World Cup 2014

 

WORLD CUP 2014

                                   thinking of Ashley Capps’ Mistaking the Sea for Green Fields

 

I’m watching the first of the games, and all I can think of
is how true that could be, here—their bodies suspended

over all that green. The white uniforms and the legs bent
like V’s, the swastika bodies, always turning and returning

across a green field and faceless, towering seats. Perhaps
it’s all pointless—the running of a ball back and forth, aiming

in-between two steel poles—but what seems even more so
is their inability to hide. Never do we see their arrival

on that field, or their exit. We only see that constant flux
from offense to defense, that constant-green terrain. They keep

moving, breathing, eating the air, until that final turn, which
sometimes feels further and further away, sometimes suspended,

too, against that green that is a little too green for grass.

 


Reading Poems—The Art of Dabbling

Sometimes—particularly when life feels a little too busy, or the days need a little more structure (like the summer!)—I find myself immersed in the art of what I’ve come to call “dabbling.” This might mean simply browsing around on Google, or the newest Best American Poetry, specifically looking at names I do not recognize in the literary magazines I’m subscribed to, or following VerseDaily and Poem-A-Day. . . But the whole point during one of these phases is to be exposed, at least minimally, to as many new poems AND poets (whether “new” or “new to me” is not the concern) as possible.

I have this somewhat-romantic expectation that the great poets, whether those who are widely-defined as “great,” or those I personally aspire to, perform this act of dabbling on a regular basis—digging through all the voices and names and topics for that new talent, that voice that is particularly fresh, that “move” in a poem that is especially invigorating. It’s an act that I truly aspire to transform into a habit, because these phases of dabbling feel like the moments when I am learning the most, when I am the most open to change and new attempts in my work and reading; and I imagine this sort of constant flux is what keeps some of the greats so many steps ahead of the rest. . .

Below, I have included four poems that I have found particularly interesting lately via Poem-A-Day, as well as a few closing thoughts of what these four have taught me lately.

 

NOELLE KOCOT

ON BEING AN ARTIST

 

Saturn seems habitual,
The way it rages in the sky
When we’re not looking.
On this note, the trees still sing
To me, and I long for this
Mottled world. Patterns
Of the lamplight on this leather,
The sun, listening.
My brother, my sister,
I was born to tell you certain
Things, even if no one
Really listens. Give it back
To me, as the bird takes up
The whole sky, ruined with
Nightfall. If I can remember
The words in the storm,
I will be well enough to sit
Here with you a little while.

 

*

 

AIMEE NEZHUKUMATATHIL

UPON HEARING THE NEWS YOU BURIED OUR DOG

 

I have faith in the single glossy capsule of a butterfly egg.
I have faith in the way a wasp nest is never quiet

and never wants to be. I have faith that the pile of forty
painted turtles balanced on top of each other will not fall

as the whole messy mass makes a scrabble-run
for the creek and away from a fox’s muddy paws.

I have been thinking of you on these moonless nights—
nights so full of blue fur and needle-whiskers, I don’t dare

linger outside for long. I wonder if scientists could classify
us a binary star—something like Albireo, four-hundred

light years away. I love that this star is actually two—
one blue, one gold, circling each other, never touching—

a single star soldered and edged in two colors if you spy it
on a clear night in July. And if this evening, wherever you are,

brings you face to face with a raccoon or possum—
be careful of the teeth and all that wet bite.

During the darkest part of the night, teeth grow longer
in their mouths. And if the oleander spins you still

another way—take a turn and follow it. It will help you avoid
the spun-light sky, what singularity we might’ve become.

 

*

 

MATTHEW ZAPRUDER

IDAHO

 

All summer
it was on fire
I was as always
in California,
looking out my window,
discovering nothing,
then flying back
east far
above those forests
filled with black
smoke to feel
again that way
I will keep
failing to name.
O the same mistakes
O the mythical
different results.
It’s true one day
I walked a ridge
saw a hawk
read three letters
by Keats, bought
some postcards
I will never send,
and in a blue
scrawl made
a list then fell
asleep holding
volume twelve
of the old
encyclopedia
some stranger
sent to fill
me with pictures
and information
about that land
where no president
has ever been born.
I woke wanting
so much to go
inside the mountain
they call
The Cabinet
to find
a few bats
and the daughter
of the chambers
drawing ibex
on the walls
so I can ask
her how soon
and in what manner
we will join them.

