Too Late


Poems inspired by Bernadette Mayer

 

 

Table of Contents:

Alina Gregorian – Pass the Bass Guitar

Joanna Valente – I Guess It’s Too Late to Live on the Farm

Allyson Paty – I Guess It’s Too Late to Live

Carleen Tibbetts – I Guess It’s Too Late to Live on the Farm

Morgan Parker – I Guess (or, Those Farms Are for White People)

Julia Guez – I Guess It’s Too Late to Live on the Farm

Caroline Cabrera – I guess it’s too late to live on the farm

Gale Marie Thompson – I Guess It’s Too Late to Live on the Farm

Mike Lala – a brief text on tardiness

Kelin Loe – I Guess It’s Too Late to Live on the Farm

Sarah Blake – I Guess It’s Too Late to Live on the Farm

Esther Lee – Labanotation #15

Emily Brandt – I guess it’s too late to live on the farm

CAConrad, Magdalena Zurawski, Channette Romero, Jenny Gropp, Gale Marie Thompson, and Gina Abelkop – After Bernadette Mayer, at The Dinner Party

Elizabeth Clark Wessel – I guess it’s too late to live on the farm

Carrie Lorig – The Book of Repulsive Women

Lo Kwa Mei-en – GREEN CARD

Angela Protzman (Cover art)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letter from the Editor
NATALIE EILBERT

 

 

 

Last year, I had an opportunity to sit down with Allison LaPlatney and Jeff Wood of the theater collective, PIEHOLE, who were about to premier their play Old Paper Houses at the Irondale Center in Brooklyn. I had seen a nascent version of the show years earlier, and they wanted to chat about ways to incorporate original poetry into the performance, seeing as how this was to be a tribute to Bernadette Mayer. What a dream! Because I had seen the play already and knew that much of the scenes worked up the lines of Midwinter Day into something of a frantic pastiche, and because I also knew that the entire physical performance concluded with one lone actor reciting “Essay” surrounded by crushed paper houses and the rupture of some yet worse utopia (see colonization, see gentrification) (see: “And life looks like some malignant disease, / Viewed from the heights of reason / Which I don’t believe in”), my idea was to reach out to all of the poets to see who might have interest contributing to a project with Mayer’s most perfectly dismantling first line of “Essay”: I guess it’s too late to live on the farm.

Mayer was rattling my mind. There had been a marathon reading of Midwinter Day at Berl’s on winter solstice last year and I read with tears in my throat. I left Berl’s to purchase a present for my future sister-in-law—to leave the literary place (“I know the place / Taken by tradition is like superstition / And even what they call the / Literary leaves less for love”) and enter some fair-trade silk shop in Dumbo was ridiculous. I pressed my face against a $50 ceylon orange scarf and huffed frankincense until I felt holy. How stupid. I went home and read Mayer that evening like a fresh cut. I had recently read Ursula or University by Stephanie Young, which is already a shaky powerful performance of Mayer’s shaky powerful momentarily with the literary. Young had her own Essay poem in U & U, which broke my god damn heart: “Too much work and still to be poets.” So when I was approached about ideas for their play, I knew poets wanted to burn against too much work, to push for and against a life more or less momentarily, to break their own hearts on the spiked construction, “I guess.”

So I put out a call. I wasn’t sure how it would go or who might respond. I left the task open. I vetted little. I resisted the urge to edit, to suggest, and even, really, to reject. I asked others to spread the word, such that I received poems from people far away, of whom I had no heretofore knowledge. I also received work from friends, whether that friendship was carved from readings, from the internet, from a higher or lower life. I wrote my own version as my radiator hissed and remained ice cold. I debated including my own contribution, but I could never bring myself to that degree of self-promotion—I didn’t want to leave the farm to give a reading, in that way. The results were incredible though. Poets wrote and recorded themselves in less than two weeks and, during the show’s run time, theater goers could—after the show—listen to the equivalent of a blackbox, poems from so many on endless loop. It could be their secret, their “stay in the mirror with us.” It was haunting; it was messy. Audio filled headphones and you experienced each poet’s pressures and each poet’s static.

