Archive for the ‘New Census’ Category

The New Census: Darcie Dennigan

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, continues this week and next with new poetry by contributors to the anthology. We continue today with a poem by Darcie Dennigan. You can purchase the anthology here.



The Ambidextrous


All poems should bear the title “Reasons for Living Happily…” …That was what X, the retired exterminator, quoted to me one night when we were… moving… from one warehouse to the next… crates… for… the Resistance… The Resistance… We all… I… worked undercover… toward… for… whatever the daily email… urged… Till the night… while emptying the sea back into a sack… the police got… At the trial months later… I drew Magistrate Beverly… it was information he was after… The Magistrate sat on the pulpit… stroking his pet beaver… Tell me he said… What the Resistance is against… I told him… I went right ahead…! Four times I said conglomerate… I got very specific… for instance…! … for instance…! for instance…! But perhaps broad strokes would… So I said We are against… everything… but at the same time we love the whole thing… We are against… the fat white men snoring… But not all of them… no… yes… All of them… But… during… Magistrate Beverly had fallen… the magistrate was sleeping… Now awoken… Now again beaver stroking… Will the court stenographer please read back the testimony…? Yes Your Honor The Resistance is against Alzheimer’s charity whales and the Ottoman Empire… How extraordinary… The courtroom denizens were all smiling… congratulating… What a machine… What a… They… they… could mishear anything… And their smiling… their smiling… I was about to say they smiled from ear to ear… but no… they… from hair to hair… They had no ears…


                And… I now noticed… the magistrate’s beaver… had no testicles…


                Upon my release… they gave me a smile… and a Popsicle… Back home I tried to write a poem… about… their smiling… “Reasons for Living Blithely…” I copied it 100 hundred times… on my at-home copy machine… taped the copies to the walls of my bedroom… Smiles from lair to lair… I lay there… beneath the poems… in bed… I stroked the pet rat with my left hand… the sleeping child with my right… We in the Resistance had to keep working… till no one living was… young… or young enough… to believe in reasons…


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The New Census: Chris Martin

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, continues this week and next with new poetry by contributors to the anthology. Today’s poet is Chris Martin. You can purchase the anthology here.



Behavior


So the bag

on your head is exactly

like the bag on

mine. That’s how it’s

always been. One bag

for every head

in every city on Earth.

A measure to shore

against the face’s simple

foundational

anarchy. Preempt

behavior. History

of the bag hinges

on the dominion

of Persona, how Western

identity (before the bag) was

hopelessly face-shaped, how

the oval theater of the face

ruined the world. Palliative,

antidote, rescue: bag. In order

for one to be

oneself: a bag. Exile

Proteus, you know?

Or spread

him so thin he begins

to form a bag sea

where we float in circles.

The thing is, you

already know all of this.

You have been wearing the bag

your whole life. And yet

you don’t

understand and I know you

don’t because you ask

to see my face. My very

own face. And because I love

you, because I would

also be nothing

without you, I have to think

very seriously about this and explain

everything once

again. “I only have a face,”

I say, “if you haven’t

seen it.” But that doesn’t seem

to be enough. I can

almost feel your eyes

tearing through

my bag. “What if you don’t

like my face?” I ask.

And of course you swear you

will and that the heart will

hold sway so

that it could never truly matter, owing

to the deep root

of love. This does not

convince me. “Once you’ve seen

it,” I say, “it will cease

to be my face. It will either

be your face or it will be some endless

parade of faces I can’t

control.” Your eyes rip

and slash. “What about the inevitable

contagion?” I can see the vein

in your neck lift

your bag like a tiny fist

knock knock

knocking. “If I take it off

will you promise never

to remove yours, no matter

what I say or do or

become?” You nod and your nodding

is eerily fluid and my hands

are burning and before

I can change my mind I take

off my bag.


The New Census: Dora Malech

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, continues this week and next with new poetry by contributors to the anthology. We begin today with Dora Malech. “Progress” will be featured in the fifth season of Motionpoems, premiering at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis on May 22. You can purchase The New Census here.



