JULY: Poetry of Individuality
Ching-In Chen, Soham Patel & Robert Nordstrom
The teacher straightbacked,
faced me off, her eyes.
My face in the cleave of
her shoulder, my bones
sitting high my cheek.
The word proper
arrives in the hall. The order
of things, rolling
neat into pine drawers, deadclean.
Squeezed juice of greedy
Her teeth not match.
One chipped. The corner lifted,
peeking a window, furtive.
The other, pearl, round
and perfect, looming above my
arched head. About to bite.
-- Ching-in Chen
Previously published in So to Speak, re-printed in Another and Another: an Anthology from the Grind Daily Writing Series, and chosen as Split This Rock's Poem-of-the-Week.
to say prayers for each breakfast eater tonight—
let's not front he said and asked me to call him in instead of calling him out now
it’s been ten years since we read that sign at breach candy hospital that one that says
no dogs or indians allowed
five since the american artisan ice cream corporation opened their shoppe in dehli’s
sector 6 select city walk where you can only go in if you hold international passport
he said come now do you also want anyone from any caste coming in to the store
my poor manners imagine us embracing on a dirt floor yet all this devouring sweet
again we find ourselves having to position our bodies around each other and having
to think more about our bodies than we did before
now we make small talk around the question of bending and stretch around an ear
or brow to the ground
now the currency exchange translates into enough money to pay snake charmers
put coins into any tiny and open palm
-- Soham Patel
Two lovers lie in bed, air thin
between them, ceiling a black cloud
absorbing their dreams.
Their hands touch,
and in silence they begin
their climb to gain a view,
see where they have been
where they might yet go.
Over there, one says, no,
over there, the other responds,
but neither sees what the other sees.
The cynic says, see, there is no there
there, only breath at whose peaks and valleys
we die and are resurrected again.
Ah, but these old lovers know better,
eyes closed now to open the view, calling
without you I never would have gone there.
-- Robert Nordstrom
From The Sacred Monotony of Breath (Prolific Press, 2015);
winning entry in the 2014 Hal Prize Poetry Contest