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The American Poetry Review January/February 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

3 min
four poems

Declaration of Interdependence Hooknose, Canada Goose, slit-eyed Toucan.Porch monkey, baboon, trash-talking magpie.I cover my head in adoration, just as you doff your hat.Do not rub my head. Don’t even think about it.I bob as I chant, I pray as I breathe. Does that disgust you?I shout to the Lord, dance out my joy. Does that amuse you?To my knowledge I have never terminated a deity.Last time I looked, I did not have a tail.Business is not “in” my blood. I attended university. I studied.I am a trained athlete. Nothing I do on the court is natural.Matzo is not a culinary delicacy: There wasn’t a menu.Fried chicken will kill you just as easy as the Colonel.You buy tickets to hear me crack jokes about my tribe. Are you uncomfortable yet?Suddenly you’re walking…

13 min
mountain time

In the air you don’t know who you are or where My own self feels it is in wind being born These are currents a man made one eighth of smokeless fire fears but chooses A path south from Anchorage to a Mountain House Ungovern the northern land to pass from people to people not to own I came to learn something, that’s always what I say What pilgrims follow on trails are bodies that went before them Paths neither consecrated by use nor blood or days Or is the body of a pilgrim climbing a mountain like that of an athlete Whose path to Victory is just a metaphorical expression of sexual or political or military conquest In Homer now at the end of a long promontory continually shored up against ever encroaching tides and water level The birds caw…

6 min
three triptychs

I Gave Birth Woke to the “meanerror,” of birds squawkinginside the blue-greyblackpolyphonies of whathappens when we losethe terminologyto determine how badthings really are. Wasthere no way to puncturethe agonizing filmthat kept us all corralledhere? I looked throughthe window—bewilderingaxiom, condition,assumption—I lookedat the dwarf orangetree, fruitingsour fruit incessantly. In Another Suppose it is possibleto be in three statesof errorat once and in each placeto think three thingsand in eachthing to feela different version ofthe salted wind as youare walkingalong the high sea cliff.Take, for example, apricotswhich have been geneticallybredto amplify the length oftime their fragrance staysin the crisp airof the cadaverous supermarket,just long enough toplace themin your cart and thinkto yourself the worldis good.You may be very lonelyat this point. The groceryclerk scansthe apricots and asksyou a few questionsto which the answeris always “no.” Era “When willthe…

1 min
a primer on listening for bird species in lady bird johnsongrove, ca

It’s a brass class of penny-whistleson branches, the black oystercatcherpicked bark; hole struck in a plastic lidburnt by butane. Melted, stingingmissiles marking territory, terror’sa truck right through the base oftrees. Turn down the sound. Talk starsalong the sidewalk that hangs in the fog; I guess what I’m trying to say is: todaysounds the same as every othertinnitus day: tincture of fear, a tinprick flap that can’t be uncoiled from theflag mast. Sometimes, at night, I can hearthe clear-sound snap of sternand I begin to cry. There you are:there you are again. Matthew Minicucci’s most recent collection, Small Gods (New Issues), won the 2019 Stafford/Hall Oregon Book Award in Poetry. His poetry and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming from numerous journals including The Believer, Ploughshares, POETRY, The Southern Review, and the…

8 min
headphone masterpieces

When poet/singer Gil Scott-Heron and pianist/arranger Brian Jackson entered DB Sound in Silver Spring, Maryland to record Winter in America in October of 1973, the world outside the studio doors was in turmoil. Despite the fact that the U.S. had signed the Paris Peace Accords, declaring a ceasefire and signaling that the Vietnam war was nearing its eventual end, bombings and military aggression would continue, putting a bloody period on the horrific conflict. Stateside, the war had taken a particularly devastating toll on the Black community. Black soldiers made up 23% of Vietnam combat troops, despite African Americans as a whole only accounting for 11% of the total U.S. population. A violent and brutal war whose aims were in direct opposition to the interests of Black folks and oppressed people…

3 min
two poems

Eating Wasps Pre-apocalypse, things take on a certain radiance our eye the dystopian lens lingering on death: a field of corpses, say— then resting on an amber ditch where the assassin’s flicked cigar flares red. And now I’m eating wasps. Did you know that figs are full of dead ones? Not really. In any given fruit there’s one at most who, pollinating, died within. If there at all they’re reabsorbed, digested by the enzyme, replaced with pulp or a hundred glinting pips. Think of that next time you wake at three to the abyss. It’s not the worst thing. You knew (right?) about the aphids in cabbage, thrips in the corn, all the mites that grace gray sage, eagwig bits in our coffee, one hundred & some parts allowed per pound— Oh well. There’s something to be said for acquiescence: the calm…