“Lillian Harvey” by Gerald Stern

Lillian Harvey

This is lovesick for you–Charles Koechlin
covering his paper with tears, he shushes his wife
and his children, he is crying for Lillian Harvey–
or this is lovesick–sending his wife to meet her,
he is too shy to go, and he is married;
when she comes back he asks a thousand questions:
What was she wearing? Does she like his music?
How old did she look? Was she like her photograph?
But he never met her, she whose face haunted him,
although he wrote a hundred and thirteen compositions
for her, including two Albums for Lillian,
and he wrote a film scenario and score,
which he imagined, fantastically,
would star the two of them. He was himself
twice in America, both times in California,
but they couldn’t meet–it would be a violation.
I know that agony myself, I stood
on one foot or another four or five times
and burned with shame and shook with terror. You never
go yourself. I know he must have waited
outside her house, a crazy man, he must have
dialed her number a hundred times, even risked
his life for her. But you never go, you never
stand there smiling–he never stood there smiling,
he never reached his hand inside her dress,
he never touched her nipple, he never pressed
his mouth against her knee or lifted her thighs.
For she was the muse. You never fuck the muse.

~ from Lovesick

 

***Many thanks to Julie for turning me on to this poem!

Check out Charles Jensen’s book!

TheFirstRisk

 

IT WAS OCTOBER

I was love when I entered the bar
shivering in my thin t-shirt and ripped jeans
and I was love when I left that place, tugged along at the wrist
as though tied, with a man I did not know.

I was love there in the morning
when our sour kisses bore the peat of rotten leaves,
fallen October leaves.  And it was love that we kissed anyway, not knowing
each other’s names.

I was love in that bed
and I was love in the hall and down the stairs and into the freezing rain.

I was love with hands punched deep
into the pockets of a coat.
I was love coated in frozen rain.

Back home, I was love stripped of the cigarette-stung shirt, love pulling the stiff jeans from my legs.
I dried my hair and I was love.

It was October.  What did I know of love that year,
shuddering in my nervous skin.  Miles away, the boy was lashed to a fence and shivering.

Where that place turned red and the ground soaked through
with what he was, I was love.

What did I know of love then
but that it wasn’t enough.

"The Replacement" by Tania Rochelle

THE REPLACEMENT

For months I’ve imagined brass
and polish, sharp edges–
a food critic, maybe,
or a stripper-someone
agnostic enough to tolerate
an indifferent lover, reluctant
father, petulant payer of bills;
and all that time, she’s just
got to get to class.
Ten years younger, she shakes
her long brown hair
from her clueless face,
asks if I want my husband back.
She tells me she wouldn’t compete,
as if it were a gift,
more lead crystal
to leach slow poison
into my daily cocktail.
So fresh I could bite her,
this girl, twenty-one, still
smelling of grass and Kool-Aid,
is asking permission.
But I’m not her mother–
to care if she runs
with a pencil in one hand,
a fork in the other.
Let her keep her prize:
his glass-green eyes,
a gold-plated tongue
that ferrets out soft spots
where promises grow
wild as ivy, as fire
through parchment.
Searching her flat baby-blues
for ripples, the slight wave
that might suggest she stands a chance,
I see only a plain beauty,
hands in her pockets.

Tania Rochelle, Karaoke Funeral

"The Invisible Intruder" by Katie Chaple

THE INVISIBLE INTRUDER

I always did want to be Nancy Drew—
think, to be that perfect girl with perfect titian hair,
the perfect powder-blue convertible,
to have two trust-worthy (yet not-quite-as-pretty) friends.
But then, to have the cute boyfriend, the daddy lawyer
and still to continually, with no true hesitation,
seek out the mysterious, the dangerous?
She did have everything, didn’t she? Smart, pretty.
She belonged in the best college, the best sorority,
not skulking in a moss-covered mansion or an old attic.
I think there is something dark in Drew.
I mean, a girl who, if tied, knows how to clasp her hands together
so she can free them, is a girl who has more
than a nodding acquaintance with bondage,
who knows more than she lets on.
But maybe Nancy needed a reckless man,
one with a motorcycle—not that androgynous, blonde Ned,
all chaste pecks and letterman’s jacket.
Maybe, though, Nancy really wanted to fill up the abandoned
and decaying, where she would wind up, alone,
again and again—in the caves, the towers,
or maybe, really it was all about her dead mother,
and she was trying to pull the emptiness in—
the swirl of air, dankness—by learning it,
by throwing herself into what, in actuality, terrified her.
But whatever it is, tell me
that a girl who’s always using her beautiful, slender fingers
to creak open doors, carry heavy flashlights
all to illuminate cob-webbed corners, abandoned passageways,
tell me she is happy with her life.

