Solid Quarter

Visit Trembling Pillow Press for poetry books, broadsides, chapbooks, and Solid Quarter Magazine.

Visit New Orleans Poetry Fest for the annual 4 day poetry festival directed by Bill Lavender and Megan Burns.

Megan Burns' Poeticsofbone&city project on Tumblr

Sunday, May 24, 2020

36 Chambers: Canto V

Canto V

that we be a descent, serpent from high
where our path winds to travel swift
one cycle to the next we six times level

through chambers guarded and don’t you know
blocked paths mark our particular tests
how far long will you stand to gain entry

so too this chamber is where we let go
too it would be weather fair and rainy
this cloudy version of design was desire

that held us down in lifetimes, it was desire
that shaped its jealous tongue into how we
would be clipped of wing, clipped of song

you will never wander farther past this door
if you don’t learn to surrender all that you
would grasp, love itself can be twisted

let not the width of how long we carry on
here confuse that it is not dangerous, let
not the width of that path make you believe

many can fit upon it: we push against
an always dream, and it’s no matter
what else you got left, he sings to the wind

whoever you are traveling with now is who
you are traveling with now: poet is prophet
come to any of this with small intentions

now i am the door of adoration
how devoted to this animation
can we beset as it were to a billion

where there is light there is reflection
of sound, where there is sound there
is an echo of what we hope to contain

a poem is imitation as sure as the line
of our own songs is a mirror of all
we choose to give attention, that not

one story be held over another, that not
one breath more precious in the evermore
we confuse here the terrible rending

of what is offered in a temporary held
for an eternity, here in the manifest
we dense matter into what can possibly

surface for sane. we held tears back
now we share newly minted tales of our
dear suffering & cry in the bliss

of devastation, this is how the stars
were seduced down, she hisses, we were
winded by how much it took to cross

the sweet twinning of self mirrored back
all the other could hold was our dreams
& how we were hungry, oh how desire rode

us as if we were winged starlings, a susurrus
branching into constellations dressed in faces
familiar: better remember her name was Eos

better watch them gather there on the levee
at dawn, will you with me, will you with me
I spent all my miracles for two gallons

of gasoline turned round just after the new
year, right below the rim of dawn, you’ll
catch the shades of us wandering always

at that end, river in doubt, river in trespass
be careful or you will erupt into the next
lost of your own grounding, lost of the name

secreted under your tongue, you can find
yourself spending a whole life chasing what
is just a glamour,  flash of I have summoned

you with love & to be nailed to the source
that each poem is a love poem, each song
our desire to be beyond the border of skin
here like everyone I love who I can still touch
and not, we think loss is what breaks us
in this silly temporary shadow swan song  

as if love so small between just two had any
reason to be named in the universes, walking
around dead and with your ghosted head

specialized love was a poison we poured
hand over hand and spoke so sweet,
feathers fold over your ears when I come

home, treat me as you would no other
arms once accustomed to the thrum
don’t give to deities what you would give

to any, surrender absolutes, the digging
to the core of conversations, a coupling
divides, invitation to betray, this lie

as if thrown from the garden made
some sense, a man & a woman forms
an incomplete gesture, some loving

but the mothering of all is a chaos
that would never tolerate such a miniscule
thorn in the bounty of these misgivings

to look to any other to fill us is a closing
our eyes to truth: there is no other
who can love you outside of you

any other feeling is the pretend we mask
in this place of plenty, watch it turn
to suffer: what they name love is a little

wind blown off course, not the storm
not the tempest of consume that served
our earliest poems, our songs of union

no simple cadavers bound to a touch
but of fire burnt so hot at the core
when a goddess calls, you answer
how to out that net of lust, for the body
is a war, for the body is template for taste
and touch and all that would fill, oh poet

willingly, we nestle in the womb and pull
sound from the heart’s beat so all of us meters
to a tune we watered on, shelled monsters

emerge to a coddle, seek all our hours
a way back: do we surrender to desire
or do we surrender our desires, are we

branches calling bird-song closer look
in the mornings i would weep under
the clouds and healthy the lungs gasping

healthy the heart beating and still i could
not hold it all, the unbearable being, names
listed of the dead unfurled and not like a poem

a poem is a song not a death note reminder
of how we failed one another always, We’ll
let them hurt us, even as we tore each

other apart or worse, how our greed
colored nature till we believed we needed
to suffer to even be alive, we needed to cling

in fear to the scarcity handed over and be
grateful they say as the cell doors lock
be grateful they’ll say as the noose tightens

sad eyed lady of the low lands hums air
cooled to the touch and my skin is barren
my heart is a sieve, nothing holds here