 

*

 

MARK IRWIN

MY FATHER’S HATS

 

     Sunday mornings I would reach
high into his dark closet while standing
     on a chair and tiptoeing reach
higher, touching, sometimes fumbling
     the soft crowns and imagine
I was in a forest, wind hymning
     through pines, where the musky scent
of rain clinging to damp earth was
     his scent I loved, lingering on
bands, leather, and on the inner silk
     crowns where I would smell his
hair and almost think I was being
     held, or climbing a tree, touching
the yellow fruit, leaves whose scent
     was that of a clove in the godsome
air, as now, thinking of his fabulous
     sleep, I stand on this canyon floor
and watch light slowly close
     on water I’m not sure is there.

 

*

 

In this particular batch of poems, I have read each of the writers before, but what became so interesting to me was what each of these poems were able to teach me about these writers—the involvement with image, the influence of the familial (and certainly the philosophical—inviting the outside in), the sharpness of voice and persona, the complication of image against content, that juxtaposition.

They’re beautiful, these poems, and what they offer. Perhaps what is even more beautiful is the chance under which I read them: for the first time, in this particular order, back-to-back-to-back, allowing these voices and images to influence and transpose upon one another.

That is the sharpest beauty of dabbling: that chance.

The sort of poem that might arrive, after reading these in quick succession, could be beautiful. And better, it could be striking. At least that’s one of my greatest hopes.

 


China Cabinet

 

CHINA CABINET

 

Listen—we are not discussing
private matters. We are discussing how the rain strikes
a teacup, a platter,
a spoon. Left outside, they are
vulnerable, the bare skin, the touch
of water to metal or china—
the tick tick tick—the clicking
of a jaw. It happens: you leave them
out in the open, under all that sky,
and around midnight, you wake. It is raining,
and you remember. The table is placed
somewhere between a fence and the edge
of the woods, open like a mouth.
And the dishes, they are like children,
clustered there. You walk out into
the rain and hear the call
of a night bird. And then another,
answers.

 


Receiving an Honorable Mention!

Great news! My poem, “Domesticity,” just received an Honorable Mention in the 2014 Western Michigan University Creative Writing Contest, in the graduate level division of poetry.

Thank you, Adam Clay, for judging and for your recognition of my poem! It is greatly appreciated; this poem really means a lot to me.


Bees & Honey

BEES & HONEY

It is spring, and what you expected
of its beauty has not yet

arrived. Things are still a little too dead
to wake up & break open. Soon the flowers

will act like small, color-blown cups
for the insects and the rain.

A.R. Ammons steps out into
the great open and says,

“I am extremely beautiful.”

Don’t worry so much about the rain and
whether or not there will be dew

the next morning. In the end, there is always rain—
somewhere—in the end, there will always be dew

to fall and cup over your cheek. Whether these
are tears, of sadness or joy, or dew, will not

matter. Your child will be extremely
beautiful. Life is everywhere.

The bees are calming down.

*

inspired by A.R. Ammons’ poem “Bees Stopped”

“steps out into the great open” is borrowed from A.R. Ammons’ poem “Some Months Ago”


Pomegranate

POMEGRANATE

This is how it happens—he lifts
the dress above your head

and brings it down around
your hands. You become

a peacock, all feathers,

all lace. You breathe
deep, shrinking

your frame as he fastens
the eye-hook, zips up

the dress. Then, the shoes—crows’ feet—

and you are ready.
As you are presented, you realize

this event is on reverse:
the male, in flaming color,

wears black. You, in startling white, hope

to maintain one tradition: the free fall,
like the red-tailed hawk, when

the two of you, at last, meet
at the center of the sky, latch

your talons, and fall.


Ultrasound

ULTRASOUND

 
The body is pregnant                     with limbs

and dismemberment—they tremble

                    and clutch. Their mouths are open

and closed again, the green bodies                     like ghosts

                    turning over, a foot thrusting outward,

another hand reaching                     gripping

                    emptiness. It reaches for you and gathers

nothing, is not angry—tries                     again.

                    This is how you know these are the earliest signs

of motherhood—all that came before (windy breeze)

                    was the carrying.


%d bloggers like this: