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it was not so much the warm wine
honey or maybe berry
or a gloved hand tucked into
pocket, jacket, or something or other
fire eaters, towers flaming orangey
it was a brick breaching
cracked and crackling, burgeon loaf of bread and head of people
if the bridge were to tumble
someone would find, much later, my black leather glove
or a plucked eye from bat or rat
it could even be from pigeon or raven
water swallows a fogged frog

croaking into the neck of a wine bottle

Fink Photograph

Why do you write poetry?

One reason I write poetry is that it is the truest artistic medium in which everything that compels my attention in the world can be included.  When you are writing a poem you are simultaneously a cinematographer, a drummer, a music conductor, a storyteller, a preacher, a lover, and an engineer (the list could go on).  These voices exist simultaneously in the mind as you are weighing and evaluating the relative merits of each word in a poem.  A poem welcomes an intensity of attention more so than any other art form I know.  What’s amazing about a poem is that all of these components are contrived from words.  Poems can be utterly unforgiving in the writing process because the materials are blameless.  In most other art forms, there is blame to go around—paint dries and hardens to a color you didn’t expect, a camera malfunctions and erases the film, the custodian accidentally turns off the heat to the kiln—but in poetry, any and every word is immediately and unfailingly available.  The pliability of language is both terrifying and thrilling.

The heat that simmered off the blacktop of the roads
and circled through my car (its windows down,

the air conditioner long broken) soaked my clothes
in sweat, my shirt so thin a strip four inches wide

revealed my spine as armpits dripped and swaths
released across my chest from neck to belly, pec to pec.

At work, I sat alone inside the walk-in freezer
as I waited for my shirt to dry, my body steaming

in a room so cold my skin felt like it tightened. Boxes full
of every cut of meat (from porterhouse to tenderloin)

surrounded me where I had spaced and stacked them
as a frigid throne. The freezer door was like a bank vault’s,

thicker than my chest. A knob some engineer designed
protruded from the inside of the door so that,

when pressed, the latch released (I often wondered
just how many men and women locked themselves

by accident into a freezer’s crypt before a knob
had been invented that would let them out).

NicelleDavisAuthorPhoto1

Who are you?

I don’t know. I’ve been reading Martin Buber trying to figure it out. I’ve also been trying to spend more time with real people instead of hiding out with imaginary creatures. I have a list of what I am—but who I am seems far away at the moment.

I think who is better experienced than understood—who exists in its relationship to others—it is the space between the players. Take the film Cat Dancers example, here is a girl, a boy, a cat—who they are seems to exist in the area of that triangle.  I like to watch such areas take shape.

At the moment I’m trying really hard to be more of a player than a voyeur—to experience more—to be more who than what, but this is difficult.

Reborn for exposure, my body’s been redesigned for uncensored
feeling: a sneeze or hiccup comes as a sheet of ice or a bed on fire.

Eyes inverted, the optic nerves reach like roots beyond me. I under-
stand the unseen scars of invisible knives—those rodents’ teeth,

those crows’ bills; natural insertions. The red of it is raw; the surface
glistens like sap gnawed out from trees—wounds that outshine even

the sun— these wet lights are my earthbound constellations. What is
left of me, my son walks next to on his way to school. He tells me he’s

learned, Where rain and babies come from; he says, It’s all the same,
really. Inside. Outside. He doesn’t notice any difference. He says,

Race ya, and we run into a storm of babies—falling. Life absorbs
quickly as water into earth and all is an unstaged show of growth.

We will die, Mom, he says, But like star-matter we’ll regenerate. Why
do you think that is? I ask him. So we can find the joy in it, he tells me.

Our story will happen again.

I mistook my father for a sewer rat once, his tail
dragging behind, plump and serpentine.

I followed the S’s onto our yellowed half-acre,
stopped at the sound of hens; the flocks in the

tallest branches, alive with a foliage of wings.

This is where she and I pushed our pants to our ankles
and peed, heard God’s voice roar—What the hell?

Or maybe that was my father—we didn’t turn around to see,
scrabbling through the thistle, as we were, on our knees.

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When you write erotic poems which hand do you use? 

The dominant hand, of course!

 

Currently, what is your favorite word?

Ankle.

 

Who do you listen to when you write?

Glenn Gould’s Bach’s Goldberg Variations. Dexter Gordon’s Round Midnight. Anything Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Chet Baker, Billie Holliday, Booker Little. Or the dear sound of my husband’s breathing.

1. My father hated him.
2. So his best friend, J.R., picked me up. Shook my daddy’s hand at the door.
    Promised me back by midnight.
3. Daddy thought I was obedient, a good girl.
4. It was hot, even for August.
5. J.R.’s parents were in Vegas, so he loaned us their bedroom.
    5a) They had a king-sized bed.
6. Diana Ross and the Supremes were singing Baby Love.
7. J.R. watched cartoons in the den.

