In Poetry on January 27, 2015 at 6:55 pm


by Michelle Taransky 

We cannot make a decision
We need a narrator
We are covering our heads
We take a wrong turn
On the way to church
We are talking about choices
We hold the answer he has
Answered: “It’s not for you”
For us, the consonant is difficult
To pronounce what was given
Was born was called was said
Was felt as not the appropriate
Signifier.  The best way to say
This is the change we are seeking
To cover


Michelle Taransky is the author of SORRY WAS IN THE WOODS (Omnidawn 2013) and BARN BURNED, THEN (Omnidawn 2009), the winner of the 2008 Omnidawn poetry prize selected by Marjorie Welish. Taransky is a critical writing fellow at Penn where she teaches critical and creative writing and is reviews editor for Jacket2.

Photograph: Nichole Robertson



In Poetry on January 27, 2015 at 6:51 pm

Mountain-Shadows-on-Fire (1)

by Justin Marks


written while reading Natalie Lyalin’s Blood Makes Me Faint But I Go for It, Sampson Starkweather’s “The Problem Poem” and Paige Taggart’s Want for Lion

#TGIF I just poured milk in my water instead of my coffee
Backwards sentimentality
is what?
Blue-collar metal heads in high school
Bougie indie rock kids in college
Clothes are just things to take off
My white white youth
It was white
so so white
Every decision I make
I want to be popular
I go up the hill surrounding the city with a friend from high school and it feels like high school again which I hate but love my friend
If I ever have more children
I’ll name them Text and Emoji
Live. Laugh. Love.
Yeah. Sure. Whatever.
When someone asks me a question
my immediate response is no
A delusion of grandeur
that’s mediocre
A nucleus burning inside itself
Sabered champagne bottles
Help that does not help
To prevent prostate cancer
jerk off at least 5 times a week
Sometimes I don’t
and that works
kind of
but not really
I need a haircut
To clean my phone
I lick the screen
Fix the bugs
Flight the build
What I really want to be is
more loving toward my wife
toward all
the grown ups
but mainly my wife
Take a turn
Keep going
Feel terrible guilt for subjecting a woman so lovely as she to such ridiculous gyrations and grunts. Absurd utterances.
with some grace
Because the truth is I’m dying to get close(r), be more intimate, but it makes me feel terrible. Incredibly uncomfortable.
My wife. I fear she is unhappy, and a lot of that has to do with me, my distance. We struggle. We love each other. But we struggle. Because we love each other, we struggle.
It can be difficult to remember why we are together. We have children which, no matter what happens, binds us in some form or other, forever. We also have joint bank accounts, a mortgage and combined retirement plans which, while cold and institutional, bind us almost inextricably. We have generally positive feelings about each other’s parents and siblings, extended family and friends.
There is also love. I love her more than any woman I have ever met, or will, which is a kind of end. It will never change.
I never call my wife by her name in poems. She doesn’t know I’ve written this. Which is pretty fucked up. She’s sitting right across from me. Why can’t I just say these things? Talk to her. Be a bit Shakespearian and show my secret self—whatever that is. We’re both working on our computers. I just gchatted hello to her as a joke and she chuckled.
Her name is Meri.
It’s not that I’m afraid
of showing emotion
so much as I’m scared
of the response

We’ve come so far now
How do we escape
who we’ve become
to be, from time to time,
who each other wants

I mistype before as befire.
Don’t even have the desire
to jerk off anymore
nor the time
or opportunity

I have (for now?) become who I am. I can’t say I like that, but I’m not sure what I’d change. Happiness, I think, is largely out of the question. But then again, happiness has never been the goal. My life is good.
Happiness. It’s so easy. Just turn yourself off.
Ignore complexity. Human nature. The reality that we are deeply and irrevocably existentially alone (David Foster Wallace said that). Happiness? Please. The real question is disappointment. How much can you take and still see the good in life?
I debated for a long time whether I should commit to those paragraphs. I’m afraid I sound like a douche. I’m also not sure how much I agree with them. I probably won’t once enough time goes by. That reason, perhaps above others, is why I include them.
Poet, be fire.


Justin Marks’s books are You’re Going to Miss Me When You’re Bored (Barrelhouse Books, 2014) and A Million in Prizes (New Issues, 2009). His latest chapbook is We Used to Have Parties (Dikembe Press, 2014). He is a co-founder of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry press, and lives in Queens, NY with his wife and their twin son and daughter.


Photograph: Denver Post

from margerykempething

In Poetry on January 27, 2015 at 6:40 pm

McCarthy Art Poem 1

by Pattie McCarthy


a bird-witted boy a bird-witted girl
went over the top with the flowers like
every place that has a long hard winter
beautiful useless places one use of
bitch by a motherly character
what omen is a chimney-stuck pigeon
what omen is two types of daughterthings
female similar to male her plumage
puts her secret in your ear learned by rote
thu lyest falsly in pleyn Englysch creature
margery kempe when will she bring down
the little birds the shorebirds their long legs
skitter & skip & pick their way across
periwinkles & tide pools & mussel shards



Pattie McCarthy is the author of six books, including the recent nulls (horse less press) & the forthcoming Quiet Book (Apogee Press). She teaches at Temple University.

Art: courtesy of American Museum of Natural History


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