In our inaugural episode, we discussed four poems from Emily Corwin, and three poems from Leah Falk. I don’t think it was just our happy-to-launch mood that caused such an impressive box score…
Present at the Editorial Table:
Kathleen Volk Miller
PBQ Box Score: 5=2
In our inaugural episode, we discussed four poems from Emily Corwin, and three poems from Leah Falk. I don’t think it was just our happy-to-launch mood that caused such an impressive box score.
Emily’s poems were all submitted for the Monsters issue, and with their very Grimm/grim fairy-tale qualities juxtaposed against their embrace of fun with language, we were smitten. Poems up for discussion were “pink girl takes a tumble,” “thwack,” “out like a lamb,” and “pink girl kicks the bucket.” Thank goodness some of us are at the editorial table remotely–we might have come to fisticuffs over who got to read these poems. (Listen to Emily read a poem at Split Rock Review!)
Leah Falk’s “Visiting,” “Commonest in Nature,” and “Islands,” can’t really be categorized as of a particular “type.” Each of these had us wanting to linger and didn’t disappoint when we did. Haunting (listen–you’ll get it) and redolent with history, unpacking these poems was nothing but pleasure.
Read Leah’s ideas on “Why…some poets perform as though they had just come to in a bad dream?” at The Millions. Watch a video of a performance of her song cycles. You gotta Google this gal for more and more and more.
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pink girl takes a tumble
squish squash she walks
she dreams of woods
trees hankering for child meat.
The way is wet and terrible
what can she do boo hoo
spreads her mouth real big,
dry lips doesn’t like water
and she crackles.
feels so crumbly, she do too gimped up too scaredy cat
to skate across the river
bone so skinny brittle
she slips downhill like jack, like jill
curls, rolly polly to the pit
she pulls the bad hip out
and chews on it
leg buckles and boom
down she goes
into snow powder
good for packing.
she tucks and rolls like a cold boulder glob
crashes to his windowsill
ferocious little she hunger-filled
her mouth frothing
like half-starved pack of wolves—
out like a lamb
into the carrot patch into the april pussy-willow wildness
she makes a mud cake
shakes her pretty rhododendron hips
and dips into the dirt clod smooshy.
she sinks and sags—a screaming seed
into the planet rock
oh how it eats, it leaves the bone
she comes up pushing daisies.
pink girl kicks the bucket
sprinkle her with fruit punch, sugar powder, glitter glue
she’s tickled pink
she’s sitting real pretty
all the way to the crushed velvet coffin box.
girl with broken armholes
girl with a heart spattered—strawberry pulp
mushy under her blouse.
goodnight pink girl, back you go into crinoline
into creepy crawlies
your nose smothered with a calla lily
the bed bugs want a bite.
When her only boy first felt his throat crowd,
she thought of her father’s boyhood fever
which washed over his heart
like an ocean over sand. Sand: maybe a window
once, in a house the ocean also
claimed. Which is to say the body is for some
a kind of furniture: in hard times
hauled out to the yard
and split for kindling.
The color of her son’s hair: red, her father’s offering
at the pool of cells
once huddled in her abdomen.
And their skin: pale, pink at cheeks and temples,
a flush suggesting blood
was only visiting the body.
When the fever spread from throat to chest
to joints, crumpling
her child like rotted wood,
she saw again her father close the bathroom door,
heard the water
soften what had gripped his heart.
How else explain the rhythm
of their home: irregular
and buzzing, like a strummed guitar,
the strings held down
with insufficient pressure.
Little clot of air
between rosewood and steel.
And here he was visiting
again just like she’d always wished,
sitting upright in her grown boy’s only body.
As if it were a chair. His chair—the one
he’d waited patiently for her to offer.
Commonest in Nature
Seeds with plumes and wings.
Bone, mostly lime.
Fresh eggs so soft they hardly
hold together. New-born babies growing old.
Our bodies’ tiny bricks.
You said: I always seem to want to make things
from the thing that’s commonest
in nature. Then,
out of air,
you made a machine.
What commonness you’d find if you were here –
what shapes and colors
would repeat, and at what wild,
silent rhythms. Come back,
I want the worlds
you would have found hiding in this one.
The brain’s loop and resistance.
Blood, mostly water.
Air and electricity.
The birch in the yard, dead parts holding
living ones together.
What would you make out of this now
your face, still a child’s, reading
the amoeba crawls by changing shape,
like a drop of water
down a windowpane
swimming round to me
like the chorus of a hymn.
Brooklyn, July 2014
We cycle toward the Verrazano Narrows through a strand of sabbath islands.
Teenage girls in black skirts go visiting like their mothers.
Fridays, sirens sing at dusk, reminding us to divide our bodies from the calendar.
Yesterday we woke to video of a man gasping his last rites.
Machado at a friend’s grave wrote y tu, sin sombra ya: how soon you are without shadow.
Where the river dams, glass bottles gather.
Somebody mutters: blessed is the fire-maker, holds a bouquet of wicks above his daughter.
Frame of twilights where we built our little cottages: we can’t live there still.
The sun a stern guard before the door to dusk.
A girl pedals toward the rail between her and the ocean, tumbles as if out of orbit.
Somebody says, happy is the one who can divide the light from darkness.
Whitecaps turn their backs on one another in the bay.
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