Nobility of Soul at Odds with Circumstance

February 18, 1924–January 17, 2011
A happy moment, New York City,
March 1983
The body—it is so sad what happens to it.
But all childhoods are hazardous.

Falling through a grey film of failed memory,
the children and their panic-stricken laughter.

And in the narrowing tunnel,
our earthly mother waiting sleeplessly
to yield the last half hour of precious light.

     Melissa Kwasny / Common Blue
     Chase Twichell / A Mysterious Heart
     Roberto Tejada / Dyspnea
     Rachel Loden / Five Minute Agoraphobic Holidays
     B. H. Fairchild / Flight
     Sydney Lea / The Blainville Testament
     May Sarton / A Country Incident


Young Werther Contemplates Wahlheim
     in the Clear Light of Day
(Fishouse Poets, #3)

Patience, I suppose: how some things must be,
or be slowly executed. I
consider how the beloved’s
patient, eventual, brittle, misshapen
cracked talk, brothers to keep in shoes,
might end the ease of this hour.

     Karen Holmberg / Soft Shell Crab
     Matthew Zapruder / After Reading Tu Fu, I Emerge from a Cloud of Falseness
     Leslie McGrath / Hearing
     Carey McHugh / Instrument for Oversight
     Gibson Fay LeBlanc / Oakland Work Crew
     Molly Peacock / Picnic


Up Late
(Fishouse Poets, #2)

Game after game in the flashlit dark.
In our world when a woman cries
No, here, yes here,
broken by yawns, exhausted,
at whose mercy are we?

     Nickole Brown / Riddle, Riddle Marie
     Mark Yakich / Green Zone
     Seth Michelson / Psalm 146
     John Olivares Espinosa / Riding with My Brother to the Dump
     Henrietta Goodman / Gretel in the Tunnel


On This a Whole Kingdom Hung
(Fishouse Poets, #1)

The mills locked their doors and I thought I heard voices.
I had already been weeping quietly.

A man sweating and stoking,
the yellow hulk of Cats winding bay front chip yards—
we were the fragrance of the idea of the meaning of not. We didn’t want destruction.

Meanwhile, the sunlight off broken glass is everywhere.

     Gabrielle Calvocoressi / Late Twentieth Century in the Form of Litany
     Patrick Donnelly / Prayer at the Opera
     Anthony Walton / Third Shift
     Michael McGriff / Coos Bay
     Adrian Blevins / Why the Marriage Failed
     Oliver de la Paz / Hello,


This Week: Poets from the Fishouse

This week CENTORAMA offers baits and lures fashioned from poems by some of the amazing writers whose work is featured at From the Fishouse.

Tuesday / 1.11
Gabrielle Calvocoressi
Patrick Donnelly
Anthony Walton
Michael McGriff
Adrian Blevins
Oliver de la Paz

Thursday / 1.13
Nickole Brown
Mark Yakich
Seth Michelson
John Olivares Espinosa
Henrietta Goodman

Saturday / 1.15
Karen Holmberg
Matthew Zapruder
Leslie McGrath
Carey McHugh
Gibson Fay LeBlanc
Molly Peacock


These Fine Things Which Separate Us from Beasts

I would be assuming a great deal in saying
I’d like to hold water in my cupped hands
as we must hold all,
swagger and lager and fully loaded.
If this is a game then we have made it, unknowing.

     Angela Doll Carlson / Solstice to Solstice
     Mathias Svalina / Red Plastic Cup
     C. Cleo Creech / A Poem for Jaheem Herrara: The Peace of Gentle Waves
     James Schwartz / Last Night a Drag Queen Saved My Life
     Samiya Bashir / Catch


Waking from Dreams “in a Solitude That Vibrates . . . ”

HONEY BEE (c. 1994–2010)
It was not in the next day’s paper.

     You appear as if from the sea of nothing,
and dead from a storm that wrecked the hive.

I feel submerged, and see you,
     and live alone in the bee-loud glade.

     Peter Dale Scott / Coming to Jakarta, IV.v
     Susan Browne / Ode to Lily Jean
     Diane Wakoski / Black Leather Because Bumblebees Look Like It
     Jeffrey Skinner / Elegy with Yellow Boat
     William Butler Yeats / The Lake Isle of Innisfree


Dark Harvest

It was late September. I’d just poured a glass of wine, begun
to think I had sent the postman and his donkey
out of the barn and
into the static. And as I heard my father,
someone dying of love, someone from whom time had taken
flags and honking cars,
the various and gathered families,
howl down the spiral staircase
Come all ye faithless
I drove into town to drink tea in the cafe.

     Carol Ann Duffy / Mrs Midas
     Rod Jellema / Letter to Myra Sklarew, Visiting Mekounida, on the Island of Evvoia,
          in Greece

     Curtis Bauer / A Splinter Becoming a Burning Plank
     Kevin Clark / Radio Fate
     Louise Glück / The Balcony
     Gary Soto / Envying the Children of San Francisco
     David St. John / The Swan at Sheffield Park
     Albert Goldbarth / Reality Organization
     C. D. Wright / The Secret Life of Musical Instruments
     Robert Hass / Happiness


Gone Astray in Trackless Wastes

I no longer believed in the revolution
but what is there for a man to do with his life?