I wanted to highlight this further, and so here we are, held in another secret: The Atlas Review’s special online issue, which is also the debut of our online presence. Hello. Savor all of these poems. Savor the design by our wonderful new web designer, Angela Protzman. And if you dare, consider submitting your work for issue 6, which will be exclusively online. Our reading period will be between October 15th and November 15th—granted, this is a small reading window, with a major perk. Starting with issue 6, we will begin paying our contributors. We do too much work, isn’t that so. I guess it is so. I guess you should read on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What I imagine of the place you grew up in, that you still don’t call home, from time to time when your voice’s register catches me off guard and I see you more than I hear your man costume
KEEGAN LESTER

 

 

 

 

 

I guess

it’s too late

to live on the farm

to tattoo our eyelids

melt the golden

bars of chain and band

because the floodlight

spoke to me

at the bottom of bayou

last night, where muck

and mud ghost

and cleft lip black snaked

and widowed. i could see the trail

they left before us,

their knees and breasts,

their arms and fingers

dug into that shale sand

and you couldn’t tell

just by looking at it

like you can’t tell from

a reproduction of a painting,

but the strokes

were all there. i guess

it’s too late to live

on the farm

thrush crushing thrush

with their beaks

under the dark blanket of sky

where you said that noise,

those are angels out there

killing for angels because

angels don’t kill for god

under a blanket of anything

and because i was taught as a boy

that angels do their killing

out in the open

i wear this shirt

for good luck, the doe

sewn into the inside of the cuff

means don’t startle so easy,

don’t be a tuft of hair

but the entire scalp.

be something the others

will have to axe down,

will have to break you from

you, you yourself, from this earth

with silver bullet

with a horse that’s not theirs

and thus named in haste

as a name and gravity

are the only way

to get to somewhere else.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm. Let it fall away.
Feng Sun Chen

 

 

 

It’s not too late.

The pain that I feel when you leave me brings me to the foot of a womb where I
confront my own failure. To love myself to know god to unknow. Our stupefaction
hardens so that it may be shattered.

Through you I have touched the cortex of the universal intention
the serous fluid between organs a holy skin
every cell in your body I have loved and collected as dust
in the grooves of my seclusion

As we crawl back into uterine caress of the manifested chase

As we worm our way against grainier gradation of shadow

Applying the vaults of the sensible apoplepsis

Sense the impulsive resistance

To ultimate bliss in a snake’s mouth

When you were just a tiny worm-nugget in the tongue of your mum’s forked soul

When I masturbate to get to the center of god’s wound

When I touch your soul’s supply, letters combine

When a letter is pierced, water flows out of instant

When I lie down in the cleavage of sleepdeath

 

So I guess this is the hardened capsule of jump. I leap into ignorance

To find fire

To command love

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blood Runs Warm
Anne Cecelia Holmes

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm.

Already I can’t explain how terror

is born, tracks its way through open

doors like a loping child I can’t

kick aside. I stay quiet in the winter

dusk. I am in this field alone

because I am always here alone

and if I think to live on the farm

as poison I just sink deeper

into whatever season is next.

I pick a little crocus from the road

and present it to you like this

is a gift worth all winter suffering.

I shed my coats. I cry a little less.

Look, the gold sky each morning

is not real and it is not innocent.

If I walked out onto the farm

let’s say I believe the bad

in my blood comes clean,

that if tied to a tree I might

discover my own name.

Yes, I am a named thing.

My muddled heart a monument.

Really I am just a girl beneath

a heavy cloud but I sing to the farm

with my illness, kill all grasses,

deliver the unorchestrated ending

no one would have considered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I GUESS IT’S TOO LATE TO LIVE ON THE CAFO
Sarah Jean Grimm

 

 

 

I’ve got a green lawn like everybody else
My milk is fortified and certified
I’ve got eggs to boil
Meat to grind
I’ve wrung my hands around the concept of mercy
Dispatched it painlessly
It doesn’t always work the first time
You need strong hands
To believe you are a better animal
It’s okay to cry when you clean your plate
Oh give me the steed and the gun that I need
To render my excess to tallow
I guess it’s too late to feel at home
With the full range of my emotions
I’ve spent mornings attempting to tenant
Whichever glad structure
I managed to raise overnight
It’s okay
I’m told it’s okay
I’m told I’ll grow into it
By the time the scaffolding comes down
Now I cradle each tomato in the grocery aisle
Place decorative accents in the garden
Set potted plants down in the yard
I click click click my heels
I guess it’s too late to live on the farm
To lie back in a field of a thousand wheat stalks
Pointing out clouds that look like animals living
In the sky which we act like belongs to us all

