Sam Rasnake

Sam Rasnake’s poetry has appeared recently in Oranges & Sardines, Shampoo, BOXCAR Poetry Review, The Smoking Poet, and Naugatuck River Review, as well as the anthologies Best of the Web 2009 (Dzanc Books) and Deep River Apartments (The Private Press). He is the author of Necessary Motions (Sow’s Ear Press), Religions of the Blood (Pudding House), and Inside a Broken Clock, (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming in 2010). Rasnake edits Blue Fifth Review, an online journal of poetry and art.

What is (or has been) your favorite editing project and why?

Since Blue Fifth Review began in January of 2001, it’s been my privilege to work with so many gifted writers and artists. Many varied issues from BFR come to mind, but two that stand out to me are the Winter 2006 issue and the Spring Supplement 2006. The two issues focused, separately, on the world as universal, the world as personal from the female and male perspectives. I received more feedback from readers on that series than on any issue before or since. For the two issues, I was able to gather incredible works of poetry, essay, and art that were insightful, strong!, and diverse. That was an amazing venture for me – as writer, reader, and editor.

Games of Persuasion

                               – in the gardens at Frederiksbad, 1961

This is the way the story begins.
Just repeated lines. Words shifting
as if place were only stand in for

hand to shoulder or finger to mouth.
Chandeliers to cards to shrub to sky –
this could be anywhere. Don’t waste

your time with narrative. A broken shoe,
the long stair, an ache in the unheard wind.
The door always ajar. This is the way

the story begins. In a crowded room.
All those mouths moving, their tongues
a wash of reason – resist, submit,

resist, submit – convincing the world
of mirrors, of broken glass. And what is
laughter any way? The eye gives

its passion, the breast its lost dream,
the body its fever of want. So, this is
how it begins. In lost letters, photographs,

games of chance. The fear is you might
remember something deep and awful,
something so perfect you wouldn’t dare

breathe to anyone. And so you listen –
the sound of feet on gravel, crossing
a garden, has become your waking life.

(Games of Persuasion / L’année derniére á Marienbad (1962), Alain Resnais, dir.)

Everything in Motion

                               – Texas panhandle, 1917

In the middle of a great field
a house, Victorian ornate, so empty
no other voice could hope to find
its detailed walls with photographs –
not family exactly, but the desperate
need to hold one, to make something
of such an unforgiving place – that
stare out its tall windows and long porch.

Words are useless. Wind in the wheat.
Mist on the pond. Geese crossing
a thick sky. The lives we find are fire
and locust. Scarecrow in silhouette
against purple. Dull thunder of steam
tractor, hard hands, and bent backs.

The end bullies its way into our joints,
moves us closer until the face we see
we no longer recognize. Railroad tracks
disappear into a cold, wooded darkness,
leaving their silence only to fill
this timeless warp of finished days.

(Everything in Motion / Days of Heaven (1978), Terrence Malick, dir.)

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