APJ

 

The American Poetry Journal

 

 

Masthead             Submissions              Contest        News            Links            Contact        

 

Subscriptions        Mission    

Sevenlings   Examples

 

from APJ #9

with our apologies to Ms. Becker for the typos that resulted in a formatting error with offer the poem here, as it was meant to be presented.

 

by Priscilla Becker
A Minor Language 

Finally I have begun to die.
No blood or missing words
informed me, no resurged
affection for earth; I have no
sudden connecting need or
attraction to higher anythings.

But recently (and this is
part of it: time has become
indistinct to me) I met
an aspect of the natural world,
a genus unknown to me.

I think if I were to take you there
you might not necessarily see
the particular quality---

It was a flower, flower-
color, standing where
it was supposed to be --
in a row of planted things,
its idle face surveying
the scene indifferently.

Oh, I have seen more
beautiful things; I’ve
observed more unusual
occurrences. I’m not clairvoyant
and I have no special hearing.
That is not the point I’m making:
this flower did not speak
(though if it did it would
have had nothing to say about unity).

It’s just the kind of thing
one notices ---
after the extremes ---
a kind of sobriety
that must mean,
because it has no
meaning to anyone but me,
that I have begun
to believe such things. 

 

Priscilla Becker’s first book of poems, 
Internal West, won The Paris Review book prize, and was 
published in 2003. Her poems have appeared in Fence, Open 
City, The Paris Review, Small Spiral Notebook, Boston 
Review, Passages North, Raritan, Verse, and The Swallow 
Anthology of New American Poets; her music reviews in 
The Nation and Filter magazine; her book reviews in The New 
York Sun; and her essays in Cabinet magazine and Open City. 
Her essays have also been anthologized by Soft Skull Press, 
Anchor Books, and Sarabande. She teaches poetry at Pratt 
Institute, Columbia University, and in her apartment. Her 
second book, Stories That Listen, is forthcoming from 
Four Way Books.

 

APJ9.jpg (4572 bytes)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

from APJ v3i1
At The End Of A Long And Varied Career
by Tom C. Hunley
As a child, I rang doorbells and ran off,
leaving boxes full of electric rain clouds
and flaming bushes that recited verse.
When I grew up, I went into construction,
underbid on a contract. Rebuild
the temple in three days?
I thought they’d crucify me then
and there, but I went bankrupt instead.
I took a teaching gig, had some luck
as a commercial fisherman. I lost
a bartending spot because I misunderstood
“Water down the wine.” I became
a financial consultant, showed folks
how to stretch a little bread.
Resurrected! I am
in semi-retirement, unsure
what comes next. I’ve tried gardening before,
but I had a problem with snakes and weeds
that choked and poisoned my favorite flowers
and broke my heart. Now I’m taking up golf,
dimpling the world to my tee. “Fore!” I call,
but no one ducks and no one answers.
No one understands the word I’m saying,
just like they never understood the word
that was, was with me, was me,
in the beginning. Let there be more
to eternity than morning-noon-night, repeat.
Than lather-rinse repeat. Than
wax-on, wax-off and still get beat up.
Let the sky fill with helium balloons,
brand new colors, and full-throated warblers,
brand new songs. So say I.

 

 

 

 

  

from APJ v2i2

Cupid and the Party Dress
by Cassie Sparkman
Psyche in a party dress, sidewalk traffic leaving
Room around the yellow skirt, it is bright broad
Day and her face a portrait of the night before—
 
She keens, her mouth open, the sound horribly
Beautiful, she will kill herself with sadness
In a party dress—sidewalk traffic leaving
 
Room around the yellow skirt, room for me but
My wings will not respond, my breath will hold
All day, amazed at her face, portrait of night's moon—
 
I will fly away, find some witless beast, drop him
Before her—I will watch her mouth round, helpless
When my arrow splits her party dress, bloods
 
The sidewalk—Is this Love?  I cannot leave nor
Bear to stay, I swear my heart's flesh bleeds, floods
All of day but her bright portrait face from my sight—
 
I am captured, helpless; I sink an arrow deep
Into my chest, my hands the bow—she looks at me,
Spins her party dress, clears the sidewalk for my falling
Into day, her face a portrait of my ever-after nights

 

Cassie Sparkman received her MFA in poetry from the 
University of Washington. Her work has been seen recently 
in The Laurel Review, Story South, Crab Orchard Review, 
32 Poems (forthcoming), and other journals. Cassie lives 
in Chicago with her husband, playwright Aaron D. Carter.

