THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP
Those blue lights keep us
from getting enough—
a modern bedtime ritual,
the backlit screen.
We climb to the mountain edge, where
tourists flock after dark to see blue
flames from the combustion of gases.
We undergo a startling
metamorphosis. We become
almost paralyzed. We approach
the frontiers of death.
Our team flies to an Inuit village–dilapidated buildings,
empty fuel drums–a desolate landscape, the bear lying
on the ground like an abandoned rug, nearly lifeless.
Life on a spinning planet,
with its endless wheel
of day and night, aims
to sync us with the sun
In West Papua, catchers bring butterflies for inspection.
They come from all directions, sometimes in the morning,
sometimes from darkness, dark, ghostly shapes in the air.
One’s nightly spindles
curate memories throughout
the looping voyage of the night,
of harrowing missions.
We traverse the roadless landscape, trek up valleys
where villagers tend apricots at the foot of glaciers,
barely aware of the bloodshed in the distant capital.
Sleep is ancient, essential, dreams
a source of enchantment, mystery—
or chaotic neurons, devoid of
Love letters, a CD player, tequila, a Bible containing
tickets to a soccer match in Bolivia, a dozen kangaroos
and wallabies, foraging for seaweed in the waves.
In the untamed jungle
of the mind, our savage
A Maasai girl bounces on the carcass of a female
elephant, poisoned for raiding grain stores.
Sex drive, elation, love:
the playtime of the brain.
Why do we stay awake?
Source: National Geographic, August 2018.
Method: For this poem, I excerpted stirring short expository passages from an article discussing the phenomenon of human sleep, in “The Science of Sleep,” National Geographic, August 2018. I shaped these passages into short lines to accentuate their sparse beauty. I interspersed these passages with excerpts from captions and other short passages from other stories in the same issue of the magazine, all describing the wonder, absurdity, and horror of the human adventure, as it is lived throughout the world. I distinguished these passages from the expository passages with italic font and longer lines.
Lisa Carl is a writer, painter, photographer, and associate professor of English at North Carolina Central University.
THE GLOBE-MAKER’S APPRENTICE
a hand an eye a love of latitude
ning-king dreamy it’s not
months and years it takes
with only a bit of ding-ding muscle
a year and a half and a ship
in a curve of the map
a ying-ding around the world
a ling-ying all over again
Method: My rules are that I can use any words or parts of words so long as they appear in the same order as in the source, and that the found poem should not tell the same story as the source.
Ama Bolton, former member of The Liverpool School of Language, Music, Dream and Pun, runs a monthly open-mic and has performed at festivals in England. Her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies and online.
ARE YOU READY?
Includes three cupcakes
THE WORLD IS SPINNING
Entrances and exits
grow more distinct with age
It all ends
Not quite what you hoped for?
Method: Each line or sentence, including the titles, has been lifted verbatim from the 2019 IKEA catalog.
Hannah Mahoney is a coauthor of Dream Language: For Three Voices (Yet to Be Named Free Press). Her work has appeared in a variety of journals, including at the Mann Library Daily Haiku website.
Gumbo’s origin’s may surprise you.
This 95-year old fed Freedom Riders Chicken.
What now Elon?
Where is your soul, black man?
Yankees manager touches umpire,
squats like catcher.
Raiders send megastar to Bears!
Phil Mickelson shows off insane, viral high-kick!
Starbucks quietly tests a healthier recipe.
A disturbing photo and a leaky can of pepper spray
ruined this flight to Hawaii.
The most stirring moments from the Memorial service.
Prince Harry sings!
The best ice cream in New York City!
Watch this ice cream stretch like gum.
What’s really behind “scallop wars”.
Spear phishing has become even more dangerous!
Lustful dolphin causes swimming ban.
Meet the man she fell in love with.
Kanye West apologizes.
Get fit like Ruth Bader Ginsburg!
Taiwan ‘hamburger’ goes global.
Lawmaker doubles down on ‘monkey’ comment.
Slow down and live long with this ancient practice.
9 hotels to sleep in before you die!
See Dad’s amazing catch of falling toddler.
See what’s streaming in September.
See this life size Bugatti made of Legos.
See fireball light up Australian sky!
See thousands of fish fall from the sky!
We’re going to build a lunar colony out of moon dust…
Method: All this text was found on September 1, 2018 on the home page of the CNN website. No clicking was involved.
