>Issue 19

Kiik A.K., Three Poems*

a sonnet

The greatest contribution a man
Can make to this world
Is to die young fat naked
In the woods
That was always the purpose
Of every living creature
To walk these nutrients around a while
So they wouldn’t spoil in the sun
To wolf down the asparagus
And the aardvark
And lap at yr mitten
Of venom and honey
And then to die
Feed the forest of wasps
On that dumb tasty cake
A horse will chew yr hair off like it’s grass
A bear will take yr arm to a cave
It’ll be waving to every animal
In the forest from its mouth claw
Hey more cadaver bacon by the rocks
A crow will snatch the coins
From yr eyes greedy crow
Maybe he stole yr eyelids
Every still smelly body the animals see
They throw a party
Yr girlfriend she will be a little sad or fainting
But everyone else will be at this party
Chowing down
Yr corpse is like a Sadie Hawkins to them
A monkey picks yr penis up off the floor
Touches it to the face
Of some buddy that’s passed out
Everybody has a good laugh
I think that is why every person
In their 30s is being assholes
They forgot they already
Were supposed to be dead
Somewhere we decided
We weren’t supposed to die
Only the idea of immortality
Is what separates us
From orange tree to orangutan
Thinly separates us
No other creature takes a brief opportunity
At consciousness for granted but people
You ever think a goat went around
Kicking a chair
Which for them a chair is the dirt
Kicking it just because somebody else
Probably a donkey didn’t love it back
O unattainable donkey
Bewitching donkey
I would not suffer yr tender wiles
Feel that sun shining on yr horn
See those peapods bursting in yr
Weird creepy fish eyes
Here eat this tin can
Were you looking for a sonnet
This is not a sonnet
Why you are fat I don’t care
Just do it
Why you are naked in the woods
I don’t care just do it
I don’t wish you get drugged or violated
I only hope you die I only hope
You really are becoming
The greatest

 

 

everything depends on this**

You will only have one chance to fool the donkey
To do this
You must become very donkey

You must act the role of the donkey
Better than the donkey
Will be able to perform itself

You must not receive the slightest pleasure
In playing the donkey to perfection
The most remote hint of pleasure

And the donkey will be alerted
You will only have one chance to fool the donkey
Every evening you must sacrifice more of yourself

You cannot expect to keep yourself
As you spend all your days
Becoming donkey

It is only as the donkey slips
Out of his suit
An hour maybe two

To deodorize
To whack debris loose
And ventilate its pink meat

A chance exists
To reach a stinkier more essential donkey
Even the donkey will not understand

How to embody
You cannot do it just any old way
You cannot pretend there might exist an audience

Who receives pleasure
From you getting into a character
You must do all this with real genuine feeling

To practice donkey you must insist
You must believe past insistence
You are not actually practicing anything

You must eat with the mouth of the donkey
You must be aroused
By the constellation of the donkey’s arousal

You must dress in the style of the donkey
But as you fumigate less each month each year
Style must transfigure into skin

Everything depends on this
When you confront the donkey
The donkey will bear no grounds to deny

You indeed are supremely donkey
You will only have one chance
To convince the donkey you are teacher

And the donkey is somehow student
You must forget the intent
Of becoming the donkey’s teacher

The intent was always the amnesia itself
The black amnesias of heaven

You must take care of the donkey
Better than the donkey could love itself

You must mourn the donkey
You will not be able to fool yourself here

Everything depends on this

 

 