It gave purpose to my wanting to be alone.
The aftermath is two people breathing.

I am used up, a waste gas.
And there are other, worse, symptoms.

     Derek Wolcott / The Schooner Flight
     Russell Edson / Angels

     Terry Ehret / The Author of This Poem Will Grant an Interview
     David Roderick / Self-Portrait in 1969 (Summer)
     Brian Spears / Hurry
     Eric McHenry / Litte Viral Song


Lower Peninsula Pastoral

The ward is quiet, the mothers delivered,
all bafflement and loveliness. The still air,
the sob at the base of the body.
In the house in Detroit,
dogs who pitch and yaw all night for a little water.

     Elizabeth Spires / The First Day
     Paul Violi / When to Slap a Woman
     Andrew Joron / Skymap Under Skin
     Lawrence Joseph / Sand Nigger
     Jane Miller / Adoration


Home Invasion with IKEA Bath Textiles

She was born to tease
and lay there in the middle of the bed.
Three boys beyond their mothers’ call
shed tears, bodily fluids, at all this trust, at even the thought.
Along the wall, the family’s bright towels.

     Carla Drysdale / Video Game
     Elaine Sexton / Rethinking Regret
     Mary Cornish / Numbers
     Denise Duhamel / Buying Stock
     Marie-Elizabeth Mali / Cabana Boy


Matter Got Up in Costume as Itself

The oleanders in your courtyard
     where they burn candles for you

Failing yellow light
     leaves out subject and object

To trust that last breath wings out something more than air

     Federico García Lorca / Ballad of One Doomed to Die (Romance
          del Emplazado, trans. Langston Hughes)
     Ishmael Reed / Pocadonia
     Karla Kelsey / Fragile Ladder Barques, 10.3
     Carlos Drummond de Andrade / Looking for Poetry
     Mark Doty / Theory of the Soul


A Shovel the Only Sound

My mom often said he wasn’t the man
running down the stairwell in the garden . . .

                    When she was found, she was lying on her face.

And I made one big mistake tonight.
I did not call to the Holy Spirit or whistle My lordy, lordy.

     Nin Andrews / Something Else
     Charles Reznikoff / Domestic Scenes
     Blas Falconer / Dear Friend
     John Giorno / I Resigned Myself to Being Here
     David Biespiel / Marvel


Who Will Sing of Them Now?

STEVE ORLEN (1942–2010)
Rattle of silverware, and three clocks ticking
On the grand stage at their appointed moments
Pouring over time itself the pure distillate arias

Praising a universe in which nothing happens

In that eternal battle
Relentless and unchanging
No one wins or loses

Through one body then another
To let my eyes simplify again, and make no judgments
To open the heart, only a little at a time

Just beyond my reach, waiting to be called upon again

                              In the House of the Voice of Maria Callas
                              Ode to Coal
                              Song: The Kiss
                              A Man Alone
                              Onomastics & the Falling Snow


Turning Away Quite Leisurely

The quotidian violence of the world!
Knowing this is by no means death
(though the death-tined rioting peasant’s rake
is cozening the Princesse de Clèves into a midnight micturition spree
with no end, but brilliant nonetheless),
I’ll have to wear dark glasses and carry the cane.

     Arthur Size / Shooting Star
     Denise Levertov / At the Justice Department November 15, 1969
     Ed Sanders / Yiddish Speaking Socialists of the Lower East Side
     John Ashbery / Daffy Duck in Hollywood
     Terence Winch / The Them Decade
     David Trinidad / Evening Twilight


This Forest Where No Deer Graze
and Roots Strike Upwards

The tilt of fisted history
that kick-starts their DNA to black and purple liquid life
becoming little red birds
and strange chantings—ashes, angels and dolls,
a life in an arc of motion, oh Russian doll.

         Jennifer Moxley / Not on My Seashore
         Mario Petrucci / Ukritye
         John Gallaher / On Your Brilliant Escape
         Wanda Coleman / American Sonnets, sonnet 17
         Ellen Doré Watson / Flood, According to Her


Dickinson & Swinburne & Zombies (O! My)

It waits upon the lawn,
howls and hisses as with mouths of snakes and wolves at bay.
Hear the locks turn in their wooden ears.
Black puddles, putrid flapping—
this is what happens when you cease.

         Emily Dickinson / A Light Exists in Spring
         Algernon Charles Swinburne / Grace Darling
         Karyna McGlynn / Epistle to Elsner on the Eve of his 34th Birthday
         Gary Glazner / Death by Taxi
         Maggie Nelson / The Mute Story of November


I Have Told My Story Over and Over at Parties

I wanted this quark-colored tangerine-flake double-deckered
hot bread and butter.
He brings our plates to the table —
this was gruesome. Fighting over a ham sandwich?
That was the good war, the war we won.