Blue house dropped out of the sky
Sculpture of a giant fish jumping from snow

There’s a lake at the top of the mountain that’s all light

Golden angel sitting on a mailbox, legs crossed
So what if the wind of prophecy’s long blown away?

How many mountains will God hang over our heads
               before we can read the Torah of sky?

Lunar

By Molly Dickinson

Poem

Some tunnels are dark even though they are known. Like: how to choose my lunchtime apple. Like: which direction to run. And time is contracting in a way you didn’t warn me of. I’d be upset, but my body pieces are communing in ways you also didn’t warn of. I commune my eyes with my tongue, ears with my fingers. Flexing paths I did not know filled this body. One morning I find that my toes are conversing with my knees. They take me running in another direction and I find these things: goats that bleat, a worm filled fig, lupine-lady on her bicycle. Tonight, you told me to watch the red clay moon. So I’ve arranged my legs under my body and watch with my eyes closed. So under the wind my skin is shifting wisteria petals. So I soften against the ground, under your red clay moon. So I’m bare pieces: a gathering on my lawn, spread before this house. And I understand that I’m becoming reckless with my body in ways you’d scold me for. But I have changed the frequency of my ears and I can only hear the red clay moon.

BOYFRENZ

Is everything okay?

KS: Not really, but also yes. The entire state of Arizona (population seven million) survives only by diverting water from the Colorado River, though the views from the mountains there are unquestionably spiritual. Portland, Oregon (my home) is now the fastest-gentrifying city in the United States, & while myself & many others are actively being priced out of our neighborhoods, there are more job opportunities in the city now than there have been in years. What I’m saying is, many things on this beautiful earth are completely fucked & vice-versa. Our own personal tragedies are (ugh) so tragic, but from them we learn & grow exponentially into bigger, smarter people. I have to believe we are improving, & that we will continue to improve, because otherwise I’d have to believe that everything just kinda sucks. I’m not sure I could make art in a world that just kinda sucks.

TB: Honestly, I’m feeling pretty nervous about this false (?) spring we’re having. It’s late February in Portland, Oregon, & so uncharacteristically sunny & warm that everything’s blooming. There are crocuses (notoriously hardy, I know, but still: February) & daffodils all over, & the flowering trees whose names I don’t memorize are flowering. It bothers me that I can’t remember the names of more kinds of trees, & it bothers me that the trees have started the show so early. Can it last? Are all of the birds even back? Shouldn’t we be shitty until, like, late March? But even more horrifying than a cold snap is the thought that the plants actually know best, because it’s likely they really do, & this is what seasons are like here in already irreversibly fucked 2015, it’s going to keep getting hotter & hotter until we’re trying to go the river one day & realize we’re all just a pile of cinders. Also I’ve never, ever been happier to be alive. Everything (& everyone) looks devastatingly touchable, & the smells are even softer.

Those days I walked around the water
with no good way to describe it, but knowing
that nothing majestic simply flows
Native tribes replenished the west coast with media
when the animals left for good
& then everything was a pet
or a pet’s story
I was hungover constantly
Aching & enthusiastic
& I felt that very specific loneliness
of having no good parka
in a city where practical knowledge
flowers toward you like a fruit
& asks you to participate in its gift

I’d never seen that mountain as clear as I saw it today
Picking a house to buy, then buying it
Stacks of linens showing off
Three candles on the bathroom floor

If I lived in Seattle I’d be in love right now

Maybe I need to drop something into the lake

Years of walk made the path go here and here and not there
The mattresses and tents beside it

What kind of a bird—
oh. A human bird

Radar

By Jessica Popeski

Poem

Pin straight prairie,
branch veins drumming
egg-smooth sky,
frost muscling into the earth.
Here, where pop is on special,
lettuce, diapers, extortionate.
Where little ones run,
barn cat wild,
bare gummed and bare footed,
sparrow legged,
elbow and knee joints jutting
like knots on a tree.
Where hunger balloons bellies,
carnation milk warms porridge,
on lucky days,
in homes where
mildew flowers wallpaper.

To have survived a life of gentle skirt-lifting is to never experience overexposure.

To retain a place in this world is to burnish split cherries until the red glosses with spit.

To people who gender the unborn what about the lotus is tagged with murder or crisp bows.

To engineer a clear sky some nations swallow clouds and suffer spiked rain.

To be tongued a floor has to retain its modesty beneath serrated lines.

To unease into a spread always keep the kneecaps ready for a feast at a moment’s notice.

To collect hate colonialize first a chorus of white-bellied weeping.

To colonialize is to imbue tenderness into that which has been extirpated by force.

To force enlargement onto the relation between girlhood & fortune

a whole generation must lose.