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LOVE POEM FOR THE FARM I GUESS IT’S TOO LATE TO LIVE ON
Roberto Montes

 

 

 

No ideas but in things

No things but in arrangements

You dickhead

I love you easily mistaken

For a human face

And the crowd that redistributes me

What is it mapped

But the archipelago condition

Of good city people getting better

Blue rot

Unlatches my joints

So that joy might learn to swim

A further distance

To reach my finger unheard

Of in the mouth

Of the man I love

My body as it breaks

On the wave my

Body until

It’s not my body anymore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Actually You Were Never Gonna Get Their Stupid Farm / Plantation, So Stop Caring—When They Die Off Their Fascist Scion Will Take Over, Not Us
Nina Puro

 

 

 

When the phoenix is reborn the land has changed,
but the phoenix is the same. Loud. I guess we always start

with fear: by the lake my mother sent me an umbrella, a stolen
sunset. I’ve never been as good as glass, but I know

where the cracks are. I drink my drink. I try. I pick my nails,
a lucky number. S., hold my arm. I’ve not touched bad

wire. No, much sun touches me. I consider my emergency
contacts: shells buried in the trundle bed, shot fixed by it. I try

on cheap child-labor cottons, layer static. I wake up and forget white,
white. Let’s bask in crushed styrofoam until sun’s a seam

to rip teeth through. No white man has no hold
on me. I’d be lying if I said I still believed in sunsets

or that my face in the glass-bottom wasn’t becoming
one. The boat’s hold fixed me lying. My fingers wanted to braid

A.’s hair. I sat on them. I mean I’m afraid
to connect because I’m afraid to impose. I sat on hold

all morning. I’ve stopped pretending I know
about umbrellas or why they collapse. I found H.

where it ends: with fear. The needle always moves north
& my veins always roll. Let’s build a ritual from the ashes

of old ways to not freak out. I swarm out, leave my dresses
collapsed. No, I’m not scared I’m a light growing big

in a tunnel. I mean I’m not scared it’s over I climb the stairs
onto the ocean floor. When those girls lived still, shooting,

shot I’d find them fists, curled there. Now, I put
my bread where it can soak into the blood, tongue sawdust.

It’s good to pray on how what was built for us
by the dead was built by grifting hands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diary Pulled from the Lake
Cynthia Arrieu-King

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm

by its side I felt as alone as I had always wanted
fields wide as tears and unallowed knowledge

I guess it’s too late to transpose the thoughtfulness of weeds
to the relevant birds

a tartness inexplicably
on my tongue, mushrooms the shape of fat pins

their camps nothing compared to cities,
compounds, yards

with a hand I pretended was shifting grasses—
at night I held my own head

sun a fist through
understanding—shit, silence is

a terrible listener, a
cry that mimics the dead grass
standing near green grass—

she had a point saying why do we think so much
about the caress when we

should think about
a steel trowel,

write no date on this—
          too late for dust,

the mud cut from the boot
trying to love someone always eyeing

elsewhere and other faces
I was done with the smother and talk
I’d always hated

          and felt the lake
blue as an eye looking away

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A FAKE NOVEL ABOUT THE LIFE OF BERNADETTE MAYER, POST-FARM OR DEAR ALIVE & OTHERWISE
Nick Sturm

 

 

 

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my freends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love alll my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneylss way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in    moneyless way.

   I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way

I  love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends inn a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a    moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

   I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way..

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

  I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

   I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends’n a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I luv all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless wy

I love all my friends on midwinter day.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a $$$$$less way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

I love all my friends in a moneyless way.

What’s the name of the affair you had with the day? I’d probably call it

 

 

 

 

 

fuck me

 

 

 

 

 

for the words

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I want to fear it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Is Dead
Brooke Ellsworth

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm
bc I’m a baby
a dead baby

I’m also starving
for positivism

Later I’ll post about how we’re really just talking mud
Today was okay

I retain in me a shred of muddiness
I give birth to the old world

I live in the old love
I feel for everybody

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Guess It’s Too Late to Live
Tyler Gobble

 

 

 

It will be the goats I miss the most. The sky ate the baby
Century like a bug over my waffle cone. I can still hear
The bleating in the background, shucks snakes slithering

From my mouth as the end opens his. My ambition ate up.
My corn stalks ate up. Their playful headbutting like spoons on stage, no more.
The line too long, unraveled, please exit this a-way. I smack and I dab.

This era never meant to be apocalyptic, the end begs. And then the clouds
Doth vanish. The birds molecule back to how they came from.
No hayloft for my children to touch their first genitals. No tractor

To burn all day long. No bonfire pit to ash the day’s trimmings, Pepsi soda
Bottles, the occasional squirrel pelt too haggard to glove. I’m watching
Out the window and here comes another line of cars squalling into dust.

What is it you want? Once I was hoping for a bride and I got these goats.
Once I settled into it. Yes, these are the goats I will x-off my days beside, and now,
You’re telling me they’ll be taken from me. You could have warned

Us—a plague of locusts, the Admires’ lake boiling, a postcard simply.
Leave it to me to find the wind is not the wind no more. A broken
Rake is the hardest tool to repair. The lessons no more of need on a farm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Industry
Monica McClure

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live at the farm

All the men have told me I should be grateful

I take it every morning to my desk

I can tell that my suffering brings confidence

to everyone who protects me

I gave a whole packet of seeds to a farmer

but they were too furious to grow

And so I am banned from considering myself alive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Her Coy Mistress
Carina Finn

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm,
having taken my face
out of the book
just long enough to meet my wife in a
trash can in an alley in Manhattan,
having given up on the pastoral with its
abject weather patterns.

I wear a ring on my fingerless gloves
with so much pride I actually like
this life. A woman at my side and at
my back and at my breast, Mommy,
Mother, darling.

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm
with my denim-shirted wife
and our chickens,
there is art in museums and galleries
there are pay stubs, direct deposit, and
my hole is the holiest place in the city,
and my instant pink sunrise
the prettiest picture. The view from my
window takes a bridge into
consideration as a limit
of what the poet
might see, the
genius.

Dark night. Electra blinks
the East River into existence. Chatty
as I grow older
winter never ends, it never will, and
so many homeless died
in the storm.

I guess
it’s too late to live on the farm. In-
stead let us breathe while we may.
Let us turn in circles
going from end to its opposite.

We put so many
bits of our bodies in the folds of this
couch let’s sell the couch. We put
so many bits of our hearts in this
soup let us eat until
we are well past full.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I GUESS IT’S TOO LATE TO LIVE ON THE FARM
Alexis Pope

 

 

 

Or thoughts I wake up with after
Not long enough sleep but long enough
To sweat the day’s anxiety til we’re both
Damp & the daughter tells me it’s too early
To talk & sure I agree but I’m in
The shit of this & she can’t be
A support system built from the branches
Of my own body plus his, the other
Gone in the dark of another morning
I leave the Lorazepam on my desk
Think about it all day the sudden death
Of one man & the temporarily permanent
Loss of another but all day yesterday
I held to the new one as if I’d fall
And maybe I would but I haven’t let
Myself yet all these men all these children
All these bodies existing together
It’s February in New York & I’ve been
Far from what I called home for years
Now I haven’t cried more than three minutes
About the recently dead, but I’ve thought
About leaving the city for a new one
So I guess it’s too late or I am not
Late enough because I’m still tired
Or trying to leave & the ceiling here
Crackles & drops the dust of maybe
One hundred years won’t be long
Enough to figure out what I’m getting
At is there are children & we were children
And I am so totally frightened of this man
Leaving but I won’t let on that I am not
A completely strong woman because I am
A completely strong woman & I named
My daughter after a completely strong woman
And if I repeat it long enough I might
Find it all to be true or find
That it’s still too late to be
Exactly where & who I meant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apex :: Hunger
Baghdad Beach, New Mexico
Rosebud Ben-Oni

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm

Where the wealthy vacation at pepperidge

Mama isn’t buying in

Hunger is not affectation but nakedness

A step too late the length of her we stay

Hurricane season        lose tin lean-tos numbers

When there’s nothing left we scavenge

Rolling up into red lobster

Dying for cheddar

Complimentary doesn’t mean unlimited

That wasn’t the kind of hunger we sought

The rest us wanted

Goldfish crackers crumbled into canned

Chowder but no she wouldn’t let us the gulf

Coast so close        she tramps their names

In the sand those beer-soaked surges

Of distant carnivals we’ve scavenged

Low tide at bottom-rim

The rest of us

Falling in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm
Becca Klaver

 

 

 

It’s never too late to live on the farm though the crops

may have rotated

beyond recognition. It’s always too late to move to the farm

but it is good to cultivate longing.

