Paul Monette

Here

everything extraneous has burned away
this is how burning feels in the fall
of the final year not like leaves in a blue
October but as if the skin were a paper lantern
full of trapped moths beating their fired wings
and yet I can lie on this hill just above you
a foot beside where I will lie myself
soon soon and for all the wrack and blubber
feel still how we were warriors when the
merest morning sun in the garden was a
kingdom after Room 1010 war is not all
death it turns out war is what little
thing you hold on to refugeed and far from home
oh sweetie will you please forgive me this
that every time I opened a box of anything
Glad Bags One-A-Days KINGSIZE was
the worst I’d think will you still be here
when the box is empty Rog Rog who will
play boy with me now that I bucket with tears
through it all when I’d cling beside you sobbing
you’d shrug it off with the quietest I’m still
here I have your watch in the top drawer
which I don’t dare wear yet help me please
the boxes grocery home day after day
the junk that keeps men spotless but it doesn’t
matter now how long they last or I
the day has taken you with it and all
there is now is burning dark the only green
is up by the grave and this little thing
of telling the hill I’m here oh I’m here

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My new book is out!

Missile Hymnal Amulet

Poems by G. F. Boyer

Here’s the blurb:

These are poems of survival—especially survival of religious indoctrination. At the same time, these poems celebrate a rich natural world: the physical and sensory world of plants, animals, and insects; the innocence and presence of nature; and even an animism that overpowers Christian fundamentalism and the increasingly revealed indifference of God. Through it all, time, aging, and dark humor provide a strong pulse, saying life will go on with or without us. The title’s missile, hymnal, and amulet represent the three sides of this conundrum, as rage, beauty, and love interweave in these crisp and incisive poems. “That’s how bayonets are made, you say. The wound is triangular and doesn’t heal easily.”

 

 

Kevin Prufer

A Story about Dying

The old cat was dying in the bushes.
Its breaths came slow, slow,
              and still
it looked out over the sweetness of the back lawn,
the swaying of tall grass in the hot wind,
the way sunlight warmed the garbage can’s
sparkling lid.
       It closed its hot eyes,
then struggled them open again.

+

In unison, the dogs explained themselves
to the passing freight train.

+

I don’t know where it’s gone,
her husband said without looking up from his paper

while she stood on the back porch shaking the food bowl,
calling one of its names.

+

All this the dying old cat observed
from beneath the bushes, its head
sideways in the grass, its fur wet where the dog
had caught it in its teeth.

+

And now there’s another train,
and the dogs are explaining themselves again.

+

The food makes that sparkling sound in the metal bowl
and the cat tries to lift its body from the grass

but it’s feeling hollowed out, empty and strange
as though it’s floating just above the tips of grass,
as if its paws barely touch the blades’ rich points.

+

Sometimes, the dogs explain themselves to each other,
or to passing cars, but mostly they address the trains.
We are powerful dogs, they say,
              but we are also good,
while the children on bikes, while the joggers,
while the vast, mysterious trains
              pass them by.

+

The cat is still drifting above the grass tips,
and the sun is so bright the yard sparkles,

and wouldn’t it be nice to rest there on the garbage can’s hot lid,
there by the potted plant, there on the car’s hood?

But it wants the food glittering in the metal bowl,
the food that, also, drifts above the grass tips.

+

And then the cat floats down the tracks,
the train’s long call a whistling in its head.

+

And the dogs explain themselves to it,
we are good dogs, good dogs,
              as the cat grows
impossibly far away, we are good dogs,
as the cat is almost a memory,

is barely a taste in the mouth
of one of the chorus.

 

 

 

May Swenson

Digging in the Garden of Age I Uncover a Live Root

        (for E. W.)

The smell of wet geraniums. On furry
leaves, transparent drops rounded
as cats’ eyes seen sideways.
Smell of the dark earth, and damp
brick of the pots you held, tamped empty.
Flash of the new trowel. Your eyes
green in greenhouse light. Smell of
your cotton smock, of your neck
in the freckled shade of your hair.
A gleam of sweat in your lip’s scoop.
Pungent geranium leaves, their wet
smell when our widening pupils met.

 

 

 

 

Frederick Seidel

The Pierre Hotel, New York, 1946

The bowl of a silver spoon held candlelight,
A glistening oyster of gold.
The linen between us was snowblind, blinding white.
I felt a weight too light to weigh
Which was my wings.

I heard the quiet of his eyes.
I heard the candle flame stand still.
I saw the long line of her jaw become
Too beautiful to bear. I was a child.
I lifted my empty spoon and licked the light.

 

 

 

 

 

Frederick Seidel

City

Right now, a dog tied up in the street is barking
With the grief of being left,
A dog bereft.
Right now, a car is parking.

The dog emits
Petals of a barking flower and barking flakes of snow
That float upward from the street below
To where another victim sits:

Who listens to the whole city
And the dog honking like a car alarm,
And doesn’t mean the dog any harm,
And doesn’t feel any pity.

 

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Spires

Small as a Seed

In everything, its opposite.
In the sun’s ascendancy,
its downfall.
In darkness, light
not yet apprehended.

At night in bed, I fear the falling-off.
Though falling, I will rise.
I fear. Fall arriving now.
In any word so small, the world.
In the world I walk in, a wild wood.