from Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck
“‘You wouldn’t know, my Charley, that right down there, in that little valley, I fished for trout with your namesake, my Uncle Charley. And over there — see where I’m pointing — my mother shot a wildcat. Straight down there, forty miles away, our family ranch was — old starvation ranch. Can you see that darker place there? Well, that’s a tiny...
Against Seizing by James Crews
The Pacific’s reliable crush-then-surrender picks up handfuls of sand and surrounds you with a sound like this persistent present tense that washes across both feet, its lace of foam anointing the skin with intricate salt-film that dissolves as incompletely as everything in love. As these waves illustrate the endless cycle of give and take, realize that you no longer trust in seizing each...
Disasterology by Jeffrey McDaniel
The Badger is the thirteenth astrological sign. My sign. The one the other signs evicted: unanimously. So what?! Think I want to read about my future in the newspaper next to the comics? My third grade teacher told me I had no future. I run through snow and turn around just to make sure I’ve got a past. My life’s a chandelier dropped from an airplane. I graduated first in my class from...
Curriculum Vitae by Liesl Mueller
1992 1) I was born in a Free City, near the North Sea. 2) In the year of my birth, money was shredded into confetti. A loaf of bread cost a million marks. Of course I do not remember this. 3) Parents and grandparents hovered around me. The world I lived in had a soft voice and no claws. 4) A cornucopia filled with treats took me into a building with bells. A wide-bosomed teacher took me in. 5) At...
Lullaby by Paul Guest
Of salt’s place in ancient Roman currency, paid out in rough burlap bags to soldiers bearing the weight of empire, I’ll speak for a while tonight. For as long as I can recall some scrap of trivia, I’ll utter circa, anno domini, I’ll trace the bloody lines of Caesars and serve garum, a sauce of fish left to curdle in the light of that bronze sun, which I know only as much of as childhood reading...
Palindrome by Liesl Mueller
There is less difficulty—indeed, no logical difficulty at all—in imagining two portions of the universe, say two galaxies, in which time goes one way in one galaxy and the opposite way in the other… . Intelligent beings in each galaxy would regard their own time as “forward” and time in the other galaxy as “backward.” —Martin Gardner, in Scientific American Somewhere now she takes off the...
Oh God by Michelle Tea
spilling water from my back, you call and i come. that exhausted walk to reach you breathless and no i didn’t run to see you, i’ve been smoking too much, same thing. another awkward hug in the car as my face smashes your cheek that i can feel it leaving now is the saddest, a beautiful eruption you could have picked it off the tree and chowed but you weren’t hungry. feeling it dying...
earthbound but aspiring
Among my finer qualities you can count “melancholic” and “compulsive.” I like to combat malaise by drinking too much, making lists of books to read, and reading those books while drinking too much. You should feel privileged to see this list, by the way, because it indicates what an uncultured little fiend I am for not having already read these books. I’ve written...
What if I told you each time you whispered my name it felt like a door I...– Jon Pineda: Coma (via holdonmagnolia)
When I missed the South the most, I’d take to dating one of its sons: gentlemen...– Stacey Lynn Brown: When I missed the South the most (via grammatolatry)
It’s like that with you too, my mind won’t let go, I imagine you here or there...– Lindsay Ahl, excerpt from The Long-Horns (via grammatolatry)
Valedictory by Aaron Smith
They’re having this dinner for me, and I’m stuck staring at the city through the big window that takes up most of the wall. I’ve been doing this a lot lately, looking out past wherever I am, whoever I’m around. It’s childish and probably boring, but since you died I like to pretend you’re out there. Perhaps on the corner of Liberty and...
Love by Matthew Dickman
We fall in love at weddings and auctions, over glasses of wine in Italian restaurants where plastic grapes hang on the lattice, our bodies throb in the checkout line, the bus stop, at basketball games and we can’t keep our hands off each other until we can— so we turn to rubber masks and handcuffs, falling in love again. We go to movies and sit in the air conditioned dark with strangers who are in...
Daughter by Nicole Blackman
One day I’ll give birth to a tiny baby girl and when she’s born she’ll scream and I’ll make sure she never stops. I will kiss her before I lay her down and will tell her a story so she knows how it is and how it must be for her to survive. I’ll tell her about the power of water the seduction of paper the promise of gasoline and the hope of blood. I’ll teach her...
Antilamentation by Dorianne Laux
Regret nothing. Not the cruel novels you read to the end just to find out who killed the cook. Not the insipid movies that made you cry in the dark, in spite of your intelligence, your sophistication. Not the lover you left quivering in a hotel parking lot, the one you beat to the punchline, the door, or the one who left you in your red dress and shoes, the ones that crimped your toes, don’t...
Three Times My Life Has Opened by Janet Hirshfeld
Three times my life has opened. Once, into darkness and rain. Once, into what the body carries at all times within it and starts to remember each time it enters the act of love. Once, to the fire that holds all. These three were not different. You will recognize what I am saying or you will not. But outside my window all day a maple has stepped from her leaves like a woman...
For Zanne For Zanne For Zanne by Michelle Tea
o my darling your eyes are strange soft ocean things that big-bellied humans would dig up and eat raw they are puddles and slugs and i know when i’ve stepped on them by the way they squirm. o my darling your hair melts into my sink like childhood, yours, and you choose your age by the hats you wear. you are everything kindergarten i press my hands to your face like elmers glue and peel you...
What I Want For Christmas (and other holidays...
I want to know how it will end. I want to be sure of what it will cost. I want to strangle the stars for all they promised me. I want you to call me on your drug phone. I want to keep you alive so there is always the possibility of murder later. I want to be there when you learn the cost of desire. I want you to understand that my malevolence is just a way to win. I want the name of the ruiner. I...
The Poet with His Face in His Hands by Mary Oliver
You want to cry aloud for your mistakes. But to tell the truth the world doesn’t need anymore of that sound. So if you’re going to do it and can’t stop yourself, if your pretty mouth can’t hold it in, at least go by yourself across the forty fields and the forty dark inclines of rocks and water to the place where the falls are flinging out their white sheets like crazy, and...