Archive for the ‘Poem Features’ Category

Laura Walker: from story as a cloud above the bed, haze of flies, a little suture

This week, THERMOS has run a feature of Laura Walker’s poetry, assembled by Cassie Donish. We conclude today with a series of new poems. Thanks for taking the opportunity to read new work by one of our favorite poets.

from story as a cloud above the bed, haze of flies, a little suture

if a story like a river, loose and fretful, twine. if a story with debris and froth, pulling from the banks as it comes, never the same twice, step in and be renewed. if glass-bottomed boats and red-dotted fishes. if another line just under the surface, if you can’t see without drowning, if sometimes in storm, sometimes becalmed. if each person carries her own boat, dam, leaf. cutting its own way through or swept along and over the cliff, story as waterfall and prismed light, story as gravity.


to make an honest betrayal, shoving ahead in the dark. her brother’s blond head rising above waves; a man on the bed telling stories. little girls in exquisite ice, beaded swans, a soldier inside a hollow tree. three sets of enormous eyes. and when the story bolts out of the tree: an old woman as mound and x’s on doors. incongruous. the man with one glimpse wishing her forever. he smelled like salvage. damp books that hadn’t been opened in years. dust along the corners.


a story as skin. boundary, temperature, delineation. what she was told and what she saw making fuzzy scratches in the dark. coming to terms, carefully, over tea. if he saw her he didn’t see her; if he didn’t see her is perspective a concept worth inhabiting. the era of loose meditation gowns and full frontal nudity, a thin acrid smell underneath the baking bread; they grew it themselves in the basement. lights buzzing all night long. swimming as context, the house and its inhabitants: to get her head above water.


the story spills and is not absorbed, excess running off hard ground, rising, collecting old bottles and fenceposts, swirling and sucking, the girl and the boy climbing a little faster now, up onto the hill or the barn or someone’s front stairs, keeping their feet dry.

the story of the woods before the woods; the story of the woods.

her story as the moment she opens her eyes, slowly, in case someone has wired them shut. the pull and feel of gravity, the north pole, snow and magnet. each track identifiable if you know how to look: rabbit, solider, a dragged wing. they ran a new fence just along the gully, her brothers, inhabited trees.


to go with the soldiers. burn your clothes and follow them, stepping across dirt, the terrible winding roads. they have no concept of what they will see; their guns are unwaxed and staring. by the time they return they will be solitary, wandering the high grass, looking for wild honey and a hollow tree. story as a cradled gash, warm bubbling of space, a hole to carry in your pocket.


the story continues on its own, intent, limping toward water or a nearby road. she can see it in the distance, in one version calls out, in another doesn’t, standing barefoot on the porch. we eat the same fruit, follow the same thoughts of shade, but we are different creatures and the difference cannot be sustained or distracted. the story tries to move forward, falls, circles back and tries again. she stands on floorboards. she doesn’t know the way either, couldn’t help if she wanted to, but slowly descends and heads toward it. to keep a story company; to give it shade.


Laura Walker: from Genesis

This week, THERMOS is running a feature of Laura Walker’s poetry, assembled by Cassie Donish. We continue today with selections from Walker’s Genesis. Please check back throughout the week for more new poems, and an interview.

from Genesis

in the beginning what was startled flew up into the liquid sky. and the children came tiptoeing round, to see the man sleeping there in the fields; and they carried their pie plates and rosined spoons out onto the clay

and the plows, whiskering away in the darkness; and the sheeted moss; and the furrows, newly made, baring themselves among the birds

and we were small and formless and our hands did not settle


in the beginning a way of yielding, and the sound of retrieval and rattled blue frames. and intentionality, and the young; and those who held themselves apart continued apart and rose in sanctioned masses to rooftops and to bloom. and the forgetting; and the struck expanse; and the way the light aircraft made their maps across the sky, billowy and upturned

