Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Featured Poet - Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee feels that the boundary between the local and the global has increasingly been blurred and she finds herself functioning as guide, investigating, interpreting, and chronicling.

"I write with the intersection of three cultures always looming over my shoulder - Indian, Filipino, and American - providing my writing with a layering and fusion of pop culture and customs."

She is the author of four poetry collections: Lucky Fish, At the Drive-In Volcano, Miracle Fruit, and Fishbone.  

How about a few samples:

What I Learned From the Incredible Hulk

When it comes to clothes, make
an allowance for the unexpected.
Be sure the spare in the trunk
of your station wagon with wood paneling
isn’t in need of repair. A simple jean jacket
says Hey, if you aren’t trying to smuggle
rare Incan coins through this peaceful
little town and kidnap the local orphan,
I can be one heck of a mellow kinda guy.
But no matter how angry a man gets, a smile
and a soft stroke on his bicep can work
wonders. I learned that male chests
also have nipples, warm and established—
green doesn’t always mean envy.
It’s the meadows full of clover
and chicory the Hulk seeks for rest, a return
to normal. And sometimes, a woman
gets to go with him, her tiny hands
correcting his rumpled hair, the cuts
in his hand. Green is the space between
water and sun, cover for a quiet man,
each rib shuttling drops of liquid light.

from: Miracle Fruit. Copyright 2003. 

The Rolling Saint

Lotan Baba, a holy man from India, rolled on his side for
            four thousand kilometers across the country in his quest for
            world peace and eternal salvation.                                                
He started small: fasting here and there,
days, then weeks. Once, he stood under
a banyan tree for a full seven years, sitting
            for nothing—not even to sleep. It came
            to him in a dream: You must roll
            on this earth, spin your heart in rain,
                        desert, dust. At sunrise he’d stretch, swab
                        any cuts from the day before, and lay prone
                        on the road while his twelve men swept
            the ground in front of him with sisal brooms.
            Even monkeys stopped and stared at this man
            rolling through puddles, past storefronts
where children would throw him pieces
of butter candy he’d try and catch
in his mouth at each rotation. His men
            swept and sang, swept and sang
            of jasmine-throated angels
            and pineapple slices in kulfi cream.
                        He rolled and rolled. Sometimes
                        in his dizzying spins, he thought
                        he heard God. A whisper, but still.

from: Miracle Fruit. Copyright 2003. 

First Anniversary, With Monkeys

Periyar Nature Preserve

There is no crumbly frozen cake to thaw.
Today, we are in the jungle. I mean mosquito. I mean
tigers and elephants sludging their way
to the lake for a drink and Don’t make sudden moves
or snakes startled from an afternoon nap
will greet you fang first. I think we are lost. Too hot
for any cold confection to survive. Even my tube
of sunblock is as warm as a baby’s bottle. You get
to those places I can’t reach, those places I dared
not even whisper before I walked down the aisle
in white. You never worried if our families
would clash, if they would clang like the clutch
of pale monkeys clanging the thin branches of the treetrops,
begging for our trail mix. You never worried
about my relatives staring at your pale, muscled calves—
things not usually seen outside of the bedroom. You wore
hiking shorts anyway. And still, they lavished ladle-fuls
of food on your plate. I think we are lost. My eyes are dark
and wet as that wild deer that walked right past us,
a little off the trail. I think we are lost, but for once
I don't mind. Eventually you turn us back to a place
not on any map, but I know I can trace it back with my finger
if we ever need it again. We made it one year
without a compass and we’re not about to start now.

from: At the Drive-In Volcano. Copyright 2007. 

Are All the Break-Ups in Your Poems Real?

If by real you mean as real as a shark tooth stuck
in your heel, the wetness of a finished lollipop stick,
the surprise of a thumbtack in your purse—
then Yes, every last page is true, every nuance,
bit, and bite. Wait. I have made them up—all of them—
and when I say I am married, it means I married
all of them, a whole neighborhood of past loves.
Can you imagine the number of bouquets, how many
slices of cake? Even now, my husbands plan a great meal
for us—one chops up some parsley, one stirs a bubbling pot
on the stove. One changes the baby, and one sleeps
in a fat chair. One flips through the newspaper, another
whistles while he shaves in the shower, and every single
one of them wonders what time I am coming home.

from: Lucky Fish. Copyright 2011. 

the fear of long words

On the first day of classes, I secretly beg my students  
Don't be afraid of me. I know my last name on your semester schedule
is chopped off or probably misspelled—
or both. I can't help it. I know the panic
of too many consonants rubbed up
against each other, no room for vowels
to fan some air into the room of a box
marked Instructor. You want something
to startle you? Try tapping the ball of roots
of a potted tomato plant into your cupped hand
one spring, only to find a small black toad
who kicks and blinks his cold eye at you,
the sun, a gnat. Be afraid of the X-rays
for your teeth or lung. Pray for no dark spots.
You may have pneumonoultromononucleosis—
coal lung. Be afraid of money spiders
tiptoeing across your face while you sleep
on a sweet, fat couch. But don't be afraid
of me, my last name, what language I speak
or what accent dulls itself on my molars.
I will tell jokes, help you see the gleam
of the beak of a mohawked cockatiel. I will
lecture on luminescent sweeps of ocean, full
of tiny dinoflagellates oozing green light
when disturbed. I promise dark gatherings
of toadfish and comical shrimp just when you think
you are alone, hoping to stay somehow afloat.

Verse Daily

SOURCES: Here & Here.

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