July 21, 2019

Lynne Knight


We stood in the plaza at City Hall
near Henry Moore’s archer, staring up
at the big screen, waiting for men
to land on the moon. We were stoned,
a little, as we often were, not so much
that we couldn’t manage our lives
or walk quietly along Toronto streets,
rarely drawing attention to ourselves
except with my daughter’s backpack,
handmade, suede, a crudely fused
metal frame. Enough of a novelty in 1969
that earlier in the afternoon two old women
at the Kensington Market shouted
I would ruin my baby’s legs, or I think
that’s what they shouted, in Italian,
their Russian friends joining in, a chorus
of languages, & now we were waiting
for men to land on the moon where
no word had ever been spoken,
though the moon made one cameo
appearance after another in the poems
we wrote then, symbol of time, symbol
of eternity, the night moon, day moon,
the moon as fingernail, as lemon slice,
as sliver, as silver, go ahead & invent
your own simile or metaphor, the famous
poet instructed us, but pay attention to
the risk—put the moon in a poem, pretty
soon your dead grandfather might show up,
or your cold mother, or whoever it is you find
difficult because there it is, stony, implacable,
unchanging except as we see it in phases.
But what did he know? A man was about
to walk on the moon, say something
universal enough to allow all people to share
the triumph, no matter their language,
my daughter babbling, bouncing against
my back as Armstrong did it, pushed out
of the Eagle, took the first step, spoke—
& there we were, applauding as if he could
hear us, as if there were no distance between us
& the moon, no borders against human progress.

from Poets Respond
July 21, 2019


Lynne Knight: “I was a new mother fifty years ago, a hippie in Toronto, and reflecting back, I’m struck by how much of the optimism and hope we felt then has been darkened or eclipsed today. I continue to believe we can achieve things across or despite borders—I’m sure many of the NASA scientists who worked on the Apollo mission were immigrants! It’s heartbreaking to see the frenzy being whipped up against ‘the other’ when we’re all here together on the same planet, subject to the moon’s gravitational pull.” (web)

Rattle Logo

August 7, 2016

Julian Randall


Fucking pig get shot, 300 men will search for me
—Frank Ocean

A drought does not name itself
in anything but the splintering
of skin into a series of wanting
rivers and the cities that gave
all that water a name as if it
were kin         as if July were not
slow piano and crimson
all over the street         and I guess
you could call this a war
in the way only who can be seen
is alive and maybe not even that

August prepares its heavy gown
for our shoulders and I have
nothing to sing         but the heat
on the screen         two trends

Happy June 222nd
Happy anniversary Frank
Maybe Frank was never even there
This album definitely not done
Frank need to come home
This gay ass nigga gonna break our hearts again
All I want is a song
This nigga a lie
He fix his mouth                 and nothing spills out
Frank might be dead y’all
Frank might be dead y’all
Another nigga gone missing
Happy June 225th
I swear he never coming back
I swear I saw him
I swear it’s been Summer for 3 years

A name is something you surrender
in parts         if you are lucky
I am not
much more beyond that
which traces the borders of me
into a bed in mid-July
I am not
much more than my secrets

Boy say Bi____________
and his tongue splits

Boy say Bi____________
and his mouth is public property

Boy say Bi____________
and belongs nowhere

Boy say Bi____________
and now none of his gods
return his calls

A body gets silent
and it is either haunted
or will be

A body gets silent
and everyone can sing it dead

A body gets silent
and we name it after the silence
to forget it was ever a boy

Silence inundates my throat
there is more than one way
to have a boy in your mouth

The body is a glass home
I am somewhere        I used to live
fragile and nearly translucent
opaque only where smoke tongues
me into the illusion of shelter
I shatter/into more/me

Poets Respond
August 7, 2016


Julian Randall: “In the aftermath of several police shootings recently I have found that the rhetoric surrounding discussions of the murder and by extension the disappearance of Black people to be clouded by discussions as to whether ‘Blue Lives Matter.’ Coupled with that for all of July has been speculation about whether prominent Bisexual singer Frank Ocean will release his much anticipated second album. As a result I have been thinking a lot about the visibility of Queerness and Blackness in our grand national conversation as both major political parties seek to curry favor by proving themselves worthy to oversee the continued disappearance and genocide of Black folk. In Frank Ocean’s virtual absence there has been rampant speculation that Frank may be dead in an almost Schrödinger’s cat like level of speculation. I wonder what happens to a Black Bisexual body like my own if no one can see it. It is these themes that are on my mind as another July passes covered in smoke and broken promises.” (website)

Rattle Logo

August 6, 2015

Peter Marcus


running in their Reeboks their Asics their Saucony’s running
with their iPods MP3s and Blackberries their cell phone plan
with unlimited minutes and playlists longer than the 10,000 things
inscribed in the Tao Te Ching
they’re running in spandex breathable cotton tank tops golf hats
bare-backed bare-chested some with tattoos the width of murals
some with dogs—dogs ahead behind beside the pure bred
pedigreed Border Collie Bichon Frise Labradoodle Whippet
Standard Poodle groomed like labyrinthine shrubbery
they’re running for their lives to look better in the boardroom bedroom
on the dance floor in the mirror gasping sweating grunting
as if one could make exhausted love with oneself
they’re running with their newborns their infants toddlers half-
legal adoptees from China Ethiopia Belarus Honduras
their in vitro twins saddled in designer strollers
they’re running one assumes away from death away along the river
while others chose to march and pray to sit and sing refuse
to move in Zuccotti Park in the freedom to be still and gather
they’re running through daylight savings time time saving saving
time a belief in amassing the disappearing hours
collectible as postage stamps Nikes snow globes sea glass
while others run towards God pedometers wrapping biceps like tefillin
No one seems to notice the anomalous walker immobile because
he’s exhausted afraid of failing falling out of breath breathless
while the sun sprays shattered gold across the Hudson
For anyone bothering to look at all closely would’ve known
he’d fallen that something fractured tore or broke within him
but they’re running running running running and the only others pausing
seek to lessen the lactic acid build-up to stretch and stretch out
pressing palms against a wall or railing as if suddenly apprehended
for a nameless crime patted down and frisked by un-seeable detectives.

