Hello everyone! Welcome to Lit of the Week 50! We're doing a special journal feature: Every Lit of the Week winner we've had since Lit of the Week started! Get ready for awesomeness!
i have you bookmarked -vii. Sometimes breakfast, lunch and dinner were like art; food was flung from each corner, creating a futile canvas on every wall. I played a scale of musical doors as they slammed one by one. I'm sure I broke a few
vocal chords too. He was always right beside me, yet so far.
But we mingled together. When his hand gripped mine with his feathery touch, it seemed okay to pretend. Maybe my mind still needed to develop, needed watering. Or maybe together we just made feelings obsolete.
iv. And we did.
We sat on park benches blowing smoke kisses and watched movies, that only seemed good because everything else on TV was crap.
Bubblegum. Pot. Gallons of ice-cream. We fed two pigeons and named them Ben and Jerry. We danced to Genesis, even though we both knew that they were possibly the most overplayed band in the world-universe-all-shopping-centers-in-London-ever.
At night we slipped between the park gates and sat by the lake. It felt like the moon was right ne
the bright scarlet egg of dawn
nests in my head.
when it is time, it will crack my
skull like a shell
and be born.
I have a witch's fingers and a
witch's eyes, rough pewter lenses
through which I see the world.
I have sabotaged their crops,
I have plagued their children,
I have eaten their livestock in the night
(so they say)
and I hear the whispers in the streets.
they will be willing to kill
for their conviction, though
I am not willing to die for it.
I am no longer human.
I've been branded
with an ugly mark
of fear and desperation,
one terse syllable that cuts
like a switch.
a thin reddish line splits the horizon;
I set my ribs on hinges
so they can get to my heart.
a damp wooden platform,
a rough rope necklace
I am not a Spartan
carried home on his shield.
this is not an honourable death.
Star CollectorThey said he collected stars -
plucked them one
from the abyss
left dangling off
with his father's best
He could feel the future
in their shiny points
and the sharp prick
of something maddening
glowing under their silver skins;
and when he held them
their embers glowing -
tiny spines curling up
to tell him stories.
But their laugh
was what he loved best -
sea breeze and green glass
and the whistle of a dandelion
shedding its blustery mane
across the pebbles
of the pond.
fragmentSometimes, she thinks
the angels watch her
and they have hollow eyes.
and their cold fingers fold in a gentle sort of fervor
she never understood it.
and the way they stare towards Heaven
like she still can't fathom
it's the way that light splinters
like through a prism,
the way colors flit through her fingers.
the way she can't taste the cloying prayers,
not yet, they say,
it will be fine.
she thumbs her rosary and dreams
of the days she used to dance,
or of a father that held her
on his shoulder
it will be fine
The wine is heady on her tongue
and the hardwood smells of lemon polish
and the sun through windows is warm. she can think
of eyes the color of stained glass
And hope in the way
Her arms rest on the rail with her wrists turned up,
to show the priest her scars
as he presses the Host into her softened palms
and how they sang
The Old God, Savitrॐ भूर्भुव: स्व: तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं ।
भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि, धीयो यो न: प्रचोदयात् ।।
The wind blew sand into your nonchalant soul,
and your heart coughed. I entered the circle
at night, and I was consumed by fire. I did not
know of you then. I have fractured myself into
a thousand souls: but they are all whole, for I did
see you in my absence. Yet you? - you
were sailing, and your head was
full of water light.
I was significant when your mother poured out water
in a copper pot from a balcony; water, which
caught and held the moon, and then spilled over
with a quiet radiance. You wondered whether
the moon l
turning over bucketsperhaps it isn't beautiful,
lying halfway underwater;
pouring your palladium hopes
down your hands
looking full of shale and broken glass
half lighting whiskey-paper on fire
with that sun tossing in your chest
and all of you rattling
in this thin-skinned pineapple percussion,
the things you're so very sure of, sweltering under
callouses, under sea-
a kaleidoscopic mass of stinging cider-riviera
twisting into your human frame;
but when i say something of protests
you break in,
with too many pinecones waking in your chest, saying,
how lucky how
lucky we are
to be alive to be
Epistles of A Rising SunTo Nihon,
A crane silhouetted
Wings against a rising sun
Birth to Tsunami
Wooden frames buckled and swept
My kin, I carry
Mountainous waves stretched
Extirpating the people,
The veteran land still stands
Fault lines cut throughdeep
You are still our land
Our homeland submerged
Sakura blossoms scattered
I will gather them
Our photos buried,
One day, it will sprout again
Softening our fall
Flowing freely here
From cracked teacups and tea leaves
Still, we will drink you
We cry beneath smiles
Fearful, trembling in silence
Our anodyne masks
A thousand cranes fly
Towards the rising sun, red, white
Grant us just one wish
paradoxwhite after white, dash, dash, dashing along,
over top black pathways that burn under the midday sun,
pulling me towards the opposite effect
where four walls haven't contained still images needing motion,
puzzle pieces curve into each other,
matching in ways the makers never told,
forming perfect fits of emotions gone awry.
