Poem of the Week: September 16th, 2014

Megan Hudgins’s work has been published in The River Bluff Review, Anti-, and Toad: The Journal. More of her work can be found in Volume 3, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Megan Hudgins

It must be hard
to always wake
to the same kind
of morning. The one
that seems to say
there’s never been
a sun to save.
The one that strokes
you with shadows
and taunts you
with Eduardo’s
ghostly hush:
Me beijar.
Me beijar, minha filha.
Never mind
the poppy field dreams;
every morning
is a broken promise
with the trappings
of rabbitdom. A fresh
mineral lick morning
is never enough
to forget you’re
forgotten and unfree.

Poem of the Week: September 8th, 2014

Martin Balgach’s chapbook, Too Much Breath, is forthcoming from Main Street Rag. More of his work can be found at http://www.martinbalgach.com.

By Martin Balgach

This morning I listened to the first birds of spring.
Even those birds bear the weight of time on their shoulders.
I have come from the ends of the universe to tell you this. Right now
I am so present that my breaths feel like knives
and these recollections are as loud
as a stranger’s footsteps on a quiet street.
Yesterday I recited the names of every dead person I know
because each day their names are spoken less. Everyone gets forgotten.
We each forget something about ourselves,
every day. It doesn’t matter. In the afternoon,
even on cold afternoons, birds sing their truths like birds
and I long to be as original as a first kiss.
I don’t know why I am trying to tell your heart
to hear its own tick. Tomorrow is going to come like lightening.
I’ll be breathing down some stranger’s neck,
pacing old footsteps over the same sidewalk I walked yesterday,
wondering what to eat for supper.
Such tired tunes make all of us go round
like ponies at the fair. Nobody deserves anything
but we want so much. Only nothing holds us forever.

Poem of the Week: September 3rd, 2014

Ricky Garni is a graphic designer and cyclist living in Carrboro, North Carolina. His latest work, Butterscotch, was released in 2012.

By Ricky Garni

I know that if you go to the left side of the United States and look down,
there are sea otters.

If you go to the right side of the United States, and look out, there is water
as far as you can see.

If you look farther, you see castles. If you look farther than that, you see smoke.

If you look farther than that, your eyes fall down, and you see galaxies.

Galaxies which look like the Fourth of July but really, really big. Humongous.

If you stand still.

Your Mother says: come inside. Be careful. Eat everything. Look at me
when I talk to you.

Poem of the Week: August 26th, 2014

Our poem of the week is from Volume 1, Issue 2 of burntdistrict. Jakob VanLammeren’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in diode, Explosion Proof Magazine, Gigantic Sequins, Hanging Loose Magazine, Pebble Lake Review, and queerzinelit.com.

By Jakob VanLammeren

I will not drive into smoke; the fires of soybean fields will drown me if I go on.
Skinny steers leer at me through the windshield & it is dead grass heat at 8am.
My heart is an irrigation lake.
There is something inside of me that longs to charge
the fence lit with a current made to kill.
See the scorch marks near my ribs?
I am burning the perimeter crops to prevent a wildfire from spreading.
You are water tower that I can see from any tollway,
a pocket of shade like a secret crush.
There are a dozen artichoke cacti on old Route 66
but I am tired of music, of wind pushing the van toward Amarillo.
August is a corset I want to unlace.

August 18th, 2014

Our poem of the week, “Heads & Tails,” comes from Volume 1, Issue 1 of burntdistrict. Carine Topal is a native New Yorker who writes and teaches in Los Angeles and the desert area. Her 3rd collection of poetry, In the Heaven of Never Before, was published in December 2008 by Moon Tide Press.

By Carine Topal

I will bury you – your husky giggle,
your gutterblood heart, your black iris,

its pupil, window to your circumsized life
beneath heaps of cobblestone we walked

near December street, cobble by cobble laid down
by peasants, prisoners, and Finns.

Bury you. I forget how I held you, there on the calendar
of marital moments, in the season of herring boats

and egrets, while the night sailed the slips of St. Petersburg.
Or I will throw you off the bridge of the four bronze horsemen

into a large Russian emptiness. What I never named,
what you left unspoken, I swallowed whole, watched,

as you sailed down the Rekoi Neva, past the glorious summer
palace, its gaudy turrets sparkling in the distance.

It was sunset, when the nets you wouldn’t live to see, came out,
spilling the near dead hip-deep to the fisherman,

heads and tails flapping. And there was spawning somewhere.
Somewhere other than where we were.

August 4th, 2014

Alec Hershman, author of our poem of the week, lives in St. Louis where he teaches at The Stevens Institute of Business and Arts. More of his work can be found in Volume 2, Issue 2 of burntdistrict.

By Alec Hershman

Tracing a molar with your tongue,
searching for an attitude of no distinction,
an ease of feeling some let be, the clouds break.
A bit of lift in the eyebrows then, stubborn
and arcane, twin segments of wood
like a fork in the fallen tree
in whose dark the beetles whittle
soil into byzantine chambers, the fresh gray
pearls of the pill bugs, surprised
at your surprise. Imagine the face
is a covert clock, replete
with sprockets, Swiss precision.
There is a ticking in the conversation
and none of the others knows where it comes from.
Is this what is meant by private?
You laugh with your teeth to make a noise
to swallow the noise. There is always a nerve
to bury or a fence to erect. Need a hand someone said -
but what would you do with a hand
that’s not already shaken?