and the angle
and the shatter

and the glass was written, and contained; and the air was remedial, and alight; and the noise of boots on shards was something knocking on a door, far away and beneath a handle


in the beginning the lines were rampant and the air was full of clock and bird. the smallest lay down among her notes and wrappers blew about the trees, between the branches and the memory of hours and a small ticking sound, not to be ignored

and the raptors
and the hard wiring

and each bright thing weighed itself in succession, positioned itself against the ledge and lined up two by two


in the beginning the stones came loose, and the words were wax and singing under the faint porch light. and a pocket, and a flare; and the birds assembled at last, awaiting snow and cloth and the sound of sticks. and the fires; and the arrival; and the clouds bought and paid for

and the settled

and the prostrate

and the arrival was styrofoam, and inchoate; and the welcome was creviced, and slit; and the sound increased against the walls in battles and shifting shores


in the beginning what we found just off the edge of our paper would circulate again, fall back among us as dreams of snow or the slough of someone’s new suit. the children were brought round to enter the fields again; and they were collaged in reds and browns, and told which birds to hold and which to scatter with their feet. the morning light came round again, and someone held spoons and someone held clatter and sawdust piled and began to converge

and we were a building

and we were a formation

and we were sick, and suited, and grouped in twos and threes

The New Census: Sarah Vap

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, picks up today for a final installment: new work from Sarah Vap. She’s included a statement on the poems, below. Please feel free to visit the full feature here, and purchase the anthology here.


These poems were taken verbatim from the dictionary feature on the Investopedia website, and are part of a longer manuscript called Viability — the whole effort of which rolls around in Capitalism’s mechanisms and certainties of owning certain kinds of people, creatures, communities.

from Viability

Lindsay Lohan Stock Index: A stock index comprised of companies associated with actress Lindsay Lohan. Investors might correlate the popularity of Lohan with increased sales surrounding her related products. Firms involved with Lohan endorsements, advertising or movies are included in the index.

Fans may see Lindsay Lohan use a certain product, such as her Mercedes Benz, and rush to purchase one for themselves. The increased demand will usually drive up a company’s sales, merely for being associated with Lohan. Companies involved in the index include Disney (NYSE: DIS), who produce many of Lohan’s films, Daimler Chrysler (NYSE: DCX), and Mattel (NASDAQ: MAT).

As with most celebrity-related terms, buzz words such as this usually have a shorter shelf life and may become irrelevant.

Sleeping Beauty: A company that is considered prime for takeover, but has not yet been approached by an acquiring company. A company may be considered a sleeping beauty for a variety of reasons, including large cash reserves, undervalued real estate, undervalued share price, attractive assets or strong growth and earnings potential. A takeover, or acquisition, is typically characterized by the purchase of a smaller company by a larger firm. The acquiring company generally offers a cash price per share, thereby purchasing the target outright for its own shareholders.

In relation to mergers and acquisitions (M&A), a sleeping beauty is a company that is “sleeping;” that is, one that is ripe for takeover to achieve its full potential. A sleeping beauty might be a new company that has great potential but has not yet been noticed, or it could be an established company that has not been managed well, and is therefore not maximizing its potential. A sleeping beauty essentially lies in wait until a takeover occurs, at which point the company theoretically would be able to live up to its potential.

Leading Lipstick Indicator: An indicator based on the theory that a consumer turns to less expensive indulgences, such as lipstick, when she feels less than confident about the future. Therefore, lipstick sales tend to increase during times of economic uncertainty or a recession. Also known as the “lipstick effect.”

This term was coined by Leonard Lauder (chairman of Estee Lauder), who consistently found that during tough economic times, his lipstick sales went up. Believe it or not, the indicator has been quite a reliable signal of consumer attitudes over the years. For example, in the months following the September 11 terrorist attacks, lipstick sales doubled.

Skirt Length Theory: The idea that skirt lengths are a predictor of the stock market direction. According to the theory, if skirts are short, it means the markets are going up. And if skirts are long, it means the markets are heading down. Also called the Hemline Theory.

