Strict Diet

Strict Diet
by J. Crews

Though the doctors said no salt,
salt was all my father craved.
His body bloated, skin water-logged
and gray, still he wanted potato chips,
honey-baked ham, greasy slabs
of Polish sausage from Piekutowski’s.
He begged for pepperoni pizza,
garlic butter, ribs slathered in sauce.
But when I did the shopping,
I searched only for labels that said
low sodium and no preservatives, instead
bringing home heads of broccoli,
turkey burgers, shredded wheat.
And when he died anyway,
guilt gnawed me like an ulcer—
how could I have denied him
his few final pleasures?—
until I found Big Mac wrappers
stuffed under the car seat,
jars of pickles in the hall closet,
and hidden among wads of tissues
near the night stand, his stash—
a half-used canister of salt.
I sat down on his sagging mattress
now stripped of stained sheets
and studied that blue label
with the girl in the yellow dress
holding her umbrella against a rain
of salt still falling from the sky.

Meryl Streep, Meg Ryan among readers at poetry tribute

Meryl Streep, Meg Ryan among readers at poetry tribute

NEW YORK — At an all-star tribute to poetry on Wednesday, Meryl Streep was thinking about her family.

The Oscar-winning actress sang a lullaby she learned from her mother; read a Gary Snyder poem she had heard about from her sister-in-law, actress Maeve Kinkead; and recited a poem by Maggie Smith (the writer, not the actress, Streep reminded the audience) about a parent protecting her kids from the sorrows of the world:

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.

Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine

in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,

a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways

I’ll keep from my children.

Streep, Meg Ryan and Grammy-winning jazz artist Cecile McLorin Salvant were among the readers, and singers, at the 15th annual presentation of Poetry & the Creative Mind. The sold-out event at Avery Fisher Hall was presented by the Academy of American Poets in honor of National Poetry Month. It also featured Amanda Palmer, Maurice Hines and several others reading works by such poets as Frank O’Hara and Nikki Giovanni — and sometimes throwing in a little music.

Palmer brought a ukulele on stage and roared the instrument’s praises, while Salvant’s voice was all she needed for a shattering performance of the Bessie Smith song “You Ought to be Ashamed.” Hines was shaking and twitching and nearly started dancing as he read Maya Angelou’s “Ain’t That Bad?” He first heard the poem from Angelou herself when they happened to ride on the same train.


Read entire article here.

Lorna Goodison First Female Poet Laureate of Jamaica

Lorna Goodison First Female Poet Laureate of Jamaica

Poet Lorna Goodison will step into the role of Jamaica’s second official Poet Laureate becoming the first Jamaican woman appointed to the post. Goodison picks up the mantle from Professor Mervyn Morris, who was the first Poet Laureate of Jamaica appointed by the government. Goodison, who has authored 12 books of poetry as well as short story collections and a memoire will be invested as Poet Laureate of Jamaica on May 17, 2017, at a ceremony held at King’s House in Kingston. She will serve in the post from May 2017 through to May 2020.

Currently one of Jamaica’s most celebrated writers, Goodison has received a Gold Musgrave Medal from the Institute of Jamaica, and a Jamaica National Order of Distinction (Commander Rank). Her collection I Am Becoming My Mother won the Commonwealth Writers Prize for the Americas region (1986) while Oracabessa earned the OCM Bocas Prize for poetry in 2014.

Goodison’s other poetry collections include Turn Thanks, Travelling Mercies and Controlling the Silver. She has penned three short story collections, Baby Mother and the King of Swords, Fool-Fool Rose is Leaving Labour-in-Vain Savannah, and By Love Possessed. Her memoir, From Harvey River: A Memoir of My Mother and Her Island, described as “a masterpiece of timing and texture”, received much critical praise and was awarded British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-fiction in 2008. Goodison’s work has also been widely anthologized.

Here is one of her poems:

I Am Becoming My Mother

Yellow/brown woman
fingers smelling always of onions
My mother raises rare blooms
and waters them with tea
her birth waters sung like rivers
My mother is now me

My mother had a linen dress
the colour of the sky
and stored lace and damask
to pull shame out of her eye.

I am becoming my mother
brown/yellow woman
fingers smelling always of onions.

