Thursday, September 24, 2020

JOEL LONG—"PRESERVATION" (Issue 20)

PRESERVATION 

After they buried the man, the villagers returned
for the crocodiles. They did not care which one
killed the man. Some were longer than the dead man;

some were small as children. They were housed in cement boxes,
slick green, squared water beneath, not mangrove swamps
or deltas, estuaries or river mouths. The villagers did not

care they were safe for now, did not care it was only one.
They brought ropes and tied serrated snouts of crocodiles
that, with a leap, could catch, swallow whole bats, leaping fish,

birds out of air. They dragged 300 bewildered beasts
from ponds into the open where the villagers wailed
the death of one of their own, lifted knives for every animal,

hammers, clubs, beat down the long heads, inscrutable eyes
hooded by scales that not one villager could see far enough
inside to make him hold back once since all knew the spark

they needed extinguished inside the heart of the one animal
before them, inside that brain that they intended to crush
until there was nothing more worth crushing, some groan

we cannot translate seeping from the roped mouths. The man,
they say, was picking grass when the crocodile attacked. Now hundreds
of crocodiles, each perfect in its skeleton, in the way the stomach

worked and tongue, that heart stilled in artisan chambers whose
electric pulse sent blood from nostril to tail, each animal its own
size, colored like agates and jade, every scale a worry stone, round,

one for every hand, now hundreds of crocodiles are dead, and we cannot
make one of them, make even one come back, a pile of limp weeds
shaped like crocodiles swimming in crocodiles stilled: one dead man

cannot say a thing about what he thinks about the body
and what was undone and the darkness he left behind, smoke,
rising from perfect bodies of crocodiles into the flame of sky.



ABOUT THE POET 

Joel Long’s book Winged Insects won the White Pine Press Poetry Prize. Lessons in Disappearance (2012) and Knowing Time by Light (2010) were published by Blaine Creek Press. His chapbooks, Chopin’s Preludes and Saffron Beneath Every Frost were published by Elik Press. His poems and essays have appeared in Gettysburg Review, Sports Literate, Prairie Schooner, Bellingham Review, Rhino, Bitter Oleander, Massachusetts Review, Terrain.org, and Water-Stone Review, among others. He lives in Salt Lake City.

ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 

We’ve loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), so now we want an opportunity to better hear our contributors. We will feature an audio recording of a poem from one of our seven issues, read by the poet and updated every couple of weeks. This an open invitation to all contributors from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to hear it.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

ROBERT LYNN—"I WANTED TO BE A NEW YORK LOVE POEM" (Issue 20)

I WANTED TO BE A NEW YORK LOVE POEM

To the woman getting off the train who offered to throw
away my browning banana peel. To these men posing

for photos with their cat on the beach. To Nancy screaming
at Coney’s seagulls: Today I am twenty-four and you don’t care.

To the seagulls who don’t care staring religious into January
winds. To the strangers and strangers and strangers still

catching Jillian as she passes out on the 77th Street station stairs.
Or again on the Brooklyn Bridge. Again in that forever hallway

connecting the 7 to the G in Queens. To the woman having trouble
modulating her voice on the Staten Island Ferry when she sees

the backlit statue: This is my America, Randall. I’m not going
back to Atlanta.
Even to the person whispering I’m sorry

I’m sorry I’m sorry so softly to the rest of us as he jerks himself
off in the corner of this subway car. To the grace of his embarrassed

turning away. To everyone. I wanted to be a love poem to everyone
but I couldn’t. There was all this hardness. There were cops breaking

broomsticks in Abner Louima. They wanted us to forget. Hoped
we’d move away. Forget if Eric Garner sold loose cigarettes

or played center for the Nets. I spent the morning visiting a friend
in Rikers Island. Visited mostly its indifferent way of turning a day

into early evening with nothing to show for it but the waiting.
They broke his leg before they put him here. They already forgot.

They thought we’d be happy being love poems. We still might be
if we hold space for the way this love sharpens like a bottle

in a bar fight. I hold it firmly but gently like a cat on a beach.
The way you would a stranger falling back into you on the stairs.

None of us are going back, Randall. You hear me. None of us.

 

ABOUT THE POET 

Robert Lynn is writer and attorney from Fauquier County, VA. He is currently an MFA student in poetry at New York University. His poems have been featured or are forthcoming in American Literary Review, Antioch Review, Blackbird, New Ohio Review, and other publications. He lives in Brooklyn.

ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 

We’ve loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), so now we want an opportunity to better hear our contributors. We will feature an audio recording of a poem from one of our seven issues, read by the poet and updated every couple of weeks. This an open invitation to all contributors from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to hear it.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

LAURA GROTHAUS—"LINGUISTICS" (Issue 20)

LINGUISTICS

after Still life by Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps

Even now, I try to be generous with language
like bats with blood, who turn out their stomachs’
larders for hungry drifters. I tender my bluntness

and barber my temper. My hands dance
open with speech. Tell me again how
wings and tongues make consequences out of air.