years of drinking blood and nipping at the cud of flowers***

Nicki Minaj told me
He toss my salad / Like his name Romaine
All week I have been bewildered
Filling chalkboards up with formulas
What could she really mean??
Leafing through the birth records
I found his name sounded nothing like Romaine
But sounded instead like Gerard
No let me revise
His name was spelled Gerard
So only by channeling his enthusiasm
His timing and delivery
Tossing the anal clam meats of her salad
Could gravity + atmosphere compress language
So Gerard resembled Romaine
I know this should be simple but somehow
It is taking me so much time
Because Romaine is also a key ingredient of salads
Did I just blow both our minds??
No longer is this a discussion of pleasure
But also of ontological existence
We give pleasure to something
A salad for example
And upon giving the greatest thing
We have we reach higher leafier states
Our bodies transmogrify
Like the blue-bleached wings of moths
Filling all up with blood
And becoming butterflies
Yes that is where butterflies come from
Years of drinking blood and
Nipping at the cud of flowers
The dusty nocturnal talcum coat turning to gold
I knew this would go deeper than licking a hole
Nicki texted me to say tossing salad is licking a hole
And technique is vigor + how many fathoms DEEP
But a hole is the absence of being
Can something not present be licked??
Can a ghost be licked??
Or even a vagina??
Of course not
I have never seen it
Even the speaker did not see
How far her words could take us
Imagine licking the absence of a person so good
Your body transformed
Into an ingredient living inside of a simile
The key to transcendence was never to receive
It was always to give
And that is what life becomes
Pursuing the thing that transforms us
Holy fuck a moly all this wisdom
I don’t want you ever to fear
You will know when you are in the presence of your salad
It’s possible it won’t be salad
It could be quiche
Or like some balls or something
God I learned so much about life
It is all connected
Moths, ghosts, Nicki
I try to write her a poem
But every word seems further evidence of failure
And I only end up figuring out life

__________________________

* The pieces here are dedicated to the poets Sandra and Ben Doller.

** “everything depends on this” borrows language from the article “The Donkey Will Know: Remembering Leonard Michaels” by Clifton Baron, published in The New Yorker on May 10, 2013. The phrase “the black amnesias of heaven” is borrowed from “The Night Dances” by Sylvia Plath.

*** “years of drinking blood and nipping at the cud of flowers” borrows language from “Anaconda” from the album The Pink Print by Nicki Minaj

 


KiikAK-biopic-bwKiik A.K. earned a MA from UC Davis where his poetics thesis was titled The Joy of Human Sacrifice and a MFA from UC San Diego where his collection of counter-internment narratives was titled Everyday Colonialism. He also holds degrees from UC Berkeley and Santa Clara University. He is currently at work on a book of poems titled Hogg Book. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in iO, Washington Square, Action Yes, CutBank and Alice Blue Review.

Mel Coyle & Jenn Marie Nunes, Five Poems

 

DAS-FAIR-MOONKUNTS-1

 

 

DAS-FAIR-MOONKUNTS-2

 

 

DAS-FAIR-MOONKUNTS-3

 

 

m-1

 

m-2

 


coyle-nunes-photoMel Coyle is from Chicago and other places where the corn grows. Her work appears in H_NGM_N, Alice Blue Review, and Leveler, among others.

Jenn Marie Nunes is the author of numerous chapbooks, including the forthcoming collection of short shorts, JUNED, winner of the YesYes Books 2015 Vinyl 45s Chapbook Contest. Her work appears in such journals as Black Warrior Review, Ninth Letter, New Orleans Review, DREGINALD and PANK. Her first full-length collection, AND/OR, was selected as the winner of the Switchback Books’ Queer Voices Award.

Together, Mel and Jenn co-edit TENDE RLOIN, an online gallery for poetry, and they are the authors of two chapbooks, OPERA TRANS OPERA (Alice Blue Books) and HYMN: An Ovulution (Bloof Books).

Ricardo Domeneck, Three Poems

Translated by Hilary Kaplan

 

Body

bod·y
(bŏd’ē). n. pl. bod·ies. No-
body’s. Weight and mass
(please don’t confuse them)
attached to surfaces
of the binary code
known as masculine and feminine.

1.a. Geography of self-placement. Area with well-defined borders; dedicated space to dream of dictionaries.
1.b. Locus of focus in terror, hocus pocus of logic in damp orifices.
1.c. Carcass. Back to reality.

They say
the same air
can’t surround
the same two people
at once.

2.a. Dangerous standard for the mechanics of purity; the illusion of hygiene.
2.b. Not a tree.

Colors ordered
according to preference.
Delivery follows the rules
of genetic production.
Red-headed specimens
with a penis
are a rare treat.

