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The American Poetry Review May - June 2015

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
eight poems

Historical Romance O History! Because the present is everywhere singular but the past keeps happening— revising its many roads all leading to the Rome of today, how will we know on which grassy knoll, beside what concession stand will you stand— scouting the news for stories worth retelling? An unadorned war may not be enough. Without a hero, a colorful coup does not a blockbuster movie make. Deep in the Rectangular Forest We sprouted neither leaves, nor wings, sipping from a sweet blue fishbowl through straws of light. We did not toil or spin. We ate whatever poison snacks the witches left us, having long ago developed an implacable immunity to the hocus pocus of their ramshackle ways. Flitting from screen to screen, we pollinated the mostly mediocre content with an innocuous brand of wit. Left to our own devices, we’d eavesdrop on conversations around the world. If something was unpleasant, we deleted it. And if we happened to lose a friend, why hundreds more were ready…

2 min
from the sonnets

12 I hate clocks & mirrors I hate all roses & trees especially trees even evergreens are felled & strung with lights & ornaments I hate ornaments & wind-up creches playing “Silent Night” with plastic cows breathing over a plastic baby I hate babies please don’t have one it will ruin yr beautiful tits forever you’ll have to push a stroller a 40-pound shopping cart before you like a plow 18 years you’ll toil what a waste paint something green get a show somewhere with white walls & people drinking wine I love wine I love taking it in my mouth then kissing it into yours having enough / & time 22 my glass shall not persuade me I am sober after three French 75s in the bar mirror our hair messed up & the bartender carded us both then look I death my days but not yet this afternoon…

17 min
new poetry in translation why poets translate a column

Books Discussed in This Column Ghazals of Ghalib, edited by Aijaz Ahmed. Oxford India Paperbacks, 1994. 174 pages. Rs 150. Selected Translations, W. S. Merwin. Copper Canyon Press, 2013. 406 pages. $40. Collected Translations, David Wevill. Tavern Books, 2014. 168 pages. $17. IF THE NUMBER OF TIMES THAT I HAVE lost a book by lending it out and then ended up buying it again is any indication of its true worth, then the most expensive volume on my bookshelf is definitely Ghazals of Ghalib, edited by Aijaz Ahmed. I first came across it while backpacking through India after college in 1998, the year of the book’s fourth printing. The weight of bound paper is the opposite of what you want on such a journey. But I was so intrigued that I had to buy…

3 min
three poems

Hendrik Goltzius’s “Icarus” (1588) The Icarus Auden favored was two tiny legs about to disappear with a splash into a green bay while everyone else went on with their business, fisherman and sailor, shepherd and sheep. But in this version, the plight of the boy in all his muscular plunging fills the circular canvas as if he were falling through a hole in the world, passing through the lens of our seeing him. It’s hard to read the expression on a pair of legs, but here we have the horrified face, contorted with regret not unlike the beady-eyed Wile E. Coyote who pauses in mid-air to share with us his moment of fatal realization before beginning his long descent into a canyon. It’s as if the Bruegel painting could be run backwards to produce an amazing sight— a wet boy rising into the sky, and then a sudden…

7 min
six poems

Holy Jackass Sutra I heard you were making a fool of yourself in Vermont, drinking your way through the microbreweries; knocking on doors of twenty-year olds at 2 A.M., who mysteriously won’t let you in. Then you weep on the corridor floor until someone takes you back to your hotel. I heard you’re sleeping on your office couch, sneaking down the hall at night to pee, avoiding eye contact with the janitor, —and it might as well be on the six o’clock news, with gossipers like us around, shaking our heads and clucking our tongues, recounting the next installment of disaster— because no matter what we say, we love to see a person burn down his own house, and break his life apart like wicker furniture. God needs someone to do this periodically, and so do we—to remind us what it looks like to be passionate while we watch…

5 min
four poems

Eye Exam I will wait for my eyes to adjust. In time—the future—or sooner, it will happen. The darkness. The artists joke about it. We artists— that it’s required for what we do, our work. When I was young, there was only lamp-light in the house, sometimes just a candle—always candles during dinner; our food consumed in a dim hue, refracted through wax. This—my shadowed childhood—is not to blame. But, when my father looked into my eyes—inside my eyes with his own eyes, his light—his voice grew quiet. His voice has always been soft—always a comfort to his patients, which, in his chair, in his hands, I now was. But he is my father: a low voice means disapproval, uncertainty: the first most feared, the second a rarity. He’d found discoloration on my maculae. Normal, if not symmetrical. But, like him, I am balanced, inheriting his calm composition; imperiousness of a painting. So now, this thought: My eyes will…