Jane Rosenberg LaForge is the author of two poetry chapbooks: After Voices, from Burning River of Cleveland, and Half-Life, from Big Table Publishing Co of Boston. Her poem, “Grief in the Catskills,” originally appeared in Volume 1, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.
GRIEF IN THE CATSKILLS
By Jane Rosenberg LaForge
She believes there is something
alive in me, like a flame cradled
in glass and wax; she believes
in her grandmother, and that air
is antiseptic. She is not so young,
but she is curious, and the curious
remain oblivious to what their
enthusiasms unleash. I am sealed
in my experiences and my tattooed
humiliations. Whatever else is left
is a sick, curdling seed she would
have spread into roots; fingers and
flickering needs that would garrote
my organs, my esophagus, all the
places where twigs and stems might
have their next spring, the principles
of testimony. I would rather my parts
removed and delivered to those who
once placed bets on their viability.
Air is catching, air is flammable,
like a click in the throat, a cough,
a cold, the lint of excuses as it
dives and burrows into fingernails
and the fillings of teeth; like how
unattended birdsong wavers at
the wind’s discretion, and how
monkeys swing from blackened
branches in the zoo in Berlin.
The graves are still there, aren’t
they? It’s been years since I’ve checked.
Rebecca Connors was raised in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. and received her BA in English from Boston University. After trying multiple cities, she is back in Boston where she writes poetry and works as a digital strategist. “This is how to read me” can be found in Volume 3, Issue 3 of burntdistrict.
THIS IS HOW TO READ ME
By Rebecca Connors
Start left to right, keep
your eyes cross-haired
on my lines. Knock your teeth
against my consonants, my hardhearted
under haunted elms,
I found myself
detoured in the foothills –
found myself outside
your house. I will remind you
of the last time we crumbled
pecan pie, your fingers, absentminded,
rubbing my thigh.
Read me. Closer, I will
remind you of the tucked-hair
kisses. Serif-bound now,
I’m your ache in written words.
Keep your eyes on me as we move
to the next line, as we slide to the
last time. Use my hip as a guide
until you find us parting
on the highway, a handshake
at the gas station, receding
to smaller versions
William Cordeiro has recent or forthcoming work in Copper Nickel, Crab Orchard Review, CutBank online, Drunken Boat, Fourteen Hills, and elsewhere. More of his work can be found in Volume 2, Issue 2 of burntdistrict.
By William Cordeiro
Expect delays. Roadblocks, back roads. Snowblind
heaps and drifts. Lines of tumbled traffic cones.
Deer leap into your lane. Wind-twisted signs
for detours out. Abandon mobile homes.
The crumbs I’ve followed come from my old shoes.
Doors swing foreclosed. I peel away my face
as if a longneck’s label, hangnails, loose
ends – so much dead skin I’ve written off, unfazed.
The blizzard whistles sing-alongs. It’s on repeat.
Whiteouts. Black ice. You say I should embrace
mistakes. But I refrain. I turn down one-way streets.
I’m washed with the weather. You fade into space.