We pride ourselves on
the great variety of poems that we have offered
to our readers over the last two decades:
classic, modern, traditional, formal, free.
Here are twelve of the rare and the lovely ---
and (we believe) beautiful.

§   §   §

Not Exactly a Poem
Eugenijus Ališanka
I talk to the daughter of the dead miner
or lick anthracite breasts
with the tip or my tongue
or drink black tea
laced with bergamot
as if looking at the window
but really not
sometimes I see the gap
between your life and my death
where there is room enough for both
especially in January when one needs
nothing else to sit to drink black tea
with the black eyes of the blind to look
at each other and see white snow
white sheet of paper white body
--- from unwritten histories
©2011 Host Publications

Brooklyn College Brain
Allen Ginsberg
on subways, young & elegant unofficial
bastard of nature, sneaking sweetness into Brooklyn.
Now tweed jacket & yr father's tie on yr breast,
salmon-pink cotton shirt & Swedish bookbag
You're half-bald, palsied lip & lower eyelid
continually tearing, gone back to college.
Goodbye Professor Ginsberg, get your identity
card next week from the front office so you can
get to class without being humiliated dumped on the
sidewalk by the black guard at the Student Union door.

Hello Professor Ginsberg have some coffee,
have some students, have some office hours
Tuesdays & Thursdays, have a couple subway tokens
in advance, have a box in the English Department,
have a look at Miss Sylvia Blitzer behind the typewriter
Have some poems er maybe they're not so bad have a
good time workshopping Bodhicitta in the Bird Room.

--- From Broken Land
Poems of Brooklyn

©2007 New York University Press

Coming of Age
in Palo Alto

Christine Hamm
I lay stoned in a field of stars.
Deer came out of the forest and destroyed our gold tomatoes.
Dinner was never on time.

I lay stoned in a field of stars.
I crashed the car.
Dinner was never on time.
Sex was painful but obligatory.

I crashed the car.
My mother read about murder and smiled.
Sex was painful but obligatory.
My father screamed.

My mother read about murder and smiled.
Nothing good ever happened with the lights on.
My father screamed.
We cruised all night in Jeff's red mustang.

Nothing good ever happened with the lights on.
I put a star under my tongue.
We cruised all night in Jeff's red mustang.
The streets ended too soon and we had to turn back.

I put a star under my tongue.
I lay stoned in a field of swords.
A unicorn came out of the forest and destroyed our gold.
In the wind, his hair was like fire.

--- From The Salt Daughter
Little Poem Press

Five Men
Zbigniew Herbert
They take them out in the morning
to the stone courtyard
and put them against the wall

five men
two of them very young
the others middle-aged

nothing more
can be said about them


when the platoon
level their guns
everything suddenly appears
in the garish light
of obviousness

the yellow wall
the cold blue
the black wire on the wall
instead of a horizon

that is the moment
when the five senses rebel
they would gladly escape
like rats from a sinking ship

before the bullet reaches its destination
the eye will percive the flight of the projectile
the ear record the steely rustle

the nostrils will be filled with biting smoke
a petal of blood will brush the palate
the touch will shrink and then slacken

now they lie on the ground
covered up to their eyes with shadow
the platoon walks away
their buttonstraps
and steel helmets
are more alive
then those lying beside the wall


I did not learn this today
I knew it before yesterday

so why have I been writing
unimportant poems on flowers

what did the five talk of
the night before the execution

of prophetic dreams
of an escapade in a brothel
of automobile parts
of a sea voyage
of how when he had spades
he ought not to have opened
of how vodka is best
after wine you get a headache
of girls
of fruits
of life

thus one can use in poetry
names of Greek shepherds
one can attempt to catch the colour of morning sky
write of love
and also
once again
in dead earnest
offer to the betrayed world
a rose

--- Translated by Czeslaw Milosz

Patti White
I met her in the Public Library, reading Sir Thomas Wyatt,
the Elder, the Renaissance court poet you know, you know the one
about the deer, they flee from me, like how tourists scurry away
only in the poem it's the beggars, the lovers, the deer
who run after having fed, the deer refuse to return to his hand,
it's a sad story.

An educated woman, and a clean one: she bathes in the restroom
on the third floor; when she begs on 42nd Street she's a queen,
a rock in the current, impeccable, correct, her open palm
smooth and dry as a hen's egg. Her knitted cap covers hair
I've combed out with my own fingers. She comes to me

after rush hour, and we walk like in the movies, down alleys;
she recites poetry, she wears moonlight and neon like a crown,
and we eat whenever we please. Sometimes I find an empty dumpster,
not one near a restaurant but a business dumpster, one that held
shredded printouts, canceled checks and memos, fax paper, forms,
and we climb inside, concealed, sheltered, and make love. Once

when she was angry, she crawled out of the dumpster and beat
on the metal with an abandoned chair she found outside, thunder
whispers in comparison; it was the sound of absolute hell, utter
destruction; my head hurt for a week. I know I'm not the man

of her dreams. I'm King Lear on the heath, crazy, cold with
despair; I rave; my clothes are shabby. With my kingdom
divided, there are no more decisions to make, and my mind
gets weak. She is a scholar; I am afraid of books. I rave
and she listens to me, comforts me, tells me my daughter
will save me one day and I believe her.