Monsters do travel outside. this chamber
is my whole life, don’t speak. i’ve
been in this wound so long i sift dust

In the end there was so much light
it stifled, from star we disaster, this
game is a matter-if-you-choose-it, stay

inside if you want to live, hide away
Everyone I think of is alive somewhere.
i forget how to be a belief, even here

I chase tail feathers instead of choices
no one has ever kissed me and meant
any thing more than damage, poetry

is an imaginary maze you can tread
here thinking there’s a solve in language
it’s a waiting, at the door to death, let

me in. i will knock here for all of time.



Jerika Marchan, Swole
Jessica Smith, Trauma Mouth
Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib, Vintage Sadness
Rebecca Wolff, Warden
Paige Taggart, Last Difficult Gardens
Travis & JenMarie Macdonald, Graceries
Megan Kaminski, This Place
Annah Browning, The Marriage
Sarah Mangold, The Goddess Can Be Recognized by Her Step
Kris Hall, Dillinger on the Beach
Jen Denrow, How We Know it is ThatJessica Fiorini, Take it Personal

Friday, May 08, 2020

36 Chambers: Canto IV

Canto IV

From Lethe lept, conscious
breath takes surface suddenly
the roar of this place, its cacophony

of angelic howlings, oh i’ve seen
the letter of law: now pass we
liminal jaws: the great scaled

hall we crawl upon, who goes
empty handed. the boundaries
of a god are doubt and danger

inscribed Hecate, her crows
keep time clawed. we practice
low we move carefully

no crowbars, no flashlights, no
clever ideas: language be so
fleshy, so jealous             fire

three of swords, she draws
etched here: if my name is part 
your name how shall we walk

it, how shall we play the game
“a man was shot for asking a woman
to wear a mask. a mask protects.

a mask conceals self. a mask is a debate
inside the circles of no evidence to contrary.
your self is a mask on the unconscious

the masking we do to fit in, the masking
we do to not fit in, the masking we do
to be other, the masking we do to be

truth. cahun sd: under all these masks
other masks. do you know you cannot
talk to dragons—we have no idea

what year it is.”  uncoiling beneath
us the serpent’s color rainbows,
it is the color of everything, and you

are it too. “you come from the world
of angels” forked licking at the air
“oh winged things—there must

be some symbol that speaks
to your soul about why you suffer
would you whisper it

into the beast. and so be it.”
the slithering holds lighted
cues in charcoal tongues: “repetition

does not exist. you can’t return to
any earlier place in the poem.
you can only move one way now.”

and the caging descends. we both
know how to make a pattern. all
this time, all this time estranged

the caught notes, if you have not
cultivated love on this side, you go
through the portal empty handed

it’s all that will pass
can you imagine coming
into this place, hands emptied

of what we thought we held
two of swords, she draws: balanced
blindness, you better learn to hear

water at your back. they remind 
the stars of other stars. funny
when every song counted

it took everything to move
forward in the lined horizons,
a story is a beginning and an end.

love the language flabby
white America was protesting its right
to die. the way we’ve always done

before. the fourth chamber is degrees
in listening. how does the system
operate. we all receive same vibration.

you must frame me when i’m finished. 
you can’t really create considering
every thing that’s been done and yet

imagined. you can’t think at all.
so you make a container. to hold it.
that’s the extent of the magic. so far

and the invocation. and the calling.
well of course, and forgiveness.
yes, we put it all in the code.  i broke

the gargoyle. again, remember you forgot
to add the part about childhood
it’s really just a reflection

of what you were. the sadness
mirrored out. karma is our DNA.
just sit here telling myself all these stories

the “plandemic” flies through the wires
do you know truth when you hear it
or do we listen too often to one another

a poem is a landing. this river where we
poured dead, do you remember we held
grief in each arm, pulled it so close, to taste

the tremble of life leaving, there was nothing
man made about the way the body knows
how to take care of its own. remember that.

when you get over there. the delusion of division
will be set against the delusion being human
is a single species experience, not the complex

fragmenting that occurs within each one. each
cell erupts from division, division is what makes
us and division is what life struggles to overcome.

