ZINIO logo

The American Poetry Review May/June 2016

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

12 min
three poems

Dear Chris, Life is hard. We don’t need art to say so. Life is hard. Do you know that great Dickinson line where she says she walked from “plank to plank”? Or maybe she leapt, like a flame, the light at one with the wavering scene, cryptic and serene as known emotion. Sometimes, on one of my late night experimental walks, I get the urge to smoke cigarettes and look for owls in our lush, organic, dying trees and oh yeah, revolution. Oh yeah. And the source of my sadness is . . . And the great ravines of my sadness are . . . But we have to hash it out in this world, which is bullshit, like Fiona said, in her MTV speech in the 90s, and then she got called the “crazy girl” “the anorexic girl” but I think some of us really…

1 min
the end is always sudden

Fumbling forward in an arrogant fog. The sensation of tiredness—tingle smell of swallowed coffee in the nose is tiny, like Captain Cook’s ship picking the edge of Australia. He and my nose are determined nits. Something eternal’s surely obscured—? The mouth-covering submission of having a vagina, of looking at the sky and desiring another order, or not desiring another order (to be delivered by Cook or by nose) but understanding the ridiculous fear that animates the oppressor so small in a big space. The memory of my father at the drive-thru window of a McDonald’s at night on I-87 north, his face lit and strained serious, is easy to describe, whereas someone else’s foam earphones, or a soft anxiety that wants you to lie in it, or the mountains at night, in a kind of feminine community and exclusion. How tiny I wanted us to be on…

4 min
from the last bohemian of avenue a

It makes me sad to look up at the crest of a building & see washed-out names, decals, numbers, lettering half-gone, muted tinges of the past, edges of lives discolored & flaking off signs, the bold signatures now silenced & mildewed a hundred times in gray. I see them come & go, new faces with question marks & dollar signs in their eyes, believing they can still birth the Immaculate. But I know when the heart’s only a big mouth & the pumping is not a cutting contest at Slug’s. A paint job has taken away patinas of years, romance, & chance. I have stumbled upon a thing that stuns me beneath a busted light globe. Even if loneliness arrives around 3 a.m., it isn’t easy to touch myself because it’s a sin. But now & then I must hold on to something to keep me here on Earth, in the middle of an old tune & a new one—I…

3 min
driving through south carolina, twice , on the day which is every day: june 18th, 2015

i. By evening I-85 south was a glossy tongue and the churning clouds over Greenville swallowed the sunset, a collision of slow nod and speed bag, an archetypal American pain and the lightning of the unknowable facts, the near future. Suci’s 14 and terrified of weather, I think, because she thinks it means what happens outside happens inside, too. Or vice versa. Weather in a house can low-pressure and go lower and people don’t really know how low until it’s your own lightning and facts and no one in the house can breathe; people squall each other, unknowable, and tornado the plaster walls away; she’s watched some of that weather happen and so it’s probably my fault that she’s as scared as she is of the sky. ii. 6 AM I drive alone through a sunrise-storm, headed north near Anderson, a fog of tiny twisters steams from the pavement and I aim the car…

17 min
going crosstown

GET TING OFF THE PLANE IN NEWARK, New Jersey, a few years ago, before the Dodge Poetry Festival, I looked for the car service hired to transport poets to the festival grounds. It turned out I was riding in the same car as ________, a Native American poet, whom I had not met before. “Oh, it’s nice to meet you,” I said. “You and I are on the same panel on Sunday—“‘Poets on Race in Poetry.’” Although she and I look pretty much the same—we both could pass for Minnesotans— she looked at me like I was crazy, and burst into laughter. “What race are you?” she said. ________’s assumption, one shared by most Americans, is that white skin color is disconnected from racial identity. Whiteness is the background against which race happens.…

4 min
two poems

-Nation (an excerpt) 7. There was a space on my shoulders where he liked to rest his face. His hair soft under my jaw. After the shots, his senses raced into overdrive—lights too bright, songs too loud, my touch too much. The last time he hugged me back was in the waiting room. He was two. He’d been sick and missed some shots, so the clinic played catch-up. I guess it was more than he could take. We just wanted to prepare for daycare, all vaccines up to date. Now they won’t take him. The doctors say he’ll need an institution. At night, I sneak into his room when I’m sure he’s asleep just to rest my cheek against his darkening curls and breathe the scent of him. NOTES Location: Monta Loma, CA NVICP settlement: [redacted] 209. Somali refugee, Minnesota I had heard of this, this sickness in your country; we call it American Disease. In my country, people are fighting. We brought…