A coast to coast collaboration between two poets throwing ephemeral strings back and forth across middle America. By Kimberly Nichols and Todd Colby.
Tender Hook, Slightly Flayed
Perhaps the shirt I’ll die in is hanging in my closet,
I need to pay attention more.
Like to the light, stark white and piercing,
sunbeams obstructing my Los Angeles sidewalk.
Or while walking in Brooklyn I think of all the things
I’ll never do right. As entranced (as I am) with shadow,
knocking loud mid-afternoon on Fridays. The industry of my heart
is really just wanting to be paid for being lazy during this downward slide
into math & science. The star jasmine droops, the fan pushes marshmallow
heat waves, and I bide time anticipating the next earthquake. Or doing groceries.
Or pushing a white plastic fork along my thigh as I sit on the bench. It all
makes such perfect sense to me. I’d rather enjoy the world in molasses cinematography
than represent the decomposing frantic masses. But if push came to shove,
all I really want is a dock with some water at the end of it
and someone there to block the view.
Deep in a canyon a water bead drops calcium, carving an eon old curtain.
The sky is bruised purple at dawn and then things start fluttering
as the sky lifts a bit and out pops an orange crescent at the horizon.
The natural bulb brightens not only the day but my conscience. How good
are you with a yo-yo? Do you know the simple factors of storm systems?
Can you stand still long enough in the dark to discern your own breath
from the slow in and out exhale of the many who came before you?
Shackled to history, weather and horizons, we only curiously pluck from
during our short time here? And then I get agitated, move in milky
distraction, turn into paper and whither. I need to look at this week’s bonus
content. I need to summon some big city air, too.
TODD COLBY has published four books of poetry: Ripsnort, Cush, Riot in the Charm Factory: New and Selected Writings, and Tremble & Shine, all published by Soft Skull Press. Flushing Meadows, his most recent chapbook, was published by Scary Topiary Press. He was also the editor of the poetry anthology Heights of the Marvelous: A New York Anthology (St. Martin’s Press). Colby’s poems have been read on NPR for Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac. Colby serves on the Board of Directors for The Poetry Project, where he teaches poetry workshops. He also serves on the Editorial Board of LungFull! Magazine and is a contributing editor for Cousin Corrine’s Reminder. Colby has given readings at The Poetry Project, The Rubin Museum, New York University, The New School for Social Research, Brooklyn Public Library, Cornell University, The Kingston Writers Conference, The Whitney Museum of American Art, PS 122, Performa13, and more. He posts new work on gleefarm.blogspot.com.
Newtopia managing editor KIMBERLY NICHOLS is author of the book of literary short fiction Mad Anatomy, a contributing editor to 3AM Magazine and has exhibited as a conceptual artist throughout California for the past decade. Her non-fiction articles have appeared in magazines and media internationally. She was a founding editor of Newtopia in its former incarnation where she was also a member of the NewPoetry Collective. She is currently at work on her novel King Neptune’s Journey and a conceptual art series. She has recently embarked on a journey of study in shamanic and medicine lore and wisdom under a series of respected teachers. Follow her on Twitter @LITGFOA or her arts and literature blog.