Insert I’s aubade in the epilogue. to light
we went on thus as far as the silence
kept us, the great worm taking back

its sleep. the gentle wound we laid down
for it to keep would be our treasury, wealth
for the coming travel. you have to seed

the path so you can map it home
seven times clockwise you round
whispers: i see you changed

mark the eye of that lizard as it slips
into sleep, mark the eye of that cold
heart, as it carries the rivulet of fire

you spoke into the program, enter
seven portals and as the old year
descends, let us walk along the path

to a bridge, where she will pour
water over your head, she will
incant by name: poet, i see

you, and deep in the eye of another
for as long as you tread where eyes
are used to catalogue, you will be

held in that light. echoes and reflections
are the glamour we use to entertain
here, the delusions we spin to keep

the matters at hand, to sort the macro-
and the microcosm into a balance
we could call up by number and name

To be lonely tightly until still sleeping
eight of cups, so we walk away from
what we know towards what is empty

But I’m still awake with eyes open 
like two triangles it is natural
to be deadly, but oh, humanity

a country is divided in earnings
as much as in compassion
how many have to die before

we recall the connections that boated
us shore to shore. and after this
cycle, did they arise like smoke

tendrils curling in the dome above
the numbered beast, ninety three
counts round to escape a housing

Who could lose their skin and still 
own it all could you break them
with one song: we are all abandoned

by love, you’ll repeat it till the bands
of fear loosen, while the bands of fear
On the teething field. It’s all over

grasping, still we ache but trespass
as intended from the snake, her dreaming
and from her dream of us in the belly

a morning where we wake to a nothing shine.


italicized lines:

Spite, Danielle Pafunda
Sleeper Cell, Michael “Quess?” Moore
Death Industrial Complex, Candice Wuehle
Fake Moon, Alban Fischer
Some Notes on My Programming, Anselm Berrigan
Lizzie Speak, Kailey Tedesco
Sojourner Microcosms, Anselm Hollo
The Romance of Happy Workers, Anne Boyer
In the Key of Those Who Can No Longer Organize Their Environments, Stephanie Anderson
All the Garbage of the World Unite, Kim Hyesoon, trans by Don Mee Choi
IC, Serena Chopra
Something in the Way, Obstruction Blues, John Duvernoy

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

36 Chambers: Canto III

Canto III

“Through here language will be both poison
and medicine, love as well, harnessed
as healing and wound,  through here

loss of clarity, through here the word
champions over the sound so you will
believe not what you hear, here truth

hides inside the symbols compromised
by echthroi, that which unnames
we call this the great undone of time”

and so in the third chamber, we did
come to the gate our fury did make
us seek, and sometime did we long

to flee, close the doors/ twice as often
as you open them :: who are you
to ask what anyone would bring

to the crossroad. you better be able
to bare that story Love lives just sit 
there on the sidelines. what have you

learned about being still.  And we
led we on, among the secret things
a slither in the streets shapes us

how can you let go fear when fed
by fear is all we’ve ever known, might
ask us to spread wing and fly, might

say language was our first undoing
the word cementing us to be
for i am, i am, i am the echo of see

is it warm enough here for you.
Your music makes me feel lonely. 
i mean, how have you trained

to hear truth. & what is listening
inside all of this. you might consider
these things as you decide to cross

over. what kind of line have you
drawn down the middle of life
what drags against its meter

of nagels, the metal wrought that cages
how do you recognize
the name of what we walk within

that liminal beast, we hunger toward
sensate, a compulsion towards attach/
ment heaviness letting go, against 

heaviness itself  think of the choice
to enter this realm. the heavy suffer
of manifest. to slip into the quantum

fixt state: time will make it seem
as though the flow is consistent
and linear… in the echo of split

so that all is apparent and none
at once, and when I turned my palm
up to heaven/ they flew off 

let us not tarry thresholds, let us
gather our courage, swift to the pawing
we scuttle across the sands, poemed

as we are to a telling: round the fire
ever shade, ever shadow, imagine drums
and the way the light flickers so that we

dance in these caves of light, we dance
in the caves of light There are a million 
and one ways for me to look, but I only

