Posts Tagged ‘poetry’

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.

The New Census: Eric Baus

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 we have two short poems from Eric Baus. You can purchase the anthology here.

                Ambient Centaur

                The agrarian century absorbed me into a horse. I was busy being a
                parable  in  a  film  about  stormlessness. We  wore a  pair of  grass
                glands. We watched the  sun give birth to a lamp. We knelt to bury
                our glass in the sand.

                The Recessive Sea

                The  accident  exposed a tiny song when the  floating  wires
                grounded. The  protozoan organ played an undetected tone.
                The tranquilized tongue woke up in a cell. The trees blurred
                into a seed.

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…

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.


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


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.


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: A Conversation With Lauren Haldeman

This week and next, we’ll feature 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’s conversation is with two-time THERMOS contributor Lauren Haldeman, who did artwork for the anthology.

Phrases about The New Census from an Online Chat (Continued):
…in their introduction, the editors hope that The New Census will be “tucked under the arm while riding the train or spotted askance on the floor of a dorm room…bent in the library, lent to a new friend, and scarred by the marks of a reader’s pen”…saying, it’s more fun than your boring high school English teacher…does a center of argument nonetheless emerge…(to be continued)…

1. Your illustrated author photos in The New Census are SPECTACULAR. Could you tell us about your process for making them?

Alright, but get ready to be really BORED. It ended up being a much lengthier process than I thought it would be. I started by creating a grid-system within a 5-inch by 7-inch framework in order to keep everything uniform. And then I cropped all of the bio photographs to that size and merged them into the framework. Using those as references, I would draw each of the photographs by hand, in pencil. (I even bought a special new sketch pad for the project). So I ended up with these pages and pages of portraits. This took the longest time. Then, I scanned them all into a computer. Imported to Photoshop and employed some manipulation there, Curves and Levels mostly. Then I brought the images into Illustrator and had a very exact Live Trace set up for the drawings to turn them into vector. After this was done, I sent them over to Sevy and he basically made them all 3000% better.

2. Whose picture was hardest to draw?

By far, the hardest pictures to draw were the pictures of the people I actually know, in real life. Knowing someone really changes the way you represent them in your mind and skews the way you THINK they should look. You can’t actually see how they REALLY look anymore. Does that make sense? So that makes the details so much more intricate and frustrating in a two-dimensional representation. I would spend hours on a 2 centimeter long line, just to define the edge of a smile to get it to be how I thought it should be. Because it had to be right. Because, second point: drawing people who you know comes with the enormous fear that they will not like the drawing. That they will be mad. That they will stop being friends with you because of the drawing! It is a ridiculous fear; I mean, can you imagine saying to someone “Yeah, we used to be friends. But then one day she drew a picture of me, and it was not up to my standards. Now we are not friends”? But it is a real fear.

Other than that, teeth. Teeth are the hardest things to draw ever.

3. Whose was most fun?

My favorite portrait was Yona Harvey. I just loved drawing her face, because of the line of her profile. No offense to everyone else, but her drawing just ended up being my favorite. There. I said it.

4. Whose facial hair is your favorite?

Any facial hair. All the facial hair. Bring me some facial hair, friends and I will draw it.

5. Did you read or avoid reading the contributors’ poems while working on the drawings? In general, are there poets/poems you like to read when you are working on visual art?

I didn’t read any specific poetry while I was drawing. I set up a space in my basement with a table and a lamp. I would put on Netflix basically to have it playing in the background. The portraits were almost exclusively drawn to Doctor Who episodes. The 10th doctor only. I could probably tell you which episode for which portrait. It was a long winter.

Later, I read everyone’s poems, after the drawings were done. It was really amazing how much CLOSER I felt to each poet. It was like “Oh I know you! You had those great earlobes!” (I do love drawing earlobes). It made the reading much more personal. So now I declare that every reader should have to draw the writer before opening the book. Law.

6. I’m trying to pass a law saying that all author photos have to be illustrations. How do you think that would change how people read and write poetry?

Dangerous stuff there, Zach. Within one generation, all the children of the world would sleep under sheets printed with poets’ faces. They would wear poet-face-themed underwear. I can’t tell if this is a good or bad thing, really, but that’s what would happen.