February 19, 2018

Jamey Hecht

AFTERMATH

for B.B.H.

That woman you loved, the one you pine for,
she’s gone. It’s over. The past has swallowed it.
Likely you will never see her pretty face again.
That is all right. Why is it all right? Because
the mountains are flowing away like water
and all things pass away, tangent to eternity.

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017

__________

Jamey Hecht: “I live in L.A. where I teach, write, and practice psychotherapy. I hope one day to return to my homeland of Brooklyn. My more ambitious poems try to unite the public, the private, and the cosmic, because if epic poetry is dead (which it may not be) then some lyric poetry must take up that task or else the world will fall apart. Also, I was born on 5/13/68, right between the CIA-and-police murders of MLK (4/4/68) and RFK (6/5/68).” (web)

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February 18, 2018

Dante Di Stefano

LOVE POEM COMPOSED UNDER THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION BEGINNING WITH MISREMEMBERED LINES FROM PABLO NERUDA AND NICANOR PARRA

for my wife, one month after the birth of our daughter

You look like the world in your rocking chair,
the nightlight a butterfly flowering
the moon of your breast beaconing against
the thought that what we are living through might
destroy us. We are safe in suburb
and side street and at work I now only
think of you and our little girl, except
today when my student, Angel Cruz (not
his name), smiled and told me how he’d paid off
his debt to the men who had smuggled him
across the border and now he could save
one hundred dollars from the three hundred
a week he earned washing dishes to send
to his mother back in Guatemala,
unless ICE raids the diner where he works;
he worries, but he doesn’t stop smiling,
and I am grateful that our girl will grow
into the small axe of the self without
such worries. She will have other worries,
the sad strange knowledge that our comfort comes
at a cost. Always. It is true, before
she was born I didn’t really know love
or fear, but now both are braiding rivers
inside my chest and a new chamber thumps
wifely inside each chamber of my heart.
Meanwhile, the football coaches arm themselves
with dirty jokes as the president tweets,
the EPA pins Silver Stars to dead
polar bears, and somewhere in the Midwest
someone’s making a confederate flag
out of melted red plastic army men.
To our newborn child I say: sweet cluster
of cells containing a cosmos, this world
you have entered now would terrify me,
if I did not understand the body
as writ for flying, as juke, hew, and cleave,
as among the ruin and breakage, this shine,
if I did not know your birthright is fire,
your mother’s real name, Illumination.

from Poets Respond
February 18, 2018

[download audio]

__________

Dante Di Stefano: “This is a Valentine’s Day poem for my wife, written while thinking about the many immigrant students I have taught over the past decade in my job as a high school English teacher. The conversation with the student in the poem is based on a real conversation I had with a student last week. With the continued debate over DACA in the news yet again this week, and the perpetual virulent rhetoric about a wall on our southern border, the commercial holiday seems crasser than usual this year. However, I am an optimist. I believe in my newborn daughter’s ability to change the world. I believe in my wife and in our family. I believe in Love.” (web)

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February 17, 2018

Sophia Buss (age 6)

THE WAITER

The clock is ticking,
the clock is tocking.
I am waiting for someone
like you.
You’re like a soft ocean
that wants me.
The breeze blows to an island
and that very island
sadly sails away.

from 2018 Rattle Young Poets Anthology

[download audio]

__________

Why do you like to write poetry?

Sophia Buss: “I really like to write. It’s fun to just let the words out of your mind and the feelings out of your hands.”

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February 16, 2018

Meredith Davies Hadaway

GENEALOGY

after Betsy Sholl

One parent was a river, the other was the tide.
She wandered through her day—she had her ups
and downs.

One was a candle, the other a chandelier—all those
little prisms bending light. No wonder she was bright—
but scattered.

One tinkered, the other shopped.
She puzzled over wheels and springs—then
gave up and bought a watch.

One spoke in numbers, the other, verbs.
She calculated miles ahead by
step and slide.

One flew across the night in streaks of dust, the other
faded out of sight, she’d lost
her wings.

One parent left me a piano, the other a pup.
Now I write songs only a dog
can sing.

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017

[download audio]

__________

Meredith Davies Hadaway: “Not long after my mother passed away I came across Betsy Sholl’s wonderful poem, ‘Genealogy.’ She inspired me to think about origins and endings and the family dynamics that serve as rocket fuel for poetry. Many others have responded to her poem. This is my attempt to join the conversation.” (web)

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February 15, 2018

Richard Luftig

THE EXACT CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE

What if the big bang
could be played in reverse,
taking everything back
that didn’t work, didn’t pull
its weight, like one of those
circus clown cars
with the tape run backwards,
everyone disappearing
back inside until all
that’s left is the joke?

An old Sioux man once
told me that invading white men
made so many paintings
of bison that soon there were none
left to hunt. I sigh and wish
there was someone
out there still willing
to take my picture.

from Rattle #18, Winter 2002
Tribute to Teachers

__________

Richard Luftig: “Poetry must be accessible and meaningful to everyday people in their everyday lives. They should be able to read a poem and say, ‘Yes that’s me and my life!'”

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February 14, 2018

Bill Glose

PHASES OF ERASURE: A SOLDIER’S JOURNEY

I. Phase Line Whiskey

“Love” was the first word uttered after “Mama” and “Papa,” 
who scratched your babbling language into a memory book 
to mark milestones from your childhood, a dictionary that grew
wide as distance between stars. The first time a new principle 
was introduced—gravity keeps us down; it’s impossible
to disappear—you always questioned why. Your parents 
encouraged you to walk, to run, to leap. Your mind knew 
nothing of boundaries, the barriers preventing fantasies 
from becoming real. In your world, matters of the soul 
harmonized with crickets’ heartbeats. When neighborhood kids
trampled the line of daylilies by the duck pond, you cried,
confused by cheerful shows of power and dominance.
Your lust was for all things green and growing. Not a thing
flew in the blue sky that did not make you want to soar.
Fireworks on Fourth of July made you think of kaleidoscopes—
the sparkled bombs exploding high up in the black—and 
the tattered, tumbling, cardboard shrapnel of falling leaves.

