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Short Takes on Long Poems, Volume 5

Joy Katz, Craig Morgan Teicher, Chris Tonelli, Joanne Diaz, Geffrey Davis, Erika Meitner, Ada Limón, Dave Lucas, Rusty Morrison, Averill Curdy and Lisa L. Moore weigh in (briefly) on their favorite long poems.

Three Erasures

Scraping away at books from the World War II era in the Pacific, Collier Nogues exposes “the dark loud movements of war.”

The Deal

“My mother’s doctor tells me, here’s the deal / She has six months to live, a year at most.” In a poem whose tight form makes music of insufficiency, Lesléa Newman tries to record the loss of her mother.

What is Death

“What does infinity look like? It hurts. // Its bodilessness hurts.” In Hartsdale, when “It’s no / longer possible for anyone to stop where she is,” Kathleen Ossip wonders her way into a poem of cycling, elastic, uncertain beauty.

from Milk in a Pail

Thorpe Moeckel records “the way the udder / shrinks slow to shrivel after being so full” and hundreds of other entailing details that compose, in his intricate telling, the many lives that make up life on a farm.

The Visible Boy

“in the book as I remember it is surrounded by / parentheses / The illustrator / keeps him moving 



black / Parentheses like as if his brown skin struck / black / Sparks on the air with every step.” Shane McCrae‘s recollection of a 1940s children’s book reanimates the terrible power of its depictions and their violent persistence in memory and beyond.

Soft Power

“Your pupils widen on all / Adra prison will swallow. / Wives rock, fingering their beads.” While her husband observes political trials in Syria, V. Penelope Pelizzon wanders “the republic of poetry,” seeking language to account for their encounters there.

from The Woman With No Name

“How to cull the fuckery that follows a woman who does as she wants?” Michael Luis Dauro‘s female gunslinger chases the fantasy of violence and revels in the history-heavy liberty of words.

from Floodstrains

“Days before death he was surprised by it,” writes David Micah Greenberg in this elegy keyed to compositions for solo piano, summoning awe “As we imagine the departed / hearing music we now hear…. As some light will never reach us.”

Cul-de-sac

“In their baskets, they carry / small tokens of privilege that they barter / for magic beans, freedom // from our protection, from our / spurned friendship with the world.” Patty Seyburn’s neighborhood tour takes in six houses, plenty of fear and a seemingly endless appetite for more.