March 15, 2018

Saumya Kedia


Love in the time of Hawking
is loud, it waits for no one, it travels from
one metro station to the other hoping
to learn something about this universe along the way,
if we reverse this, love becomes silent
and forgets that black holes exist, if we
reverse this: love is present: that’s all one can ask for
from the universe anyway, if we reverse this—
love begins at the death of someone that was loved, so
it never loses power over life, on Earth, I guess, is
there any else? I’m not a child just because I ask if the singularity
contains meaning, I’m not a child just because I ask
where love begins and ends, and lives and dies, and remembers
and forgets, and writes and writes: names before the metro
arrives: least—the universe is listening.

from Poets Respond
March 15, 2018


Saumya Kedia: “This poem is in response to the death of Stephen Hawking. Should be remembered in verse.” (web)

Rattle Logo

March 14, 2018

Natalie Solmer


a week after conception        I felt the sphere of cells
gnaw a notch        into the dead center of me
my baby daddy laughed        and sang
circled his arms around me        to show

gnaw a notch        into the dead center of me
how big        my belly would get
circled his arms around me        to show
he was right        he was happy as we rode in the gold car

how big        my belly would get
our baby kicked        with each boom of bass
he was right        he was happy as we rode in the gold car
I used to laugh at his songs        until I was living it

our baby kicked        with each boom of bass
real man a gallis        so many gyals        so much pum-pum
I used to laugh at his songs        until I was living it
the joke’s on you        god says        when I get to him in sleep

real man a gallis        so many gyals        so much pum-pum
I could pretend        to condense him to a raindrop
the joke’s on you        god says        when I get to him in sleep
I’m still knotted        bedded down by need

I could pretend        to condense him to a raindrop
yet I don’t want to worship        a husband-god
I’m still knotted        bedded down by need
I painted my walls        moon-color

yet I don’t want to worship        a husband-god
my baby daddy laughed        and sang
I painted my walls        moon-color
at my altar needing        pails of water to anoint me

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017

[download audio]


Natalie Solmer: I often make dumb decisions in this lifetime, and despite those ‘mistakes’ which cause me to transform—hopefully—into something better and brighter, I do not know if I could make it through any of this without reading and writing poems. Poetry provides (or perhaps the poet forces) access to a transformative space: revealing hidden layers and meaning to life, imbuing sorrow with magic, at least temporarily. (web)

Rattle Logo

March 13, 2018

Mather Schneider


She uses a flat hot iron
to straighten her hair.
It has a porcelain handle
and burning platypus jaws
and each morning she gets up
and plugs it in the wall.
You can smell it getting hot.
Her hair is a gorgeous blue black
Mexican mane, but her ex
slapped her face
told her she was ugly
and her hair was too curly
every day until it stuck.
It’s a delicate operation:
to change who you are
without burning your scalp.
It’s been eleven years
since she’s seen him, calls
another country home now
but she still gets up
and plugs in that hot iron
every morning. It’s ready
when your spit sizzles.

from A Bag of Hands
2017 Rattle Chapbook Prize Selection

[download audio]


Mather Schneider: “I don’t like trying to come up with something clever for these things. I write poetry and prose when there is something I want to put down. I don’t like writing for the hell of it. My favorite desert animal is the javelina, which looks just like a little pig.” (website)

Rattle Logo

March 12, 2018

Christopher Soden


How long ago was it, that I saw
Tom get married? More than
thirty years? I did not then
self-identify as gay, though understood
I could not express contempt
for the bride in the same way
as the others. Tom really loved me

but somehow the ferocity in my gut,
the dark turn my blood took,
was different. Chaotic harmony
to our conversation, grace in our brimming
banter. I would dream of Tom coming
to me in the tub, swathing my wrists
and feet in yards of snowy bandages.

His sister Michelle wore a lethal red
dress (scalding the air like poppies)
to the reception. Female stream
auguring flagrant, blinding intimacy.
Even I the pathetic queerboy, who’d
yet to nurse another cock, could tell

how exquisite she was, far beyond
my grasp or caress of any man.
You can tear away every tatter
until there is nothing but your raw,
ridiculous flesh, you can scour
your conscience till she knows

every shameful crime that blackens
you like ash. You can murmur prayers
at her miraculous crux, worship
her nipples so delicately the chills
will bring her closer to the grave.

We reach and we reach, aching
to swim in that lunar placenta,
drench our gorilla hide in milky
song of undiluted mercy. She will never

tell you that uncomplicated smile is
stifling disappointment. That we are
grubby, thick-headed altar boys, sloshing
sloppy fluids at the communion
of the most high.

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017

[download audio]


Christopher Soden: “I remember the first time I heard Sylvia Plath’s ‘Lady Lazarus’ in a writer’s workshop I was taking. Our teacher, Jack, read it aloud, and I was unacquainted with Plath and her poetry. Didn’t even know she was dead. As anyone who knows the poem can tell you, it gathers steam and just continues to escalate by way of rage and audacity. Plath just keeps pushing and pushing until you think she couldn’t possibly go any further, and yet she does. By the time Jack finished with those three lines, ‘Herr God, Herr Lucifer, Beware. Beware. / Out of the ash I rise with my red hair, / and I eat men, like air,’ I could feel deep shudders traveling up my back. My scalp was ablaze. Until that moment I didn’t even know such poetry was possible. That was when I knew I wanted to be a poet.”

