The National Catholic Review

Poem

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  • June 6-13, 2016

    In “Driving Without Insurance,” Charles Lobaito declares: “Throw me in jail...insurance companies/ Make a killing on good drivers & rake/ Them over the fat Santa Claus coals./ $312 a month is too much!”

    Otter Jung Allen writes in “A Want Gone Quiet”: “Once,/ I was so lonely/ that my father gave me doubt as a sibling/ As he found new gods/ in a long needle and hot spoon/ I was given the company of denial.”...

  • June 6-13, 2016
    The editors of America are pleased to present the winner of the 2016 Foley Poetry Award, given in honor of William T. Foley, M.D. Of all the things I’ve ever overheard, my favorite came from a dark-haired girl who told the boy next to her, “You have to learn not to care, Mike.” Maybe he shrank his favorite sweater, someone scratched his car. Or maybe she pulverized his heart by sleeping with someone else. I’ll never know, though I think of her words sometimes, like now that someone has robbed...
  • May 23-30, 2016
    I’m tempted to call the woman, say I did not see her car accident, but will listen to her version, find out why she needs a witness. Three telephone poles, three hand-scrawled signs plead for someone who saw the silver Lexus hit her Honda. Her signs remain a week. I imagine she vents to family, friends, insurance reps—the hit and run she’ll replay for years. We all have stories we can’t part with. Something reminds us, and we spool them out—like a whiskered mudcat you struggle to reel in, only...
  • May 16, 2016
    The rain in the woods where the fire erupted months ago is abundance too soon, or too late, the blaze causing harm long after. The promise is fulfilled, but not mercifully, the watercourses deepening underfoot, charcoal and slurry and soil. The water has no color. It is the empty place before the first word. When the downpour stops the body balances, stone by stone. Whatever the deer want it is not here in the blanched eucalyptus, the carbon dirt. There is fire, and the other fire, a season of...
  • April 25, 2016

    Social movements need great art. They need it if only to make plain for themselves that success is not merely linear; that changing law is not the only way to reform; that vibrantly naming truth rips apart untruths.

    Four of the authors in this year’s spring poetry review (Juan Felipe Herrera, Joseph Brown, Reginald Dwayne Betts and Remi Kanazi) shine a light on the serrated edges of life: violence, injustice, hard living, deep wrongs. In one way or another they could all be said to...

  • April 4-11, 2016
    In dark matter, the hot bolt of deer— brambled rack, coiled haunch, stone spoor. A great stag bridled barely, its rider long thrown. This trace of breaking from wild, hint of bit.
  • March 28, 2016
    Spring is his burden, and the night, a robe: livid as poppies in a roadside wrap, facing the dying weather. Spring is the furrow on his shoulder swathe, between the neck and forearm. Thus was the intimation right: a savior comes out of Jerusalem, with pericardial thread to make a heart’s claim: that history bears his thumb, that saints soak up their suppers, while the food, redolent on the table, aches for his hands. And so he stops, shuffling between a bramble and a gate, making as if to leave...
  • March 14, 2016
    …moved over the face of the waters. And in reading this, the awareness that, more than once, God has turned my head in his direction, yet I haven’t seen the gesture for what it is. The world charges and is charged with a white-hot flame. I might turn away, but each morning my head is turned for me toward a crow’s flight, squirrel passage, or a person with whom I share an ever-present reaching toward. I let myself be turned sometimes. Sometimes I get into my car and drive away. Today I picture...
  • March 7, 2016

    One need not believe that ours are the worst of times to believe they are pretty bad. It’s not just that the U.S. economy is making a slow recovery from a Great Recession and that many people are un- or underemployed or that wages are stagnant while top executive incomes soar astronomically; or that the United States leads the world in incarceration rates, mainly of minority populations, particularly of young men; or that we were terrorized on Sept. 11, 2001...

  • March 7, 2016
    This morning, I hauled to the street A heavy wooden pallet, so beat The workmen had left it behind: Its boards, rough-hewn and splintering Against the asphalt. When I leaned It on the dumpster, with some twine And flattened cardboard boxes, too, For the trash-man, a March gust blew And overturned what I had built. The hard wood clattered on the road And split, exposed its secret load Of bent and rusted nails, now spilled, Scattered like seeds, like teeth and bones, Awaiting tires, the feet of...