The idea behind this theory is that shorter skirts tend to appear in times when general consumer confidence and excitement is high, meaning the markets are bullish. In contrast, the theory says long skirts are worn more in times of fear and general gloom, indicating that things are bearish.

Although some investors may secretly believe in such a theory, serious analysts and investors—instead of examining skirt length to make investment decisions—insist on focusing on market fundamentals and data.

Philadelphia Poets: JenMarie & Travis Macdonald

Our place-based and occasional series on Philadelphia poets continues today with 4 collaborative poems from Bigger On the Inside by JenMarie and Travis Macdonald. Look for more in the future, curated by our resident Philadelphian, Zach Savich.

Statement on the Poems

We once conducted a collaborative interview with Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop about their collaborations, and, at one point, Rosmarie said, “It is true that our collaborations do not quite sound like either Keith’s poems or mine. Which shows once again that the BETWEEN is fertile ground … our reality is no longer substances, but systems of relations, ‘no longer things, but what happens BETWEEN things,’ as Charles Olson paraphrases Whitehead.” And at another point we quoted Jacques Roubaud who said, “when Keith and Rosemarie write poems together, whose are those poems? They are the poems of a third poet, whose name and gender and origin and language we do not know.”

What we mean to say is that, while we are not comparing our poems to Keith & Rosmarie’s in any way, we are getting to know the fertile 3rd person sitting between us. When we trade a notebook back and forth between us we’re writing on the lap of an intimate stranger.

Because we are collaborating on poems while binge-watching Doctor Who episodes, we’re also writing in the space between entertainment and ekphrasis. Rosmarie said, “The most obvious way relation affects our language when we collaborate is that we allow ourselves to play with the other’s manner.” And we do play with one another’s manner, but we are also playing with the manner of the actors, the television writers, the scenery and costume people. The whole of the BBC. etc.

On how many strangers laps have we written? And who is it exactly that lurks in the gaps between the letters on each line?

The empty presence of the third poet in collaboration is the same way we feel about the characters on Doctor Who. They are real enough that our mind (for fleeting one-hour periods, at least) imagines them actually living in the world. Or if not THE world, then a similar intermediary space that we, the perceivers, create between our perception and the screen, between every single exchange of the page between us.

What are they up to right now? The Doctor and our third voice? Both are too real, too present to only exist at the sites of evidence: the computer, the poems, the stranger sitting between us…and then you there, reading this.

The Exterminator’s Downfall

The children of time work
against us with words dipped in rift.

What’s the last thing
you remember? The descendants assume

formation. The medusa cascades
and swallows the trail
of the bees’ disappearance.

A sentient piece of software
stands by its actions. Home
at the end of the world,

the subwave will
bring us together.

Falling in Flight

And the earth was no more
or less responsible for the last
transmission’s charge,
raging the rift and slant
against. The end of everything
is strong enough to hold the paradox
box open, long enough
to get out and pick the ring
up from the ashes of the ending.

Stuck in the center of the dingy
Titanic x-mas skyline.

Stay here while I ascertain
the information angel damages.
Cauterize your time
wound, tossing off its razorblade halo
into the host’s lonely drift.
Reflected in the doctor’s grimace:
an echo of atoms kissed.

Inform the Cage: We’re Headed Down

Patch us in. The com
system fell to earth. On Ascension
Island, patent a binary

vascular current. Calculate one
hundred thousand million combinations
in a second flat. You’ll get rusty
following the primary
order of instinct. Drag

down and label the stars.
They’re all dead
because of you

and contaminated, saved.
Function locked and loaded, I can feel
so many ideas. Exterminate my sickness.

I win.

Vashta Nerada

The library runs on
wishes. Never land on Sundays—boring!
A million million life forms’ silence

left a note from the courtesy node:
count the shadows if you want to live.

