January 13, 2011

Under the cliff walls of apartment blocks, on a narrow patch of grass as tough and discolored as old carpet, they have parked their motorbikes and distributed themselves, a tribe, a colony, girls and boys, some lounged on the sward, some on cement paving in a strip of shade, some on two facing wrought-iron benches planted in concrete. Out of range of grownups, they play cards, they scuffle, a girl places her head on a boy’s lap to practice kissing, they smoke, they pass lit cigarettes back and forth, a smaller boy pops a soccer ball against the wall with slow, heat-drugged, sidewise kicks. Hou

Editors' Picks: Best Books of 2010
December 22, 2010

The Bars of Atlantis: Selected Essays by Durs Grünbein Reviewing this collection of essays by Germany's pre-eminent contemporary poet, Helen Vendler wrote that "If Yeats’s aim was to hold in a single thought reality and justice, then Grünbein’s is to hold in a single thought poetry and philosophy." This book contains my favorite quote of the year.

Against Rage
December 08, 2010

He had not been denied the world. Terrible scenes that he clung to because they taught him the world will at last be buried with him. As well as the exhilarations. Now, he thinks each new one will be the last one. The last new page. The last sex. Each human being’s story, he tells nobody, is a boat cutting through the night. As starless blackness approaches, the soul reverses itself, in the eerie acceptance of finitude. Frank Bidart is an American poet.

Robert, Cat
December 08, 2010

He has been my sole companion, sometimes, for days and weeks on end. Prisoner No. 1 and Prisoner No. 2, making do. Yet this solitude cannot compare with his. At any time I can walk out the door—I am not about to do any such thing; theoretically, however, it is within my power. All at once I am ashamed to think that if anyone is anybody’s sole companion, I am his.

The Joy That Snuck Up
December 07, 2010

Silver Roses is Rachel Wetzsteon’s last book of poems in several senses: it is both her most recent, and, sadly, her final collection, as she died by

Body and Mask
November 10, 2010

In the Villa Doria Pamphilj,         I saw a carved plaque set into a wall,         quite unremarkable, just the usual lotto di putti, the contest between cherubs, but then I         saw that one of the two         had wriggled his way somehow inside the mask of tragedy,   the way a dog might flail blindly,         its forequarters stuck in a paper sack,         but more cunning than that, and not stuck, having crawled in deliberately   (in the same way an apprentice of Cellini         hid his lover inside a bronze head of Mars,         her nude flank like the whites of its eyes), the cherub’s

From “Nocturnes”
November 10, 2010

Beautiful moon     the murderer begins to sing     The thief takes off his mask     to smell     the heliotrope A junkie steals asters from a rich man’s grave     And spreads them     on the modest mound of his mother A lone girl walks with moonlit haste     in the shadow of     the maquiladoras * Pol Pot sleeps     counting heaven’s lambs     His ex-wife is learning ikebana * A pretty boy dances naked in a cage Twelve or thirteen     he is brown and slender He sings     My father sold me to the hillside wolves For a snort of the white dragon * The sky does not judge     it’s black and starle

Seen by a Ghost
October 20, 2010

If he had seen her seen her mortal form tonight open the fridge door wide almost bundle her body into it into that nave of brightness dumbly drinking milk as spirits drink blood ghostlike even to herself athirst for white and dazzled by the glare of steel and iron her fingers burnt by ice he would have said it wasn’t her. Not the one whom dying I left so she could live on in my place. —Translated by Jamie McKendrick  For more TNR, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. 

October 20, 2010

Carts full of hay abandoned the town in greatest quiet. Cautious glances from the curtains. A morning empty as a waiting room. The rustling of papers in the archives; men calculate the losses. But that world. Suitcases packed. Sing for it, oriole, dance for it, little fox, catch it. —Translated by Clare Cavanagh  For more TNR, become a fan on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

October, Mon Amour
October 06, 2010

The first dead leaves lie like sea urchins                                                     browned on the asphalt drive. It’s got to be October, Slayer of living things, refrigerator of memory. Next to the wilted lettuce, next to the Simone Weil, Our lives are shoved in,                                         barely visible, but still unspoiled. Our history is the history of the City of God. What’s-to-Come is anybody’s guess. Whatever has given you comfort, Whatever has rested you, Whatever untwisted your heart                                                     is what you will leave beh