Poem of the Week: August 5th, 2015

Fresh off the press! Our poem of the week is from our latest issue: Volume 4, Issue 1. Ashley Roach-Freiman is a second-year MFA student with poems appearing or forthcoming in the Dunes Review, Midway Journal, THRUSH Poetry Journal, and DISTRICT Lit, among others. She also coordinates the Impossible Language reading series in Memphis, TN. More of her work can be found in the latest issue of burntdistrict.

GREEN TONGUE
By Ashley Roach-Freiman

My friend the city herbalist gives me a new language,
gives me tulsi, protector of the heart, holy in the scissor sunslant.

In his kitchen, it is green at the windows, green at the doors. Green mixes
with alcohol to act on the condition of a home to stain and stain.

In the garden of yes and yes, I let the split calyx of word spill into my spoon:
one teaspoon of extract internally as needed. May cause a feeling.

Tulasi before bed – effective against nightmares. Hold the breath.
Night unscrew the lid. May cause a feeling of burlap,

back of the throat, where the words are drug. I nod like I know something –
cool to the nerves, the whorls, my heart.

Sip the bitter skullcap; gnaw the green rind of sleep.
Tulsi acts upon the liver, deep like a bite in the throat.

In the day garden of sleep, I splay like a cat in lavender
lobes, all soft leaf, all sharp stem, all ants attended.

Poem of the Week: July 26th, 2015

Lori Mosley is from New Orleans. She currently lives and teaches in Lake Charles, LA. Her work can be found in Volume 1, Issue 2 of burntdistrict.

from IN CONVERSATION WITH THE TANGERINE JESUS
By Lori Mosley

Colonnades of lemonade stands
compete for penny cent pieces

When’ll we be outdated? Lemons
will grow and drop and wait / not
for hands / but degradation/ ne’er we
Never will we fall but pared / juiced / inhaled / always
still hanging / I cannot
insist the husk that remains contains evermore
ripeness / evermore usefulness

Useful: the monumented child / surrogate-lover
always awake to the mother

Poem of the Week: July 21st, 2015

Matt Mason, author of our poem of the week, has won two Nebraska Book Awards (for Poetry in 2007 and Anthology in 2006) and organized poetry programming with the U.S. Department of State in Kathmandu, Nepal, and Minsk, Belarus. His poem, “What I’ve Learned, Being a Father” can be found in Volume 1, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED, BEING A FATHER
By Matt Mason

is that being a person
takes practice.
Nobody springs fully-formed anymore
like in ancient stories. Even Jesus,

we acknowledge, drudged through
the relative embarrassments of infancy:
arms as novel and unwieldy as tentacles,
no sense of social control with your tongue,

these brand new bowels
and the surprises they prove capable of;
these bodies
like rowboats on stormy seas,

crashing against momentum and seeming never,
ever will they be something
you can steer.
You may someday know

how to balance on water; but
for now
the waves do not answer
to your spastic, sausage-like hands.

Poem of the Week: July 13th, 2015

Todd Robinson’s work has appeared in Sugar House Review, Margie, Prairie Schooner, The Southeast Review, and Midwest Quarterly. More of his work can be found in Volume 3, Issue 2 of burntdistrict.

THE WHITE PILL
after Jim Carroll
By Todd Robinson

I took the white pill this evening

I got new fuzz on the bones inside my skin

the missus
does her little sleep on the sofa

and at dawn
a whistle summons all the tiny workers
to their cubicles

it is silent and piercing

not at all like the shriek
of a perfectly failing republic

Today, It’s Official

We are delighted to announce that Spark Wheel Press and burntdistrict have become a part of the Nebraska Writers Collective, a vibrant nonprofit that promotes creative writing and performance poetry throughout the Midwest. This is an exciting new chapter for us, and while our editorial mission and aesthetic at SWP are unchanged, we’ll be spending some time considering how to best embrace the growth this new partnership is offering. In the short term, submissions to burntdistrict will be closed. Full length collections continue to be considered at Spark Wheel Press

.Logo NWC copy

Poem of the Week: June 28th, 2015

Barbara Duffey’s poetry chapbooks, The Circus of Forgetting (dancing girl press) and The Verge of Thirst (South Dakota State Poetry Society) were published in 2013. She has a full-length collection forthcoming from Word Poetry in 2015. Her work also appears in Volume 3, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

Untitled
By Barbara Duffey

So when tomorrow folds
in on itself like an ache
I’ll visit your voice in the
nest of my want, your shelter.
Baby – please need me shorn
and scalded, needled. I shut myself
down to let science take over your
outset, my makeshift tiny specimen.

Poem of the Week: June 21st, 2015

Darla Himeles’s poems and translations appear in recent or forthcoming issues of Off the Coast, 5 AM, Weave Magazine, OVS, and Cerise Press. “A Taste” appears in Volume 2, Issue 2 of burntdistrict.

A TASTE
By Darla Himeles

When your heart quits
I’ll be barreling down some back road,
embraced by a blur

of ordinary splendor – Highland cattle, heaving
fields of grasses and goldenrod,
mailboxes sturdy on wood posts,

some empty. Consider what visions grip
then. Maybe the road becomes living
room carpet, my arms folded loose

round your shoulders. Maybe my body
lifts like lace from the car window,
clutched in the small talons of cardinals,

light and air right through me.
Maybe they set me in a sunburst park
picnic, everything gold. Your irises glint

amber, and pinot gris numbs our lips
beside their ambulance-red wings.
I’ve heard when death dismantles dreams,

they become flecks of stories airborne
on discarded orange peels
or pollen. They itch the tongue

when we breathe.

Poem of the Week: June 7th, 2015

Ira Sukrungruang is the author of Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy. His work has appeared in numerous magazines, including The Sun, Creative Nonfiction, Crab Orchard Review, and North American Review. More of his work can be found in Volume 2, Issue 1 of burntdistrict.

FLORIDA: A LOVE POEM
By Ira Sukrungruang

In the summer, heat is a tight
embrace that suffocates. It enters
through the pores of the feet, a blaze
despite afternoon rain and flood
that whisks away gators and carries
moccasins into the hollows of cypresses.

                                Love, forgive me.
I still yearn. I scratch lines into the hickory’s
bark, the days you have scorched my heart.
I smell your musk, feel your invisible fingers
across my back and neck and thighs, like a devouring vine.
This is loneliness, I’m sure.

                                Love, a hurricane is inevitable.
It’s east of us, ravaging some tropical island. It has your name.
I’m willing it towards me, arms open.

Poem of the Week: June 2nd, 2015

Marie Gauthier’s new poems can be read or are forthcoming in The Common, Cave Wall, Poetry Northwest, Crab Creek Review, and elsewhere. Her poem, “Where You Split, You Bloom,” first appeared in Volume 1, Issue 2 of burntdistrict.

WHERE YOU SPLIT, YOU BLOOM
after Lia Purpura
By Marie Gauthier

Your stone’s a new milk tooth
among the weathered markers – how
to make of your loss something less
never, less always, less torn
sutures and sawtooth incisions?

Your appointments meant CBCs
and IV lines, the blue stars of radiation.
Mine are heartbeats. Sonograms.
The contrapuntal pulses of the living.

The phlebotomist’s smooth ruby draw
pains me beyond galaxies: the memory
of your cigarette paper skin
and elusive veins, how your face charred
to ash with each needle’s dig.

I press gauze to the red pearl
and sob. The bell
of my belly strains and shakes
with each strike of the ringer inside.

Poem of the Week: May 18th, 2015

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.