Cry for help with a kiss and a screwdriver
that won’t do
wood or resurrection
banks. Pick a face for your security
camera consciousness.

I thought we were an exclusive expedition? Tear up
your experience contracts. It’s death
for the river song. Spoilers

flying off the shelves
hold an impression: the brain waves
in a footprint tide pool.

Let’s all meet the shadow meat
feeders ghosting, a swarm
in a skeleton suit. Move
the console signals if

there’s a teleport bridge
collapse. Your imagination escape plan

hatches and builds
a nest of its own.

Philadelphia Poets: Michael Loughran

Our place-based and occasional series on Philadelphia poets continues today with two poems from Michael Loughran. Check back Wednesday for another entry in the series.


No one cares
about the painting of the orange rooster.
I hang it up and remember
whatever I want,
maybe what Kafka said
about me.
What a rooster he was
and how orange,
all those inclinations,
the black urge
to stroll through the hallways
of some other house,
every desire
an illicit constitutional.
Rooster! Don’t be funny!
Let me think!
Soon I’ll be
under the tongues
of the streetlights
at 60 m.p.h.

New Jersey

Hay bales!
The ones we prefer.
Golden stomachs
we drive past
about our mothers.
Future auditors
of the heart,
what we liked most
was to make
the hay bales blur.
We liked Rousseau,
whose epitaph
pleads he devote
his sacred
leisure to the light.
He painted no hay,
perhaps there is
no hay in France?
France! You have nothing.

The New Census: Sandra Doller

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, concludes today with poetry from Sandra Doller. Thanks so much to all the editors and poets who contributed to the anthology and the feature — it’s been a lot of fun for us to read. You can purchase the anthology here.



finger pointing
come hither
what did you capture
what did you land on
uh snap
uh snap
here’s one—I’ve got one
spiral jetty on the
black top.


what did you see
what I saw what I
fanned myself I shared
a moment of fanning
I told myself fall down
I said to fall down is
to be forgotten
is to be lonely on the
black top
I have never used
this word this pen


write the soundtrack sound tack
spread it out and try to
move forward only
1 inch try to stop
yourself from this side
to side
run around a downside
an email is being
sent a hardness
how do they know?


-what is an
-where did she go?
-what was her name again?
-why are we here?
-will you share it?
-why is the floor stomping?
-what about that?
-why not?


-fire under water
-sad jokes
-unhappy ice cream
-sorry holiday


where are you now?
what was that wave?
what sound does the foot
make on the
asphalt sidewalk
too such


only questions I have
are where why
when I woke up I
so wake me up
did you just lift your foot?
did you just ask me to dance?
can you write and listen?
what happens without
what are you afraid of?


I doubted it—I didn’t
believe it—
I told you I didn’t
what just happened here?
what did you say?
what was on your foot?
why were you standing
is this how you feel?
is it over?


what is your focus?
a distraction a diversion
a Sandra a
they’re saying my name
I can’t focus without my
once my name is
whistled a


The New Census: Carrie Olivia Adams

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, continues this week with new poetry by contributors to the anthology. Today we have new work from Carrie Olivia Adams. You can purchase the anthology here.

from Daughter of a Tree Farm

A widow, belonging by fire. A beehive’s swarm of bees attacking a bear, made small. Finishing schools to earn the well-known favorite honor of departure. A peeress, a remarkable beauty against her will, to liaison the leaves. She lived for the remainder in the village buried near the church in the sight of God, the view of man, took part in the battle.


A body that medicine has given up, refuses to diagnose. I finished, I cried, separated. In mathematics, I soon forgot the mark at hearing the heroines myself. It was so windy there. Our family had not seen our way back. Almost daily, handed a proposal of struggle. How else to combat the farm’s idleness? The itch of still. I did not think it was possible. It goes on like this. I shall go and tell everything or shoot. Life had passed. The force of the need. Fate and activity began to consider their origin but did not like to be called in. I remember how to listen to anything new. We lived a recall that passed us by; we followed nothing. I desired nothing else but to develop as though they were living. I had no other proof.

