Lucia Perillo

Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones

Poetry from NER 36.3

It starts with a dead animal: whenever she finds one
when walking the dogs up in the hills,
Jane puts the carcass in a cage on the roof
in order to bring up the bone-curls and -fractals.
Otherwise she’d have to dig
slantwise through the manglement, it’s best
to leave that to the professionals, the sun
and the maggots, the distant star and the grub inside, it’s best
to put on some music. Best not to listen
for any decibels of little mandibles.

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Lucia Perillo’s new book, Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press.

Alex Dimitrov


Poetry from NER 36.3

Lucky or not, we were riding in cars through the seasons.
I read you Baudelaire. I have more memories than a thousand years.
And the skin began to look like a puzzle
despite lighting or pleasures.
Columbus Circle at midnight.
Turn around and remind me how late in these photos
you look like an Andrew or prince.
There is fog by the bed and house weather I live in.
Then by dawn I’m a fold in the fabric’s small show.
Believe me, he said, every hand finds the right door without keys.


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Alex Dimitrov is the author of Begging for It (Four Way Books, 2013). A second collection of poems is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press. He lives in New York.

New Poetry from Joshua Bennett | NER 36.2

The Sobbing School |
Joshua Bennett

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is where I learned to brandish the black like a club,
you know, like a blunt object, or cobalt flashes of strobe
dotting damp walls after dusk drops the dark motion
our modern world can’t hold. There’s a process
by which bodies blend in, or don’t, or die, or roll on
past the siren’s glow so as not to subpoena the grave.
Mama never said surviving this flesh was a kind
of perverse science, but I’ve seen the tape,
felt the metal close & lock around my wrists, bone
bisected by chokehold. A crow turns crimson
against the windshield & who would dare mourn
such clean transition, the hazard of not knowing you
are the wrong kind of alive. But enough
about extinction. Entire towns mad with grief, whole
modes of dreaming gone the way of life before lyric,
all faded into amber & archive, all dead as the VCR,
all buried below the surface where nothing breaks, bleeds.

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Joshua Bennett is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at Princeton University and has received fellowships from the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, the Center for the Study of Social Difference at Columbia University, and the Ford Foundation. He is winner of the 2014 Lucille Clifton and the 2015 Erskine J. Poetry Prizes. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Anti-, Blackbird, Callaloo, Obsidian, Smartish Pace, and elsewhere. Bennett is the founding editor of Kinfolks: a journal of black expression.

Image by Stephanie Maniaci Vernon, from Poiesis

New Poetry from Ocean Vuong | NER 36.1

To My Father / To My Unborn Son | Ocean Vuong

“The stars are not hereditary.”—Emily Dickinson

There was a door & then a door
surrounded by a forest.
Look, my eyes are not
your eyes.
You move through me like rain heard
from another country.
Yes, you have a country.
Someday, they will find it
while searching for lost ships . . .
Once, I fell in love
during a slow-motion car crash.
We looked so peaceful, the cigarette floating from his lips
as our heads whip-lashed back
into the dream & all
was forgiven.

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Ocean Vuong is the author of Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon Press, 2016). A 2014 Ruth Lilly fellow, he has received honors from Kundiman, Poets House, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, and the Academy of American Poets, as well as a 2014 Pushcart Prize. His poems appear in the New Yorker, Poetry, the Nation, Boston Review, Best New Poets 2014, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the 2012 Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. He lives in Queens, New York.

New Poetry from Emilia Phillips | NER 36.1

Supine Body in Full-Length Mirror, Hotel Room, Upper West Side | Emilia Phillips

“All is seen.”—Dante’s Virgil, Inferno, Canto XXXIV

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What startles first is that it’s there.
After long hours in the car
when thought seemed
seamless with forward
motion, & the body,
a home you left that morning—
& now it’s naked & unyielding,
a narrative,
if you’ll have it
that the scars know more
about your past
than you choose to remember—

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Emilia Phillips is the author of two collections of poetry, Signaletics (2013) and Groundspeed (forthcoming), both from the University of Akron Press, and three chapbooks. Her poetry appears in Agni, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, Kenyon Review, Poetry, and elsewhere. She’s the recipient of fellowships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, US Poets in Mexico, and Vermont Studio Center; the 2012 Poetry Prize from the Journal; and the 2013–2014 Emerging Writer Lectureship from Gettysburg College. She serves as a staff member of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and as a prose editor of 32 Poems. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.

New Poetry from Ela Harrison in NER 35.4

Lithium | Ela Harrison

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third element of the Periodic Table; adjectival derivative of Greek lithos (rock); “made of rock”

Sisyphus with his tumblr_ngotb0IzPM1sfie3io1_1280rock knows
about same. Same rock. Same
journey forcing him into
same self. And now I too
have my daily rock
pushing me up against
a samer self.

What did you lose, Sisyphus?

Myself, I first lost the sense
of myself as lit fuse
stepping on detonators;
my old nickname, “Volcano.”

You lost far more than the yen
to rustle cattle. I’m sure of it.

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Ela Harrison is a scholar of classical languages and literatures, and of linguistics and philology, as well as being a translator and editor, writer and researcher. Her writing has appeared in Cirque Journal and F Magazine, and her poem “Legion” was runner-up in the Fairbanks Arts Association’s 2012 poetry competition.

New Poetry from Richard Siken in NER 35.4

Still Life with Skulls and Bacon | Richard Siken

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A thing and a thing and a thing held still—Steve Richey
you have to hold something still to find the other
things. This is speculation. You will die in your
sleep and leave everything unfinished. This is
also speculation. I had obligations: hope, but hope
negates the experience. I owe myself nothing.
I cut off my head and threw it on the ground.
I walked away. This is how we measure, walking
away. We carve up the world into feet and minutes,
to know how far from home, how many hogs
in the yard. My head just sat there. Fair enough.

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Richard Siken’s poetry collection Crush (Yale University Press, 2005) won the 2004 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize, a Lambda Literary Award, and the Thom Gunn Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He is a recipient of a Pushcart Prize, two Arizona Commission on the Arts grants, two Lannan Residencies, and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. His second poetry collection, War of the Foxes, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2015.

Poetry from Brigit Pegeen Kelly in NER 35.3

The Dragon | Brigit Pegeen Kelly

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The bees came out of the junipers, two small swarms
The size of melons; and golden, too, like melons,
They hung next to each other, at the height of a deer’s breast
Above the wet black compost. And because
The light was very bright it was hard to see them,
And harder still to see what hung between them.

[


Poetry from Carl Phillips | NER 35.3

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)

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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.