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Culture & Literature
The American Poetry Review

The American Poetry Review

January/February 2020

The American Poetry Review reaches a worldwide audience six times a year with the finest contemporary poetry, columns, interviews, photos, translations, and reviews. Every issue includes new voices, established masters, and exciting new translations.

United States
World Poetry, Inc
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6 Issues

In this issue

1 min.
american poetry review

Editor Elizabeth Scanlon Business Manager Mike Duffy Editorial Assistant Thalia Geiger General Counsel Dennis J. Brennan, Esq. Contributing Editors Christopher Buckley, Deborah Burnham, George Economou, Jan Freeman, Leonard Gontarek, Everett Hoagland, Steven Kleinman, Teresa Leo, Kate Northrop, Marjorie Perloff, Ethel Rackin, Natania Rosenfeld, Michael Ryan, Jack Sheehan, Peter Siegenthaler, Lauren Rile Smith, Valerie Trueblood, Joe Wenderoth Founder Stephen Berg (1934–2014) Co-founder Sidney H. Berg (1909–1973) BOARD OF DIRECTORS Jonathan Katz, Chair Margot Berg Eileen Neff Jen Oliver Elizabeth Scanlon Ava Seave Nicole Steinberg BOARD OF ADVISORS Linda Lee Alter Natalie Bauman Richard Boyle Marianne E. Brown Paul Cummins Helen W. Drutt English Rayna Block Goldfarb Werner Gundersheimer Lynne Honickman William Kistler Edward T. Lewis Judith Newman Carol Parssinen S. Mary Scullion, R.S.M. Peter Straub Rose Styron Ann Beattie Robert Coles Rita Dove Carolyn Forche Edward Hirsch Emily Mann Joyce Carol Oates Cynthia Ozick Frederick Seidel…

9 min.

I love you early in the morning and it’s difficult to love you. I love the January sky and knowing it will change although unlike us. I love watching people read. I love photo booths. I love midnight. I love writing letters and this is my letter. To the world that never wrote to me. I love snow and briefly. I love the first minutes in a warm room after stepping out of the cold. I love my twenties and want them back every day. I love time. I love people. I love people and my time away from them the most. I love the part of my desk that’s darkened by my elbows. I love feeling nothing but relief during the chorus of a song. I love space. I love every planet. I love the big unknowns but need to know who called or wrote,…

1 min.
only child

I wake to the train whistle saying, what you don’t knowmight hurt you—with nowhere to ship the storiesI keep to myself. Somewhere in the middle of methey link end-to-end, blowing their whistle into steamin the cold air of things I know that I wish I didn’t.My mother is the engine, pulling the cargo down the line.Secrets hop from one car to the other—and some losses—a brother and a sister in the graveyard up the roadfrom my house, both named Baby, and two othersnever buried. I have a brother on his way there, made of ash.I know more about him than he ever did. Don’t tell,we often said, keep this to yourself. I go back in timeto quiet my brothers and sisters. I sing apologies to them.I hold them close. Forklifts…

10 min.
in the middle of even this: poetry

To be brought from the bright schoolyard into the house:to stand by her bed like an animal stunned in the pen:against the grid of the quilt, her hand seemsstitched to the cuff of its sleeve—although he wantsmost urgently the hand to stroke his head,although he thinks he could kneel downthat it would need to travel only inchesto brush like a breath his flushed cheek,he doesn’t stir: all his resolveall his resources go to watching her,her mouth, her hair a pillow of blackened ferns—he means to match her stillness bone for bone.Nearby he hears the younger children cryand his aunts, like careless thieves, out in the kitchen.Kyrie We’ve passed the 100th anniversary of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic now, and mostly it was scientists and medical historians who noticed at all. But…

1 min.
two poems

Little Domestic Elegies 1 When the backyardlight turned on I was surprisedto discover the air filled with snowso downy and silent it never quitereached the ground. When the light went out, all I could seewas the solid dark still full of that snow. 2 On our first cold dayin the new house the clear world beyond usbecame fogged by the handprintsof whoever had installed our windows. 3 The wind poured through the framed-up housethey were building next door. An emptinesslike photographic paper waiting for some not-yet-installed light to turn onand imprint it with the roomit has now become. Love Poem The purpose of the eye is to narrowThe world beyond the bodyTo a receptive point inside the body At the center of the retinaThe tiny fovea centralis clusters halfThe fibers of the optic nerve Whatever light gets aimed to touch thereComes from what the mindHas focused on while the rest Of the retina holds in…

6 min.
three poems

Three Books (A Simultaneity) 1. May you be written we say, inscribed into the Book of Life According to Talmud there is another book for the wicked: inscribed and sealed for death, and a third for those in between the books where most of us live suspended, trying not to be swallowed by the past, dismembered by future, praying to be written 2. once was a book so largeyou couldn’t behold it—you’d have to marchfor miles just to read a line, the ink so richly blackit felt like falling just to lookand each stanza was not a roombut a state, and each poem a country of its own…Some days we could not tellwhat was the poemand what was the world When we felt the breeze,we wondered whetherit was someone turning a leafor a new season’s weather We could spend our lifelike this, walking the page,waking each new line,and never be the same Yes,…