3.a. Unreliable in raincoats. Makeshift and often vacillating. Anything that comes in parts.
3.b. A set of mistakes and misunderstandings known as sanity; a public corporation.

The private sphere
is a nightmare, too.

4.a. A commercial establishment.
4.b. For instructions, refer to manual. And oral.

Sound
known as voice
causes adherence
to its definition.

5.a. Gobbledegook that won’t sweat in photos.
5.b. The biggest play about friction. Anal Tommy.
5.c. Machinery to make liquids.
5.d. Fated for lubricants.

If cut or pierced,
awakens.

6.a. Exclusively for indexes and appendixes.
6.b. For mass, what’s tangible. For matter, rags.

Give it water,
make it celestial.

7. Comfortable furniture that requires maintenance. A collection or quantity, as of material or information: proof of its inflation.

On a map,
YOU ARE HERE.

 

 

In which the poet celebrates his twenty-five-year-old lover

for Jannis Birsner

Wars
have outlasted your
years.
Congratulations on your success
today
in exceeding the life
expectancy
of a giraffe or bat,
cow,
boa constrictor,
or owl.
Around the world, penguins
and pigs,
conceived at the same time as you, are dying.
Saturn
has not circled the sun even
once
since you were a fertilized egg.
Stalker
who guides me along the thousand trails
to the Zone,
another winter begins to crawl,
I bury
my face in your hairless chest.
If I could,
I’d sign a contract
with Lem
or the Strugatsky brothers,
screenwriters
for our days and future nights;
for the soundtrack,
Diamanda Galás bellows
and bleats,
caws and purrs, we fornicate.
I celebrate
the mind beneath your hair,
the penis,
attached to your body, erect.
Somewhere,
a pig, your contemporary,
reaches
the zenith of his rotund
existence,
I wonder, exhausted in sweat, if lovers,
eyelashes
at last united, count sheep
before
sleep, euphoric and pregnant.

 

 

The Poet’s Hollywood Dreams

1-

I’d like a script
in which an Estonian army
conspires to stone
Gertrude Stein
& I plato(o)nic at salvation
to the sound of the Rolling Stones.

2-

I’d like science fiction
with Winnie-the-Pooh in coitus
& I in an act of humachine
mixegenation uterize automatons
struck with Sisyphean cramps
to the sound of Sonic Youth.

3-

I’d like a cartoon
in which a tsunamic infection
in franchises devastates amygdalas
from Poughkeepsie to Rangoon
& I shaman develop the vaccine
to the sound of Maysa & Björk.

4-

I’d like an epic porn
from Rob Lowe to Rock Hudson
all hunks and hulks of Hollywood
in rows in collars on all fours
& I’m mixed up in a harem to 8 ½
to the sound of “I’m a slave for U.”

5-

I’d like a western
once again waiting for the barbarians
to invade the Occident
& I a monk copy & paste
to save Oz & Dante from oblivion
to the sound of Portishead.

 

 


Ricardo-Domeneck-PhotoRicardo Domeneck is a poet, short fiction writer and essayist, born in Bebedouro, in the state of São Paulo, Brazil, in 1977. He has published six volumes of poetry: Carta aos anfíbios (2005), a cadela sem Logos (2007), Sons: Arranjo: Garganta (2009), Cigarros na cama (2011), Ciclo do amante substituível (2012) and Medir com as próprias mãos a febre (2015). His poems, short stories and essays have been published in magazines in Brazil and abroad, including Inimigo Rumor (Brazil), Babelsprech (Germany), Lyrikvännen (Sweden) and Samplekanon (Netherlands). His poems have been translated, included in anthologies of contemporary Brazilian poetry and published in Germany, the United States, Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Sweden, Mexico and Chile. Working also with video and sound poetry, he has performed in galleries and museums such as Museo Reina Sofía (Madrid), Museum of Modern Art (Rio de Janeiro), Museo Experimental El Eco (Mexico City), Akademie der Künste (Berlin) and deSingel International Arts Campus (Antwerp), and he was among the poets and artists who prepared billboard-pieces for the Biennial of the Americas 2013, in Denver, Colorado. He has collaborated with Brazilian and German musicians such as Tetine, Markus Nikolaus (Lea Porcelain) and Uli Buder (Akia). A bilingual anthology of his poems was translated by Odile Kennel and released in Germany with the title Körper: ein Handbuch (Verlagshaus Berlin, 2013), and, in the Netherlands, with the title Het Verzamelde Lichaam (Uitgeverij Perdu, 2015), translated by Bart Vonck. His book Ciclo do amante substituível was translated into Spanish in its entirety by Aníbal Cristobo and published by Kriller71 Ediciones in 2014. Ricardo Domeneck lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

