Our poetry editor, Joe Pan, has selected an original emoji poem by Carina Finn, and its translation by Stephanie Berger, for his series that brings original poetry to the screens of Hyperallergic readers.

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Gentlemen Prefer Bows Over Dinner


Old-time TV over Reebok, heaven over love.
After two beers their lips part; they get very lucky.
Four Martinis later, you’re homeless in America,
carrying an old-fashioned medical bag around
like your mother’s purse. This emergency is paramount,
tantamount, it is a Matterhorn, it is an emergency,
complete and full of meaning, explicitly significant
as a white flag—
Do you ever go to the Disney castle looking for smoke
stacks, a tea house? You are climbing everything
in the field outside my vision, which is the earth,
which is the target of a disaster. Love letters
over candy. Letters over love. There is no love outside
of the letter. There is a rose outside in the garden,
and I caught a falling leaf for the first time in my life.
I cut two copies of the key to my heart,
hammered light into sound, gunned down
three of my greatest opponents with a single shot.
I predicted this catastrophe, the catacombs
beneath the chapel, keyed the hammer, hammered the leaf
into forty smaller leaves. Even this endless heaven requires
an umbrella. Even this eternity retired
and hired a timekeeper. And we are on our way up
the Cyclone, the hurricane is coming. We are embarking
upon the Titanic on its third voyage across
the bottom of the sea, and we will wake up in different
hospitals, end up living in different palaces, one of us might
even camp outside for the night for the romance. The sun
also rises over ten different cities at once. You are climbing
everything in the field outside my vision
with the luck of a leaf. Stuck in seagrass, we flounder
like in the movies. At the end, after the great
disaster, we still take showers, get clean
and have our coffee, a small loaf of bread, and we eat it
with a fork and knife, gentlemen that we are.

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Stephanie Berger is the creator and Madame of The Poetry Brothel, co-founder of the New York City Poetry Festival, and co-creator of The Typewriter Project. She published In The Madame’s Hat Box on Dancing Girl Press and a collaborative chapbook, The Grey Bird: thirteen emoji poems in translation on Coconut Books. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Fence, Bat City Review, The The Poetry, The Electric Pumas, Styleite, and other publications. Occasionally she tumbles at stephani-berger.tumblr.com.

Carina Finn holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Notre Dame. Her first book, LEMONWORLD & Other Poems, was a finalist for the 2011 Gatewood Prize, and published by Co.Im.Press in 2013. Her second full-length collection, INVISIBLE REVEILLE, will be published by Coconut Books in October 2014. She is also the author of three chapbooks, I HEART MARLON BRANDO (Wheelchair Party Press, 2010), MY LIFE IS A MOVIE (Birds of Lace: A Feminist Press, 2012) and THE GREY BIRD: THIRTEEN EMOJI POEMS IN TRANSLATION (Coconut Books, 2014). Her work has won two Academy of American Poets prizes, and been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Carina is also a regular contributor to the popular cultural and literary theory blog, Montevidayo, and is the founder of The Bratty Poets Series.

Joe Pan grew up along the Space Coast of Florida and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His debut poetry book, Autobiomythography & Gallery, was named “Best First Book of the Year” by Coldfront...