Friday 31 May 2013

"Drought" in New Statesman

My poem, "Drought," in the last print issue of New Statesman, is now available to read online. Imaginatively set in central Illinois, it comes from a manuscript in progress about home, family and death (would that I were joking) titled The Weather in Normal.*

*You know Normal's the name of my hometown, right?

Monday 27 May 2013

Heather Phillipson's Instant-flex 718 (Bloodaxe, 2013)

Some favourite passages from this delightful first collection:

I had discovered that the earth goes around the sun.
Copernicus pre-discovered it.

last stanza of 'Heliocentric Cosmology'

Enjoy your western wafts of coolth, thwacking in off the broad Pacific. It's not possible to describe the climate here. We lie low like coy carp.

end of 'Dear Johnny Bunny,'
(that title should be struck through)

                                                        Only those
who still have hope can capitalise on sobbing. 

end of 'Darling, You Missed a Revelation'

Remember when I was this tall
a flourishing know-nothing at the height
                         of her drawing pencils!


Is this true why did I say it?

from 'Speech to Be Delivered at the First Convenient Occasion'

Bookcases aren't reassuring, love.
Literature is too exciting, enmeshes you in its concerns
and irregular verbs, half-lost in personal sundry items.

from 'An Encounter in the New Language'

Remember the mind has uncharted districts.
Fork up events. Prime them to happen.

from 'Fingers Are Not Ignorable'

                                                                     Touching the dead
marries them to us, us too death marries.

from 'Oh. Is he dead?'

Is there no law against junk thought? Is this modernity?

from 'When the City Centre's at a Standstill, It's Really
Quite a Thrill to Lie in the Road and Read Herman Melville'

Through windows, the road is an extensive misunderstanding
confirmed by an engine. It is panoramic condensation.

opening stanza of 'How Things Haven't Changed'

At time of posting, Instant-flex 718 is 25% off at Foyle's (UK).

Saturday 18 May 2013

Jennifer Militello's Body Thesaurus (Tupelo, 2013), second selection

A second and final selection of favourite passages from this book:

                      Never and always sleep so close
their hair intertwines and tangles as they twist.


         Sometimes this means ignoring the nudity
of a quiet day.

from "The Smoldering Hand"

As it is, I am rich with different versions of myself, and I do not know an antidote for me.

from "Autobiography toward a Study of a Thousand Wounds"

The corridors of me whisper with chains.


                              I pass through ghosts 
of my own gone self. The little winds

that are its pulse.

from "Autobiography with God Complex and Epidemic"

How the sleep came, a downdraft
of birds.

 from "Autobiography in Not-Song and October"

                              The impossible strings
of pearls I once believed were days.

from "What Cultivation Means"

Welcome to changing everything. Welcome to starving
out of sleep. By morning, weariness will have replaced

the jawbone of a thinned and willful sky.
This illness is savage. These clouds, they are scythes.

end of "There Remain New Branches"

They kept evolving unpredictable results, found a vertigo of snakes and called it the mind, found time and called us its puppets.

from "Antidote with Attempts at Diagnosis"

What hooks you breaks you. Rides you clean.


Blessed are those for whom the sound of memory has a sharpness of violins.
          They shall feel scaffolding deep in the blood.
Blessed are those who walk a shoreline while its whispers swarm.
          Meaning is a bird call in the interim.

from "Antidote with Beatitudes"

                              It is not the trait
of an inherited gene, it is not inherited:
it is ours to take. What being means

is a trick that brightens. One finds oneself
queen among the dead. One finds oneself draped
in ashes and made. The shapes of rain and
candid lenses. The facts of hammer and grease.

end of "Wholeness Is an Imagined State"

At the time of this posting, Foyle's has Body Thesaurus for 35% off.

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Jennifer Militello's Body Thesaurus (Tupelo, 2013), first selection

Back in 2008, I posted some fine passages from an issue of one of my favourite American literary magazines, Denver Quarterly. One of them was by Jennifer Militello, who in turn found me on Facebook. We met for the first time at the AWP conference in Chicago in 2012 (as she lives in New Hampshire). 

While I liked her first collection, Flinch of Song, I'm loving her second collection, Body Thesaurus. Here's my first selection of some of my favourite passages from it.

Then the color blue, like the pupil music dilates
inside us, throws wet on the line a twisted dress,
so free of the body's stem that within its shape

a storm is seen.


Truth brings in its hissing room.

from "The Skins We Slit Seeking the Vertebrae of Snakes"

I paled like a throat of birch.


Each small animal fallen wild. What I thought
was cold cried in the night like an abandoned well.

from "Personality State: Prophet"

I want to give fate a reason
to hate me and exhaust me and lick me up.


One eye to the nowhere periscope of sleep.


The many bicycles of memory and their many
broken chains.


of road, wind forbidden, excellence of coast.

from "Personality State: Scavenger's Daughter"

...the sky's white sheet drying in the wind....


The wheat has a wind-violence in it yet.

from "Personality State: Persephone"

I am only wolves, a thin endless shiver of what
is undernourished, of what I once saw drinking
with its stone-cold tongue at the plethora of rain.


Death: its mere parasol baptized me once.
My memories are necklaces made from its teeth.

from "Personality State: Animal"

A hungry downriver in my voice.

from "Somnambulism"

Things too thin inhabit our dreams and we take on
their starving.


There is an entire August storm in everything said,
and to open the violent hives of remembering,

we imagine marigolds, birds drowned in the creek,
the lights left on in a room left behind.

from "Afterburn"

Late August already. The jagged at their sins.
God crouching at the labor of us, us crouching

at the labor of ourselves....


I hear reasons not to cry but I am crying to feel
the cold come in like an illness that will recover me.

from "Interview under Hypnosis"

When joy is hollow armor, fractures can be seen
where clean breaks are imagined; in a world
where nothing is clear, the world is a wound.

from "X-Ray of a Rib Cage"

At the time of posting, Body Thesaurus is available from Foyle's for 35% off.

Wednesday 8 May 2013

"Interview under Hypnosis" by Jennifer Militello

I've been reading Body Thesaurus (Tupelo Press), the new second collection by my friend Jennifer Militello, and asked her if I could post the following poem here.

Interview under Hypnosis

Describe what you would have seen had the roosters
woken you closer to dawn.

Late August already. The jagged at their sins. 
God crouching at the labor of us, us crouching

at the labor of ourselves, with iron rods sewn
inside our clothes to keep our glass bodies

from breaking. Listening shivers at
the nerve endings. Things unfailingly cringe.

Describe being endangered.

I hear reasons not to cry but I am crying to feel
the cold come in like an illness that will recover me.

A bruise finds me, a bruise knows where I sleep:
the pear’s sickly skin the color of a throat,

ravines that sing where ravines never were,
the sky in igneous ropes. 

Describe being unreal.

When I finally woke, what was the world
but sleep. Graveyards where the wind is why,

wild as cursive and motorcycle-stark and white
as a gown of waiting. I am melting toward a world,

the small belly, into vivid such-liquids and
a disguise of lavishes. October lacerations.

The neon nears. No one tells me what
to believe and for once I believe in nothing.

Jennifer Militello

At the time of posting, Body Thesaurus is available from Foyle's at a brilliant 35% discount.