Friday, May 31, 2013

Love Letter (Clouds) by Sarah Manguso

I didn't fall in love. I fell through it.

Came out the other side moment's later, hands full of matter,
     waking up from the dream of a bullet tearing through the
     middle of my body.

I no longer understand anything longer than a long moment,
     or the time it takes to receive the shot.

This kind of gravity is like falling through a cloud, forgetting
     it all, and then being told about it later. On the day you fell
     through a cloud...

It must be true. If it were not, then when did these strands of
     silver netting attach to my hair?

The problem was finding that you were real and not just a dream
     of clouds.

If you weren't real, I would address this letter to one of two
     entities: myself, or everyone else. The effect would be
     equivalent.

The act of falling happens in time. That is, it takes long enough
     for the falling to shear away from the moments before and
     the moments after, long enough for one to have thought I am
     falling. I have been falling. I continue to fall.

Falling through a ring, in this case, would not mean falling through
    the center of the annulus - a planet floats there. Falling through
    the ring means falling through the spaces between the objects
    that together make the ring.

On the way through, clasp your fists around the universe:

Nothing but ice-gravel.

But open your hands when you reach the other side. Quickly,
     before it melts.

What did I leave you?

Prayer by Sarah Manguso

Her lover returns, and she hails their love as finally unassailable
      as life in death.

This is the place religion occupies in her life. Its reach goes no further.

I have prayed the orange ladybug that has lain between the window
     sashes all winter is only sleeping.

God, you have never forsaken me.

Prayer - for a long time music was the closest thing to it.

Sometimes one need only seat oneself a few feet deeper into a room.

The blue of my typewriter is profound, its density foreign even
     to the sky.

Writing is work with such a machine. Is prayer.

Music was the closest thing to it.

I try to explain to a friend who lives by reason that she does not
     live by faith and therefore not a believer.

Pretending to mean something.
Pretending to believe something.
Pretending to believe in something.

These people profess to love a song but cannot even approximate
     the tune.

They must not love the songs they say they love.

Yet what they remember is what the girl sings on the bright stage.

Est, Est, Est by Sarah Manguso

The discovery of Italy's best wine,
and not alcohol poisoning, is what killed the prelate.

You've got to hide your love away,
not because showing it is useless,

but because it isn't.
Don't let me get what I want.

I love you as dead people love - in every way imaginable.
Don't let me bring the cat inside.

If you leave your wife with her beautiful name,
don't tell me.

See this deer track?
Just walk away.

When he had any, Dostoyevsky threw away his money.
I won't let you in my house.

Asking For More by Sarah Manguso

I am not asking to suffer less.
I hope to be nearly crucified.
To live because I don't want to.

That hope, that sweet agent -
Mt best work is its work.
The horse I ride into Hell is my best horse
And bears its name.
So, friends, drink your cocktails and wear your hats.
Thank you for leaving me this whole world to go mad in.

I am not asking for mercy. I am asking for more.
I don't mind when no mercy comes
Or when it comes in the form of my mad self
Running at me. I am not asking for mercy.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

This Is the Part of the Story I'd Rather Not Tell by Emily Kagan Trenchard


How at 13 I would lay awake at night deciding
which friend or family member would have to die
so that I might be aggrieved enough to be interesting,
so that I would have the permission to become more
withdrawn and mysterious and thus, more attractive.
I’d lay awake at night, plotting who it should be, how
it should go for the maximum impact. It would have
to be something epic so that I could become a rag doll
in his arms, bury my sweet face in the meaty expanse
of his 13-year-old chest and breathe deep the scent of his
Old Spice for my consolation. My malaise would surely
cause me to lose my appetite, and thus the tragic death
of my loved one would conveniently double as a diet plan.
In the version of the story where a masked gunman
breaks into our school and holds us all hostage, I am
always able to tackle him after he gets off a few
shots. One of them hits me non-fatally in the shoulder
and my current infatuation takes off his shirt to help
staunch the bleeding. I’m not sure how the story proceeds
from there because at this point in my dream I always
began to masturbate. I had determined that certain aunts
and cousins were important, but ultimately non-essential
enough to my daily life to be suitable options. Certain friends
had also been earmarked as acceptable, and I would update
my list with god each evening, playing through the
circumstances of their death and grieving each one with
actual tears so god might see what good choices I had made.
I didn’t want him to think I had cheaped out and picked a
distant relative or a secret enemy to exchange for my love’s
fulfillment. What kind of love would that be, anyway?

When it finally happened, there was no one but the floor
to fall into. Nothing but the gasping choke for my consolation.
I wouldn’t let anyone touch me. The sacrificial loved one?
My best friend with the crooked smile and first kiss around
the corner, her mother who kissed my head like a daughter,
her father who would fetch me midnight bowls of cereal,
her sister, getting ready to start college. The epic disaster?
An exploding plane.
To whom much is given, much is expected.
I no longer speak to god.
I love like I’d kill for it.

Cotton in the Air by Derrick Brown


Your polished back is arched like Saint Louis.
I can see your fingers pushing into the bricks
when I lift your hair
to smell October drain from your neck.

You are cotton caught in the air
I am unfurling laces in your body.

I move on you steady like a fleet of ships pushing ice.
I want to break it all.

Your tank top strap slips down the huh huh huh of your shoulder -
and I will not strain meaning from this.

