Po-Chops

Derek Walcott: Origins

Derek Walcott: Origins

“Beetles lift the dead elephant into the jaws of the forest.”   This line from Derek Walcott’s poem “Origins” creates a powerful metaphor for the cycle of life and specifically the process of decay. The “jaws of the forest” are the mouthparts of the beetles. As they consume dead organic matter, such as an elephant carcass, the beetles reincorporate it […]

Gabrielle Calvocoressi: The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart

Gabrielle Calvocoressi: The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart

“Because it’s always like that. One day, walking through a room, you realize what you were holding is gone and you can’t find it, even when you get down on your knees.” These lines appear in part five of the ten part title sequence, which depicts the profound sense of loss and confusion widely experienced after Amelia Earhart’s disappearance. Each […]

Kathleen Graber: The Telephone

Kathleen Graber: The Telephone

  … once I fell in love with a beautiful voice passing through the wire. I remember the drop of it, a man talking about something he’d read, turning to a page with an audible rustle & breath, whispering, Listen. These are the lines that haunt. It’s not that the skin has no function, only that the tongue can play […]

Lidija Dimkovska: National Soul

Lidija Dimkovska: National Soul

And we look for the Macedonian soul among the number-plates on God’s East-West highway in cardboard boxes labeled ‘Do not open! Genes!’ loaded on the backs of the transparent dead. But one cannot rely on the dead. The dead are illegal immigrants, their swollen organs penetrating other peoples’ lands . . . Lidija Dimkovska’s collection of poems pH Neutral History (Copper […]

Eleni Sikelianos: Experiments with Minutes

Eleni Sikelianos: Experiments with Minutes

“a piece of radish spit into the sink with the toothpaste, its purple shred & white / flesh rattle around the mind, a bit of life”   These lines appear in the long sequence, “Experiments with Minutes,” from Eleni Sikelianos’ sixth book, Body Clock (Coffee House Press 2008). The lines radiate from the page because of their sound and existential […]

Philip Larkin: Poem XXVI from The North Ship

Philip Larkin: Poem XXVI from The North Ship

“This is the first thing / I have understood: / Time is the echo of an axe / Within a wood.”   In this poem, Philip Larkin appeals to the reader’s sense of sound and rhythm to craft an illustration of time that is simple, elegant, and chilling. Like the echoing axe, we don’t see time at work; yet it steadily and incessantly […]

Dimiter Kenarov: The Goat

Dimiter Kenarov: The Goat

“Milking her, I had to watch out for her dung. On occasion, lost in some metaphor, I wouldn’t notice how her anus opened like an eye and beads of obsidian rolled out from inside: large black tears in the warm milk. Bitter sugar. At first I was mad . . . .”   From Dimiter Kenarov’s, “The Goat,” these lines […]

Jane Hirshfield: Articulation: An Assay

Jane Hirshfield: Articulation: An Assay

“Yet the speaking tongue is supple, / untroubled by bone.”   Jane Hirshfield’s “Articulation: An Assay” addresses when articulation begins and how it occurs, in part by addressing the physical aspects of speech. The tongue, “untroubled by bone,” is able to flex and move to form sounds that become words. One doesn’t often think of bones as troublesome. In this […]

Adam Zagajewski: Fire, Fire

Adam Zagajewski: Fire, Fire

Fire, fire, eternal / fire of Heraclitus, a rapacious messenger, / a boy with a mouth stained by blackberries.   This excerpt closes Adam Zagajewski’s poem “Fire, Fire,” originally published in English translation in Tremor. The poem follows another poem entitled “Fire” which focuses on the destructive nature of flame. “Fire, Fire,” however, addresses the internal, metaphorical flame that drives innovation and […]

Jennifer Kronovet: I Talk to Another More Than Myself

Jennifer Kronovet: I Talk to Another More Than Myself

“I wield a dull knife / to my way of seeing: / the cloud-thoughts, not muscles, / feel the threat.”   Jennifer Kronovet’s poems from her prize-winning collection Awayward (Boa Editions, Ltd. 2009) are neatly carved sculptures, in which every single word exists for a reason—mainly to hone in on our somewhat strained relationship with language. Reading Kronovet’s collection is like […]

Olena Kalytiak Davis: An Imaginative Study in Degradation

Olena Kalytiak Davis: An Imaginative Study in Degradation

“The rest of the day is a slanted floorboard. The rest of the day is the color of absinthe. Note the personal and detached attitude. Note the application of arbitrary color. The tilted perspective. This poem is all surface. You may stand where you choose. This poem has no vanishing point.” Olena Kalytiak Davis’ poem “An Imaginative Study in Degradation” […]

G.C. Waldrep & John Gallaher: A Short History of Friendship

G.C. Waldrep & John Gallaher: A Short History of Friendship

“…what looked like / part of the performance / was often just a lightning bug, or a planet / a chip of mica in the road. We clapped anyway.” Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (Boa Editions, Ltd. 2011), a tremendous collection of collaborative poetry by G.C. Waldrep and John Gallaher, is electrified by lines such as these found […]