Your Monday vitamin comes from Split this Rock

Split this Rock is an organization that posts a poem every week–they advertise as “poems of provocation and witness.” This one really caught my attention:

Still Life with Bullets

Orlando Jones, a black actor, douses himself
in a bucket of bullets. I flinch. Bullet against
brown skin even without the bruised and
busted aftermath is no easy thing to bear. Even
at the distance of Facebook. There is nothing beautiful
about the gilt curves of each bullet, nothing admirable Continue reading “Your Monday vitamin comes from Split this Rock”

Contest Winner

I subscribe to and occasionally submit poems to Split This Rock.  This one received an honorable mention in their annual contest:

Sandor_optMárai Sándor in Exile

Deprived of your native language,
of pörkölt cooked in cramped kitchens,
of the scent of elder flowers in early June,
you don’t meet people you know on the street, or stop
in familiar shops that sell just what you need.
You don’t sit with friends
at the café with a newspaper filled
with gossip about people you know.

After your home was destroyed,
you said language was your true home.
But so few speak the Magyar tongue.
Even your name sounds unfamiliar here.
Who will read your forty-six books?
your scrupulous observations of
the German soldiers who set up radios
in your parlor? the Russians
who used it for their motorpool?
You saved your hatred for
your countrymen, newly minted
Soviets, returned from Moscow.
Their lethal mix of terror
and preferment snuffed
what little there was left of Hungary
and drove you out.

It’s lonely in the sun
of San Diego. Your bones crave cold light,
need winter in Krisztinaváros
before the siege,
the irreplaceable stones of Castle Hill.
Your mouth is parched
for the barbed sweetness of accented vowels,
the braided bread of consonants,
the bullets
of your spoken tongue.

Meryl Natchez

This is actually an earlier version of a poem I’ve since revised into a sonnet.  More about that, and about contests, submission, acceptance and rejection later.

A pleasant surprise

Screen Shot 2013-02-05 at 8.32.27 AMI logged onto Facebook in an idle moment yesterday, and discovered that I was a finalist in a poetry contest I’d entered months before, for Split This Rock. Ok, there were nine other finalists, and three winners, nonetheless…

The contest was judged by Mark Doty, a poet I’ve mentioned here several times. I love the brilliant transcendence of his work. Here’s a copy of the winning poem–I wrote it in reaction to the epigraph I quote at the top…it made me immediately think of things I find hard to reconcile with the concept of Nirvana:

The Tenth Time

Nirvana is here, nine times out of ten
                          Hô Xuân Hu’o’ng

The disposable diaper
in the meadow

The morning at the DMV

The razor wire on top of the chainlink
around the concrete
around the school

For every black man in college
five behind bars

What happens to the eyes
as the argument flares

The blueprints for the gas chambers,
meticulously filed

The invasion

The story of the invasion

The story behind the story
of the invasion

The ones
who knew to profit from it
Meryl Natchez

I’d put a poem by Mark Doty here, but the contrast would be too great!