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Mark Bibbins
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I am moved by the deep physicality of this poem, its small but significant moments of transformation, in which the mundane is made resonant and weird. How do we love someone we’ve never met, yet is already a part of us? O’Rourke’s poem does not offer an easy answer to this question. —MB Poem for My Son You were of the earth, like a lentil. The taste of quince, a revulsion at meat. The others were like a dream that scores the body long after waking— But you were sour spit, a pinched pain in the right hip. There was nothing luminous about you, oh you made the smells of the city repellant. On the doctor’s screen, a black dot with a line through it, a blot, you grew slowly grey and white, then boned and legged and oblong and minded. I made you out of grapefruit and Rice Chex. —The others were made of longing.— Each time I saw you in the soundwaves was preparatory, not romantic; not like the wind but more like a river pushing against my legs, insisting on its presence. In thick socks I ate potato chips and congee, built you without trying, splaying my ribcage. Lugging my freight down the street, I thought about what I wanted for you— (love love and more love) but you were already you, not an outgrowth of my mind, just your own strange, remote, hardening body, moving toward arrival under surgical lights in sudden, open parenthesis— Meghan O'Rourke is the author of the poetry collections Sun in Days, Once, and Halflife. She is at work on a book about chronic illness. Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Best American Poetry
I love the way this poem captures the sad, sweet, isolated longing of adolescence. The tension created by the interplay of short lines and sneakily unruly syntax seems to mirror the experience of tentatively feeling one's way toward, eventually, hope. —MB When I Was Fifteen When I was fifteen I suddenly knew I would never understand geometry. Who was my teacher? That name is gone. I only remember the gray feeling in a classroom filled with vast theoretical distances. I can still see odd shapes drawn on the board, and those inscrutable formulas everyone was busily into their notebooks scribbling. I looked down at the Velcro straps of my entirely white shoes and knew inside me things had long ago gone terribly wrong and would continue to be. When the field hockey star broke her knee, I wrote a story for the school paper then brought her the history notes in the snow. She stood in the threshold, a whole firelit life of mysterious familial warmth glowing behind her, and took them from my hands like the blameless queen of elegant violence she was. Walking home encased in immense amounts of down I listened to the analog ghost in the machine pour from the cassette I had drawn flowers on. Into my ears it sang everything they told you makes you believe you are trapped in a snow globe forgotten in a dark closet where exhausted shadows argue what is sorrow cannot become joy, but I am here from the future to tell you you are not, all you must do is stay asleep a few more years great traveler waiting to go. Matthew Zapruder’s most recent book is Why Poetry (Ecco, 2017). His fifth collection of poetry, Father’s Day, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon in fall 2019. He is Associate Professor in the MFA program at Saint Mary’s College of California, and editor-at-large at Wave Books. Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
I'm very grateful to David Lehman and Stacey Harwood for the opportunity to feature poems from The Awl (RIP) here on the BAP blog. The Awl's poetry section had a great run—nine years!—and I'm delighted that we can share some of the poets' work with more readers. Up first is a poem by Nuar Alsadir. I love how it walks the line between imagery and abstraction, or rather, how it seems to declare that there is no line. And the exclamation point in the tenth couplet is one of the more complicated I've encountered. What does it want us to do? -- MB Morning when dark, is not that, morning, but more like rain: a sky of smog-stuck potatoes; frustration without eyes. The way I did nothing exhausted me: I fed the wall, ran water over my body until it swirled down the drain. On a determinable plane I am undetermined, on a moving train, unable to find a seat. The edge is what knows me, the face half-carved off, the gutter that gathers its objects like knives, without connection, here what is not there and vice versa. I lie. I have seven jars of lies: one for each day and the joy! of repetition. Weeks redouble and hold me still, anchors sprout from my feet, stand in for will. Desire is the lie I tell on Tuesday. I tell it with my socks off to be understood. The color of intent is the crispness of bread; whoever wants the heel comes last to the table. Nuar Alsadir is a poet and essayist. She is the author of the poetry collections Fourth Person Singular (2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Forward Prize for Best Collection; and More Shadow Than Bird (Salt Publishing, 2012). She works as a psychotherapist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York. Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Feb 7, 2019