Thursday, February 26, 2009

Poems by Jennifer Armentrout

In My Favorite Memory of You

Quiet clings to street corners. No cars are out,
sidewalks ice-packed and slick. By 3rd Avenue

the snow picks up with great, fat flakes
like soap. I want to stop and catch one

on my tongue but it’s cold. Instead we walk
as fast as we can to the bar. A couple dozen

Santas jingle by. All of them drunk, some shouting
“Ho ho ho!” as they pass. We laugh

until we get inside and see fifty more: a sea
of cheap beards and velvet. I think nothing

can be more absurd but am wrong. In the bad light,
the snow makes your hair look gray. Like a kick

to the head I see us spin out. For a second
our future spreads till you reach up and brush

your hair clean. Now you are gone and everything’s wrong.
Coffee spills on my hands without burning. Bird wings

litter streets as if plague cut them off in mid-flight. I write
you letters, take up meditation. I examine my grief, peel

back the skin of its story—a torture. I touch each word,
you, lover, friend, your name—then let it drift

like snow off a roof. At the end, I’m told, I will see
its essence. But when I look there's nothing,

just a chasm, my belly its lip. I picture my hand
dipping into a silver bowl, a plastic ballerina inside.

Floating mid-air, she begs to be touched. But I can’t—
she’s only a trick of light, an illusion. Late in my pregnancy

I ran a fever for six days and felt nothing—no flutter, no kick.
I’m not saying this is the same, just that the wait’s its own end.

The Lipizzaner

Next to your show ribbons hung
this photo of a Lipizzaner your sister
saw in Austria. I’d marvel at it:
I’d only seen stock horses and Pintos
since I’d moved to the country.
While you braided your hair,
I conjured the Airs: levade, courbette,
croupade—tried to make my legs
as graceful. No use; of the two of us
I was always the clumsy one, who
could draw a horse but not ride; whose
limbs were all bruises and bends.
I reached for the frame, intending
to drop it ‘on accident’ when you said,
“Take it. I don’t want it.”—
you’d learned only yesterday
your sister wasn’t your sister
but mother, who’d given you up
at seventeen, married a year later,
and left the country.

I had nothing
to say about that so I walked home,
popped tar bubbles in the road
with my toes, and stuffed
that photo deep in the trash.

Jennifer Armentrout lives in Seattle, Washington, where she works as an IT Engineer for a Chemical Distribution company. Her work has appeared online in The Adirondack Review and Rock Salt Plum Review, and in print in The Wolf UK and Orbis.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Poems by Mebane Robertson

Linda #1

I feel I’m dancing alone
Though I’m stretched out on the sofa,
And my pregnant wife
Is reading across from me.

She says I need a rest.
That I’ve been too busy the last few weeks,
But I feel lazy
And write poems out of this freedom.

Linda #2

Being needy is unattractive.
I try to seclude my need.
I try to contain my need in a box
Decorated with ribbons and bows
So that you might think it is a gift.

And when you’re not here, I’m too here.
I spend hours on the sofa Sundays
Just waiting for you to call.
And I would call you
But pride trumps need.

Linda #3

In her belly the baby’s dropped
She walks slowly as below the Mason-Dixon.
Passing a patisserie, she must have a doughnut.

In the warm end of December she craves
Rare vegetables in balsamic vinegar
While the baby kicks her in the ribs.

I love this woman & this child to be.
I love her ample, waddling straddle.
And what do you know, sun’s coming out.

Linda #4

Like men with signal flags
It was my job to bring the thing down safely.
We had walked to the hospital
Through the trails of false labor at 4 a.m.
I slept till lunch the next day.
But this, borne of reality, was not a test.
My wife scored high percentile in everything.
She dilated like an astronomer’s eyepiece.
I got lost trying to find the bathroom.
Then returning,
I drew the curtain on my wife,
The only one to whom I was not a stranger.

Linda #5

Walking out of the house again
My wife and friend
Out to get some coffee and a trim
Calls me lazy and awry.

I seldom brood.
It’s just her way, I tell myself –
Half-warm, half-cold, this December morning
With the barometer falling.

Poems by Mebane Robertson, past contributor to Green Hill and author of the poetry collection Signal from Draco. Many thanks to Mebane for these poems, which mark a significant departure in style for him.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Poem by Dritëro Agolli translated by Kristi Bojdani

The Seagull

We found a seagull lying on the wet sand,
She had broken her leg under the fragile knee,
She was alone in the middle of the seashore.
She was abandoned and no one was waiting for her.

We brought the seagull into our room,
And she became used to us, like a family member.
But from the windows she would look at the furious surf,
And the foaming waves rising in the midst of the angry storm.

The seagull lived for a very long time in our room,
But one day we couldn’t find her.
A day when the sea would devour the wet sand,
A day when storms were coming.

And we went to look for her in the sea
When waves clashed heads like bulls,
When the wind and the clouds would moan,
And we found the seagull lying dead.

We saw her!
She had opened her wings in the clammy sand.
We saw her!
Maybe she didn’t want to die in that room.


Pulbardhen në rërën e lagur e gjetëm,
E kishte thyer këmbën nën gjurin e brishtë.
E kishin lënë shoqet në bregun e detit vetëm.
E kishin lënë e askush nuk e priste.

Pulbardhen në dhomën tonë e shpumë
E u mesua me ne si njeriu i shtëpisë.
Vec nga dritarja shikonte detin me shkumë
Dhe valën që ngrihej mes shiut dhe stuhisë.

Jetoi pulbardha shumë në dhomë
Po humnbi papritur një ditë,
Një ditë kur deti hidhej mbi rërën e njomë
Një ditë kur vinin stuhitë.

Dhe shkuam në det ta kerkonim,
Kur vala me valën si deshtë kokat kishin përpjekur
Dhe era dhe retë rënkonin
Dhe e gjetëm pulbardhën të vdekur…

E pamë!
Kishte hapur krahët e bardhë në rërën e njomë
E pamë!
Ndofta nuk donte të vdiste në dhomë…

poem by Dritëro Agolli (b. 1931), translated from the Albanian by Kristi Bojdani

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Take Back NYU!

The New York Times gives some microspace to NYU's attempts to squash a student-led movement to bring transparency to business at the university, including (in the movement's words) "budget disclosure, endowment disclosure, and student representation on the Board of Trustees." The movement wants the unversity to practice Socially Responsible Finance, or Socially Responsible Investing. For the article in Saturday's NYT, go here. For the organization itself click on Take Back NYU!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

photo by Ian Engelberger

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Free Will by Navid Ahmadzadeh

Smite him
He said with a force of a thousand winds
A stampede of proboscis mountains rose from the earth
The retribution cast by a dark mage
Bitten by a draconian magic devoured his soul
With stentorian blasts of bites
Fed upon his unholy flesh
Rapid fire of convoluted snakes wrapped around his decaying life
His body consumed with such vulgar lavishness
His spirit free with serendipity and as powerful as an anticyclone
Free from the imprisonment of reality and society
I will march on and carry the flag of freedom into battle
Long live my heart, my winged star, my eagle mind

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

english journal nine advance notice micro e-flyer
cover art by ian engelberger. poem by eros angjeli

Monday, February 2, 2009

Poem by Karen Layman

Ode to Groundhog Day

Why is it
That on February 2nd each year
We strange humans
Go and look for groundhogs in their holes
To see if they have a shadow?
How do we know if they can see their shadow?
And who decided it was six more weeks anyways?
And what is the groundhog thinking?
"If there are humans outside my hole
There will be six more weeks of winter."