21 Jan 2019: "Happy Marriage" by Taslima Nasrin

My life,
like a sandbar, has been taken over by a monster of a man.
He wants my body under his control
so that if he wishes he can spit in my face,
        slap me on the cheek
pinch my rear.
So that, if he wishes,
he can rob me of the clothes
take my naked beauty in his grip.
So that if he wishes he can chain my feet,
if he wishes, he can, with no qualms whatsoever,
        use a whip on me,
if he wishes he can chop off my hands, my fingers.
If he wishes he can sprinkle salt in the open wound,
he can throw ground-up black pepper in my eyes.
So that if he wishes he can slash my thigh with a dagger,
so that if he wishes he can string me up and hang me.

He wanted my heart under his control
so that I would love him:
in my lonely house at night,
sleepless, full of anxiety,
clutching at the window grille,
        I would wait for him and sob.
My tears rolling down, I would bake homemade bread;
so that I would drink, as if they were ambrosia,
the filthy liquids of his polygynous body.
So that, loving him, I would melt like wax,
not turning my eyes toward any other man.
I would give proof of my chastity all my life.
So that, loving him,
on some moonlit night I would commit suicide
       in a fit of ecstasy.

20 Jan 2019: "Otherwise" by Jane Kenyon

"Otherwise" by Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

19 Jan 2019: "A Hunger" by Benjamin Saltman

18 Jan 2019: "The Panic Bird" by Robert Phillips

just flew inside my chest. Some
days it lights inside my brain,
but today it's in my bonehouse,
rattling ribs like a birdcage.

If I saw it coming, I'd fend it
off with machete or baseball bat.
Or grab its scrawny hackled neck,
wring it like a wet dishrag.

But it approaches from behind.
Too late I sense it at my back --
carrion, garbage, excrement.
Once inside me it preens, roosts,

vulture on a public utility pole.
Next it flaps, it cries, it glares,
it rages, it struts, it thrusts
its clacking beak into my liver,

my guts, my heart, rips off strips.
I fill with black blood, black bile.
This may last minutes or days.
Then it lifts sickle-shaped wings,

rises, is gone, leaving a residue --
foul breath, droppings, molted midnight
feathers. And life continues.
And then I'm prey to panic again.

17 Jan 2019: "No Retrun" by William Matthews

I like divorce. I love to compose
letters of resignation; now and then
I send one in and leave in a lemon-
hued Huff or a Snit with four on the floor.
Do you like the scent of hollyhock?
To each his own. I love a burning bridge.

I like to watch the small boat go over
the falls -- it swirls in a circle
like a dog coiling for sleep, and its frail bow
pokes blindly out over the falls' lip
a little and a little more and then
too much, and then the boat's nose dives and butt

flips up so that the boat points doomily
down and the screams of the soon-to-be-dead
last longer by echo than the screamers do.
Let's go to the videotape, the news-
caster intones, and the control room does,
and the boat explodes again and again.

16 Jan 2019: "The Portugues in Mergui" by George Green

Without you I am like the Portuguese in Mergui
who have forgotten their language
but still go to church,
unlike their neighbors, the Salon prates,
who live near the mudbanks
trading pearls for opium.

Without you I am a geopolitical feature
like Lot's wife, who only turned her head
like a doe in the forest
to watch the flaming city
crackle and poof.

Without you I must wait in the neglected park alone,
and though I might need a shoeshine
my bright red sport jacket
lends me the prominence of a woodpecker
and the authority of a rooster.

Without you I have brung a cupcake
for a birthday of Chester Nimitz,
who, reared among the dry hills of Texas,
far from any sea shore,
rose to command the mightiest armada
in the history of the world.

And am I not myself an admiral of the clouds?
As such I now command you to come home.

15 Jan 2019 "In Tornado Weather" by Judith Kerman

In Tornado Weather

wet-ash light
blows across the road
I'm driving with my foot to the floor
sixty miles over flat midwestern highway
driving to hear poetry
the sky ready
to boil over, a lid clamped on
the pressure drops
flattens the landscape further
I watch the horizon for state troopers
think of the wind:
one hundred miles to the west it has
sliced the top off a hospital
smashed two miles of Kalamazoo
nothing anyone will read tonight
is wild enough

By Judith Kerman

14 Jan 2019 "Plague Victims Catapulted Over Walls into Besieged City" by Thomas Lux


Plague Victims Catapulted Over Walls Into Besieged City By Thomas Lux

Early germ
warfare. The dead
hurled this way look like wheels
in the sky. Look: there goes
Larry the Shoemaker, barefoot, over the wall,
and Mary Sausage Stuffer, see how she flies,
and the Hatter twins, both at once, soar
over the parapet, little Tommy's elbow bent
as if in a salute,
and his sister, Mathilde, she follows him,
arms outstretched, through the air,
just as she did
on earth.


13 Jan 2019 "Grammar" by Tony Hoagland

Grammar

Maxine, back from a weekend with her boyfriend,
smiles like a big cat and says
that she's a conjugated verb.
She's been doing the direct object
with a second person pronoun named Phil,
and when she walks into the room,
everybody turns:

some kind of light is coming from her head.
Even the geraniums look curious,
and the bees, if they were here, would buzz
suspiciously around her hair, looking
for the door in her corona.
We're all attracted to the perfume
of fermenting joy,

we've all tried to start a fire,
and one day maybe it will blaze up on its own.
In the meantime, she is the one today among us
most able to bear the idea of her own beauty,
and when we see it, what we do is natural:
we take our burned hands
out of our pockets,
and clap.

—Tony Hoagland

12 Jan 2019 "Sentimental Moment or Why Did The Baguette Cross the Road?" by Robert Hershon

Sentimental Moment or Why Did the Baguette Cross the Road?

Don't fill up on bread
I say absent-mindedly
The servings here are huge

My son, whose hair may be
receding a bit, says
Did you really just
say that to me?

What he doesn't know
is that when we're walking
together, when we get
to the curb
I sometimes start to reach
for his hand

—Robert Hershon