     George Starbuck / On Reading John Hollander’s Poem “Breadth. Circle. Desert.
          Monarch. Month. Wisdom. (for which there are no rhymes)”

     Jack Collom / Bald Eagle Count
     Clarence Major / Waiter in a California Vietnamese Restaurant
     Gerald Stern / Another Insane Devotion
     Howard Nemerov / The War in the Air


Risen from Her Bed of Troublesome Snacks

Without saying hello, in the restaurant
my Great Aunt Sarah
drives back another wad of tobacco,
spits it into the pan of eggs.
And just what the fuck else was she supposed to do?

     Jeffrey McDaniel / The Quiet World
     Robert Lowell / My Last Afternoon with Uncle Devereux Winslow
     Dara Wier / Fear
     Sylva Fischerová / Eggs, Newspaper, and Coffee (trans. Sylva Fischerová
          and Stuart Friebert)

     Jayne Cortez / Rape


Almost Up to Modernism

Here is a factory made fresh by broken windows.
Columns constructed from delirious dust
split into a roomful of pictures that shimmer along walls
speaking in tongues,
destroying the Lake Poets in the process.

     Elaine Equi / A Bouquet of Objects
     Diane Ward / Lovely Stuff
     Donna Masini / Nightscape
     Yusef Komunyakaa / “Everybody's Reading Li Po” Silkscreened on a Purple T-Shirt
     Michael Davidson / Thinking the Alps


Close Your Eyes with Holy Dread

Blank page after blank page, motives sail by—
parade float driven by a carriage pulled by a pig
and plastic Diplodocus at Jurassic Golf;
a green jurassic palm tree, planted; a yellow spastic monkey, swinging—
a whole procession of them coming.

     Ira Sadoff / In Madrid
     Cathy Park Hong / Ensor
     Joy Gaines-Friedler / Capitalism South Carolina
     D. A. Powell / [the cocktail hour finally arrives: whether ending a day at the office]
     Tom Clark / Oct. 28


Since Your Love Died

The disobedient mind is the fruit of inactivity swaying upon
petals on a wet, black bough
drying inward from the edge.
To know there’s no one here to save you:
ah guess ah’ll go up Echo Mountain and crah.

         Philip Whalen / Many Colored Squares
         Ezra Pound / In a Station of the Metro
         Edna St. Vincent Millay / Ebb
         Gabrielle Calvocoressi / Save Me Joe Louis
         Edward Field / Unwanted


Tygers (Tristes | Trapped)

The Thames runs, bones rattle, rats creep,
weeks of street cafes yawn by
when at last! the People are all rejoicing in the liberated zone.
But all of them go with their feet tied.
It is not a cathouse of the rising.

         Wendy Cope / Waste Land Limericks
         Sibyl James / The White Junk of Love, Again, translitic 8 (after Louise Labé,
         sonnet VIII)

         Bob Holman / Maizie’s Revolution
         Roberto Juarroz / Second Vertical Poetry, poem 21 (trans. W. S. Merwin)
         d. a. levy / Cleveland Undercovers, canto V


Incident Along Route 50

In reality, the barn wasn’t clean, ninety men
and a woman sobbing in a hospital gown, Not fair.
And look! That cowboy
as he flicks his razor.
Nine months later, my brother was born.

         Norman Dubie / Trakl
         Laura Kasischke / Warehouse of Prayers
         Gloria Frym / Looking for Trouble
         Frank O’Hara / Southampton Variations
         Marilyn Hacker / Days of 1944: Three Friends


Thick Clouds Conspire

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
holding quiet conversations with an early moon.
Key West sank downward under massive clouds
you will feel against your ankles as you pass through.

         Langston Hughes / Let America Be America Again
         Elizabeth Alexander / Praise Song for the Day
         Amy Lowell / Lilacs
         Wallace Stevens / Farewell to Florida
         Lucie Brock-Broido / Domestic Mysticism


After the Fire at Club Lobohombo, Mexico City

I post letters to my lost Mayan sisters
waiting to be shaken open by some
precarious thriver in the song-stung dark.
Over the ear, a conch of voice and music
was a sack full of torn wings beating.

          H. L. Hix / Cy Twombly, “Night Watch”
          Keetje Kuipers / 4th of July
          Joshua Corey / Severance Songs, 2.1
          Luis Cernuda / Apologia pro Vita Sua (trans. Reginald Gibbons)
          Larry Levis / Earl the Chicken Farmer


In Tranquility

When I think of it now, the danger, the eventual gunshots echoing off gray
     brick, I remember the panicked yells of inquiry,
two wild, one found only in cultivation.
A vessel in Juan’s brain begins to bleed.
We go on and we tremble,
return to sip coffee quietly.

          Santee Frazier / The Robbery
          Josephine Miles / Fields of Learning
          Linda Kunhardt / Order
          Frank Stanford / Pits
          Martín Espada / Imagine the Angels of Bread