Poem of the Week: January 26th, 2015

Shanan Ballam teaches poetry writing and academic writing at Utah State University. Her poetry has appeared in several literary journals, including Crab Orchard Review, Main Street Rag, and Indiana Review. Her chapbook, The Red Riding Hood Papers, was released by Finishing Line Press in 2010. More of her work can be found in Issue 2, Volume 1 of bunrstdistrict.

By Shanan Ballam

Lupine’s silver smatters
blue penstemon,
throats open, drinking bees.
In the shade, damp grass
flattened, the oval
of an animal body.

Once, washing walls, behind
the bookshelf I found
the faint footprint of a girl,
angled as if she were lying down,
gazing out the window
into thin rags of rain.

Tenderly, I cleansed her toes away.
I remember bathing
her small body in a steaming
basin, my cloth dripping
pale perfume.

It must be so lonely
to be the fading print,
the fragrant indentation
laced with musk.

I lie down so it can hold
me, this cradle
of long, fine grass.


Poem of the Week: January 18th, 2015

Teri Grimm, author of our poem of the week, is the author of Dirt Eaters (University of Florida Press) and the forthcoming Becoming Lyla Dore (Red Hen Press, 2016). She teaches in the University of Nebraska’s low-res MFA program. More of her work can be found in Volume 1, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Teri Grimm

As they’re dying, I want my lovers to think of me,
my hair draped silk across their chests,

my calculated breath creating small summits
of skin I conquered many times before

in Catalina, the Garden of Allah, balconies,
desks and office couches. Reverie will tempt

their tongues to slip through lips like small snakes.
I’m the charmer urging their mouths into a parting kiss.

Careworn wives think they need a drink, offer ice chips
and rest sad hands on their arms, heavy as overripe pears.

But they turn away, move toward the fragrant shade
of memory’s hair. Sweet like orange blossoms.

Behind my ear it’s white as orange blossoms.
I’m the secret you will keep from this world

spills from my mouth in soft petals. My face dissolves
into so many petals, they cannot blink them away.

Poem of the Week: January 11th, 2015

Gary Dop lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains with his wife and three daughters. His essays have aired on All Things Considered, and his first collection of poems, Father, Child, Water, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. His poem, “Randy’s Civil Rights” was published in Volume 2, Issue 2 of burntdistrict.

By Gary Dop

I’m naked as a baby cow
when I’m in my house
because that’s a man’s space.
My neighbor lady

with that gimpy leg
called the cops,
but they didn’t say nothing
about me giving her

an eyeful
because a man’s land
is the space he got.
Not even cops can make me

wear nothing over my junk
when my own naked feet
are on my property.
I fried some chicken

standing snow white
in my kitchen window.
I could probably mow
the lawn in the raw

if I wanted, except
some yellow peace-hippy
would probably say
I’m a dandy fellow. I ain’t

gotta prove nothing, not
with this tattoo – everything
you need to know
about me is in my tattoo:

I covered the nipples
with that red bikini
for ten dollars because
my nephew kept pointing.

This cowboy hat is ’cause,
well, I’m a cowboy.
The southern flag, well,
that’s a battle flag –

I ain’t afraid to fight.
The boobs and all that
is ’cause I like women,
blondes first. I know

if a woman doesn’t
get it and like it,
she’s just too shallow.

Poem of the Week: January 4th, 2015

Sally Houtman is the author of a non-fiction book and her work has appeared in more than thirty print and online publications, earning four New Zealand writing awards. Her poem, “Pivot clockwise, watch the footing on its fragile crust,” appears in Volume 3, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

By Sally Houtman

because you live on this broken island,
Gondwanaland’s forgotten pedestal of bone

because there is no line of demarcation
between the east and impossibility

because there is no reasoning with the tide
or greed or ghosts or gravity

because the foolish sun is halved twice a day
and the sky remains indifferent, wind-rubbed and bare

because this is no way to live, weeping over onions,
in a winter kitchen, wounds still raw, because

all the earth is just a grave that hoards
its granite, and there is no room in its sarcophagus

for silent, rusted things, because beliefs
will not rest on sturdy hinges and a memoir cannot be written

in the sand, because wishes cannot bruise the air and a swallow cannot roost
higher than it flies, because the tree does not cling to its leaves

and fruit will ripen off the vine, because a hole requires an edge to exist
and because this edge might, at any moment, fall away –