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Author: Cady Favazzo

The House of Drink

Early morning sun green fields

mint green Chevrolet I drove through the hills

down to the brown house beside the river

the little house of drink

where mice built colonies in the walls and scratched

in and out at will across the carpet and the bed

where we drank and slept and loved.

Bats clung to the curtains snakes rose from the well

a pox of small unpleasant

creatures a shed piled high with empty bottles

that caught the sun through the slats

green and brown, prismatic.

It was there the barn collapsed

(my friend heard it too).

Up late drinking, smoking, laughing

we ran outside and watched

the smoky dust rise up

from a pile of boards and nails and shingles.

The whole gray thing fell down, as if we had breathed on it.

If I breathe too hard I have to remember

the hairpin curve where, drunk

I swerved and speeded up, drove through a fence

into a pond where one of me died

while another of me hauled out the window

on strong arms, my lithe young body

flipped and slid down

the trunk into pond muck and weeds.

I freed myself and walked the three miles home

scratched up, sore and stoned,

fell face down at my lover’s feet

from another world

bleeding on the kitchen floor.

from Dear AllFind more by Maggie Anderson at the library

Copyright © 2017 Maggie Anderson
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

The Light in the Marsh Grass

was alive: small creatures aglow and crawling

one after the other down each tall green blade—

thousands of them bending at all angles—

along the quaggy edge of the salt marsh cove

the three of us had paddled our kayaks into . . .

luminous bits of green-gold sliding down

the myriad stalks, but inside them, as if the marsh

were sucking down the warm light through

innumerable living straws, drop after drop

in a wavering, steady, mesmerizing rhythm,

and for once no explanation we could think of

(that unseen ripples on the cove’s mirrory stillness

focused the late sunlight in eely ribbons

that scrolled down the blades of spartina)

could diminish the marvel we had chanced upon,

and we gave up trying to explain it, gave ourselves

to it—as if we had ingested some hallucinogen

that opened our eyes to what was there all along

but had gone unnoticed, each of us in our own pod

of selfhood floating on the fetid, primordial cove

now held together in awed suspension by these grasses

aswarm with lights that also flowed in waves through us,

wanting it not to stop, asking ourselves why

we’d never seen what had been going on for eons,

asking how we could keep it, knowing we could not.

from Between LakesFind more by Jeffrey Harrison at the library

Copyright © 2020 Jeffrey Harrison
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

The Button

I didn’t quite suit him, so my brother

—without a word, as if it were his shirt—

popped my top button. I grabbed him by the

wrists—the same way I do all men hurt

by a need to fix me, sieve out the honey from my blood.

I meant to break him like the sweet promise

I’d make to any lonely man—horny

enough to break to me the same promise.

Do we, in our hold, this hug, this pushing,

not appear as feuding lovers? Brothers,

yes, yes, are nothing but lovers passing

blood back and forth in one fight, another.

He could’ve loved me, so I let him prevail.

Instead, he flicked a piece of me from his nail.

from Fantasia for the Man in BlueFind more by Tommye Blount at the library

Copyright © 2020 Tommye Blount
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Alzheimer’s

there was a piano she loved

cherubs carved on cherry wood

hands ripple over ghost keys

she nods off, chin to chest

do you want to lie down? no

under the palms in a pink housedress

what is your name? she asks

again cherubs playing violins

sunlight slips behind ferns

from What Happens is NeitherFind more by Angela Narciso Torres at the library

Copyright © 2021 Angela Narciso Torres
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

My last conversation with Mary Jane Bailey

was about the taste of buckshot in baked swan.

I wanted to remember more, but couldn’t.

Someone suggested bloodletting. Someone else

suggested several hours of ghost talk. I suggested

nothing. Picture this. Picture her with a rifle

posed beside a Buick. Picture her taking someone’s

stray blast in the chest while quail hunting in 1942.

Picture how she dressed her wounds and drove

herself over hours of knocking Idaho backroads

to the nearest doctor’s house. There was a war on,

after all. (Though when isn’t there a war on?)

Every act amounted to a sacrifice. Tell me, Mary,

which of my actions counts as preparation for life

during wartime. Yes, the inconsistent stretches

and push-ups. Yes, the quiet watching in the night.

No, the amount of toilet paper I use each week.

No, all my fawning over music. Not even Napalm Death,

Machine Gun Etiquette, or “Life During Wartime.”

No, the writing of poems. When Creeley called Koch

lightweight—or rather when I came across this

while reading someone’s gloss on the poetry wars—

it sounded like Creeley believed his poems

could chop wood, start fires, inflict wounds.

In poetry the goal is always to inflict wounds.

So say the vagaries of some strange muse. I do

terrible things and claim I’m only following orders.

Picture these stanzas leavened with dead elephants.

Picture the mad man setting fire to the tree.

Picture yourself. Picture this misfortune.

