It's a pleasure to announce Gramma's 2017 Open Reading Period winners, Jennifer Hayashida and Emily Sieu Liebowitz!
Hayashida's A MACHINE WROTE THIS SONG and Liebowitz's NATIONAL PARK will both be published in early 2018. Enjoy the poems below for a taste of what's to come!
Thank you to everyone who submitted to the Open Reading Period. It warmed our hearts to receive so many high-caliber manuscripts.
Gramma loves you,
To prove I am sorry I shovel snow into the night.
I wash every rug in the house and hang each one inside out to dry.
You need a ride to the pharmacy and I arrange for an operation.
This is the year of the ox so I build a clay replica of your childhood. The clay is from China and I store it in a warehouse down the street.
You consider the ox brutish, so I sweep out the hallway and wish you could sleep sounder, longer.
When you pad down the hallway at night I offer you milk, lozenges, television, and inky self-portraits. You take it all, hoard it in your room with everything else you filched from my childhood.
I am late so I bring something home that I think will make up for lost time.
You cook artichokes and when mine falls to the floor, you say we are still shaken by recent events: the death of my grandfather, thirty years ago, is one of them. Another is the way someone talked to you on the train when you leaned across for the free weekly.
The minor transitions disturb you, as does the wind, so I build us a chamber. You call it “mine’s” and I am too young to argue.
Two of the things you see today a girl her
hand her father's shoulder cherry blossoms
against the subway floor
“Good morning” skates on a lake of
recollection, frozen currents
ring out, nightward
Gravel sprays alliterative
music. Inheritance of hand-me-downs
moss, turpentine, flamenco-dancing-doll-as-souvenir
You are three and considered lost
You know full well where you are
A dream is not a scene slipping seaward
noisy sleeper: all you have is the sound, the shore
Two of the things you see today a look
his sad glance against the window
branches from a tree bent against travelers
This, a line along the lake, line
slung like telephone wire, caesurae
where wayward currents divert into
a sudden vertical tug and each line subtracts
Instead of showers,
there was a storm and instead of
lightning, there was a smokestack
through the sky.
Instead of a chair,
there was a table, and instead of
dinner, we measured the gauge of
a hole in the wall.
Instead of abstraction,
I had to pick something concrete, and
instead of a chair, I chose a table
but the table sat empty all night.
Instead of affection, I chose work,
and instead of working,
I sat in bed and complained.
Instead of bedding,
we took a bath, and
lightning struck the water tower
while we slept.
Instead of the table I went to the tower
and instead of striking
I slept in the weather.
Instead of concrete,
the sidewalk was paved with holes, and
instead of sleeping
I needled the night.
I think I'm gonna take nap...
We’re blown away when young begins, addicts
trained to tinker toys.
there is something imaginary like thought, like the governor.
The subway is coming, it bellows, “flightless gazaland, caves at this angle have it, perfect.”
Excess stripping telephone wire intestine:
the password is Darfur.
With water we used to go to museums, now abducted children news
power, currents penciled in the walk around.
One wall, meaningful, but they check your bag.
Rehearsing lettered confrontation: we spoke, faces against stone, masonry
fractured with requests, simple spun wool and what it beckons: sandy climbs
served to order and soundless.
Sunday is a homeless landscape. Empty electrons and their security blankets.
This is about logic, benchmarks, people gathered and circled.
Hand on my shoulder, how one enters,
inches away the table (now we are in a place (oak molding and a mahogany foyer) stirs a present pipe of re-call
(‘pipette’ drops sensations, a bridge, woo woo for public transportation).
Stand amongst collected pennies, a sad coin
of carcass, of a sentimental highway
in the desert, winds scrapping weeds
As my friend explains: pretense is ears and a globe sounds
“you are old man with your guitar, you are old, actual and dim.”
AN ODE: YOU NEVER FORGET HOW TO RIDE A BIKE
Mailman, forget your letters
outside is doing fine,
you look fine, anyway.
Crooning archway encouraged acoustic. People here for swindle, their leather-faced leaflets left
behind. Bells—it’s lunchtime. Open metal measure, time piece
yacht me home flawless. The foghorn. The brought back.
Paved face, masons come back now. It is our erratic wall,
forgetting its post.
I trade here for another day.
city filled garage sale, misshaping memory as metropolis sidewalks
sparkle recycled, safekeeping, special boxes
buoying up the slipping bells. Twilights force entry. The frontier that is done, lazy and fancy.
Outside is okay. Different salt, sidewalked still leaving bay-salt topologizing.
I have this advantage.
It’s a free ride and they are leading a
disco across. Take naps, bring blankets.
Winter weather kit, the lost quaintness of locales bitten against brick, against the hauntless side panels. Mountains, where are the pragmatic protections? I am wind worn.
Whittled down mechanics,
light up this range, relive the bells told time.
Come out of your canyons, come off your ship.
The seagoing grainy, marbling marshlands fragile replacement, the channels out chiming edible fields
Some swell, some antenna’s field
The packed clouds are maximized.
The estate tax I attend, I forget.
Jennifer Hayashida is a poet, translator, and visual artist whose work has been published and exhibited in the U.S. and abroad. She has received awards from, among others, PEN, the MacDowell Colony, the Jerome Foundation, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Jennifer is most recently the Swedish co-translator of Solmaz Sharif’s Look (Rámus Förlag, 2017). Previous projects include translations from the Swedish of Ida Börjel's Miximum Ca’Canny The Sabotage Manuals (Commune Editions, 2016), Athena Farrokhzad's White Blight (Argos Books, 2015), and Karl Larsson's Form/Force (Black Square Editions, 2015). She is currently at work on the English translation of The Day I Am Free, Lawen Mohtadi's biography of the Swedish Roma civil rights activist and author Katarina Taikon, as well as the first two volumes of Taikon’s children’s book series, Katitzi, to be published by Sternberg Press in 2018. She serves on the board of the Asian American Writers' Workshop.
Emily Sieu Liebowitz is the author of the chapbook In Any Map, published by the Song Cave. Her work has appeared in various journals including Lana Turner, jubilat, and The Iowa Review. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was an Alberta Kelly Fellow, she has worked in arts communications for the Brooklyn Museum and the Academy of American Poets. She co-edits LVNG Magazine and lives in Brooklyn, NY.