Latest Poems

The Graveyard Shift

A still night.
No hand was needed to cover my lighter.
Flick.
Pull.
Sigh.
Smoke.
Across the street, a bent lamp leaned obtusely.
I looked forward to seeing it
And wondering how it got like that
Every night for only fifteen minutes.
 
 

J.A. Salimbene

Copse

Standing straight against the frozen sky
Your skeletons are the exquisite calligraphy
Of the season

Your name is writ

Not in water
But with wind
 
 

Yuan Changming

The Suicidal Pie

the pie sat there
sweet and quiet
but I knew the truth
all it wanted was to die

a small
thing that no one
suspected of being anything
but slightly cooled
with strawberries on top

 

Rachel VanCuren

Sweet-natured

You are a
             young raspberry vine.
Your small red berries taste
             sour,
                       free,
                                happy.
And I chew them up and swallow—
I’ve taken so many berries from you.
 
 

Dominic Shaw

Domingos

That smile, small and butter yellow, seemed tacked up on walnut eyes that peered out in uneven lines. The kind of decorum they sell at roadside stands along green highways in the south; the kind that makes you feel at home if you grew up poor—like those plaques with bad quotes that get hung up in the kitchen, the only thing drawn to them is the airborne grease from home-style recipes. And a year down the line, these signs grow gray with heavy dust like the color of the bags under those walnut eyes. The color of wear, like it must have been a second-hand stand. Like he must have been passed around before.
 
 

Dominic Shaw

Borrowed Mattress

I grabbed her hips—
she bit my lip hard enough
to make me squirm, but soft
enough to leave no trace
of herself on my skin.
Heavy breath poured from
young lungs and twisted up—
intertwined—following suit, our
legs buried beneath the sheets.
It was that time of night, the time
when I like to be sound
asleep; the time when she’d have
thought about it too.
Not my hands or her teeth
or the mess of our legs,
it was just that time. And we’d had this
same night, three nights in a row,
and I had to say it before she
had to leave for good. Maybe
it was because of the way I like my books—
with clean pages and clean endings.
This weekend, our weekend,
deserved the same.
 
 

Dominic Shaw

The square sun

the square sun
in its magnetic silence
lies stretched out
in the fertile bed
of the land
waiting there
for the hand
which will drop the seed
of the day in her womb

the bird
the trotting horse
legs wide apart
yet waits
with a laugh
on its dark face
 
 

Anthonie Sas

for Tonnie

the red light comes about desolately
and he is doomed to stay
he longs for what connects him
and he imagines the sun

desire persists and
his feet stride
towards what belongs to him

slowly is happening what he had feared

chimeras populate the earth
and backwards he fulfils the tenderness
bestial sounds are also going
to where he was just now
and there is the booted
his dick disappears in his mouth
only heavenward there is space

he knows but is not desirous to come about
and bites the prankcoach
which slows down
now that the horses are put backwards
rattlesnakes and strange chaps
stick their heads outside
the mountains echo their jolly

he was lost again
and tried to catch up with who he had been
once again he has failed
but not in vain
for amidst what he perceives
there is the calf he ate
when he was younger
and more lovely too
but not to dance with

again something moves between his legs
– just trot little horse
when you get tired
I’ll put you down in the moonlight –

he spies to all sides
and finds what he found: saliva

wearied he goes on
softened by so much luck

o wondrous fierce humiliation
 
 

Anthonie Sas

Triptych

I

Encounter

On the road to the town where the fire had raged
I met the one who spoke to me:
come, go with me,
be my friend and let me
lead you through the narrow streets of this black
town.

We walked for half an hour, speaking to each other, keeping silence,
watching the black remnants of the houses.

Then he, who brought me there, stood still:
“look at me, look me right in the eyes.”

When I looked I did not see him but a bird:
his wings more black than the charcoaled rests
around us,
his eyes more red than the devastating fire.

Yet his mouth spoke.
And the words he spoke were my words
and the wings which were black were my black
wings
and the eyes staring at me were my eyes,
but the fire in his eyes was not my fire.

II

Intermezzo

Daring to live in eyes
red, even the yellowest
blacker than white
four times
once more the last
come
just go now

daring to believe in eyes floating
in eyes
come
just go with me now

no, not the last, oh no, not the last
daring to look
the wings broken
sacks full of rain
painting rain
sacks full of wet halfheavy nomore
let us look
come, let us look at sacks full of rain
with wet halfheavy nomore

yet starting to florish again
just getting up again as the first one
living again pure like rain
giving still more, still more
or…………………..
come go with me now.

III

Apotheosis

In your eyes only
is hidden
what awakes me

the year passes away
and each thing is dreamed up

remembrance remains
and waits
unpronounceable

sublimity accuses me
and puts me down
full of madness
I perpetrate time and again
the sweet deeds
that torment me
until today

audacity
I praise you

thinner than threads I draw
divides
what binds me
dreamed up I pass away
in another time
fulfilled I split.
 