want one do you know why we guard
portals, why every door is a riddle
do you remember how to sound

your way back home. there is one story
about a winged murder, the crow of delight
lies and nightmares, the horror of all upended

but chaos is many-sided, and tender too
to know the sweet breaking of joy
to be awash in the miracle of separation

calling us down into realizing
there is this deep net’s worth of imported
data, of being human. of experience. we

travel within the scooped access of collect.
we bend against time. it fractals. infinite.
a gate rides an answer to a puzzle

you meet later in the gloaming
because you have always been one—you
DJs played every day and night, the net

lit up with the oddity of entertain and be-
ing caught in the myth of productivity
there was a death toll and we counted

it up and down the peaks of fortune
and fate and threaded we shook our
selves loose and stood to ready depart

to the river. for the river is what holds
the crossroad in the crook of its arm
it’s a crescent smile, we step lightly

call up the operator of time: when
you hear ______________
which is to say language is noise

we do not withdraw, we pull up
to the shore’s wet lip and wade in
lapping into the drum’s beat

this breath, this foot by foot, curb
the vibration into push and pull
the cell is a combination of heart/

beat mazed in the lines we reached
into those waters and cupped palms
scoop me, the sound of the hands

the sound of the line, create
life in the stamped into water
chatter stammering between two places

chaos is a burning wheel you choose
to step into its center, you choose to
pass from this veiling to a new skinny

dream where death edges, death
the last drop falling between
the fingers: everybody once

coiling inside the program designed
to collect data: this matrix is a cell
to keep, a cell to contain in lieu of chaos

let there be light. and this is the word
we used to soul. to angel this winging
do you know how words coalesce.

what matters the tempo if the template
shatters. rounded convolu---    it pipes
the doctor has upended the trial

what is a virus that you can get over
and over again. what is the level
of herd immunity needed. and how

do we create a vaccine. and what will
we remember to bring to all of the funerals
never held. what said we to future touch.

we downloaded the calendars of tomorrow
invented a new word for every imagined
damage, there was no thing we could not

define: look language made this all possible
we invented the theater of politics
to protect investments in what seemed

revolution, but what is revolutionary
about working to death the many
so a few may thrive. what is revolutionary

about a country founded on murder
and rape and slavery and lies.
where did we slip the sacred in with

the profane except in the making:
as I said, I was dead we swept
into the river’s flow :: shatter

and now within, the characters weep

Quoted lines in italics:
D. Victor, Kith 
Dara Wier, You Good Thing 
Ariana Reines, Mercury 
Joe Ross, Last Days on Earth 
Irene Mathieu, Grand Marronage 
Oliver Bendorf, The Spectral Wilderness
Sink, Desiree Dallagiacomo
fault tree, Kathryn l. pringle
Every Living One, Nathan Hauke
The New Sorrow is Less Than the Old Sorrow, Jenny Drai
Butterfly Valley, Inger Christensen
Equivocal, Julie Carr

Sunday, May 03, 2020

36 Chambers: Canto II

Canto II

March is departing and April bouldered
into view, the days begin to outnumber
time folding, and so we sped at its internal

docking, it was inside these hours the visions
emerged, some winged beasts descending
into our spheres where we in our sleepy

nets try to tumble unabated in cycles
of we must sleep in shifts so we each have
a turn to rest for the next moon beat

some versed in prophecy were seeping
for years the pause of nations in symbols
untold, and now all dreams are catalogues

of time’s collusion, the way we slow
and still, thrown projections on the blank
walls of generative madness, crumbling

from the underground, how thin the veil
moons orbit: feel/ my pull my/ roundness
for we were cornered by the evil of consume

men of great awareness knew how to ready
the death blows capping our ability to survive
as if not human, as if not touched by human

desires and instead caught in the nightmare wake
of capital loss and gain while the numbers
of the dying  rose so high we were forced to sing

grief into the air, the keening we together
mended tunes to our echoever and nevering
world our leaders were of a cravenmind

that salvation’s way came at the cost of reeling
into delusion, step up to the abyss of insanity
a drinking of bleach and UV lights, for cancer

was the limit of medical abundance, but now
the science provides us with no excuse not
to prove anyone worthy of invented reasons

i fear the resolve to open this country
into economic surplus has always been fueled
by greed and on the backs of can we sacrifice