Dreams full of joy, a boy in your pajamas flying out of bed, 
no pain when you thudded to the carpet in a room filled 
with Matchbox cars and toy soldiers. Your last thought
on nights when the full moon swallowed your window,
wondering if tomorrow you might wake up on its foreign soil, 
wondering whether life would be cockeyed peering down through
your window like a mourner peeking into a grave or if 
your beating heart would still find magic among its craters.
God knows how many times you took apart toasters and clocks, 
having to know what slows the hour hand, which cog locks in
with which gear to combat the slippage of seconds.
And how many times you picked through trash cans, 
searching every nook, prying apart shadows until 
each hidden treasure becomes yours. The only enemy
you’d ever known was ignorance; the only mystery:
how every unturned stone did not ignite everyone’s curiosity.
“Who can hide the longest?” was your favorite 
game, the cavern behind your captain’s bed becoming 
an improvised fort in which you’d sit for hours, 
imagining devices that might make you invisible, 
that might make your ridiculous wants come true. 
You longed to turn the magic spinning through your body 
into something tangible, an overcoat you could drape 
over inanimate objects to give them life, to fill 
every empty space with ideas stitched from the fabric 
of your dictionary, until the last void stoppers with 
the very last word. Your parents took away your only pet, 
a turtle, after exploring fingers got stuck a third time 
in its shell. Asking, “But what is inside?” You hated 
not touching the answer, something so full of possibility.

 

 

 

II. Phase Line Alpha

“Love” was the first word 
        scratched 
                               from your                      dictionary
                                                   the first                   principle 

to disappear                                                 . Your parents 
                                                                                   knew 
nothing of                    the 
                          real              world, matters of the 
                                          heart
trampled                                 by
                                                  power and
         lust                                                            . Not a thing
flew in the blue sky that did not make you 
                                                               think of
                     bombs                                                     and 
                                                     shrapnel                          .

Dreams        of 
     pain                                                                     filled 
                                                            Your 
     nights                                                                         ,
wondering if tomorrow                                           foreign soil
                                      would be 
your                                                               grave
your beating heart 
        knows how           time 
                                   slows                                                    in
                               combat 
        how 
                every                                shadow 
                                  becomes            The         enemy

how every unturned stone 
          can hide 

an improvised 
                 device   that 
                                                    wants 
                    to turn                                              your body 
into                                  an 
        inanimate object                             , to 
          empty 
    your dictionary, until the 
              last word 

in its shell                                 is                       hate 
                                                                                         .

 

 

 

 

III. Phase Line Romeo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

nothing 
                                                          matters 

 

 

                                                                             Not
             the blue sky              not 

 

 

 

Dreams        of 

 

 

                     tomorrow

your
        beating heart 

                                   slows

 

 

                                  becomes

                                 stone 

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017

[download audio]

__________

Bill Glose: “For ten years after serving in the Army, I followed the example of my father, a Vietnam veteran, and kept my experiences as a combat platoon leader bottled inside. Then I started attending open mics where each time a poet shared his or her personal burden the crowd would lift them up. It was then I started writing my war, the long-kept secrets and the hidden pains leaking out one cathartic driblet at a time.” (web)

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February 13, 2018

Sally Ashton

LET’S GET RID OF VALENTINE’S DAY AND REPLACE IT WITH SECOND HALLOWEEN

You know an idea’s hot
when it has 126,876
Facebook likes before you’ve
even seen it and it’s only
mid-January. Already thousands
are dreading the Day
in spite of those yummy
conversation hearts and gummy
bears that spill from aisle-caps in every
store making their appearance
in my CVS December 26th
along with hearts pierced by arrows
which is possibly one of the reasons
many of us would rather
bring back the Halloween displays
witches spiders and monsters
the bloody fingers and mummies
ax murderers and vampires,
zombies and ghosts, even
the French maids or sexy costumes
for men which unfortunately
are more ludicrous than sexy
my favorite however being the Golden
Dong—Google it—which seems
to bring us somewhat back around
to the problem with Valentine’s Day
and why many of us would prefer
to apply fake scars and warts rather
than face the sickly array of red satin
lace and roses, the profit-driven
reminder to get it on. What’s the point
of a holiday that excludes nearly
half of us, those who for whatever
reason identified as “single”
on the last county census though many
choose “single” vs the only other choice,
“married,” so who knows
what really goes on
behind closed doors but Halloween
is all about opening doors and giving
away something sweet to whoever
is standing there no matter what
they look like or who they are—perfect
strangers—and all anyone has to do
is hold out a bag and ask

from Poets Respond
February 13, 2018

[download audio]

__________

Sally Ashton: “This is a poem in response to Valentine’s Day via a random Facebook post that appeared in my newsfeed. The poem expresses what seems to be a widespread reaction to an awkward, often-dreaded holiday that loudly separates the ‘haves’ from the ‘have-nots.’ Valentine’s Day not only marginalizes millions of people, it serves to ostracize or even break the hearts of people who, for whatever reason, are partner-less. Cupid’s cruel and heartless slings and arrows. I’ve been part of an annual Valentine’s reading for nine years and play the role of the anti-Valentine for this same reason.” (web)

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