Poem of the Week: May 27th, 2014

Our poem of the week, Richard Robbins’s “Wolf visits her dream,” appears in burntdistrict Volume 3, Issue 1. Richard Robbins has published five books of poems, most recently Radioactive City (Bellday Books, 2009) and Other Americas (Blueroad Press, 2010). He directs the creative writing program and Good Thunder Reading Series at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

By Richard Robbins

years after the nasty
episode, Grandmother gone now,
the forest suffering from blight.

He would have her drink the long
glass of wine from crystal where the three
small bones of the ear lay listening.

Why couldn’t she move to another
story. Why did he do the Russian dance
until she promised to kiss.

There’s no mercy in the eight-bedroom
house he’s built next to the pond. In Timberwood
Acres, pigs are rolling out the sod.

What eyes he had, even as
she refused them. What teeth, what crooked fences
along the straight streets of dream.

She wants to move, awake, to another
story, the one where she drifts large as a red front
across the continent, sea to sea.

She wants to move to the story of red
rain falling on the blight, making the brown
trees sing, the brown birds sing.

The title is a first line by Suheir Hammad, from “break (full)”.


Poem of the Week: May 19th, 2014

Marvin Shackelford, the author of “Witchy,” lives in the Texas Panhandle with his wife, Shea, and earns a living in agriculture. His work appears in such journals as Confrontation, Cimarron Review, Parcel, Beloit Fiction Journal, and Armchair/Shotgun, as well as the latest issue of burntdistrict.

By Marvin Shackelford

I keep a journal on the joys of being
your broomstick. We sweep the porch,
nonchalant but lovingly while the neighborwives
scream for their husbands from picture windows
up and down the street, and soon as dark hits
we jet for the Old World’s Vegas.
I remind you: The myth comes from drugs
and how easily they slip
through a mucous membrane. Do you remember
how it used to be just dirt with us?
I’ll make careful note of your answer.
Your hair tossed back moonlit and knees
pointy out in the air – sweet shit.
Rock and I’ll head whatever direction you want.

Poem of the Week: May 13th, 2014

Marjorie Saiser’s “Draw What Is There” can be found in Vol. 3, Issue 1 of burntdistrict. Saiser has received several Nebraska Books Awards, the Vreelands Award, and the Leo Love Award. More of her work can be found in her novel in poems, Losing the Ring in the River (University of New Mexico Press, 2013).

By Marjorie Saiser

In art class, the instructor says
Draw your hand-not an

idea of hand but what is really there.
My pencil scratches over paper,

telling truth. Wrinkles.
Crookedness and bulges.

I let the ring fall to the side,
as it often does, let the tunneling

veins go where they have to go,
but left out is this:

the day I pulled your hair,
my son,

when you broke something.
It was too much, all of it.

Not the green plastic
forgettable trifle you broke;

I mean my work, my union with your father.
It was too much and it was too little

and there you were, young and perfect
and close by my hand. You say

you don’t remember
so I don’t mention it again

but I remember and
have not let it go.

Let me turn my hand over, watch
the ends of the fingers catch light,

notice that knuckles are only creases
over the bones that do the work.

Let me see what is
in front of me, opening and closing.

Let what I did and failed to do
drop like a leaf from my hand.

Poem of the Week: May 5th, 2014

What better way to celebrate the release of Volume 3, Issue 1 of burntdistrict than with a poem from our latest issue? Paula C. Lowe is the author of “Jamie Here I Am/Toe Hold/Dust,” our poem of the week. Paula is also the author of Moo (Big Yes Press, 2014). She holds a graduate degree from the University of Washington and has authored a half dozen nonfiction books.

By Paula C. Lowe

I am absent in the house
of catastrophes to come,
the house boarded up
before or after the cyclone,
the dust storm, the rise
of the tide into the second floor.

I am absent in the way that lips
leave lips, skin flaking into wind.

—Jamie asks where I’ve gone,
asks scrub trees and small listeners.

Say, I am in the lineup on Easter Island,
I am in the crushed stone under asphalt
on a road to the south, to the ever hopeful
but ever bleak south.

Say too, I am an afterthought
rinsed out of cheese cloth
from a time of milk and cows and grass,
a thought to cry, oh, stop sucking on the tits

of this planet, you empires who refuse to grow up:
inside bassinettes, playing with thin screen gadgets,
playing with buttons instead of toes.

—And that is it, Jamie, who can keep a reason
for toes when no one counts on them?

The man who lost everything steals
something from his neighbor.
The girl who lost her virginity,
searches for it on her knees.

—And that it is, Jamie, each village on the edge
of the earth has too few hands to keep bodies
from leaving their people.