Passion at the Drop of a Bone

Passion at the Drop of a Bone
by Meghan Tennison

Please, Arrest
my attention before i Faint
in your Holy presence
Cool down your hypnotic eye
i’m not ready for this
stormy abyss — Be Careful with what
you’re afraid of, wishing
for the wrong things in the wrong ways
the benefit of devilish details

You, my Dear
look intensely tense
Zoned-out & stressed
Stunningly disgusting, you look
Sad & Dead
at this rate, Valentine’s day will never end

there are incalculable reasons why
i Feel i Love you
you harbor a Heavenly scent
your aura, heavy, like liquid gas
what can i say?
you took my breath away
Give it back
this attraction is killing me
your magnetism has serious side effects
your rainbow-colored breath
wasn’t much of a warning

my soul resides in an empty vessel
with small offerings scribbled
noteslips containing the gross means
the meaningful meanings of my life
so far, mostly missing
disappearing, dropping into
the backyard cesspool
of instinctual desires

my vaginal cave salivates
with pheromones & oxytoxin for the 1st time
since that 1 time when
i gave birth to myself & everybody else
was sleeping & forgot
to record history

you Tease me with your Brain Waves
my atomic mass crashes
through your mountain ranges
you want me to take you
seriously, your yearning
as Deep as the
Grand Canyon’s Howl
i wish you the Greatest
Lakes to drown your resentments
purge your doubts
Restore the Star Light
in your Laughter

falling too fast to keep up
losing myself, missing out
on your Beauitful Songs
as long as i wait
Alone with my head full
aching, cracking, swollen
with cries&screams
from nobody nowhere
it’s all in my head
it isn’t Real

Let us meet
in-between the dark spaces
Kissing Shadows, finding our Way
through the impossible metaphysics
of our dreams

my mind plays hide&seek
with your mind, our feelings
our Will
Merges & Creates
this miraculous mess

who said we couldn’t
invent our own

Writers Resist: Hundreds to attend pre-inauguration protests

Large numbers of people are expected to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump on Jan. 20, but many others won’t wait that long.

On Jan. 15, hundreds of writers and artists will gather at more than 50 events across the country and abroad — on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday — to “re-inaugurate” democracy, in their words.

A flagship event on the steps of the New York Public Library will include the participation of, among others, Alexander Chee, Michael Cunningham, Rita Dove, Jeffrey Eugenides, Masha Gessen, Siri Hustvedt, Mary Karr, Colum McCann, Rick Moody, Robert Pinsky, Francine Prose, Andrew Solomon, Art Spiegelman, Meg Wolitzer and Jacqueline Woodson.

Co-sponsored by PEN America, the gathering will feature authors reading from past and present works that address democratic ideals and freedom of expression.

“This is only a starting point in raising our voices in defense of democracy,” the poet Erin Belieu, who founded the Writers Resist movement, said in a statement. “Whether you live in a red or blue state, or another country that cares deeply about the American experiment, there is no more important battle than our right to truth.”


Where Did It Go?

Where Did It Go?
by Jeff Dutko

Where did it go?
The salt of the city
that seasoned our conversations
and spiked our efforts with exuberance

This earthen city, now plain and dry
left with only the equivalent
of a few hundred nocturnal poems
that crawl out of the earth
like worms, only in the rain
until they too find themselves
in the pain of light
beached in the cracks
harbored in the hot stones
salt in their wounds

Can’t Get Outside Myself

Can’t Get Outside Myself
by Dan Raphael

There’s a thunder-storm in my stomach, arctic midnight in my heart

a muscular wind wanting to push things out

but everythings too particulate to move consistently

swirling around an abandoned center, reversing in passive resistance

and aerodynamic charm

With this much scattered momentum who could say still, stand straight

as i radiate anti-magnetic bands of confusion & frustration, impenetrable

like a gyroscopic with hiccups willing randomly shifting parts of itself

from ferrous to feral, strong and wild, fused & undisciplined,

a dust devil i mistake for connect-the-dots,

planets formed from cosmic sneezes inherent gravity,

a sun with diarrhea

60 geese in the schoolyard across the street—how many of them are me

how many of whatever birds in the giant cave of my chest

so wide the hummingbirds must rest while crossing

from one efflorescent lungle to another

If i could clear out my engine compartment, replace and retrofit,

would i go for speed or armor, maneuverability or camouflage

the world seems scary big, all paved and signless, traffic coming from all directions

and so suddenly in spite of no places to hide, all buildings transparent and

permeable, more ideas than structures, more advertising than shelter

When i see the twin i never had walking down the street i need a mirror,

an ID check, my location on the global personality system:

am i more like poland or kenya today, am i lost in square miles

of mutant sunflowers or trying to find the way out of this 30 story apartment

birds keep smashing against the windows of, birds with blood the color of antifreeze.

i crave a sizzling aroma with ingredients from 3 continents,

a fruit with juice so thick It cannot be contained,

will find a way to colonize the nearest valley

Perhaps the key is verticality, a long metal line, antenna and conduit,

taut but not tense, full sensory arrays, a sky always in a minor key—

what type of horn would my black lab blow, brown bear on tenor, cat on keys

while all i can hear is a passing car’s mega bass, pounding amelodically

no music, just forces, like tangoing with someone who’s anesthetized

& my nose is dripping snow

Examining myself for a newly forming wetland,

a leaking uncharted pipeline, an immobile river.