Visual art by Laura Grothaus


ABOUT THE POET 

Laura Grothaus is a Baltimore-based poet and visual artist. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and garnered awards internationally, from Poetry in Pubs in Bath, England to the Nazim Hikmet Poetry Competition in Cary, NC. Galleries in New York and San Diego have shown her drawings, and she’s partnered with musicians, activists, and visual artists on workshops and performance projects in Chicago, Cincinnati, and Baltimore. When she was five years old, she lit her hair on fire with her own birthday candles.

ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 

We’ve loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), so now we want an opportunity to better hear our contributors. We will feature an audio recording of a poem from one of our seven issues, read by the poet and updated every couple of weeks. This an open invitation to all contributors from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to hear it.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

RONDA PISZK BROATCH—"IN WHICH A CHIHUAHUA VISITS MY DREAM THIRTY YEARS AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE MY ANTHROPOLOGY FINAL" (Issue 20)

IN WHICH A CHIHUAHUA VISITS MY DREAM THIRTY YEARS AFTER THE NIGHT BEFORE MY ANTHROPOLOGY FINAL

“they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all...”
—Mark 16:18

One day I’m standing at the intersection
telling the sky everything the moon forgot.
Death isn’t on fire, and I’ve got a ten page

paper on the Holy Ghost People, due tomorrow
and I haven’t been to class all semester.
Night before finals I’m dancing, next morning

I’m lying on the pine floor, speaking
to the ceiling, bargaining with heaven above
that I won’t have drunken sex anymore,

any time soon. The universe is one enormous
prayer book I haven’t read yet. To calm myself
I think of the grim reaper as teacup

chihuahua, snake-shaped Christmas ornament
I step on on my way to class. Night before finals
I’m grateful that in twenty-four hours

none of this will be reversible. One day
I’m the teacup of strychnine and the chihuahua
murmurs to the grim reaper, something about faith,

something about failure, and I know I need to study,
but I can no longer argue with the cold hard
floor nor the roof over my head. I’m not even sure

if I passed the intersection already, passed
my classroom, my class, my test, and who needs
snake salvation anyway? I like it right

here, the loose boards groaning beneath
my spine, tiny nail heads like fangs searching
my bones for a way in.

 

ABOUT THE POET 

Poet and photographer Ronda Piszk Broatch is the author of Lake of Fallen Constellations (MoonPath Press, 2015). Ronda was a finalist for the Four Way Books Prize, and her poems have been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. Her publishing credits include Blackbird, Prairie Schooner, Sycamore Review, Mid-American Review, Puerto del Sol, Public Radio KUOW’s All Things Considered, among others.

ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 

We’ve loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), so now we want an opportunity to better hear our contributors. We will feature an audio recording of a poem from one of our seven issues, read by the poet and updated every couple of weeks. This an open invitation to all contributors from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to hear it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

SHEILA BLACK—"BLUE DRESS WITH STRIPES" (Issue 20)

BLUE DRESS WITH STRIPES

1.

A can of Diet Coke to cure a vicious hangover.
Or Star—her face in my mind,

superimposed over her later face,

the same face but how time moves across it.

The boy I loved that year who told me “You would be pretty
if only you didn’t move so much.”

A dress with blue stripes that didn’t suit.

A blue dress with stripes that made me look fat.

A blue dress with stripes that made me look small.

A blue dress with stripes that made me look as though I came from New Jersey.

A blue dress with stripes that gave me big hair

2.

1985 and our bodies terrified us—

Star and I, Michele and I, Lisa and I,

drinking egg creams and riding the subway to our dull jobs,

drinking vodka-and-tonics and roaming the night-streets in high heels
that cracked against jagged curbs or black oil on our bare feet.

3.

1985 and the accessories escape me:

Leopard vinyl strapped purses, flat plastic earrings in bold primary colors—mustard yellow,

fire-engine red, the royal blue of bleach. Black tubing braceleted around

our wrists, a tattoo of a purple flower.

A blue dress with stripes.

The F train to Coney Island where
we roamed the ruined Tunnel of Love, scrambling under police tape to pick our
way through red-cap, blue-cap crack bottles, and the surprise of the oily ocean.

4.

A blue dress that didn’t suit.

Our bodies that terrified us.

We covered them with glossy primary colors.

We used Eternity and Dove Extra Dry. We used Secret and
Patchouli. We used Vanilla Oil and Clorox. We used
Noxema and cider vinegar.

I left the boy who didn’t
want me to move. Michele got married. Lisa disappeared to
Los Angeles.

