Friday, August 02, 2019

Five-Dollar Bills

The August Preoccupations

Catherine Barnett

So this morning I made a list

of obsessions and you were on it.

And waiting, and forgiveness, and five-dollar bills,

and despots, telescopes, anonymity, beauty,

silent comedy, and waiting.

I could forswear all these things

and just crawl back into the bed

you and I once slept in.

What would happen then?

Play any film backwards and it’s elegy.

Play it fast-forward it’s a gas.

I try not to get attached.

But Lincoln!

I see stars when I look at him.

Thursday, August 01, 2019

How Good


Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

The figs we ate wrapped in bacon.

The gelato we consumed greedily:

coconut milk, clove, fresh pear.

How we’d dump hot espresso on it

just to watch it melt, licking our spoons

clean. The potatoes fried in duck fat,

the salt we’d suck off our fingers,

the eggs we’d watch get beaten

’til they were a dizzying bright yellow,

how their edges crisped in the pan.

The pink salt blossom of prosciutto

we pulled apart with our hands, melted

on our eager tongues. The green herbs

with goat cheese, the aged brie paired

with a small pot of strawberry jam,

the final sour cherry we kept politely

pushing onto each other’s plate, saying,

No, you. But it’s so good. No, it’s yours.

How I finally put an end to it, plucked it

from the plate, and stuck it in my mouth.

How good it tasted: so sweet and so tart.

How good it felt: to want something and

pretend you don’t, and to get it anyway.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Which wife?


Edna St. Vincent Millay - 1892-1950

She is neither pink nor pale,
 And she never will be all mine;
She learned her hands in a fairy-tale, 
 And her mouth on a valentine. 

She has more hair than she needs; 
  In the sun 'tis a woe to me!
And her voice is a string of colored beads, 
 Or steps leading into the sea. 

 She loves me all that she can, 
  And her ways to my ways resign; 
 But she was not made for any man, 
  And she never will be all mine.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Writing in a time of Cholera

This is Just to Say

I have written
a page
of words

toddlers torn

the wall, funded
federal death penalty

Forgive us
my words
so cold
and so still

Saturday, July 27, 2019

We are what we repeatedly do

Thursday, July 25, 2019


By Barbara Reyes

there is ghazal swimming inside of her, wanting to be born. on the matter of foretelling, of small miracles, cactus flowers in bloom on this city fire escape, where inside your tongue touches every inch of her skin, where you lay your hand on her belly and sleep. here, she fingers the ornate remains of ancient mosques. here, some mythic angel will rise from the dust of ancestors’ bones. this is where you shall worship, at the intersections of distilled deities and memory’s sharp edges. the country is quite a poetic place; water and rock contain verse and metaphor, even wild grasses reply in rhyme. you are not broken. she knows this having captured a moment of lucidity; summer lightning bugs, sun’s rays in a jelly jar.
this is not a love poem, but a cove to escape the flux, however momentary. she is still a child, confabulating the fantastic; please do not erode her wonder for the liquid that is your language. there is thunderstorm in her chest, wanting to burst through her skin. this is neither love poem nor plea. this is not river, nor stone.

Barbara Jane Reyes, "Asking" from Poeta en San Francisco. Copyright © 2005 by Barbara Jane Reyes. 

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Pass the Popcorn

Margaret Atwood

Marriage is not
a house or even a tent
it is before that, and colder:
the edge of the forest, the edge
of the desert 
                    the unpainted stairs 
at the back where we squat 
outside, eating popcorn
the edge of the receding glacier
where painfully and with wonder
at having survived even
this far
we are learning to make fire

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

bath water

"Soaping together
is sacred to us.
Washing each other's shoulders.

You can fuck
anyone---but with whom can you sit 
in water?"

Ilya Kaminsky

Tiny Waves


by Bianca Stone

I bet I’ll never appear in a dream or a summer dress
or next door. Displaying on one hand my prowess, the other
my difficultness, I bet there will be just enough pain
to keep me alive, long enough for the moon to be mine,
just as the sea is of women: the cockle, the star,
and the movements of the earth. Just as
the whale, stuck in its baleen grin, climbs up
out of the depths and moves to its hidden
spawning grounds—

I don’t know. What is it to be seen? I can forget
it’s language I long for. Man and his ciphers
cannot save me. Meaning cannot not pile me up
with more meaning. I go off like a firework
in the yard. I take the limbs off myself
and club the air—for the dead women of television
displayed artistically in the woods, for the details
of their hair, for their pale skin, their now foul,
ravaged cunts—do you have to be thus
to be avenged? I don’t know.

I’ve seen the last of it: an ache.
To be saved. There are wildfires
switching course to worry about.
I take my daughter to the lake and watch her feel the tiny waves.
A seagull lifts a sandwich right from my hands.
I take out my tired breast. And of having felt
like a small event for so long—having felt
like an artichoke, scraped away at with the front teeth,
one scale at a time, worked down
to the meaty heart, but with the ultimate
disappointment of meagre flesh—
of being thus, I bet I will live again.
I bet I will appear in full gear, the armor
of ugly indefinite livability, the real body,
alive or in decay—I’ll appear
like a thundering, I’ll save
myself. And you. And you.

Bianca Stone is a poet and a visual artist.
Her most recent book is “The Möbius Strip Club of Grief.”

Saturday, March 02, 2019


The Forest
Why didn't you tell
Why didn't I know
Landscapes blurred by rain
Mountains covered in snow
Why didn't I see
The forest on fire behind in snow
Why didn't I feel
Why didn't you show
The cracks under the bridge
The gaps along the road
Why didn't I see
The forest on fire behind the trees
Why didn't I see
The forest on fire behind the trees