from Rattle #48, Summer 2015
Tribute to New Yorkers


Peter Marcus: “Living is New York and my feelings about my life here are fraught with contradiction. This city that continues to energize and exhaust, exhilarate and fatigue, as it hums, dances, burns and crashes on its streets and behind myriad closed doors. New York, like the universe itself, seems ever expanding in its breadth, an endlessly unfolding map that I purposefully or aimlessly, addictively wander. Likewise, I often experience New York as a fathomless well in whose depths I’ve been fortunate to draw from and been sustained by, especially in periods of loneliness, depression or loss. Over the years, I’ve found innumerable niches and nooks inside the maelstrom of city life, spaces where I can commiserate within, places of refuge and solace: in Central Park, on the Highline, amidst empty church pews, in oft-empty side rooms of grand museums, on various wooden stools inside day-dark bars. There is too much in this city that I rail and rage against, and too much that I equally adore and celebrate. New York is excessive in both the wonderful and repugnant, as it compels and repels me, often within a single day, sometimes within single hour. The city figures as both central character and backdrop in many of the poems I’ve written over the twenty years that I’ve lived here. And much like the speed and drive of the poem in this issue, on many a day, the city leaves me, for the worse or the better—breathless.”

Rattle Logo

February 2, 2012

Molly Peacock


Death had seemed so abrupt to X,
like a TV show she loved being cancelled,
or a pet lipstick color discontinued.

Of course X knew these were minor examples!
Their minority let X think about death.
By now she’d lived through so many

new shows just a hue different from old ones
and new lipsticks causing a shade of mourning
for colors that would never be made again,

at least in her lifetime, she thought,
the end isn’t sudden at all—
why, it begins back with the first x-ing out.

Death wasn’t an ending, it was a transfer!
Cancellation by discontinuation,
she was crossing into the next world.

Disappearing through the border was
a bit like a passport check.
“What does the X stand for?”

the officer usually said at her customs-of-the-mind,
and she made up all sorts of names:
Example, Exonerate, Exfoliate.

Then the officer would point to the Exit
and watch her go. She seemed to dematerialize,
but instead made an entrance on the other side

in an alternate shade of her self.
X cared just a bit less about this world
each time some little thing she loved got crossed out.

Some tiny cells of her own disappeared
with the end of “Zoom Maroon” and “Toast of New York.”
Like Get Smart and The Avengers

her re-makes were never quite the same.
Yet fading piqued her curiosity:
Ex means examine, too,

each layer peeling off
its own thinny-thin translucency
like values of moonlight.

Which do you prefer, the sun or the moon?
Which one, LIFE or DEATH?
The thing clearly seen—or the thing in mystery?

Well, it’s time for mystery, X thought,
even though you’ve always moved past the spot
by the time you’ve marked it.

from Rattle #35, Summer 2011
Tribute to Canadian Poets


Molly Peacock: “This poem takes its imagery from my continual border crossings from my home in Toronto to my former home, New York City. I lead a double life, in both literary and literal senses. Same language. Two entirely different cultures! The inter relationship constitutes an ongoing Compare/Contrast essay as I write.” (website)

Rattle Logo

May 18, 2009

David Kelly-Hedrick


We stand on the sidelines watching our children play.
We cheer for our kids and against the others, though
we could try cheering for the other kids
and against our own,
or, we might join with the opposing parents
and cheer for all our kids,
and against everyone on the next field,
or against the team playing across the street,
or across this town, or over the border.
We could just stand there and watch as witnesses for all,
for the coaches, the beleaguered referee,
the kids on the bench, the grass on the field,
garbage collecting under the bleachers,
ants disappearing into a sidewalk crack,
the gathering clouds, the darkening fields behind us,
the houses over the hill.
An ambulance waits in shadows just outside the stadium gates.
A raccoon drags a wounded foot through the brambles
while a young woman weeps alone in the parking lot.
But those are pieces of our flesh playing out on the field.
Chunks of our hearts and gasps of our spirits.
This is their game happening here, playing now in this stadium built
in a hollow where regional winds gather and swirl.
I even feel guilty for tucking a paperback of poems into my overcoat.
The scoreboard sucks us into its frenzy of ticking seconds.
We stare at the gulf between home and away and hope
for a victory that will not be recognized in a single ribbon or trophy on the
shelf but will unroll itself across the flutter of years and pulse across palms
gripping a succession of hands and handles.
We are rooted to a cold aluminum bench, and our mittened clapping
sounds like another failed attempt at turning over the engine of a giant car.
Above, a pair of osprey have built a home atop one of the field lights.
They fly stick-gathering missions during the game.
We could cheer for the dusk.
It is coming. It is here.

from Rattle #27, Summer 2007


David Kelly-Hedrick: “There are so many great poems out here and each one is like a transit pass for the soul, valid, permission given, full access granted, to roam. I like holding onto these scraps of paper and the movement given. I like being in the swirl of poetry.”

Rattle Logo