Star fell in love and moved in with
Stephen who did cocaine, Chris, who beat her when it was
himself he hated. Drugs, bad guys, more drugs. What she called

“having an oil burner habit.” Her roommate
Laura, who died in a tunnel under a bridge out in Marcy Avenue
in Brooklyn. Strangled. Put in plastic.

5.

A blue dress

with stripes 

A blue dress with stripes

A blue ___ with ___.

6.

1985: Our bodies terrified us, but we had it the wrong way around:

Our bodies which placed us in simple danger
simply by being the bodies they were.

A dress with blue stripes.

The kind of dress that has shoulder pads,
and ruffles around the hips

The kind of dress that is made of some kind of woven plastic.

The kind of dress that would not disintegrate even in a landfill.

7.

Laura’s history
is not in any history books. She was missing for ten years and by
the time they found her, the guy who did it had been killed over
some other crime. My friend Star reported her missing to everyone
she could think of, but everyone in 1985 was not very interested.

8.

“He picked on girls who did drugs.”

“He killed three women and put them in a locked room inside the tunnel.”

“He had the key because he had worked for the MTA.”

“His job was maintenance & other things.”

9.

A blue dress
A blue
A dress

Stripes on the pavement. Stripes on a dress.

A blue dress with stripes abandoned in a closet.

10.

Star in a picture yesterday. Her
cheeks slightly hollow from missing teeth. A bird battered
on a window. You can blame the bird or you can blame the window,
but the grief is in the arrangement of these elements—how can the
bird not wish to fly onward, how can the window not exist?

11.

Who was there to tell us we would grow in the violet shade,
sunlight striped with shadow, stubbled with blue, with a violence underneath,

the drug of the blue dress with stripes

the drug of ruffles & ruffles.

And love, the drug of the wrong-headed stories

we told each other in 1985 when our bodies terrified us.

 

ABOUT THE POET

Sheila Black is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Iron, Ardent (Educe Press, 2017). She is a co-editor of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Spectacle, The Nation, The New York Times, and other places. She currently divides her time between San Antonio, TX, and Washington, D.C., where she works at AWP.

ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW 

We’ve loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), so now we want an opportunity to better hear our contributors. We will feature an audio recording of a poem from one of our seven issues, read by the poet and updated every couple of weeks. This an open invitation to all contributors from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to hear it.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

LAUREN MALLET—2 POEMS (Issue 14)




AFTER READING ÁLVAR NÚÑEZ CABEZA DE VACA's NARRATIVE OF THE NARVÁEZ EXPEDITION 

I believe the arrows, incense, bones, blood. That the weather killed
more Spaniards than the arrows could find. The four men considered God,
and what the King might say if they were ever found alive. Has he lost
his other eye and In God’s name how. What ship would he send for them.
Its cannons tilting towards the gun port Windows. Or if their bodies were sewn
into canvas and piled on the quarterdeck. De Vaca, Castillo, Dorantes,
Estevanico. And then I think of how they continued to get by with their bodies.
Their gesturing for corn, husked ear gilded. Stones and dandelions in the field
have their virtues. I believe they ate the horses. What I don’t know is how
repeating ave maria ave maria ave made them curers, how the stitches on
the wounded disappeared with flourishes of smoke. All he had was clothing,
and then not even that. How did de Vaca remember the villages? Cuayos, Avavares,
Charruco, Mendica. Before explorer was the new conqueror. Before there were
shiploads more slaves than Estevanico. More than the Indian women traded
to enemies as wives. Before there was me believing the arrows, the hiss I want
them to have made as they broke through the clearings between the trees.


PARABLE OF THE NOMADS
 
But what of the smoke? the branches? the sparrow says.

Go ahead, the chipmunk replies.

As far as the sparrow can see
the brambles of almost-spring are
crowded by fog. Which is to see not far.

Move with care, calls back the chipmunk.
Enough to see ahead and too fast to look back.

Already, from the ground.

Not yet, from the air.

As far as I can tell the two are not saying exactly this.
Might have no way of saying such things.

Just another parable.

The neighborhood animals.
What I’ve just made them say.

They should tell it to me good,
the two of them together,

mouthing, these are your feet, this is the ground,
what you hear is the two of them meeting.


ABOUT THE POET POET BIO
Lauren Mallett’s poems appear in RHINO Poetry, Smartish Pace, Barrow Street, Sou'wester, Passages North, and other journals. She lives and teaches in Indiana. Read more at LaurenMallett.com.  

ABOUT SUGAR HOUSE REVIEW
We’ve loved reading the work that we’ve published (clearly), so now we want an opportunity to better hear our contributors. We will feature an audio recording of a poem from one of our seven issues, read by the poet and updated every couple of weeks. This an open invitation to all contributors from any of our issues, we were delighted to print your work, now we’re eager to hear it.