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Sunday, January 10, 2016

I am pleased to have had two of my poems published in The Boiler Journal, a literary journal begun in 2011 by a group of writers from Sarah Lawrence College and which likes work that "turns up the heat, whistles, and stands up to pressure." My two poems: "Nightgown" and "Today I am Not" are in their current issue. "My Nightgown" poem is a revision of how I thought about that everyday (or every night) article of clothing, and I had fun meshing that with the surreal strangeness of the sleep state. And no, I don't own such a nightgown as you see in this image below although I have always envied the Myrna Loy's of the world who had the chance to flaunt such garments on the screen.

And the second poem, "Today I am Not" I see as somewhat like a list poem, but a list of absences or negatives. This poem became a linguistic platform to consider the "what I am not's" in my life, which, of course, can burgeon into quite a list--everything one is not in this world can be a whole lot of things!
And if you want to know why I have posted a picture of a fox prowling along nocturnally in the grass, you'll have to read my poems to find out. I hope you enjoy my poems as well as the other writers they have on display. There is a lot of wit, linguistic play, and fresh writing in this December 2016 issue: The Boiler Journal:



NIGHTGOWN


Each night I sleep wrapped in a gown
of crying stars. Whether they cry
to plea or sing is always difficult 
and tenuous to decipher. In my gown 
of voices, I pitch and roll as if on a ship
at sea. I dream of sisters and brothers;
I dream of stroking my husband’s penis,
bright and flushed as an orchid, until 
we are interrupted by the blond shores
of windows and the plaintive smell of cut hay, 
its disheveled sweetness. The world’s a gallery 
hung with the obsessive knowledge of light,
light that could be memorizing, as we speak, 
one claw foot of the world’s daintiest
bathtub. I don’t ever want to say until again—
it carries too much waiting inside; it is a parade
of soft pelicans procrastinating. In the day,
I pluck music from other poets’ poems, 
and it falls like tender, snow-covered 
fruit into my hands. There is no greater joy.
I want a nightgown woven from the wings 
of hummingbirds. Or do I mean from 
the birds of humming wings? Or is my nightgown 
just a linguistic invention—a cage of syllables 
cascading all about me, a rain of hums 
I wrap around me hungrily?
TODAY I AM NOT
a 23-year-old woman 
holding a lime-colored,
perspiring cocktail 
in a nightclub with black
octagonal mirrors. 
I’m not the word asleep
in my husband’s mouth 
as a dark bird lifts
packages of bright 
wind on its somber,
steadfast back. I’m not 
myself at 20—a tilted,
unblinking match 
flaring down the black
of a British night,
confident I will spot
the hostel up ahead. 
I am not a shoe, a shush
or a shut-up. Meanwhile, the rose
pirouettes and scuttles
on its stem—a pink crab with soft, 
flirting claws and vivacious
thoughts. Today, edges scold 
and blur, so I lean

into charcoal algorithms 
and bleeding clouds. I’m not decisive,
not a precise record-keeper 
of animal or plant life. Saxophones
hum and sweat
among the clairvoyant
petunias and lavender
phlox. I am not
a fox—all sleek, nocturnal
journal-keeping and inky
footprints in the purple
grass. What a gas it is
to be an extra in a film—to populate
rainy cities and street corners
with your pale arms and
blurry sins! I am not
my whims, my short-winded
whistle, my steamer trunk
of sequined fears. I am not
an aptly-peeled pear.
by Alexandra van de Kamp

Claudia Rankine on the T.S. Eliot Prize

Claudia Rankine discusses the T.S. Eliot Prize, which will be announced tomorrow.