i won't exist in solidarity, nor you.
and we'll not be a single thing, nor two.
7.34mmA simple measurement
can make a man
lose himself; a blurring, no more
than a grainy smudge
a scant 7.34mm long
this rice-grain, seven weeks old
with one hundred and twenty nine
heartbeats per minute
all this, from a mere sesame-seed of a heart
ersatzyour wake is the warm
languid whorl of a sachet-latté
gone when six a.m. rain swirls
pavement scents of whiskeysmoke
& a careless caress away
under cinnamon-sugar grace --
and it was only ever this:
you were lovely
by trembled halflight, when you almost had
my summer-boy's eyes.
lost kingswe were all lost kings of the electric
highwire act, tripping like ghosts through boarded
windows and vacant lots that never held
any secret we wouldn’t tear apart
cables stretched over the place we used to live
drooping tightropes for worn-weary dancers
that pirouetted from house to house while
we just paced the streets of glass and concrete
our mothers worried on their rosaries
and poured their fears into party-line chats
father just poured another scotch and said
boys will be boys so let them have their fun
and us out in the night between the tracks
and the towers willing our years into
smoke and bottles and dolled up girls that just
laughed like juice joint sirens calling us home
Drowning in Reversex. I still have your phone.
ix. The boardwalk carnival was shut down a few months later, roped off and boarded up like a condemnation of joy. The ferris wheel still rose high above the skyline, towering in silent reminder.
viii. The funeral was on a beautiful, balmy, sunny day and somehow that made it all the worse. The wind would pick up a little and ruffle your goldspun hair and I could hope, just for a moment, that you were still here.
vii. It was a cold, white room. I don't know why hospitals are so cold. Or maybe it was just me - maybe it was just me trying to siphon out all of my warmth and channel it into you.
vi. I didn't see the crowd that gathered on the beach - I barely registered the flash of red and blue lights - I only saw you, skin pale as the stretcher they were loading you on to, blue shirt stained black like a death sigil.
v. Someone was drowning. You cast an arm out pointing - there was someone out there in the dark water drifting further and further from shore.
SynesthesiaI fell in love with a pianist's hands.
They danced across my skin in minuets, his fingers tripping cadenzas up and down my spine. He brushed sonatas through my hair and across my shoulders, pianissimo. I trembled beneath his trills. The primal, earnest rage of Bach swelled in hot crescendos along my throat, beneath my ribs, guided by his hands --- Mozart, coolly logical, raised goosebumps down my arms --- Chopin soothed the fire and finally calmed my hammering heart.
I fell in love with a pianist's hands, listening from the back of the coffee shop while my lungs fought for breath, making wishes until he was gone.
To Darwin, on Hearing of the 22 ChronometersDid the ticking drive you mad?
Twenty two clocks to tie you
to Greenwich, to the damp land,
to the paved streets and spires
and the blank glazed windows
of progress and age? Did time
become fathoms deep, and the
dwindling abyss transform to
thoughts of deep, deep time?
The blind eyes of bottom dwellers,
the feelers of those that survived,
the wellings of primordial soup
perhaps flavoured your thoughts.
(you never saw them. We know
you never saw the elemental broth,
the creatures like to dinosaurs
in a Blackpool of phosphorescence.
But the mystery, perhaps. The thought
that things exist beyond your imagining.
The thought that time stretches, deep
and wider than the books all told.
Perhaps that ocean thought stirred you.)
And when you thought of long
lived turtles in their shells and short
lived finches with precision beaks,
did you think of second hands and hours,
the life of a gnat and a continent,
the age of the rocks on which the
lizards sunned? Did, perhaps, each
Space CampHe found himself standing in their daughter's room, staring at the dusty mobile of the planets, unsure of how he's come to be there. He looked at her bed, her desk, the unfinished homework. He considered opening the window, but the thought slipped away before he could act on it.
He wandered into the living room, looked out the window. The grass needed cutting. Did it? He wasn't sure. His wife would know, but she'd already left for work. Seems she left earlier every morning and came home later each night. Another thought occurred to him, something about each in their own way, but he couldn't hold it. Perhaps she was having an affair. He wondered at how he might feel about it if she was, decided he wouldn't feel anything.
He went into the kitchen, looked at the table, littered with unopened mail. He took a bottle from the cabinet and sat down at the table. Was he starting later than yesterday or earlier? He wasn't sure it mattered. He opened the bottle, but found he'd forgotten to get a
MeanderingHardly a mountain, though on lowering days its head sits wreathed
By the mists of a passing front, aged and befogged as bygone elders
Doddering about before there were names for the malaise
That hazed their thinking
And from this modest crown there slouched and sloped
A long shoulder, meandering down to meadows below
Pausing now and again to coddle a pleasant hollow
Casting a sloping pitch enough to rush a torrent
After a sudden shower
Its glint and glimmer burble among the stones
To join a rill and plash and swirl and putter about a root
It's there I'm apt to wander
Not much of a path, hard passed and thorny
As twisted and narrow as the thoughts of bigoted men
Treading there finds stern resistance and stones to turn the foot
The clatter and crunch of brittle leaf acorns pop and skitter
A plenteous crop, beyond the appetite of wild things at forage
Leathery husks abound, pignut hickory the ebon stains of walnut
On taking pause the quiet lay, a
To the Ghosts of Glen CoeSleep, you brave, you innocent,
you warriors and women strong.
Dread William's days are now all spent,
and memory is long.
On the glen, the snow lies deep,
as once it lay those years ago,
the night it witnessed traitors creep
on sleeping Invercoe.
Great MacIain ope'd his doors
to Campbells shiv'ring in the night.
He had grown tired of English wars
and looked not for a fight.
Sleep, you brave, you innocent,
you warriors and women strong.
Dread William's days are now all spent,
and memory is long.
Screams of children drowned the storm
when Campbell blades came slicing down
on bloody tartan, rent and torn,
all for a foreign crown.
Donald blood can turn to ice,
though noble hearts beat hot and fierce
a man, a frozen sacrifice
a mother's dying tears.
Sleep, you brave, you innocent,
you warriors and women strong.
Dread William's days are now all spent,
and memory is long.
Under trust you met your ends;
within your walls they laid you low.
The men you welcomed as your friends
Witch TrialI believe I was a ginger headed poet in a past life,
who wrote love through magik spells
burning candle wax, whispering incantations
under a full moon and painting pale,
naked flesh with dirt and ash.
Dancing with ghostly ravens through flames,
to the thumpthumpthump of my storm heart,
as it became one with the earth.
I roared my passions and my glory
to the heavens above, laughing
like a crazy eyed crone for the sake
of those who feared me.
My witches tongue, hissing, 'Come hither!'
as heat licked my shoulders like an old lover,
Let the Sparrows InI.
Blackbirds rest on the power lines,
their silhouettes form the notation
to a dawn song set on the sheet music
of telephone poles contrasted by the sun.
Curled leaves are land mines littered
on the lawn where imprints of twigs
and a nurturing robin's tracks collect.
Branchlets and leaflets stem from
porch step railings and mailboxes;
the numbers read odd on the east,
even on the west side of the asphalt:
The engraved letters on
the siding reads, "Davis."
This house is home to family
so let the sparrows in.
with its branching hallways
furniture rooted to the floor
family, friends, the occasional
out from home.
Let the sparrows in; let
Let the door's
loosen—let the door stand ajar
be let open
the night owls and
let the doves
in pairs in the iridescent
Let the sparrows in.
Framed on either side
locks of galehair was never really my thing.
