week of July 7 - 13, 2003
the judges of the
2003 Poetry Super Highway
BECOME A POET OF THE WEEK
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Chad Davidson is author of a collection of poems entitled Consolation Miracle (Southern Illinois University Press, 2003), winner of the Crab Orchard Prize. He is also the recipient of a New York State Thayer Fellowship in the Arts, a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship to the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study at the University of Perugia, Italy. His poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Colorado Review, Crab Orchard Review, DoubleTake, The Literary Review, The Paris Review, Pequod, Poet Lore, and others. He is currently an assistant professor of English at the State University of West Georgia. http://www.siu.edu/~siupress/titles/f03_titles/davidson_miracle.htm
The following work is Copyright © 2003, and owned by Chad Davidson and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.
The Tiniest Green Hummingbird in the World
Its throat feathers (or gorgets)
refracting in the feeders glare
shimmer as a flys eyes do.
Hovering, unbiased toward
one way or another of being
pin-sized and nonpasserine,
it greets the greatest of your trees
with the cool of the millionth
divide of itself, new-worldly.
The two crows now settling like
battered kettles uneven on
the grape wood, or the woodchucks
caravaning through timothy
appear distant as continental
plates, leagues under a strange sea
prone to flood, to freeze of a night,
thaw come morninga cerulean
a bird like this could swim or fly in.
Motionless to any eye
but its own, bejeweled, needle-like,
or rather eye-of-the-needle-like,
it stuns with a silence of flight
which serves only to keep you praising
its sideshift, eager as a piston,
exact as the time it teaches
by severing a pendulum.
If the blisters of its eyes rise
to meet yours, be still. Breathe
in small bursts as to feign
its fluttering. Registering
the smallest fracture of the air
its mastered, the bird will receive
you without the slightest chill.
Or you will pass through,
as you have done each spring
morning through this country
fog-quilted and sluggish,
the geometric necessity
of a tiny things nearness
the only fugitive youd harbor.
Two-and-one-half inches, the size
of a thumb bent thumbing
a sketchbook or, supine, hitchhiking:
this bird and six-foot hum around
some lilac and the world
its fastened to. Quickly, snatch
a snapshot of yourself as you
glisten orbitally in
the birds third passing, sugared
in red solution. Good. Developed
in your red room, those prints display
only one pair of wings
above the shrill horizon, and the you
tethered to its thin vision.
Remember the Continental Divide?
You were the one dividing.
March-weary, I waver in the atrium
under a million golden flies. A mosaic
of crows crowds the piazza like a shadow
of the piazza flown free. the many yellow-
coated men moving with the ease
of figure skaters across boardwalks.
Inside St. Marks, perspectiveless, byzantine,
saints stand frozen in their whirling waters
the reverse of everything this city holds:
that night is a one-legged bird with mercury eyes,
dying every time a faithful touches it.
Faith, night says, is a water mortuary.
Outside the rain drowns the piazza.
Who teaches this city to drown itself?
Keeping the House
You like the fish in its glass, how it whirls
your house around, mouthing Os.
This house is a lung, collapsed.
Yet you scissor hours into snowflakes
with your Windex and your Pledge,
your Hoover hovering above the hardwood.
Picture the world in a vacuum,
a tiny thing in its own hourglass.
Like the black plastic vacuums black work
after spilling coffee: no matter
how you turn the vacuums hole
the grounds will not relieve the ground
entirely of blackness. Just as this day
will not allow its twin to roll it over
clockwise. Whats the matter with the world
being twenty-four hours older, wiser each day?
To think: no birthday. Just birthing,
continual, punctual. This world grounds you.
In its finest hour, you think, it is a daisy
cutter fluttering down to the ground.
You can almost feel the day dismember,
it and the fish swimming in it.
Which is why you stop vacuuming.
Because every day is the twenty-fourth hour
of a larger day turning around,
collapsing. Your hours come round
at last. Go on. Turn around. Pledge.
Will your bed remember you?
Inside your minds limousine,
your body with its way of sitting barward.
A glass ice bin sweats.
Yet only the lewdest of beer murals
rouses your driver from the windshield
sheer as a nightgowns underside.
Above, the Tequila-Sunrise-colored sun
cherryless but cheery
through your glass septum.
Marred, pacified, your face
in the post-impressionism of a wet window
couldnt be more tropical, spotted
like a whitesand inlet or leopard
in a tree with a limousine sheen.
You want to be your hand in the pool
of your lap, two fingers pointing
inward, rabbit-eared but pointless.
