The Jalula Market
October 05, 2012

On long foot patrols we wanted the chickens, roasted and bronzed, hanging from the steel roofs of vendor stands, the Iraqi sun burning like a heat lamp. We had seen months  of Cobra cooking: teriyaki chicken the color of transmission fluid; mixed vegetables that broke like Styrofoam in the mouth; the mush of grits always cold.

October 05, 2012

You get used to it, she said, meaning the delicate mechanism of the diamond drop passed on from her mother. She was fastening the clasp around my neck, meaning preparing me for the fumbling that inheritance presents, meaning death. You get used to it, she said, meaning being inserted into the dark and learning to call it something else—the way of all flesh, for instance.

Our Playhouse
August 24, 2012

We played in the shadow Of murderers’ at work, Kneading soldiers out of mud, Stepping on them When we were done playing.  Girls walking the streets Gave us bread to eat. An old dog with a limp Kept us warm at night As we huddled in doorways.  My friends, my playmates, We never saw the dead, Only the birds scatter After we heard the gunshots And ducked our heads.  This poem appeared in the September 13, 2012 issue of the magazine.  

Night Music
August 24, 2012

Little brook, running past my house, I like the tune you hum to yourself When night comes, And only the two of us are awake. You keep me company So I don't fear The darkness round my bed And the thoughts in my head Flying crookedly like bats Between the old church and the graveyard. This poem appeared in the September 13, 2012 issue of the magazine.

Today’s Menu
August 24, 2012

All we got, mister, Is an empty bowl and a spoon For you to slurp Great mouthfuls of nothing,  And make it sound like A thick, dark soup you’re eating, Steaming hot Out of the empty bowl. This poem appeared in the September 13, 2012 issue of the magazine.

Flightlessness and Eggs
July 25, 2012

Campbell McGrath has never been a difficult poet, but his early work was complex and often exciting for the ease with which readers could feel its com

June 07, 2012

A word drops into the mist like a child's ball into high grass where it remains intermittently visible, seductively flashing and glinting until the gold bursts are revealed to be simply field buttercups. Word/mist, word/mist—thus it was with me. And yet, my silence was never total— Like a curtain rising on a vista, sometimes the mist cleared: alas, the game was over. The game was over and the word had been somewhat flattened by the elements so it was now both recovered and useless.  I was renting, at the time, a house in the country. Fields and mountains had replaced tall buildings. Fields, co

The Wife
June 07, 2012

She was nothing. I was she. Even though she understood, the pouring of silvery light into the kitchen each brisk newlywed morning, the crackling of loaves being lifted from the stone, the blackness of tea made days unfold as if divinely scripted, as if all were a discipline, universally obeyed. The lack of plans, the hunger of the ocean, the slight uncertainty about necessities created neither fear nor worry; all who were officially we would find their way. A man would protect his home.

Flames of Goodness
May 30, 2012

THE POLISH POET Cyprian Norwid—though he is known to his compatriots as an artist of the highest eminence and read by schoolchildren in Poland almost

Should the Night
May 18, 2012

Should the night approach your window— go to him naked.  He will flow and darken gently around your hushing beauty, and touch the line of your breasts.  I will stand with him, lost and mutely yearning: come to our darkness.  And your eyes will travel ahead of us giving light for me and my friend. 1923 —Translated from Hebrew by Leon Wieseltier. This poem appeared in the June 7, 2012 issue of the magazine.