I imagine all the women of the world with long fur trailing down their spine, wrapping their bodies like meat packaging. hitting ranges of deep reds, alabaster blondes, mysterious and intriguing blacks and browns. all twined up in some little design, forcing you to look scientifically at their construction.
my hair was short with lackluster shades of dirt (a little tint of pink from previous summers). not that I minded its missing length, it was just that I could never figure out how beauty and hair entwined.
I once had a forest of dirty blonde lines. I was about eight. it was beautiful, my mom would say. you should grow your hair out like that. so I can braid it again
but I hate hair.
it would sneak its way into my mouth sometimes, and on occasion it moved into everybody else's. it was amusing at dinner when my family would continuously pull long strands out of their mouths, food nearly down their throats. I hated it most when it would get in my own; at
blue lighti want to
live in your
i want to
i want to
Astronauti.238,900 miles away
the Earth gleams in the darkness.
A cat's eye, opalescent blue
flecked with terra verdant,
fifty-two cream colors
Under a heavy lid of night,
it glares. Angry.
As if to say to the Sun:
I was dreaming
of all the fish
in my seas.
As if to ask why
it had to be woken.
Thoughts are protozoan here;
with glass-thin skin
transparent as the first lie
he ever told as a child.
I didn't steal that candy bar.
He can see the mechanics,
They divide like dreams,
Whole and unbroken
as they tear apart. If
he could stretch far enough,
he could pop his home planet
like soap bubble.
he's too small
to make much
of a difference.
238,900 miles away,
there is a small click.
A tiny latch
as his 14-year-old daughter
slides her seatbelt
She's learning how to drive,
and how to feel a new kind of terror.
of collision. Of bone
or brick breaking,
Loving AustraliaYears like bilbies--
days like kangaroos.
Want lives in a pocket womb
(salt suckle; scrape
of your grey-brown curls.)
you shape your words.)
dredged in red dust,
sprawled across half a world,
by wrong stars.
She's losing an inch a year,
and the square of his pacemaker
is visible under his shirt.
The house is small,
Every summer I make the trip.
I drive north several hours
to the Chesapeake Bay,
and then south,
nearly to the ocean,
before I reach the
house, which is small,
I am greeted there with open arms.
She remarks to me how tall I've grown
(I haven't grown an inch,
as said before,
and he wants me to look
at the contraption upstairs--
the frog's stopped working,
it ran out of batteries.
(he means the computer mouse,
which is not plugged in.)
For a few days I stay
at the house, which is small,
She makes dinner, which is never enough--
"Oh, you two eat like an army!"--
and we talk.
Socialised medicine's been passed
("That'll take him down!"
he says of Obama)
and she asks me about boyfriends
(I just broke up with a girl
after three years)
and I say I'm not
getting married any time soon--
Spray Your Sins Away!It was a scene of utmost suspense, the cliché that often made its way into romantic comedies and commercials. Inside Dick's We-Carry-Every-Item-Imaginable-for-the-Filthy-Rich, two different people reached for the last can of Sins-B-Gone in cinematic slow motion. One hand was French-manicured and wore an ostentatious diamond ring (inscribed "Love forever, to my Richard"); the other had "Vermilion Vixen" nails and was likely to never wear such a wedding ring. Fingers from both hands closed in on the blue spray can like eager vultures, plucking it off the shelf in synch. Both ladies blinked in confusion before they realized the other was there.
"Sweetie, I believe I grabbed it first," said the Richard-loving woman.
"No dear," the Vixen replied, "I'm sure I did. I certainly need it more that you do."
The two women stared each other down without batting their fake eyelashes. It wasn't difficult for eitherBotox injections did wonders to their blank facades. The first
if teen dreams were teen novelsthere was once a boy who had all the write words to say
with all those fancy allegories, metaphors and similes
and antonyms of synonyms, like rails and snares and storms
and organs and trains and drums and hurricanes and
and she was only a girl with plain words, the kinds of things
that are only found in piles of papers and pens, books
she keeps where she sleeps,
that will only break when he leaves in the morning,
but she shares everything, like a boat shares a bard,
like a cigarette shares a lung, like a mouth shares other mouths,
like an artist shares her heart.
but there is a running in her heart:
not that type of beat she got when she was a little girl
and her favorite boy gives her a kiss on the cheek, but like when
he first shared his words with hers,
the kind of thing she gets only with naked skin,
and not like that kind of naked skin, naked, but before that
when she looks up and his eyes shine in that kind of way she thinks
might've happened when shakespeare was a teena
Hunger-Second VersionFire in the wild isn't the color you think it is.
