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Ed Madden. Ever at parting.

8 Jan

Ever at parting

That your hat is halo,
its broad brim a crown,
orbit of ambit, a shine,
a gloss across the top,
atop a swarthy face.

That your eyes are ink
now, dark, night-black,
a notch, a nod, a curl,
the dark night a party
of young fellows singing.

That your lips are light,
are lightly kissed, are gerunds,
salute of comrades crossing
a street, a deck, the dark,
the distance where you are.

That I would nestle, nest
in your beard, unclipt,
thick-whiskered friend,
inhale your rank & sweat,
now faint, your scented breast.



Ray McManus. For the pump of it, the drop with the brake, the tongue tip, the anus, the nipple.

31 Oct


For the pump of it, the drop with the brake, the tongue tip, the anus, the nipple
still pointed in the sunlight that floods under the visor; for the new sun that starts
to shimmer before it explodes into a million suns, and all I have left
is you and me covered in sheets, the sweat of it cooling the engine.

That’s when I hold your hand on the console, riding the two-lane through
the swamp past the blockhouses and garages where the boys break radios
to fan belt overtures. That’s when I feel the warm damp of your palm.

A running engine must be tuned, pulled hard, turned over, and tuned again.
The exhaust of it. The rise. The hail. To be on top of it. Man always wrestling
with his machine.

In town, the people look the same, wear clothes from the same makers, speak
in same to same. It’s all the same. There are no garages to wrestle, just windows.

We walk in town in held hands, in stride toward any corner, look both ways
before crossing, live cautious and deliberate. We hardly speak a word
until we reach our destination, and even then, what we are thankful for,
we sit with a weight in our laps testing the outer limits of quiet.

It is not until we give attention to our scars, the same scars, that we no longer
remember why we came here in the first place. It is not until then do we
look for the fastest possible route to savagery.

Here, where we can’t trick out the word. Here, where there is no word.
Just us. Now pulled over and out. Your head in my lap, my hand under yours,
the engine humming, the slow, steady tap. For the quick of it to come.



Fifth-month Flowers. A Prints Project response from Robyn Ryle.

9 Oct


Fifth-month flowers experienced

He tells her that not everyone knows the language of gardens. Not everyone can read it among the blooms.
In this town, they love columbine, but in the suburb where he grew up, they’re rare. Here the irises are all purple and down the street, they’re yellow. In the south where he married, they love thick borders of a grass that puts out tiny purple flowers in the fall. You will not see it north of the river.
He has thought long and hard about the intricacies of gardens. It’s a lifetime of knowledge he wants to tell her, but sometimes it is hard to remember all the words.

The kosmos, and the modern reports

“Did you see about that poor child?” she asks. He has to nod and pretend. He doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She watches the news. She scrolls through the reports on her phone. She knows all the right things to be afraid of. She knows who’s trying to pull the wool over her eyes. She knows when to answer the phone and when to let it ring.
He walks by her house sometimes. The glow of the television through the window is beautiful, but the stars look better when your breath makes a mist on the night air.

I conn’d old times

She kept in her living room an old ash tray stand. It belonged to her grandmother. He focused on that. He wanted to love her. It was important, even if he wasn’t sure exactly why.
“What was she like?” he asked.
“She was quiet.” She smoothed her hand down over the fabric of her skirt and he knew this was what her grandmother had done as well. He could see it all for a moment in the late afternoon light. The bright, angry beam that fell across the couch and made him have to squint.

I will make poems of materials

“There’s nothing there,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like my skin’s just wrapped around emptiness.”
“I know what you mean.” He touched her wrist. Ran his finger along her palm. No part of them was unchanged. Even the color of her eyes had faded. Sometimes he could see his life as nothing more than a succession of ages his past self could never imagine, reached and then passed. Normal and then gone, like signs fading into the distance.
They had to press long and firm against each other’s skin to feel the warmth that was still there, but they learned well enough.

What the talkers were talking

He thought if she were a girl now, they’d find a syndrome for her. The attention thing or the autism thing. They would zoom in on her with their fine lenses and they would tell her what was wrong.
“What do you see in her?” his sister asked. They were too old for pleasantries, the only members of their family left alive.
He saw in her shiny stones. Dirt tracks across a clean carpet. He saw clouds moving across the sky filled with indifference. He saw anxious glances away when she opened her mouth to speak. He saw the pink inside of her mouth. The orange-ish lipstick she still wore. That he liked her lips best when it was wiped clean at night before she got in bed.
He saw the possibility that both of them could still change. Could still do that slow bend towards another person, even if everyone could hear their bones creak.