Hilary-Kaplan-PhotoHilary Kaplan is the translator of Rilke Shake by Angélica Freitas and Ghosts by Paloma Vidal. Her translations of Brazilian poetry and prose have been featured on BBC Radio 4 and in Granta, Modern Poetry in Translation, The White Review, and elsewhere. She speaks frequently on poetry and translation, and has received grants from the PEN Translation Fund and Itaú Cultural.

Traktung Yeshe Dorje, Three Poems

 

1067Denmark

 

 

Three-TYD-poems-for-ActionYes-2

 

 

Three-TYD-poems-for-ActionYes-3

 

 


Traktung-Yeshe-DorjeTraktung Yeshe Dorje is a farmer, poet, and teacher of Tantric Buddhism. His two published books are Eye to Form is Only Love and Original Innocence. He lives outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan at White Lotus Farms, a right livelihood project of the Tsogyelgar Dharma Center.

Phil Estes, Four Poems

Culture

That you have to say preclude
Means you don’t get it.

“Transgressive”: same thang.

I hate the bumpkin
For nodding their heads to the middle-managers,

But I also love them and hate the middle-managers.
Look at me,

Acting like I don’t want to
Own a little piece.

Alexandria is not a map
Or a Lagrange Point

Just like my friend who is called a “woman hound,”
Which seems so much worse.

His place is too clean
But he shakes your hand,

He brushes his stomach
Like the rest of us

When he has to stand-up,
When he has to play pool.

(He doesn’t know I am his friend yet).

Pitbulls scare me no matter
How many legs they have.

“He saved him
From the side of the road.
Isn’t that great?”

For you, there’s no crying
Until the end.

 

 

Everything Is All Right

My Relationship goes
Excellent, thank you.

For instance, Alexandria does this:
Made a rubber mask of her face,
And has a less-interesting-woman wear the rubber mask.
She has a cigarette in her mouth-slot
And she won’t let me take a draw. Just lets the smoke out.

She cooks

Puff pancake—I am thinking of New Hampshire, maybe?
The pancake rises in the oven

Like a golden dome.
Then it breaks, like in revelation,
And we have this flatness that is sweet.

The less-interesting-woman t-boned my car
And tried to strangle me in the ocean—

With the rubber mask still on—but I know Alexandria,
We eat and eat breakfast,

She sees my green eyes with her greener eyes.
We have all this:

Her hands,
A ring on her left index finger.

Shakers never had sex but they built this
Great box to carry all our condoms.

Sometimes: the sunlight angles into her room (converted
From an old dining room).

I pretend we are in France, (but it is not black and white)
And we are each other’s sad-eyed Romans

Not Queequegs.

It is hard to imagine
Telling her what I imagined.

She is naked on mine and everyone’s examinations;
Someone else
Powders her face and puts her in a silver dress.

My throat is not torn, but I pretend otherwise, the mask
Sunk

In a pond with some cut up flags of nations; 
There are “bards” playing folk songs over the water. They are so

Clear and concise,
Lyrical even.

 

 

The Priest’s Adventure

The Priest is back from last rites; he smells more like incense than whiskey, for once. He tells a joke: “two subalterns walk into a bar. The bartender says ‘PBR.’ That’s what they get because they cannot speak.”

For once, the Priest doesn’t say wocka wocka. When they cut him open, his belly holds a trinity.

 

 

Daddio(s)

The Leper buys cocaine
For us. I cut it up,
Take apart a Bic-pen,

I say: “I love cocaine
Because I have to watch myself
Snort it.”

