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Poetry from Carl Phillips | NER 35.3

Categories: Poetry

Parable | Carl Phillips

 

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There was a saint once,
he had but to ring across
water a small bell, all

manner of fish
rose, as answer, he was
that holy, persuasive,

both, or the fish
perhaps merely
hungry, their bodies

a-shimmer with
that hope especially that
hunger brings, whatever

the reason, the fish
coming unassigned, in
schools coming

into the saint’s hand and,
instead of getting,
becoming food.

I have thought, since, of
your body—as I first came
to know it, how it still

can be, with mine,
sometimes. I think on
that immediate and last gesture

of the fish leaving water
for flesh, for guarantee
they will die, and I cannot

rest on what to call it.
Not generosity, or
a blindness, trust, brute

stupidity. Not the soul
distracted from its natural
prayer, which is attention,

for in the story they are
paying attention. They
lose themselves eyes open.

 (1998, Volume 19.3)

[view as PDF]  

Carl Phillips’s thirteenth book of poems, Reconnaissance, will be out from FSG in 2015. In 2014, Graywolf published his book of prose, The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination.

NER Classics | Northern Insomnia | Mark Jarman

Categories: NER Classics, Poetry

Mark Jarman’s poem “Northern Insomnia” appeared in NER 13.3-4:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loch_Leven_%28Highlands%29#mediaviewer/File:Loch_Leven.jpg

Passing out of the rain into dull cloudlight,
Through
heather, a field of sleep, and rock,
Into the discovery of water
And with it the recognition of wind.

Dark water, water showing,
In a basin cut lengthwise below a hill,
Nothing of the sky, a sheepish gray,
Nothing of the eye’s desire for rest…

[read more]

New from Marcelo Hernandez Castillo in NER 35.2

Categories: Poetry

Pulling the Moon | Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

 

 

I’ve never.
I’ve never made love.
I’ve never made love to a man.
I’ve never made love to a man but I imagine.
I imagine pulling the moon.
Pulling the moon out of his brow.
I imagine pulling 
the moon out of his brow and eating it again.

[read more]

New from April Ossmann in NER 35.2

Categories: Poetry

When Your People Call My People to Arrange a Meeting | April Ossmann

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Know that lately,
I am giving myself
to sleep as I once
gave myself in love,
my body flung eagerly
into bed; limbs limp and heavy
with pleasure; the bedclothes
on waking arranged exactly
as I entered them.
I am in love now
with rest, with release
from the tireless ego—

[read more]

New from William Fargason in the New NER—Vol. 35, No.1

Categories: Poetry

Aquarium | William Fargason


You want to keep feeding the fish
inside you, but you keep

eating the fish because you’re hungry.
This is not the way it should go.

No one said you would not be hungry.
You knew the dimensions of the aquarium

inside you, knew it was inside you.
She who fogged the glass didn’t know

that you’d eaten the fish, but you did and do.
You hear the aquarium inside your chest

crack, and before you know it, the carpet
is soaked with bleached coral,

plastic kelp, and multi-colored gravel.
This is not the way it should go.

This is not how anyone should go under—
the water that you contained now contains you.

Read the PDF

New from Kelli Russell Agodon in the New NER—Vol. 35, No.1

Categories: Poetry

Braided Between the Broken | Kelli Russell Agodon

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This morning apologies were falling
from the trees and the apples
were being ignored.
 
There’s a chapter in our lives
where I tried to shred pages,
where I tried to rewrite the tale.
Let’s call that chapter, The Numbness,
or The Boredom, or the place where we forgot
we were alive.
 
That morning I woke up and wandered outside
onto the backtrail,
past the No Trespassing sign into the arms
of an evergreen or a black bear. It didn’t matter
who held me then; I was moss, the lichen,
the mushroom growing on the fallen log. [Read more]

NER CLASSICS | Sadness | Aliki Barnstone

Categories: NER Classics, Poetry

 

Aliki Barnstone’s poem, “Sadness,” appeared in NER 21.2:

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Rilke says sadness is the moment the future enters us
By surprise and pushes us into the unknown
The handsome bartender says,”Your drinks are on me”
—And leans across the counter—”What’ll it be?”
Alcohol is heat in my ears as I catch my reflection
In the mirror, happy flirting without forethought.
But days later alone the question comes back:
What will it be?
                           and I remember moments with you
When time raced quickly around us like a romping young dog
And we were amused. Today time reminds me of the hound
Knowingly guarding the underworld. Sadness slips in,
Doesn’t it? even in the gentle pleasures of the body
Which pass too and remind us of loss. 

[read more]

 

“When It Is Over It Will Be Over” | Paisley Rekdal

Categories: Poetry

A first look at NER Vol. 34 Nos. 3–4

after a pen and ink drawing by Troy Passey
of a line by Edna St. Vincent Millay

passey detail

troypassey.com

Hurricane of what must be
only feeling, this painting’s 
sentence circling to black

on blank, ever-
tightening spiral
of words collapsing

to their true gesture: meaning
what we read
when not reading,

as the canvas buckles
in the damp: freckled
like the someone

I once left sleeping
in a hotel room to swim
the coast’s cold shoals, fine veils

of sand kicked up by waves where
I found myself enclosed
in light: sudden: bright

[Read more]

Okaloosa | Derrick Austin

Categories: Poetry

From NER Vol. 34 Nos. 3–4

heron-detail

I like the heron best
because it has no song,
flying over the water, its mating
cry mournful, aggressive, and internal.
Seaweed and creamy foam
float on the tide’s restless lapping,
licking my feet like a lost dog.
I am no master.
The Gulf collects its own scraps:
rows of hotels
hollowed out and plastered
ochre by sunsets, knocked down by Ivan
or Dennis—you lose track
after so many seasons.
Mist hangs over shoddy condos.
Beachcombers scan the quartz burrows
of ghost shrimp. A drunken couple
stumbles somewhere. Before they were expelled
Choctaw called this place Okalusa,
“dark water.” 

[Read more]

Ignatevsky Forest | Arseny Tarkovsky

Categories: Poetry

From the current issue, NER 34.3–4
Translated from the Russian by 
Philip Metres and Dimitri Psurtsev
Read the PDF

http://www.kenmusgrave.com/Content/images/forest_fire_small.jpg

The last leaves burn in self-immolation
And rise to sky. The whole forest here
Lives and breathes the same irritation
We lived and breathed in our last year.

In tear-blurred eyes the path is a mirror
As the gloomy floodplain mirrors the shrubs.
Don’t fuss, do not disturb, don’t touch
Or threaten the forest’s quiet by the river.

The old life breathes here. Listen:
In damp grass, slimy mushrooms appear.
Though slugs gnaw their way to the core,
A damp itch still tingles the skin.

You’ve known how love is like a threat—
“When I come back, you’ll wish you were dead.”
The sky shivers in reply, holds a maple like a rose.
Let it burn hotter—till it almost reaches our eyes.

1935