Rick Lupert is a Los Angeles based poet and author of 23 collections of poetry, most recently Beautiful Mistakes (Rothco Press), and is founder of PoetrySuperHighway.com.
from THE POUND CENTOS
The hooves, moving in
heavy air, clink & slick
on the cobbles. Palace in
smoky light. Hard night, &
parting at morning. Not a ray,
not a slivver, not a spare disc
of sunlight. Thin husks I had
known as men, weaving an
endless sentence, propped
between chairs & table. &
then went down to the
ship, mad for a little slave
money, winds stretching out,
seas pulling to eastward.
Cast on a natal paper, set with
an exegesis, told, our pact
stands firm, from half-dark
to half-dark. Goat bells tinkled
all night. Beaten from flesh
into light, dark shoulders have
stirred the lightning. The air
was full of women, flitting
& fading at will. Honey at the
start & then acorns, passion
to breed a form of things, of
men, in shimmer of rain-blur.
Been to hell in a boat yet? The
words woven in wind-wrack.
He took it up to Manhattan, to
the big company, & they said:
“The answer to that is they’re
solid bone. You can amputate
from just above the medulla.”
He never could get it to work.
The slick guy, decked all in green,
with sleeves of yellow silk &
holding his golden wand, looked
out of the window. He knew me
& spoke first. “They came & cut
holes in rock for sacrifice, heap-
ing the pyre with goods. Sparse
chimneys smoke in the cross light.”
Source & Method: All four poems are shaped from phrases & sentences taken from Ezra Pound’s Cantos. The first couple I did fell out as 14-liners, so I have kept that form throughout.
Mark Young‘s most recent book is les échiquiers effrontés, a collection of surrealist visual poems laid out on chessboard grids, recently published by Luna Bisonte Prods.
A QUESTION OF WHOLENESS
Paths forked off and forked off
some more. I followed the monk
through a maze of cloisters.
We came to a quiet place, a grave.
The milky turquoise vow of silence
hung white in the twilight.
I passed through a great doorway
and stood in a network of tunnels.
The music of dulcimers lit the path.
Holy Mountain, I feel like I’ve
climbed out of a dark box and into quasars.
There are so many
cities in every single city sometimes
language can’t even read
the music of meaning, the me
that lives in me. I’m this person,
I’m that person, I’m that person too—
tiny life-form of star compost
full of the sun and the moon.
Source & Method: Lines taken from David Mitchell’s novel Ghostwritten. After my book of poems came out in 2015, I was looking for a new way to write, a new language. While reading novels, I began underlining lines that stood out to me, usually due to their standout language or strange wording. I decided to use these lines to generate centos and found pleasure in puzzling them together to form poems. I was surprised to discover that although I was speaking through the words of others, it was my voice rising to the surface of each poem.
Genevieve Betts is the author of the poetry collection An Unwalled City (Prolific Press, 2015). Her work has appeared in The Tishman Review, New Mexico Review, Hotel Amerika, The Literary Review, and in other journals and anthologies. She teaches creative writing for Arcadia University’s low-residency MFA program and lives in Santa Fe.
if I were writing this
carry the one
how her spirit got out
mysticism for beginners
the rest of life
shoes at the door
hurt into beauty
Source & Method: Titles of books on my desk and a sense of narrative inspired this poem. Authors in order of appearance: Robert Creeley, Jeffrey Harrison, Carol Anshaw, Krysten Hill, Deborah Levy, Jane Cooper, Adam Zagajewski, Mary Gordon, Michael Downing, Carrie Brown, Paul Hostovsky.
Jane Attanucci’s poems have appeared in The Aurorean, Bird’s Thumb, Off the Coast, The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Right Hand Pointing and Third Wednesday among others. Her chapbook, First Mud, was released by Finishing Line Press (2015). She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Text from “The Accidental” by Ali Smith.
Sarah J. Sloat splits her time between Frankfurt and Barcelona, where she works in news. Her poems and prose have appeared in The Offing, Hayden’s Ferry Review and Sixth Finch, among other journals. Follow her on Instagram at @sjane30.
Schoolhouse Syllabics, Hancock
an / i / mos / i / ty
a / pos / tol / ic / al
cu / ri / os / i / ty
em / blem / at / ic / al
met / a / phor / ic / al
Fus / tian
Method: This came out of a weeklong National Endowment for the Humanities seminar I participated in 2 summers ago about the Shakers here in east-central New York and western Massachusetts. It came directly from material I saw handwritten in Hancock Shaker Village in Massachusetts. I haven’t changed it a bit.