I guess.

The farm inspires in me a fecund moralizing. Land lets

the cityslick feel

a longing for the past, then a hardscrabble farewell.

Who is there

to talk to on the farm, and do we accept a vague lowing.

Can the ultracontemporary

ever be rural? Probably not. I need the farm to remind me

this spotty dailiness

was chosen. By me. I always moved to my farms

whenever their spectres pulsed

and now I am very tired. . . .

The farm, always arriving, mottles whatever’s at hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pass the Bass Guitar
Alina Gregorian

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm.

The peacocks agree: the time is too soon to tell.

And what should we do with these bushels?

Where do we bring mountains when we leave?

We have many kettles to explain ourselves.

We find reason to believe in Spinoza’s dream.

Even the paragraph declares a new revolution:

Wear navy on days you board a train.

Wear orange on days you notice the sky.

And even this snow, in all its abundance, cannot forge itself to new dimensions.

It cannot replace itself with itself, as if to say: Here I am.

It can only remain content in the pleasures it derives from the world.

Like a landscape without a past.

Like the only thing we keep in the shed.

 

 

 
First published in Wreck Park.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Guess It’s Too Late to Live on the Farm
Joanna Valente

 

 

 

i.

we did not choose to share a body: a body is not
chosen            in the same way we choose

a room, an orgasm, a weapon
to suck men in like air            mold their clay

devour like weeds devour
earth until earth is just land ;;;

mother said            i guess it’s too late to live
on the farm.

ii.

we do not remember when we were born
only that we breathed light in swords            dark dripping

out of our mouths when our bellies fill
with the absence of a child            who is never born

but every month, we feel her kick & name her
X

& pray for her to save us            from ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Guess It’s Too Late to Live
Allyson Paty

 

 

 

On the farm the white chickens were memes
& they scratched a shit floor.

Their eyes I knew
were yellow, I brought yellow
-ishness

to the dents that had to be eyes.

To look was to read
a white chicken text.

It had little to do with the birds before me.

A mushy tract
on industry, the state

of present living.
I fixed on one chicken
her shape a pastiche

united in the general chickenishness
I ascribed

to her single fat & wobbling life.

Outside the grow house
a patch of humble yarrow

had white & had yellow & a feathered form.

Yarrow a root
smeared on the wounds of the Iliad

& this root hidden
in the dirt on which I walked away.

Was it morning? I faced south
squinting my left eye to the new sun.

Was it night? I walked
my Great American Loneliness
as the chickens slept.

Those men in the Iliad had their limbs
inside me

rendered as they were
from telling to telling

into my matter, text to text.

By what means the chicken flesh?
It bobbed in my chest

bloodless & slick, even then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Guess It’s Too Late to Live on the Farm
Carleen Tibbetts

 

 

 

Don’t turn on your computer!
it’s just Randy Quaid
fucking his wife in a Rupert Murdoch mask
while their dog howls behind them
you just feel really bad for the dog
what can save us from the news of the day—
ISIS beheading videos
the deaths of black men gone unavenged
comedians and poets raping their colleagues—
the other night I dreamt I collected stones
with a poet outside an island prison
stones that reminded me we are nothing
in the face of their weathered permanence
in their endurance made sleek by time

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Guess (or, Those Farms Are for White People)
Morgan Parker

 

 

 

It’s too late to live “on the farm,” fill me
with infants and butter and sometimes
remark w/ glass eyelids how
it reminds us of television
plantations and how that makes us want
and when I say too late I mean I am
so goddamn tired of wanting
because our bodies are so
black we are always missing
something I guess the money or the sound
sleep of new animals (no one
tells a new thing who they are and who
they have to keep being
they just feed them well and never
mention what it feels like to hold
a piece of your body and know
it is the reason for everything
why some window views aren’t yours
and some have the memory
of burnt rope and you do not belong
and it has been too late since this:
the first Atlantic baptism
you w/ your soft kitchen
and dark nipples drag your toes
in something you own finally
like finally a terror growls back) or
a quiet guiltless bed I guess
this floral pattern is not where we belong
I guess the radios stay on all night
and we are syrupy in our black I guess
this is a love poem
I guess there’s no difference
between a country and a man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Guess It’s Too Late to Live on the Farm
Julia Guez

 

 

 

27 February 2015
A landscape adequate to loss. Greenery where before there was amnion, pearl, pollen and salt.

[A foaling not unlike any other.] Not that there hasn’t also been wonder.

