Poems - Bios - What They're Saying
Floodgate Poetry Series Vol. 2:
Kallie Falandays, Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs, & Judy Jordan
The Floodgate Poetry Series is an annual series of books collecting three chapbooks
by three poets in a single volume, edited by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum. Chapbooks—
short books under
40 pages—arose when printed books became affordable in the 16th
century. The series is in the tradition of 18th and 19th century British and American
literary annuals, and the Penguin Modern Poets Series
of the 1960s and ’70s.
Imagine if Everyone You Ever Loved
-from Kallie Falandays's Tiny Openings Everywhere
Touching you. If you never stopped changing: You're still
in your bedroom: blue lamplight, still teenage-‐hurt,
no alarm clock. How do you get up in the morning
after being held down by so many hands, at least
them, each of them trying to draw something
from your body: this one wants a doll
house for his daughter, this
one wants to pull out
breakfast, so many breakfasts, so many pieces of toast.
This one wants to pull you into morning,
wants to convince you
to come out from under your blankets. They all want you to come
to their house for Christmas.
None of them is scared
you'll say no. They'll try to forget about the other hands
and they'll reach around every
one else's ring fingers
just to scrape the inside of your mouth
with their thumb, and then they'll say they've
and then they'll look at your saliva on their finger and they'll put it in
their mouth: no one will
think this is wrong
and every one will try it too.
-from Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs's Score for a Burning Bridge
Don't I know you from somewhere
I said to the abandoned fountain.
Come home with
I said to the echo.
from tree to tree.
There was a scent of seawater,
there was a childhood memory, and weeds
slender women. A paper bag was happy and
the purr of
locusts-like something seen from very far away.
This was long after the names had gone.
having come to the end of desire were finally
free to be themselves.
So that at night, sometimes when
stars shone on the water
and the water held still, you
might hear voices.
Once, I heard my mother's voice. She
was still a girl, and her laughter
was mouthfuls of fruit.
After the Farmer's Market
-from Judy Jordan's Hunger
this hoofed hour before dawn,
in the flustered scuttle of small animals
and leaf flutter intent in their clawed search. Shot
and scumbled cloud, screech owl and bobcat scream. Moth,
and souls of the newly dead flitting leaf to leaf.
the smell of honeysuckle and angel heart,
in the tick
of each star clicking off
and darkness drifting
toward its concession to day's factory of heat and glare,
wake, wake, rise and go
through these empty streets to meet that sunrise
smelted coins hot with the grief of many hands.
get up, get up, and go now.
In this hour of terror,
birds crying out,
crying to the blood, to the bitter
the spilled guts of the night's hunted,
chirps and screeches sifting in wind,
rustling through tree limbs, easing down like a preened feather
to settle in the nests of woven grasses and weeds.
In this hour of the dead,Prowl the steaming, empty streets.
Follow the bristle-brushed
get up, get up, and go.
truck along the dreary wave of asphalt as the grumbling,
hoses yesterday into the gutters.
Get up and go past
the rail yard and feed stores,Now, in the crooked teeth
past the vestibules and crumbling doorways of hunger and no sleep,
past the drunks
swaying on the curb's edge,
cabbies getting high in their cars as they wait out the hours,
the horrible and lonely hours.
in the growl and lolling tongue,
everything else must wait.
The runaways who scour parking lots,
for any dropped thing,
of the black-owned businesses, barbershops
and doctor's offices bulldozed to build this pedestrian mall,
ghosts who hover here with the blue fog,
ghosts squeezed fish-eyed
under the ridged mountains,
ghosts slipping along this street with its lobbed and slab-
sided board and batten and drywall houses, must wait.
who climb up the slink
of the narrow steps to the one‐room,
fourth floor walk‐up where Ming‐Loy shares a cot
with her five‐year‐old daughter who must wait,
wait for the tea kettle to scream out,
wait for Ming‐Loy to pour this long lick of sinewy water over her
crouched in a tin bucket, wait
for her to say, Broken plumbing.
the leftovers I will take her,
cut flowers, it all, it all, it all must wait now
for I must get up, get up, rise and go.
Home at three AM
from the pizza delivery job, up at five with the shrieking birds. Get up and go.
Oh do not think
of how little will be made, six hours in the
bone-honed blade of exhaustion
edging up the ladder
of my back
with my small offerings of coneflowers,
tomatoes and yellow squash
curled in on themselves like question marks,
for the sweating hoards of dimes and nickels,
damp wrinkle of dollar bills,
just get up, get up,
pack the truck and go.
◊The letter, picked up off the street said,
so I've found you. What
you're doing is time. Jail time
is the longest time. When I see you again it won't be in there
but out here. Here's
a twenty for you. Say goodbye
to Toto. We're not in Kansas anymore.
◊The gout-legged man resting on the bench
You have to keep one leg out of your pants
when you take a crap. So you don't get trapped.
what you have to do in jail.
◊The man shouted into his cell phone, That's what I get
damned, no‐good, lazy, white trash.
And Luna, who sold incense and hand‐made soap, is dead.And Regina, the muffin‐queen, who waited a year
Cross would cover her back's busted disc,
ignoring blood in her stools, cancer's filed teeth
gnawing along her
colon, is dead.
