Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Three Poems by Andy Stallings


          Only sad things,
like: the tea is not
        coffee. Silence
              arrives, sudden
        as mail. Only magic
              things, like: if
you’d only say so…
        (You: say so.)
              How feeling is
        ‘the useless cry
              of a bird’ /
                    a sort of
              nowhere including
        Each song the choir
              sings sounds like
        the end of service.
              Enter the city:
delivery trucks
        drag concrete over
cobbles, over
        curbs where I
              wander with my
gigantic dome umbrella,
        alive as in a
              tenancy to silence.
        Rocks stacked on
              stovepipes. Windows:
                    debts I pay
        again and again.
                The rain has no
                    idea –


Tiny city on the inside
of an ember: model for
that other city, memory.

                                                        Conversations we pass,
                                                        like beliefs, down through

                            An orange in frosty grass, rotting slowly.

                            So cold I’d steal my brother’s clothes, so quiet
                            I hear the dim electric crackling of power lines,
                            headed who knows where.

Whatever disappears
      becomes a mirror.
              Still talking
      about the world
though it vanishes.

      In the distance,
              graceful skater.

                              City of pigeons frozen in fountains at night, singing:

                                                        What finally
                                                        our lives must
                                                        correspond to,
                                                        the sky

Shadows even in darkness.
Snow: the great equal.
No two stillnesses alike.


Nothing changed: it ached away.
You cried all night last night
about your dreams. Under
ether, sound elongates, bells
like tulip bulbs. I am
easily broken, or moved.
I spoke today with a man
who no longer speaks.
We walked around defying.
Winter: cat past lit
doorway. Sunlight:
counterfeit. Journey
begins in winter as
despair. The city contains
a second, sleeping city
where, stranded near
the bakery, we buy it
entire. There are days
for an old-fashioned
silk-lined suit; days for
vanishing. Approaching
the new city in conversation,
we catch a coming hymn
and fall silent. Together
we enter the bright gymnasium.

Andy Stallings lives in New Orleans, where he teaches creative writing at Tulane University, co-edits Thermos Magazine, and curates Exploding Swan Operations. His poems have appeared or will soon appear in Mid-American Review, Bat City Review, Seattle Review, Crab Creek Review, Hubbub, and Clementine Magazine.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Three Poems by Jack Christian


If that’s what you really are
If you are that flat and I am that round
If I am a rock beside an embankment
And if badness is the quality of being very far behind
And your sidekick is what others term vision
And then there is no then
Because you owe from the east
And hold closely a cotter’s joint
And yours are instructions on how to spin around
And in your kind of heaven and in your kind of paint
We are the pink inside the gravel
And you sell coats from inside your coats
Because your city is large enough
Your are always there to sell us something
We are always in need
And the sign for this is the octagon
And your butterflies are quotidian another word for incessant
And likewise your occupation causes you to teeter
between noticing and looking after
And we discuss this motion as demonstrative
of the fifth and sixth law of flight
And in truth and in longer days
an earlier truism’s small corollary
becoming practicable now
The pipe and plank and space
And I am without approximation I am edged and all
And speed in conjunction with
And I beguile the highway


When great movies are in my device which is clean
and I’m on my couch got secondhand
with elderberries in the compost and fruitflies in the kitchen.
The chickens I’m to meet in weather unapproachable.
And the defenestrator who stays in my mouth
and the river I discard.
The gift bags full with lemonade powder
in time for reenactment. And often on the perimeter of thought
on a knotted street.
The governor necessary to incite these things:
the calm, the golfcart and ugly shrubs
the trail unrumored and repeated.
A prayer for courage
which is superior to the feeling of being brave.
And is brought by our bumblebee, our mother’s rose,
her dogs who mistake swimming humans for boats
and attempt to climb aboard.
A caterwaul across gravel. Mom’s ghost in the graveyard
or skunk in the bushes.
The light the bricks take. The brick and ivy together.
The apartment complex aglow
the basketball goals. Their shadow-games
the crows-nest that clears. Our great speckled bird
by exhortation – how sane to be a knucklehead!
with a wagon to tote a friend in across the bridge
with the traffic jam.
And the variety and all of a terse debate.
The sunspot on the sidewalk that travels with me.
The parts unknowable and so, impossible to tame.


We were scientists and fringe scientists.
We had the feeling of a new morning
with the lights off. We were a possibility.
And one of us set his hair on fire.
And one made a box. And one grew a forest
in the ruins. And the box split in half.
We put the halves on a train that went away
and on a train that followed a circle track.
We, who stayed, acted as ecosystems.
Insistent as pillars, we stood.
We comported ourselves in the attitude of parked fire trucks.
We weren’t thinking; we were conducting thought experiments –
a thing as natural as jumping rope.
It was tic-tac-toe with ourselves, a match seen in re-run –
a nothing, also, that could not change.
And one was housed in ruins. And one grew horns
to guard her shell. And one curled.
And one bloomed. And one sought heat in soil.
One bore children; their eyes were open.
And one split her skull in half.
The tests were not called How Stupid We Are.
We who remained were with our questions.
They were the river we bathed in.
Our bridge walked from the water.
Our rumor shivered in the cathedral.

Jack Christian is the author of the chapbook Let’s Collaborate from Magic Helicopter Press. His poems are upcoming in Drunken Boat and Thermos, and his work has appeared recently in Sixth Finch, Cimarron Review, notnostrums, Phoebe, and Diagram. He is from Richmond, Virginia, and lives now in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Links to Jack's online poems: