May 30, 2008

Ars Poetica

Tuesday is gardenless. Overturned trash
cans, cement drying silently, a mattress
blocks the side walkway. Squirrels flick toilet
brush tails. The dead mouth of a possum.
Another day for the unpoetic. An unpoet
combs stiff, unrhymed hair, takes a good swig
of warm diet cola, the least poetic soft drink. One
river refuses to spill worn silk, to brim and swell
across lanterned bridges, doorways. Water never
reaches rock. Here’s no place for marsh skullcaps, blue
wood asters. The fledgling moon won’t crouch
in dark trees; the earth’s one satellite mutters, center
sky. Day three, unremarkable goodbye; sunset loses
meter, torn and swallowed by an old slipcover, daisies
plump the once-monostiched sofa. Half-finished
basement. Outside a highway rest stop, starlings smear
the short trees. They strive and strive to become traffic.

—Beth Martinelli

Posted by dwaber at 01:12 PM

May 29, 2008


The way to begin is not to.
Let the words rain down like summer hail.
Drown in the rising peat
smoke as crag melts to clover,
the dust of alder and mountain ash,
and then breathe water lilies and sweet grass.
Don’t be too deliberate; lime trees
won’t cluster where the rusting
train tracks narrow. Never
consciously decide which fork to follow;
pursue each barn owl through brief darkness,
the space inside light. The sun
should be an old peach, swollen and infinite,
or a faded lion that shakes
its mane, matted between tight bars of night.

—Beth Martinelli

Posted by dwaber at 01:14 PM

May 28, 2008

[ars poetica]

angry that, Bernice’s lock
doth no one show, who think
that to “get it off your chest”
is all, meaning of, sitting
for hours for the noonday
class the wine growing tepid
the oblong shadow, of doubt,
of fear and the Man, over how
many days the epic struggles
first in hashed latin then
in obbligato cinquecento prose
finally as an after struck to
the unsounded chord, the rampant
shield aloft sun’s glint the
Eye doth dart, hovering behind
clauses of rejection, pink stray
pages can go nowhere, isn’t that
what? essentially at war with
syntax, with the elemental
emotion, ghosts, who rhyme
with darkness pleasure’s ancient
ore, is it the peacocks in tumult
for rage and scorn alike?
is it for Mnemosyne the muse
of pearl-green hue?
is it for the variegated bloom
that adorns the suffix fair?
for whom is this catastrophe
of orange-red dust and powders?
is it heaven-sent we come to flail
among thunderstone and cliff?
who come to study not life
but its mundane chores and charnel
house the whores delectable a
prize in midden-heaps for those
that counting is the only game
for those who cannot above prose
rise, is it not hell their one
and only fane the boulevards
of littered prosody, come then
away to groves and shrines
where mystery, to dreams that
through cloud scrapes break!
here, admit “I do not understand”
is it to purple luster bruise
the Ear in sweet remorse doth tend?
how then does the assassin sing?
whence these Harpies to whom Meat
doth cling? Ah No more
quod I in shrouded verse aspire
the elysian fields to espy
the dire moly and asphodel to eat
isn’t that what warned us once
to remove from sight th’Infernal
and in meadows bleak to ply
the unsown shadows of dead the
angels who in Hell conspire
who will no more come summer’s
plush to enjoy nor lake and mere
beside what slight waves in breeze
ruffled move in some small sleep
who dreaming in choirs vast
of languages radiant and beyond
gyres that tumbling round the
shafts of darker planet’s score
warriors cleft from the Lamp
face down in miasmic gore, did
this one remember ever May’s
bright? in hospitals gather
by bedside verse and to archaic
statues implore what Grief!
is it to love the flower the many-
sided in winds swaying how sweet
remembrances in azure crystallize
and die
“remember Me” doth Narcissus
slake his breath in depthless Pool
doth Hyacinth then lament
upon his shepherd’s rock
the day-long grass of tears
and rent his cloak in briars
running like one Mad
into the fierce Unknown
is it to love then, Heart?
how words woven take on their own
subsiding never,
now recline and die Thy little death
it is to Love, was once by might
taken suspended High above
while in the foaming spent of eons
the years unnumbered went
“doth ever Rose so swoon and pale?”

