Marsh Hawk Review is an online poetry journal sponsored by the Marsh Hawk Press collective. Marsh Hawk Review will appear twice a year, under the revolving editorship of collective members. Each issue will offer a selection of poems solicited by the editor, in addition to new work posted by poets in the collective.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Marsh Hawk Review Fall 2008

Editor: Norman Finkelstein

Click on the name of the contributor to see his or her work.
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Mark Scroggins


The bouganvillea does not curl

in the acorn, the spores

of the ferns crowd our eyes.

She pressed small hands into

the wet sound, pulled

out shell-fragments, a kind

of wood (white sand) pulled back

her hair elaborate into a sort

of knot-work. Barometers of

jewelry and glittering leather,

infant ear-rings spider-web

hair knotted with sweat.

Arena is sand, to soak up

blood or oil or other

expensive viscous fluids.

My friends roar by, wave out

the windows (cell phone) traffic and commerce

printed our pages, the regular

menhir-delivery those days

interrupted only by postal holidays.

The retinas sutured – minute cables

of scar-tissue, nudges of concentrated

light – to the back walls

of her eyes (so blue!) (freeze frame) home movie

without editing, stretches of nothing

but static words like a camcorder

in a crowd (radio on) The “we” became

royal without our noticing, an axis

around which we spun to the brink

of nausea. Twelve steps, gingerly,

and fell flap upon the cheek-

bone. He was behind the wheel,

true, but he wasn’t arrested:

a way to avoid being crippled,

at least, so he left the baby – dying –

behind; took up arms, bore arms,

brandished the gaudy stippled

drag of money’s uniform.

Their whines of good faith figured

the orange plastic netting around

a construction site, where March means

spring impends, the heat settles down

on the flats. The Lord will know

his own, our sorting is superfluous.

Mystic Seaport

Over some silent footage from the turn

of the last century, Ishmael

narrates the industrial techniques

of drawing forth Leviathan: cinematically

sterilized, the buckets of blood

rendered a grey-black celluloid

shimmer, the work of the precise,

wooden, floating abattoir before me

(for the first time) in living motion

echoes in dull but vivid déjà vu

on the video screen. Too neat:

fifteen, twenty chapters of viscous

dissection tried-out to six

minutes of jerky motion: the Book

of Job in Reader’s Digest condensation.

Oliver Cromwell

(for Steven Moore)

He read of children tossed

at a pike’s end, of cannons

with “God Is Love” scribed round

their barrels. He read of a snake

with garnet eyes, of golden

ringlets curling round the hemp

of a hangman’s noose.

He read of green fields

and mines, of foundries

and factory floors. Pleasures

and game diversions. The tree

which bursts into pink blossoms

of enthusiasm. The trees huddle

suspiciously in the wind, rustle

in green whispers. A village mashed

and shattered under the sun, not one

stone left upon another. Bombers

and fighter jets darkening the sun,

the shop clerk whose weekend sends

him – in militiaman’s uniform –

to take stock – with a bayonet– of a

tentful of refugees. Great men,

whose brows line with the effort

of shaping destiny. Who read old books,

and find their faces there.

Jane Augustine

CBGB's Claustrophic

I am the pummeled young

crushed soda cans under flashing

bloodlight spots on drummer’s arm

blue on stubble of guitarist’s jaw

as he bends in agony gut-doubling

sudden terror-blast of white spot shows

too much and quick dark mercy comes back.

Body rubs body as prom-pix beauty affixes

her mouth to a black-hooded head

she clutches with both hands at the neck.

So much fear lust fused defused

under the jackhammer pounding

of sound whamming away reflections,

consequences, daytime stuff that’s

outside the box, the writhing black-joy

misery box, bathysphere in black ocean

because protection is needed because

you have to be in it because there every,

every suffering insufferable dark body

rubbed mashed snubbed gagged

longed-for swallowed is what’s wanted,

more body, more slime, slobber,

sweat, wet, scurf, squawk to be set free

charged up to richest livingness

and for a short span music does it.

Hammers it home.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Claudia Carlson

Breakfast at Fiction Inn

The Innkeeper is shaking a white plate with a golden rim,
"This is real gold dammit, that's metal you dimwit,
never put metal in the microwave." The help is only a minor character,
I can't see his face, but his scuffing gait sorrows the floorboards
as I wait for eggs and bacon in the first chapter.

The window sets a general view of mountain, green and sky.
I've never been much for description which is why
I write more poetry than novels. I am surrounded by chapter two's chunky
knotted pine and crafted replications of the view. Even before I lift my fork,
it's clear the narrative is going to leave me hungry.

A small brown boy and brown dog barrel down the stairs and stop
to smell my feet…so…nature is embodied in this narrative. "What
is your name?" "My dog is chocolate and so am I," he grins and exits.
Humor? Hook? Why is the story line racing offstage at Fiction Inn?
The door jingles its leitmotif and a bearded man enters

after his Leica. The innkeeper asks, wiping his hands, if he can assist.
"I used to come here as a boy and I have surely missed
your grandmother's flapjacks." His lens sniffs the scene. Sorry—
don't shoot my way. Should I have ordered pancakes instead of scrambled?
If I'm the main character, why can't I get fed? Maybe the story

is off the leash and chasing a goose. Will I be captured
by the photographer as he snaps up time capsule
walls and sweating proprietor? Who cares? I'm the author. My coffee is weak
but the perfect eggs are anointed with paprika when they arrive, still hot.
My host tells me the mist is rising from valley to peak,

and the trails are open. He is clearly the main character, he pours
more coffee, "9-11 is killing my trade, Europeans don't come here anymore;
global warming is dulling the fall leaves with too much rain, I do what I can,
my mother wants me to sell out, sell out, but I'm a stubborn man."
I was wrong, this isn't a novel, it's a country western song.

Warm Blue, Steam Tent, a Thousand Moons


between chalk-dry air

and waterfall


fluted blue lung


from a silver wire,


I surrender—

pain falls

into a drain

the 4th wall

is roaring approval.

A light

rises in the window


through night-dyed plastic—


sequin skin


off bone

cling to tile.

In every drop, a moon,

rinse, breathe, dance—

moons that melt

into a cool black towel.

Amanda Nadelberg

This Could Be Quiet

There are and only can be so many
more days like this. This, what the
house is for what the mouth is for.
Whatever other than guessing. What
else but lady jackets. Do you know
how you know if there are cockroaches
she says. You go into the kitchen in
the middle of the night. They scurry.
If you see them scurry they are there.
Here, person, person, here. The box says
“I am so fragile.” Dinner is a room and
bricks and windows. Charming how
charming those buttons, cardigan
buttons all over again.

O Employ

The bear smells we
smell like radishes
we just smell like radishes.
There is not much else to imagine.
This era is a sign of other kinds of love.
It will all be easier than this,
the flies fly at the wall and say
it will all be easier than this, after this.
The bats in me are the night.
The bats in me are the music.
Licking walls is no way to live.
Bring me a beefcake I will
demonstrate I am a visual person
I draw maps for a living.