Exiting you might understand the point
of red dripping down the glass sky
sugared in barlight, and the photographer
saying open your eyes and say whiskey.
Your bodys grown a gown around that word.
Erin Elizabeth makes her home in Binghamton, New York, where she finishing her BA in Creative Writing and bribing MFA programs. Erin is the editor-in-chief of Stirring : A Literary Collection and a founder of Sundress Publications. Her poetry has appeared in over forty literary journals including Pif, Pedestal Magazine, 2River View, Gravity, Miller's Pond, Agneiska's Dowry, Black Bear Review, and Eclectica. She is a 16-time winner of the now-defunct Insomniacs' Poetry Slam and was voted Favorite Featured Poet of 1999 by the readers of Poetry Super Highway. Recently she was awarded a fellowship to attend the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets.
The following work is Copyright © 2003, and owned by Erin Elizabeth and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.
The Annex of Sleep
In these dreams, the traffic cones are minks.
The Susquehanna is not a shriveled bank,
this hydrophobic season, so fitful in its giving.
The bridge is all we talk about --
how three hundred strands of light can transform a city.
Sometimes, you are here, though smaller,
with darker hair. So familiar, I wonder if that is all
you could become -- tired sheets weekly washed,
the opening of green bean cans. If I bridled you,
shifted the bit into the hollow place
where your smartest teeth should be, would you buck,
become a blackbird as you do when I sleep,
listing all the ingredients of a nest,
pulling a pink worm from the shallow earth.
Two nights ago, you were behind me, grasping
my shoulders at the neck. I started to tell you
about the Redbank graveyard, all the concrete
stones saying "Baby", about the year Hugo hit,
freed the neighbors' dogs who packed together
and disemboweled a stray grey kitten in my carport.
Almost told you about the night he bent me
over his frameless bed.
Wake me and I will feed your cats, I plead.
But you turn and say,
No. No. Sleep.
.....Previously Published in Miller's Pond
Tuesday Night Moon
you are not the bright-
headed daughter of Zeus,
a pearl adrift in surf.
Nor are you alone
in your perihelion pregnancy,
round and rebellious in a fish tank
you are a dime
sewn into the ceaseless
soft of Navajo velvet,
worried and restless,
because you are the only polished
Previously published in Piernian Springs.....
This is not Rhode Island
"It is absurd to think that providence is quiet."
Mary scours the frost from a folding chair, gathers her legs.
Winter streets with their burnished breath, sloppy shoulders,
the mulberry moon lodged in the front yard sycamore is sick
on its own slumber. New snow, fissured on the holly, dines
on her attention. She mangles the poor pavement of it with a stone.
"This is not Rhode Island. This is not New York.
This is a place where front doors aren't hinged,
and winter is let to fester in its filth."
She unsheathes her legs, flings her hat
in a snarled sphere against her house.
"I will set this town ablaze."
The traffic light, three moons on the snow, shifts,
and she pulls at the holly coolly.
.....Previously published in Avatar Review
Jonathan Penton lives in various places throughout the American South, where his bad teeth are celebrated, not maligned. He is the editor and webmaster of unlikelystories.org, and the webmaster of bigbridge.org and iracohen.org. Horses whisper to him.
The following work is Copyright © 2003, and owned by Jonathan Penton and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.
When did I start smoking? And why?
I can taste the ash on my hand
An airport in a strange city,
burdened with two bulky bags,
with hours left to wait.
This is no time to get nervous.
This is no time to ask questions.
French fries and fear weigh down the air,
and the police are eyeing me in the
same way I am eyeing them.
After the madness of the 20th Century
and the apocalyptic opening
of the 21st
There's always someone
in a dirt-floor bar
with a twanging Texas voice
singing love songs
like it never mattered
One of us is very ill.
I see everything
all the way down
from the time when the world is a
patchwork of fields and forests
stretching out past the horizon
to the time when the tops of the trees
stare into my face
I see it all
every pine needle, every lost aphid
my senses are infinitesimal
in their precision
and all the beauty opens up for me
>From the curve of the earth
to the immediacy of this situation
and I am sad
that it is all about to end
I will never write a poem
as the orange embers
in the bottom of this fire
And I will never write a poem
as that dumb bitch pontificating
on the beauty of a tree
And in that moment
just before your spray
given the options
was it really so much easier to
turn away and face the wall
find comfort in some instant too long
gone and duck the question of
whatever you and I might represent
decline to comment
on the differences between you then and now
and choose to spend this time away
keep everything I might offer at
bay spend moments staring into space
looking for someplace you won't find
letting me watch as you