Progress


Already failed resolution to spend less
time staring at squares, enrectangled up
in pixels, justified prose, polarized glass.
Data entry, no exit. Lint trap’s just that.
Geometry that gestures toward itself
or not at all as in the inward wave
that in one culture simply greets and in
another draws one closer. Figures that
in my eyes it would beckon. Patterns swim
familiar but no one’s there to take
an order and connecting the dots in
the vitreous humor makes a child’s
stakeless game, a “now let’s say” to made-up
playmate (and say that which we say it is
it is until we tire or some other
specter floats aview). Are you saying
you’d rather queue for keeps? Phantom limn
a charged perimeter? Wasting time
no matter but on what (all-important
distinction between phenomenon and
illusion). Mind’s the former, sure, but great
stakes shaking no one’s boughs’ but mine but mine
tracing, racing, generating orders,
families, genera
the likes of which
the earth has yawned and swallowed in its sleep.
How to take a turn to lean a body
through not to the execution? As if
we could adapt the course by tricking
out the question, force feed fattening
infinity on its own tail. Wakes into
passing scenery, a world of ramifications
blinking Darwinian landscaping escaping
into can’t see for the topiary signing
line-on-line perpendicular, means ends.


The New Census: Nick Lantz on Nicky Beer

This week we continue our feature of The New Census: an Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, a lovely new book edited by Lauren Shapiro & Kevin A. Gonzalez, and published by Rescue Press. You can purchase the anthology here. Today, New Census contributor Nick Lantz introduces a poem from the anthology written by Nicky Beer.


Phrases about The New Census from an Online Chat (Continued):
…how will The New Census be remembered…the anthology most like it might be Legitimate Dangers…The New Census is farther along the continuum…the easiest and least-helpful way to review an anthology…



Every Poem Is A Dead Uncle
                —after Nicky Beer’s “Avuncularity”


I’m drawn to poetic ghosts, images discernible only in the periphery, residues that index what’s missing: the flutter of a shadow, imprint of teeth in an apple, reflections in storefront glass, indentations left in old furniture, scents that linger after a figure has long since turned a corner. I sometimes tell my students that they will write better poems if they stop trying to describe, and instead try to evoke. How can one ever hope to describe a person, a feeling? One must tease the reader’s imagination. One must drop morsels to lure it from its cave.


Nicky Beer’s “Avuncularity” begins by claiming that “Every child ought to have a dead uncle”—not present, but evoked by his artifacts, necessarily incomplete, “a handful of epochal snapshots/where the face is always blurred.” The uncle is drawn with enough clarity that he is real, but he contains deliberate gaps, lapses, lacunae: he is a vessel into which imagination can pour itself. In Beer’s wonderful poem, it is the imagination of blame: the poem invites the reader to lay her quirks and fractures and failings at the uncle’s feet. The uncle is the fetish filled with her dark thoughts and then buried in the woods by the edge of a field. Accounted for, expunged.


But the ghost uncle is also the poem itself—every good poem, in fact—a vacuum that draws in our imagination. Given a little of the right detail, the mind springs to life, sketches in the rest. Did Beer say the uncle had a beard? That he wore a plaid shirt? No, no, but there he is—beard, plaid shirt, halo of sweet pipe smoke. I can hear the laugh she never mentioned.


When the potter throws a vase, he builds a hollow inside of it. The closet the frightened child stares into at night is real, but vacant. To say that a poem contains an emptiness is not to disparage it but to praise it. That emptiness is filled with a ghost, the presence that we believe into it.


You can read the poem here and listen to Nicky Beer reading it here.


The New Census: Darcie Dennigan on Sawako Nakayasu

This week we continue our feature of The New Census: an Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, a lovely new book edited by Lauren Shapiro & Kevin A. Gonzalez, and published by Rescue Press. You can purchase the anthology here. Today, New Census contributor Darcie Dennigan addresses fellow contributor Sawako Nakayasu.


Phrases about The New Census from an Online Chat (Continued):
…name a center and then the everything starts to look like an exception…Chris Martin’s swooning lyricism, Dora Malech’s jeweled musical lines, Sawako Nakayasu’s language between registers…(to be continued)…



Letter of Love to Sawako Nakayasu


dear Sawako, here (edit: below) is a small negative image of your hamburger poem, the 9.2.2003 Texture Note (page 236 in The New Census)


Dream about cows.


Hanging upside down from the sky inside a herd of cows.


Inside the first line of the Les Murray poem, “The Cows on Killing Day“: the sky is shining.
Each cow gets a football field of grass to herself. Except there is no football here, and so there are no tailgating BBQers, and so there is no need of hamburger.


SN, I really love this poem for its grossness and funniness and tragedy and ache. Since reading it, I have wanted desperately to rescue you from the hamburger labyrinth.
But I don’t really know the way out, so I wanted to give you these cows that my husband drew so that you could at least go back to the beginning and start again.


