The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2016

All Issues
JUNE 2016 Issue



Borough President

The seventh branch reached the third floor
and flowered outside my window
did I notice?
the glass was dirty
or I had a lazy eye 
but with a flush of cheek it changed
try not to get near it with words
were you on the S.I. ferry going home?
it’s Saturday but the assholes
can’t take my apartment away from me
can they?
the city runs backwards
the rivers are zeros the trees are ones
the corner hibiscus in full bloom
ready for romance
I’d like some
anything running counter to the plan
have you disembarked yet?
are you flashing your horn?
picking a fight discussing food
with someone who reminds you of your grandmother









Held Together by My Jacket

It’s fun isn’t it
the sporting game of wanting 
leaving followed by heavy rain
I give it up to you
set my watch by you
organize myself despite you, dear solstice
I need 30 more tabs from the pharmacy
to get to the end of the month
released without the typical consternation
let there be no phone calls
no pacing around a room full of crutches
oatmeal stuck to the ribs
I need bread I can work with
really build around
so my nail beds will behave
and I can finally get the treatment
added to the list, embroidered
they're ready for me
everything rustles
then the trail goes dead
trying to make sense
of the signatures
pointing at me










My friendships told their stories
Two weeks later I'm interested
In what will kill us 
Later as in I’ll see you later
Or the hurricane will happen later
Or not enough sleep was to blame
Why do I think that everything will be explained 
By someone I run into on the street?
No one needs to know how these things end
Or to what purpose
On with the program
Kevin wants to show off his woodworking skills
I dreamt I was listening from up above the rafters
Because I was sleeping there
Among the new angles
New ideas popped up and caught on
I thanked everyone for coming to the dream
For sticking around
Also your life will be over soon
Is that good or bad news?
Not sure where to go with it
Why can’t we just breathe
Instead we choke, but on what?
Water, air, salt, sky
Creating case histories for the survivors 
Sooner or later a flood will come
But now we know what to do with it
Syphon, push broom










Pink smoke
the single light source
waiting for you to pass
toxic but beautiful
parts of the afternoon’s crazy-making appear  
next to you
caught in the act
of enjoying yourself
confess your top secret love
you're tired
but come on, the cold hasn’t hit yet
and the world will never run out of flowers
and paintings of flowers
did you know there's another river under this one
and it’s not the subway?










That’s enough
Little delays in my transistor
Not sure what to think
Hummed opportunity
Back of the throat
At dusk my curly-haired friend met me
In the walk-in
We shelled beans
I fell down in the cooler
Hurting my knee
Those stairs lead to a mountaintop
No more facts
This set paper makes the moon look cheap
My queen
I wanted the moon
I ordered it framed it hung it
I say one thing and do another
I'm bad at being good
Hold all my calls
Better to let them know
You’re ignoring them
Their remedies hurt my ulcer
I regard this meal as an abuse of nightshades
Once Brigitte tried to sell Joan Jett leather pants
Joan didn’t want to hear it
I felt B’s frustration
Like when Lori waited in a car
For Stevie Nicks to arrive at a hair salon
In a floral print dress
Lori scared her with her cassette tape
Lawyers were mentioned
I’m always relieved when my phone lights up
Not with people
But the word of the day
Today it’s dissilient
Yesterday was anfractuous









Third Street

What other flowers shall I love today
before logic defies me
I stomp on past the deli
I know myself well and can guess
the outcome after several tries
why is everyone in shorts today?
they’re impatient, they’re freezing
I’m telling the truth aren’t I?
it’s dreadful that the drugs in our building
must be escorted into the same apartment
by many hands, I can't keep count
truth telling persists
third juice of the day, fifth coffee, first lemon, second banana
wonderful your being here with me
we have a rabbit in the back garden









Ann Stephenson

Ann Stephenson's chapbooks include Adventure Club (Insurance Editions) and Wirework (Tent Editions). This fall she will be publishing Carol Szamatowicz's chapbook, Kit Carson. Some recent poems have appeared in Across the Margin, Ladowich and The Recluse as well as the anthology Like Musical Instruments: 83 Contemporary American Poets by John Sarsgard and Larry Fagin (Broadstone Books). She was born and raised in Georgia and lives and works in New York City.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2016

All Issues