Scoundrel Time

Pushing Back: An Interview with College Student Grace Smith on Identity and Activism

I first met Grace Smith when she was six. I was an adult student in a renowned memoir class taught by Grace’s mother, Marion Roach. Grace was the little girl who sat at our table writing or coloring until her...

My Mother’s Pilgrimage

  In September 2015—the year a crane collapse in Mecca killed 111 people, followed by the deaths of another 2000 in a stampede—my mother returned from the Hajj with flu and was immediately quarantined in...

Street Smarts: On Confronting Poetry and Language in a Mississippi Classroom

  After living in Washington, DC for more than thirty years, I like to think that I’ve acquired some street smarts. When in unfamiliar territory, I keep my guard up and sublimate the trusting Mississippi...

Exclusive Service

Tom had built up some sort of callus so the leg shackle didn’t bother him as much as it used to. Also, the Team had been very accommodating when he asked for the chain to be lengthened. Those few inches meant...

“In the increasingly convincing darkness / The words become palpable…" —John Ashbery

“Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the world.” —Grace Paley

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I Lift My Lamp

  From the Oxford English Dictionary, digital edition. Asylum. < Latin asȳlum, < Greek ἄσῡλον refuge, sanctuary, neuter of adjective ἄσῡλος inviolable. 1. A sanctuary or inviolable place of refuge and protection for criminals and debtors...

Still Life w/ Gay Lil’ Patriots

yu so fun so danger so smoke so ready 2 deady [next stop: F I R E W O R K S spend $ & get &z off] we bubble buy blame bead up the sky w blood [the libertree thirsty & i wonder what this b 2 me] as yr local majikal hapahaole mite say a...

Murillo’s Saint Catherine, c. 1650

–Hospital de los Venerables, Sevilla She stares with a bearing – experience having brought her soul this far – and lifts a frond, one kind of sword, in one hand, effortless. In the other, clutched to her, the silver plated sword of her own...

Bonnet

The woman on the waste site tour bus wore the kind of bonnet my grandmother kept in her purse for emergencies. She squared her shoulders in front of us, the plastic kerchief knotted to her head and not a cloud in the sky. Our guide in charge of...

In the Dark Times

In the dark times Will there also be singing? Yes, there will be singing. About the dark times. —Bertolt Brecht There will be prayer, too, but to a different god, and dread will lurk in the songs we sing. Doom in the timpani no matter what the tune...

Congrats! The Revolution Is Now

buff buffe / buffer buff/reibu / buffrebufffring / & fervently awaitin ya pass       code o, word      ? we wonder how we will in2       existence: amazonial primal access & 1070p rejection      o’ taxes science will save ya ass / a seat...

Calm-Downers, Resisters, and Bags by the Door

“Jesus, what are we going to do now?” Out of the mouths of babes, or one babe in particular, comes the question du jour, and possibly du mois and de l’année, too. A day after the recent presidential election, what some grieving voters call...

The President Rewrites Classic Proverbs

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words really piss me off. Fuck you, Alec Baldwin. The tweet is mightier than the sword. Two’s company, three’s a crowd. Four is just Ivanka casually sitting in on this meeting. Don’t worry about...

How the World Really Feels About You

Extremely talented, good-looking, intelligent. You were light on your feet, unafraid to kiss a lady’s hand if she looked like she needed it, the picture of judiciousness and reserve. You would never choose our brothers over us, nor would you ever...

Report a Problem With This Poem

—as noted on the Poetry Foundation website This poem isn’t meant for you or for anyone, really— hairpin scratches in wet clay, hardly cuneiform, whatever came to mind then left as quickly. Resistant, like a child whose fist clamps around a...

My Sister and I Are Having the Same Dream

Long after nights of arm-tickling across the chasm between our twin beds, after all the shared illnesses of childhood—spiking fevers doused in crystalline alcohol, such pungent, icy baptisms, after the honeyed scabs of measles and of falls, years of...

Flyover

My Midwest is two old women: The first, a neighbor, who watched the delivery man lug the huge spring water jug, slung on his back like firewood, to my door. Bulbous glass, as slippery as our icy back steps, but foreign, exotic to her, with a name...

Life Is So Good Here

Barbecue smell drifts over from the river. Too much lighter fluid splashed in the pouring. Flares of sudden fire. Parkland. Given: a family, Dad home on leave. The kids lead him by the hand, showing him off, he’s theirs. And Mom fully reclined on...

A Word From Our Sponsor

“The bay is blowing gray beneath the sky. The trash fish are fingered From the net and go missing with a flick of the blade. Pity the newborn’s cry into the cold of the clinic. Fear the man whistling along the road beneath a dying sky. Know the last...

Macro

The lizard was green against the wooden reaper. It has come close to this happening many times, but this time The red heart is beating on a stick. You were eyeing the furs in the windows midtown. Teeth get lost in the dark. Your tongue is winding...