--- From Tackle Box
©2002 Ashinga Press

Oranges from Palestine
Mike Maggio
Oranges from Palestine.

Your father offers me fresh goat's milk.
If he only knew.

Your skin is as soft
as that prim white tablecloth.

On the wall, a verse from the Koran.
In your breathing, secret springtime lyrics.

Your mother looks kindly at this strange American man.
I wonder if she knows.

We cannot lie, cannot gaze here
but I can still taste your warm fragrance.

On the table, nestled in a brown bowl
plump oranges from Palestine.

Your sister smiles at me.
She knows.

We sit here like two blossoms
on separate banks of the Jordan River.

My eyes reach out for yours.
Your father offers me sweet honey cake.

Your brother practices English with me.
I dictate a letter only you will understand.

On the TV, young men die for their country.
Your lips inflate my soul with life.

Your father invites me back.
I return, commune with you in my dreams a thousand times.

On the table, across the room
the sweetest oranges my tongue has ever seen.

Children in Stone
e. e. cummings
these children singing in stone a
silence of stone these
little children wound with stone
flowers opening for

ever these silently lit
tie children are petals
their song is a flower of
always their flowers

of stone are
silently singing
a song more silent
than silence these always

children forever
singing wreathed with singing
blossoms children of
stone with blossoming

know if a
lit tie
tree listens

forever to always children singing forever
a song made
of silent as stone silence of

Death(having lost)
death(having lost)put on his universe
and yawned:it looks like rain
(they've played for timelessness
with chips of when)
that's yours;i guess
you'll have to loan me pain
to take the hearse,
see you again.

Love(having found)wound up such pretty toys
as themselves could not know:
the earth tinily whirls;
while daisies grow
(and boys and girls
have whispered thus and so)
and girls with boys
to bed will go,

--- From 50 Poems

Should You Wish to Stay
Sharif S. Elmusa
We don't have bicycle lanes marked
by wine-red paint. Every day we stage
the grand opera. How things don't work
Perfection is as rare as rainfall or smallpox.

But we always keep humor,
that diligent rescue worker, on call.
The tourist, taken aback,
knotting his eyebrows, summons the waiter:
A mouse just crawled by the table.
Waiter: Oh, I'm sorry. Was it big or small?
Tourist: I guess it was small.
Waiter: Good. Then it wasn't one of ours. Ours are big.
Dinner resumes.
History moves on, a rickety cab,
zigzagging, chaotically, like ourselves,
on the banks of the subdued river,
without night lights,
the door opens only from the outside.

Still, don't let the reformer's fire burn
in your chest. The same man
who hogs your turn in the queue
with a glad heart walks you five blocks away
to the store you are looking for.
If the whistle of the rusty freight train
grates your ear, take it for what it is:
a politician's rhetoric
independent of the freight.
Listen and watch the mint leaf
floating the dark-red tea,
a village in a glass; watch our feet walk,
gingerly, the way the flesh doubts,
You may prize hard work, but only in rest
and repose can you sort out the tangled heart,
can you find happiness.

We are still made from the tears of Ra.
The spirits of unseen deities,
borne by the wind blowing from the desert,
coach us while we sleep in the demanding art
of dying well. But you are welcome to discover yourself.
The lavish, matter-of-fact sunlight
will save you further guidance.

--- From Inclined to Speak:
An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry
Hayan Charara
©2008 University of Arkansas Press

God's Depression
Michael Foley
God isn't dead, merely old and ignored. Who now knows or cares that
     He suffers
From indecision, panic attacks, short-term memory loss, chronic fatigue
On chairs but insomnia in bed), despairing thoughts of insubstantiality and
(He looks up the proofs of His own existence in secret), anhedonia,
     boredom, aporia
And failure of zeal and nerve (He's attended anger-management classes
     for wrath)?
So He's often withdrawn and morose, very 'down', loath even to rise on
     these days
That grow steadily dimmer and greyer while ever more bright blaze the
     days of creation,
Of fire, vision, grace ... master plan and detail. All is boredom without
Might He settle for praise? He hears only demand and complaint. So
That labour, so wearing this leisure. So teeming the void and so vacant
     the world.
When did everything change? How could certainty fade? Where's the faith
     to go on?
So burdensome the emptiness of relativism . . . and so weightless the
     tablets of stone.

