Volume 111, Number 1/2

Volume 111, Number 1/2

pl10934-lg listen to me as one listens to the rain, wet asphalt is shining,
steam rises and walks away,
night unfolds and looks at me

—Octavio Paz

Cover Caption:  “City of Rain” © Roj Whitelock (Web site: rojwhitelock.co.uk)

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Editors’ Page

In our cover photo, someone’s walking toward a bus stop—umbrella raised against the rain—or so it seems. Turn the image upside down, and a ground shift occurs: suddenly we see we’ve been looking at wet pavement, the reflection of a person, not a person at all. Is the scene less real for that, or did embracing an illusion offer a perspective we’d otherwise have missed?

This issue’s opening poem, “We Are a System of Ghosts” by Lindsay Tigue, meditates on mysteries of city life, of figures and places that are familiar and vanishing. Poems of displacement follow, rendering emblematic moments of confusion and connection. Immigrants (village to city, continent to continent) struggle with new customs, new languages, new weather—and strangers find themselves drawn close by chance. In Jason Tandon’s “Kindness,” for example, bystanders sing to a gravely injured boy as they wait for the ambulance. Like the poem itself, the song reflects what may be inaccessible in any other form.

Poetry may draw us in with novelty, but it carries us through shifts in thought and feeling by making them our own. Two essays in this issue consider ways it happens: Leslie Ullman explores how speculative gestures (questioning, openness) include readers in a poem’s act of dis-covery, while Gerry LaFemina argues that readers invest in imaginative assertions as they unfold. In other prose offerings, Tony Hoagland bears witness to the deep humanity of Alicia Ostriker’s voice; Sandra Gilbert and Sunil Freeman place new books by long-established poets in literary context; and Debra Wierenga reviews three debut collections.

In keeping with Poet Lore’s historical commitment to world poetry, we’re proud to feature work by Uruguay’s Idea Vilariño (1920-2009), introduced and translated by Jesse Lee Kercheval. The subject, here, is troubled and troubling love, love that doesn’t last. “I erase you,” she writes—a devastating claim—as her lover reappears on every page.


Lindsay Tigue
We Are A System of Ghosts

Dallas Crow
Bus Stop, Lagos

Moira Linehan
It Will Never Get Any Better

Jason Tandon

Guy Thorvaldsen

Lorrie Goldensohn
Native Speech
Homage to William Blake
Little Fish

Jennifer Stewart Miller

Stephen Massimilla
Lost Spring

Vandana Khanna

Susannah Lawrence
Careful What You Wish For

Helle Annette Slutz
Lagoon, Point Reyes

Regina Marie
On Mooring

V.C. McCabe
No Trespassing

Linda Aldrich
Buried Deep
Nothing Else

Gary Fincke
Lie Still

Leslie Ullman
[from Oblique Strategies]
“Abandon normal instruments”
“Accept advice”
“Allow an easement (…the abandonment of a stricture)”

Mike White
After the Silent Era

Marge Piercy

Tom Donlon
Junk Drawers

June Frankland Baker
Hawk in November

Jack Ridl
There Is a Cardinal in the Tree

Joanne Rocky Delaplaine
The Local World

Leona Sevick
Meet the Faces

Hayes Davis
Black Boy, Independent School

Holly Karapetkova
Southern Gothic
White Power

Kevin Stein
The Tragedies

Artress Bethany White
Playing with Guns

Carrie Shipers
Self-Portrait as Exiled Despot

Paul Martin
The Cry

Rob Jacques
Washing My Enemy’s Feet

Todd Davis
Lost Country of Light

Barbara Crooker
Garden of the Painter at Saint Clair, 1908

Patricia Hooper
Three Weeks of Peonies

Jeffrey Bean
TheVoyeur Sees Her Leave in the Evening
TheVoyeur Looks at The Milkmaid, JanVermeer

Cassie Pruyn

Jay Leeming
Hooked Fish

Tim Mayo
The Only Picture

Geer Austin
Club Tie

Michael Mark
Playing with the House’s Money

Jeneva Stone
After Life

Patricia Fargnoli
Winter Day in New York City, 1973

Ceridwen Hall

Leah Souffrant
Not to walk

Rose Strode
The Art of Sharing an Umbrella

Frannie Lindsay
In Memory of an Evening Walk in August

Doug Ramspeck

Jaydn DeWald
Evening Sketch:After Jack Gilbert

Adam Houle
Night Studies: Laudo, Laudare, Laudavi, Laudatu

Lee Rossi

World Poets in Translation

Idea Vilariño (Uruguay)
Introduction by Jesse Lee Kercheval
Un huésped – A guest
Entre – Between
Ya no – Not Now
Allá – There
O fueron nueve – Or were there nine
Adiós I – Goodbye I
No hay nadie – There is nobody
El amor – Love
Adiós II – Goodbye II


Tony Hoagland
“‘I Would Like to Repent But I Cannot’:The Poems of Alicia Ostriker”

Leslie Ullman
“‘All the Softness Truth Requires’: Speculation as Invitation and Persuasion”

Gerry LaFemina
“Some Notes on Poetry as a Way of Thinking”


Sandra M. Gilbert “How to Write.What to Say”
Insomnia by Linda Pastan
For Dear Life by Ronald Wallace
The Luba Poems by Colette Inez
Day Unto Day by Martha Collins

Debra Wierenga “Quick Takes:Three First Books”
The Tulip-Flame by Chloe Honum
Deviants by Peter Kline
What You Know in Your Hands by Elizabeth Poliner

Sunil Freeman “Vibrant New Work from Three Seasoned Poets”
Tiger Heron by Robin Becker
City of Eternal Spring by Afaa Michael Weaver
sugar run road by Ed Ochester

Index: Volume 110, 1-4