~ Katie Chaple

Originally published in The Antioch Review, Vol. 62, Issue 2.
Also published in the Java Monkey Speaks anthology.

"This Poem Wants To Be Censored"

Tonight, I used my iPhone to record “I Should Write Soap Operas” for qarrtsiluni. Now, I’m sort of addicted to recording stuff and transferring it to my computer. I recorded another poem just for my blog because it makes me feel more professional over giving into an addiction. So yeah! For a limited time, here is “This Poem Wants To Be Censored.”

"Fourteen" by C. Dale Young

I’m in love with C. Dale Young’s “Fourteen.”

You can find it in OCHO #22: Dear America, Don’t Be My Valentine!

FOURTEEN

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been
six days since my last confession. I let a guy
cheat off of my science test because it made me
feel smarter. And I ignored my Mother telling me

to be home by 9:00 pm. I don’t really even know
why she asks such things. And I continue to have
impure thoughts, sometimes every hour. I let a
girl kiss me, a boy, too, but we all had our clothes on.

And this may not be a sin, but I knocked Mike down
on the basketball court just as he was making a jump,
just to be able to help him up, help him back
to the locker room. His knee got twisted. It swelled

until it looked like a softball. It was so swollen.
He let me hold ice to it until his folks came.
I liked holding the ice to it. But I found myself
having impure thoughts, Father, strange thoughts.

I sat there holding the ice and staring at his knee
and up the legs of his shorts. I could see
the white edge of his jockey shorts and more.
I had to look, Father. I had to look.

Forgive me, I couldn’t help it, the staring.
It was like the time last week, after the game,
when I couldn’t help but watch the soap suds
under your chin just before you washed off.

I sat on a bench in my towel and watched you, the
shape of your back, your arms, your chest. I know
this is wrong, Father, watching you in the shower.
But I only watched the soap. I only watched the water.

OCHO #22 is OUT & I have a Poem in it

OCHO #22: Dear America Don’t Be My Valentine , guest edited by Miguel Murphy, is out. I am thrilled to have my poem “Meeting Judy Bloom” in the issue. I am also very thrilled to be among such talented writers as Brent Goodman, C. Dale Young, Matthew Hittinger, Charles Jensen, RJ Gibson, Jeremy Halinen, and Blas Falconer.

OCHO #22: DEAR AMERICA DON’T BE MY VALENTINE

Duhamel in Ducts

Fathers

My father walks through the scrub, a shortcut, to get to Walmart
where he meets up with his friends for coffee on Friday afternoons.
He says teenagers are always hanging around back there, barbequing
something. I’m assuming my father has never smelled pot
and that’s what he’s smelling now, so I say, Dad, stick to the streets,
because I am afraid for him, even though these kids
are probably mellow from weed. My father, 80, says
there are too many zooming cars on the road, and besides,
he likes the pond, the wildflowers that will probably be gone
when the plaza expands to a Super Walmart next year.
I want to make sure the teenagers don’t rob my father for his two dollars,
the way they robbed my father-in-law right in the Albertson’s bathroom,
pushing him into the white tiled wall while he was at the urinal,
then fleeing with his wallet. It took my father-in-law a long time to get up
and regain his balance. It took him a long time to replace
his credit cards and ID. He was 90 by then. My husband said,
Can’t you catch these kids on the surveillance camera?
The manager was lazy and said the supermarket wasn’t responsible.
My husband said, No one is saying the supermarket is responsible—
we just want an arrest so these kids can’t mug anyone else.
My father-in-law filled out a police report,
his provisions idle in the silver cart.
When the supermarket wanted my father to retire,
they sent him to get the carts in the rain. Though there was a union
to protect wages, employees had no fixed assignments.
Having meat men suddenly clean bathrooms or produce men
suddenly wash floors was one way management
could humiliate older workers enough to make them leave.
A grown man doing the work a teenager could.
A grown man working 40 hours a week, eating up
the supermarket’s profits with his benefits. A teenager was warm inside,
part-time, bagging, flirting with the cashier, maybe laughing
at my father because my father wasn’t the teenager’s father.
That would have been a different story all together.

~ Denise Duhamel, taken from Ducts

Don’t forget you can win an autographed copy of Denise’s new book, KA-CHING!, which is due out spring ’09. Click here for the details.

Marie Howe in Honor of World AIDS Day


In honor of World AIDS Day:

The Last Time

The last time we had dinner together in a restaurant
with white tablecloths, he leaned forward

and took my hands in his hands and said,
I’m going to die soon. I want you to know that.

And I said, I think I do know.
And he said, What surprises me is that you don’t.

And I said, I do. And he said, What?
And I said, Know that you’re going to die.

And he said, No, I mean know that you are.

Marie Howe