I have to taste all of your shapes with my teeth.

I am waltzing a wrecking ball.

I am wading in the dark felt Tijuana paintings of your hair.
Molting my bed clothes
uncoiling towards Sahara.

All I want to do is hot lust you
into dead sweat.
To watch your legs, those bent sickles,
to watch them shake
like poisoned wrens.

I am gnashed and dazzled.
Smother me in the exhausted thrust of your yes… .
wet
as all exploding laundromats.

Darling, may I be the image you turn to
when you are heaving alone,
burning like Halloween in Detroit?

I am breathing up your legssssspitting at the hiding nightingale.
Drift your breasts into my mouth
and I will be that doped up, spinning victrola.
La la la la la la.

I want to make love to you while you’re wearing figure skates
until the hardwood floors are toothpicks.

I want to kiss your throat in a dressing room with my hands
bound around the slow song in your voice.

I don’t care if you made that dress, hippie,
I will shred it until you look deserted.

You’re as restless as a New Orleans graveyard in a storm
with the coffins boiling up to the surface.

That’s all this writing is. She is across from me and the
soup is cooking.

I sit up all night listening to her dental records.
I will teach her of exorcism and screw the hell out of her.
I will carry her steam in my mouth.

Daydreaming of the evening of loud struggle.
Call my name—I will cascade like a suicide.
I will fall upon you like a box of fluorescent bulbs
dropped from a five-story building.

I will do anything you ask… .
unless I have been drinking; then it is opposite day.

I can’t believe you can sleep through all this.

Chunks of brick in your fingernails.
Mortar on your pillow
a bomb shelter
sketched on your skirt.
Safe.
It says "safe."

A Finger, Two Dots, Then Me by Derrick Brown


Lying together in the park on Seventh,
our backs smoosh grass and I say
I will love you till I become a child again,
when feeding me and bathing me is no longer romantic,
but rather necessary.

I will love you till there is no till.
Till I die.
And when that electroencephalogram shuts down, baby
that’s when the real lovin’ kicks in.

Forgive me for sounding selfish
but I won’t be able to wait under the earth for you
(albeit a romantic thought for groundhogs,
gophers and the gooey worms).
I will not be able to wait for you…

but I will meet up with you
and here’s where you will find me:
get a pen–

Hold your finger up
(two fingers if your hands are frail by now)
and count two stars directly to the left
of the North American moon.
You will find me there.
You will find me darting behind amazing quasars
Behind flirtatious winks
of bright and blasting boom stars!

Sometimes charging so far into space
the darkness goes blue.
I will be there chasing sound waves
riding them like two-dollar pony ride horses
that have finally broken free and wild.
I will be facing backwards, lying sideways,
no hands, sidesaddle, sometimes standing
sometimes screaming zip zang zowie!
My God, it’s good to be back in space… Where is everybody?

You will recognize my voice.
You will see the flash of a fire trail
burning off the back of me
burning like a gasoline comet kerosene sapphire.
This is my voice.
Don’t look for my body or a ghost.
I’ll resemble more a pilot light than a man now.

I’m sure some will see
this cobalt star white light from earth
and cast me a wish like a wonder bomb.
And I’ll think “Hmmph. people still do that?”

I’m sure I’ll take the light wonder bombs
to the point in the universe
where sound does end.
The back porch of God’s summer home.

It’s so quiet here, you float.
It feels the way cotton candy tastes.

I say to him… why do I call you God?
He says ‘Because Grand Poobah sounds ridiculous.’
(Who knew he was so witty?)
I ask him ‘Lord, so many poets have tried to nail it and missed, what is holy?’

At that moment,
the planets begin to spin and awaken
and large movie screens appear on Mars, Saturn and Venus
each bearing images I have witnessed
and over each and every clip flashes the word holy.

armadillos–holy
magic tricks–holy
cows’ tongues–holy
snowballs upside the head–holy
clumsy first kisses–holy
sneaking into movies–holy
your mother teaching you to slow dance
the fear returning
the fear overcome–holy
eating top ramen on upside-down frisbees
cause it was either plates or more beer–holy
drunk beach cruiser nights–holy
the $5.00 you made in vegas
and the $450.00 you lost–holy
the last time you were nervous holding hands–holy
feeling God at a pool hall but not church–holy
sleeping during your uncle’s memorized dinner prayer–holy
losing your watch in the waves and all that signifies–holy
the day you got to really speak to your father cause the television broke–holy
the day your grandmother told you something meaningful
cause she was dying–holy
the medicine
the hope
the blood
the fear
the trust
the crush
the work
the loss
the love
the test
the birth
the end
the finale
the design
in the stars
is the same
in our hearts
the design
in the stars
is the same
in our hearts
in the rebuilt machinery of our hearts

So love, you should know what to look for
and exactly where to go…

Take your time and don’t worry about getting lost.
You’ll find me.
Up there, a finger and two dots away.
If you’re wondering if I’ll still be able to hold you
…I honestly don’t know

But I do know that I could still fall for
a swish of light that comes barreling
and cascading towards me.

It will resemble your sweet definite hands.
The universe will bend.
The planets will bow.
And I will say “Oh, there you are. I been waitin’ for ya. Now we can go.”

And the two pilot lights go zoooooooom
into the black construction paper night

as somewhere else
two other lovers lie down on their backs and say
“What the hell was that?”