Sincerely,
darcie



by Carl Dimitri

by Carl Dimitri

The New Census: Chris Martin on Emily Kendal Frey

This week we continue our feature of The New Census: an Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, a lovely new book edited by Lauren Shapiro & Kevin A. Gonzalez, and published by Rescue Press. You can purchase the anthology here. Today, New Census contributor Chris Martin introduces Emily Kendal Frey’s work from the anthology.


Phrases about The New Census from an Online Chat (Continued):
…to make this center a “reason for liking” the less characteristic work…Emily Kendal Frey’s “Kaaba/Kiss the Stone,” Darcie Dennigan’s work, J. Michael Martinez’s essayistic tinkering, the horror and rage running under Sabrina Orah Mark’s prose…(to be continued)…



An Introduction to Emily Kendal Frey’s “KAABA/Kiss the Stone”


This is a poem about why humans make song. At least it is to me. I figure there are two purposes in life: love people and sing the universe back to itself. Emily’s poem is about both. The spell that is spelling. First you have a hollow aching palm and next you have a Martian lamp. Because you need to sing something, to have and to hold something, if nowhere else, in your mouth. This is what we do. Poets. We take nothing and figure out how to fuck it into something. Lyric poetry. Dry friction until the genie finally arrives. We show her our empty pocket and she turns it inside out. Then someone tells that joke about petting a rabbit between the ears. But it’s true. An empty pocket (palm) becomes an ear (lamp). Nothing gets truly fucked into a great big ear. And what does an ear do but beat out the world’s secret name on its fleshy drum? A no held in the ear grows and becomes nominal. A patina of life, miraculous, some frost shaking atop the neighbor’s dog shit. A golden letter. Epistolary. Dear God, we write, thanks for nothing. And suddenly we mean it. Just waiting in bed. A puddle of sun on someone’s exposed torso. What good is language? Dad gets stuck in your lung like a carrot. Pure magic. So when the sun says nothing our organs yawn and sway. We listen to its sacred totally banal nothing all morning. Just standing there and neither of us appearing to move. Pubic shining death banter. The weirdness of having come / out a hole. Our mouths our empty pockets. Because the song is like nuclear fallout, falling everywhere. All we have to do is pick it up. Light. All we need are horny Martians. And teeth. Right?


You can watch Emily Kendal Frey read “KAABA / Kiss the Stone” here.


The New Census: An Open Letter by Kiki Petrosino

This week we continue our feature of The New Census: an Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry, a lovely new book edited by Lauren Shapiro & Kevin A. Gonzalez, and published by Rescue Press. You can purchase the anthology here. Today, New Census contributor Kiki Petrosino responds to the anthology at large.


Phrases about The New Census from an Online Chat (Continued):
…rectangular stanzas of first-person narration…even-tempered propositional declaratives…“Every child ought to have a dead uncle”…“Love begins as a dream and ends as a rumor”…“Not one of my costumes is believable”…(to be continued)…



The New Census: An Open Letter


Dear Smallest Brightest Test-Case Planet,


Let me tell you about music. Sweet-lipped, inexact.
How it sidesteps up the scale, then down.


What music do I mean? Swaybacked! Sloe-eyed!
Let me tell you.


A song like that once came for me at 3 a.m. and stayed until
I’d gulped down all the rum in a green mug.


Now I look for music everywhere, but it finds me
only sometimes. Only sometimes at the best times, as


at the turnings of lines or in the riv(ul)ets between drafts.
Makes me rattle my rattles.


One-two. Got to.


I aim “[t]o pronounce your medicine in my mouth,” as Eric
Baus tells it. How sound can save us, medicine-like.


Always “medicine” is a word for the music we can’t
pronounce. Do you know the word for when


Eduardo Corral’s “Gold/curves” dissolve into
“Gold scarves?” That music, like a pastille melting


on the tongue. That slant medicine. Got to take that
dose now, got to try and remember when


“Sound was God, as she understood it, always poised to listen”
Yona Harvey says, as we try to eyedropper


her medicine all the way into our little ears poised
to hear: “When the synthecrabs squirm


in the beaker,” as John Beer observes, measuring his music.
So we crouch, listening (one-two) for new animals


tapping their claws against beaker-glass.
Or “thimbleberries, black, thud out of the night”


as Kathleen Ossip knows. Got to swerve to hear her
counting the thimbleberry thuds like quarter notes


across her line. Just so, we dig rivulets and
rumblestrips to music us awake. We ask for poems


to weight our tongues down. Ask sweetly.
Got to, one-two. Let me tell you how.