Thursday Mar 30

FGE - Poetry October 2009

Patricia Smith - Poetry

Patricia-Smith.jpg Patricia Smith is the author of five books of poetry, including Blood Dazzler, chronicling the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award, included in the list of the Library Journal's Best Poetry Books of 2008, and one of NPR's top five books of 2008; and Teahouse of the Almighty, a National Poetry Series selection, winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and’s Best Poetry Book of 2006. She also authored the ground-breaking history Africans in America and the award-winning children’s book Janna and the Kings. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, TriQuarterly and many other journals, and she has been performed around the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Poets Stage in Stockholm, Rotterdam’s Poetry International, the Aran Islands International Poetry and Prose Festival, the Bahia Festival, the Schomburg Center and on tour in Germany, Austria and Holland. She is a Pushcart Prize winner and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. She is a professor at the City University of New York/College of Staten Island, and is on the faculty of both Cave Canem and the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine.
 Elmer Valentine (1923-2008) proprietor of the famed Whiskey-A-Go-Go and
"inventor" of the go-go girl
When they are sugar-smothered, swathed in glass, their eyes spark
like bundling fists and the patch of silence just north of their
batteried breasts sweats like an idling engine. All this before
the music begins. I craft a soundtrack, all re-looped thud, wails,
and mechanized stutter, designed to charm hips toward commerce.
Flip a switch, and their abiding bones accept chaos. They gallop,
flinging fringe, stiff bouffants whipping loose and limp, flailing
arms slicing through the thick humidity of bondage. My girls
are such urgent gifts, recklessly glittered, whistling pant through
pinched noses, snorting shamelessly with the boogie unbridled.
I am the artist of them in the air. Watch my offerings twirl above
the din on tenuous hooks--closest to heaven, but hotter than hell.

For Mikaila
 Your boobies bloom, your hips prepare to sway.
You twirl, sleek-skinned in mirrors, so amazed.
This stunning turn will change the way you play.
Your arms still flail, your gangly limbs still splay
like stars. But woman is the child I raise.
Your boobies bloom, your hips prepare to sway.
Sweet dervish, tumbler, I watch as you stray
through childhood’s chaos, life as swirl and haze
and stunning turns. Don’t change the way you play.
Safe in my hugs, just listen while I say
what mothers say: I dread the looming days,
your boobies’ bloom, your hips. Prepare to sway
back to this, toward me, toward gleeful days
of hipless Barbie dolls, of girlish craze--
no stunning turns to change the way you play.
With heart squeezed shut, I warn you of the way
young boys will stumble dizzied toward your blaze.
Your boobies bloom, your hips prepare to sway.
This stunning turn will change the way you play.


Eleanor Lerman - Poetry

Eleanor-Lerman.jpg Eleanor Lerman is the author of four books of poetry, Armed Love, Wesleyan University Press, 1973; Come the Sweet By and By, University of Massachusetts Press, 1975; The Mystery of Meteors; Sarabande Books 2001; and Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds, Sarabande Books 2005. Her fifth collection of poetry, The Sensual World Re-emerges, will be published by Sarabande in 2010. She has also authored two collections of short stories Observers and Other Stories, Artemis Press 2002, and The Blonde on the Train, Mayapple Press, 2009. She has been nominated for a National Book Award, received grants from the Puffin Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts and won the 2006 Lenore Marshall Prize for the year’s best book for poetry for Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds. She is a lifelong New Yorker.

The Marfa Lights
Before she died
this girl we knew said
Well, alright, at least
I got to see the Marfa Lights
because, in fact, she had
When we added that to her
farewell Facebook page
we received messages of confusion
from as far away as the Yucatan
so we had to explain that in
West Texas, where this girl
was from, the earth sometimes
throws up balls of fiery light
that bounce around the sky
like big baby toys
or slide between the stars
with what many have said
is a marked resemblance
to the angry eyes of a
spirit lizard hungry to regain
what he has lost
Immediately, a thousand tweets
poured in: Is that a sign?
our community wondered
Should fear, confusion, rule the day?
But being who we are,
we already had an answer.
Of course not, we responded,
using not only the latest technology
but all the old, underground methods
that we love so well
A sign would mean “The next thing
you hear will be our instructions,”
and everybody knows that we
don’t listen to those anymore
A sign would mean
that we should prepare
and hey, we couldn’t be
any more ready than we are today
So it is our opinion that
the Marfa Lights should, instead,
be categorized as a mere phenomenon
and out there in the dark and
troubled world, a billion, zillion
members of the community
passed on this sliver of enlightenment:
It’s just Our Sponsor, doling out
more of those unexplained
interjections into the daily grind
that mean nothing to anyone
until you make the effort
to think about them
And dead or alive, we have
been thinking, long and hard
though we will not reveal
our conclusions until
the End of Times, which has
been scheduled repeatedly
and then canceled because
no one can imagine
what we would do
without each other
without these comings and
goings, and the little gasp
of recognition that is all
we are allowed to leave behind