And the effect of many suns setting at once.

A pall which many of us begin by pretending not to notice.

 

After the quickening through tissue and bone, bloodied, bulge lowering into the last hold

[When self-preservation has become secondary]

Eyes close tight like a fistful of silver, the solsticed sky black and then phosphine-flecked.

The first of many deaths, a martyring.

 

Anything to bring cantering back from what river crossing cold

First a mare-like plodding sound, then something more hopeful.

While the terrain we travel lanternlessly, and, yes, afraid isn’t cohering much longer.

Beyond any semblance of a treeline beleaguered by the same thought:

 

How the swale and copse began to bend birdlessly abandoning the fallows’

Odd interval until juniper and pine disappear completely

And sheer, the land mostly tectonic now has risen

To the level of my hands, forcing a final genuflection of sorts.

 

Ambivalences (and there were some

Whose only safe passage had to have been a violent one),

A subset of the heretofore, unmoored,

Like so many forgotten trades now littering the inlet with hulls.

 

[Seachange]

The saddest wicker paint peeling nets phlegm motor line spool pier sound of that last anchor

Chain borne aloft hand over hand dangling,

The ferryman aware of what this might mean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm
Caroline Cabrera

 

 

 

In the symphony hall I made an undead.

I bathed in a voice you had taken from me

and emerged sparkling, a phantom in the round

room. I pinged off walls and shapes, a bat,

systematic in my exit. I built your specter

from drifting, white snow and watched

as it scattered. Now the world has grown up

warm around me. Years have intervened.

The task of constructing your effigy falls away.

Instead loose straw, a mannerism. My heart

was iconic like a red barn, and then my

body was reddened like a barn, and now

the barn has burned, but I built a window

box from its wreckage. What I bury in the soil

is nothing or is all my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Guess It’s Too Late to Live on the Farm
Gale Marie Thompson

 

 

 

I guess it’s very brave of me to pass by

under you like this. I’m pretty sure

no one will see these stony parts of me

before you edge them out. Before I was placed

next to you and then I wasn’t.

Timeless is long and thick with cycles.

That is something I have been told.

Something else is that everyone is now having sex

and creating some new language to outburst,

that these clear pushes are good but stilled.

As in with you.

As in, the largest rocket known to man

went and killed all the seagulls surrounding it.

And so to you I want to say Watch the seagulls.

Instead I sit dumb and filled

with too many meals, wishing you might

call this sacerdotal.

I am not expected to grow.

I am not how quickly I throw up after breakfast.

I am not your husband. I am not even trying

to hint at the work. There are too many grim ways

to say bowel so instead I cry for the past.

Everything competes to be exhausted.

Exhaust competes with everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a brief text on tardiness
Mike Lala

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm

the myth of past self-recognition, or something

I guess it’s too late for that now, isn’t it?

Too late for coffee, herb tea—Don’t have any.

But it always sounds good when people offer it to me

and now that it’s gone, I just keep on asking…Boy

you sure are pretty.

Bet you haven’t heard that one in a while…

Hey, doll.

Looks like I let you down again.

Seems like all my life, I’ve just been going, going…

Wish I’d taken more time to smell the roses, so to speak.

I guess it’s too late for that now. Too late to start farming. Why?

Too late for that hay-bailed, baroque, white-boy shit.

Too late for that movement with a C.

Learn your history!

My greatest ambition was to have people comment on my fine

dramatic performances

but language has not accustomed itself to a situation

in which the act itself is the “object.”

Huh.

I’m the greatest. I’m the greatest. No,

she’s the greatest.

I’m pretty sure all these quotes started off as a joke…

I guess it’s too late to wipe them out. LOL.

I guess it’s too late to start wiping.

*

How is she? She died last month. Sorry. Shit.

I guess it’s too late now. I guess we’re up next.

My wife is not my best sexual partner, but she’s good

with the housework. I haven’t heard from her in years.

Huh. She never contacted me, you know? You’re supposed

to be her son, right?

I guess we’ll have to loop that line.

I guess it’s totaled, huh?

I guess I’ll never be a farmer. I’ll have to give up my farmer dreams

and be a poet of place.

