Thursday Mar 30

FGE - Poetry October 2009

Ellen Hagan - Poetry

Ellen-Hagan.jpg Ellen Hagan is a writer, actress, and educator.  Her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2004 & 2008 and can be seen in Failbetter, America! What's My Name?, Check the Rhyme, and Submerged: Tales from the Basin.  Ellen holds an MFA in fiction from The New School University and her debut book of poems: Crowned, will be published by Sawyer House Press in the winter of 2010.
perspective.  one pair.  black flip-flops
you were a girl still.
tank tops for every occasion.
salami sandwiches for lunch and
menthol cigarettes with tight
white- shirted boys at dinner.
wasn't the sitting in place, and
walking nowhere, magnificent?
not the right word?  no.  it
was brutal.  no?   maybe i'll need
a thesaurus.  but you were
tanned legs and the kind of girl
who'd go anywhere.  with any-
one.  once.  once you almost lost one
of me at sea.  your clothes shed.  your
curfew done, and you in the ocean, with
a boy who was not yours.  but who
would have been able to keep you
anyway?  and how i hate saying this,
but who would have wanted to
then?  all nights of hitchhiking, halu-
cinations, tongues in mouths,
fists, fights and fast girlfriends.
none.  none faster than you.

gianina bazaz.  or mom
her nose is mine. the hook. slide.
the hump, then river of it. arab.
how many times do i claim it before
i am comfortable having it on my face?
her acne. back now. like hers, my skin
rages. chest. back. cheeks. neck. fore-
head. chin. nose. my god. my face,
a constellation. rugged with potholes.
the scarring marking me. my skin a design.
like hers. i see the deep pockets. the oil
slick we are. like me. like her.
my face. a map home.

Jake Adam York - Poetry

Jake-Adam-York.jpg Jake Adam York is a fifth-generation Alabamian, raised in and around Gadsden, in Etowah County. Currently, he is Associate Professor of English at the University of Colorado Denver. His books include Murder Ballads, selected by Jane Satterfield for the 2005 Elixir Prize in Poetry, and A Murmuration of Starlings (2008 Southern Illinois University Press) selected by Cathy Song for the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry and winner of the 2008 Colorado Book Award in Poetry. He was the recipient of a 2002 Colorado Council on the Arts Fellowship and was the 2009 Summer Poet in Residence at the University of Mississippi. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, Gulf Coast, New Orleans Review, Oxford American, and Cincinnati Review.
After a photograph of the lynching of Jesse Slayton and Will Miles, 1 June 1896, Columbus, Georgia
 “…Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.”
                                                                        — John Keats, December 1817
 It’s not even summer yet and already
the edges of everything are burning —
the hard-packed streets, the dry goods store,
the telegraph pole and the hickory tree
where two men hang in this photograph,
which the paper calls the verdict of all
even the paper, even the sky.
But no one looks. Only the lens
has their attention now, who have gathered
to be witnessed as they witness,
among them maybe even the men
whose names escape us even now,
who pulled Slayton from the court,
the closing argument in their hands,
maybe too the judge who watched
or the jailer who opened Miles’s cell
but stood quiet when the rope went up,
and maybe even the outraged,
the women who named them, maybe
even they are here, one
beneath a parasol in the bosom of the town,
another just beneath the tree,
with her children, at the roots
where the crowd parts so perfectly,
so the camera can capture all —
even the one who’s climbed the tree
to pose the faces of the dead —
so the camera can hold
and return their gaze, their perspective’s law,
in a portrait of certainty,
of the verdict that finds its vertex,
that finds its ground, its fact, its reason
in you.
What’s missing is thin as a warrant,
a page of salt the light has burned
to a midnight scene,
a Negro town gathered
beneath a bright-leafed tree
where two men hang, their faces
a blinding, silvery white. This
is the if that city imagines,
or the otherwise, a world
lit by a different vision, a different law
and power, a nightmare they cannot allow
except as counsel, a moment
certainty must destroy in order to endure.
This picture, this pane, this inverse of order
must be held, must be hung
before the proper light, enlarger’s lamp
or best, the blare of day
in which it can thin to a whisper,
a vapor, a wisp of smoke, a rumor
that hangs like an exhalation, a ghost
you see when you close your eyes.
But there is no negative
until the sun burns this all away,
this scrim of nitre and salt and skin,
and the ash and metal scatter
like breath—until even the afterimage is gone
and there is nothing,
or there is everything,
a river without its bodies,
a hill without its mob, and streets
like this one where the trees
hold only their leaves—
a street like this one
where you can stand alone in thought,
where an afternoon or an August
can be an easy pause or a patience
in which nothing need be said,
in which nothing need happen after all
except the sky and its clouds
like so many facts, drifting free,
dissipating then collecting again,
so many words written in water
or air or breath, syllables that burn away
when you open your eyes again.