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Month: January 2016

Poem of the Day: Sylvia Plath




Arranged in sheets of ice, the fond
        skeleton still craves to have
fever from the world behind.

Hands reach back to relics of
        nippled moons, extinct and cold,
frozen in designs of love.

At twelve, each skull is aureoled
        with recollection’s ticking thorns
winding up the raveled mold.

Needles nag like unicorns,
        assault a sleeping virgin’s shroud
till her stubborn body burns.

Lured by brigands in the blood,
        shanks of bone now resurrect,
inveigled to forsake the sod.

Eloping from their slabs, abstract
        couples court by milk of moon:
sheer silver blurs their phantom act.

Luminous, the town of stone
        anticipates the warning sound
of cockcrow crying up the dawn.

With kiss of cinders, ghosts descend,
compelled to deadlock underground.


—from Sylvia Plath’s The Collected Poems, Foreword by Ted Hughes, Harper Perennial (1981)




Poem of the Day: Jamaal May



                —Fear of Snow


Fluttering ash dissolves on your brother’s tongue.
He thinks of you building a fort from snow

before you knew what forts were
and he could stand in your footprints

without touching the sides.
Can two snowflakes be the same

on a ghost-white street where enough gather
to construct faceless snowmen? In this desert,

sand blinds the way snow did back home.
Your brother patches holes

in men with names he can’t or won’t learn,
and wonders if, somehow, you are still here,

using an earthmover to pour sand
into foxholes. Do you still hear soldiers claw

at the shifting weight of their fresh graves,
or are there only silent arms and legs

in your dreams, bent like strange flowers?
Is the sun a flash grenade? This heat

is so heavy the fruit stands buckle and ripple
like mirages, but your brother shivers

remembering your mother’s shiver,
the way she sank to the ground, heavy

with news, and your body comes home again.
Your bone-colored casket repeats

its descent, sinks under the flag, and a thud
resounds. Fades. He still hears it.

The rub of your snow pants, the fallout
of snowball fights, every ice-ball slapping

garage, snowflakes dragged in circles
by wind, until they blur like a sandstorm—

he hears it all. Deafening like footfalls
against the icy driveway, resonant

like your mother’s voice, calling
the wrong name—your name—again.


—from Jamaal May’s Hum, Alice James Books (2013)




Poem of the Day: C.D. Wright




Where the old trees reign with their forward dark
light stares through a hole in the body’s long
house. The bed rolls away from the body,
and the body is forced to find a chair. At some hour
the body sequesters itself in a shuttered room
with no clock. When a clean sheet of paper floats by,
the head inclines on its axis. It is one of those
common bodies that felt it could not exist without loving,
but has in fact gone on and on without love.
Like a cave that has stopped growing, we don’t call it dead,
but dormant. Now the body is on all fours, one arm
engaged in pulling hair from a trap, an activity
the body loathes. When the time comes, the body
feeds on marinated meats and fruits trained to be luscious.
Once the body had ambitions—to be tall and remain
soft. No more, but it enjoys rappelling to the water.
Because the body’s dwelling is stone, perched over water,
we say the body is privileged. Akin to characters
in Lawrence books, its livelihood is obscured. It owns
a horse named Campaign it mounts on foggy morns.
That was the body’s first lie. It has no horse
and wouldn’t climb on one. Because the body lives
so far from others, it likes reading about checkered lives
on the metrópoli. It likes moving around at night under its dress.
When it travels, bottles of lotion open in its bags.
Early in March the big rains came—washing all good thoughts
from the body’s cracks and chinks. By now the body admits
it is getting on, and yet, continues to be tormented
by things being the way they are. Recently the body took
one of the old trees for a wife, but the union has broken down.
The light has bored out of the body’s long house.
Fog envelops its stone flanks. Still the body
enjoys rappelling to the water. And it likes the twenty four-hour stores,
walking up and down the aisles, not putting a thing in its basket.




Two Poems up at Birds Piled Loosely Today!


Hi all! Just in case you haven’t heard elsewhere, my poems, “You Fill another Page” and “Gunshots and Fireworks are Sort of the Same in the End.” are both up at Birds Piled Loosely today!

Dear Editors, thank you so much for this recognition and giving these poems a home; I am so happy to be a part of this issue… Here’s to many, many more!

And readers! Please take a little break and sit back to read this issue; I’m sure you’ll love it. And thank you so much for reading my poems!

Until Later ~ Best, from Me.