It's all amber and terra cotta,
one great roaring tower of
orange like the Wrath of God
in a chestnut tree.
I can't go back again to
Devil's Hollow, the small
rock - vale, all cinnamon
and nutmeg and dried pine
needles, where we used to
dance-just like so many
wolves old Nick will wait
for my return, blazing
burnt sienna and shining,
I am not ready to give up
the ghost yet; I am still
waiting for an excuse
to travel the galaxy
empty-handed. I want to
see those bronze nebulas
gleaming like forest fires.
Oh, loverI have watched you swim volcanic
craters, have seen your
flaming eyes amidst the
snow drifts all brown with
dirt, your eyes that mean
you live the element that
is inside you. Dragon mine,
you bring the mists in the
morning, set the roads to
smoking after the evening
you first came to me as
a henna dawn once when I
PilkunnussijaHere's what I think:
There's a certain joy in not doing this face-to-face. For one, I don't have to leave my apartment and I have the quiet company of my goldfish and my goldfish alone. (I don't like people, which is why I love books. You can understand that.) For another, I don't have to see your presumably crestfallen and injured attitude when I tear apart the prose you cried and bled and sweated over for weary nights on end. But really the best parts are those uninterrupted hours alone with your manuscript and the shred of you that lies inside. It's a small shred, but an important one. It's the one that tells me who you are and what you think and how you feel and I never have to look at you and be disappointed when the real thing doesn't come up to scratch. As I sit there, un-tensing and re-tensing and tense-shifting and shift-entering (and damn it, wishing English were like German so I could get rid of those clunky space-wasting n-dashes--oh, damn there they are again) I feel li
Accidentat the corner of boone trails and owen
she learned the brevity of flight:
glinting bumper for launch pad
trajectory approximately 5 feet
across the median.
as proud, as swift
as any prima ballerina
but the landing
this I keep for her -
the listless weight of limbs
defying gravity, the beastly beauty
of a body bouyant before
And so we stayed true
to that hormone laced
and vowed to love
these lurid tunes
along the vast slouching wires
of our opposing
church pyre landscapes,
manifest as false adoration,
despite the distance, our words
iii. Chemically enhanced to age
And we loved afar,
not by sky fetched satellites
or whimsical billboard technologies
nor a digital duality soon to cease
stripped of its glue backing,
but with perfumed letters,
pressed fresh with star tittles,
and marked with the flourish
a fading and always false
trite tomes written
upon art-house parchments
chemically enhanced to age.
the stoney steps of beating blood
from the Danish clouds
SiblingI can't quote a night's sky
and do justice to its secrets
yet, sibling stars beckon.
They seem so close,
pulling veils of modesty
off each other
while I stand under the
echo of silence,
its light tethering my gaze
even though time had
snuffed them long before
I stood alone in its wake.
SliverThey say that if you stand in front of a wall of glass at exactly four minutes past midnight and tap your fingers on it three times, you can open a door to the void beyond this world. It has to be somewhere you can see your reflection, and see through it, hovering like a ghost over the darkness beyond, somewhere dim enough that you can't quite tell the difference between light and shade. And unless you hit the glass where you touched it, shatter the half-formed image before the fifth minute strikes, that door will never close.
Celia Gray has never been one for urban legends. So much so, that she would never turn down a chance to prove one wrong.
The girls are in the middle of their third round of Truth Or Dare when it's brought up for the first time.
"Come on, Angie, it's almost midnight!"
"What's wrong, scared?"
"No, II just ...it's my house! I'm not smashing my balcony door."
"Jeez, guys." The five faces turn at the third voice. "We're fourteen no
the reasons we should not divorcei.
we have a breakfast of egg whites and turkey sausage (mine); coffee and tomato soup (yours); and discomfort (shared). you are unthinkingly deferential and a touch antipathetic, speaking over your bottom lip to the cherrywood table. i bought this table last week, after you asked me why we didn't have a table. i said it was because we ate at the granite island. you said you would prefer a table, and we are sitting at the table now because it's the small things that make our lives normal, but the table does not make a difference when you will not look at me. you say, "we need to talk."
i say, "about what?"
you say, "about retirement. you're bored. and you miss him."
