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The American Poetry Review May/June 2018

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
five poems

Passover Lamb Within the painting’s real frameis a secondary, painted frame composedof flowers—roses, white lilies, salmon-tinted poppies,and the blossoms of fruit trees. Inside the floral frame, she’s painted another frame,this one nearly black, and elliptical, with an angelic head,as if carved there, and wings, painted at the top. Two clustersof grapes, one purple, one green, flank the head, seeming to balance the illusory frame, the grapes so ripethey appear ready to drop from their stems. Within the false frame’sfalse window, we see the Passover lamb, prepared for slaughter.It’s painted prone on a black, petal-strewn board, the legs tied together at the middle jointso that the pointed hooves fan out from their bindinglike the sepal at the base of a bloom. The lamb’s curlsare perfectly rendered, as are its flanks, and soft, folded ear and large,…

7 min
five poems

Dearest Thanatos, Not, I’ll not kiss your lionlimb, not lap back the rattle in my ribslike a lone pill going to powder in an orange plastic bottle. Not, no not sing anymore of the wretchand wrestle. No more ministers to drive words through my wrists and leave me for the patient circlesof scavengers. No. You didn’t kill me. Not because, some days—yes—I wished for it but chose a differentcourage. I stopped asking the mirror for a dream and opening it like a door. I wished to welcome backfeeling, that whole mansion of trembling rooms, wished to break every window, let the light storm through.On my knees I wished for tempest, for rack and screw. I asked for churchless pleasures to disturb my numbcomfort, wanted lick and wallow, wished to swallow the laugh out of my child’s mouth, and—my…

1 min
first time on the funicular

Monte San Salvatore, Switzerland All I can think is what happens if the cables snapand we slide down this striped Swiss mountain made of oceanic quartz on its edelweiss-covered face.At the amethyst peak is a lightning museum where you can bolt a bright coin of knowledgeinto your neck like the pale green monster of classic horror movies, back when no bloodwas ever seen, never pulsed or throbbed on screen. And the lightning collector has notseen action in ages, no arcing low to engulf a tree in flame because most lightning herecatches between clouds. Our kids play back home with their grandparents and what have we done—first we dared eat the finest risotto, drink wine over a white tablecloth before noon, and nowwe are sliding up a mountain to see about lightning. Serves us right if we were struck. But…

33 min
of time and the line

I MEAN OVER THE COURSE OF THIS ESSAY to make some probes into tempo, one of the least discussed properties of poetry. By tempo, I mean the speed or slowness of the voice that’s awakened in the audile imagination of the reader, bent silently over her book. The tempo of the poem is what she seeks to reproduce aloud when she reads the poem to an audience. My hope is simple: to lift into light certain techniques and principles by which the tempo of a poem is established and manipulated. My focus will tend to fall on the uptempo, as in the last roughly sixty years American poets have made marvelous advances in that area, affixing more recognizably quickened speaking tones to the page than at any other point in…

4 min
three poems

Parable My son can’t keep the story straight.“Is he going to come into my room?” he asks his sister warily of Santa Claus.He is so young he routinely needs to be reminded what to believe in.Santa is real; aliens are not real. “Aliens could be real,” my daughter says.“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” I say. “And Jesus is real,” she says. “Zeuswasn’t real. That was a myth. But Jesus Christ was a real man who walkedupon this earth though he was the Son of God.” I guess she’s made itto the New Testament in the 100 Bible Stories for Kids she boughtwith her tooth fairy money. “Sure you want that one?” her father asked, and she heldthe book tightly to her chest. God, sometimes I can see the privacy forming around her,like faint light or the shimmer of oil as the…

5 min
five poems

Lunar Mansions It matters where you are born. In a barnmeans you are the holy star. Meteor child. Jesus was the first bomb. Where are you fromis a question I field too much. Once I said Vietnam and the white man said I fought there.I loved the country. I love their people. That’s the day I started to lieabout my birth. In the stable the horses kicked me from their wombs.It was exactly like finding a baby in a haystack. It was snowingin Michigan when the priest exorcised me from my mother, said: there is goodin you yet before placing a prayer for the ground. Blessed America,there is good in you yet. The moon doesn’t have to bury any children because the earthcarries so many bodies in the soil. In a casket people are sometimes born. I have told my…