—Ivan Arguelles

Posted by dwaber at 01:54 PM

May 27, 2008


I’m sculpting a tiny death
in my potter’s wheel
your skin ripples in motion
in time with the hum

Water is used to soften
the unformed clay
my lips knead and
mould a living wave

An exercise in timing
to link hand with heat
once in the kiln
every flaw will show

A suicide art moving
with a cry into me
and I’m left with tears
of a crouching child.

I wonder why I worked
so hard just to empty you
to have what I shaped
slip down from my hands

—Priscila Uppal
from How to Draw Blood From a Stone (Exile Editions, 1998).

Posted by dwaber at 12:49 PM

May 26, 2008

careful careful

if you drop this poem
it won’t forgive you
won’t return even one
of your calls it will
pass you by on the street
looking the other way
with shades on and heeled
shoes and never will it
trust you again or lie
in your arms or care if
you cry or even stop to
watch you fall it has no
time for you if you can’t
hold for just a second
wait for it to adjust
to the bumps in your hands
remember if you drop this
poem with certainty
it will never admit it
ever loved you, not to anyone

—Priscila Uppal
from How to Draw Blood From a Stone (Exile Editions, 1998).

Posted by dwaber at 12:47 PM

May 23, 2008

No Poetry After Internet

The book is an artifact, its dusty
leaves like layers of desert sand.

Bindings cannot stand the competition,
the glittering lights, graphic

flashiness of electric communication.
Take this ache and make it a web-page

this joy and make it an emoticon. Upon
the screen masses edit elaborate memorials.

Metaphor is dead. The poet a recycled
identity. Hold the Enter key to your lips

and press. Page Up, Page Down, Insert
Symbol. Control. Alt. Delete. Privately

a new generation of readers is busy
restructuring old verse, cutting out tongues.

The ultimate translation project:
The Word is already obsolete.

—Priscila Uppal
from Live Coverage (Exile Editions, 2003)

Posted by dwaber at 01:15 PM

May 22, 2008

Sometimes I’m Not Sure I Agree with What I Write

Sometimes I’m not sure I agree with what I write,
if the air I breathe is really and truly stale and bland
in the basement. If you have a pointed nose
like a bird’s beak or eyes the shade of burnt sunflowers.
I’m at a loss as to whether our house has Victorian trim
around the windows or an art-deco kitchen, and no one’s
confirmed to my satisfaction that the door handle
jiggles because of that awful winter in 1995.

Is my father actually to be pitied?
My mother mythologized?
My version of my lost childhood anthologized?

I’ve got the sad thing down like a posture.
The weeping willows roll in when called.
The death warrants stack themselves paper upon
paper, never caught in the printer.

Sorrow is no longer unexpected. It arrives
with every breath and bird’s beak and door handle. Winter
or summer, that awful feeling of it being there
whether it’s already left or not.

—Priscila Uppal
from Live Coverage (Exile Editions, 2003)

Posted by dwaber at 12:48 PM

May 21, 2008

The Poem Can Be Completed By Anyone

This is difficult for me to admit, but the poem
can be completed by anyone. You need not invest any particular
time or money into it; you need not even care much
for the results, the eventual outcome, as long as you lend your ear
for an instant, we will deem the experiment complete,
and you can be on your way, contemplate how it is you ended up
with those brats for children, this county for your namesake,
when you had ideals once, dreams, and you even used to pick up
a book or two, not that you ever thought much about poets,
but they were ok, worth keeping around, and so it might come to you
as a surprise but this poem needs you, whoever you are, it doesn't really
matter as long as you have eyes, as long as you breathe, whether
it's into the air or by tube, makes no difference, but you must
have at least the faintest pulse, a poem needs at least that to go on,
though it need not be finished, it's had so much trouble finishing lately,
what with everything else and all, which is why, poor passersby,
I've latched onto you the business of seeing this one through:
What is it you'd like to say?
What do you have to say for yourself?

—Priscila Uppal
from Ontological Necessities (Exile Editions, 2006)

Posted by dwaber at 01:11 PM

May 20, 2008

I'm Afraid of Brazilians or Visiting the Ancestral Homeland is Not the Great Ethnic Experience Promised by Other Memoirs

Against all political correctness,
I must say it,
I must admit:
I'm afraid of Brazilians.

I don't like them.
I don't like this country.
I don't like this language.
I don't even like this currency.

And not in the mystical sense.
Or the abstract.
Or the perfectly hypothetical.

I can't blame this fear
on movies, or television programming,
or the front covers
of Time magazine.

I'm afraid of Brazilians.
I am visiting Brazil
(my mother's country)
and I'm afraid, truly afraid
of every Brazilian I meet.

