The International Literary Quarterly

February 2009


Donald Adamson
Robert Appelbaum
Rosemary Ashton
Sujata Bhatt
Stephen Burt
Rita Dove
Elaine Feinstein
Sophie Judah
John Kinsella
Ron Padgett
Pascale Petit
David Plante
David Shields
Susan Stewart
John Thieme

Founding Editor: Peter Robertson
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Consulting Editor: Marjorie Agosín
Consulting Editor: Richard Berengarten
Consulting Editor: Jill Dawson
Consulting Editor: Denise Duhamel
Consulting Editor: Marilyn Gaull
Consulting Editor: Beatriz Hausner
Consulting Editor: Mimi Khalvati
Consulting Editor: Suzanne Jill Levine
Consulting Editor: Margot Livesey
Associate Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
Assistant Editor:
Jeff Barry
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Issue 6 Guest Artist: Anthony Whishaw

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Four Poems  by Stephen Burt  


for Donald Revell

Trash instead of geese

Has landed all over our pond!

Single sheets of newsprint lie apart

Or overlap, as if collecting dew:

Our son, who has come here

In a stroller to applaud birds,

Applauds their absence, stands, and picks up rocks,

Enumerating: One, two, three,

Four, seven, eight.

This year our summer lasts

Until October, an unhealthy state

Of which we take advantage, taking walks

That last all morning, making pebbled tracks,

Staying away from the road. Meanwhile big trucks

Patrol our Concord Avenue, their red

Sides' single question flourishing

In circus script, like handbills' old good news:

"Who But W. B. Mason?"

Who indeed.

Yellow clover abides

Beside all our footpaths. Hundreds of miles away

Last night, a tumultuous infestation of gnats

Shut down, for over an hour, a baseball game.

The Indians won. An opaque, sticky cloud

Befuddled the opposing pitcher no end.

By then we were almost asleep,

Myself, and Jessie, and Nathan in his crib,

Guarded by his fortification of blankets,

For whose instruction our slow world was made.



Now I am an adult  & I will never eat again.

All the weight and the parts of me that ever took in

a morsel of anything

save air & sex have fallen away

& remain in my soft cocoon, whose lost array

of silk will last longer than I do. In Taiwan, a girl

can take it to market, pin ribbons on it, & fill

it with a few brass coins.

As for me, saturnine, spread out & almost

immobile as long as the sun shines, I am host

to a fleet of sparkles: slightly awry, divided

in half by my body, I can bide

my time on any leaf

or parked car's hood, till lights outdoors grow

cool & breeze sends me once more into my slow

glide in search of  a mate. There are parts of me

that anyone can see through. Transparency

like mica sits within

my awkward fourfold wings. I am nearly hollow:

wind, love & oblivion veer up & down, & I follow.


Easy to recognize in its costume

made up of Sunday puzzles and Scrabble tiles,

you can take it, but not very far.

Nor can you baste, drip-dry or evaluate

happily what's left when it's removed.

Respectable people have found it in a guitar.

Consider where it lives, or hides, in you.


As children we yearned for companionship of some sort but never knew what sort; as teens, we knew but found it nearly out of reach, uncomfortably elusive, tangled behind cotton bed-curtains in inappropriate rooms, at parties under catty-corner basement stairs, behind doors hung off true, or in the rose light of school darkrooms where no one develops unless they first copy the key. The colorless ideas of more recent years still sleep furiously inside us, submerged in their fixer, close at hand. Some problems don't have solutions. And yet we live now, and try to tell one another that we live as we want to live now, surrounded not by the people we hoped to meet some years ago, but by their well-meant and importunate demands. Go away! Find us space! we almost say, but never intend to say, as if all our wishes could realize themselves should we only take back our grotty crawlspaces without sacrificing what we earned since then, as if we had wrapped ourselves in our own old news, preserving desires until the year or the hour when we could open them up and begin to learn what they are.