"viggo, why would i be bored? this is what we wanted."
"this is what i wanted." you are looking at your nails instead, and when you finally look at me, you look at the wall behind me. you ask, "what was he like?"
and i answer, "not you."
i owned this house before i met you; i owned this house before i knew
They Also Serve Who Only Stand and WaitI don't know when we first went underground. I don't even know if it was one mass exodus, a swarm of mankind trickling through the earth's crust so vehement we carved our own caverns by the force of trampling feet, or whether it was a gradual process, perhaps even a repetitive one, a family here, a neighborhood there. For all I know, the echo of the damp subterranean machine has always reverberated off the cave walls, created long past by the Angels, who think of our well-being even while they shake their heads helplessly at our flaws.
They say that those who remained on the surface were raptured away in a great flash of light, like a million suns converted into raw energy all at once. While it was rumored once that the flash was our doing, our own horrid creation, we all know better now. It was the Maker who brought it forth from the void and cast it onto the earth's crust, as though shot from an immense sling, taking only those who were brave enough to trust in Him. We, who live in t
regardless of where and which roads (write)i. so today we get together
as per your request
today you (at last) confess to me
i watch you narrate
the e.e. cummings you've
kept chained in your rhythm,
in your beats and paces and all other nooks
and hidden places
i've secretly always known existed
i want you to start writing today
ii. you tell me you believe
in your ability
to write the words i always knew you whispered;
steaming at the hearts of other girls
turning them to froth
while i watch my own heart
shrivel like dregs
in the same cup of cappuccino
i've always been drinking off drought
iii. i am screaming even in my softest tissues
blaming my body for my hearts' issues
admit to me
(your best blue jeans and bravery set forth)
read me unspoken
find it futile to resist (dear me)
by grace you do and you do
admit to me
my meth, my myth
how (i never have the courage to say)
i am your greatest muse
A Breath of Fresh Air I stretched my hand out of the passenger window, feeling the clear, country air. The wind wrapping around my fingers was fresh and soft, much different than it was back home.
We hardly ever drove with the windows open at home. I remembered grasping the air, but it bit my skin, leaving it burning and itchy. We had the windows tightly shut until we had gotten to the fields of Iowa today, and I could tell why when I saw the beautiful, multicolored sunset when we turned on the highway. The pollution had reached life-threatening levels, the radio had said. I had to wear a gas mask on the way out; since I was younger then twelve, I counted as a child.
I tilted my head to let it whip my face, and inhaled the smell of the wet dirt in the fields, and a little cow manure. I cracked my left eye a little to look at my dad in the driver's seat
FoldsYou are taking that old Ford to town
to collect some fencing wire
while Martha Reeves sings Jimmy Mack on the radio
and you hold the steering wheel with a single
and forefinger with dirt under its nail
your sun speckled arm
rests almost out the window.
I am in the back seat with an ice-cream cone
and two tissues you made me take
for the mess I would make
and I finger the splits in the Ford's vinyl seats
stretching the cracks with small sticky hands.
I say that I think your skin might need ironing
on account of all its folds and creases
In the rearview mirror
I catch your ventriloquist smile
and you hum along quietly to the radio
until we come
to a red light on Sainsbury St.
and you turn and tell me that you hope to God
my skin drops and sags
like that someday too.
I might have been young back then, but
I always understood what you meant.
Flower FishWritten after Harrison
(George Harrison Ford)
His eyes are like a red ring of tiny blossoms
springing from patterned navy beds.
With a sharp twist through the water he fans out behind him
a bouquet of tall violet fronds,
a forest, a ballooning flamenco skirt
tapering white at the edges.
It is hard to tell where the tail ends and the fish starts,
like an enhancement attached all around his body
he is so much lesser without the tail,
so much smaller, just a blue-black comma.
Motionless, suspended in the water with
tissue-paper fins undulating,
he might as well have earned his place beside the
stolid shot glass that accompanies his tank.
A dark, odd presence hovering nearby
until he abruptly snaps back to life,
shivering and shimmering his way aggresively
to some unknown foe or food I do not know of.
Start-stop, start-stop. Hover.
Such is the sedentary and yet occupied life
of a fighting fish.