Poem of the Day: Larry Levis




Because you haven’t praised anything in months,
You walk down to the river and study one ripple
Above a dead tree
Until it is almost dark enough
For the moon to whiten it,
But it does not,
And so you put your hand out,
Palm open,
And then you feel, or you begin to feel,
A thin line of ants hesitate
Before running over it,
And you think how
The thread of worry running through a human voice
Halts when a syllable freezes, then goes on,
Alone.          You remember
Overhearing two voices speak softly
In a motel room.
Outside, it was 1975,
And cars sighed past weeds, and fields.
You think now they were only
A man and a woman consoling each other
Because they had both
Lived out their lives, and there was no point
Anymore worth arguing, even if once
There was something, no money, or a daughter
Staying out all night even on the blackest night
Of summer, and coming home
Whitened and final as snow in the back seat
Of a convertible—
The car abandoned, by now, to the sky and the sun—
But no, they
Were just consoling each other
For being who they were,
And because they could not change,
Not now, into
Anything else.
And because one day one of them will simply look over
To see if the water on the stove
Is boiling, and if it is clear, finally
Of the gray, shifting sky it had reflected
A moment ago,
And then he, or she, will be alone—
Though the sun might move to illuminate
A spiked clematis on the windowsill,
Which will be too revealing.
And whoever is left
Will begin to know what it is like
To take one step slowly backward;
To be without a voice to sort the mind
As it begins, now, to flare like the horns
Of a marching band coming up the street under
The elms;

To feel a slight wind stirring the hair at the back
Of the neck . . .

To stand there.




By now you are lying so still
You think you can rise up, as I can,
Without a body,
And go unseen over the still heads of grasses,
And enter the house
Where your wife will not look up from the letter
She is writing,
And your son goes on sleeping—
A thimble of light spilling into the darkness.
But you do not move.          And this
Is about stillness, now:
How you remember strolling alone, at seventeen,
Through the dusk of each street,
How you liked the wind reddening the face
Of a drunk, who,
In the last days of his alcohol, reeled
And stared back at you,
And held your gaze.
How all you remember of New York is
That man,
Who would not have read this poem,
Or any poem,
And who once dreamed
That a speck of white paint on a subway platform
Would outlast
Everyone he knew.




But you were young, and you had
Plenty of time:
Going west,

You slept on the train and did not smile.
Under you the plains widened, and turned silver.

You slept with your mouth open.

You were nothing,
You were snow falling through the ribs
Of the dead.

You were all I had.




big poem, small poem / new poem sure / longer poem, brighter poem / birds birds birds


Hello all! It’s been a while again, I know. I’ve been missing writing in the worse way but otherwise wrapped up in my new job, writing a new bio: McKenzie lives and writes in South Bend, where she works at Indiana University, etc. It’s been a blast, but I’ve only been writing what I call “snippet poems” lately: small snapshots, quick thoughts, that I can get down on the page and keep going. I miss meandering through a longer poem, perfecting an image, an ending, the title, working on my full-length. Below, you’ll find three new snippet poems, from a selection of poems I’ve been working on about nighttime and the truths of home, as well as my very first “spam poem,” invented from, you guessed it, creating erasures out of spam messages—mostly from the ones that pollute my website space (but goodness, they’re fun). I hope you enjoy these, and I promise to post more often—and get back into the reviewing rhythm—very soon.

Also, P.S. You know how sometimes a song gets stuck in your head? Yep, it’s “Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty.” Now in poem-form. Help me.

Until Later, Best ~ from me.




Come night, every night

is the same : I close the shades, tuck

the bed sheets tight at the head

against our night noises, loose

at the foot so he may slip

from the covers : foot bare

in the afterglow.




Dear child, close your eyes—

my heart, my limbs

are tired. Your tears wake us

in our separate cities & at times,

yes : I get lost in the haze.

In you, my fog. Go to sleep.

My love, my rest, I promise:

all will be better with the light.




dies in a fire in a movie

from the ’80s. Hardly enough

to search & discover the movie’s title

but there it is : my sake. Her hair color,

her age, I do not know, but this

is how I imagine the story ends : black smoke

or at least the froth of it, cries choked out

on what I imagine black sky : fires never rise

in the middle of the day, unable to compete

with the sun. I ask you again the name

of the film & again, you falter, say it was

a good one, strange, its focus

on family : my name spelled to reflect

the one Irish branch of our family tree, that which

I have fostered long after you left

for more Grecian- & Sioux-like skin, how strange :

this focus on family roots.




now I am completely full

of honey—sometimes

I drink beer

in public. others cannot

do this: fireflies. what light.

what nonsense.