Marian Read Place, Durham
Excerpt, Correctional Officers' Training Manual
Go without warning
to the inmate's cell.
Force him to the floor
(with smaller inmates
four of you will do).
Place phone books
across his thighs and abdomen.
Raise your batons shoulder-high
(higher if he's whimpering or calling out),
then bring them down
and watch the pages fly--
will bring you closer to his skin.
that sounds and sweat
and constant motion
do not close your ears
to your superior. He
will slow you down
before bruising can begin:
the skill in this
is knowing when to stop.
Joanna Pearson, Chapel Hill
Star me, darling,
I would say,
were I pale, coal-lashed, and gay,
like a movie star with an unforgettable name.
Slinking in my satin,
my pupils are minute,
brilliant, silver, and radial.
They spark from across the room.
The places through which I move, smooth,
linger warm with a taste of dark spices in the air.
Bare are my moon-dew shoulders,
and I know the decade
like my pretty ankle,
how to slide into a man
when we're dancing.
I communicate with sighs, my eyes,
the tinkling of my light-splaying earrings:
these are things
one must know.
I glide in lavender.
Even the ripple of my knee,
Star me, darling.
Megan Newell, Cary
Whitewash is blue-thin,
every untended drop
drawn tight as skin under the intended
snap and buzz of fluorescence.
She labels signatures,
leaf falling on leaf,
When flourish comes undone
a man's name
turns to flatline.
A woman's will break bones.
The archivist works for a vacuum.
Tinderpaper for glass,
crumpled words around
the door jambs--
catalogue, classify, list.
Winter is hard to come by.
A single solid season of thin
One must, at all times, keep the humidity low.
Fragile documents will be damaged by damp conditions.
Her Knuckles crack and bleed,
skin starts to shift and parch
She's filed away.
Lips under L,
tenderly bitten earlobes
tucked in boxes
until all involved parties
Grey Brown, Carrboro
Tuning the Organ: National Cathedral, Washington, D.C.
to the marriage of stone
to graceful arch,
to the union of light and colored glass
than this fog-horn blast
shifting the floor beneath us.
It's as if the pipes have gas,
all sanctity blown
as the docent apologizes,
her voice high-pitched
straining to explain,
so sorry for your visit,
must be done"
and then some.
We have come to receive,
but not these bullfrog tones,
Somewhere a man in dusty coveralls
is oblivious to our cringing
as he kneels to the coupling
of expectation and reality.
He is measurement, science and scale
where we would trust faith
to hold dominion.
and the docent apologizes again,
like Oz, she begs us
to pay no attention
to the man behind the curtain.
Bass swells the ground
muscle comes close to securing beauty
and a tightening wrench
tinkers towards the holy.
Jessica Tashker, Durham
Your father's house
We watch our fathers in their dwindling years
as they give their hearts to cardiologists
and their ears sprout plastic organs like fleshy wings.
the gentle gravity of aging pulls down skin, and shoulders,
slows the most determined gait. It feels right,
part of the nature of things. We feel entitled
to our youth, to their long middle age.
And then, your father abdicates--escapes.
You hear his whisper everywhere, as you
pack a whole life into boxes, take its measure
in dry cleaning bills, clothes and shoes,
dirty dishes and his used car. The stain he left
on the coffee table. In this house, his image tugs
at your sleeves, even while you sleep.
You feel quite certain--if your could only
open the right door, look under the appropriate rug
he would appear, returned from that dimension
of lost things. Perhaps he could tell you
where a soul goes, what happens to a lifetime of vision, to the vapors that animate our hearts and lungs,
when their final day comes.
There are things too fantastical to believe.
A kingdom in the clouds, an underwater paradise
filled with lilies. You dream only of potatoes,
and Passover, another breakfast in the yellow
linoleum kitchen. Some place where the continuity
of you, your childhood, is yet reflected
upside-down, on the retina of a still open eye.
C. Neal Keye, Chapel Hill
With the ocean between us,
this is no time for substantives
or verbs, but for a language of
proximity, of relationships.
If, looking across the apartment
at your picture, I fixate on words
such as beside, with, between,
Perhaps this has to do with the fact
I have just been reading Michel Serres
on the need for philosophy
to begin not with the verb or the noun
but with the preposition. Or, perhaps
it has to do with the emptiness opening
out across this room even as I read the French
writer dispense with white mythologies
such as being, essence, law, truth? And while
tomorrow I'll awaken only to the dense quiet
of the lecture hall, come December I'll be
on my way to the airport, waiting for you
outside the gate where we have come to live.