Margaret Withers,  paper pushing timestamp of my being,  gouache, ink, watercolor on paper, 22" x 30"

                    Margaret Withers, paper pushing timestamp of my being, gouache, ink, watercolor on paper, 22" x 30"

MAYA JANSON


LINIMENT

The retreating  backside of a small, black bear
ambling through the yard makes me happy,
thankful that amble is a word. Ditto goozle
and nuggie.  Syzygy is all about alignment.
What a miracle is life and too,
some disappointment.
A fresh batch of clouds drag their clean cuffs
along a treeless horizon. A dog, coy
when you least expect it. To be expected:
resistance, suffering, unmitigated pain.
Snakebite, nettle and knife.
Prepare to be bothered-by, driven-to.
Look, here comes another downpour,
the sky fractured by lightning’s un-straight zag.
Anyway, straightness is over-rated,
you could even say nature abhors it.
Ill-fitting by nature the person I am
puts on the person I was. Like a pilgrim,
a wanderer who goes from hut to hut
in sandals and conical hat. Perpetual asker of –
are we there yet? We are not. Not there, not yet.

 


I THINK ABOUT WHAT TO LEAVE IN
                            After Jessica Greenbaum

The crow sounding alarm in the background
of my brother’s house, the bird high-jacking
my attempt to listen to him
light another cigarette and cough.
I leave in the part that has me worried.
I leave in, steadfastly defend his right to stand up
in the dinghy even as he approaches the falls.
Actually, that’s not true at all.
I want him to sit down
and pour the vodka overboard.
I do need to include at least a brief mention
of shortcomings, his, mine and ours
but I will redact the bleeding parts
speaking metaphorically, of course.
Like Szymborska says
whatever I do will become forever what I’ve done.
For the record, a recording of 
Maria Callas at full volume via ear buds
while riding a bicycle down a steep
and curving hill. I leave in death wish
and death’s door and the universal fear of falling,
of giving up the ghost.
On a lighter note let live the ants in the peonies,
the bulging burl on the maple tree
and because I continue to hear the crow’s acute
shrieking long after I’ve hung up the phone,
it can stay, I’ll leave it alone.

 

 

Maya Janson’s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Orion, upstreet, The Best American Poetry and elsewhere. Her first collection of poems, Murmur & Crush, was published by Leveller’s Press. She lives in Northampton, MA and is a lecturer in poetry at Smith College. 

Margaret Withers is a visual artist who lives and works in New York city.  Her paintings are fragments of stories found in an imaginary landscape that capture in the abstract the conflicting ideas of joy and melancholy, as well as community and aloneness in regards to the concept of home and communication.  Her web based transliteration project is based on cultural shifts in the 50 United States. Originally from Texas, Withers has exhibited her work throughout the country and internationally in Brussels, Australia, Berlin, China, Vienna and Russia. Her artwork is included in multiple private and corporate collections and has won numerous awards including a 2013/2015 resident fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center, a fellowship to the Millay Colony, and a 2013 USA Project Grant.