The Leper says he loves cocaine
Because he looks
Like he has a mustache over the mirror.

He plays the pen in his mouth
Like a cigar.

Outside of the hotel bar
I make The Leper
Smoke with me.

Stay cool, man.

“The only way
This shit works
Is if I’m dead.”

The Sommelier says
Even the great Milton Berle
Died old. Jean-Michael

Basquiat is the only one
Who became Jean-Michael Basquiat
After death.

Maybe also:
Irving Thalberg, Jack Spicer,
Third-shift store clerks.

*

Let’s drink beer in Oklahoma again.
So we will.
We are drinking beers. No eurekas
Please, Oklahoma.

*

Me, The Leper, and The Sommelier eat
Cold ham, a potato, slices of cheese.
I feel like a cowboy.

Ain’t no yearning here,
Anymore.

 

 


Phil-EstesPhil Estes is the author of High Life, forthcoming from Horse Less Press and the chapbooks Slowjams (forthcoming from Living Arts Press), Children of Reagan, and Gem City/Fountain City (both from Rabbit Catastrophe). His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Diagram, Prelude, Sprung Formal, West Wind Review, and others. He lives in Shreveport and teaches writing at Louisiana Tech.

Javier Etchevarren, Four Poems

Translated by Jesse Lee Kercheval

El niño que dibuja

Hojas en blanco,
lápices de colores,
algunas horas ensimismado
y muchos cuadernos repletos de dibujos.

Historias completas de invasiones extraterrestres,
héroes musculosos decapitando villanos,
animales salvajes devorando humanos,
paisajes imposibles.

Tan bien dibujaba el niño
que algunos vecinos huyeron de los extraterrestres,
que algunos cuerpos aparecieron decapitados
o devorados por fieras indomables
en lugares imposibles.

Aterrado por su poder
ya no dibuja el niño
pero escribe su fábula
el hombre desconsolado.

The Boy Who Draws

Blank pages,
colored pencils,
long hours daydreaming
and many notebooks full of drawings.

Complete histories of extraterrestrial invasions,
muscled heroes decapitating villains,
wild animals devouring humans,
impossible landscapes.

The boy drew so well
some of the neighbors fled the extraterrestrials,
some corpses appeared decapitated
or devoured by untamable beasts
in impossible places.

Terrified by his power
now the boy does not draw
but writes his fable,
The Inconsolable Man.

El palacio

Una pradera, un monte,
un galpón y una enredadera.
Todo eso en el fondo enorme
de aquella casa.
También el Cerro
de Montevideo.
Ese volcán que nunca hizo erupción.

Árboles que trepar.
Construcciones que trepar.
Una azotea desde donde,
con las nubes más cerca,
podía descifrar en ellas
la aventura del cielo.

En los rincones más oscuros:
combate de insectos,
arañas venenosas,
millones de hormigas.
Hubo un par de perros y hasta un cuy.
Ah, varios gatos muertos.

Podía jugar a la pelota solo,
rebotándola contra la pared.
Siempre ganaba.

No queda nada
de aquel palacio.
El volcán hizo erupción.

The Palace

A meadow, a hill,
a shed and a tangle of vine.
All this in the enormous back garden
of that house.
Also, the Cerro
de Montevideo,
that volcano that never erupted.

Trees to be climbed.
Buildings to be climbed.
A roof from which,
with the clouds closer,
I was able to decipher
the adventure of the sky.

In the darkest corners:
the battle of insects,
poisonous spiders,
millions of ants.
There were a pair of dogs and a guinea pig.
Ah, and various dead cats.

I was able to play alone with the ball
bouncing it off the wall.
I always won.

Now nothing is left
of that palace.
The volcano erupted.

La muerte de la cerdo

En el fondo del almacén vivía un cerdo.
Yo jugaba con él,
con su gracioso hocico,
con sus patas cortas
a pesar de las cuales nunca lograba atraparlo
cuando jugábamos a perseguirnos.

Una mañana, sobresaltado,
escuché los gritos desesperados de mi amigo.
Eran los gritos de un niño horrorizado.