Poem of the Week: July 28th, 2014

Our poem of the week is “The Rain Alone,” published in Volume 3, Issue 1 of burntdistrict. Derek Pollard is co-author with Derek Henderson of the book Inconsequentia. He is also the editor of Barrow Street Press as well as a Black Mountain Fellow at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

By Derek Pollard

Suddenly, love, you are
A skein of chili peppers
Making the sky equidistant
To the sky, which is such
A bright and hugely blue

Just as the bushes
Go silver in the faltering
Blush, the sky becomes
Absolutely new in a way
That not even newness is
Wont to be but for you
Looking at it in just that
Way, which is queerly lit
With wonder and
Unexpectedness and is
The most colorful of trees

Desert mouse
Darting between, you are
Ever only that matchless
Joy we sometimes barely
See, and are perfectly
At ease in the smallness
That you clothe yourself in
That is the smallness first
Of the pebble carved by
Rain, and then of the rain

Poem of the Week: July 21st, 2014

Lizi Gilad is a 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee and an MFA candidate at UC Riverside’s Low Residency Program. Her work is published or forthcoming in Amethyst Arsenic, A-Minor, Country Dog Review, Literary Bohemian, Thrush, and others. Her poem, “Hosanna,” can be found in Volume 2, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Lizi Gilad

Save, we pray.
Save me.
Maybe mommy.
Maybe bee stings
or royal jelly.
Maybe infatuation:
hope in high heels,
a wax, flimsy underneaths.
Maybe hamster ovary cells.
Maybe machinery.
Maybe exercise.
Maybe sex and pheromones
afterward floating
like dust motes.
Maybe love. Love as in mountain.
Love as in swimming pool.
Maybe atonement, swinging
a chicken around the head.
Maybe more fat, less fat,
green juice, juice cleanse,
gluten free, meat free,
dairy free, sugar free.
Honey. Herbs.
Maybe the words
of the turbaned taxi driver
speeding me along the 280:
pray to Allah, beg
forgiveness for sins.
Maybe a laying of the hands.
Maybe little pink pills.
Maybe Om Nama Shivaya
in a strip mall yoga studio.
Maybe my child’s hands
digging in sand,
maybe watching the rows
of her todays, tomorrows.
Maybe Oprah.
Maybe rage.
A better haircut.
Another cupcake.
Maybe therapy.
Maybe poetry.
Maybe a weekend at Bethany Beach:
kneeling to the sun, kneeling,
and kneeling, and kneeling.
Maybe the bubble muscled men
in black tank tops at the corner
cupping flowers in their hands.
Maybe flowers. Fields of them.
Yarrow, chickory, blue vervain.

Poem of the Week: July 15th, 2014

Jenn Monroe, author of our poem of the week, is author of the chapbook Something More Like Love as well as the founder/editor/executive producer of Extract(s): Daily Dose of Lit. Her poem, “Newborn,” is from Volume 1, Issue 2 of burntdistrict.

By Jenn Monroe

I have no reference point for babies,
their knowledge of shadows
and light. This one, head balanced
in the crook of my arm, is not mine,
yet we rock together at the edge
of this hospital room packed
with family. His mother winces
when she laughs, her incision fresh.
Eighteen, petite, she’s happy her son
did not get her red hair. He’s kicked
off his socks exposing dry white cracks
in pink skin. Everyone has been watching
the game for the past hour as I lean in
and out of his light. Let me see your eyes.
He refuses me. We will not save each other.

Poem of the Week: July 7th, 2014

Jim Peterson’s most recent poetry collections are The Owning Stone (Red Hen Press, 2012, winner of the 1999 Benjamin Saltman Award) and The Bob and Weave (Red Hen Press 2006). His new chapbook, The Resolution of Eve, is based on the last engravings of Goya. “Migration,” our poem of the week, can be found on Volume 1, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Jim Peterson

A vase half full of dirty water gathers light
on a windowsill in a house surrounded
by forest on a piece of forgotten land.
A book on the sill opens under the open window.
Breezes flip its pages until each leaf
has its own moment in the sunlight or in

cold shadow, letters long gone,
lifted off to become particles of air.
Clothes made for a man and a woman hang
on a line stretched between two trees so old
their voices uncoil from roots that plunge
into earth’s core and soar from the highest branch

to track the faraway scars of starlight.
The words in towns and cities resonate
with these arboreal voices and tear themselves
from books like a swarm of ants that crawl
over miles and miles of undergrowth and roots
and ancient deer trails and up the exterior wall

of this house. They fill the emptiness
of the book’s pages beside the vase
where their meanings surge and coalesce
in the candlelit attentions of the man and woman.
Sometimes the words form a choir and sing:
here are the seeds of new understanding

untouched by the past; here are the bodies
of a man and a woman entangled under the sweet
verbosity of leaves; here is the place where
something in the muddy water germinates,
concentrates like a face. The moon grows full
and round as the woman. The man sleeps

open-mouthed in the sun.