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The American Poetry Review March/April 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

7 min
from trading riffs to slay monsters

Give & take is how the great sun sets& the moon rises, how beloved Venusglows there as if she never came too close to the sun, & as if Mercury is not a hunkof metal fused by indescribable brightness.Indeed, give & take is how our planet moves & breathes, & we at the topof the food chain hardly even notice,waiting for horses to tell us about a wave. Those who love the winds of timeknow one another the way horses knowfirst by smell, or by the same way trees breathe pheromones in the air to signalrain or a pest arriving from a distance.We have forgotten how to listen to planetary clues—water bloomswith algae, or, you’re forgetting, Mercuryin the horizon is first to carry news. I sit here, thinking like a poet, asking,Why is there water &…

1 min
it has them within itself as an image in a mirror

nature of the hour:the line marks the woundin the art of the frame: first things makesecondthings, then minutely, last things andno-longer-things: this be/comingthe unseen, the shadowlandthreat by way of remove,this infiniteregress from the center towards the darkening exteriorthat marks further and further the outsider inthe mirrorof the border: for that is the dream of the frame:home/comingfor somebut not every: you with but not amongus: giveus this our:(in the feed inthe applications in the windows of the cellphone, images light their mirrors: drawnin the same thick darkmarker: a kid scrawled grid—the fence | the foreground—slashing up scant stuff in the otherwise bare room: a toilet:the stillat the time saidchildren: a door: [locked more often than not]) Gina Franco’s recent book, The Accidental, winner of the 2019 CantoMundo Poetry Prize, was published by…

3 min
two poems

Machine Religion When they commanded the network to produce images of barbells, they discovered something strange…In the “mind” of a neural net, a barbell was a material object with a human hand and wrist attached.—Steven Levy, Wired Magazine Jesus is a lyric poem.Jesus is a lyre orliminal force. Jesusis a lord quiet andlike a lamb. Jesusis a ham sandwichno one eats. Insideus, he pleads againstthe devilish will. Insideus, his illness spreads.Inside us, we widen.Inside us, we believe.Jesus incites us toviolence. Jesus isa violin. Jesus hasa rhythm. Jesus isa holy instrument.Inside us, his openE string pleads The Introvert’s Lament One person I mimic. One person I triptych.One I travel or tromp, trod or stone.One person I misunderstand. One person,I am. One’s voice I mistake for an engine in the night, purring, calling me home.One I keep…

12 min
the zuihitsu and the toadstool

Yes, a toadstool, I told her. A poet friend was keeping me company while I hemmed a skirt. It’s like when I see a poem that’s around fourteen lines, unconscious expectations are set off: the poem is probably a lyric on the theme of love and probably turns like an argument—which is to say, I expect a sonnet. So—here I looked up from stitching—what expectations might be prompted when you see a zuihitsu? She replied, But a toadstool? I said: Well, just as a fungus is not an animal or a plant—it’s its own species—the zuihitsu isn’t poetry or prose. She picked up my seam-ripper and taunted, So, where does that leave you—a thousand years after Sei scribbled her random thoughts? If you leave the definition at “toadstool,” how can…

1 min
parking lots

It’s true: his family car, me—his colleague—and a parking lot near a midtown bar. The deluge gave us privacy. The steamy windows. The not-wanting-to-leave the moment and return to small rooms of want: theirs, not one’s own. Which was okay until things like the lot, torn panty-hose, the noise. Rain beating. Parking the car in the motel lot after dinner, the floodlights making the night an artificial day, he spied something large and moving on the pavement. Too delicate for a rodent. It was a beetle—the kind we’d only seen in decorative displays. He scooped it up gently and we brought it inside to see in the light of the room and up close. I googled it and found ‘rhinoceros beetle.’ But that was not quite it, given that they are…

2 min
two poems

For the Willows to Bless with a shower of leaves, red in the dawn,the stream by their side, riverflowidling, a little back spill, the shrillcry of a bird, and little by little,as the light grew, the sun crestedthe hills, and, as it splintered its goldamong our leaves—a two-legged figureappeared, and behind it, another,another—as if the horizon itself wasan opening seam from which they werepouring, a column stretching back and back,over the hills that the sun had justmounted. They were backlitby that sun, flat silhouettes,and it was hard to discern onefrom another, so alike they appeared,and so endless their procession.And as they approached us, wetensed, feeling something betweenapprehension and wonder, so much likean army of ants they seemed—so many,so many…as they came closer, we hearda great keening, so that, unsurehow to greet…