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Poetry

Place Like Home

I was asked to show up with a side dish. I made
A slaw of my longing. I had to keep it crisp. Nothing goes

Bad in a backyard, if you catch my drift. In a
Backyard everything is available like a catalog

Mise En Place

The peonies are popping! A fist that is also a kettle that is also
A pact petals made with whatever cabal of bees decides to stick

Around. Let’s all us shake on it. Ah, these lungs of mine the perfect
Emergency orange of extension cord coil. All my breathing is

Tower of Babel

My reward for waking: close walls
and limestone dust, spit
evaporating from my tongue. First

I count and recount
my toes, throw out grain
for the carp, snatch a femur

Ear to the Night


I press my hand to your sleep.

Then I find your spent head under small
whirling tresses

having digested the clatter
of car horns, children

bustling into sweet shops.

What She Didn’t Leave


Dear friend, dear fearless        reader, dear soft spot, dear        drummer’s
Backstage sweat-soaked T-shirt        kiss, dear one                  sweet     world-without

-End, dear if you             find this, dear feckless, damned darkness,        dear friendless
Foundling pitbull & your shredded        fleece bed, dear pitiful                 scrawl, stained 

Photo by Sarah Rice

Richard Blanco’s Notes to Self

When Two Ponds Press, a fine-art press that produces limited-edition monographs, approached poet Richard Blanco and photographer Jacob Hessler in early 2014 for a theme on which to collaborate, it didn’t take them long to agree on a purpose. Blanco had spent the previous year working on several commissioned occasional poems and had been exploring the role of poetry in public discourse, “the idea of the civic-minded poet—the poet as the village voice, a poetry of social conscience.” Hessler, who uses large-scale landscapes to explore similar ideas of artistic responsibility, shared Blanco’s values and concerns. In light of recent schisms in American political life—eruptions over marriage quality, racial strife, and police violence, for instance—they landed on the idea of boundaries and borders. As Blanco puts it, they sought to examine, through image and verse, “narratives that are manipulated to separate—to divide and conquer. We wanted to investigate and expose those narratives that run counter to the idea of our shared humanity.”

State

your name for purposes of identification

how can I when it’s failed

better a border made of water

harder to cross

each seed is different

like each tongue

how many heads

was the right question to ask

the ones

the world is made perfect why not rebuild here lies the water made of motion same day different peace is a matter of time

Look, the Human Is Shrinking

It’s normal to do it alone, the feint-and-jab
           of forgetting. I believe in only what I can recite 

from memory, like the ninety-nine names
           for thirst: soft-hell, root-torn-from-soil, rain-

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