Andy Fogle has five chapbooks of poetry, with poems, translations, memoir, interviews, criticism, and educational research in Image, Mid-American Review, Blackbird, Gargoyle, Teachers & Writers Collaborative, English Journal, and elsewhere. He lives in upstate NY, teaching high school and working on a Ph.D. in Education.
Method: As a librarian, I often come across books that are crumbling or falling apart. I go into a lot of poems with a subject or theme in mind, but sometimes I just scan words until a phrase or word pops out at me.
Brandy Smith was born and raised in Virginia where she currently works as a librarian. Writing has always been a passion and you can often find her thinking about superheroes.
Sarah tried pills for her pain.
She tried stretching. She
tried yoga. She tried opiates.
She tried forgetting about it.
Pain patches and acupuncture.
Injections and prescriptions.
Opiates and physical therapy.
Heat and compresses. She
tried ignoring it again.
Sarah couldn’t sit. She
couldn’t stand up straight.
She couldn’t lie down
on her back. She was weak.
She had lost muscle tone. She
fainted on the subway. Sarah knew
she was falling apart.
One summer day, Sarah
doesn’t remember exactly when,
she fell. After surgery that September
pain seized hold of her again.
The surgeon said nothing more
could be done, leaving Sarah
to keep searching for other pain
Sarah tried massages.
She tried steroids. She
tried more narcotics. She
tried meditation. She
Source: “Treating Chronic Pain with Meditation” by Brian Steiner, Apr 1, 2014, The Atlantic
Method: As someone who lives with chronic pain, I was struck by how accurately this article portrayed the frustration of the cyclical efforts of finding some succor. It’s a relentless battle of seeking, hoping and discarding treatments/tools/therapies. I took primarily the first lines of the article to depict this almost ritualistic struggle of a chronic pain patient.
Monica Shah was born in London and grew up in various small towns in the UK, Africa, India and America. Her writing often explores identity, relationships, and culture. Her poetry has appeared in literary magazines including Chaya, Three Drops from a Cauldron, Edison Literary Review, and in the anthology Bolo Bolo!
A foggy translucence covers the world.
From fog to snow to frost to the crystals growing outward on threads of light,
the transcripts of fog
spill over my faint lines and anyone could cross me out,
like scrimshaw on the jawbones of whales.
Don’t listen to the chorus of fog, its unbearable
cumuli (their bulky white counter-
shadow on shadow. The cats, as usual
looking for somewhere to dissipate,
learn new songs of despair and delight,
green songs they could not unlearn
in which perspective invents itself
not; like fog no one can keep from disappearing.
Sources by Line
- J. Gallagher, “No Encores. No Autographs.”
- Cole Swensen, “Thoreau”
- Adrienne Rich, “Tattered Kaddish”
- Tom C. Hunley, “Self-Portrait as a Child’s Stick Figure Drawing on a Refrigerator”
- E. G. Burrows, “Coast Road”
- Yerra Sugarman, “One Body”
- Stephen Massimilla, “Love Like Rocks”
- Karin Gottshall, “Forecast”
- Charles Wright, “China Traces”
- Jill Alexander Essbaum, “Bird Advice”
- Paul Guest, “Questions for Silence”
- Elizabeth Onusko, “The Cave Painter”
- Lynne Knight, “Living with Fog”
METHOD: Each line of each cento comes from a different poem, as listed above after each cento, line by line. These are poems I’ve particularly been impressed by over the years, and I just mixed and matched lines to make the centos.
Jessica Goodfellow’s books are Whiteout, Mendeleev’s Mandala, and The Insomniac’s Weather Report. She was a writer-in-residence at Denali National Park and Preserve. Her work has appeared in Threepenny Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Awl, The Southern Review, Motionpoems, and Best New Poets, and is forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2018.
click on image below to view piece
Method: Source: Susanna Moore’s “The Life of Objects.” I had completed “Interrupted” and left it out to dry when my four-year-old scribbled on the page. Here is the ultimate work of motherhood and Dadaist art; chance, absurdity and interruption.
Natalie D-Napoleon is a writer, educator and singer-songwriter from Fremantle, Australia who now lives in California. IShe has an MA in Writing and currently works as a Coordinator at a Writing Center. Her work has appeared in Entropy, StylusLit, Poetry WTF?!, and The Found Poetry Review.