The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Juliana Gray’s “Anne Boleyn’s Sleeve”

Juliana Gray

His Tenderness

We’d ride like summer lightning, chasing game
on horses matching stride and hot breath,
and when he plunged the huntsman’s killing dagger
through a hart and showed his crimsoned hands,
my lips would part, hungry to lick them clean.
He liked that I was fearless, like a man.
He gave me gifts, a bow and shooting glove;
I gave a set of Pyrenean spears,
engraved and silver-handled, for hunting boar.
Once, a young greyhound of mine went mad
and killed a yeoman’s cow. Amused, we watched
the men fighting to pull the beasts apart.
A page tossed some coins to pay the farmer
and on we rode, my hound with carmine paws,
shreds of flesh dangling from its teeth.

Yet for all this bloody sport, my lord
was tender. Once, walking out from Mass,
we found a sparrow killed against a window.
Henry knelt, gentle as a mother,
and draped a linen napkin over it,
to hide from me its cleanly broken neck.

This selection comes from Juliana Gray’s chapbook Anne Boleyn’s Sleeve, available from Winged City Press. Purchase your copy here!

Juliana Gray is the author of the poetry collections Roleplay and Anne Boleyn’s Sleeve, which won the 2013 Winged City Chapbook Press poetry chapbook contest.  Recent poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from PMS: poemmemoirstory, Tupelo Quarterly, Unsplendid, and elsewhere.  An Alabama native, she lives in western New York and is an associate professor of English at Alfred University.

Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been previously collected into two chapbooks, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press), as well as in many literary journals and anthologies including Rhino, Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, and Time You Let Me In. She lives in Pittsburgh where she edits the chapbook press Hyacinth Girl Press and is a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut collection, Stationed at the Gateway, will be published by Sundress in 2015.

 

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Juliana Gray’s “Anne Boleyn’s Sleeve”

Juliana Gray

Courtship

A week might pass without a word, and then
I would be seized, pulled behind an arras
and kissed as if he sought to smother me.
Passing by in company, he’d nod,
greet me courteously, and let his hand
brush my skirt as if by accident.
His hands– I studied them, keeping my eyes
downcast in modesty– how brown and strong!
How well they fit around my waist in a dance,
the only time when I could meet his eyes,
imagining myself the golden flame
that sparked within them. I could not get enough
of dancing! His touch, his face, his legs sleek
and stallion-strong, his breath upon my neck.
An entire year, we loved in secret, wild
to marry, to fill the halls with English sons.
That year, I felt alive at every step,
at every pulse of my body’s quickening blood.

But that’s a lie– at court, there are no secrets.
Though Henry’s troubled soul, he said, was cause
to seek divorce; though Wolsey nourished talk
of French princesses; despite these tales,
I saw how Katherine bit her sallow cheeks
when I was near. Mary smirked, and George
recalculated his worth with every note
that he delivered. The truth; a lie; no matter.
That year, we burned and suffered, fever-struck,
concealing our contagion, blazing bright
where every eye pretended not to see.

This selection comes from Juliana Gray’s chapbook Anne Boleyn’s Sleeve, available from Winged City Press. Purchase your copy here!

Juliana Gray is the author of the poetry collections Roleplay and Anne Boleyn’s Sleeve, which won the 2013 Winged City Chapbook Press poetry chapbook contest.  Recent poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from PMS: poemmemoirstory, Tupelo Quarterly, Unsplendid, and elsewhere.  An Alabama native, she lives in western New York and is an associate professor of English at Alfred University.

Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been previously collected into two chapbooks, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press), as well as in many literary journals and anthologies including Rhino, Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, and Time You Let Me In. She lives in Pittsburgh where she edits the chapbook press Hyacinth Girl Press and is a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut collection, Stationed at the Gateway, will be published by Sundress in 2015.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Juliana Gray’s “Anne Boleyn’s Sleeve”

Juliana Gray

Beginning

It began with a touch. It began with two bodies.
And so, it is a very old story.
Breath, flesh, the hot blood beneath
the skin–

                 At court, so much of a woman’s body
is public. Anyone may take her hand,
clutch her waist in a dance, run his thumb
along her spine, steal a lock of hair–
small intrusions they name courtesy.
We tightened corsets, presented upthrust bosoms
like coats of arms. Even Katherine,
when she was Queen, was not assessed as woman,
but like an aging broodmare, part by part.
Is she fertile? Was her maidenhead
intact when she and Henry wed? If not,
would she have known? What is the state of her womb?