Corrí hacia el fondo del almacén.
Le hundían un cuchillo en el corazón.
Grité desesperadamente.
Eran los gritos de un niño horrorizado.

Alguien tuvo que sujetarme
porque quise detener con violencia la masacre.

Algún día vengaré
la muerte de aquel cerdo.

The Death of the Pig

In the yard behind the grocery, lived a pig.
I played with him,
with his graceful snout.
In spite of his short legs
I could never catch him
when we played chase.

One morning, startled,
I heard the desperate cries of my friend.
They were the screams of a terrified child.

I ran toward the yard.
They sunk a knife in his heart.
I cried out, desperate.
They were the screams of a terrified child.

Someone had to hold me
because I wanted, violently, to stop that massacre.

One day I will avenge
the death of that pig.

La muerte de un pájaro

Un rifle prestado.
Apunta lentamente.
Dispara sin miedo.
Ha muerto el pájaro.
Ha muerto el niño.
Su inocencia.

The Death of a Bird

A borrowed rifle.
Aimed slowly.
Fired without fear.
The bird has died.
The boy has died.
His innocence.


Javier EtchevarrenJavier Etchevarren was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1979. He is the author of the poetry books Desidia (Yaugarú, 2009) and Fábula de un hombre desconsolado (Yaugarú, 2014). His poems will appear in América invertida: An Anthology of Emerging Uruguayan Poets which is forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press. His poems appeared or are forthcoming in Palabras errantes, American Literary Review, Blackbird, Notre Dame Review, the Colorado Review and Waxwing. His work has been featured twice on Poetry Daily. Fábula de un hombre desconsolado / Fable of an Inconsolable Man, translations by Jesse Lee Kercheval, is forthcoming from Action Books.

Kercheval-author-photo-colorJesse Lee Kercheval is a poet, fiction writer and translator, specializing in Uruguayan poetry. Her latest translations include Invisible Bridge/ El puente invisible: Selected Poems of Circe Maia (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015) and Fábula de un hombre desconsolado / Fable of an Inconsolable Man by Javier Etchevarren, which is forthcoming from Action Books.

Jacqueline Kari, excerpts from Gin Mill: An Impossible Play

 

KARI-GIN-MILL-1b

KARI-GIN-MILL-2

KARI-GIN-MILL-3

KARI-GIN-MILL-4

KARI-GIN-MILL-5

KARI-GIN-MILL-6

KARI-GIN-MILL-7

 

 


Jacqueline Kari

Jacqueline Kari is the author of The Book of Tell {dancing girl press} and Litel Myn Tragedye (forthcoming in 2016 on Birds of Lace), both missiles from a larger manuscript, TWA: A MASQUE. Excerpts of this manuscript, including “The Mill,” were recently featured in Tarpaulin Sky’s “In Utero” Series. Other poems, visual art and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Apartment Poetry, Caketrain, Dreginald, RealPoetik and elsewhere. She lives, studies and works in Athens, GA.

Eunsong Kim, excerpts from Copy Paper: Ream 3

Research Report

We’ll live in a future filled with nude teenage photographs.
Every girl will grow up with a young love, a hateful betrayal
& a lifetime of internet memes. Every girl will understand
betrayal & shame like no adult today has or ever could.
Over time, the practice will be extended to boys & others
& we will be able to search for nudity, everyone’s nudity.
There will be rankings, there will be fan art, there will be
suicidal stalkings. We will all be embarrassed & enthralled.
Some of us will lead lives fully clothed & cow web free.
Some of us will live close to screens, staring at our teenage
selves forevermore.

So how should we invest?

 

Reruns Forever

The movies convinced us that the rich are hurting.
They show us moments of great intimacy. Of sorrow.
Of predictable loss

The actors—the well positioned, beautiful
Bodies—narrate their pain acts so well.
It feels like our pain. It feels like my birthday.
It feels like mine for two hours.
You are just like me, it tells us.

But he wasn’t sad.
He woke up the next morning,
Looked at a few different devices &
Said not a word. He sang in the shower,
Kissed her the normal amount of times
& went off as always.

