My wife and I are into season 3 of Victoria, the Masterpiece Theatre series that seems as long as the queen’s monarchial reign. It’s a slow-moving narrative in which a tea cup is picked up, put down. Then, for dramatic tension, the camera pans to a terrier that, on cue, lifts a hind leg to squirt on the carpet—a barbarous display in the palace household.
Winnie’s 350-square foot studio that she called home resembled a submarine, she liked to say to strangers, to offer them a quick image of what it was like to live in small spaces. A submarine was dark and hollow, challenged by gravity. Her apartment was on the top floor of a walk-up tenement building in downtown Manhattan, and got afternoon light. But at night she could squint and conjure the resemblance. Not that she’d ever set foot inside of a submarine.
The image evoked by the title, The Fire Lit & Nearing (Indolent Press, 2018) is both micro (a match flame inching towards your fingers), and macro (a forest fire jumping the fireline). It also summons the spark that lights up when we are about to fall in love. You know you can’t stop it; you know it will damage you; and there’s not a thing you can do about it. Like folks who rebuild on fire-prone land, this is not the first time you have been burnt and won’t be the last. So why? Perhaps it is so we can make art of it.
It is believed that the arrow that caused Ötzi the Iceman to bleed out on a mountain in the Alps had been used to kill two other people, probably by Ötzi himself since there’s murderous evidence on his knife as well, and I’m sure there’s a moral here or a handy metaphor, but what really fascinates me are his 61 tattoos. CT scans have shown he must have suffered physical pain, and the black line tattoos were an early form of acupuncture and meant to treat his ailments, ashes of old fires turned to ink that could draw his pain to the surface of his skin.
Waking from a troubled sleep, I turned / and asked my wife what time it was. / Who are you? she asked. Your husband, / I said. I eat grapefruit, repair the washer. / You’re not my husband, she said. Yes, / I am, I said. If you’re my husband, / then who prepares the coffee? I do, I said, / every morning. And the glass bottles:
And there you were, elegant and engaging, though not / with the people around you, more with the air of the room, / an intimacy between you that I sensed as I watched
She leaps up / Ready to answer / Ready to answer / In her session / We see many
The sonnet is inexhaustible. Magnetic, mesmerizing, bewitching, nearly every poet is drawn to the form at some point in their career, whether they long to write the perfect sonnet, the Shakespearean, Petrarchan or Spenserian, or they desire to break the form, queer it, manipulate it, celebrate its mutability; they want to discover what magic can happen within those fourteen lines.
THE EFFECTS OF ALBRECHT DÜRER’S ETCHING ‘JEROME IN THE WILDERNESS’ ON ACUTE RESIDENTIAL, BEHAVIORAL HEALTH EMPLOYMENT
I found an F. I was at my job, with this kid, a boy, when I stepped on it: a cube, bevel-edged small; a bead: F. Like a lion thing, a thorn. Ouch, I coulda said, woulda, but this boy was watching, and I was wearing my sneaker shoes, their like-Faith cushiony soles. And the boy, no saint, like martyring Jerome’s Lion, he stopped walking when I did. He watched me lift my left foot. The cube thorned into my sneaker’s cushiony sole, like Faith. The boy’s mom is dying, so I Lioned for him: Ha.
pull from the light three times daily / take in water all at once, then nothing all at once / despise the hands of children / upon the lids of the dead, weigh heavy
He had been fingering his sax mutely from behind the door. “No pretending you forgot something in the living room. No ‘Oh, I’m just coming out to get a glass of water.’” Lilly had gone through these provisions like a lawyer walking through a contract, even asking him to place hand over heart and swear. “But what’s all this?” he’d said, hurt. “Don’t you trust me?” “Not one bit,” she’d retorted. “I know you, Gaurav.”
I had never heard her utter the word “boob” before, let alone “boobies.” We were a missionary family, stopping to see relatives in Finland before moving permanently (terrifyingly) to the United States. I had known things would change when we left Kenya, but I hadn’t expected this. Boobies? Really, mom?
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