The press of my foot to the earth

She left in the spring, before the first crocuses. She told him the winter broke her. She was moving to South Carolina. She would rent a condo close to her son and her grandchildren.
“Is it what you want?” he asked.
“I’m so tired of that question,” she said.

Through me many long dumb voices

She wrote a few letters and it was as if someone else was speaking. He worried she was dead and someone was deceiving him. They were poetry, her words. He compared them to a note she left on his fridge once. “Your trash stinks,” the note read. “Take it out.” The shape of the letters were the same. Perhaps South Carolina made her into someone else when he couldn’t.
“I liked being old with you,” she wrote in her letters. “I liked the match of our wrinkles. I liked the names of the flowers. Viburnum opulus. Tradescantia. Ornithogalum umbellatum. Helianthus annuus.”
She did not say she missed him. She did not ask him to come. “There are flowers here all year long,” she wrote.
He kept the letters in his pocket. He ran his hands across the grass in his garden and knew he was not done with endings yet.




Byron Hawk. Quote Rearrangement.

26 Sep

“Poetry is


and nothing

but music.






— Amiri Baraka, Quoted and Rearranged



Lauren Camp. All Those Seconds as Far Back as Possible.

22 Sep


The day what belongs to the day…

— Walt Whitman (from “I Hear America Singing”)

The day turns its plain light. Clouds
into letters, holes, doors. The day finds its long
stretches (563 miles) and a small boy
with straight hair, giggling, luminous
within boyhood. Each hour a day to talk
to a woman, once blind, who works in scrap
metal, to rise above Baltimore, to stand
on a Michigan dock as steam tumbles
up from the lake and its reservoir. Watch
a woman in multiple braids with extra
bags, another in white shorts strip an avocado
with teeth. To hear one woman whisper
an apology. See a man pull his jacket further
around him. A day that belongs to the driver,
the pilot, people at cell phones, urgent
and tired. A routine and a losing: the simple
drapes on small windows, a trail through beech
as the sun becomes an authority
on setting. A day and its hours of raptors
on picnic tables, the mayhem
of small printed words in a notebook, a single
rotation of laughter, of dropped papers, a day
to discuss with a stranger the erotic implications
of hanging oneself with a belt from a chair, to see
a small photo of three children dressed
for a tea party, to kneel beside a man with a lisp,
a man placid with his canes. A man with a smile
though his son is embarrassed. A day, unrepaired.
A day that dares to have boundaries,
and the very same night. What belongs
to the homeless man standing between
streets. What belongs to the morning,
the failure, borrowed jackets, a day to turn
back, to spill a green mug of old joe down
the drain. Pass a chain with a sign saying
don’t enter. The freedom to enter a day
or a night with two folded bills on a table,
a cab ride to a room with three beds, a day
built up from accents and paper bags
of fried foods. A day of delays, of filling
the gas tank, of turning left, of exactly the time
it takes to get anywhere, through a span
of orange cones shrugging the road, of replying
I love you. Of emptying the cartons, of bellies
of soup, of turning the covers on the bed
you know best, of small pills cut in quarters
to sleep and of sleeping with glimpses.



Rita Patel. Untitled response to the Anna Akhmatova print.

16 Sep

Your face
a luminous clay vessel

drawn into
another realm

expressing edges
from your cosmos

of what has been
of what was seen
of what was experienced
of what is felt
of what only you can know
…and not know
…and lost?

and I must wonder
should I, as you
maybe at this moment
“In full forgetfulness, seek for my former trace.”



—last line from To the Artist (1924) translated by Yevgeny Bonver



Eric M. R. Webb. Oh Ezra.

10 Sep



          a pale flare over marshes
                     where the salt hay whispers to tide’s change
          Time, space,
                    neither life nor death is the answer.
          – Ezra Pound, from Canto CXV

Tonight we ate pork short ribs bought at the poor man’s market
we smoked them over fire and dampened apple wood branches.

I was asked to write to you, and this is all I can think of: How wrong
you are. How right you are. Like all of us, seeking a balance.

Yet there is no balance to be had in this world or this life at all.
You know this, master of complexity, or here: Vesuvius.

