Poem of the Week: October 22nd, 2014

Eric Weiskott, author of “Submit Seasonal Poems Two Months in Advance,” is a PhD student in English Language and Literature at Yale University. In addition to scholarly articles on Old and Middle English poetry, he has published poems in Canopic Jar, Cricket Online Review, Versal, and elsewhere.

SUBMIT SEASONAL POEMS TWO MONTHS IN ADVANCE
By Eric Weiskott

I am writing autumn poems
in June, Doctor, my liver hurts,

I have started thinking in words
I don’t recognize. Please help me

kill myself. I love the summer
and what the fall inherits,

trees, the clarity of nighttime.
It is fall during each season

separately, but especially
during summer, which sometimes begins

two months in advance, and sometimes
earlier, the chicks melt, sometimes

summer begins in other countries,
in advance, indiscernibly,

one day it is clear to people
through and through.

Poem of the Week: October 15th, 2014

Susan Aizenberg is the author of a full-length collection of poetry, Muse, from Crab Orchard Poetry Series/SIUP and a chapbook length collection of poems, Peru. More of her work can be found in Volume 2, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

MORNINGS
By Susan Aizenberg

She would have cooked
his breakfast, eggs sunny-side up,
runny the way he liked them,
strong boiled coffee poured
and waiting, better than the diner.
But before the train screaming
through tunnels, his windowless office,
the idiots he had to “sir,”
he needed a space without her
or his children, so he dressed
in a crack of light from the bathroom,
held his shoes by two fingers,
and left them sleeping. That walk

to the diner was his time, last stars
fading out, sky lightening
from black to blue to white.
He walked in all weather,
let each season touch him all over,
lifted his face equally to rain
or sun. He liked to watch the old
houses stir awake, to nod to the woman
in her slippers on 27th, smoking
as she strolled her little mutt.
To step back smoothly
from the paper boy’s wild toss.

Milk bottles sweated on doorsteps,
sweet cream left on top,
and once, though he never told
this, he lifted one from its wire basket,
drank it down, right there, under
his neighbor’s winking porch light,
left the empty on the stoop.

Poem of the Week: October 1st, 2014

Carolyn Hembree’s first collection of poetry, Skinny, was published by Kore Press. Her poetry can also be found in Volume 1, Issue 2 of burntdistrict.

WHAT PLACE THEN FOR A CREATOR?
By Carolyn Hembree

The dead girl decks herself in redbud, red algae, red-shouldered hawk for me

She swims through reeds to my sick room

She burns sassafras in the mountain cave

She steeps black elder tea

She reads is smoke is smoke is smoke

She hangs gourds in a chinaberry

She hangs chinaberry and owl in eventide

She charms me with water mocassins

She charms them from water from skins from cans of lard

She puts her fingers and tongue through a treillage of green heron horse nettle

She molds double vowels to her gums – sweet gum woolly adelgid

She speaks through fever dreams in tongues without skulls

She is like the blood thrown from my window

She greens my sunken chassis in splendor

               o earthen vessel                o living water                o algaeic angel

Poem of the Week: September 24th, 2014

Alex Lemon is the author of Happy: A Memoir (Scribner), and the poetry collections Mosquito (Tin House Books), Hallelujah Blackout (Milkweed Editions), and Fancy Beasts (Milkweed Editions). His poem, “Life Coach,” can be found in Volume 1, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

LIFE COACH
By Alex Lemon

O moral courage, O Barry
White-sized doses of human

Growth hormone. Gird your
Loins, grasshopper: Blood

Clots are branching up to
The heart of each person you

Love. In the preternatural light
Before the sun rises, every home

On your block, foggy with dream
Fumes, has, for one imperfect second

Of lightning zaps & rodent
Bites, a 50-50 chance of becoming

A mound of smoking dirt.
Your child’s EZ-bake oven

Has been recalled. Do not
Weep. You must be strong.

A mother is leaving her two
Kids in the car. Listen up.

Feel it. Already, the temperature
Is a dozen above 100.

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.

BUT THE WORLD’S FIRST BIOLUMINESENT RABBIT HASN’T LEFT THE LAB
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
confettied
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.

WHAT HOLDS US
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.

THE MYTH OF GEOGRAPHY
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.

from SILOS & SMOKESTACKS
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.

HEADS & TAILS
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.

YOUR NAME IS ONE OF THE YELLOW ONES
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?