POETRY: Sara Cooper – Elephant Giving Birth

 

Elephant giving birth
I click on the video called elephant giving
birth.
This search and click, search and click
a thing we do now, he and I,
to make the time
pass.

And there she is. As promised. Pacing. Her
mouth
a wide and soundless yawp. Opening and closing.
She shifts her weight from side to side,
agitated, waiting

for what will happen.

Other animals do not feel pain the way we do,
my husband says. As though he knows. And
the narrator

says something in a baritone voice about
standing back, allowing.
The music is tribal. Pounding drums.
All wrong.

We are zoomed in now. Balloon-like casing
oozing
from her. What is that?, my husband asks.
The sac, I say.

And I am back on the floor of our bathroom.
1 a.m.
10 weeks along, though the heart stopped at 6.
12 hours in and my body is dropping clots
the size of my fists. My doctor’s words, you
have to pass
the sac, my refrain. And my question back:
what will it look like? I mouth moans, not
wanting
to make this known. Not wanting this to be out
loud.
My husband asleep in the next room.
Like this?

The baby elephant drops with a gush of blood
like a river upended.
The mother turns to see. It is not moving. So

she begins to kick it. She kicks and kicks and
turns away and turns back and kicks.

She will kick the life into it.

And I’m stuck now in this narrative. Praying
for the impossible. 2:59 remaining. Kick,
I roar. Keep kicking.

The camera zooms in on the newly born. No
life.

In a final effort, she wraps her trunk around
the newborn. She
is gentle now, coaxing out the breath with
desperate squeezes.

And as if it has always done, all along,
the baby elephant
opens its mouth. And closes it. Opens. And
closes,

exaggerating what living looks like.

I watch the mother watch her  newborn.
Muscles slackening, focus fixed,
reckless kicking of moments ago not even
a memory.

I’m telling you, it ended this way.

 

This poem originally appeared in Sara’s book Mis–, published by Grandma Moses Press (2014). Reprinted with permission.

 

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POETRY: Willows – Stephen Mead

 

Willows

Cigarettes smoke, trail & sway,
& thus we, Mother, we also blow out
across the expanse, the lips.

On the edge, they say, on the edge
is our quadrant, a grove of willows,
the wilderness, the town of block houses
spilling orchids from their windowsills

before the desert, the Dust Bowl,
the tundra only man dares
(or is fool enough)
to traverse.

I say we’ve been there too,
out in the open, exposed to the root.

I say we know the wide oceans breadth,
the fields & factories map-large as a quilt
stitched in plain detail by Grandma Moses,
by Sojourner Truth.

Who knows?  Who knows
is an answer, a motto for what the future
may bring.  We know by standing, Father,
looking down, looking up at the earth’s
cycles, its resurrective past, its ongoing
firmament.

That path says:
So, I see you chain smoke, yet also
nurture, cultivate farmland, & observe
the heavens for their proof of mystery.

We too, yes, are evidence.

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POETRY: the inn at castle rock – Jon Huerta

 

the inn at castle rock
(a poem for Nowhere Man and a Whiskey Girl)

 

bisbee, arizona
woke up on a crooked
balcony at day break
overlooking downtown
it was a long night
like all the others before
i was still half lit
twenty or so small towns
lay in the wake of empty cans
well whiskey and song
some would call it
a fruitless endeavor
i’ll say it was the best
view of various
hardwood floors
across the southwest

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POETRY: Yoni Hammer-Kossoy – Scrawled on a Yosemite Park Map

Scrawled on a Yosemite Park Map

To the couple from the orange tent

whose amorous shushes

crept around the campground

long into the night like a bear

looking for leftovers,

I’m sorry if my kids

happened to slam the car doors

a few too many times

on our way out to an early morning

Ranger-led flora and fauna walk.

 

Staring at a lineup of RVs

crammed with wildlife-gawking

selfie-stick swinging day-trippers,

he said: the valley

had become a petting zoo.

Better head for the high country

if you’re looking for something wild.

 

So we did, and found more people and cars

but also endless pine, something blue

called sky, and mountains rising up

with a shrug that said: if not wild

then closer. Maybe it was the thin air,

or not showering for five days,

but I’d recommend the ice-clear lake

I dove into, for once not wondering

how much time was left on the clock.

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POETRY: KYLE PERDUE – “Breakfast With a Skeleton”

“Breakfast With a Skeleton”

I walked down the morning stairs

a skeleton sat at my typewriter

he was turning the wheel

trying to get the paper through

“you have to guide it through.”

I said through a yawn

he looked at me snide

his bone and marrow yellowish from decay

what are you looking at?

I thought

you’re a god damn skeleton

he took a sip of coffee

I watched it go into his jaw

through his throat

down his belly

and onto the floor

he’d gotten the paper in

and I could hear him now from the kitchen

he was typing something

“eggs?”

