Publication Year: 2013
Published by: University of Wisconsin Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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I gratefully acknowledge the editors of the following publications in which these poems Bateau: “Midwinter Rains over Montréal: A Video Installation”Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes: “Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers II”Mikrokosmos: “Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers I, II, and III”Nashville Review: “Robert Frost in the Slaughterhouse,” “The Rise of Communism”...
Part I. The Lost Town
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There is always a lone crow high in a tree above a Little League game,and sometimes one boy, breathing in the oil rubbed into the leatherwebbing of his glove, notices it—as he stands alone in left field—and saysnothing about the blue-black darkness on its wing, or this feeling, forthe first time, growing inside of him. He follows the abandoned park...
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The candy aisle smells like gasoline. In the discount grocery, two men in white tank tops in front of the lollipops, debating which sweets little girls like best these days. They pick and study both sides as if it holds some secret that might seep out from behind the white It’s banal, I know, to portray them this way: these two men who, for all we know, have no crime besides being stoned and having a sweet tooth (and maybe not even that), and ...
Sister at the Airport
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On my sister’s nights off, she drives alone to the airport and haunts the security gates.While man, woman, and child wait in line for random screenings, she stands to the side, waiting for loved ones to arrive, weary, and smiling, from the other side of the exit doors.My sister tells me that Western Mass. is all microbrew beer and goodbyes; she prefers to people arrive. She tells me, with no sense of shame, that the degree of pleasure she feels is ...
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...the other—the presence of something—when the car’s put in gear,...
An Alternate History of Enfield, Mass.
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...“I wanted you to rape me,” she said, remembering our walks behind her prep school the damp leaves plastered to soil and stone on the path beside the stream, the land bridgeleading to an abandoned logging road that climbed out of the ravine, the fieldstone of an old farmhouse littered with beer cans and graffiti. Warped plywood over an empty She: all solid muscle and soft skin. Four tiny scars on one knee from where the screws ...
When I Opened the Anthology of Poets Oppressed
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When I read the narratives and lyrics—the odes, meditations, epistolaries, postcards, prayers, pastorals, elegies, testimonios, ballads, and fragments,when I considered sound, form, rhythm, syntax, symbolism, structure, metaphor, how soon I grew underwhelmed by the poems themselves and found myself turning to about poets forced to suffer in distant prisons, to take foreign names, to translate agony ...
The Fall of Communism
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Nobody fakes their own death anymore. When I was a kid it happenedElvis was routinely spotted pumping gas, and Jim Morrison was alivesomewhere in Africa, training a child army for a coup that nevercame to pass. Once, I was lifted out of bed in the middle of the nightand forced by my father to walk a block and a half in my pajamas;...
The History of Hockey in My Town
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I don’t know how fast he was driving that Friday night; and, no, I don’t know the year.It was after “Old-Time Hockey” Eddie Shore reacquired the franchise, renamed it the and dropped the first puck wearing a flowing feathered headdress. After a one-year stint captained by a gray-haired Gordie “Mr. Hockey” Howe, who briefly brought to town the awarded to any player who could boast a goal, an assist, and a fight in a single night....
Five Memories of Motion
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...to the pound after it leapt the fence and bit the Shriner’s clownhe met a guy who said, “Sebastian’d be perfect for my gas stationin the country!” It never occurred to me he would lie, just ason work, would grow silent in the car crawling through the projectsat dawn, as we ran from door-to-door-to-tailgate, and he listened...
Part II. The Beverly Hills of Korea (Or, My Life in the Love Motel)
The Beverly Hills of Korea
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Although the apple travels a greater distance, we know the earthwith honey the waitress has placed on the table at the psychic caféwill cool as the fortune-teller flips through onionskin pages to findmy girlfriend’s Chinese sign, birth date, and time, the room, too,If Whitman left New York on a train heading west, and didn’t circle...
All the Signs Read 어서 오세요
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...down concrete steps that disappear into the yield of sand beneath our feet—the entire from the shore—to lay out a blanket on the beach for a midnight picnic of grilled squid Through charcoal smoke, you sing a song you’ve been rehearsing with the mothers’ choir,then say something about the sulfur in a match-head affecting the taste of your cigarette, lastly, like some conspirator sharing secrets in the dark, you tell me the three things you ...
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...2 Two things: I know it’s strange that people should be waterskiing in the rain. But the thing is, it was a beautiful day right up until then. And second, a cow lying down in a pasture is not necessarily a sign of rain.b3 70 percent of my poems are about death and/or dying. The other 30 percent are about cows.4 70 percent of Korea is mountains, which many people proudly translate as “uninhabitable.”cb It wasn’t like a frozen river in Washington State, where a young woman, whom I will call Sue 1, and her friend, whom I will call Sue 2, ...
The Rise of Communism
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The first night, I thought stray dogs were fucking in the streets.circling in a small wire cage next to the coffee vending machines.in branches on Tiananmen Square’s border, the long line of touristbloat from the dead man’s face into his neck, broke off a pieceThree paragraphs on the vacuum-sealed crystal casket, and not a word...