I’ve never liked the name Michael, or Marilyn

much less Farmer Dan. I’ve often wished I’d held out that day for Buck or Jean Monroe.

But it’s too late.

Too late to do anything about it.

You don’t let taste decide the firing of a pistol

or the building of a maze. My clearest memory?

Panicking inside the Dole Plantation’s giant Pineapple Garden, six years old, crying,
unable

to eat my way out.

I guess it’s too late to go back. I guess

that’s why I never really had a taste for pineapple.

Huh. Wish I’d taken more time to smell the fruit. We,

in poetry, have a lot of signals.

Some are dummies, some are live.

A sketch can have the function of a skirmish.

I guess it’s too late

to call it a dummy signal, but we’ve got some work to do

some communication. Yeah.

—with Bernadette Mayer, Marilyn Monroe, Cardinals’ QB Carson Palmer, Claude Van Damme, Harold Rosenberg (“The American Action Painters”), and the scripts of Lincoln, The Life Aquatic, Working Girl, and Crank

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Guess It’s Too Late to Live on the Farm
Kelin Loe

 

 

 

There is anger like fire and anger like stone. There is a point. There is point where the crop drops off into the river. There are cousins in canoes. There is a point where stone becomes soil. There is a point where stone becomes. There is a point of becoming stone. There is a point when anger becomes stone. There are mosquitos. There are cousins sliding down the forest wall into the river. Anger in flames is a stasis. There is a point when it’s too late to stay that way. There are cousins in the cornfields at twilight. There is a point when you walk with the history of stone. There is a point when you are a flaming wet rock in a cornfield.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Guess It’s Too Late to Live on the Farm
Sarah Blake

 

 

 

but not to imagine my husband
working the land—

his shoulders lifting the hoe.

And maybe we would hire
other men too,

who might look at me and think
they could

treat me better.

Don’t they know every penis
looks about the same?

I would watch their skin
change color with the seasons.

Hand me the scythe, I would say.

But then we’d rent the big machine
that does all that work for us

because the fields would get too big,

because they would just get bigger.
All the men wouldn’t be enough—

for me either.
Get rid of them all, I would say.

The farm we never wanted,

couldn’t have,
swelling to the size of a country.

My husband’s shoulders
taken in my hands when I could

bear them. My empire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Labanotation #15
Esther Lee

 

 

 

What you hadn’t considered: the dancer

done with ravaging her body. This poem, too,

done with trying to hermit-crab back and forth.

Somewhere in the video—at approximately 37 seconds—you replay

a dancer’s movement, from exploding star to curled potato bug.

And while reading you underline several words:

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm. No sweet talk here since, indeed, the world

is generally multivariate, requiring tattooed confessions on your chest.

Mistakenly they re-deliver the Sunday paper on Monday.

The dancer tells herself, Wait, yesterday had already happened.

For a moment, you consider yourself and the dancer as edge effects,

changing habitats—forest turning into a field, marsh becoming a pond, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm
Emily Brandt

 

 

 

This horizon line is twine held taut
and I am about to pluck it, mistake it

for fuchsia thread of the coat button
in my pocket, mistaken for a Klonopin

prescribed in conjunction with magnesium injection
to still a dizzy head. The injection was long

and warm, looked down to see fuchsia
between these thighs. The next time I was less

lucky and relied on herbs grown in my sister’s
garden turned to tincture with whiskey and honey

infused in moonlight on my grandfather’s land.
He dealt guns. He raised ducks and women

plucked them featherless and warm, a few coins
in their pockets and trigger fingers. They could

shoot the ducks off the horizon line sewn into
the seams of skirts worn working. The seamstress’

steady hand was wife of a man, ate potatoes
wild and raw, a string connected across water

and whiskey black memory. I guess it’s too late to live
on the farm which stands still like a rifle and surrounded

by houseframes bursting like gadwalls and mallards.
This tincture really works when you take it

with a Klonapin, before hurricanes largely unavailable.
The women walked this farm battening hatches

in broad and foreboding sun. To kill a duck thrust
its head into this funnel and chop and drain

repeat. I guess it’s too late to live on the farm now
that the wind stopped blowing and the tablecloths

have no tables holding their shapes. It’s easy to see the blades
when the fan is off. It’s easy to look straight at the sun

when it’s just about to sink and the spins settle in
to slack heartbeat and stark mind, set

true on the trigger and nothing much to hunt these days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Bernadette Mayer, at The Dinner Party
CAConrad, Magdalena Zurawski, Channette Romero, Jenny Gropp, Gale Marie Thompson, and Gina Abelkop

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm
I have cabbage in my teeth
and I can approve the final
changes

Mommy was hot for her; I think it was the rouge
and the baton!