 

APJv2i2th.jpg (4572 bytes)

 

 

 

from APJ v2i1

Vermont Barn
by Lynne Knight       
The barn is so weathered it may collapse
in the next wind, and the sigh its owner
heaves then will be smaller than the wind,
an acquiescence waiting to happen, for years
 
now, ever since the barn listed, as the birches
around it list, drunk trees, the owner says,
laughing as he looks. A storm’s pulled
clouds into a singularity of cloud, there,
 
in the south, and the first rain will be loud
on the slate roof. The barn was there when
the owner bought the place, decades ago,
and near collapse then, he says, like someone
 
you don’t expect to live another year,
but then she does, she does, and there you are
beside her, having seen enough to know
collapse isn’t the worst way you could go.

 

Lynne Knight has published two full-length 
collections, Dissolving Borders (1996) and 
The Book of Common Betrayals (2002), and two 
chapbooks, Snow Effects (2000) and Deer in 
Berkeley (2003). Her work has appeared in a 
number of journals, and her third collection, 
Night in the Shape of a Mirror, will be 
published by David Robert Books in 2006. 
Effets de neige, her translation of Snow 
Effects, will also appear in 2006.

 

APJv2i1th.jpg (4572 bytes)

 

 

 

 from APJ v1i2

Garden of the Material

by B. L. P. Simmons                                      

See Though I bow to Life
it cannot bend my truly am
self of immensity,
for each night and at anytime
amongst the garden of the material
I return in a blink to the eternal.
The architecture of living returns.
A cage of lattice
fashioned from dreamtime
and hope, descends—
my daily and anytime garb,
falling fast and finitely
to capture a corner of my truly am
self and propel a life
about the garden of the material.
“I do not die, Momo,” said Ibrahim,
“but go to join immensity.”

I wake from an awakening
and wrinkle into weeping
at this glimpse of the everso simple
of my truly am self,
which soothes with the softly cooing
and refreshed of morning
after another needed death
away from the garden
of the material.

The cage of this life is noise
and names spun from time
into a garden of the material.
Here we roam, merely a life
that sings or weeps
or molds the material
into and out of noise and names
thinking we are gods but not knowing
we are, or how to be
the truly am self of eternity.

We go about garbed in cages of lattice
named and yet not
and perhaps will be—never sure
seeking new gardens, perhaps one,
populated by he and she and the snake
amidst a lush all-given
and one bright forbidden
garden of the material.

So many gardens there are
and were and will be
to return to, to roam—
we walk about encaged
in our Edens of gold or coal,
or air, water or the ardent
light of our everso simple
truly am self, so rare,
so rare in its ubiquity
so rare this stuff of it all!

B. L. P. Simmons was born in St. Lucia, the West Indies, into a family of artists. She studied design in London, UK, and now lives in California, USA. She also writes in Spanish.

 

APJv1i1.jpg (5062 bytes)

 

 

 

from APJ v1i1

A H O Y !

by Jason Gray                                        


Richard Wilbur, Sea Captain

I’ve been to pools, on horses, rescued birds
And turned all into parables for words,

Though I might add, depending on the day,
That it was nothing but the briefest stay

The muse would grant. My true Penelope,
As Pound would say, the rolling back of sea,

The rising swell from which sea monsters wail
And turn the ocean over without fail,

Was where my crafty heart would make to know
Uncharted seas, the steady mast ablow

With the east wind, its tip tracing the sky.
Adventures had, romances won, then I

Would navigate this little ship across
The scales and through the line to the sound. What loss

I suffered, cargo falling overboard,
I came to know would just have kept me moored,

And that my wrestling the wild waves and foam,
Was all to earn my docking safely home.

Jason Gray's poems have appeared in Poetry, The Threepenny Review, Literary Imagination, and The Sewanee Theological Review, and his book reviews in Prairie Schooner. He is a graduate of the Writing Seminars of Johns Hopkins.

 

 APJv1i1.jpg (5062 bytes)