 

Anthonie Sas

This too

this too would be there
and yet more
much more
but the water is full
and the floating drops
tremble in the light
along veiled roads
dead stories
are coming
and behind each new face
she hides the dead face
 
 

Anthonie Sas

The summer

The summer lies like shackled music
waiting
until the sun
metallic sky and wind
and sea of source and deserted
end
goes down amidst me and my
singing

I do not wish for more than this
the joy of life
the wild passion
and the song meant for her
are dead
I lie subdued and stare
at stones
that laugh slithery glistering
in the sun

only once I shall leave me alive
and further than the extremest sound
disappear
in the light
that white and yawning
surrounds the words of my voice.
 
 

Anthonie Sas

Yield to Stroller

Fedex

My son Jiro loves city buses and any bus-like vehicle. When we stop at an intersection to cross the street, he kicks his arms and legs from his stroller and yelps in delight at a Fedex truck. Its driver waves back and holds up traffic to let us cross. When a cab behind him honks in protest, the truck driver leans out his window, “yo! it’s a f*cking baby.”
 
 
BBB

On our daily coffee run I hurry across the street with the stroller, crossing in front of a cyclist who has to slow down. He turns his head as he passes and I prepare to be scolded for jaywalking with a child.

“Babies before bikes,” he says with a smile and rides on.
 
 
Red Socks

On vacation in San Francisco, we push Jiro up and down the hilly streets. A laid-back California guy stops his car and calls out, “A man with red socks always has the right of way.”

 

Kerry D. Martin

Strollering

I push my son in his stroller around our Brooklyn neighborhood for entertainment. We encounter other mothers with babies doing the same thing. One woman wearing a tiny infant in a sling stops to say hello to us.

“He’s so big. Is he Asian?” she asks.

“Thanks,” I say. “His father is from Japan.”

“He’s part Korean,” she looks down at her baby. “Sperm donor.”

 

Kerry D. Martin

Eyck/Eick

An old man resembling a hobo out of a movie asks me one morning if I know where Ten Eyck Street is. I have lived blocks away from it for thirteen years.

When I was in the first grade I had a crush on Steven Eick. A blond boy with the kind of smile that turns one’s face into a series of wrinkles. His eyes became two down-turned em-dashes.

We used to wait in line in the auditorium after school let out for the school bus together. When you’re a kid so much activity takes place while waiting for things to happen.

My older brother Pete always called him “Steven Itch.” He told Steven one day (in front of me) that I liked him. I denied it and Steven looked off into the distance, distracted by embarrassment. Things were never the same between us after that. It was always hanging in the air.

I’m thinking about this with the hobo standing in front of me. “I’ll ask someone else,” he says.

 

Kerry D. Martin

Sally

I never saw my Grandma K in a bathing suit so I made the assumption that older people aren’t allowed to go in the water. Maybe something would happen to their thin bones or papery skin, maybe their organs couldn’t stand up to being emerged in water; I wasn’t certain.

My grandparents each had their own bedroom, side by side, each with a single bed on top of golden shag carpeting. My Grandma K’s floor was covered with a forest of paper bags. Her filing system.

One year the women in my family went on a “girl’s getaway” together. I saw my Grandma K walk out of our hotel room bathroom in a black bra and slip.

I spent most of the trip swimming along the bottom of the hotel pool. I scraped the bridge of my nose on the blue concrete. My grandmother, watching me from a deck chair came over next to the pool and dipped her hand in the water and said, “just the temperature I like it” leaving me to wonder how she would know.

 

Kerry D. Martin

Fashion

Relics

It my top dresser drawer live a layer of delicate, pretty bras that have been undisurbed for the past two-and-a-half years. Shoved in with them, in heavy rotation are taupe-colored, utilitarian nursing bras. They are like pushy subway passengers taking seats that are clearly too small for them.

Scissor Lover

A barista with a Russian accent asks me to repeat my order. She’s staring at my necklace, which is a tiny pair of scissors.

“I don’t even know what you said, I was looking at your necklace. I just love scissors.”

Gladiator Sandals

These remind me of shin guards, or something that belongs in Beetlejuice.

 

Kerry D. Martin

Hooked

My son Jiro is hooked on crackers. Anything you need him to do can probably be accomplished by giving him a cracker. One day I push him on the swings in a Greenpoint playground where an emerging condo is going to ruin the view of Manhattan. When he reaches for the construction site I incorrectly call one of the diggers a tractor.

“Cracker?!” he asks.

 

Kerry D. Martin

Greg Maddux

“I’ll play with him any day.” Andre Dawson, spring, 1988 when asked about pitcher Greg Maddux’s prospects with the Major League ball club the Chicago Cubs.