when i touch the faucet my temperature begins to plummet,

my blood pressure seals all the hatches and prepares to dive—

torpedoes of rage, minefields of mass media, you don’t have to enlist

to be on this list, no angel splashing V8 on my door

the locks were changed while i slept and i cant get out of myself,

windows sealed in saran wrap, blue-toothed electricity swarming

disguised as fruit flies and mice, that ozone smell meaning rain

or a bolt of lightning from the toilet, a door that’s never been

in the back of my closet, an 80 year old telephone

ringing like a blacksmiths mallet—i am both bellows and flame;

how long do i have to hammer this bone before i can eat it,

how far do i have to run before the earth throws me into clouds

who may not recognize me as anything other than trash


by Pat A Physics

All snow can grab your energy, your sound, your smell, your thoughts, your color, your movements, your observations and never give back a thing other than the absence of things.  Take North Dakota, for instance.  If you go to North Dakota to protest losing your humanity to the snow, then you will come back a corpse-sickle.  I once saw someone form a batch of snowballs in preparation for an all out war.  He took too long to get ready, and he got his ass ambushed by the enemy.  They used his snowballs against him.  Do you go to these movies that feature people that cry?  Well, there are people who pay good money to go out into the snow, drive on hazardous roads, then go inside a dark room and watch people cry and get all bummed out- then they go home sad on the hazardous roads!  The other day, I was making nachos and I accidentally brushed the temperature control on the refrigerator.  Later on, my refrigerated food was okay except for my beer and my soy sauce.  It was Chinese night, and I had been stiffed on soy sauce packets (plenty of fish sauce, of course).  My idea was to scoop out some frozen soy sauce and microwave it.  When scooping it out, I realized that it was a lot like the snow you see on the street.  The soy sauce exploded and bubbled all over my microwave.  God damn street snow!  You know how they told you in school how all of us kids were all special like snowflakes.  Then to help us meditate on the analogy, the teachers gave us green and red construction paper, and walked us through a procedure to make symmetrical cuts in the paper to form snow flakes.  I remember thinking, “free day” because there was nothing for me to do because I hate art.  I took a pair of scissors, dismantled them using a pen and some leverage, and began carving “vanilla ice” into my desk with one of the blades.  Most people use trash can lids in my neighborhood to fly down a particular hill in the park when it is a snowday.  I got the idea to use these political signs from a person’s yard that were just sitting there so people could ignore them.  I passed them out to all of my friends, and they worked way better than the trash can lids.  Then this man told us to put the signs back.  He had run up to the hill in his pajamas, and was shivering in the snow.  He looked very upset because he knew that he was taking away our new sleds, and also felt violated because we had trespassed, stolen his property, ruined the signs, etc.  The snow was falling and we were standing there awkwardly in silence.  It was not my fault, it was the snow!  The snow had ruined this man’s political endeavors.  We collected the signs, and brought them to his house.  We tried to put them back the way they were, but they were all bent and hard to read.  There is this thing that people trot out about how nuanced language is.  They tell you that the Inuit have fifty words for snow.  This is bologna.  The word for snow that an Eskimo uses has the same amount of forms as its English counterpart.  The fact that people continue to lie about this only proves that snow is able to take away what little dignity we have as human beings.  It is incredible.  Snow is unforgiving, unmerciful, lacks clemency, leaves you naked and thoughtless.  Snowstorms, blizzards, flurries.

Here & Then There

Here & Then There
by Noah Gordon

From a built-in radio came the call:

“Please do not feed the sand-pipers
or the grazing mares.

Their bluffs are well-stocked
and maintained by professionals.”

I reached for her hand
and we descended into the deep
meadow. Gulls from Lisbon
had all but claimed this area
for their own.

Signs were posted:

“Do not disturb the seagulls-
or their eggs.” Or,

“Keep to trail: eggs on grass.”

I was trying to explain to her
why we drove two hours out here.

“You see, in 5 years this place
will be a 7/11, or a light-rail stop,
or a shooting range for the yips in
Shawn’s Valley.”

But she walked on

in silence,

sensing my bullshit.


by Frank Scarangello

She visits at 11:11
sometimes a.m. mostly p
A sudden haunting urges me
to look at a clock which must be digital.

Dropping by for just a moment
only at 11:11
the time, our private denouement
I look around and know she’s here.

I’m standing in an empty room
aware that we two are together
so long as shine the four red ones
’til one red one turns to red two.

Comes midnight I will lay in stillness
knowing I am quite alone
no urge to look now at a clock
at twelve it makes no difference