I have seen the women piling from their pimps' Caddies,
seen them spread through the streets
like a rare
virus seeping organ to organ,
have seen the sheriff's notice nailed on the door, RENT PAST DUE,
family photos, marksman medals, all the trivia of years
the landlord hauls to the dumpster, ground up
by the trash truck as if in Polyphemus' gaping jaws,
have seen the
heavy-booted men splattered with concrete,
hunched at the bar, dull-eyed
through the sitcom's canned laughter,
their entire lives laid out before them like a rough-stitched corpse
into its cold slot after the coroner's knife,
and I, no Lazarus, sores licked by dogs, not wrenched
Abraham's arms, not risen from the dead to warn
the rich man's brothers, only a piping voice that begs the stars
cast their cold, lidless gaze onto me as I plead that I not die
in such a wrong time, such a wrong place.
the sun directly overhead so I must
reload the unsold coreopsis, drooping columbine,
vegetables, sun-bruised and soft,
even as they come,
those who know the closing hours,
who know the cull of bruised peaches and over‐grown squash.
They spill from their rust-shot four‐doors,
held together with tar, duct tape,
clothes hangers and string.
Washed in this warped
and ruined light,
a dime store daubing, a bad draft,
I wait here and want to know what happened
to that life I signed up for,
one with chubby cheeks and blonde hair,
the freckle‐spattered nose and easy smile.
I wait and watch as they wave away yellow jackets
from the mesh-metal trash cans, watch
teenagers turn their backs on mothers
who pull out worm-gnawed eggplant and yellowing cucumbers.
Oh how fragile, how frail
this thing we call a body: How desperate and tender
it all seems: Those scant few years
when I stood outside any fast food joint,
too skinny, gulping the grease stink,
just last year, lugging boulders, splitting wood, then, the burst
pain tunneling down my hamstring,
now these sullen teenagers, pacing
this parking lot, pretending not to know
their own mothers whose arms are swallowed
by trash cans, who scratch their nails against the melon's mushy rind
and I hold out the blood-‐red tomatoes,
the milky corn:
Come, I whisper,
come, I cry out like some ancient song, a song of hunger,
a song of sorrow,
and they creep from the trash cans, the wrecked cars, the blind alleys,
creep from all the hiding
places of the poor,
as hunger, musk-‐mouthed hunger, lumbers from its dark doorway.
Poems - Bios - What They're Saying
debut chapbook, Tiny
distorts reality and the many ways we perceive it with a raucous, almost violent brand of play in poems more interested
in questioning reality than nailing it down. At times breathtaking, others delightfully perplexing, these verses are as
quixotic and witty as they are essential and damning. Falandays received her MFA from Wichita State University in 2015.
She writes copy by day and runs a small editing business, telltellpoetry.com, by night from her home in Philadelphia.
Score for a Burning Bridge, Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs‘ debut chapbook, examines
politics, loneliness, and doubt in poems that startle the intellect and imagination. In these intimate meditations, Jorgensen-Briggs
explores the modern world and searches (as so many of us do) for his place in it with a singular voice and vision. Jorgensen-Briggs
received his MFA from New York University in 2007, spent two months in Palestine working with the International Solidarity
Movement, and currently works with Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement and live in the Des Moines Catholic Worker
Judy Jordan‘s Hunger chronicles
Jordan’s time living in a greenhouse in Virginia that continues (and nearly concludes) the story she started in
her first two books, Carolina Ghost Woods and 60¢ Coffee and a Quarter to Dance. Hunger cements
Jordan’s status as an expert of the vertical narrative in lyrical style and is the first collection she’s
published in eleven years. Jordan teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale
where she lives off the grid in the heart of the Shenandoah National Forest in an eco-friendly, earthbag house she built
This is a great American poem.
Jordan tells the truth of a life as split open by the world—by life on this earth with other kinds of
beings, human and other, with dreams and ghosts, machinery, between the visible and invisible. The language is thick, allusive,
rich, dense. She turns scalding materials into gorgeous art.
Rich, on Judy Jordan’s Hunger
“Hunger” section was the one that struck deepest for me. It was keenly observed lack, hunger but also bills
and illness, and yet not in a way that became a drumbeat of woe. It started with my favorite of the section, “These
First Mornings Living in the Greenhouse,” and the entire section had the feel of a latter-day imperial fall in real
daily terms—not what we imagine an imperial fall would be like, but what it actually was, dragged out, small, particular,
personal ways. The greenhouse in the cold is vivid and rich and particular, and Jordan goes on from there to all the other
particulars of a fall (not an autumn, a fall), the bulldozers, the algae-clogged ponds.
—Marissa Lingen, Barnstorming
on an Invisible Segway, 29 September 2015
Welcome to the Kallieverse, which shares the everyday pleasures and perils of our world, but
seems to obey slightly different laws of physics and tilts its language in new intriguing ways. It’s the twin of our
cosmos, separated from ours at the Big Bang—and happily, Ms. Falandays has reunited them.
—Albert Goldbarth, on Kallie Falandays’ Tiny Openings Everywhere
There is a stillness and attentiveness in Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs’s Score for a Burning Bridge, an abiding quiet, as if the poems are trying not
to scare something wild nearby. In this stillness you can hear “the purr of locusts” and “dusk, quiet
/ as a coat on a hook.” But as you travel deeper into this stunning collection to where “the map is lost / inside
the act of folding”—you see, of course, that the poems are wild themselves.
—Maggie Smith, on Aaron Jorgensen-Briggs’s Score for a Burning Bridge
Poems - Bios - What They're Saying