March 2012

Letter From the Editor:

Dear Readers,

            I am overjoyed to introduce The Poetry Loft’s March feature! Please welcome a wildly inventive poet, a sun to starring contemporaries, all hats off to the great, marvelous, Rachel Loden! The poems featured in this issue are selected from her recently published book, Dick of the Dead (Ahsahta Press). This new release landed as a finalist for both the 2010 PEN USA Literary Award in Poetry and the California Book Award. Read more about Dick of the Dead and its author (or even buy the book) at Rachel Loden’s first book, Hotel Imperium, won the University of Georgia Press Contemporary Poetry Series and the San Francisco Chronicle reviewed it as one of the year’s top ten books of poetry in 2000.

            Rachel’s poetry infiltrates the heart with an assemblage of humor as well as sympathy. Her genius voice, like a chameleon, tries on the suits of so many classic poems, succeeding in their new echoing embodiment. Unfathomably, Rachel Loden creates a masquerade party out of a poem – waltzing across the page she dazzles her reader with each rhythmic step, with each organically honed Wallace Stevens-like image. As the magician behind the mask, she jovially collects our surprise.

            Rachel Loden’s poems give the impression that a curtain has been lifted between history and the present; a dialogue comes to life for the reader to eavesdrop on. Her work constitutes its universal tone with a polished, astute, and confident finish, where her history becomes a very palpable present. She proves that poetry will go on living into the future, and that poetic moments will continue to fall far beyond the seasons.

            I introduce to you, Rachel Loden. Please enjoy this special issue, and thank you for reading!


The Poetry Loft
                                             from Dick of the Dead

                                                by Rachel Loden


                                                Miss October

                                          If I have to be a playmate
                                          In my time on earth
                                          I want to be the girl
                                          Of drifting leaves, cold cheeks

                                          And passionate regrets.
                                          I think Hef loves October best
                                          Because although he cannot
                                          Say so, he is this close

                                          To death. December
                                          In its stealth has hung
                                          Long spikes of ice
                                          Around his sagging ears, his

                                          Sex. So in October
                                          I’ll be the centerfold of gay
                                          Pretense, the girl who says
                                          We’re at our blondest

                                          And most perilously beautiful
                                          Right before we check out
                                          Of the manse.
                                          Soon all Hef’s dreaming

                                          Will be ash, his favorite pipe
                                          And smoking jacket,
                                          Last vial of Viagra
                                          Safely under glass

                                          At the Smithsonian.
                                          When my shelf life here
                                          Is done and all the damp
                                          Boys stealing glimpses

                                          At the newsstands
                                          Are old men, I want them
                                          To remember how many

                                          Are gone, how many rooms
                                          Stand empty, shutters
                                          Drawn, the last girls slipped
                                          Away in bright October.




I knew you were the spawn of the sugar plum fairies and the Waffen SS, but not that your human souvenirs were strewn about like so much dung.

Or that your voice was thick and gargly, like pond sputum.

Have you tasted me yet with the black hairs of your feet?

You lay your tiny, lilliput eggs in a basket: Easter fungi.

When your shaft swells beneath the yucca trees you are as puffed up as a tumor or a parachute.

You’re like a made man I knew in Flatbush, but less haimish. So little of your unfortunate person has been described—

Yet babies wake up daft with terror, and even the gargoyle is in a perpetual state of pique.

Shall I compare your intentions to a giant cod which when split open, reveals a severed head?

They say your smegma is a delicacy in some countries, so give us a wet kiss—

Your fruiting body with its lacy gills, your stinger with its sweet paralysis.


                                    The Nixon Tapes

                                                The President, Haldeman
                                                & Ehrlichman, Oval Office

                  Here we go. What in the name of Beelzebub
                  are we doing on this one? I mean the axe

                  that stands and sings all by itself, hacking
                  and hewing in the wilderness. What about

                  the spade that rings against the rock? Is
                  Colson doing something about that? God

                  damn, twelve princesses dance their shoes
                  to tatters all night in a castle underground

                  and nobody is running their income tax
                  returns? That sonofabitch at State, what are

                  his plans? Whistle up my lists, Bob, and next
                  to each name I want a little check, and you

                  know what that means. What in the Christ!
                  We need our own side burying these things.


            Lesbianism, with its Better Strawberries

                  Lesbianism, with its better strawberries,
                  betokens more than early mornings

                  in the farmers’ market, cruelty-free
                  lipstick and discipline. I don’t mean

                  so much bedknobs and broomsticks,
                  handcuffs and trembling quiffs, or

                  not only those things, I mean bright
                  yellow melons ripe as goolibahs

                  and plush thrones with felt-tipped shoes
                  that glide as breathlessly as dancers

                  across a burnished floor, recalling us
                  to the better lesbians of our nature.


                                                         My Cupboards

                                                      No tincture of seahorse.
                                                      No cloudberry poultice.

                                                      Don’t look there
                                                      when pixels spill

                                                      over the drawers, blow
                                                      loose letters

                                                      down the stairs.
                                                      Bare, as they say. No

                                                      one to sweep
                                                      the word-hoard

                                                      into Saturday. No
                                                      broom. No sorceress.


            The Idiad

Shall I write a poem about you
And your epic struggle against stupidity?
Feh. But if the brain is a city
I too have rooms in the swampy part, surrounded by
The monarch butterflies sail down from the Canadian
To overwinter in Pacific Grove, pair off and fly away;
They bruise me. I get crankier.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the
Please text me beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Palookaville.


            Mother & St. Anthony

                        by Brian Merrill

His depression along fortitude, Sartre-white
office desk, unappreciated. I wish Allen
wouldn’t put this off to last minute

It’s mother’s day and they’re playing
 baseball, ruining the garden the hydrangeas
wondering if Petrea is enjoying herself

If Petrea could only have it easier

I should not be the one making dinner this evening
when a mother insists, loved ones should know better

St. Anthony, where is Frosty?
The washing machine? Won’t you

help us find him? Bat whips, ball spins
North, carving a space in the kitchen window
glass chards over blue tile & Mom’s gone.

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