Poem of the Week: December 30th, 2014

Lee Ann Roripaugh’s most recent collection of poetry, Dandarians, was released by Milkweed Press in 2014. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is currently a Professor of English at the University of South Dakota, where she serves as Director of Creative Writing and Editor-in-Chief of South Dakota Review. More of her work can be found in Volume 2, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Lee Ann Roripaugh

s/he’s the glitter of koi
snake’s chain-mail slink / heart-shaped
cockle belly dragging
as she FaceBook creeps
on tiger’s hushed paws
velvet-horned / oxen-eared
shy-eyed as a rabbit until
camel’s spit and eagle’s claw

s/he gender-switches easy as
the sea change shimmer
of lenticular flicker pictures
flipping with each shift of light:
MTF / FTM / sea walnuts
to Venus’ girdles / emperors
and clownfish / sea stars
or the beautiful moon wrasse

sometimes s/he passes as human
buys laundry detergent
forgets which day’s trash day
updates the Netflix queue / quietly
reads Godzilla comix on the plane

sometimes s/he takes a bride/groom
they adopt a kitten from the pound
until s/he begins to turn invisible
secretly starts smoking again / exhalations
of clouds and ash on the back porch

newly single / monster’s her go-to form
glitter and hiss and growl and spit and claw

the dragon tattoos of firemen
a talisman against burning
calling in her quenching
tonnage of water to them

the resolute voice of miki endo
dragon’s turtle messenger
calling out loudspeakered warnings
calling the silvery fury in

she’s the kind of dragon who’ll
demolish town hall / pluck out
the lone girl still manning
the disaster prevention office
to keep as her own choice pearl

s/he’s the kind of dragon who’ll
tear the world apart / toppling
institutions and tossing cars
troubling the nuclear reactor
down to its cracked fragile core

s/he’s the kind of dragon who
won’t stop until s/he’s unrepressed
the phoenix who dreams inside her
becoming her own mortal enemy
birthing her own monster bride

the nuptial bed’s self-immolation

honeymoon’s toxic / apocalypse of flame


Poem of the Week: December 21st, 2014

Simon Perchik is an attorney whose most recent collection of poetry, Almost Rain, was published by River Otter Press. He’s also one of our 2014 Pushcart Prize nominees. More of his work can be found in Volume 3, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Simon Perchik

You can still make out the stars
though it’s noon and the beach
changes – you can tell by the feel

and listening for engine scrap
breaking apart, smelling from smoke
expects you to stand up barefoot

keep struggling with shoreline
– you’re not new to this
will start the grill weeks ahead

as if stars are never sure
are milling around, forgot all about
the darkness you’re breathing in

and no way now to pick and choose
the fires however small or close
to some ocean or daylight

till it creaks and your mouth
no longer lit for kisses
and songs about nothing.

Poem of the Week: December 14th, 2014

Our poem of the week, another of our Pushcart Prize nominees, was written by Alexander Lumans. He is currently the Spring 2014 Philip Roth Resident at Bucknell University. His poem, “What We Don’t Know About Natalie Portman Can Still Hurt Us” is from Volume 3, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Alexander Lumans

Natalie Portman is a calving glacier. She is not
               long for the world before she turns
               a series of colorful, textbook evaporations.
And rumor has it
               she was once an invasive school of Asian carp,
but she kept landing facedown in our ice chests.     Twice,
                    she made a living
by selling those silver collector spoons – who doesn’t
have this empty space inside his heart? In the eye of the storm?
               Natalie Portman is No Man’s Land.
And those ambient sound players –
                         the kind with settings like “Whales”
                    and “Whales Talking”
and “Whales Talking about How They’re Suprprised
that We (Humans) Know that They (Whales) Can Talk”?
               -that’s her.
And me? I was born too late with the distinct desire
                    to collect all things porcelain:
                         1) Dolls
                         2) Natalie Portman’s zygomatic bone
                         3) Butter dishes
Naturally, I found my way back to the sea, only to find it
               had risen. And was backward.
                                        I blame her.
               O Natalie, no one knows where the afterlife starts,
only that we’re always tacking in that one direction,
               chewing gum that’s just lost its cotton candy flavor.
Come winter, you detect a lot of buzz with a lot of info
                                                  that’s not right.
The truth about Natalie Portman is that her heart is growing
               on the outside of her body.           I believe this is it.
Too dangerous to do anything around here but stay the same.
               Having once been startled by the line
                                   “the sight startled him,
like a drawer flung open to an intimacy of spoons,”
I had three hundred questions.     Namely, is “intimacy”
a hive term – as in a pod of cetaceans
                                        or a 16-piece dinnerware set
               of Aegean Mist? Second: why am I all of a sudden
crying?           She is a glass-bottom boat.
               A thousand thousand years ago
Natalie turned to ice. Watch closely as I extract a core sample.

Poem of the Week: December 4th, 2014

Amber Rambharose, one of our 2014 Pushcart Prize nominees, runs Forthcoming Poets and is an Assistant Editor at YesYes Books. More of her work can be found in Volume 3, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Amber Rambharose

We were in the bathtub and it was just us
and the tub was empty and it was strange
to sit in an empty place – white as bone
and dry as bone and robbed of its purpose.

I didn’t want to do it. No, I did. I wanted to
peel back her cracked lips or peel back love –
the word, what it actually is underneath
the sound and what it does to the body.

I didn’t want to kiss her but I was born
to do it. I loved my little sister and our father,
watching over, smiling and the camera
lens, smiling and there was no water

in the bathtub so I knew it wasn’t bath time
and there was nothing else to do.

Pushcart Nominations

It’s been a busy fall, both personally and professionally, and we’ve been a little discouraged at the delays we’ve run into putting our 6th issue out. Ugh, poetry! we’ve said more than once. But this week, we spent some time rereading our 2014 issues, poem after poem after poem, and my god, what an honor it is to do this work. We are beyond delighted to nominate the following poems for the Pushcart anthology.

From burntdistrict Fall 2014 (Forthcoming December 2014)

Steven Schroeder Literally

Gregory Mahrer Adiago with Bell and Lantern  

Nandini Dhar Dream Collection

From burntdistrict Spring 2014

Alexander Lumans What We Don’t Know About Natalie Portman Can Still Hurt Us

Simon Perchik Untitled (First Line: You can still make out the stars)

Amber Rambharose The First Time I Kissed Her

Best of luck to these poets, and many thanks to all of those who share their work with us.

All best,

Liz and Jen