Rattle Logo

March 11, 2018

Sally O’Brien


But did you hear about the penguins?

They saw the snow stained pink with krill
from space. Remember learning that word,
“krill” at seven, reading about whales?
Remember smelling the ambergris at the
museum, trying to picture the albatross
in polar waters, the stove boats, the ends
of the earth stained with oil and blood?
A hundred feet in chalk, the length of
a blue whale, drawn on the sidewalk—
remember how it seemed so vast?
and how could it, when the world and
your own heart are now so cramped?

Did you hear how they counted the million
penguins with a drone? They had to warm
the drone in their jackets like a living bird.
As you hunch your shoulders against the
wind, streets treacherous with half-frozen
meltwater, do you think of the penguins?
Do you picture them in a throng, hunched
over chicks who chirp like songbirds, warm
and reeking of krill? Do you wonder at how
desolation can contain such multitudes?

You have been trying to make space within
you for the desolation you teem with—chicks
peeping, their little bodies always crawling
toward the jaws of seals. You heard you can
use your body to make space in your heart.
When you circle your awkward limbs under
water at the pool, do you compare yourself
to the penguins, graceful under the ice as
swallows in flight? when you expand with
each breath, can you see the archipelago
from space? can you see the penguins?

from Poets Respond
March 11, 2018

[download audio]


Sally O’Brien: “This week, scientists published a paper about a previously unknown ‘supercolony’ of 1.5 million Adelie penguins off the coast of Antarctica. I don’t watch TV news much anymore because it just gets to be too sad, so I didn’t hear about the discovery until someone told me about it. I was enthralled; the story made the world seem huge again, like it had when I was a child.” (web)

Rattle Logo

March 10, 2018

Nathalie Chicoine (age 14)


Hum the Christmas carols
you hope you hate.
She pours tea straight from the pot,
bubbling and boiling like witch’s stew,
into the mug,
which is more like a bowl, which is more like an ocean she
presses her finger to your lips when you blow away the steam.
The ocean is lonely without fog.

She ruffles your hair and unscrews the honey jar,
licking the spoon,
because it’s important to lick the spoon,
to taste sweetness when you give it away,
and though the honey melts into steam, and peppermint, and witch’s stew,
it tastes like springtime.
She wraps her fingers around her mug and blows.

She is Doctor, Friend, Daughter, but you call her Mom.
She knows tossed autumn leaves and German chocolate
pronounced withed a rolled rrrrrrr and yes, peppermint tea.
She is also defensive and pained and, well, direct.
Her January gales may rip air from your lungs
but wind blows away clouds
and sometimes a storm is necessary to count the stars.

She catches constellations with butterfly nets
and ties them to strings,
so they’ll always be with you,
well, not always,
balloons pop, you know,
but they still make you smile.

When July bumbles by
(smelling like cow dung, but hey, that’s Sonoma)
she rolls from under minivans and mustangs,
her hands slicked with oil.
She treats grease like a medal, not a stain,
refusing to let you scrub.
Radio wires are woven into her hair, around her wrists, and
between her teeth.

She hammers IKEA desks
into something resembling the catalogue.
And when she turned a baseball into a satellite,
she didn’t watch.
She ran home.

from 2018 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Nathalie Chicoine: “Poetry is like a jungle: sometimes terrifying, sometimes beautiful, and easy to lose yourself in. Unlike a narrative, a poet is allowed to play coy without (usually) frustrating the reader. Books are, as a rule of thumb, for reading, but poetry incorporates rhythm and sound into recitations. It’s a total art form.”

Rattle Logo

March 9, 2018

Jennifer Reeser


translated from an ancient Cherokee shaman’s formula, recorded by A Yu I Ni, “He Who Swims”

Ha! Listen! Now, you’re coming into rut,
And I am vastly apprehensive, but
You follow on the course your wife takes, merely.
And I have pointed out her footsteps clearly.
Observe them going upward to the sky.
The paths, in your possession there, will lie
Without disturbance. Let your passage seize
The lofty mountains, and the tops of trees.
Listen! Let your walkways, as they go
Along, meet where the waving branches blow.

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017

[download audio]


Jennifer Reeser: “I am a bi-racial writer—Anglo-Celtic and Native American Indian. By translating this poem, I hope to bring more attention, to a wider audience, the profound heritage and creative arts of the ancestors to whom I owe my life. This language and culture being an under-represented ‘endangered species,’ also, I hope to be the curator who treats her ‘creature’ to a beautiful setting, contributing my gift from the Creator towards the communal good, benefiting the ‘tribe’ of all Humanity, and uniting the two ‘half-breed’ sides of myself, bringing them together in harmony, into the Great Circle.” (web)

Rattle Logo