects our garden / so we can reunite every time / we stumble on the other side / of our legs
After I’ve spent all day talking about concentration camps, my father tells me to get him out of this concentration camp. It’s his birthday.
Before homo sapiens, the woods on this hill / were thick as a young bride’s wedding-night-tangled hair, / coronet of sunlight bedazzling / a canopy miles above moist earth
I throw my voice / to the end of my life and what comes back / is bird chatter, dog whimper, a bow drawn / across a cello’s neck.
All pilgrimage is trans · / position of the throat and hands / palming prayers into the crooks of an unfamiliar / coastline
See how possum’s eldritch teeth chatter — a warning of the way the lowly can take the diseased into body, break it like bread.
The children find themselves farther than they are. To return home means to earth. In their eyes, forest. In their hearts, more forest.
You have grown enough to know / that everything will kill you if you let it.
Someone please remind me that it is okay / to feel terror and a terrible sadness at the visceral forge / where our friendship passes now into my sole keep.
I cut the line, honk my horn, chew with a full mouth, / then burp. The piercings in my ears have closed, / my heart has closed. And my clothes? I’ve stopped / doing laundry.”
This Radha, unlike the one I spend most of my waking life with, drives a car with impeccable accuracy, almost as if she has eyes at the back of her head. This Radha, though cold and calculating, has been having sex with many men behind my back.
I imagine you were born / a breathless fish. // And they saved you.
There’s something grounding about a god who knows his place. Yet there’s something terrifying about a god who knows how to bring us down with him.
Husbands are not so hard to make: / my father is three microwaves / stacked on top of each other.
Away from the key rattle of an office, / exiled from a bathroom, a school, a hospital / into you I return like the scratch on a vinyl
Raised to be polite, / I offered each lawyer / tiny sweets, iced / water with a bitter twist
There are things ha-ha funny about going / blind though. Like that time he walked / wearing a three-piece wool suit into the deep / end of a swimming pool in a hotel in Italy.
Maybe the witch wasn’t a witch at all, not to start with at least. She was just a mother who couldn’t feed her babies …
The baby onesie I stitched in the garage / became a colony of ants that nightly streamed / down my cheeks.
My joy / comes shot through with longing / it will not linger / for days like that acid gas. / I might have only moments / left before this exhilaration / dissipates
she is rising alone, pirouetting to her balcony / to throw her sapphires onto the street / as the audience gazes, she is laughing
I want bicycles to be my last word, my dying word — / not I love you, or bless you, or God forgive me, / but bicycles.
snow falls on horses hauling wood / beyond the opaque windows, / our seats shake over the tracks / and you touch my knee
I dream of holding a baby / a simple dream // My body will not let me // I dream of lying on the earth / a simple dream // My body replies, some day …
This dog / how he looks at me / as if we must have known each other / I pay and / we chat a little longer / once we were / like brothers he says
At night fish scales and the yellow brilliance of holy figures would glimmer in me.
the future is the raw, then it gets braised in the present, and finally fried to doneness over low heat
You get used to everything. / To contemporary dance and poetry. / To Bukowski, who drinks and fucks in every third poem / and sends everyone to hell.
True darkness is in a child’s bedroom. Deep black. Elsewhere there’s just a meager, watery twilight, in which everything, in the end, acquires a humiliating distinctness.
The autocrat draws a large crowd for his speech. He begins to speak but no words come out.
Calling this city my home / is a weighty dream I cannot cast aside / or let them haul away.
Little kisses have a way of growing / into big penises, said the grandmother / on prom night. Little leaks sink a ship / yelled the captain, seawater on his lips.
The sun was high, and it was like the air wanted to have sex with you. Looking down I could see him slowly make his way along the street, stopping to say hello to someone, a man waiting with an old style hat …
I was in the madhouse I’m going to be in the madhouse I am in the madhouse everyone is / I write to keep the train on course to crush me / it’ll happen on a morning no less beautiful than this
My friend / the advertiser reminds me it was the poet / Lew Welch who came up with the slogan / “RAID Kills Bugs Dead.” He was a Buddhist, right? / I don’t know why he killed himself, but when he did, / his body was never found
Even if they exist, we are still alone. / Not like they’re going to invite us / to any of their parties / or read any of our books.
After breakfast I force his genitals through the wind / shield of the white convertible, crying like a child. // The situation allows me ample freedom to explore / myself in various trajectories.
Friends and loved ones visit less and less, / and then not at all. Maybe they’re starting / to get the joke, to figure out we’re not down / there in those holes. Look up. We’re here —
I say lovely too much, & it means nothing. / Outside is lovely. / The purpled sun is lovely / in its polluted backdrop / The shadows of men dangling from the roof
Springtime, I’m stoned at the wake. / Dad’s gray face sunk in makeup / asleep in the box. Mom weeps, / holding hands with the drywall guy.
