This month we feature new work from the five finalists for the 2012 Omnidawn Open Contest:
Emily Abendroth — Exclosures
Jenny Drai — Visitors, Cavaliers
Craig Dworkin — Alkali
Brandon Lussier — Mary Doll Strings
Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer — Clarkston Street Polaroids
From rural New Mexico, a privately contracted, aerial staging ground reports back on its protracted rounds
of bombardment trainings. They sustain a “damage log” which manages, through protective goggles,
to record the following incidents:
RESULTS 2: Part of a mine barrage?
RESULTS 3: A bit of barraging.
One hit to the left quarters.
RESULTS 4: Might have been barraged.
RESULTS 5: Heavy barraging. Several garages totaled.
RESULTS 6: Scrotal damage. Barraged by wood splints?
RESULTS 7: Zero barrage.
RESULTS 8: All data tossed. Lost a hat. Lost it.
RESULTS 9: Glimpsed the barrager. Limp barraging.
RESULTS 10: More and more barrage ensued. Two wounded.
RESULTS 11: Full view of barrager. The blue shoes.
RESULTS 12: Beastly barraging. Easterly in orientation.
No matter how thin you made yourself
No matter how hard you tried to relax
No matter how undercommon was your ideological axis
or how winsome the praxes of your resistance
Regardless of how overstood
And irrespective of the consequences
You nonetheless too often found yourself locked in sequence
with the “arrangement” itself
which changed your orientation or, more unfortunately, became it
Upon encountering all the usual modes of admonition, exhortation,
and discipline, we lined up.
Despite the supple diversity of our gradations of non-cooperation in counter
we could mount our opposition only so far on each given day, provided
we were to stay living – alive in the scheme of things.
RESULTS 13: Barraged until ringing. Until pitted to fit. Cratered with holes.
Emily Abendroth is a writer and teacher currently residing in Philadelphia. Her print publications include the chapbooks: NOTWITHSTANDING shoring, FLUMMOX (Little Red Leaves), Exclosures 1-8 (Albion Press), Property : None (a multimedia broadside project from Taproot Editions), 3 Exclosures (Zumbar Press) and Toward Eadward Forward (horse less press). An extended excerpt from her piece “Muzzle Blast Dander” can be found in Refuge/Refugee (Chain Links, Vol 3). She is the recipient of a 2013 Pew Fellowship in Poetry.
from by the book
unless you determine your factor of resistance
desire broke up the countenance party and transformed to whitish clay
Cluj, a city far away, Arad not closer in this globe-light
what is nearer is the unmentionable traffic
the terrain of interloping interference, which breaks due
process of one bird-egg-nest, robin-cracked, blue-shell
I have never come from anywhere but the middle of a country
saying ‘middle’ : meant ‘outside’
peering down a lane of slate and shale, this built, this mortared thing
outside a lake, the demon of history, one premonition of future
precipice, a copse of arching willows
the demon drinks the lake as if the crisp blue
water bespoke the sweetness of an indefatigable text
visions of the future prevail
past elucidation of what is not just, are parts, is the pestle
Jenny Drai’s work has appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Court Green, Handsome, Jellyfish, Parthenon West Review, and the Volta, among other journals, as well as in the Calaveras Chapbook Series and in phrases / fragments: an anthology (Sustenance Press). A chapbook, The New Sorrow is Less than the Old Sorrow, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press, and she has been a finalist in the Sawtooth Prize from Ahsahta Press and the Subito Press Book Prize. She has lived all over the place but currently resides in Oxnard, California, where she is finishing up a novel.
CEASES TO CREAK
than cracks from creases
REGISTER OF RHYTHM
curl in currents
BYE BYE PLANE
bye bye plane
bye bye plane
EMANATION OF THE SOUL
the lot of pines
in furrowed rows
These poems and others are forthcoming in REMOTES (Little Red Leaves, textile series, 2013)
Craig Dworkin is the author of five books of poetry, including Motes (Roof Books) and The Perverse Library (Information as Material), and the editor of five collections, including The Sound of Poetry / The Poetry of Sound (U. Chicago Press, with Marjorie Perloff) and Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (Northwestern UP, with Kenneth Goldsmith). He teaches literature at the University of Utah and serves as Senior Editor to Eclipse.
photo: Joseph De Jesus
I pull fish—
dusk, dust, drumming
earth, edge, end—
from the water, and with each
a shiny, dying skin—the salt,
gunpost, hand, hands
bit off each others’ noses, each other’s ribs and skulls,
opened each other
with hatches and knives. Fell into the fire and water—
meat, men, midnight,
mourner, mourner, mouth—
I lift the warm corpse from the steel trap,
turn it over and grip its head in my palm.
The skin slips off the muscle easily, but the light,
rough tail will not part with the bone; I pull down
build a small fire and chew the torn meat off the bone,
raise the small body
like a shield.
Brandon Lussier’s poems and translations have been published or are forthcoming in North American Review, Harvard Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. He is a senior editor of The California Journal of Poetics and works at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
From the Minister of the Cabinet of Ordinary Affairs
Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer
The governing bodies disagree:
one busies itself responding the other talks about sharp objects
The self, divided thusly notes:
every day, dogs re-bark their grievances
The cabinet becomes a place for filling emptinesses
—you must eat something
all morning with a mouse on your tongue
Something becomes dimensional belated
a body in a wake
It sprouts in you
with high branches dropping needles
—your fist on the glass
raw as a mineral
Out at the raincloud:
a dark bird on wet bark
in its beak the flesh of another animal
—your open palm
your stomach winces tight as a cabbage
Stephanie Ellis Schlaifer is originally from Atlanta, GA, and works as an artist and freelance editor in St. Louis, Missouri where she co-curates the Observable Readings series. She has a BFA and BA from Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poems have appeared numerous journals, including Verse, Colorado Review, Chicago Review, Cimarron Review, Fence, and Verse Daily. Her manuscript, Clarkston Street Polaroids, has been a finalist for the Omnidawn Open Competition, the Burnside Review Prize, the Colorado Prize for Poetry, the Tupelo Press First/Second Book Award, and the Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books, among others. Stephanie is a compulsive baker and is also very handy with a pitchfork.