The American Poetry Review November/December 2021

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
6 Issues

in this issue

11 min
three poems

In the End You Get Everything Back (Liza Minnelli) The afterlife is an infinity of custom shelving, where everything you have ever loved has a perfect place, including things that don’t fit on shelves, like the weeping willow from your parents’ backyard, or an old boyfriend, exactly as he was in your second year of college, or an aria you love, but without the rest of the opera you don’t particularly care for. My favorite joke: Q: You know who dies? A: Everyone! Because it’s true. But ask any doctor and they’ll say that prolonging a life is saving a life. Ask anyone who survives their surgeries, and they’ll say yes, to keep living is to be saved. I do think there’s a statute of limitations on grief, like, certainly, how…

3 min
four poems

Hotel Belgrade (Residue, cellophane, liquid amber, pearl resin on cardboard) Platinum blonde, with whiteboxes of Russianchocolates. Silver liquid glitter,lemon candle, crimsonleather 1970 Mercedessedan interior. Gum drops, fox fur, creamblouse with gold specksand tiny orange embroidered-flourishes. Royal blue child-size suitcasecrammed with bookson the Death Driveand Hegel’s dialectics. Thick white face paint. Liquid amber, palepink powder. Cream ballet leotard,root beer, blood stain, deathscape. An index ofNothing, and never. Whatthe mind cannot handle,the body must contain— broken shardsof memory: a glass vialof mercury dropped downto the concreteground— Verzweiflung Lullaby I sat for dayson the pink plush carpetinside the death-roomof the blue hotel. I am trying to tell youbut I don’t rememberanything. Freud says when the shockof trauma hitsmemory escapesthe mind, blinds. And wherein the bodydoes memory reside. Death-child, Cindy, gum drops, warmbutterscotch puddingspace dust and switch blade. This poem is a letter,dear reader: I have been reducedto the act of gesture. I am tryingto show youeverything but…

1 min
two poems

Career I spent all my avocado moneyby the light of Saint Martin de PorresI often think about bank robberyWhat wig I would wear, what fun it would beto harm no one and dump a million dollarsover the hills that belong to everyonefrom an airplane that I teach myself to fly Bright Angel It’s snowing in the Grand CanyonIt’s snowing in Central Park in the moviesI miss everything happening all at oncelike bopping groundhogs’ heads blindfoldedBut here we were a married couple sharingtamales in red sauce and red wine and memoriesAnd vampirically we laughed when we jokedwe might push each other into the canyonas though it were safe as a swimming poolas though either one of us could swim in the airOur server said his name was Derrickand that he’d be our server tonight…

3 min
two poems

Hold Me I have an endless appetite for starfruit,for biting my teeth into the universe and spitting outthe space junk, for licking the rings of my favorite planetsand never slicing my tongue. There’s a story I shareabout my birth where angels circle my dead twin’s body,where a fawn walks into the room and licks allthat has bled onto the floor.Hold me as I tell it. Hold me when the rats steal my opportunityand the raccoons bring me luck. Let’s wash our handsin the river and swing from hummingbird feeders,let’s think of all the things we want to touch. Rememberthe five birds that no longer exist? Hold me as I name them—passenger pigeon, dodo, laughing owl, New Zealand quail,the Christmas sandpiper. We can’t press rewind. We can’t go back to the first…

1 min

Like all good conquerors, the Burmese had the foresight to leave picturesque ruins. Americans find ruins fascinating because we fear being laid low, our great monuments atomized & tossed to the wind, our lawns left unruly, unkempt, untrimmed. The buddha, crowned in crowshit, makes us think thoughts we ought to think more of, like, perhaps it is not my children who will reap the fruits of my labor, or, my house sits upon another house’s bones. I am wine-drunk in the temple again. Against the wishes of my ancestors, all this red brick makes me think of Harvard. When a well-fed stray snarls at me, I meet its challenge, my sneer sticky with Pepsi-Cola, my veneers stickiest. Fake recognize fake. Yes, that’s me in the front camera’s shithole gaze, razor…

1 min
the day after thanksgiving

When the leaves fall away there appearsone last apple on the tree, like a late guestfinally arrived, hungry only for questions. I mean late ghost. Already gone, a half yearstuffed in a pocket with forgetfulness.The bare branches glaze in the lessons of rain and fog and ice. No sun. Indoors,the small table has been finally clearedand returned to the kitchen. Remember how only three of four legs touch the floor?The kettle on the stove begins to jeeragainst signs of last things and cold. December comes fat and humble as a question mark. John Poch’s poems have been published in The Paris Review, Poetry, The Nation, and others. His collections of poetry include Two Men Fighting with a Knife (2008) and Dolls (2009). He teaches at Texas Tech University.…