BRILLIANT CORONERS selected poems
L a u p e H o u s e P R ESS
PHOENICIA PUBLISHING MONTREAL
Edited by Rachel Barenblat and Rachel Rawlins. Design by Alison Kent and Elizabeth Adams. Cover photomontage by Natalie d’Arbeloff. Art by Marja-Leena Rathje. Photographs by Dave Bonta and Marja-Leena Rathje.
Ivy Alvarez’s poem “dumb” appears in her second manuscript, A Family Murder; “Testimony: Former Nigerian slave” appears in Her Circle Ezine, Winter, 2006; “The farmer’s wife” appears in NaPoWriMo chapbook, ltd ed (Big Game Books, 2006). Rachel Barenblat’s “Psalm for Tuesday,” “The Old Year,” “Aninut,” and “Longing” appear in her as-yet unpublished manuscript Manna. Dick Jones’ “Mal” appears in ENVOI 127 and “Pigeonholed” in Three Candles, 2004. Alison Kent’s “Butterfly Migration” appears in the Yolo Crow, October 2005. Leslee Masten’s “Deliquesce” appears in qarrtsiluni, September 2005. Jean Morris’ “Early Learning” appears in qarrtsiluni, December 2006.
Anthology copyright © Phoenicia Publishing, 2007. The copyright for each of the poems contained in this collection is retained by its original author.
C o nt e nt s
e li z a B e th Ad a m s Seeds Corn The Ferris Wheel Scene from a Roman Shipwreck Recovery
2 3 4 5 6
I V Y A L V A R EZ Testimony: Former Nigerian slave little fictions The farmerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wife My lover as a ghost dumb
7 8 9 10 11
R A C H E L B a r e nbl a t Psalm for Tuesday The Old Year Everywhere Aninut Longing
12 13 14 15 16
MARIA Benet Remedial Dive Winter by the Creek Stream Fissures
18 19 20 21 22
D A V E B o nt a Lines On Stilts Molding the Image Bodies of Water
23 24 25 26
TEJU COLE Shadowless The Visitor Shoe Tongue The God Walker After Dark
30 31 32 33 34
N A T A L I E d â&#x20AC;&#x2122; Arb e l o ff Canary Yellow Scarf
D A L E F AV I E R Fall Opening the World Meiosis Distance Santiago
38 38 40 41 42
D I C K J O N ES Stained Glass The Sheds Wavelengths Mal Pigeonholed
44 45 46 48 50
A L I SO N K E N T Butterfly Migration Passing The Book of Chai
51 52 53
L ES L EE M AS T E N Dangerous Spring Deliquesce Signs of Winter Archaeology Fine Lines
54 55 56 56 57
TO M M O N TA G Plain Poems: May 25, 2001 Plain Poems: May 31, 2001
J EA N m o rri s Taking Your Face Early Learning Here Too Sleepless Meditation for Existentialists
60 61 62 62 63
R A C H E L R a wlin s Stormy Weather
PE T E R St e P H e n s Drag Snow Snail space How to See a Poem Diorama
66 66 67 68 69
A N N E - M I E K E Sw a rt Sunken [O]
B.E. WING Fall on me Head over heels Dusk What the one thing
72 73 74 75 76
N O T ES O N C O N T R I B U T O R s 7 8
I V Y A L V A R EZ
Testimony: Former Nigerian slave I was my mistress’s slave —— that way my identity flew: this breath in my chest would knock the canvas edge of the tent that shades my mistress’s skin from the thin burn of sun as my own skin browned Again, she would say, and with my hands I unstoppered the holes of pegs —— those rough mouths filled with sand as I swung the tent on its axis my heels pivoting to keep myself still The heat was a brand I spoke slave words with a slave tongue but now my mistress is gone What is this bed that is my own? That cups my back with something like love? Or this long, free swallow of milk like wind at a feather’s edge? My hands must touch a mirage —— the mirage touches me back 7
R A C H E L B A R E N B L At
Psalm for Tuesday It is easy to offer praises when all the world is green and gold, when the thrush trills off and on, at ease, for long sweet minutes. Oak and birch and maple once ravaged by caterpillars have grown new leaves, pale like spring though the crescent moon now waxing will take us through Av, through August, days that loll like lions. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to remember destruction, I want to skip ahead to the birthday of the gleaming world and ignore the way that anyone has ever felt disowned or distant or alone.
But if I forget the losses of my friends in the places we call home and holy may my poems dry up like an empty creekbed.
Remedial In English, my speech is a stray mutt on a short leash in the gloved grip of a master’s imperative. “Sit!” I do. “Fetch,” and I am off, jaws clenched, the stick splintering between the teeth honed on wood long drained of sweet glistenings in the marrow of root.
D AV E B O N TA
Lines Just as I’m about to take a freight train up my nose, I stop with my head halfway to the rails: a spider is swimming past my face, like Rapunzel descending a single strand of her own hair. Her hindmost pair of legs pays out the line, the next two legs stick straight out for balance & the two pairs of forelegs move in circles, feeling all around for an anchor point. Not here, I say, nudging her silk wake to keep her off the mirror-tray & its two parallel lines of white powder. She reverses course like a yo-yo, heading for my finger. I push the thread a little farther & she severs her connection. Sorry, sister, I mutter as she drops to the floor — a chaos of newspapers — touching down without incident among the headlines.
Shadowless Crazy Kev stands on the street corner across from where I live belting out Figaro! Figaro! even in this wretched rain, but today he sings without his shadow. He seems to have folded and stowed it under his windbreaker. Or perhaps it is lost to the eddies at his feet, breaking away like a flat black iceberg, carted off downstream in pieces, its absence as irritating as when a man walks into a room and completely forgets what it is heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s come for.
N ATA L I E d â&#x20AC;&#x2122; A R B E L O F F
Canary Yellow Scarf What the hell I too will have a go at poe try my eyes have seen the poem in the man the canary yellow scarf on fresh pressed blue denim shirt on secure tenured professorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chest my thoughts have lingered on the other thoughts behind his po faced reading of his poe try
I am tall my hair is white but abundant and softly waved my American trousers are clean brown corduroy and my brown loafers quietly rich and a canary yellow scarf is casually slung over the crisp blue shirt I put on after taking a shower just before coming here to read from my published poems. Between poems he sips still spring water from the glass beneath the lectern.
D I C K J O N ES
Stained Glass The quality of light: this, a piece of late evening sky. How darkness can shine: last of the sun, first breath of the stars, a waxing moon. Judas walks out of the small room. They are still dining. No one knows but Jesus and his head is turned away. They canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t escape, these protagonists, caught between ruby and green, the dark blue light, the black bars of lead.
TO M M O N TA G
Plain Poems: May 25, 2001 I tell people it’s green peppers and onions and tomatoes that make my hard agnostic heart want to soften. Every spice, ice, ice cream. The world does not have to be lovely, it could be all grey and plain. It’s that the meat of the peach is sweet, it’s that the pit’s the bitter part.
P OET R Y
BRILLIANT CORONERS selected poems BY
elizaBeth Adams I V Y AL V A R EZ R A C HEL B a r e n b l a t MA R IA B e n e t DA V E B o n t a TE J U C OLE NATALIE d ’ Arb e l o f f DALE FA V IE R DI C K J ONES
Laupe House Press
ALISON K ENT LESLEE MASTEN
PHOENICIA PUBLISHING MONTREAL
TOM MONTA G
cover art by Dave Bonta, Natalie d’Arbeloff, and Marja-Leena Rathje
J EAN m o rr i s R A C HEL R aw l i n s P ETE R S t e p h e n s
ANNE - MIE K E S w a r t B . E . WIN G
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