The New Census: Randall Mann

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, continues this week with new poetry by contributors to the anthology. Today we’re happy to print a new poem from Randall Mann. You can purchase the anthology here.


Remember the shake-the-salad days of Dragnet
reruns, spray and starch, and that pint-sized fridge?
Tenderloin Heights? The Earth Muffin magnet?
You stalked me on the Carquinez Bridge,

little Pinto; I asked you in to look at my iguana.
You stayed. You smelled like an arcade.
When I threatened to leave you for Guyana,
you swam all up in my Kool-Aid.

Even our losses felt relatively glam:
crullers, snap-on ties. Shadow gloves.
Your pair of black Zodiac-Killer glasses.
A lot of meat, but not a lot of money, like Spam.
And our vinyl wedding, which ended when doves
shot “A Blessing in Disguise” out of their rented asses.

The New Census: Steve Healey

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, continues this week with new poetry by contributors to the anthology. Today we’re happy to print a new poem from Steve Healey. You can purchase the anthology here.

6:05 pm on a Wednesday

This is what a bridge looks like.
This is a bridge crossing a river on a planet
orbiting a sun. This is a structure
providing passage over a physical obstacle
such as a river on a planet once upon
a time. What being in a vehicle
crossing a bridge looks like upon a time.
This is a vehicle that looks like
many vehicles shiny in the light
of the sun, moving across a structure
that looks like a perfect horizontal strip
of land across nothing but air.
This is a person who once upon
a 6:04 pm on a Wednesday in August
thinks nothing about what gravity
looks like at one-hundred-and-fifteen feet
above an actual river. What people
look like in vehicles wearing sunglasses,
remembering a chicken salad sandwich
for lunch, listening to news about
a war happening somewhere,
people who are killing other people.
This is in fact what a bridge seen
by a security camera on a Wednesday
in August at 6:04 pm, the shiny vehicles,
the planet turning away from the sun,
the sun falling in the sky a little more
toward evening, looks like.
In fact, the bridge begins to fall
at 6:05 pm. It drops quickly, in fact,
under the force of gravity. In fact,
this is what one-hundred-and-fifteen feet
looks like. The bridge and the vehicles
on the bridge and the people
in the vehicles and the sunglasses
on the people. This is what falling
looks like. This is what afraid.
This is what my God. This is what
no bridge, in fact. The absence of bridge.
Once upon a time, in fact. What
nothing looks like. This is absence
seen by a security camera at 6:06 pm
on a Wednesday. What,
in fact. In fact, this.

Note: This poem was commissioned by the city of Minneapolis and published by Rain Taxi Review of Books in a limited-edition poetry collection marking the 5th anniversary of the I 35 W bridge collapse.

The New Census: Kyle Dargan

Our feature of Rescue Press’ new anthology of contemporary poetry, The New Census, continues this week with new poetry by contributors to the anthology. Today we’re happy to print a new poem from Kyle Dargan. You can purchase the anthology here.


If my heart would only mimic
David Blaine more than Houdini—
suffering in place for excruciating,
short spells instead of shocking
audiences with escapes.
Endurance is not magic,
sadly. Imagine ever-lasting
love as a simple chant—arcane
language that will fuse souls
given proper enunciation.
Or am I thinking of sorcery?
(A wizard might wand your lips
into Japanese hornets for calling him
a magician.) Either way,
I admire David Blaine
for the same reasons many
think him a charlatan—
he is just a man, one who’ll risk
standing within the caging ice
of human limitation until
his nerves numb or he forgets
to sink back into consciousness.
My heart thinks too much,
sees opening as an illusion
masking constraint. It fidgets,
tucks and rocks with the same
passion that it once slipped within
the straightjacket’s long arms.
Free, my heart rises from the body’s
river of blood. Along the banks,
men extend their palms to collect
from all the fools who bet against.