She paced in the kitchen
Waiting for a burst of emotion
An accusation
Aggressive sex.
But nothing.
Reruns forever—

 

Numbers

when you grow up poor you know how much money everyone who claims to love you has
that was my kind of poor
peering through balances
eavesdropping
looking through wallets
memorizing memorizing
my mother thought it was so clever so darling that i could remember the cost of all my items
especially my clothing
i would say
originally this much marked down at this much we bought it for this price

i thought if i kept track of how much was spent on me
how much it cost to keep me alive
fully clothe—

i wanted to know the number so that i could
—less

ssssssssless. less.
less—

 


Eunsong KimEunsong Kim is a doctoral candidate at the University of California, San Diego. Her essays on literature, digital cultures, and art criticism have appeared or are forthcoming in: The New Inquiry, Model View Culture, AAWW’s The Margins, Art in America, and others. Some of her poetry has been published or will be in: Denver Quarterly, Seattle Review, Feral Feminisms, Minnesota Review, and Iowa Review. Her first book will be published by Noemi press in 2017.

Kenji C. Liu, Four Poems

 

liu-1

 

 

liu-2

 

 

liu-3

 

 

liu-4-c

liu-5-d

(Original English version (below) published in Ozone Park Journal, 2013)

 

liu-eng

 

 


Kenji C. Liu Author PhotoKenji C. Liu’s forthcoming poetry collection Map of an Onion is the 2015 national winner of the Hillary Gravendyk Prize. His writing appears in The American Poetry Review, Asian American Literary Review, Barrow Street Journal, CURA, RHINO, Split This Rock’s poem of the week series, and several anthologies. He is also the author of the poetry chapbook You Left Without Your Shoes. A recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, VONA/Voices, Djerassi Resident Artist Program, and Community of Writers at SV, he holds an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Social Transformation.

Uche Nduka, Five Poems

A Maulstick

A maulstick is what i have in common with you. On the other side of the orchid we agreed to quote each other out of context. Some say they browned a nutshell browned a record. If a poem can’t save me i don’t know what will. Savannas that groan. The move, Mexican serapes. The move, Dutch Renaissance light. White heron Lodestar the task of backwaters. As i babble about chaos post-cafe. Killing the killing floor. Tonight after a birdwalk i’ll worship a barmaid. Ample reasons to be graceful/grateful. & the damn highway bumps against Gregorian Chants. Mugwumps brainstorm. Sex anoints us. Dervish parabola quanta. Poetry is inconvenient. When it all comes down to arsenal. Spewing from a carton a sorority much smarter than i am. Hotfooting it out of one-stop-shopping. Lipstick sniper fire microphone. Passion to compassion nothing is holding you down. I know enough about my pratfalls to know it would be hazardous to flirt with you. Doesn’t surprise me you always consult the saltshaker. No avoidable delay goes unpublished. From bumblebee to musket to muskrat. How to overcome taxonomy. To create reserves for a resilient diet of idleness. There is a need for outrage & i don’t want to always come across as nice to him or to her. Self-concept     self-judgement      self-torment. Eruptions in the face of it. I hear someone scratching his balls.

 

 

 

This Is Where I leave You

this is where i leave you where i leave you a leaf. scratch tape    miserable shovel   box-office dud wrings every ounce of melancholia out of you  jockstrap  skeletal  jet lag  bedlam attached to the bone. expects more of you. dumbbell watching out for you. some false floss. the heart of the buyer’s guide. i know someday i will save all my dawns for you. stuff like shipwreck & electric chair. junkyard mutant midgets. paperbacks demobbed. slip the horn into the gin of a shellsucker. worth hearing what’s blossoming in kabuki Bop. nation-building gone to seed. pawnshop diving & busted harmonium. jivey ranchera. joy in my billfold. a taste for obituaries & flowered shirts. liftoff is the place the face of every wave. shoehorn in a drizzle. ivories & clover. you get to the point where you are no longer a private eye. a blind man feeling up an elephant. it gets to the tedious business of pulling winning tickets. taking a dip a peach to beat the heat. sawu bona. another ceasefire broken. selected wacks laugh till life makes sense. popupshop    curvygirl    violetxylophone. through a keyhole, tightly. the freaks of fishnets. don’t let the tunnel fool you. nutcracker rouge where a shuffleboard has gained traction. motherlode sextett from the scratch. too much honey for a jam. takes embellishment down a peg. hints from the underground. of raffles & horror we have no measure. a washtub chuckles.

