Poem of the Week: August 26th, 2014

Our poem of the week is from Volume 1, Issue 2 of burntdistrict. Jakob VanLammeren’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in diode, Explosion Proof Magazine, Gigantic Sequins, Hanging Loose Magazine, Pebble Lake Review, and queerzinelit.com.

By Jakob VanLammeren

I will not drive into smoke; the fires of soybean fields will drown me if I go on.
Skinny steers leer at me through the windshield & it is dead grass heat at 8am.
My heart is an irrigation lake.
There is something inside of me that longs to charge
the fence lit with a current made to kill.
See the scorch marks near my ribs?
I am burning the perimeter crops to prevent a wildfire from spreading.
You are water tower that I can see from any tollway,
a pocket of shade like a secret crush.
There are a dozen artichoke cacti on old Route 66
but I am tired of music, of wind pushing the van toward Amarillo.
August is a corset I want to unlace.


August 18th, 2014

Our poem of the week, “Heads & Tails,” comes from Volume 1, Issue 1 of burntdistrict. Carine Topal is a native New Yorker who writes and teaches in Los Angeles and the desert area. Her 3rd collection of poetry, In the Heaven of Never Before, was published in December 2008 by Moon Tide Press.

By Carine Topal

I will bury you – your husky giggle,
your gutterblood heart, your black iris,

its pupil, window to your circumsized life
beneath heaps of cobblestone we walked

near December street, cobble by cobble laid down
by peasants, prisoners, and Finns.

Bury you. I forget how I held you, there on the calendar
of marital moments, in the season of herring boats

and egrets, while the night sailed the slips of St. Petersburg.
Or I will throw you off the bridge of the four bronze horsemen

into a large Russian emptiness. What I never named,
what you left unspoken, I swallowed whole, watched,

as you sailed down the Rekoi Neva, past the glorious summer
palace, its gaudy turrets sparkling in the distance.

It was sunset, when the nets you wouldn’t live to see, came out,
spilling the near dead hip-deep to the fisherman,

heads and tails flapping. And there was spawning somewhere.
Somewhere other than where we were.

August 4th, 2014

Alec Hershman, author of our poem of the week, lives in St. Louis where he teaches at The Stevens Institute of Business and Arts. More of his work can be found in Volume 2, Issue 2 of burntdistrict.

By Alec Hershman

Tracing a molar with your tongue,
searching for an attitude of no distinction,
an ease of feeling some let be, the clouds break.
A bit of lift in the eyebrows then, stubborn
and arcane, twin segments of wood
like a fork in the fallen tree
in whose dark the beetles whittle
soil into byzantine chambers, the fresh gray
pearls of the pill bugs, surprised
at your surprise. Imagine the face
is a covert clock, replete
with sprockets, Swiss precision.
There is a ticking in the conversation
and none of the others knows where it comes from.
Is this what is meant by private?
You laugh with your teeth to make a noise
to swallow the noise. There is always a nerve
to bury or a fence to erect. Need a hand someone said –
but what would you do with a hand
that’s not already shaken?