How to tell the real from courtly game?
Ladies, look sharp. Listen to your blood.
I was carrying something, a bundle of silk
for Katherine’s sewing, when he stepped out to me
He moved close, to take the costly burden
from my arms. Holding fast my gaze
within his own, he slipped two fingers
inside my sleeve and lightly– as light as wind
loosing petals from a rose– stroked
the pulsing skin of my wrist. A moment, two.
We bore the silk to the chambers of the Queen.

This selection comes from Juliana Gray’s chapbook Anne Boleyn’s Sleeve, available from Winged City Press. Purchase your copy here!

Juliana Gray is the author of the poetry collections Roleplay and Anne Boleyn’s Sleeve, which won the 2013 Winged City Chapbook Press poetry chapbook contest.  Recent poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from PMS: poemmemoirstory, Tupelo Quarterly, Unsplendid, and elsewhere.  An Alabama native, she lives in western New York and is an associate professor of English at Alfred University.

Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been previously collected into two chapbooks, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press), as well as in many literary journals and anthologies including Rhino, Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, and Time You Let Me In. She lives in Pittsburgh where she edits the chapbook press Hyacinth Girl Press and is a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut collection, Stationed at the Gateway, will be published by Sundress in 2015.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ayshia Stephenson’s “Black Hands of a Morning Calm”

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dancing tires my night
catching a cab, feet away
a stranger’s catching one too
he jumps into mine

we eat and drink and flirt in
a restaurant with
red lanterns until
outside dawn breaks and

say that again –
you are married? do you cheat?
i’m a man, he declares

but i’m worried about my wife
every night has to end you
aren’t coming inside
she withholds
stay in the cab
a year in counting!
so you worry about her?
and continue
to do what causes
the withholding?

stay in the cab
there is nothing
in me
your wife
does not have

This selection comes from Ayshia Stephenson’s book Black Hands of a Morning Calm, available from Imaginary Friend Press. Purchase your copy here!

Ayshia Stephenson fuses poetry and storytelling with a provocative and spiritual performance, both in her writing and on stage. She received her MFA in writing from the California Institute of Arts in 2009 and holds an MA in applied sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is most interested in looking at race, gender and culture through a narrative and ethnographic lens. Her interdisciplinary work has been published by TESOL Review, Seoul Writer’s Anthology, Seoul National University, A Gathering of the Tribes, the Clarion, and Drury University. She most recently won Notes and Grace Notes’ 2011 Gold Prize First Book Award for her poetry manuscript “black hands of a morning calm” about her three-year expatriate experience in Seoul, South Korea. She is a visiting lecturer in Salem State’s English department.

Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been previously collected into two chapbooks, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press), as well as in many literary journals and anthologies including Rhino, Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, and Time You Let Me In. She lives in Pittsburgh where she edits the chapbook press Hyacinth Girl Press and is a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut collection, Stationed at the Gateway, will be published by Sundress in 2015.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ayshia Stephenson’s “Black Hands of a Morning Calm”

Blackhandsfrontcover

at the first fancy
faculty luncheon
a colleague of mine asks
if i’m on the same visa as the rest
of the foreign faculty

i look around the table

i nod.
i look into her
eyes, so she can’t escape

yes…of course you are…
so why korea?
she chuckles
with her head down

why not?
i was finishing
another grad degree, my mfa
i wanted to see more of the world
i wanted benefits
health insurance
and seventy percent of american classes
are
taught by adjuncts

i did my ph.d. at yale

the butter
the sugar, in this biscuit
makes my
makes my
stomach turn
where’s the
brown in this
feed me

This selection comes from Ayshia Stephenson’s book Black Hands of a Morning Calm, available from Imaginary Friend Press. Purchase your copy here!

