September 24, 2017

Barry Peters


We noted the mythological and the biblical
The allegorical and the anagogical
The feminism and the masochism
The kitchen sink all thrown in
Like the garlic parm cinnamon flavor
Smothering our buttered tub o’ popcorn.

We watched Jennifer Lawrence being pummeled
Or rather her character being pummeled
Or was it us being pummeled
Pummeled pummeled pummeled

As we sank in our newly renovated seats
Swimming in the faux leather
The various buttons reclining us
Into various horizontal contortions
Like first-class passengers
Who can’t feel the turbulence.

from Poets Respond
September 24, 2017

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Barry Peters: We saw Mother! We didn’t like the film, but we definitely enjoyed the discussion that it engendered among ourselves, our friends, and online … though ‘enjoyed’ is a somewhat perverse word, considering the issues that the movie explores.”

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September 23, 2017

Audrey Zhao (age 15)


The first day in spring in 1998,
you realized I would not move your womb.

The doctors said it would be alright.
Next day: “She’s suffocating; your womb buries her alive.”

I came out red and swollen,
an angry thing disturbed too early.

I fought grasping and swallowing the world whole
and you did not know how to protect

a thing so delicate,
one who did not see how close

it was to simply not existing,
to simply disintegrating and falling

apart like the placenta, the afterbirth,
in hydrochloric acid.

I fight you; this is evident.
You sigh forever and hold me close.

from 2017 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Audrey Zhao: “It’s strange to see this poem again three years removed and still know the reason why I write poetry is simply because I can and want to—there really is no other more profound explanation.”

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September 22, 2017

Sandra Anfang


I read it in the New York Times
so it must be true:

a poet writes a book of poems
about why the masses hate poetry.

I ponder hatred;
surely it’s too strong a word

for the random tickle
the mind’s unravel

something we ought to welcome
when analysis of the latest 

police shooting glazes our ears.
Fear not—good neighbors

think of it as the latest staycation
an interlude of dreaming

at the kitchen table
mind in the stars

while cats trace figure eights
around a plate of crusts

and the cup of cold coffee
separating you

from all you think
you need to do today.

from Rattle #56, Summer 2017

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Sandra Anfang: “One morning I found an extra hour to eat breakfast and read the New York Times online. A book title, The Hatred of Poetry, leapt from the screen, nearly causing me to spill green tea over the keyboard. I was stunned to find that the book being reviewed was written by a poet. I hefted my sword (Microsoft Word). I write for many reasons, but these days, it’s often to challenge an outrageous view or to give form to what feels like a world headed off the rails.” (website)

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September 21, 2017

Ekphrastic Challenge, August 2017: Artist’s Choice


Street Folks by Jennifer O'Neill Pickering

Image: “Street Folks” by Jennifer O’Neill Pickering. “Trajectory” was written by Ann Giard-Chase for Rattle’s Ekphrastic Challenge, July 2017, and selected as the Artist’s Choice.

[download: PDF / JPG]


Ann Giard-Chase


We were young once and beautiful,
wandering loose as stones—Jed loping

along beside me, the beret he loved
like a lopsided lily pad plopped

on his head. We’re lost, I’d say as we
drifted from city to city. We’re free,

he’d mumble, cigarette dangling
like a toothpick between his lips. Nights

with him, I’d lie on city pavements,
neon sizzling in the darkness. I’d tell him

I could have been a tree or a planet fixed
to a fiery star. I’d tell him dragonflies

are in season and Monarchs migrate
along ghostly trails returning year after year

to the same forest. You think too much,
he’d mutter. But one day I knew

what I had to do and I loosened the sails
and he drifted away and that night I grew

thick roots sinking them deep into bedrock
while far above me the constellations

lit their luminous lamps and burned away
the darkness and I thought—life is full

of many hungers knowing they too are tied
by invisible strings swirling them into orbits,

looping them into galaxies, calling them
home from the vast and racing universe.

from Ekphrastic Challenge, August 2017
Artist’s Choice


Comment from the artist, Jennifer O’Neill Pickering, on this selection: “Many of the poems reflected the visual narrative of my pastel, but what I particularly liked about ‘Trajectory’ was the positive outcome for one of the characters. This left me feeling hopeful. I think we can use a bit of hope now.”

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September 20, 2017

Jess Weitz


I have a knife stuck in my heart

at work I tried to button my cardigan around it
I can’t lie on my stomach in bed

when my kids sit on my lap
I ask them to stay on the right knee

my husband tried to hang a spatula off it
but I said the extra weight didn’t feel good

yesterday, gliding through the pond water
I almost forgot it was there

from Rattle #56, Summer 2017
Tribute to Poets with Mental Illness

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Jess Weitz: “I live in the woods of Vermont with my family of humans and animals. Art, writing, and nature have been my strongest allies in navigating the waves of depression. I come from a long line of people who have a beautiful, creative eccentricity and feel the deep pain and despair of life. We all have moments of being eaten up by our emotions and creating with an open heart to the world. Many of us are women, which adds an additional layer of absorbing cultural messages that we are mad when really we are just sensing all the sadness and paradox of our worlds.” (website)

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