--- From Autumn Beguiles the Fatalist
©2006 Dufour Editions
Chester Springs PA 19425

Talking Big
John Bricuth
We are sitting here at dinner talking big.
I am between the two dullest men in the world
Across from the fattest woman I ever met.
We are talking big. Someone has just remarked
That energy equals the speed of light squared.
We nod, feeling that that is "pretty nearly correct."
I remark that the square on the hypotenuse can more
Than equal the squares on the two sides. The squares
On the two sides object. The hypotenuse over the way
Is gobbling the grits. We are talking big. The door
Opens suddenly revealing a vista that stretches
To infinity. Parenthetically, someone remarks
That a body always displaces its own weight.
I note at the end of the gallery stands a man
In a bowler and a black coat with an apple where
His head should be, with his back to me, and it is me.
I clear my throat and re (parenthetically) mark
That a body always falls of its own weight.
"whoosh-WHOOM!" Sighs the hypotenuse across,
And (godknows) she means it with all her heart.

--- From Words Burnished by Music
©2004, Johns Hopkins
University Press

Weldon Kees in Mexico, 1965
David Wojahn
Evenings below my window
the sisters of the convent of Saint Teresa
carry brown jugs of water from a well
beyond a dry wash called Mostrenco.
Today it was hard to waken,
and I've been dead to the world ten years.
They tread the narrow footbridge
made of vines and planks, sandals clicking:
brown beads and white wooden crosses
between hands that are also brown.
Over the bridge they travel in a white-robed line
like innocent nurses to a field hospital.

Exactly ten. I've marked it on the calendar.
And Maria, who speaks no English,
is soaping her dark breasts by the washstand.
Yesterday she said
she'd like to be a painter, and sketched
on the back of a soiled napkin,
a rendition of a cholla
with her lipstick. She laughed,
then drew below each nipple
a smudged rose. Weldon
would have been repelled
and fascinated, but Weldon is dead.
I watched him fall to the waves
of the bay, the twelfth suicide that summer.
He would have been fifty-one this year,
my age exactly, and an aging man.
Still he would not be a fool
in a poor adobe house, unwinding
a spool of flypaper from a hook
above the head of his child bride.

When she asks my name, I tell her
I am Richard, a good Midwestern sound.
She thinks Nebraska is a kingdom
Near Peru, and I
the exiled Crown Prince of Omaha.
I've promised to buy her a box of paints
in a shop by my palace in Lincoln.
We'll go back, Maria and I,
with the little sisters of Saint Teresa
who are just now walking across the bridge
for water to be blessed at vespers.

--- From Interrogation Palace:
New and Selected Poems, 1982 - 2004

©2006 The University of Pittsburgh Press

Peanut Butter
Eileen Myles
I am always hungry
& wanting to have
sex. This is a fact.
If you get right
down to it the new
unprocessed peanut
butter is no damn
good & you should
buy it in a jar as
always in the
largest supermarket
you know. And
I am an enemy
of change, as
you know. All
the things I
embrace as new
are in
fact old things,
re-released: swimming,
the sensation of
being dirty in
body and mind
summer as a
time to do
nothing and make
no money. Prayer
as a last re-
sort. Pleasure
as a means,
and then a
means again
with no ends
in sight. I am
absolutely in opposition
to all kinds of
goals. I have
no desire to know
where this, anything
is getting me.
When the water
boils I get
a cup of tea.
Accidentally I
read all the
works of Proust.
It was summer
I was there
so was he. I
write because
I would like
to be used for
years after
my death. Not
only my body
will be compost
but the thoughts
I left during
my life. During
my life I was
a woman with
hazel eyes. Out
the window
is a crooked
silo. Parts
of your
body I think
of as stripes
which I have
learned to
love along. We
swim naked
in ponds &
I write be-
hind your
back. My thoughts
about you are
not exactly
forbidden, but
exalted because
they are useless,
not intended
to get you
because I have
you & you love
me. It's more
like a playground
where I play
with my reflection
of you until
you come back
and into the
real you I
get to sink
my teeth. With
you I know how
to relax. &
so I work
behind your
back. Which
is lovely.
is out of control
you tell me &
that's what is so
good about
it. I'm immoderately
in love with you,
knocked out by
all your new
white hair

why shouldn't
I have always
known be the
very best there
is. I love
you from my
starting back
there when
one day was
just like the
rest, random
growth and
breezes, constant
love, a sand-
wich in the
middle of
a tiny step
in the vastly
path of
the Sun. I
squint. I
wink. I
take the

--- From Not Me
Published by Semiotext(e)
Copyright ©1991