 

 

 

Why Did This Thrill Find Us

why did this thrill find us no crying now you said to your nightgown no crying now i said to my pajamas you could leave or enter wait or depart wait with anticipation or wait without hope without plan you could muse or sulk sit or stand you could be or not be yourself arrange or not arrange a thing with or without projection or contemplation could be outside our existence outside our difference pressed together or not beyond the thrill mentioned or not fused or not completely in sequence or not retreating from interruption or not cross statelines or not accept onyx or not  standoff  swag strumpets cookie mush alliance confrontation prelate tripartisan midterm refund privatizing hot button survivalist in the final stretch with network blindsided cellulosic disclosure litigation bone graft doorskin initiative preventive paperwork carefree vernacular carousel defunct lip reader kinky clue sad sack jubilee fuel-pump brake cats leverage dot-com perks watergrass tapes early draft of a motorcycle accident no disgruntled gropings you should be laid or hospitalized bloodmoon living the high life two of your favorite roof decks space is not a luxury textile shrimp massage shambhala heirloom grill fabric trail beards opossum baronial bargain ambassadorial tortoise shell doesn’t lack for charm or critical clitorial

 

 

 

Blue Mist White Stone

well done, cavern
ruckus or maudlin lovers

talk to me of dragnet
a northern spell or drawing board

when you turn every which way
and keep coming back

purpose does not
trump pleasure

on the other hand i have
not seen the light

sister of crystal and velvet
the contrabass in your family tree

all the birds that belong
to a roadside mirror

puddle-jumping with babies

my days are dizzy
but you can come along for the ride

we’re pliant in the hands of dreams

i’ve got to go i’m running
too late but you’ve got
to doublecheck the address

if i had any sense i
would hop into the trolley
car and forget all about
the rainbow

robins waved at us
and morning came furiously
third of june

the marsh loved the sky
your shoulders hummed
prospect place epiphany

nightshade eyelash
round the flame sweeter
than sweet

a day swims past a tower
the toll of alders

blue mist white stone
hot pants apocrypha

i love you with the mural
in the courthouse with
the boat in the harbor with
the cherry at the gatepost
with the tangle of silence

we wander we beg drag queens
to spend a little more time with us

the sprawl of guts had left
its mark on sage brush

left its mark on a greasy
gatherer of buckles

you never,never could get
away from the unslick
the cruel evacuation

a different way to address you
to track the black veins
of poinsettias

 

 

 

The Sea Is Writing

this is not a done deal.
with or without impunity
for fluted pain.

start with separation, the inevitability
of separation from sepia,flesh,bed.

the sea is writing. the moon is in opposition.
patois is the least of their problems.

needing to make sure no limit awaits him.
needing to make sure no limit awaits her.

the exit signs are warnings of blissed out
madeleines. i make demands on you in these
pages i make demands on you in the streets.
and if my night flows to Lagos,let it be. five
dudes in flannel. the riffage responds to the
urgency.enter the tupperware. even in this
witching hour i’m not about to dismiss normalcy.
propellers edge near the luckless. the pitiless crowd
have been screwing with us all this time.but
the grotesque has been kind to us. and you can’t
draw the blinds on ” hands up, don’t shoot”.
as long as the steam keeps rising.

 

 


Uche NdukaUche Nduka is a Nigerian-American poet, essayist and collagist. He was awarded the Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize for Chiaroscuro in 1997. He lived in Germany and Holland for over a decade, and was the recipient of a Goethe Institut Fellowship and Heinrich Böll Haus Guest Author Fellowship. His books include eel on reef, Ijele, Nine East, Belltime Letters, Heart’s Field, If Only The Night, Flower Child, etc. He teaches at CUNY and resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife the Photographer/Artist Fiona Gardner and their daughter Sula.