January 28, 2009

To grow is not to grind


Katherine Kurtz, Going Back


The Poem You Asked For
-- by Larry Levis

My poem would eat nothing.
I tried giving it water
but it said no,

worrying me.
Day after day,
I held it up to the light,

turning it over,
but it only pressed its lips
more tightly together.

It grew sullen, like a toad
through with being teased.
I offered it money,

my clothes, my car with a full tank.
But the poem stared at the floor.
Finally I cupped it in

my hands, and carried it gently
out into the soft air, into the
evening traffic, wondering how

to end things between us.
For now it had begun breathing,
putting on more and

more hard rings of flesh.
And the poem demanded the food,
it drank up all the water,

beat me and took my money,
tore the faded clothes
off my back,

said Shit,
and walked slowly away,
slicking its hair down.

Said it was going
over to your place.


Joke in a Bank
-- by Matthew Rohrer

When you try to make a joke
in a bank
it falls flat
there's an armed guard
standing there
wearing sunglasses indoors
motionless
but no one laughs
in fact my intentions
are misunderstood
no, no, I am just
going to walk out
the door and come back in
to turn my coins
into paper money
fifty-three dollars
in the sunshine
I'm on my way
with my jacket
in my backpack
and the steel
grates over the pubs
early afternoon
my step as high
as the starlings
bickering in the sky
the birdsong
of the city
and the paper lifting off
the sidewalks
goodbye, I wish
the world were different


Variations
-- by Tina Celona

There is some rotting fruit on the ground, a melon and some bananas. The men are sated and lie back on the ground naked. They are interested in each other’s athleticism and their interest is not sexual. Where are the women? The women are absent. The colors are green and gold and black (shadow). I want to fight the men who look so tired. I want to revive them and straighten their shoulders. I want to transpose them to another painting and wipe their faces and give them sustenance. I want to give them milk.

--

The woman has a man’s face. She is staring at her parts. Her breasts denote womanhood. She is in gray. She is naked and she props herself up on her arms. The ground takes up most of the canvas. I want to fight her and hide her belly folds. I want to fight myself with all my arms against all my arms. The pain causes me to become rigid and when I fight myself I know I am not coming back. This is totally fine with me.

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