Ayshia Stephenson fuses poetry and storytelling with a provocative and spiritual performance, both in her writing and on stage. She received her MFA in writing from the California Institute of Arts in 2009 and holds an MA in applied sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is most interested in looking at race, gender and culture through a narrative and ethnographic lens. Her interdisciplinary work has been published by TESOL Review, Seoul Writer’s Anthology, Seoul National University, A Gathering of the Tribes, the Clarion, and Drury University. She most recently won Notes and Grace Notes’ 2011 Gold Prize First Book Award for her poetry manuscript “black hands of a morning calm” about her three-year expatriate experience in Seoul, South Korea. She is a visiting lecturer in Salem State’s English department.

Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been previously collected into two chapbooks, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press), as well as in many literary journals and anthologies including Rhino, Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, and Time You Let Me In. She lives in Pittsburgh where she edits the chapbook press Hyacinth Girl Press and is a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut collection, Stationed at the Gateway, will be published by Sundress in 2015.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ayshia Stephenson’s “Black Hands of a Morning Calm”

1853079_1406823100.0299

oh i-tae-won
to you i can come alone
elsewhere, the bars have no stools

when my head is warm
enough, i practice my korean
where foreigner
friendly han-guk-sa-rams
practice their english
after work with boozing teachers

i will never be
inside
so this is my i-tae-won
here,
under the sun
i eat the fat on beef
and don’t feel guilty
here,
under the sun
the bul-go-gi sauce
sticks to my black chops

This selection comes from Ayshia Stephenson’s book Black Hands of a Morning Calm, available from Imaginary Friend Press. Purchase your copy here!

Ayshia Stephenson fuses poetry and storytelling with a provocative and spiritual performance, both in her writing and on stage. She received her MFA in writing from the California Institute of Arts in 2009 and holds an MA in applied sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is most interested in looking at race, gender and culture through a narrative and ethnographic lens. Her interdisciplinary work has been published by TESOL Review, Seoul Writer’s Anthology, Seoul National University, A Gathering of the Tribes, the Clarion, and Drury University. She most recently won Notes and Grace Notes’ 2011 Gold Prize First Book Award for her poetry manuscript “black hands of a morning calm” about her three-year expatriate experience in Seoul, South Korea. She is a visiting lecturer in Salem State’s English department.

Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been previously collected into two chapbooks, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press), as well as in many literary journals and anthologies including Rhino, Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, and Time You Let Me In. She lives in Pittsburgh where she edits the chapbook press Hyacinth Girl Press and is a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut collection, Stationed at the Gateway, will be published by Sundress in 2015.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ayshia Stephenson’s “Black Hands of a Morning Calm”

Blackhandsfrontcover

in the first snow storm
i walk
with the foreigners
where the foreigners live
and i see her
i see her black skin in the falling flakes

and i want to

kiss her
hug her
                         closer
but she
keeps her
head
straight walks
past me

she is african
but i am american
            so we are
different and we are
not the same

This selection comes from Ayshia Stephenson’s book Black Hands of a Morning Calm, available from Imaginary Friend Press. Purchase your copy here!

Ayshia Stephenson fuses poetry and storytelling with a provocative and spiritual performance, both in her writing and on stage. She received her MFA in writing from the California Institute of Arts in 2009 and holds an MA in applied sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is most interested in looking at race, gender and culture through a narrative and ethnographic lens. Her interdisciplinary work has been published by TESOL Review, Seoul Writer’s Anthology, Seoul National University, A Gathering of the Tribes, the Clarion, and Drury University. She most recently won Notes and Grace Notes’ 2011 Gold Prize First Book Award for her poetry manuscript “black hands of a morning calm” about her three-year expatriate experience in Seoul, South Korea. She is a visiting lecturer in Salem State’s English department.

Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been previously collected into two chapbooks, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press), as well as in many literary journals and anthologies including Rhino, Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, and Time You Let Me In. She lives in Pittsburgh where she edits the chapbook press Hyacinth Girl Press and is a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut collection, Stationed at the Gateway, will be published by Sundress in 2015.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Ayshia Stephenson’s “Black Hands of a Morning Calm”

1853079_1406823100.0299

i left my home
so i walk the university’s campus
to my new studio
in a new country

up the hill
summer still
sticks
to my skin
i wipe my forehead
look up and see
the construction workers stop
to stare

        and the silence
standing between us
was like their long summer
without foreigners
that made my black skin a mystery again

This selection comes from Ayshia Stephenson’s book Black Hands of a Morning Calm, available from Imaginary Friend Press. Purchase your copy here!

Ayshia Stephenson fuses poetry and storytelling with a provocative and spiritual performance, both in her writing and on stage. She received her MFA in writing from the California Institute of Arts in 2009 and holds an MA in applied sociology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She is most interested in looking at race, gender and culture through a narrative and ethnographic lens. Her interdisciplinary work has been published by TESOL Review, Seoul Writer’s Anthology, Seoul National University, A Gathering of the Tribes, the Clarion, and Drury University. She most recently won Notes and Grace Notes’ 2011 Gold Prize First Book Award for her poetry manuscript “black hands of a morning calm” about her three-year expatriate experience in Seoul, South Korea. She is a visiting lecturer in Salem State’s English department.

Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been previously collected into two chapbooks, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press), as well as in many literary journals and anthologies including Rhino, Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, and Time You Let Me In. She lives in Pittsburgh where she edits the chapbook press Hyacinth Girl Press and is a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut collection, Stationed at the Gateway, will be published by Sundress in 2015.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Sandra Simonds’ “The Sonnets”

sandra-simonds

Into the House of Love

The landlady informs me she owes me hundreds of dollars.
   Apparently, I’ve been overpaying her for months.
What she doesn’t know is I’m building a house for her as a present.
        Inside the house, there will be a colorful tomb.
      I will push her in this colorful tomb.
She doesn’t know it yet. I have so many tricks up my sleeve.
      It’s because I’m passive aggressive. It’s because I’m mean and violent.
Have you built a house with a colorful tomb at its center yet?

      The sea has a center. And everyone loves the sea
   because the sea loves no one. She pulls in everything: the nursery
        the moon, the glass of milk the moonlight
shines through on the kitchen counter.
      If I had to compare the sea to something
I’d compare her to the sea.

This selection comes from Sandra Simonds’ book The Sonnets, available from Bloof Books. Purchase your copy here!

Sandra Simonds is the author of two previous collections of poetry, Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2008) and Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2012). Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry 2014, the American Poetry ReviewFencePoetry, and other journals.

Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been previously collected into two chapbooks, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press), as well as in many literary journals and anthologies including Rhino, Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, and Time You Let Me In. She lives in Pittsburgh where she edits the chapbook press Hyacinth Girl Press and is a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut collection, Stationed at the Gateway, will be published by Sundress in 2015.

The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Sandra Simonds’ “The Sonnets”

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No Sonnet

No civil war sonnet. No sex reassignment surgery sonnet.

No black sonnet. No climate change sonnet.

No.

No crossed-out Unitarian Universalist sonnet.

No African-American sonnet. No girly sonnet.

No crime spree sonnet. No egret sonnet.

No machete sonnet. No.

No adorable sonnet. No iron patch-on sonnet.

No Crimean War memorabilia sonnet.

No Greek laurels sonnet.

No.

No consignment store sonnet.

No global diamond store sonnet.

This selection comes from Sandra Simonds’ book The Sonnets, available from Bloof Books. Purchase your copy here!

Sandra Simonds is the author of two previous collections of poetry, Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2008) and Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2012). Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry 2014, the American Poetry ReviewFencePoetry, and other journals.

Margaret Bashaar’s poetry has been previously collected into two chapbooks, Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press) and Barefoot and Listening (Tilt Press), as well as in many literary journals and anthologies including Rhino, Caketrain, New South, Copper Nickel, and Time You Let Me In. She lives in Pittsburgh where she edits the chapbook press Hyacinth Girl Press and is a staff writer for Luna Luna Magazine. Her debut collection, Stationed at the Gateway, will be published by Sundress in 2015.