Sunday Nov 29

Giarratano Poetry Natalie Giarratano’s first collection of poems, Leaving Clean, won the 2013 Liam Rector First Book Prize in Poetry and was published in 2013 (Briery Creek Press). Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in Gulf Stream: Poems of the Gulf Coast, Isthmus Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Laurel Review, and TYPO, among others. D.A. Powell selected her work for inclusion in the 2011 edition of Best New Poets, and she won the 2011 Ann Stanford Poetry Prize from Southern California Review. She has received her MFA and PhD from Western Michigan University and her MA from the University of North Texas. She co-edits Pilot Light, an online journal of 21st century poetics and criticism, teaches writing at American University, and lives in Northern Virginia with her partner and their pup.

Thump (on Frenchmen Street)

Real live trumpet cuts through my machinery—the glow of blue blood hiding in the secret room of a heart that’s done playing dead (for now); slide of trombone with a blonde girl behind it and all of us dancing because that’s what souls waking up have to do (which supposedly sets us apart from other animals); then this guitarist—his back as stiff as the unlit cigarette stuck between his lips but fingers loose as slack rubber bands; funk curling into all the faces in the joint like an invisible smoke; an old leathery woman who bangs tambourine to thigh, every now and then she blows the kazoo strung on a necklace that dangles between her breasts. If we all had a way to make some sense of each other through hot air and metal strings, arrangements of sound, rhythm of a life half-remembered, oh how this train that pumps its warmth into orbit around the tireless dark might still have hope in the ungodly things we do to each other in it.

Throat Circus
~for Malinda Markham

The finish line was glass.
Should’ve heard it shatter
long before thoughts flopped
and dried on the tile floor.
So easygoing about such
things. Collecting shadows
in another world, filling
their mouths with white
paint in networks of paper
flowers and lanterns that
would sooner float a grave
to sleep than glisten in wind.
Words are like cattle brands:
they don’t feel obligated
for anyone to like the smell of burnt
hair and hide, only to feel anything,
much as the bone of life sticks
in a throat to throb out song,
so fast at the finish that muscles
of a heart have to multiply.