Poem of the Week: December 17th, 2013

CM Burroughs’s “Monument the Dead” is our poem of the week as well as one of our Pushcart Prize Nominees. More of her poetry can be found in her debut collection The Vital System, from Tupelo Press. You can also read more of her work in burntdistrict Volume 2 issue 1, Winter/Spring 2013.

By CM Burroughs

I arrange myself to tedium; till the body – coal-lit in gloaming – bolsters into slips
      of ember on the shore.

What river isn’t partial blood; residual odor difficult to place; or worse, to

As any crudely-hewn aperture, I, too, still my instinct to wretch, shiver off sick
      delirium, lie down, let whatever through.


1.1 When I wake, I turn and begin again

2.1 Unchaining the desire to revise myself

3.1 In the seam of craving

4.1 My dead strains against the cupola


1.2 From my vulnerability

2.2 That I thought I could

3.2 Born septic

4.2 My dead gathered in a goldfinch


1.3 Turn Turn

2.3 Dressing my viscera in refurbished armor

3.3 Bacteria corralled in joint cages

4.3 My body in the body of bright prey


I make shapes with my hands in mock deformity. Womb.

And what desire? To stare down a birth of foliage

and call it, “fraught.” Causes a curling over, a blackening

to begin. And such is my body that when called it comes.


Poem of the Week: December 9th, 2013

Francesca Bell, the author of this week’s poem of the week, has had three poems nominated for the Pushcart Prize. “You Can Call Me Ma’am,” from Volume 2, Issue 1 of burntdistrict will be her fourth nomination.

By Francesca Bell

Having turned forty-two, having menstruated
lo these thirty years, most often
on my hands and knees or curled, drugged
and sobbing, around the hot water bottle.
Having borne three children and been stretch-marked
and bloated beyond recognition. Having pushed
those babies from my womb as each skull crowned
like live coals against my perineum
and lodged for good measure up my ass.
Having bled and sweated and nursed,
breasts rock hard, nipples like paper
doused in lighter fluid and each child’s mouth
a struck match. Having pled and dragged
three children to inoculations and speech therapists,
to grocery stores and Jiffy Lube and my gynecologist’s office,
to one hundred and eighty school drop-offs,
and three hundred sixty-five whining, shrieking
bedtimes every year. Having brushed, my God,
so many reluctant teeth and forced the good,
green vegetables down and been pissed, shit,
and retched on until now, all are
more or less righted and headed willingly
where they ought to be going.
Having, as I said, turned forty-two,
I don’t want you calling me Miss,
or acid-washing even one line from my face,
or lopping off the part of my belly
my children made soft. I don’t want you lifting
the breasts they pulled down while
they took my good milk or repairing
the scar on my nipple where one
bit down and left a searing infection, a wound
that puckered like a mouth and oozed into my bra
while I nursed through it. I don’t even want you
rinsing the new silver from my hair. I like its steel.
I am as sharp as a thistle now
no deer can lop into a nub.
Let me tell you, at forty-two, it is a deep,
delicious pleasure not to be dewy
or fresh as a fucking daisy.

Poem of the Week: December 2nd, 2013

Eszter Takacs, one of our Pushcart Prize nominees, provides our poem of the week. She’s currently an MFA candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. More of her work can be found in burntdistrict Volume 2 issue 1, Winter/Spring 2013.

By Eszter Takacs

I am going through an arterial phase
of obsession, like reading instructions
before you open the box and take a look
at the parts, individually wrapped bones.
This weak thing inside is heavy
like a heart but it is something else really.
I am dressed generally well, groomed
and looking around all the time
trying to understand love but can’t.
All I see are large people tall as the sky
with their clean white faces
held together by air, by distance
that hasn’t thought of itself yet.
All of the boyfriends I have met talk
about living like it’s the real thing to want,
you know, about buying the right bed
and living in that moment with the bed
or about buying the best kind of steak
for the summertime when parties happen
and life paddles along a slow river of itself.
Meat hogs, they are, these men and their
women just sit there with legs under
dresses, cold and soft, thoughtless like field cows
while I whisper questions into a cup
of yesterday’s coffee and await
the answers that are made of pearls
or diamonds for my cold cold neck.
I want them to be real. I want to win.