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...until the moon reflected light onto a part of the earth that reflected nothingthe clasps on the shoulder of her deel. “There aren’t enough...
Part III. The Error Gallery
Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers I
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For me a painting is a surface covered with objects depicted in a certain order. For example, the headless woman, who, with a milk pail, figures on this canvas—if I had the idea of separating her head from her body I struggle to make room for you, Chagall, to let your childhood meld with mine, to imagine,as I would have as a child, that your work steps outside of timeand is like any other fairy tale, any other nightgown brushing against the peak...
Midwinter Rains over Montréal: A Video Installation
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Hold this poem very still, so that it may be the fixed point by which we’ll measure the of rain descending on the frozen St. Lawrence River. Soon, a young skater in a blue tuquewill glide amid a group of fathers pushing strollers in circles around adolescent girlspracticing two-foot spins until grace glows from their skin; their older brothers,briefly released from the plastic and Plexiglas of the hockey rink, will race for miles, ...
Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers II
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The first thing I ever saw was a trough. Simple, square, half hollow, half oval. A market trough.In fact, dust. Particles of dust swirling in the daylight coming through the bedroom I could still look at it in wonder, too dumb to doubt its charity.Like the promise of air holding parachute silk high above the children’s heads in the park,or water overflowing, pushing out the ripples, becoming like glass, before it falls....
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Although I don’t detect the slightest breeze by looking at you, I can see the wideoutline of your right thigh (even the faint hue of flesh mixing with the almost-blue of Screenless and open over your right shoulder, the shade half-drawn on the lives insidemirrors the hat brim casting a shadow over your eyes. The first-floor windowlooks out onto a sidewalk with no treebelt, and reflects the noontime sun in such a way...
Scenes from a Village: A Triptych
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We spent the better part of the afternoon scrubbing his brains from the wallboards. After the clerics caught wind that it was a suicide, the police arrived at the house to apprehend the body and force it to stand trial. The jury commenced before supper and evening prayer, finding the corpse guilty of self-murder. They dragged him out into the square and flogged him one hundred times across his stripped-bare back. Skin split but nothing dripped out. Papa’s head just hung ...
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At the kitchen table, you wince when taking a sip of the cheap red wine—telling me, in the clearest way you know, that it’s too harsh. I’m always a few steps each mistake and refold toward an already-lost perfection. In the extra minutes before arrived, my sixth grade class folded cranes to send to an imagined memorial in Japan.The assignment worked, if the purpose was to place in the mind of each child ...
After We Disembark and Spend the Day on the Island while the Ship’s Repaired, I Board Alone, Flip through a Chinese Restaurant Calendar, and Write Three Poems to Express My Feelings
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Toward the tattered top edge of the “endless” scroll painting,than the thin stroke of rope around its neck, the invisible handvictims into the underside of the paper. Even mist seems to vanisha mare a mere three strokes: it’s easy to imagine how a scriptI want to ask you if it’s still pictographic if the horse comes...
Self-Portrait with Seven Fingers III
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While in France I took part in this unique revolution of artistic technique, in my thoughts—I might even say, in my soul—I returned to my own land. I lived with my back toward what lay before me.Whenever we turn from home, like the earth turning from the sun, we begin our way to make drunk the course leading to our respective points of origin.And in the next life, Chagall, we will neither reflect nor emit light....
The Madonna and Child with St. Anne
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There’s a reproduction at the entrance of the outdoor shrine where we walk the Stations Where fire ants race across the freshly lacquered legs of martyrs.“He suffered,” my grandfather says. With empty lungs: “Oh, how they made him suffer.”Jesus looks like a murderballer—his neck sunk into a muscle-bound torso, legs shriveled like they’ve been confined to a wheelchair for thirty-three years....
Self-Portrait in Shock
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I’ve heard the experts argue that the term should be discarded, since there is no such rather, only the treatment of its causes—the effect of the simple expectation that your legs forever beneath you; that your L7 and L8 vertebrae will not pop and shatter like Corelle meeting the kitchen floor; that you will, one day, stand again at the edge of a frozen lake, the stars after poor neighborhoods you passed through: Moran-yuk, the Mission District,...
The Last Painting (Or, Some More about Crows)
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...the birds move toward us or away? The hardened oil of van Gogh’sone, the upward flick of the wrist; two, a retraction of the fingers—likethe slight, abrupt almost-collapse of a metal tent frame that kidsthat completes each bird into its rounded, flattened “M” shape.A painting is an artifact of movement. The cast of a private dance...
Part IV. The Cult Poem
The Cult Poem
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Apaches pass over the intramural soccer game between Indonesia and France.France starts two Irishmen, a Kiwi, and a Spanish sweeper. Three Filipinos and a Somali My brainwashing officially began with “Hey Jude” dubbed over video footage of beautiful The camera zoomed in on a flashed peace sign as the door folded shut behind the last in The young woman beside me in the auditorium caressed my hand all through the ...
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Page Count: 72
Publication Year: 2013
Series Title: Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry