Jan 26 2009

Poem of the Week, Jan. 26 – Feb. 1


          ~Franz Wright, God’s Silence (Knopf, 2006)



I’ve just started reading the work of Franz Wright, and I’m thoroughly convinced we share some kindred synaptic misfire.  He doesn’t help me to get to the page, but there’s no one else I’d prefer to read at this moment.



Jan 25 2009

Featured Poet: January 2009 Vol. 1 #3

Jason Lee Brown



Jason Lee Brown teaches writing at Eastern Illinois University.  His work has appeared in The Journal, Natural Bridge, Spoon River Poetry Review, Post Road, Tar River Poetry, Ecotone and others.  He has been nominated for Pushcart Prizes in fiction and poetry and received honors from the Academy of American Poets and the Playboy College Fiction Contest.  He was a 2008 RopeWalk Writers Retreat scholarship recipient in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.





The Embittered Muse



Because.  My name was never sung by anyone

and was forgotten, that’s why no one knows me.


So, no, I’m not Mneme or Aoede or Melete.

And, okay, I didn’t worship at Mt. Helicon or Delphi


and I’m definitely not one of the Greeks’ nine.

Yes, I do know Plato identified Sappho of Lesbos


as the Tenth Muse.  Fine, I’ll be the Eleventh.

My gift allows artists to obsess over their crafts


without reference to passing time.  But for what?

Where’s my libations, my academic ink no one reads?


Nowhere, unless I manipulate the fabric both ways,

like when I bend time to slow the ten minutes


before work ends, or when your alarm clock’s

ten-minute snooze elapses faster than a thought


about how summers since childhood have quickened

each year, each season the next, then disappearing.


          ~originally appeared in Pearl (nominated for a Pushcart Prize)


Why Mr. President Loves Soap Bubbles


“They [the iridescent colors of soap bubbles]

are not the same as rainbow colors

but are the same as the colors in an oil slick.”

- Wikipedia



It’s not for the science. The Decider

has no time

               for complex thoughts

of mathematical properties, his hazel eyes

twitching side to side (as if failing

a sobriety test) at the thin, filmed sphere

of soap water

          floating aimlessly

as the first thirty-five years of his life.


It’s not for the scepter,

         a plastic yellow wand

he unsheathes from the clear solution,

his thin lips pursed, blowing, O,

as if in the middle of saying the word hope,


but it’s for this:

  he loves the anticipation

of the pop! that ends it all

       when he cups

the miniature iridescent earth in his palm

and bites down,

  giggling as the solution

bursts on his tongue, leaving nothing

but the bitter aftertaste of dispensation.


          ~originally appeared in Natural Bridge



My Older Brother, June Bug


roots with the hogs in the field’s shallow burrows

and picks through the thick lawns and meadows

with the shrews and crows for those fat white grubs

with the brown heads that feed on the roots of weeds,

and he collects the bait until he finds a fishing pole

to borrow, though he rarely catches anything but a buzz.


Illinois June bugs usually land in July, but my brother

shows up whenever he needs a night or three of sleep,

basement hibernation, he always says, his head hunting

for the musty yellow cushions of the couch to burrow

his face from the rest of the world. He curls up, arms

around knees, underneath his leather coat, a brown shell


that never hardened, even when the slick black belt

blurred like a corner-of-the-eye shadow, the silver buckle

flickering the fluorescent light above our father’s head,

my brother purposely acting up, attracting the brunt

of the licks for our blue jeans with mud-stained knees,

live grubs in plastic cups, one dead crappie on a string.


          ~originally appeared in Post Road

Jan 19 2009

Poem of the Week, Jan. 19-25


          ~Terrance Hayes, Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006)


I admire his ability to incorporate very different styles (not mutually exclusive) into a single body of work.  It’s something that I’ve tried to do in my own humble patchworking.  Wind in a Box is a wonderful read.



Jan 12 2009

Poem of the Week, Jan. 12-18


            ~Kevin Prufer, The Finger Bone (Carnegie Mellon, 2002)


This poem is purely American.  It reaffirms my belief that the American poetic landscape provides unique and beautiful particulars (with 400 horsepower and a stick shift) for the universals to rub up against.



Jan 6 2009

Poem of the Week, Jan. 5-11


~ Frederick Seidel, Ooga Booga (Farrar, Straus, Giroux 2006)




Seidel is wildly imaginative, and he makes the difficult leaps without leaving the reader behind.  The book was a wonderful read.