This month we feature new work from the five finalists of Omnidawn’s 2016 1st/2nd Poetry Book Contest:
Lisa Alden – Truth & Subsidiaries
Mark Faunlagui – On Some Hispanoluso Miniaturists
Nicholas Gulig – ORIENT
Douglas Luman – Constructs
Caroline Young – Catastrophiliac
Survival & the Maple
the truth of us
out of ourselves
I had my questions.
we had: survival myth
loss our hands survival
green of an eye
of the sky when it’s wrong
as far as the county line and beyond:
there are only people we dare not know.
and things with shapes we can’t name
fall again, the blind planet
catches no one everyone nadie todos
and I sense a cabal over there over there
and we we we fall here
pivot. and on
our conjugations are impeccable
the face I had is gone.
if I ever see you again, will you remember it?
and how would I know.
press the heels of your feet all the way into your shoes
like it will help.
sometimes it helps
from overuse, we kneel
with sore arms. we can barely
stand. if there’s a you, I’ve lost the trail.
what’s the larger point.
it’s leaking, check
the tap on the maple
so this is what it has come to.
and not enough
Lisa Alden is a Mensan, WashU alum, and lecturer in creative writing at SFSU. She lives in California with her sons. lisaalden.com
IS COUNTING ON
Mark Faunlagui was born in the Philippines and studied architecture at Cornell University. His poems have appeared in The New Engagement, Sibling Rivalry Press’s Assaracus, Omnidawn’s OmniVerse, Augury Books and Greying Ghost’s The Corduroy Mtn, and his manuscripts have variously been Finalists or Semi-Finalists in contests for 1913 Press, The Song Cave, Omnidawn and Augury Books. On Some HispanoLuso Miniaturists, to be published by 1913 Press in 2017, is his first book, and the first installment in the ThirdWorldLover Trilogy. Mark is an architect, and lives in Jersey City.
BOOK OF THE DEAD
Grave of race as culture halved by sex and category. It turned to sorrow,
to dismay, to anger, a catalyst
for action. “What is there
to live among, or for.” Within a pixel’s moribund
circumference, at first I was surprised.
It began to make a noise.
Defining strategies to fight the enemy wherever it rears its head,
grave of nations, names
their origins existing
somewhere, it could be said
and has been. Triggered by a clash, I hear it
there. “A soldier speaking,
his weaponry erupting.” Occurring
in the open pit between our happiness, grave of our despair.
“Modernity” and “Barbarism.”
A grain of sand against the ground which curves itself to greater noise,
the sound upon which grows a sense of self
increasingly opposed. To not forget
the shock. A feeling sexed but faceless, the desert does decree itself among a light
that doesn’t blind. “The enemy
is waiting.” In the moment post-immaculate, grave of the eye
of the beholder.
Descending like a vulture and existing.
In the near vicinity of objects. In the present tense of things.
Returning to the 13th century. Contained
in structure, scripture,
scar. “The war will be a long one.” Thus, the desert, it can be said, contains us
in a new society of arms. Like generalists
attempting to extract
a form of fuck I call myself into the crucible of ache.
As the printing press gave rise
to a religion. Ache of answer, error. A grave beyond a border
built in certain light, the glow
of order. “We are not the only element.”
When listened to,
when emptied slowly and replaced,
a grave that is a self
rehearsed before an audience of strangers.
To struggle over nomenclature. An effigy, when seen: “experienced”
Nicholas Gulig is a Thai-American poet from Wisconsin.
“The River,” Grace Farms, New Canaan, Connecticut
What would we feel when the water does not come. The sea of faith was once
too full. Clay was the word & clay was the flesh. All sheep, lambs, & calves—
patterns; something in them is making a steady effort to die.
That’s the farmer’s impression.
The planet is made of language slips & we only need one to happen. The
algorithm of the harvest does not include want or body.
The days of the Earth are killing the season. Several forests gather
& they’re leaving. I see in them the stub of an atopia.
I asked where are you going. They answered
we don’t know, but we’re glad to be going there.
Murder started with an axe & pointed westward where
the weather is supposedly less perilous.
But, who am I to tell you what the world does.
I suppose the thing is that rivers are recurrent, & regarding fields: people question
the quality of light that’s there. As noon is careless, we know little
about how the day is yet. The light of the sun is the glitter of some old hope.
I could talk about houses, but they’ve seen too much violence.
& the landscape is not a house, but we say the river here is no more than a bed, or
the shadow into which an escapist abandons.
Time is passing by, how do we stop it.
& yet you have lived long enough that you might see your own children.
Sometimes it’s easier to imagine no one else alive.
Douglas Luman is Production Director of Container, Art Director at Stillhouse Press, Head Researcher at appliedpoetics.org, a book designer, and digital human. His first book, The F Text, will be released in fall 2017 on Inside the Castle.
of Changing Bodies
In the natural world, act natural. We first mate under a Capricorn moon but nettle down in detail. Of what shall we construct this nest? Horsehair, feathers, wire, string. Credit cards, PIN, and password. What becomes a compromise, consensual indecision. Using tools at one’s disposal I rust in your nest of hands. Sinew, cartilage, and bone. Thumb drive, nail, mandible. A branch snaps without water. I want to touch your wonder while your want to touch me wanders. We face time over unspoken online assumptions of human nature. On screen we look at stars above without the fear of falling. I say yes. I do I did it now. I did it haven’t I?
of the Horse Unfenced
There is no such thing as independence. We measure our responses. Crows, robins, cardinals, tits fighting in the leaves. We are want to gather what is left while earth remains visible. What is disorder? Head down, arms akimbo. This three-legged race goes nowhere. Unstrangled laces slip from eyelets. Rub our blisters into dirt. Absence bleeds. Brightening. A whole.
of Product Release
The Cancer moon being what it is, we consider our positions. We isolate our bodies in isolated beds, winter-wrapped packages of fur governing flesh. In camphor, tea no passion flower. Backs face wind and its unexpected liftoffs. Pretend to be alone while the white moon hangs across our sky. Jupiter swallows neighboring stars. We pray for change we fear we are unprepared. I recall that I once read: somewhere, someone once believed the moon a hole to another world. I try to imagine a tear in the page through which our bodies might pass.
of Hunger Ghosts
My dream I was and wake alone. The you slipped from the edge of the field I held on by my toes. No sign of echolocation. No weathering device. Who I was remembers only words you could not say. Silver-tongued skylight lingers. Sycamore shadow limbs. May’s reflected starlight falls as if the being who I am is watched by someone closer than God. I audition her name. Owl, cry pond, lilies, stone, starlight, goldenrod, pear. A predator’s breath is harvesting my prayer. Long bow, quiver, blanket remains. No archer nor the animal.
Caroline Young lives, paints, reads, and writes in Athens, Georgia where she received her PhD in English Literature at the University of Georgia. She teaches writing and communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.