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The American Poetry Review May/June 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
6 Issues

in this issue

4 min
four poems

Window But that’s not, he said to me, to cut me off, the limitof empathy. There was, I thought, a breeze somewhere nearby, but I didn’tknow. I faced the wall, and after all was indoors. This not speaking for months—that’sa choice you made. You didn’t have to. I had become aware of glass, which I knew movedso slow, though someone still had called it solid. Empathy doesn’t havean endpoint. It’s something you decide, you decide where to stop. A little lessof the light this morning harbored in the palm outside the window. Whichalready I knew I’d use for an image— icon of a haven, or destruction, whenit waves. Don’t act like this isn’t a choice. Sonnet written walking under the mess some magnolia made Even with my nose up here at six foot something I knowThe color brown is sweet:…

1 min
two poems

Woke Up at the Edge of Hasbro Woke up at the edgeof Hasbro,at the guardrail,with the stingerstill interred.Helmet free,I drank my spit.Extracted five-plus yearsof garbage from my ears.Had to unlearnmy learningin the navellesscomics of Prince Valiant.Spoke sternlyto my two-tailed mammoncurled against its tree.Our punishments,we devoured themby hand.Ground themto a kind of talc.Unharmed nowby the chipped platedropt, one depthswollen withdepth’s becoming,but not preparedfor solitude.Its corridorswere large and wakeful.Where a stonecould amass,or a callus on a thumb.In the bedpan,watched the namingof my parents,saw them ledbeneath the vaultingof a manger,charred and cold,to stand before the overseerfilling in his ovals.Studied the back blow,sipped fromthe birth-horn,looked up towarda ceilingof access fobsand entry wands,a whole lifetime of themsealed thereinin gelatin.And had the twonot shrieked?I might have offeredimmortality. Sonnet (You Can Tell It’s Mattel) Modeled from foam in the unseen…

10 min
from synthesizing gravity

Radiantly Indefensible 1. The central thing I want to think about is the mystery of—I want to call it profundity, which seems all wrong for Stevie Smith. But impact seems inadequate. No, it is inadequate; impact just means that one is struck; profundity means that when one is struck, one sees deep stars. So profundity. Stevie Smith’s poetry had a profound impact on me, how about that. I was looking for Stevie Smith, so hard. I turned over libraries and bookstores for years, trying to find her. I didn’t know her name or anything about her; I didn’t know what country she came from or what kind of poetry she would write or that it would have little drawings. All I could find was not-her. I would find a piece of something here and another one…

5 min
two poems

Ode on Departed Slang Are you still there, bitchin—word I used in Hawai’ito describe a wave, a friend’s hair, my pink bikini—bogart, book, banzai, boss, stoked, psyched, all the surfing slangthat faded when I moved to Dixie, the land of dang,Christ all mighty, Jesus bird dog, mash, ornery, lick,as in you don’t have a lick of sense, the ugly stickdames were hit with, all the words that have been lostin the great lingo sea, words I loved or used then tossedeither because their time had passed or I had moved onto another realm, as when my hippie world was goneflip out, far out, freak (as in he’s a freak—a good thing)became a geek with horns or someone who was singingGreat Balls of Fire naked in the courtyard of the world,but nothing…

5 min
copy of a roman copy of a greek original

I. Carrying his toy guitarthe boy-god laughing looks awaythe bees climb the columns] stone bees on stone columns [the head of Hercules inside the mouth of the lionhe killed the lion hewears the head as a hood his eyes look outhis mouth ] is he carrying my wife askshis penis in his hand no I saythat’s his club [ is his broken clubfear cannot forget itself once the marble memorizes fear] gorgon logic [ the motion that has noprecedent hairswept back by the violent turnof the heads looking back at what horrorpursues them boy’s twin-sister, his mothertheir mouths open I think they arescreaming ] but I hear no scream [toddler-apollo is laughing and the laughsounds like footsteps on the granite stairs going up likeI know the pollen being gathered is dust…

3 min
muslim with dog

bring home baby pitbull in a Nike shoebox,her mother left tied to a post in the Bronxafter the owner sold her kids. The puppy hops on hind legs when happy, pees in a pot of yucca,licks the hollow in my throat when sleepingon my chest. Muslims believe a dog’s saliva is nagasah, dirty impurity. Dread runs forwardas a dripping line of slobber slugged at their bodies.I don’t soap myself seven times after her tender kiss. I want to muzzle Muslims. I’ve seen themscrub hands raw when a pug sniffs it, weavethrough speeding cars just to bypass a poodle like it can spit hellfire. A dog won’t attackthe owner who abuses it. We learned helplessnessby shocking dogs. It goes: a terrier was charged with protecting a baby. The couple found itwith a mouthful of blood. The…