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.

Monday, March 7, 2011


From “Memory Cards: Ashbery Series”

Of the goggles of memory. The moment of awakening that is also one of falling into a less than conscious suspension, suspecting a hiatus in the syntax morning brings to bear on evening's more unquiet agitations. The egrets on the fresh-mown lawn look like pieces on a child's chess board, not quite in their place, yet not too far from it. That memory is a binding means either that it covers our wound or that it closes the book on us. My mother cannot remember to hold the phone to her ear, nor to put more than breath in her voice. I speak to a room I remember (television, stock photos, couches) and feel my voice sink in the plush. There must be an antechamber of such. Voice is old woman slumped in a chair, elbow too weak to rest on its arm. Here is mine, through acres of air.
                  --27 December, 2010

Or didja really think I was somebody else? Someone writes he's not real, our president. The glass half-full is empty. It's partly cloudy today, flash flooding expected. The egrets are like clouds with legs on the lawn and you can't get into the Black Caucus unless your skin is. Radhika was Japanese before she was African American, which makes her more like her white mother than you might think. Where late the sweet birds. Mornings bring the true twitter feed. The senator gave him back his ring when he got the right to tell. They seem to fall out of the gray sky's skin against green mountains. Eating bugs is ordinary, but watching it happen is not. Show is for shower, the one you'll share. Verbs are time's skin, its stretch marks indices that something happened; we don't know yet what it was, but if you stick around long enough, we'll be sure to tell ya.
                  --28 December 2010

For it is you I am parodying, though not through simple reversals, like replacing “dying” with “living” or “paradis” with “enfer.” What you infer from my intrusion is your business alone; we are a private people, after all, locked up in our mansions without furniture, gazing out at the next one over, wondering what lawn service the neighbors use. In my dream, the street directions ended with OM, as if home were nothing more than a sound to summon up an empty lot. The next soccer parent over was placing bets on college games, told me last week didn't go so well. Bookies read the leaves, while we are left with the chicken scratch of print. I open you at random, snitch a line, fear an injustice has inevitably been done. She stole money from the school, then walked away with probation. At least she paid them back.
                  --30 December 2010

You private person. You less than public creature of the crowd, isolated speck in being's penumbra, eyeball in a field, you! Listen here, the voice of your audience awakens you to the absence of your mother/lover/pet, where only Echo lasts, having long since divorced Narcissus, who blossoms glumly in the sagebrush behind the stage. Scared of the clock, he spilled the banana. Numbers kept adding up, red dots splashing on the iPod Touch: I gilled him! What is touch, when wound is absence modified, when angry birds come calling, but only from inside a lit box? The island is covered by absences, notes scribbled on light poles, torch ginger tied to bus stops, phantom launching pads, a scar on the concrete barrier. Your multiple-choice test begins now, and your score determines what future resides where the horizon would be were it not for the crenelated mountains, even as you stand locked to a past you cannot see but only dig in, like a politician planting a tree that denotes settlement, not shifts of key. The cello sounded flat, she said with some sharpness in her voice, having attended sarcasm boot camp years ago. But the cello responded: come closer, you ain't heard nothing yet.
                  --31 December 2010

“There are no trade winds. The ocean too / Is someone's idea.” Or we are its, without apostrophe, boogie boarders of no particular lodging except what's swell. And then kaput upon the shore where one who sings is a stilt, and our stilted voices cannot locate their key. Time grows less linear with each day's passing, like a forward to her fullback, fullback to her goal keeper. Return, refrain, repeat. How does he avoid romanticizing it? No one loves nature so much as a man with a gun who rhapsodizes. The white man's blues are something else; in this economy we hire you to invent more categories, then to break them like an ugly mug. The valley was a trough last night, air the excretion of sparkler and popper, firecracker and concussion bomb. We awaken to a new forest of signs, reminding us to turn off the stove, flush the toilet, eat our peas. Suss out the vowels and align them well. There's a form to be filled in, verse to be made while there's sunshine.
                  --1 January 2011

Some say that the measuring of time / Is a recognition of what it is but what it is is in the present tense. Time so often locates itself elsewhere, or we put it somewhere and forget it, as if it were a cell phone. You try calling it, but the battery's dead, or it's in the trunk, or you don't really want to find it anyway, especially not those text messages you never look at because they're not in real English. I call my mother and she says I look forward to it but she won't remember saying that five minutes from now. Have we passed it yet, this trying to make sense of it, an on-ramp closed because the president drives by on the way to a future-directed activity, like golf? A hole in one makes no sense in Fragment Land. It's a planned community, after all, with a lake, several recreation areas, and a row of churches. Rumors of a tragic history seep into the culverts, but the drainage is good, housing prices stable, and tomorrow you'll get the garage door fixed.
                  --2 January 2011

Each of these memory cards begins from a sentence or a phrase from John Ashbery's collected poetry, Library of America edition.
The memory card form: each prose poem must fit on a card. You can also read Memory Cards & Adoption Papers (Potes & Poets, 2001). The Wolsak Series was published by Ink in Metz, France in 2010.


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