Yes, Poetry

August Poet of the Month: Peter Burzynski

Peter Burzynski is a first-year PhD student in Creative Writing-Poetry at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  He holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a M.F.A. in Poetry from The New School University, and a M.A. in Polish Literature from Columbia University. In between his studies, he has worked as a Sous-Chef in New York City and Milwaukee.  Peter’s poetry has appeared on The Best American Poetry, Kritya, and Bar None Group websites, as well as in the Fuck Poems Anthology. He has poems forthcoming from BORT quarterly and the Great Lakes Review.

Hot Mama

If I were a woman
forged of tin, smote
in an oven with hair
of barbs and toes
of hinge, I would
want a parasol.  

Rice Petals

Here is the river,
here is the sun,
tell me you feel
me, love. I can tell

that I’m late
for sometime.
I guess that’s why
rats run.

You Have Teeth, Too

Sunsets are a moot point
in the schedule. They bear

the weight of tube-hearted
trombones and yet still falter

through puddles. Collections
of marred concrete, rubber

bones, cracker-thin placard—
you call them home.  You left.

You spat tin into our garden—
a brass furnace. Heard bluebirds

cracking. We’d sing broken
heartedness to the stars,

measure the consistency
of our bones. Skin is pricey.

You had filled our world:
every petunia a parabola,

each house key a colossus,
a scarf a sarcophagus, every

telephone a thunderstorm.
Now it’s empty—deflated

of the last blips, of memory,
dregs of sunlight, of our star. 

 

Summer 2014

Dearest Readers,

In this issue, I asked each poet what makes them uncomfortable. If I could only ask one question for my entire life, that would be it. Exceptional writing comes through revelation, and that insight only results from duress. What would humans learn through complacency? We learn most about ourselves, and our world, when we want to change it.

Anthony, Karolina, & Aaron use language so eerily that their ghosts follow me around no matter where I go, pushing me to find the different parts of myself. 

Always yours,
Joanna C. Valente
Founding Editor

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In this issue:


Anthony Cappo
I always thought it was about / the music but it wasn’t.” 

Karolina Manko
It whispers, but only / to its own emptiness. / Filled with ghosts, but unburdened.”

Aaron Pinnix
When I said ghosts are assholes I meant dogs are smelling at the ghosts of assholes.”

JUNE POET OF THE MONTH: KEEGAN LESTER

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Keegan Lester is the co-founder and poetry editor at Souvenir: A Journal.  He lives in Morgantown, West Virginia, but has managed to live in four states in the last four years. Inspired by Victoria Legrand one night on the way home from a Halloween Party in Los Angeles and Pat White’s subsequent return to the NFL—-Keegan came out of his post MFA writing retirement late last October.   It’s rumored he doesn’t mind airports, the shapes of clouds and what clouds shape. His poetry is forthcoming or already published in: The Barn Owl Review, Sixth Finch, ILK Journal, Moon City Review, Death Hums, Red-Headed Step Child and Mixed Fruit, among others. 

the topography of this place

The ocean stopped being cruel
so the sailors went home.
No one jumped from cliffs anymore.
People stopped painting and photographing the ocean
because the sentiment felt too close to a Hallmark card.
Everyone had treasure because
it was easy to find,
thus the stock market crashed.
Then the housing bubble burst
mostly not due to the ocean,
though one could speculate pirates
were going out of business and defaulting on loans.
When I say speculate, I mean I was reading
the small words that crawl at the bottom
of the newscast, but I was only half paying attention
because Erin Burnett was speaking
and she’s the most real part of this poem.
I’m speaking in metaphor of course.
The end of the world is coming
seagulls whispered to the fish
they could not eat due to their fear
of the ocean’s newfound kindness. 
One of my professors spoke today.
She hates personification, treasure and linear meaning.
She hates poems not written by dead people.
She hates the ocean’s newfound kindness,
she wrote it on my poem.
Not everything can be ghosts and pirates, she says.
But that’s why I live here.
My rhododendron’s never crumpled in the summer.

 

the topography of distance

Intellectuals kill their bodies
because what else
can they kill
with just their hands?
I mean, have you ever seen
the hands of an intellectual?
This was part of a real phone conversation
I had last night, beginning:
“Edith, for twenty-years I misheard
the Fats-Domino lyric
my tears fell like rain
as my hillbilly name”.
On the phone
our words are like fortune cookie words:
Small blue font;
heavy in the “abstract”
and “unbelievable” departments
and yet: necessary for reasons
that will one day reveal themselves to you.
I only believe the fortunes
if the number thirteen
is tattooed to the face
of whatever is telling me the fortune,
because how could you not?
Tattoos last forever.
There is a kind of credibility
to forever. Ask Emily D
about not stopping for death.
Last night you said:
I once had two love birds.
I think my mother killed one accidently.
and I thought only of
the constellation of freckles
spanning your shoulder blades.
The manifest destiny of those freckles
following the continental maps
of tendons and ligaments to the muscle
wrapping your spine.
Each word has a color: 
Petricher, glass and eucalyptus
are the blue
before the sky turns
pink some summer mornings.
It’s science, really.  Fortune
is the last color you see
in the bath of your own
neurotransmitters
as they burn out
one by one like little stars
behind your eyelids.
I’ve heard it resembles
popcorn over a campfire.
I’ve heard that all of these things
only look small
because of their distance
relative to your imagination at night.  

 

the topography of unicorn theory

for john cotton


Beauty finds such crush 
inside beauty. 
A variation on a field
of dandilions, or red streaks
or a satellite 
trailing sky.  It’s the ones
I don’t sleep with  
that I tend to remember, John says,
and if I catch my unicorn, 
it may become people.
And what then?
And what then?

 

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Listen to Keegan read his poems: