Friday, 27 May 2016

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Dear B" by Jennifer Militello



Dear B,



I knew it was a vision when I was killed and from my wound grew water. I knew it from the way my age gained speed. I was lost inside a place that looked familiar. A small moss at the altar. A splinter where I touched. When I went to find winter, I was born of the salt, I could only see my hands, I grew winded. I could only see my wrists. I grew like a forest, I knew me by my roots. I was on my knees and crying to be born. There was a gospel in my blood. Some things are impossible: I had already been sold to the world. Still there was a mystery, winter did not come. The way my pupils responded spoke volumes: they decided a window was a way of singing when they tried mixing laughter with a catastrophe of light. By listening, I was finally invented. I was the dog’s long voice, buying back the evening’s rattled coat of wings. I realized I was made of winter, and the will to carry on.


Jennifer Militello
A Camouflage of Specimens and Garments (Tupelo, 2016)


In the UK, you can purchase A Camouflage from Alibris here.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Sudden Prose Reprints: "Conspiracy to Commit Larceny" by Jennifer Militello



Conspiracy to Commit Larceny



She she she—at the crux of what hurts—(the police came)—thin hospital sheets—(the air in my lungs exhaling)—(their flashlights searched along the dirt for the criminal)—(I was up against the car)—(they were gathering my glances)—the hospital room and her unclean body—(they were collecting my wildflower looks)—my memories as I said them—(in my mouth)—(their voices without bodies)—legs could not support her weight—(I was the criminal)—(they said as much)—what she perceived—(the darkness of woods and a small circle of headlights)—she reached for me—she told me they had left her outside the hospital doors—(I am all by myself)—I pull her socks from her feet—her feet are stones—my temples throb—(the policeman hears them)—(he puts me in a cell)—(he puts me behind the thick glass)—(he carves my name into the ink)—(he carves my name toward the hospital’s room)—the nurses turn her body to clean her after she vomits—her pale thigh—her marbled skin—her inability—(I am handcuffed)—(my fingertips are stained with ink)—(I have my identity)—the hallway smells like trying to keep alive—this geriatric wing—unfolds from my body like a—(flashlight dying)—bulb drifting—(false battery)—the window out to the river—a slowing barge—(I dream of guilt)—(they take my shoes)—(they take my belt)—she takes my hand and tells me—speak—(I sign the paper that speaks for me)—(they read me my rights)—(they speak for me)—a sad green room—I see myself in the mirror—(they see me in from the other side of me)—(they read me the law)—as I read she sleeps—as I read I feed her something that makes her sick—(I roll from bed)—the thin sheets—the bulletproof river—(its bulletproof glass)—(my voice buttoned to one side of it)—she reads my look—I tell her—(the policeman takes my arm and makes me) look—criminal—and finds my wound and touches it—tests it with an open flame—it changes color in me—it is not mine—she is waiting—her feet are cold no matter what I do—and bloodless—(this place is unable to reason)—(unstained)—I rest my eyes—I am surrounded—(there is nowhere that is not this scene)—last glance at days that end—(they put me in the car)—(they call in my name)—her name above the bed is ending as I speak—I carve my name into the scene—(my hospital is not believing)—is my hope—my heart stopping when I see the moments—(the policemen say what I mean)—(and I am clean)—(despite the act)—(the theft)—the rain—(the last attachment they make to me)—(guilt)—in a world betrayed—by flesh—


Jennifer Militello
A Camouflage of Specimens and Garments (Tupelo, 2016)



Friday, 13 May 2016

Sudden Prose Reprints: "In a Word, a World" by C.D. Wright

Many thanks to Forrest Gander for allowing me to reprint the opening poem of C.D. Wright's last collection.



In a Word, a World



I love them all.

I love that a handful, a mouthful, gets you by, a satchelful can land you a job, a well-chosen clutch of them could get you laid, and that a solitary word can initiate a stampede, and therefore can be formally outlawed--even by a liberal court bent on defending a constitution guaranteeing unimpeded utterance. I love that the Argentine gaucho has over two hundred words for the coloration of horses and the Sami language of Scandinavia has over a thousand words for reindeer based on age, sex, appearance--e.g., a busat has big balls or only one big ball. More than the pristine, I love the filthy ones for their descriptive talent as well as transgressive nature. I love the dirty ones more than the minced, in that I respect extravagant expression more than reserved. I admire reserve, especially when taken to an ascetic nth. I love the particular lexicons of particular occupations. The substrate of those activities. The nomenclatures within nomenclatures. I am of the unaccredited school that believes animals did not exist until Adam assigned them names. My relationship to the word is anything but scientific; it is a matter of faith on my part, that the word endows material substance, by setting the thing named apart from all else. Horse, then, unhorses what is not horse.



C.D. Wright
The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All (Copper Canyon Press, 2016)


Saturday, 7 May 2016

"The Find"

Today my flash fiction, "The Find," appears at Ink, Sweat & Tears. I expect other poets will identify with the general situation....

Friday, 15 April 2016

Sudden Prose Reprints: "A Story about the Orgasm" by Nin Andrews

I read this poem in the latest issue of jubilat and was delighted when Nin Andrews gave me permission to reprint it here. Read more about her and her work on her website here


A Story about the Orgasm

after Robert Hass


A young orgasm joined an artist colony, thinking he might want to be an author, but instead of writing, he watched a certain woman all summer long. She was Vietnamese, a poet, almost fifty, and the more he watched her, the more he wanted her. He wanted her like a seeker wants God, like the starving want bread with butter and a pot of warm tea. It was how she moved him with her thoughts that drew him, how, when she stared at the ceiling, clouds moved through her mind along with biscuits and summer rain and dreams. He wanted to ask her questions. He wanted to answer her with his own tongue, if only he could form words like hers. One night when the woman was preparing for bed, wearing nothing but a men’s large tee shirt, her pale legs bathed in moonlight, she felt his presence. She addressed him directly. I think you have been watching me, she said.  I think you want to have me, not just once, but night after night.  She was that kind of woman. She spoke her mind. She knew the difference between an orgasm who lusts and one who loves. But then she said, I’m sorry. I have lost my desire. It left with my lovers. I had three, but they abandoned me soon after I had a double mastectomy. Lifting her shirt, she showed him the space in her chest where her breasts once were. She expected him to look down or away, to apologize and leave as the others had. But instead the orgasm ran his fingers across her slender scars, tracing her pain with awe. For it is the scars of humans that attract the orgasm.  Such beautiful pain, the orgasm sighed before he stroked her neck, her lips, her thighs. All night he held her while she wept. The morning after, the woman felt as if she had bathed for the first time in years. A warm   glow filled her chest and belly and between her legs. She felt so calm then, poems flowed from her pen. Swallows came to her window and sang to her as if she were one of them.



Friday, 25 December 2015

Sudden Prose Reprints: Peter Riley's Greek Passages (Shearsman, 2009), seventh and final selection

Here is the seventh and final prose poem from Greek Passages: 



Bright sunlight, sharpening the edges of the house, the blazing secret of it, the day. / A reason for coming here. And gathering messages from petals on the stony hillsides and the feathers of birds in flight, and small moths hesitating on grass stalks. / The hopes and fears of peoples, cast on the sea shattered into particles of light



You can purchase the collection directly from the publisher here.