This is not something you can say
in a poem, you tell me.
Please don't compose this poem
here: in broad daylight
where any self-respecting Brazilian
could feel perfectly justified
peeking over your shoulder
to see what you've written.

Please, not so loud, you say.
You haven't given them a chance.

You're right, I admit.
(I can certainly admit it.)
I've given them no chance
to please me. Don't you

understand, this is the nature
of being afraid, and this is
the nature of the poem
I am writing, which must
get written, no matter
what the climate

or the reception
(here, in my mother's country
or abroad
or in my own ears).

—Priscila Uppal
from Ontological Necessities (Exile Editions, 2006)

Posted by dwaber at 12:12 PM

May 19, 2008

The End of the Paragraph

The heroine has informed her plot that she will escape. All of her things are in order: her adjectives have turned themselves in, nouns given up their residency cards, and the verbs, those precious little stones, are sewn smartly into her knickers. In the meantime she counts meal coupons and braids her hair into rope. Her lover asleep on the wrong exchange, she fantasizes he’s singing his medieval ballad on some old diesel train, but then must wash herself clean of that, must follow where the word leads, pull up her socks and adjust her jaunty cap, purse her lips against the electrical wires of our imagination and jump, jump, to the end of

—Priscila Uppal
from Ontological Necessities (Exile Editions, 2006)

Posted by dwaber at 01:53 PM

May 18, 2008

Women Don't Write Manifestos

History will testify: we were never good communists.
Let's not be comrades. I'm not your leader.
Just give me a fair price for my wares.
And one day, when the wind blows the other way,
you can commandeer my children,
all nine of them, if you must.

I have few fresh theories to purport,
avant-garde advice.
I won't insist one colour
is more beautiful than another.

What do I care?
I must live off-colour.
I must live.

—Priscila Uppal
from Ontological Necessities (Exile Editions, 2006)

Posted by dwaber at 03:02 PM

May 17, 2008

The Peculiar Deaths of Women Writers

From the executions of classically trained pornographers
to the acts of god (lightning, earthquakes, floods) that target
their homes, women writers die

before reaching forty, in childbirth or in bathrooms
while wringing out laundry, sorting out socks and shirts or….

They take it well though, these ladies.
Their few lines in the recovery anthologies.
The patronizing critics who imagine
each a famous bard’s sister in an alternate universe. Their bios
like thank-you notes for the invitation to the party.

I wake up with DT’s when I think of all those women, winning
contests and giving up the prize, trying on
several pseudonyms for size, squatting
like dead ducks for gentleman callers
to make a strategic choice.

‘Circumstances surrounding death unknown’, ‘birth date an educated guess’,
details derived from diaries and letters from men which have survived:
a debt uncollected, friendship ended, a falling
out of favour with the court, destitute, prostitute,
hands tied behind backs and the barrels of shotguns.

At the National Exhibition we kill them four, five at a time.
That’s me behind the decoys, between the plates. That’s my grand prize
up for grabs. Time to take dictation:
I’m going down without a fight
no matter how many fraternity boys come out tonight.

—Priscila Uppal
from Ontological Necessities (Exile Editions, 2006)

Posted by dwaber at 03:13 PM

May 16, 2008


all I know
of enjambment
I learned
from Joni Mitchell

—Kit Kennedy

Posted by dwaber at 01:11 PM

May 15, 2008


when she writes
the prerequisite
blackberry poem
taking on the indelible
words of the famous.
I’ll have none of it
substitute pussy
for pail and savor
ripest berry
coming soft/wet
in my mouth.

—Kit Kennedy

Posted by dwaber at 12:10 PM

May 14, 2008

The Miser

First night together, and he said “Don’t –
don’t ever, don’t you ever write about
me.” First thing from his mouth, and it took
her breath: he saw how she was capable,
saw what words – her words – might do.

Scraped his nails down the pale silk skin
of her fore-arm. “Don’t write about this,” he said
and bent her little finger back. She felt
like she’d swallowed gold: all that sick wealth
inside her that she’d never get to spend.

—Nathalie Anderson
first published (as part of a longer sequence of the same name) in
The American Poetry Review Philly Edition Supplement,
Fall 1999; and is also available in the book Crawlers, co-winner
of the 2005 McGovern Prize from Ashland Poetry Press, published by
them in December 2006.

