Category Archives: Poetry Month 2012

what the eyelash means

By Catie Rosemurgy, whose book of poems, The Stranger Manual, is strange and its effects gradual:

The Wondering Class


I think the stomach means we cannot love one another properly.

I think the stomach is our one true eye.

I think the stomach is an ingredient.

I think the fingers mean we are too small inside one another.

I think the fingers mean our roots became bone and we lurched away with a new agenda.

I think the eyelash means we can float to the ground like snow.

I think the eyelash means we must not appear burned.

Some of us have been burned, but that is not what the eyelash means.

It is unprepared for. It is the other side of the world.

The other side of the world is intricate with the lace of forests.

The other side of the world is a euphemism for disease.

I think disease means the cells have rearranged to mirror something fast and jagged approaching from the sky.

I think disease means full expression.

I think disease means the river truly was as golden as it seemed.



from Diagram 4

Edited by Ander Monson of

April is Poetry Month. We’re celebrating here with a poem a day, by giving out poems like candy when you visit us, and discounting all poetry books by 10%. Because reading poetry is a fairly acceptable form of social deviance. And we’re all about that.

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wait and know the coming

The poem:

At a Window
by Carl Sandburg

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

The poet:

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now that the ocean is gone

Untitled [The child thought it strange]

The child thought it strange to define words with other words. What did you draw? The man thought he was looking at a purple oval with a touch of yellow. I drew that, the child answered ecstatically, feeling the paper with his finger. The frost is a little behind the shadows. A slash of tree trunk and the L of the roof. We hate a work of art that finds designs inside us, better to lie in the fog of melting snow and see the lake that remains and the person who has left, the ones we would rather not see but do in this reduction. What I loved about the little box full of hair elastics and bobby pins was my own wonder at the little squares of wood, 6 to a side, each of which had its own cross-section of branch, as if it had found something that could be wholly repeated when dispersed. The child, between the toilet and the window, liked the way it opened and spilled the many-colored elastics. An after-image of the monks spot-welding an iron fence in orange robes at night while we drove past fell apart in the nest of elastics, blue and orange among them. The ruins of December are full of people. Feeling is lost. The melted lake, re-frozen, clear as a picture plane in the public park, drags in its current a bit of duckweed torn at the root, bright-green, but it stops when the skater does and reveals its stasis. Further out, a void that can be seen clearly through this fiction starts the world in orbit around involuted space. Participation is voluntary as the wind pushes a glove and a cry faster through the deeps of sky and cloud than the ear and hand that released them. Now that the ocean is gone I am sail and ship, but the embargo on motion means he can only be thrown away, the hour you were queen. Go to work we tell the child. Go to work, go to work, go to work.


by Richard Meier
from Shelley Gave Jane a Guitar

April is Poetry Month. We’re celebrating here with a poem a day, by giving out poems like candy when you visit us, and discounting all poetry books by 10%. Because reading poetry is a fairly acceptable form of social deviance. And we’re all about that.

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not endorsing it


Space, in chains
Things that are beautiful, and die. Things that fall asleep in the afternoon, in
sun. Things that laugh, then cover their mouths, ashamed of their teeth. A
strong man pouring coffee into a cup. His hands shake, it spills. His wife falls
to her knees when the telephone rings. Hello? Goddammit, hello?

Where is their child?

Hamster, tulips, love, gigantic squid. To live. I’m not endorsing it.

Any single, transcriptional event. The chromosomes of the roses. Flagella,
cilia, all the filaments of touching, of feeling, of running your little hand
hopelessly along the brick.

Sky, stamped into flesh, bending over the sink to drink the tour de force of

It’s all space, in chains– the chaos of birdsong after a rainstorm, the steam
rising off the asphalt, a small boy in boots opening the back door, stepping
out, and someone calling to him from the kitchen,

Sweetie, don’t be gone too long.

by Laura Kasischke, winner of 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award

from Space, in Chains


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how’s your taste these days?

During the entire month of April we’ll be stuffing poetry down throats and into hands and pockets, giving away sealed-up poems like fortunes, discounting our entire Poetry section by 10%, and going around singing sonnets set to the tune of “Volare”. You’ll see — there’ll be something in all of this that’ll make your toes sing.

I Have Not Loved Enough

I’ve never been in love enough
with chairs.
I’ve always turned
my back on them.
I can’t tell this from that
or hold one in the mind’s eye long enough.
The ones at home I clean
with a glance
in seconds flat.
It takes effort now
to visualize
the chairs I sat on as a kid,
ordinary chairs of wood
belonging to our dining room
which, once we gave the place a face-lift,
were demoted to the kitchen.
The most ordinary
of ordinary chairs.
Yet we never understand
the real
simplicity of chairs.
We can strip down
the humblest of chairs,
cut away for good an angle here,
the curving edges there,
but never grasp the chairness
of chairs.
I’ve never been in love enough
with anything
to realize that it takes
assiduous lingering,
not snatching things up on the wing.
I let the moment disappear
and get no thrill from it.
I disappear myself. It’s only when
submerged in things
I exist. And if I make the effort
now, it’s wasted,
for truth is blunted
to banality.
I’ve fooled around with far too many things
to really see them,
dismissed too many things as ornaments.
Now when I let simplicity
seduce  me,
a passion for profundity
has spoiled my taste.

by Fabio Morabito
translated by Geoff Hargreaves
anthologized in The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry

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assuming there is such a thing


Today is the first day of April. Many things are celebrated on this day. Here at Portrait, we’re celebrating poetry. See you back here tomorrow with more. And that’s no lie.

The Secret

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me
(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even
what line it was.  No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,
the line, the name of
the poem.  I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,
and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that
a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other
in other
happenings.  And for
wanting to know it,
assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.

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