The smoke wrapped out of the chimney for almost a whole day
and the outcome was a generation fed into the machine. You lived

through two world wars and their vast hunger and the hungry
military calling for more more more. How many minor wars did you

have to ignore, the ones who lived mutilated in the same way our boys
are today. I doubt you were a religious man. But do you see it, the cost?

There is always a cost, the capital demands it. And where there is a cost,
not far behind, though maybe dragging a little and slow, there’s a profit.

You see it, you saw it ahead of time, but just because late-capitalism
is doomed to eat itself does not mean nationalism is the way to counter

that greed. Though many who now call themselves libertarians might
agree on your general principles, if you cared to explain them.

Oh, the Cantos. Your Cantos, your bleeding lovely voyage, visage,
desire to encompass the depth of twentieth century despair, don’t worry,

they will come around eventually. Yet most of us know you for the love
song you didn’t even write, or for sitting hunched in a wire cage

writing letters and poems in the dirt to the stars and the guards,
and which of them cared for your words, you in jail for them?

My lovely friend, she performs yoga, which in a way is doing with
the body what you did with the mind and poetry. But she is also a poet

and writes a verse enabled by you. This verse here is written by you.
Many will disagree. Many will not forgive your betrayal, few will get

roused by your Cantos, or even understand them. This is no threat.
Few will doubt your brilliance, and few will forgive you,

yet you live with that. Those in the streets right now protesting
what they should be protesting, are not angry at a too-forgiving

government, yet one that begins to resemble more and more your
Mussolini’s treatment of his people: shoot first, militarize the polizia,

and these voices from the Cantos crying out: stay stay stay with us,
stay with us and finish our travels, annotate our voyage into the 21st.

This is what we ask: dance with us to your music. Make us your story.

But, Ah! you already have written it, haven’t you, tricksy bastard:
Oils, beasts, grasses, petrifaction, birds, incrustations, liquifaction,

and Hydraulic Fracturing—Fracking they call it now—earth shatterers
and freedom of purchase and sale, spin and counter-spin, all propaganda—

which you know a thing or two about, yes?—though we can’t call it that these days.
Really, here you are, amongst us post-modern citizens, you have written

late-capitalism into being as though a golem. Maybe it is already too late,
maybe we already are in post-last-capitalism, where the fake furs are real,

and animals are us, to be eaten and spit out, and maybe the workers know
to jump ship every couple years, and the consumer understands marketing

fluently but doesn’t care for contemplation because it is too I saw the best minds
of my generation howling madness in the last throes of government falling

to the corporation hive-hedge-fund brain. Maybe it is too late.
But, maybe it is not, and if that is the case, and you’re still reading,

here you are: faces appear in protest, petals against
late-capitalism, against rain-slicked riot police, against wet-black asphalt.





Anna Gragert. I Capture Dreams. a response to the Tina Modotti print.

4 Sep




I capture dreams.

Mother’s worn hands
during outstretched nights
filled with
selfless comfort.

Edges on top of
corners of structures that
whisper home to
a select few bodies.

Petals that combine
familial love with
untaught artistry.

These images
float down my
ethereal sea,
unbeknownst to me.






Cynthia Haynes. To the Wordhouse.

31 Aug

To the Wordhouse

Those stones in your pockets…
Were they words that refused
To keep you afloat?
That you picked carefully enough,
but not care-fully?
River stones worn as smooth as
A life, a word of stone torment;
The heaviest of stories could not
Save you from that river.
Troubled as you strode, water-sad,
You drifted over to the other side of
If only you had picked some pebbles
Just a few, small words to line your
You could have lightened, too,
The other lighthouse—you.


Prints Project update, late August

28 Aug

Available now:

Ab Davis on Anna Akhmatova.

Laura Esckelson on Anna Akhmatova.

Byron Hawk on Amiri Baraka.

Edward Hunt on Ezra Pound.

Timothy Kenny on Walt Whitman.

Anthony Martin on Anna Akhmatova.

Leslie Anne Mcilroy on Walt Whitman.

Corey Mesler on Walt Whitman.

Jose Padua on Walt Whitman.

John G. Rodwan, Jr. on Ezra Pound.

Heather Hallberg Yanda on Emily Dickinson.


Coming soon:

Cynthia Haynes on Virginia Woolf.

… and more in the editing stage.



Interested in joining the project? Contact us.

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