Hieratic Madonna

I had one of those sinking spells—she was no more than an infant, blue eyes . . . I thought I could smell some reel-to-reel tape So I bought a pill halver . . . Most of the furniture sat fading in the sunshine— The child moved her tiny hand . . . My blood… More

Rite II

The Committal Another small death. My stepfather slips on his boots and jacket, retrieves a shovel from the shed. Christmas morning and the sun honeys over the field, glazing each frosted blade white-gold. Does this look alright, he says, gesturing at the grass, and I say it does, so he pushes the lip of the… More

Stop!

Life has never once taken a cigarette break. My father used to smoke when he drank. He drank when he wasn’t sure. His father did this, and his too. Heredity sounds like a supervillain. I imagine it rides around in a fast car, with big guns, spreading vice. When I tell this to my therapist… More

Michael McGriff

The poet discusses Denis Johnson, Larry Levis, Coos Bay, and the obsessions behind his latest collection of poems, Early Hour. TRANSCRIPTION Ben Evans: I’m Ben Evans and you’re listening to Fogged Clarity. This morning I’m pleased to be speaking to one of my favorite poets working today, Michael McGriff is the author of four books… More

Teacher of Grass

Those who sleep, doubt, fall on their faces from lying positions while the dross of street lamps and chatter of night-shift life run on the darkness. Sleep is the ordination of senses. Let the lonely bureau preach it, confident in its bowl of change. Let the options of interpretation remain throughout the morning until in… More

5 poems from “Born”

We begin with this Rorschach of blood on thigh: first, a gravedigger shoveling earth into our bed, then the rotting barn we once undressed in. Beneath this wet duress, we beg in unison to be born.   *** What’s the word for the soft white belly after the harpoon, but before the hooks? Last month,… More

How the Landlord Taught Me

He faced my mother at the front door with the heat turned off. She wanted heat, like wanting water. The metals in the cellar didn’t clatter. We lived those years in borrowed rooms: his. The grates whispered when the warmth blew. I sided against my own because my body was wrought by her— heatless, stranger… More

Wound Care

Not even the Mexican saints can see how you unbutton your shirt tonight to show me the ghost of a zipper the sawbones left, taking back their staples. All your summer the taking out, sherd by sherd, a kind of dig, the slug he left you with, the rent-a-cop gunning for his baby mama, who… More

In a Waiting Room

1. Here I am—the annual physical, these days euphemized as a “well-check,” a ruse of language I like in some happy way, much better than “get on board” for “obey.” Still, in settings like this one, I confess I sometimes find myself thinking of Larkin, almost wanting to make conversation with the Larkin-id I try… More

Cash4droid

Nothing has changed. Somewhere to the right of the living they still mistake independence for a virtue, a defensive indifference, an Eden of last resort, and now that the War of 8:15 has broken out in the terminal we can see dreamcatcher earrings for what they are: dangerous excess. All the while, vehicles sleeker than… More

Wick Effect

In music but there is no music on acreage but no land remains in history but no past will do in the landscape but the orchards are dead the deeds handed over only the rotted sidewall of memory which can bear no weight where we salted the hay where the barn became char to its… More

Outing

She stared at the sky in the seat beside him as they lapped the miles on cruise, then woke from her fugue at a stop sign in Bliss to see just where they were and how much gas was left, to turn from the blue and give him a kiss. Back from their drive, he… More

This Disquiet

A premier of the title track off Detroit bassist Betsy Soukup’s forthcoming album, This Disquiet. Betsy Soukup is a bassist active in the Detroit jazz community. She sometimes plays with drummer Cory Tripathy and bassist Ben Willis as The Betsy Soukup Trio. More

A Conversation with James Wright’s Widow, Annie Wright

The following excerpt(s) are from an interview poet Chard deNiord conducted with Annie Wright in Westerly, Rhode Island on May 30th, 2012. The full interview will be available in July of 2018 as part of deNiord’s forthcoming collection of interviews, I Would Lie To You If I Could (University of Pittsburgh Press). EXCERPTS Chard deNiord:… More

The Androgynous Christ

Put the feeding ritual in a list: One hand here. The wrist below. Turn his head. Latch his lips. Trapped inside the breast: the wholly lost, the curdled hurts, a lesson no one taught. Milk won’t stream into his mouth. In the photo of the window, a Roman Christ with beard and breasts lifts a… More

The Not So Distant Future

Some day, in the Not So Distant Future (and I don’t know exactly Why I like that run of Words: Not So Distant Future, even though it Usually spells something Bad), when everyone will Have to wear special Goggles to protect themselves From the awful sold-out and War-torn air, the new-normal- What-will-be-called Air, People will… More

How to Dismantle an Airplane

“When will enough people say, ‘Stop this madness; we don’t have to live like this’?” — Richard Martinez, father of Isla Vista shooting victim, Christopher Martinez   Step 1: Exhume the Engine It’s easier than it looks. Break down the metal shell and see a halfway heart of pistons, its shaking air-cooled ending like the… More

Old Fools

You fool, I said, to not look me in the eye. I used to wait for the serenade. Now I’m waiting for some lover who takes pictures of himself alone in his room to notice, beck and call, to thicken my milk. Some nights I go bustle my balling gown from a gray gull closet,… More

outside a ruined casino

The sky is not falling it’s failing as the rainband doxes trees in a wiretap wind : seismic 7, the plastisphere swelling, 413 AR. Here’s what little I know about going about it : coldblack city streets in an outage, kinky blowdown a tape on a loop, the scuffed muscle and worn bone of a… More

petrochemical pastoral

Buying up the bad debt —an edgelands in the air—then returning   the ocean to circulation after a fresh coat of paint : circuit   bent canary song, petcoke for export, préliminaires2, jetwash out of my   aftermarket, hydrofluoro carbon mouth. At night the sky gets   snagged in the trees it goes back up… More