I called out

no response

I walked over

he was head-down, still typing

“YEAH!”

he screamed

jesus

I made the eggs— dashed with some cinnamon

I sat on one end of the table

him on the other

I watched the eggs travel through his body

and splat onto the floor where my dog ate them

“terrible.”

he said

“is that, is that cinnamon?”

what was left of his face cringed

“what were you writing?”

no response

“what were you writing?”

he took another bite of eggs and said:

“a body for myself.”

“a body for yourself?”

“a vessel for this hollow, lonely, useless, irritating,

appalling arrangement of calcium.”

“that’s what you were writing?”

“that and a love poem.”

“for Meryl”

“but how do you write a body?”

I asked him

“the same way you write a love poem,

it writes you.”

I had a sip of coffee

“I like you, skeleton, you should stick around.”

“can’t,

I’ve got to get an x-ray today.”

he showed me his broken arm

“you ever tried writing a love poem with a broken arm?”

he asked

“no, but I have with a broken heart.”

we sat in silence

just before he read me his body

and his love poem

I cried during both

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POETRY: Christine Stoddard – “Apartment Hunting”

“Apartment Hunting”

 

Theo lived with six roommates.

Half of them thought you were black;

half of them thought you were white.

In the month you found refuge on his sofa,

not one of them ever asked, but you could

read their interpretation based on

how they discussed the pricklier points of race.

None of them had been to Virginia, save for one.

He once shot past Washington, D.C. and

spent a couple of hours in Arlington

before he realized his mistake.

He said the Potomac looked ferocious,

but you were a Rappahannock River girl.

You still didn’t know the bodies of water

that threatened to swallow New York.

In Bushwick, the only drops you saw

lined the gutter and pooled on the sidewalk.

Sometimes the cry of seagulls pricked your ears.

A little lost, the birds had not steered too far off course.

But you never mentioned nature to your unwilling neighbors.

“Lavinia,” said Theo one morning, while lighting a joint,

“It’s been nice, but you have to find an apartment.

Craigslist that shit, girl. It’s not that sketch.”

You stopped chewing your grits (a remnant of home)

and nodded slower than a late-night G train.

“It’s all run together,” you say. “I forgot how long I was here.”

“This city sweeps you up, but you learn to fight it.”

He exhales and you both appreciate the clouds he fashions.

“Where do you want to live?” he finally asks.

“Somewhere where I can see the sky,” you say, surprising yourself.

“Welcome to Brooklyn. No tunnels of building shadows here.”

“As long as it’s cheap,” you say, thinking of closets and slums.

You don’t add that you have nearly run out of savings

because Theo will try to convince you to work at his office,

the call center that lets him reschedule his shifts for auditions.

You didn’t flee to New York to ooze in and out of a 9-to-5.

You didn’t move here to dread every day of your existence.

You came here to revel in textiles, to dress Broadway’s stars,

to tell stories through costumes like you dreamt in school.

“We’ll look at listings and book appointments for tomorrow,”

says Theo in a daze now that the pot has hit him.

“Sure, load me up,” you mutter and grab his joint.

It’s your moment to escape, to surrender

as a speckled seagull shrieks outside.

~

Find Christine Stoddard online.

 

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POETRY: TIM STALEY – THE MOST HONEST SYLLABLE IS SHHH

The Most Honest Syllable Is Shhh

Certainly I rinsed the vegetables.

A drummer killed himself
but I’m not even sure
he was a drummer.

The caravan abandoned the camel
in the Target parking lot.

Xanax builds the cornerstone of selfishness
on the diversion of punctuality.

A snake finds a railroad tie, hallelujah!

When working on an orgasm, distractions like the dog
scratching the french door, or the child
opening your bedroom door, or the dryer
beeping, or the washer beeping, or the timer
for the raspberries beeping, or the jazz
interrupted by the news, John Kerry broke his leg
while cycling a stretch of the Tour de France.

The ideal exists in the poems the fewest of us read.

Three people see a poem on a postcard and the national average is rattled.

Not everyone on a sofa with a bong and an acoustic guitar is cool.

I was 10 and hadn’t lost my virginity, sort of.

The Marriage Cycle:
anger proceeded by feisty dignity
followed by sacrifice.

The gangplank of adulthood is sacrifice and feisty dignity.

Children ache for actions of their own making,
not smoke machines but actual smoke.

You aren’t supposed to fast forward anyone
from The Last Waltz.

~

Visit Tim Staley online.

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POETRY: Martin Pedersen – TIME TO QUIT

Time to Quit

I do love my chips and beer
But it’s time to quit
I’ve had bushels and barrels
And been content
But my doc agrees
It’s time to quit

A life of work
A handful of pebbles
My garden needs attention
I only wanted to help
Not sure I did my duty
I’m tired now

Can’t go on forever
Time to quit and yet
My dear, I love you lots
I won’t quit you
I will never quit you
I’ll hang on to keep from drowning
Or dying of thirst.

~

Visit Martin Pedersen online.

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