Poem of the Week: April 29th, 2014

Our poem of the week is J. Bruce Fuller’s “Beneath the Chinaberry Trees” from Volume 2, Issue 1 of burntdistrict. J. Bruce Fuller is the author of 28 Blackbirds at the End of the World, which was published by Bandersnatch Books in 2010. He is a Louisiana native and currently lives in Lafayette, LA where he is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Louisiana.

By J. Bruce Fuller

we drank Tang and dreamed of escape
but the closest I came to space
was a Kenmore refrigerator box.

My brother cut portholes and I painted wings
but we never could make it fly,
never figured out tool shed rocketry
like that kid’s dad in that movie.

Close the hatch and look starboard –
I’ll be orbiting well within my Roche limit
and behind my mirrored faceplate
I will fan out into a parade of atoms.

Gravity is more than the pull of bodies,
it is the disintegration of cardboard
under a warm spring rain,
the taste of bitter orange in my mouth.

Poem of the Week: April 21st, 2014

Bill Neumire’s “A Drunken Gypsy Foretold Your Life,” from Volume 1, Issue 2 of burntdistrict, is our poem of the week. Bill’s work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Journal, Laurel Review, Salamander, and Hollins Critic. His first manuscript, Estrus, was recently a semi-finalist for the 42 Miles Press Award.

By Bill Neumire

Bruises & tea roses
in forensic stillness.
There was a November blackbird
in your mouth;
it meant thanatology
& resurrection.
It was the hour of brouhaha:
the ministry of parentheses
is closing doors.
While it’s still possible
think of mending injured birds,
of building ice castles.
In the light
of paucity & last chances,
could this be read as desperate?
There are blueprints & archetypes
ruling from afar:
could this be read as meager?
The lightning is coming
even though we haven’t learned
its tongue.

Poem of the Week: April 14th, 2014

Our poem of the week is “Our Lady Endured a Mutiny,” by Becca Barniskis. Becca works as a poet, teaching artist and free-lance writer and curriculum designer in arts education. More of her work can be found in Mid-American Review, Prairie Schooner, and Volume 1, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Becca Barniskis

She had a ship and lost it. Her crew, hardy souls
fickle and true, had grown disillusioned with the
ever-distant horizon. They rose up as one,
unhanded her sextant, left her upon a small,
volcanic island. She was disordered in her manner
for a time. She picked at old seashells and
hardened her nails. She made improbable feasts
from the salty innards of the sea that washed and
washed the rocks, feasts that made her long for
sugar and candlelight and the way her old cabin
berth swung her gently at night after a good meal
and a freshening day of navigating the high seas.
Giant sea turtles ambled by, their faces outdated
maps. She might bring herself to follow them. But
she would not search the skies, knowing from
experience whence help really came.

Poem of the Week: April 9th, 2014

Matthew Landrum is the author of “Advice to a Friend,” our poem of the week. He lives in Ann Arbor where he teaches writing and literature at a high school for students with Asperger’s syndrome. His poems and translations are forthcoming in Modern Poetry in Translation, Nimrod, and Memoir Journal. “Advice to a Friend” was originally published in Vol. 2, Issue 2 of burntdistrict.

for B.E. Jenkins
By Matthew Landrum

Try to time your death with a good sale on flowers
to spare your loved ones expense in arranging a funeral.
Expire in the heyday of chrysanthemums or at the peak

of lilac time. Die when tulips are bursting
through the loamy soil of spring, still wet with snowmelt,
or when bluebells turn the woodland floor

into a shimmering sea. And if you can’t die, try to live
with dignity and poise. Drink moscato but never alone
and only after dinner. Buy flashy accessories

to set off the clothes of a limited wardrobe: blouses
and pants that show in the seat the wear of drab days spent
hunched before a flickering screen. Compliment others

for panache and gumption, qualities you admire. Use good words
like panache and gumption. Step on cracks in sidewalk.
Tempt fate. But avoid trampling any plants growing there –

flower or thistle – they have worked so hard
to exist. Notice the lines at bus-stops, passersby on streets,
the boats of small souls that pitch and yaw about the city.

This is your kingdom while you have breath
and your wits about you: plastic bags crucified on hedgethorns,
a hogtied pair of converse all-stars looped skillfully

over a telephone line, the rain of leaves from gutters
when the wind blows high. Praise these commonalities
of life, a life that would go on without you, from blossom

to bare branch, the hands of time oozing crimson sunsets
in late July or August, skin scathed from grasping
at the manicured rosebuds in a good year for roses.

Poem of the Week: March 31st, 2014

Hillary C. Katz’s “August,” published in burntdistrict Vol. 2 Issue 1, is our poem of the week. Hillary’s poems have appeared in Salamander, Blue Earth Review, Sweet, and other journals. She is an Editorial Assistant for Weave Magazine and lives and works in San Francisco.

By Hillary C. Katz

The city grays over. Blackness at the edges
like an underexposed photograph. Before sunrise
I witness a pigeon strung around the neck, hanging
from a wire fence. When my bicycle’s front tire goes
flat, I walk twenty blocks in the morning’s mist
past toothless men on the sidewalk who smile
more than children. These early hours are striped
with humid sadness. The day turns to sand, a beach
with patterned divots and pelicans floating overhead.
The summer sweats itself, the ocean swallows spineless
bodies. Brutality cannot be unseen. This is the month
I keep mixing up the words terrible and beautiful.