Posted by dwaber at 01:10 PM

May 13, 2008

A Visit to the Excavation

You see how it is:
We piece it together.
From shards, amphorae.
From splinters, a skull.

The tipped bowl flung crazed from the kitchen,
The bone broken putrid under the straw.
We find what was cracked and left for dead.
We finger the chink the knife made.

Lost, missing, forgotten,
Trash heaped over trash:
That’s what we look for.
What was never said, we hear.

—Nathalie Anderson

Posted by dwaber at 01:54 PM

May 12, 2008

Ars Poetica

A lazy muse igniter thumb.
Follower gun. The poet handshake sound

to seek the seeker,
my sardine scale,
my salty kiss or sex for breakfast
Henry, my masculine aesthetic.

Who said that? Those horizontal rains
keep slain us to the morning tethered
we to meaning. First the mercy then
the cruel, the sexy co-eds Guns N’ Roses
singing you the giving, the going down,
Oh, Henry, are you stopping by?

See comets massive grapefruits gypsy through the sky.

Hollow passive spleen to ways of seeing,
hard the city when you shout
the winter, hate the cold and was I rosy-cheeked
and preening Colorado mountain snows,
but we’ve been cold before.

A crate of lacking mental loops and that
I want you, write you in me, my heart yet
written astonishing, but various unpeopled.

Henry here, lie down elate beside me.
I’ll tell the elk story, unless
of course, you’ve heard that one already.

—Sara Femenella

Posted by dwaber at 03:02 PM

May 09, 2008

       circa 2000 BC

Or the round shape of a paddle
that plunks in and out
of the aqueous surface
       aquiline on its own
gliding past definition
over comprehension
through seconds that count
its infinity
       curves that trace its shape
from the Cycladic Islands      it knows
               only in these words
       the cold currents
positions of the moon
       smells and tastes
               cloaking us
       in time’s oblivion

—Nancy Cavers Dougherty

Posted by dwaber at 01:42 PM

May 08, 2008

Entry on the Line

'A sidewalk is a narrow location in history, and no bright remarks can hold back the dark'
Rosemarie Waldrop, Inserting the Mirror, section 5

one foot forward
            opens the line's
      clear questions
about action
            about care
      a line is a narrow place
in history
            but an action
      that makes up history
            at the end
      of the line
the line looks
            back at us
      with time
with care
            the time spent
      in its care
            or the sexy fearful
      dream of crisis
narrows our locations
            makes no word
      seem bright enough
but here is the line
            stuck into space
                  drawing the light to it

—David Kennedy

Posted by dwaber at 12:46 PM

May 07, 2008


—Jason Christie

Posted by dwaber at 02:18 PM

May 05, 2008


Removing copulatives makes matters mysterious,
relieving images of causes, effects
deburred for a smoother ride

—Anne Talvaz
(original published in "Imagines", Editions Farrago, Tours, France, 2002)

Posted by dwaber at 12:49 PM

May 04, 2008


The drizzle repeating itself, the mountains' murmur,
white as the mist and sky. Today,
no music in the mother-chamber, behind the

curtains, and both wooden blinds. Today
the weather has darkened, and left sleeves damp. Despite the charcoal burner,
the resplendent fabrics, something nostalgia itself

can no longer contain. And behind the fierily flushed cheeks, the sweat-drenched hair,
the ink-stained fingers, perhaps
the sadness is true.

—Anne Talvaz
(original published in "Panaches de Mer, Lithophytes et Coquilles", Editions
Comp'Act, Chambery, France, 2006)

Posted by dwaber at 02:58 PM

May 03, 2008

Ars Poetica: Hitting the Curve

The only trouble with hitting a curve ball
is that your knees are in love with your skull.

To make them lean towards something someone
has flung with clenched teeth at your chin

you have to fake that your front-cleat is soaking
in an old milking pail. And believe for an instant

the truth isn’t true—that even the Gods, even
Williams and Cobb, fail more often than not.

It helps to know Plato’s is from becomes
that the field was a field, the bat a creaking ash limb.

To know even your withered, pale father was beautiful
once, the bat falling from his shoulders like silk

as you lift your foot from the bucket and wail
like Achilles, without spilling a drop of the milk.

—Patrick Phillips

Posted by dwaber at 05:07 PM

May 02, 2008

the project is the art


—Ruggero Maggi

Posted by dwaber at 01:25 PM

May 01, 2008

Underwood 5


—Ruggero Maggi

Posted by dwaber at 02:56 PM