Page 121 or 172– you should
choose 172– That’s good

I like it

Do you want me to read the poem? I might get to play my “drop
that issue” card. I’m on it!

It’s four degrees too warm for it to really freeze
I’m checking the weather

We get out
I know what you need but I think you’re screwed

I wish to god they would just cancel it
Let’s just not meet in the morning
I’m entertaining, I’ll get through it–
it won’t feel good, but I’ll do it–

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm
Elizabeth Clark Wessel

 

 

 

And I guess it’s too late to eat breakfast.
Here comes noon and all I’ve had is coffee.
This is a sign of moral turpitude.
At first I wrote turgitude, and then I had to look it up
because that didn’t sound right. It wasn’t.
The word is turpitude.
In the kitchen my husband is making a smoothie.
He is of a higher moral fiber than me.
Fiber is something you need in your diet, always more of.
Does food have issues with us in the same way we have issues with it?
No, that must be a logical fallacy.
Except when food is still alive.
In some cases it may have thoughts
and motivations if it has a brain big enough.
If you eat humans then
you are not at all in danger of making
a logical fallacy when you say
food has issues with you.
I would probably use a word stronger than issues for that example
But why do we prize consciousness so much higher than everything else anyway?
Isn’t it just a terrible burden all day long?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Book of Repulsive Women
Carrie Lorig

 

 

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *   * * * * * * * * * * * * *   * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *I can’t believe it hasn’t been torn down yet
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * *
Take us out,
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
shitting flowers Take us out
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * UNMETRICAL AND FRAGRANT
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
| | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | |
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *   * * * * * * * * * what / what rag of wrong
unpriced * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * / is still burning * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * *what’s still / * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * *burning* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Take us out,
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
shitting flowers Take me out
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Rent out endlessly /
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *painting figures / figures in demonstration / unburied women in the street
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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what / what rag of wrong / unpriced
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
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* * * * * * * *
N and I are driving past the elaborate restaurant, the one that had been blue and still has flared edges and is falling apart there. I can’t believe it hasn’t been torn down yet, says N with a voice or a tone I will describe here as broken away from the flock to think. N answers his own fragment / his own question. American space, I don’t know where I am today. Because it’s still burning, N says. It’s still burning there.

An essay about distance and estrangement. An essay about a woman walking down the street in a red cape. An essay about the street. What street. This question falls towards me / documents towards me where errant is / imminent. Is it possible for you to say the thing you have never been able to say / even when you have spent your whole life / loving. Are shitting flowers a typical intervention. Do they take us out or do they take us out.
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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GREEN CARD
Lo Kwa Mei-en

 

 

 

I guess it’s too late to live on the farm, to move + farm
love + escape the notice of a certain people who believe

I do not belong on the farm + I did not move here
to lift up the imagination to hose down the peahen trough

with, but to escape uncertain people who notice belief
+ it’s too late to make a run for a farm, to farm the now

for peace or to imagine holding out rough hands + life
rising like an orchid’s fat wag from greening farm sticks

when it’s too late to run for student farm council now that
all the extracurriculars like successful poems are framed

+ traded for a thick, green plot of orchestra rights + that
is unattractive—I guess it’s too late to be basically healthy

in the academy, my drinking disease won in the academy
+ I fear the outdoors + the academy + what if sonnets

are unattractive because masochism is unattractive, well
I guess if one must be (a masochist) it’s best to be attractive—

what of an academy of the outdoors though, what poets in
the bloomy tundras the feminist sinkholes the outhouses

(if one must be attractive, is it best to be a masochist or),
not me, I’m out dead with my eating disease + know it’s

never too late to unblossom in rage + sink away as I pass
the spoken english exam required by this new academy

when on the farm sick for a blanket of whiteness (“snow”)
when the $ for universality is a sonnet crown of white corn

exam where I guess it’s too late to use the words required
to belong in America + if it’s too late to apply to the farm

+ the rent for empathy is a poet breaking a chain of food
it’s too late to live on the farm + it’s too now to move