many for the bank account of a few to swell
proportions unheeded as you possess me thus far
and I possess you right back, but we had retired

the word slave for semantics of sensitivity
when what we needed was language to clearly
demarcate where we were stuck in place, time

did not grant freedom and in the dreaming, war
was thrown into images, a burning of souls
in a terrible firing, some inferno wrought upon

us in words half remembered, half recall
have we wandered in this wood sometime, lonely
and isolated in our rooms, we learned to place

our heads on lighter downs of perhaps this
won’t come to pass, let us look at the trending
of statistics across nations, how to say virtual

or of virtue, we traveled paired pandemic time
who will we tackle next to upload our disgrace
every voice in unison, in discord, has its fleeting

a cacophony of executing safe and right
we learned too much of neighbors and lovers
who would hold us down and who would leave us

but let us back to the dreams and nightmares etched
in hours we called opposite of moving time’s echo
such designs we had not collectively culled before

as if the faces in the images hold all the consequences
do you dream of war or a way out of war
and what does it mean, this unconscious sitting

with one another’s confusion, with one another
and with each, we combed over ideas of what this
new phase of vivid telling might spell for the future

of us, i fear, we are already so lost, we will never
find our ways back to imagining how to close
the ranks of terror, to believe we could escape

the poet am i, who bid we go to the edges
of love, to the edges of imagination, would we
be able to wing our way from sound to memory

which a certain blindness kept safe: enter
the second chamber which is not yet
even inside the gate, here we are still

awaiting desire, what makes us cling
to our old life, what makes us so afraid
we will abandon all hope and beg to enter

One need not be a Chamber – to be Haunted –
the dead are one reason we keep rage
near our hearts, we seek revenge, we seek

some justice for our loss, for the cruel
ways this life asks us to surrender
all that we love and life’s sweet minutes

coalesce into our wanting and our aches
till we think some action must be the source
of undoing what man has made normal

when did a lust for violence insert
itself into our stories, how to guide
our lives back to care, in some mercy

leave behind the memory of choking
how loosely it all flutters
a memory of burning we cling

so tightly to as though suffering
made it all the sweeter, as though
the sorrow could not be loosened

from our grasps, to ventilate is to air
to press into the lung more breath
as in to be this poetic, what erases

violence from the narrative, what replaces
a story of putting humans in cages
or how we held cures out for money

and let people die alone in their beds
is there a circle of hell for this governing
body that stole safety from our country

who printed money they pocketed while the nation
starved locked in our homes, kept from work
and yet still expected to hold ourselves together

by the bootstraps, by the legacy of American wealth
which is afforded to the 1% and we learned
bred on the backs of workers who would be sacrificed

first to the virus. we need to shop and eat
said those who would be given the finest medical
care, those who had no fear of ever going hungry

how can you feel anything but anger or despair
in the months unspooling as the madness dripped
from the lips of the president: drink bleach and prosper

he exulted, and never were we delivered from that wild
beast, we were herded into believing the economy
needed us to die. we were told we were gonna die

anyway as no relief was coming. and was it
then we sought revenge. was it then the war
inside of our collective minds deep-ended.

you will lose everything. and then you will seek
the place where you can train to take
it back. the second chamber is the answers

sought still deep in dreaming but a stirring
registers. We have flowed out of ourselves
it is hard to believe spring turned summer

while we argued maskings, while the birds’
song increases: Tell me the name of that tree
tell me the feature. The bark of the day echoing

into time’s fiction made clear, we wandered
days asking will there be a return, will we
ever emerge into the arms and embraces

of familiar again, will we lay down in fever
dreams where color occurs as it fades
forever we travel towards the start

of tomorrow. let us traverse this month’s
loneliness and step pathwards to the next
chamber: thus we have adored and begged

now enter the deep and savage way

Houses, Nikki Wallschlaegar
All Night It Is Morning, Andy Young
door of thin skins, Shira Dentz
AREA, Marcelle Durand
Citizen, Claudia Rankine
Exile: Women’s Turn, Nabile Fares
“670,” Emily Dickenson
Fifteen Poems, Bobbie Louise Hawkins
All This Can Be Yours, Isobel O’Hare
The Lost Lunar Beadeker, Mina Loy
And/OR, Jenn Marie Nunes
one, Jen Hofer