“Only a wind that keeps turning, turning
Around an abandoned ball park.
That blows and blows, forever blowing
Away: always away from home.”

–“The Swede was a Hard Guy”, Nelson Algren

I A feeling on the el sometimes

Late March, there is rain, in Chicago
the wind is still cold like January
though the sun warms with promises,
and then, Greg Maddux is gone.

Sometimes, loud el ride,
this is the final straw. This is the push
over the proverbial edge, people thinking
about other people, staring at brownstones
and into windows of the buildings
along the track and then,
Maddux is in Atlanta.

II Everyone tells stories

Baseball in Chicago is like everything
in Chicago, or perhaps, it is the other way
around. There is dirt mixed
with faith and love—there are ballplayers
from 1919 we still long
to claim and clean and make
beautiful as they were, before
broken conspiracies opened up
like the Lake at the end of all
these brick buildings. Chicago longs
to open up like the ploughed fields
that created it, longs to leave
on the railroads that made it.
Telling stories of itself through
the night, an epic sprawled out
and spelled strewn on the corpses
in garages, in alleys, in courtrooms
all built on this ancient swamp.

In Chicago everything is examined,
everything becomes part of the narrative
and you can bet that criminals on first
examination, are saints on the fifth.
Maddux, his first 20 win season dangling,
let it go, defending a teammate
in the fifth inning of a 9-0 game.
Maddux, those of us who watched will never
tire of saying, was more beautiful than Koufax,
more dominating than Johnson.
Maddux destroyed the batters’ belief,
made them the yokels
from New York, from L.A.
From cities that tried to take the railroads from us
a century ago. He looked effortless,
he was clawing at you.

If Maddux fell apart in the play-offs,
was it not because he had thrown so much,
held together so much an entire season?
In Chicago, baseball is an effort for tragic heroes,
for illiterate Hamlets and joyful Romeos
who would play baseball as if seduced,
as if the game was destined, through
annual heartbreak to find, sometime,
a rapture. We have been snake-bit,
sunburned, sold into purgatory for the sins
of the chafed and the chafing:
There were lords to defy,
there were subjects to keep in place.
Conspiracy is Chicago’s wine,
time again it leads to a truth
so great, that Chicago, in its writhing,
is great. Our players are beautiful,
we misplace them like so many toy soldiers.
We wait the winter for them.

III 1969

It began, in late summer, with a cat.
Soon it was Seaver, and not Jenkins,
soon order asserted itself. We were left
with beer-stained memories, memories
of bleacherites discussing Santo’s quick hands,
much the way, generations earlier,
bleacherites discussed Weaver’s
just to the South. What summer promised,
the fall so easily took away: this game is
an artist’s game, a skill of hands.

IV Fanatics are sad in October

In September the sun is warm, but the wind
promises the winter, it begins its process
of expiation early. All these beautiful leaves
that have fallen then: the ball fell through
Hap’s glove and he says it was an honest play.
It is Chicago, there is no doubt that this was
the honest play.

In 1984 the ball went through the Bull’s glove,
and this too, was an honest play:
this too, was a wound to the heart.
You will hear grown men, without irony,
describe where they were when that happened,
what they were drinking, what they said:
other lines to add to the corpses’ bodies.

There are ghosts in baseball: there is the ghost
of Eddie Cicotte aching to use his arm in Game One.
He felt his good stuff but he had given away his arm.
It was classic Chicago, how the deception
turned on the deceptor, revealed the saint within
at the moment of sin.

There is Hartnett, the ivy gone, the sun down,
the knees weary with summer in this now awesome
September streak and if we did not hear
the bat groan from our seats in the grandstand,
could we even see the ball slip the sky
for the bleachers? If there were no miracles
left for fall, was there not that moment,
when like wine from water, day was taken
from night? Baseball was released:
it was the revelation of drama.
It was the festival for harvests,
beginning with the planting,
ending with the gathering.

V Ballparks

Maddux is in Atlanta now,
there he is in that new ballpark,
that ballpark that doesn’t even remember Aaron.
In Chicago the graves are kept for the bodies
but not the ghosts,
it was here that Ruth called
or did not call the homerun,
where Hornsby snarled and a collection
of our 4-Fs lost to some 4-Fs from Detroit
after the War had ended.
Maddux is in Atlanta moving the ball in
on hitters so that they hit it off their feet,
so they roll it to the second basemen,
so Maddux can chase this perfection in peace,
without the echoes of this demon-town
with its beautiful ghosts.

 

Andrew Decker

Vegetable Kingdom

I´m sketching peanuts and vegetables. They keep growing little arms and legs. Everything takes on a human form for some reason.

 

Peter Köhler

Montauk

Maria, John and I have been out to Montauk to look at the lighthouse. On our way back we stop at a little bar by the docks. I order my first oyster and chase it down with a chilled beer. I become filled with a warm love for the Atlantic.

 

Peter Köhler