Letter From the Editor:
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 http://ahsahtapress.boisestate.edu/books/loden/loden.htm. 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
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.
No tincture of seahorse.
No cloudberry poultice.
Don’t look there
when pixels spill
over the drawers, blow
down the stairs.
Bare, as they say. No
one to sweep
into Saturday. No
broom. No sorceress.
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.