Poem of the Week: July 28th, 2014

Our poem of the week is “The Rain Alone,” published in Volume 3, Issue 1 of burntdistrict. Derek Pollard is co-author with Derek Henderson of the book Inconsequentia. He is also the editor of Barrow Street Press as well as a Black Mountain Fellow at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

By Derek Pollard

Suddenly, love, you are
A skein of chili peppers
Making the sky equidistant
To the sky, which is such
A bright and hugely blue

Just as the bushes
Go silver in the faltering
Blush, the sky becomes
Absolutely new in a way
That not even newness is
Wont to be but for you
Looking at it in just that
Way, which is queerly lit
With wonder and
Unexpectedness and is
The most colorful of trees

Desert mouse
Darting between, you are
Ever only that matchless
Joy we sometimes barely
See, and are perfectly
At ease in the smallness
That you clothe yourself in
That is the smallness first
Of the pebble carved by
Rain, and then of the rain


Poem of the Week: July 21st, 2014

Lizi Gilad is a 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee and an MFA candidate at UC Riverside’s Low Residency Program. Her work is published or forthcoming in Amethyst Arsenic, A-Minor, Country Dog Review, Literary Bohemian, Thrush, and others. Her poem, “Hosanna,” can be found in Volume 2, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Lizi Gilad

Save, we pray.
Save me.
Maybe mommy.
Maybe bee stings
or royal jelly.
Maybe infatuation:
hope in high heels,
a wax, flimsy underneaths.
Maybe hamster ovary cells.
Maybe machinery.
Maybe exercise.
Maybe sex and pheromones
afterward floating
like dust motes.
Maybe love. Love as in mountain.
Love as in swimming pool.
Maybe atonement, swinging
a chicken around the head.
Maybe more fat, less fat,
green juice, juice cleanse,
gluten free, meat free,
dairy free, sugar free.
Honey. Herbs.
Maybe the words
of the turbaned taxi driver
speeding me along the 280:
pray to Allah, beg
forgiveness for sins.
Maybe a laying of the hands.
Maybe little pink pills.
Maybe Om Nama Shivaya
in a strip mall yoga studio.
Maybe my child’s hands
digging in sand,
maybe watching the rows
of her todays, tomorrows.
Maybe Oprah.
Maybe rage.
A better haircut.
Another cupcake.
Maybe therapy.
Maybe poetry.
Maybe a weekend at Bethany Beach:
kneeling to the sun, kneeling,
and kneeling, and kneeling.
Maybe the bubble muscled men
in black tank tops at the corner
cupping flowers in their hands.
Maybe flowers. Fields of them.
Yarrow, chickory, blue vervain.

Poem of the Week: July 15th, 2014

Jenn Monroe, author of our poem of the week, is author of the chapbook Something More Like Love as well as the founder/editor/executive producer of Extract(s): Daily Dose of Lit. Her poem, “Newborn,” is from Volume 1, Issue 2 of burntdistrict.

By Jenn Monroe

I have no reference point for babies,
their knowledge of shadows
and light. This one, head balanced
in the crook of my arm, is not mine,
yet we rock together at the edge
of this hospital room packed
with family. His mother winces
when she laughs, her incision fresh.
Eighteen, petite, she’s happy her son
did not get her red hair. He’s kicked
off his socks exposing dry white cracks
in pink skin. Everyone has been watching
the game for the past hour as I lean in
and out of his light. Let me see your eyes.
He refuses me. We will not save each other.

Poem of the Week: July 7th, 2014

Jim Peterson’s most recent poetry collections are The Owning Stone (Red Hen Press, 2012, winner of the 1999 Benjamin Saltman Award) and The Bob and Weave (Red Hen Press 2006). His new chapbook, The Resolution of Eve, is based on the last engravings of Goya. “Migration,” our poem of the week, can be found on Volume 1, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Jim Peterson

A vase half full of dirty water gathers light
on a windowsill in a house surrounded
by forest on a piece of forgotten land.
A book on the sill opens under the open window.
Breezes flip its pages until each leaf
has its own moment in the sunlight or in

cold shadow, letters long gone,
lifted off to become particles of air.
Clothes made for a man and a woman hang
on a line stretched between two trees so old
their voices uncoil from roots that plunge
into earth’s core and soar from the highest branch

to track the faraway scars of starlight.
The words in towns and cities resonate
with these arboreal voices and tear themselves
from books like a swarm of ants that crawl
over miles and miles of undergrowth and roots
and ancient deer trails and up the exterior wall

of this house. They fill the emptiness
of the book’s pages beside the vase
where their meanings surge and coalesce
in the candlelit attentions of the man and woman.
Sometimes the words form a choir and sing:
here are the seeds of new understanding

untouched by the past; here are the bodies
of a man and a woman entangled under the sweet
verbosity of leaves; here is the place where
something in the muddy water germinates,
concentrates like a face. The moon grows full
and round as the woman. The man sleeps

open-mouthed in the sun.

Poem of the Week: June 30th, 2014

Winner of the 2011 Nebraska Book Award for Poetry for her debut collection, Cradling Monsoons, Sarah McKinstry-Brown is also the author of “Persephone Writes Her Mother,” our poem of the week. More of her work can be found in Volume 3, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Sarah McKinstry-Brown

He promises I will learn to burn
beneath his gaze; that if I close my eyes

and tell him where to put his hands,

I’ll hear the babbling brook where I used to bathe. I’m always
thirsty. He says the body is a ladle. He says

you’ve set the world above us on fire
and all the rivers are flowing backwards. He says

the sky is falling, that the calves in the fields cannot drink
from their mother’s teat, and the grass doesn’t remember

being green. He says it’s my fault,
that if only I’ll soften beneath him, the sky will open.

His eyes are tongues, his arms, twine. I can’t sleep,
and when I dream, it’s always the same: you lean in to kiss

the top of my head, and I am pulled under. My hair, once famous to the sun,
gone anonymous,

fused with the old cottonwood’s roots.