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By the Time

By Dalton Day

Poem

I am deciphering codes
because this is my profession now

I am also a weightless thing

Like a whale or a jar of honey
glowing irresponsibly in June

Who knew it was so simple
So stupid & dangling perfectly

Like a face or a perfume
left on a pillow

I can be alive now

I have figured more of this out

A dock is the only place to have
a memory

Mouths & birds are the same

I am walking away in my own light
I can’t do anything correct

But I might be wrong about that

Molly Sutton Kiefer


How has having children changed your writing life?

I’m fairly certainly there is a procrastination gene, and my sister and I inherited it from our mother. (Love you, Mom!) Oftentimes I’ll make myself these charming little lists of goals (see “TNB!!” at top of said list, complete with tipsy exclamation points) and then my son decides to nosedive off the stoop onto a concrete slab or my daughter has just spilled that juice she swore she wouldn’t spill and whoops, it happens to be all over the to-do list and you missed naptime.

I can’t procrastinate. Or rather, I don’t have a choice as to how my procrastination plays out. I’m staying at home while the littles are this little, which means I have these strange slivers of time and rare moments of quiet. I pump that time up with as much poetry-action as I can tolerate. When my daughter was a newborn, I’d write after a mid-night feeding, then crawl back into bed. Now, I find myself writing to the light of my cell phone, trying not to wake my husband or son (we co-sleep and the babe is still nursing), on the backs of old poems, transcribing them the next morning. It’s frantic, but somehow, a thousandfold more productive. I don’t have a choice—if I don’t let the surges occur in the strangest of times, they won’t happen at all. It’s highly productive because I can’t say, “Later.” Later will probably be scrubbing urine from the new carpet.

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Buttons of snow froth down. How committed are you
to this earth? On the way to the appointment, I do not see
the chameleon-car; I do not stop at the first sounds of metallic protest.
My car corners my mother’s, bullies it in the driveway.
Crumples and outwinks its light.

Black crows burst from my chest. A decade ago, her fury
would bring down the four corners of our house.
Before I confess, I almost ask for my daughter back,
to hold her in my arms before my mother can think to use her as a weapon.

joshua corey by joanna kramerAre you still a poet? Didn’t you just publish a novel?

Hey, thanks for asking about that. As a matter of fact I did publish my first novel this year: Beautiful Soul: An American Elegy is a kind of mash-up of the domestic drama, the historical novel (focusing on the student rebellions in May ’68 in Paris and also, indirectly, on the Holocaust), and the noir detective story. Laird Hunt said of it that “The push-pull between stunning language and inventive narrative is pure pleasure,” and the critic Daniel Green writes that the novel’s characters “live in language, and to that end the writing in Beautiful Soul, in its scrupulous attention to phrase and image in almost every sentence, could be called an attempt to bring the characters and their milieu to life through the vigor of the words on the page.” It’s available from Spuyten Duyvil Press and SPD and Amazon and it makes an interesting companion piece to The Barons, which is what we’re really here to talk about.

The Barons

By Joshua Corey

Poem

In the time of ever more rapid diffusion and dispersal of truly humanistic termini
The time of collective seizure of rapidly diminishing carbon cores
The time of the barons in their towers growing fatter unto death hooked up to
dizzying interconnected internet spirals of IVs sucking everybody’s placenta dry
Aka your milkshake aka my humps
In the time of dominoes laid from one end of the asylum to the other
The time of male whores who can’t catch a break
Time of the underground economies trading hot licks for rapid desertification
Time of distant thunder
Time of the perpetual el niño
Time of rain filling the abandoned moviehouse and everything picturesque and
prepared for the ancestors
Ancestor-life the only scale that matters now the scale of the illegible the illiterate the unread
Not just a hitler but many come-hitlers in the twilight bathrooms of the barons,
making their dicks look small
Being now of sound mind and sound body I, thirty-nine years of age brimming with half-spent undessicated nougat-rich mortality
Say unto thee children, Burn the motherfucker down

Remember when your eyes were the sky and the sea
blanketed in foam. We ask the clouds to remember.
My turned back is blind.

I sought my reflection in the cracked mountains, where faces appear in slated rock formations. I am wiped clean of wisdom. The land still believes. The rivers’ uneven tones and the brooks murmur, syncopate.

Remember the boats thirsty for the open sea, lamenting in fresh water. I remember
a time when my feet were on solid ground, arms lifted into the sky, trying
to take flight. Failing to remember, I am wingless.

some big thunder is stomping through the river
and i am listening
nobody else is listening the way i do
i drop you out of this house
drop you out the floor like a cartoon
i can be the man now and the woman
i can be the enemy to whom you say
don’t you know proper how to feel
i write all day and i say everything
i listen to the sky
and i say
everything
and nobody says much
i move real slow

This morning, a list of wounds to commit
to memory: contusion, abrasion, compound fracture.
There’s no irony in the lecturer’s voice, in her floral dress.

She says Let’s cut to the chase and shows a wrist
flayed open to bone. She doesn’t spare the shiny ligament
ribbons under the skin, the marble eyes of a lynched

clambake

By Christopher Mulrooney

Poem

all the little clams you dig there
dancing on the edge of the pit fall in then
pudding and pie the candlestick from the Met
while you turn up the great big underground switch
am I right over copy that because the whole muse thing
interests you as a rather lowdown carpet-seller’s commentary
on his wares from a legendary source in proverbial hills
you flog the stuff like any
there is all your art

KENDRA DE COLO horizontal

A lot of poems in your poetry collection Thieves in the Afterlife reference female desire and the body. Have you always written about sexuality?

The first writers I fell in love with were Pablo Neruda, Anais Nin, and Henry Miller. I remember reading Delta of Venus when I was 14 and wanting to write just like her. I was compelled, not necessarily by the content, but by the tough sensuality and unapologetic voice. She was my hero—probably the first model I had for bisexuality and writing outside of standard hetero/gendered love forms.

Starry-eyed and ravenous, we wait for it
to serenade us like a bullet singing to a wound.
Is this what you meant by romance? Me, scouring the remains
of my life over a pool of ketchup, thick as the spunk of creation
while the city blooms smoke, waiting to be swallowed?

The coyotes worked in teams, taking what they needed while the subdivisions slept and the moon and stars rattled around in the sky. It took two or three of them to carry a piece of lumber; they would clamp it in their jaws, stop every so often to rest and readjust. Other items were more trouble: slippery things like jars of nails, or heavier things, like the outboard motor they abandoned on the sidewalk after their backs nearly buckled under its weight. Still, the coyotes were mostly quick and effective thieves. They fanned out through the valley, careful not to hit the same neighborhoods over and over. The humans never knew what was happening. By the time the water rose and they were drowning in their homes, it was too late to do anything but stare as the coyotes floated past on their ark, saving no one.

If you want to see something striking —
the bits flying upward, dusting
the air with cyclones, perfectly conical,
particles gaining speed and imploding
on Demerol and smudged ink
like a star’s last wheeze
you don’t wait light-years
to receive — call something dead.

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So your new book Wet Reckless is broken into four parts. Can you explain what they are?

They are based pretty loosely on places I’ve lived. These are not really all the places I’ve ever lived and they are not really chronological but somehow it works to tell my story. The book is described as poetic memoir.

Went to jail today to get a rap sheet
through metal detectors and elevators out of a ’60s police show
found the right room down a long marbled hall
of plexiglass windows
people shuttling in and out of doors with numbers on them.