Pablo Picasso enters his blue period / when his best friend stands from his plate / in the middle of a Paris café / and shoots himself.
On the island of Saaremaa I would have been considered a beautiful bride. No / shame there for size ten feet and thick calves wide thighs and no wonder.
I am a coward, / even in the service of exposing kids / to beauty
Someone shouts There’s a fucking kid shot in the head. / After your death, from Belfast to Florida, your face / on murals. They say Lyra lives on. But that’s a lie.
I was the last place on the planet / where astronauts slept / my last customers were the planet’s / last people
“The biggest challenge of translating Sachs into English, for me, had to do with tracking the movement of her mind in the forming of a poem.”
Which vein burst / to offer the holy geometry of yearning / a homeland in your eyes?
That thing you forgot to do last year / has turned out to be important.
There was a rippling pond and the croaking of frogs / and various birds anas crecca, / there was the tingling of sand on the Borecké Rocks / and the cracking of pinecones
I asked a man I was in love with once / if he was in love with me. No, he said.
Eric Nelson’s new collection, Horse Not Zebra, which includes “The Creature,” will be published in 2022 by Terrapin Books.
Karel Šebek (1941-1995?) was and remains the most astonishing figure of modern Czech poetry.
Jessica Q. Stark is a poet and educator living in Jacksonville, Florida. Her first full-length poetry collection is Savage Pageant (Birds, LLC, March 2020).
Pavla Melková is a practicing architect, visual artist and writer who regularly lectures on art and architecture.
THE LAST QUEEN My sisters, deep in our cells, are still feeding me. But I know I will be their last queen.The succession dies with me. My
SPELL FOR ELSEWHERE An angry bleat urges me to fasten the seatbelt, metronomic clickof the blinker punctuating its screech-song. The windows are down & the
OF Of my father’s failure to perishaged five of rheumatic feveras well as his father’s undrowned boyhoodof my mother’s mother’s lilies-of-the-valley in a church
MY FATHER TRIED TO TEACH ME THE FOXTROT The simple, square geometry of it was clear to me, but I couldn’t follow him.My hand on his
NOT ABRAHAM When the dog wakes me up at 5 am,I wish for a coyote to get her and thenregret that only after I’ve takenthe
NOVEMBER Such a picture of witheringdemands active engagement.Chrysanthemums bloom into the snowlike the color of a wounded animal.A free moment between incrementsof time filled with
CLOUD STUDIES Constable, in Hampstead,paints hundreds of clouds in oils on paper. He’s precise,dating them, adding commentary to their backs. His wife’s healthis nodding away
NEW DOOR STREETCALLE PUERTA NUEVA, SEVILLA from here—across the forehead—to there. he motions. although the pronouncement promises little. the excess description would suggest quite a
These words may make you uncomfortable. I won’t say I don’t care what you think. Too many people told me that growing up; I won’t say that to you.
PREFERRED PRONOUNS: WE/US/OURS In the name of accuracy and inclusion In the name of full disclosure That we may say we love us and also
THE RING-TAILED LEMUR THAT SMELLS THE WORST IS IN CHARGE OF THE ENTIRE GROUP During face-the male odors himselfto victory.Rubs himself sticky in pheromonesfrom chest, cock.Saturates tail in
PALM ROSE A moment goes unnoticed or cautiously glidesinto meaning fearful of its makingout of sequence, plotless and blessedwith almost “stupefying tones” but steadilywalking through
MORNING CROWS IN A FRESH MOWN FIELD BEFORE RAIN Three in a group then one coming from a distanceto make four dividing into two scavenging
ANGER I want to be someone else ayellow midday spreads itself outall the way into my pocketwhere coins clink and myfist lives with which today
THE VOICE IN THE BUSH A fire burned in the bush outside my home. I stomped on it, but it wouldn’t go out. I threw
LITTLE SHORTS Little Shorts, I bite my lip watching you billow up a breeze. Little Shorts,you tease. That loose fit. That wide stride. Know you
A SEND-OFF FOR FERLINGHETTI I’ll fold three red blankets.Turn them into squares.A bird will sing through the nightwith a voice of glass.Out the window fog
ABSENTEE a plastic sword sits in the dirt, next to a blank sandwich board. no one else is around so i wear the board and
A talisman against the agony /
in his knees and hips //
for which he was taking /
I greet your gliding flight O wings of death / But there are other signs too
The initiating parameter was me realizing that the horizon is a line constituting an intersection between at least two systems, the inner and the outer one. Between an observer on the move and the roads within the landscape …
the story / the two white women will not retract, despite the fact /
that inside each story we tell another writes itself