To be alive in words other than your own.

from The Newest Employee of the Museum of RuinFind more by Charlie Clark at the library

Copyright © 2020 Charlie Clark
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

My Mother at One

I am the baby

erased

from every war

story. The wish

empty in Father’s

hands. Our cord torn

by razor

wire, skies of violet

plasma. I sense

boredom

in mosquitoes, the itch

beneath skin. Fall asleep

to the rake

of Topaz

wind, desert willows

bending over

the stone tablet

of earth. Nighttime

my body curled—

slashed by

the quarter

moon. Waves of heat

and waiting. My lips

on a bottle’s nib,

sand in

the face, Mother

stooped over

stairs, always

rocking me.

from SeizeFind more by Brian Komei Dempster at the library

Copyright © 2020 Brian Komei Dempster
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Duras (Nothingness)

When writing, the writer leaves the world. She vanishes into the

folds of her mind. She dies there. Alone, in a field of words. The

words are the field, are the words and images of her mind, made

manifest, manifold. By writing, the writer leaves her body and

enters the page, the text, the otherworld, the one she dreams.

When writing, the writer dies. She dies to the world. The phone,

the bloody black ringer, rings on; the birds sing outside the shut

glass window, the writer is gone. Writing is transformation,

transportation. By writing, the writer leaves. Her body remains.

Her body, a terrible hump of flesh and blood, cells and disease. But

she is given the gift, grace—she is able to escape her body and the

world. She is transported via the electricity inside her mind into

the page, into the sea of the words.

M.D. becomes nothing by writing. By thinking, already escapes.

Poverty and drinking, destitution, isolation, a lifetime of

abandonment. And memory. Booze loosens it up. Booze closes it

down. Writing is the same, though different. Writing breaks down

all the doors, smashes all the windows in the house, her great big

white mansion—and she is free.

from Guidebooks for the DeadFind more by Cynthia Cruz at the library

Copyright © 2020 Cynthia Cruz
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Naïve Roofscape

(Aix-en-Provence)

Beyond the French doors leading out

to this fourth-floor rental’s balcony, open sky

above a pre-Cubist arrangement of

ochre walls, blue-gray shutters both open

and closed, and terra cotta roofs—all studded

with innumerable accessories and doodads:

small chimneys gathered in familial groups

and wearing metal caps, a Celtic cross

and two stone urns atop the church;

a gold ball below a flag-like weathervane

at the apex of a pyramidal tower,

the pointy, floppy tops of three cypresses

projecting up like elf hats; satellite dishes,

the skeletal metal wings of TV antennas,

and, best of all, the shiny cylindrical

vents whose tops, spinning like pinwheels,

flash festively with sunlight—all these

conduits and valves and instruments

that in one way or another mediate

between worlds, between a sky saturated

with sunlight and the streets below, noisy

with the cries of children on their way to school

and the clang of workers in blue jumpsuits

assembling scaffolding against the wall

opposite, keeping it all from falling apart.

from Between LakesFind more by Jeffrey Harrison at the library

Copyright © 2020 Jeffrey Harrison
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

Proscenium

If skin is a stage’s scrim through which

light passes and drums up

what the eye wants to see, then

the body is a theater

of war—a site of

disagreement between what is

there and what one

perceives is there. There is a town

on TV coming undone

over the body of a boy

believed to be devoid of light. The town

disappears in light after explosion

of light projected through

the television set to my eyes—

refusing to look closer.

If I were to look closer

at the scene, there would only be

a series of red, blue, and green

pixels abutting each other

like the political map

of this city or that village. Inside of the TV,

the protesters are struck by the song

of nightsticks and pepper spray, then they turn

into smoke screens. In that case, then, the body

is a smoke screen for what

I lack the courage to say:

if that boy devoid of light ran toward me

would I have not flinched, in return,

with my body—devoid of light?

from Fantasia for the Man in BlueFind more by Tommye Blount at the library

Copyright © 2020 Tommye Blount
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

On Magical Realism

—Ontario, CA. 1981

Stained with rosaries

and skeletons, some

virgin or another praying

on his shoulder, Tiny

shuffles toward and

leans heavy, as if trying,

into the first perfect hook

my father will land that summer,

and miles north, Tiny’s mother

clutches her chest, hearing

just then, on a dusty mantle

in an empty room, framed

glass crack and crack again

just along the left jawline

of a favorite baby boy

who will grow into a man

who calls a man Nigger,

in a room full of niggers,

and the nigger with the hook—

my father—asks What’s my name,

What’s my name, What’s

my motherfucking name?

as the photo frame

shatters damn near to dust,

Tiny’s mother buckles

and she cries, God

from Kontemporary Amerikan PoetryFind more by John Murillo at the library

Copyright © 2020 John Murillo
Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Four Way Books.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council, a State-based program of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this (publication, website, exhibit, etc.) do not necessarily represent those of the Idaho Humanities Council or the National Endowment for the Humanities.