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The American Poetry Review May/June 2017

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

8 min
eight poems

Via Dolorosa Somewhere in America, scientists have invented a method for measuring pain, running their fingers over the bleachburned hands of abandoned housewives. The standard unit of sorrow they call a dol, as in dolorous, or Dolores, the name of a young girl skilled at spilling tears down the buttons of her cornflower-blue cardigan. The new machines make us unable to feign heartache or holy prostration, but arguments are settled by those whose dolorimeters run cold. Some wear the devices against their arms as a kind of complaint— this has changed the way we breathe at 4 a.m. into sweat-soaked pillows beside our breathless bedfellows. In some cases sufferers have been sainted, known for their ability to hold their own torn organs in their hands like blood oranges, the way they tie barbed wire around their wrists like penitents hauling wooden crosses through windless deserts. It is said if you embrace these men you will be seared…

5 min
three poems

Cottonmouth The man’s mouth unhinged. He said, I broke my jaw and it open likes this now. I heard the wet click of little bones unfastening. woke up before anyone else and walked outside barefoot to the chilled porch still slick with a thin layer of morning dew. There was a little coral snake asleep, coiled by a rocking chair. I wasn’t afraid this time. We were told the snake was the most beautiful thing God created until the snake wanted to be God or like a God or Godlike. (I’m not sure now.) It happened again—the same dream. I have seen three women give birth and with each contraction the mighty hips break and loosen, the leathery mouth of a snake. I watched as they writhed inside the all-consuming pain, pure as God, fists clenched and wailing something not quite human, but animal enough. Once, she dreamt she swallowed a snake till she became the snake— looping, legless…

6 min
three poems

A Way of Saying Good-bye There is the sea there is the woman one or the other they come towards me cove after cove open perhaps in the broad churchyard of Sunday afternoons I hear them call but not in any old way they call but in a certain way perhaps an appeal or a presence or a suffering So I who basically in spite of many words come from many pages of many dictionaries when all is said and done have made use of just two words since the first morning of the world to designate just two things for all that was needed was to name them I don’t know if I love the sea or if I love the woman more I know I love the sea I know I love the woman and when I say the sea the woman I don’t say…

1 min
history, a microsecond

Night on the eve of an explosion, wow. That angel really blew the place up. He inspired paintings and musical compositions, all while floating backwards, stuck in flight. He said, take this and eat. Really eat. Magnify. Magnify again. The hornet is always only one with its genetic code. Small strands of even smaller pricks. They replicate until they are seen. One, two, three: infinity. Love and death are everywhere. KRISTIN PREVALLET (www.trancepoetics.com) is the author of I, Afterlife: Essay in Mourning Time (Essay Press) and Everywhere Here and in Brooklyn (Belladonna Collaborative). The Boston Review, Spoon River Review, StoneCutter, and The New Republic have published her poems, and her book Visualize Comfort: Healing and the Unconscious Mind is forthcoming from the Belladonna Collaborative/Wide Reality in summer 2017. Prevallet teaches for Bard College’s Prison Initiative, and she maintains a private hypnotherapy practice in…

2 min
two poems

The Red Case After Still Life #11, a photograph by Cristian del Risco What nests things are, especially in the doze of storage. On the closet shelf, a black purse folded atop a bright red suitcase and beside it a yellow box for one of those old Brownie 500 Movie Projectors. It is their color confluence which has caught the need, exposed the weakness that is art. The eye’s edict of the scepter-lensed photographer commands we look passionately outside ourselves and coldly into ourselves, for every shelter betrays its urgent walls. This is the better part of native, nurturing nakedness. What roosts in possession? Who will beckon it to fly, find its kind, and prey upon it? Any armoire, the most disheveled bin, or the fittest regiment of ordered space clusters infinites, demure privacies. They city the many turgid hearths within and likewise leave us vagrant, drizzled, shunned. Let us say…

18 min

Books Magdalene: Poems by Marie Howe W.W. Norton & Company, 2017 96 pages, $25.95 hardcover After that, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out—and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. —Luke 8:1–3 POETRY, WHEN IT IS MEMORABLE, OFTEN BEWILDERS. MATTHEW Bevis, an associate professor of English at Keble College, Oxford, recently wrote in Poetry magazine about how poetry returns us to our bewilderment: “lyrics are invitations to listen to something we can’t quite know.” Chiming in, James Longenbach writes of poems, “we want to experience the sensation, the sound, of words leaping just beyond our capacity to…