City Moon

Perfect disc of moon, huge

and simmering
low on the capital’s filthy horizon— ¡Ay,
qué luna más hermosa! she says
pushing the stroller slowly down Atocha.
And gorgeous too the firm-thighed

boys from Lisbon
a block away, who work
Kilometer Zero’s sidewalk, the neon
shoestore they lean against
cupping the flames
of passing strangers.

The sky above Puerta del Sol turns
a darker shade of blue. Who says
it doesn’t become night’s
one eye
as it scales the heavens, paling
and shrinking before it moves

across a late June sky? And below,
men persist and circle
the plaza, twin fountains brimming
over their brilliant waters. Hours
from now with the heat
waning, the same moon will spot

the figure of him
making past Neptune, the Ritz
the orange jumpsuits
hopping off trucks to sweep
and spray, hosing
down those electric streets.

:: Francisco Aragon, Puerta del Sol (Bilingual Press/Editorial Bilingue, 2005)


Sweating Copper

My father taught me the hard way:
dusty coveralls in the crawl space

with the water off, and no matter what,
we were stuck there until we finished up.

Cobwebs strung the floor joists
where I had to aim the trouble light

and hold it still so he could see
just what the hell was going on.

If I let it slip, he grabbed my wrist
and dragged the light back where he wanted it

above the tubing cutter and the emery cloth
and the little metal-handled flux brush

in the jar of flux. The solder wire
coiled around itself the way I wrapped

my thoughts on their hollow core.
Then the quiet hiss of bottled gas,

flint-scratch of the spark lighter,
the blue tongue licking through the flame

along the copper pipe to make the solder run
bright as mercury into the fitted seam.

Smell of cool dirt. Smell of coffined air.
Smell of gas and flux and solder vapor

piercing it all like my father’s whisper:
Can’t you pay attention, maybe, just for once?

:: Joseph Green, in Nimrod


Glove / Hand

The hands have trouble being naked.

The hand has trouble with the pen.

In the gloves the fingers do not feel
hot or cold or sharp.
The gloves make the hands
part of a machine.

The gloved hand is a paw,
an awkward, swiping thing.

Without claws.
The glove gets the job done.
The hand has little to say.

:: Jim Daniels, Punching Out



She drew the dimensions, but did not set the bounds.
Her rooms were white lines on blue papers:
some days she saw in them lovers, other days, dying men.
She would have liked to have painted them,
a Van Gogh violet for the master bedroom,
Matisse yellow for the kitchen, a trompe l'oeil
in the dining room to disorient the guests.
To the powder room, she would send flocks
of paper nightingales, lavender, silent for now,
but ready to tell all later:   the songs sung
between the satin sheets, the coos that came
with conceptions, the promises that ran,
like a prodigy's black ink, down her walls,
always white-lined on blue paper.

:: Holly Hildebrand, in If I Had a Hammer: Women's Work in Poetry, Fiction, and Photographs