Emari DiGiorgio

Origami Woman

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One sheet, a fleet of pleats,
valley-fold the front flap down
to crease a girl into sixteenths.
Keep her center stationary,
foot to eyebrow flat. Press lightly.
Shapes traced, fingertip print
foil paper, crepe, vellum crane
rising sun inverted, all the things
a woman might become.
Seamstress, scapegoat, socialite,
sweet, sweet songbird, nun,
harlot (only a fold between the two).
Orient her anatomy, then spread
open the accordion pleats.
Rabbit-ear her arms and wrap
the dress even front to back.
Turn her over now. Crimp
her neck. Make six reverse folds
on the skirt. For a hummingbird
throat, try the petal tuck.
A lady requires more intricate
plaits. Round out to taste.
Push in the nape and squeeze-
fold her legs, note crease
her feet, adjust so she stands.

Chard deNiord

To the End

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So angry in the first light of day as he lay in his hospital bed
with the metal guards upraised, stuck on his heath for good,
demented but aware of the time and bent on fighting to the end,
old marine that he was who’d never been to war, but had
in his head, destroying his enemies one by one except
this one without any form—a cough, some stars, a twinge;
no more “good mornings” to the team of men in their uniforms
of scrubs and gloves—just “godammit” again and again,
so much vim still left in him as they stripped him bare
in his uric bed and pinned him down while begging him
to “please stop fighting” then strapped him in to a human crane
that raised him up like a missing piece and rolled him in
to the sterile bath where they washed him clean as he hung
in the air and dressed him there in olive green and brought him
back into his room that was not his room where they lowered
him down to his special chair in which he sighed, then grinned,
as if he’d won again and was ready now to greet his son
who’d travelled such a long long way to say good bye.

Mark DeCarteret

The Last Ever Monster Poem

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I

Though I lost both my bolts trying to think
myself human I still have that fable
carved into my most ample forehead
from that time when the sky almost fried me.
Then again, I’m so fit from slipping out
from your torches and thrust forks (apart
from my heart manufacturing a mess of irregular beats
and these arteries blocked almost black)
that I’m busting out of this stitch and that,
putting more and more meat to these memories.

For behind the oft-pitched philosophies
aren’t we all fretful animals in lock-down,
sore at this world, which won’t have us unless
cowed by its blessings, speaking well of it endlessly?
Your farmers and midwives would have me the cause
of the mare’s many miscarriages, the eye
that stares back from the egg, so blood shot and knowing;
yet theirs are the notions that for eons
have emptied the trees of most song.
We once billed the future the final tour for the restless
but now it’s swallowed us whole, anxiety and all,
along with that legend that once had us speaking
the same arcane language as nature.

II

At first I was met with barn after barn–
the morning and its pedigree light barred and sullied by dust,
this idyllic childhood jogged from another’s doomed noodling,
until a bull with its devilish horns, its face this big festering grin,
seemed to blot out the sun and all matter not gotten
from manure or gnat-swarm seemed ascended to bell tinkles, lowing.
And once I’d heard the hellish in everything, I knew it all holy.

Can I ever forgive them, the fathers who knew all
too well they’d smeared heaven past anything blissful?
Oh God, I’m now numb from the lip up, bewildered.
By my brim any inference to my brain ends with bile and rim-shots.
I no longer dream of the womb they’d denied me,
the breast I never formed a mother’s name.
Instead I look back on my miraculous birth
and record all they took from me by contrivance and fire.
What they didn’t want to look at they struck from the books
but I have always been able to stomach the earth in its entirety.
For centuries they’ve been readying the dirt
for my clubfeet and smirk, my inexplicable size,
but it’s the sins I’ve inherited that will outlive their children,
singeing the pages of their tallest and most maligned tales.

Peter Curry

Goodbye, Miss New Jersey

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It’s late February, and the birds are chirping
because the weather has been unseasonably warm
these past few days so they think it’s spring
and because they have no idea that Cara McCallum
died yesterday of head injuries sustained
last week when her car slid off an icy road
and crashed into a tree, she being only
twenty-four, born and raised in Arkansas
where she was valedictorian at her high school,
then off to Princeton University, then crowned
Miss New Jersey, then host of the nightly news
on SNJ Today which is where I first
happened upon her beauty, intelligence and kindness,
not necessarily in that order, and now she’s gone,
leaving behind her parents and a brother in Arkansas,
and a much-loved brown & white beagle mix in New Jersey.
Dogs appear to mourn the loss of an owner
for a month or two and then become their old
selves again. But I believe they mourn
for the rest of their lives, just like people do
when they lose a loved one. And just like people,
after the initial shock, they store the memory
someplace just below consciousness while they get
on with the things life calls us to. But every
now and then a familiar scent, a voice
once dear, comes drifting by and suddenly
you’re a puppy again, running to
a lovely blond woman’s outstretched arms.

Elizabeth Crowell

The Longest Day

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“Do you always watch for the longest day of the year and then miss it?
I always watch for the longest day in the year and then miss it.”
THE GREAT GATSBY

My daughter is learning to read,
each word a country she must enter.
Soon, she will travel soundless, away.
Already, she opens then closes a book
like she is slamming the door of a house
she will never go in; this one will not be her story,
not the monkey who is too curious,
not the boy whose treehouse lets her time travel.
not the duck who types on a typewriter.
Outside the library window, the sun is noon-clear,
trees as green and heavy, jewel-toned
as they will ever be.
It seems like it never gets later.
My daughter grabs my hand
in the barely-dark dusk,
proclaiming she doesn’t know why,
but she is afraid that the man, over there,
has a gun and will shoot her dead.
There is a story, too, in her head.
Her body nudged to mine,
and the cool of the book under her elbow
makes me feel that I might have missed
something that could have saved my life.