The National Catholic Review

Poem

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  • September 26, 2016
    At the Edge of the Mississippi After years of watching a brick-lined horizon, I returned to the river’s tattered body, listened for a murmur to surface, to remind me that hope once abandoned can be regained. There were no flowers along the riverbank, no ducks resting in the mud, only a shadow cast by the highway overpass and some crows scurrying about the sidewalk for crumbs. What might have been a prayer was a boat gurgling in the distance, and the murky water veiled those pleas the history...
  • September 19, 2016
    Why did you welcome it into the house? Numb in the coffers of discounted bulbs, it seemed so harmless— Blind as a doorknob, intimating green. But coddled indoors, it pillared overnight, and pursued the sun, fattening its five uneven sacks of flame. It knew our natures, and had come to ready its own kingdom. In the midst of our domestic exhibit, all the souvenirs of ceramic, brass, dyed glass, and silver plate that you positioned for a sensuous curve or gleam become amateurs: the foolish...
  • August 29-September 6, 2016
    On the first day, I didn’t know it was the first day. The second, third and fourth passed. And on the eighth day something remarkable, but I didn’t tell anyone. Remarkable, and I didn’t know. I noted some markers like weekends and seasons, anonymous months. No one else attended every day of the long long time but some noticed the unclenching. Evening and morning came, the 90th day. Some days later, in an afternoon walk, beauty opened and I inhaled. Religion preceded and followed and did no harm...
  • August 15-22, 2016
    Home water, why? Cold sunlight, new heaven strikes the shallows of white, wavering tissue, new earth. They are here, gaining the still pool, a million salmon bones. Soul flood. Head down. Study this hieroglyph, stunned. Metal-skinned swimmers crash from the hurtling channel to this blinding delta, where mission waterships spawn, explode, and sail free. Read the message flashing off fins; stare, wall-eyed, while all is changed. All things change by degrees, entering new atmosphere. Some break...
  • August 1-8, 2016
    A flicker in the woods yet enduring as those trees. This twice-spawned leaf makes you believe you can almost catch light in your hands. Whatever root it takes depends on what foot becomes a flower. Brief bliss, whose moth life holds close to the flame, this little worm with wings, so that time may show us what once crawled can fly. Every time one passes the sky waves goodbye.
  • July 18-25, 2016
    Come, let me strain the raspberries tonight, stir the sauce—glassy the sugar, not too tart—pour it, wipe up the crimson islands and return to where I learned the revenue of taste. Taste that’s acquired an appetite for place, rich with accrued mobilities: sun on the slender sill at early day, sun on the orange brick—mid-morn— sun in the cordons of a slingshot noon, that settles on our dinner bell at dusk. A man’s mind hovers over brews and blends and recipes he stored in sturdy, lifelong...
  • June 6-13, 2016

    In “Driving Without Insurance,” Charles Lobaito declares: “Throw me in jail...insurance companies/ Make a killing on good drivers & rake/ Them over the fat Santa Claus coals./ $312 a month is too much!”

    Otter Jung Allen writes in “A Want Gone Quiet”: “Once,/ I was so lonely/ that my father gave me doubt as a sibling/ As he found new gods/ in a long needle and hot spoon/ I was given the company of denial.”...

  • June 6-13, 2016
    The editors of America are pleased to present the winner of the 2016 Foley Poetry Award, given in honor of William T. Foley, M.D. Of all the things I’ve ever overheard, my favorite came from a dark-haired girl who told the boy next to her, “You have to learn not to care, Mike.” Maybe he shrank his favorite sweater, someone scratched his car. Or maybe she pulverized his heart by sleeping with someone else. I’ll never know, though I think of her words sometimes, like now that someone has robbed...
  • May 23-30, 2016
    I’m tempted to call the woman, say I did not see her car accident, but will listen to her version, find out why she needs a witness. Three telephone poles, three hand-scrawled signs plead for someone who saw the silver Lexus hit her Honda. Her signs remain a week. I imagine she vents to family, friends, insurance reps—the hit and run she’ll replay for years. We all have stories we can’t part with. Something reminds us, and we spool them out—like a whiskered mudcat you struggle to reel in, only...
  • May 16, 2016
    The rain in the woods where the fire erupted months ago is abundance too soon, or too late, the blaze causing harm long after. The promise is fulfilled, but not mercifully, the watercourses deepening underfoot, charcoal and slurry and soil. The water has no color. It is the empty place before the first word. When the downpour stops the body balances, stone by stone. Whatever the deer want it is not here in the blanched eucalyptus, the carbon dirt. There is fire, and the other fire, a season of...