“Yard Work” – Sarah Maclay

Yard Work

I’ll clear the old, putrid fruit,

the carcasses of bees where oranges have fallen

and the drying turds the dogs have dropped.

I’ll sweep away the fallen avocado leaves

grown snowy with their infestations,

snip the stems of toppled flowers, toss them.

I’ll yank the hose across the grass,

turn the rusty faucet,

let the lawn moisten

to a loose, runny black.

I’ll water the rosemary

till I can smell it on my fingers.

Time to grab the trowel.

Time to dig,

to take off the gloves,

let the handle callous the palm,

fill the fingernails

with dirt.

Time to brush the trickle from the forehead.

Time to plant the bulb,

to fill the hole with loam and water,

covering the roots.

Time to join the soil to soil

until the night is jasmine

and a thickness like a scent of lilies

rises off the bed;

until the stalks of the naked ladies fall to the ground,

twisting on their roots;

until our broken fists lie blooming.

“The Waking” –

The Waking:: Roethke

I wake to sleep and take my waking slow.

I feel my fate in what I cannot fear. 

I learn by going where I have to go.


We think by feeling. What is there to know?

I hear my being dance from ear to ear.

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.


Of those so close beside me, which are you?

God bless the Ground! I shall walk softly there,

And learn by going where I have to go. 


Light takes the Tree; but who can tell us how?

The lowly worm climbs up a winding stair;

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.


Great Nature has another thing to do

To you and me; so take the lively air,

And, lovely, learn by going where to go.


This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.

What falls away is always. And is near. 

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.

I learn by going where I have to go. 

Poem translated from Latin

Happy The Man:: Horace

Happy the man, and happy he alone,

he who can call today his own:

he who, secure within, can say,

Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.

Be fair or foul, or rain or shine

the joys I have possessed, in spite of fate, are mine.

Not Heaven itself, upon the past has power,

but what has been, has been, and I have had my hour.

“Beat” – Richard Herd

Ginsberg howled in Tompkins Square Park
dogs lifted their legs and listened to Nietsche

Burroughs sat naked eating his lunch
while Corso stood on point

Kerouac danced into the end zone
his Buddha giving high fives
the Giants did not call

Ferlinghetti rode the Coney Island
dogs trotted freely in the streets

“Cold Reading” – Brendan Constantine

It’s really cold in here now,

easily forty below something,

and half the class is asleep.

Snow dazzles in the windows, 

makes a cake of each desk.

It’s really cold in here now.

I’ve been lecturing on the same

poem for twenty six hours

and half the class is asleep.

I want them to get it. I start

to talk about death again

and it’s really cold in here now.

One student has frozen solid, 

her hair snapping off in the wind

and half the class is asleep.

“See that” I say, “Lisa gets it.”

But it’s so cold in here now

half the class are white dunes

shifting to the sea.

:: Brendan Constantine

“Elegy: I Pass by the Erotic Bakery” – Anna Journey

The way the tits of lemon meringue whorled

in the window that day
looked at first like breasts, then more like paws of my grandfather’s

clubfoot Siamese.
I want to believe that, after he died, the cat didn’t

gnaw off his face. I’ve heard it happens. I’d like to ask the pastry chef

if his vision of whipped
egg whites and sugar meant he saw, in a dream, that mangled paw

pressed to my grandfather’s chest.
I know my grandfather

died alone, with the tv on. I need to know
he kept his face that day, in the green armchair, that the channel
he chose as his heart slowed was not

televangelism, but a bird documentary: dark-eyed juncos
jilting the magnolias, fiercer than angels

flying south. I need to know the show’s voiceover
was pitched in the gauzy

timbre of lullaby—low and Latinate, Byzantine. Because
hearing, during death, is the last

faculty to go. And so, his last moments
were filled with the wing beat of juncos, and a calm,

omniscient voice: Fringilla nigra, ventre albo—black
finch, with a white belly.
 Languid in heat, the meringue
breasts cave a little, almost inscrutably

burnt brown at the side seams, and at the tips. I lick
my lips, though I
won’t enter. I’m afraid

like Christ they’d turn
to flesh in my mouth.