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Michael Brownstein

REHABBING THE HOUSE

by Michael Brownstein

 

Dear wife, everything is not a relationship:
the pipe below the sink leaking water
is not always an example of neglect changing everything
(old age has a hand in things, too)
this mop hair full of brownish grime
no longer able to clean surface scars
will be renewed with bleach and detergent,
even thick grass tangled into stubbornness
can be tamed with an adequate lawn mower.

Dear wife, friends are sometimes
enough. Enough to carry one day forward
into another. Night is not always a comfort,
yet it can be, and we can fix
this old house, reinvent it to ourselves.
Perhaps then you will be able to understand
thinking and passion do differ,
the full moon has the same beautiful face,
we are still invited to the canopy of the forest.

 

 

A VISIT TO THE ZOO

 

I nurture the wrong people,
gangrene girls with color scars,
small breasts like the yellow cusps of dandelion.

I have broken so many fights
the count is beyond fingers,
beyond toes.

We walk the stone paths of the zookery.
Ivy, oat, barley. Great frogs, green shade,
wood ducks, a rock ledge.
water lilies like thick fish, spotted fish,
striped fish turning delicate hoops.

We eat lunch on stone benches jutting out over water,
a breeze ghosting through spiked grass.

Swifts move through the air like Chinese fighting kites
and there by the fallen tree, an egret,
wings stronger than hunger,
wings stronger than selfishness.

My girls do not see the wood duck, the swift.
They do not see the fish, the large frog.
My girls complain about the walking,
this was a trip to the zoo,
we came to see animals

not Lake Michigan,
not the break wall,
not a rumble of rock blocking waves,
the water green gray blue,
not shells, not algae,
not sand thick with alewives.

I nurture caged girls,
meat-eating girls,
and when the rock dove lands by thrown bread,

I nurture girls who glory in the herring gull’s attack,
a rock dove retreating quickly,
wild wings sparking like fields of lasers.

 

 

WHEN THE CAR BROKE DOWN

 

we had to walk two miles into town,
the wind not the rabid raccoon we feared,
but the gentle new boy who also disliked baseball.
The fields snowbound,
streets unplowed,
sidewalks buried,
everywhere fairy dust and stars,
the sky a frozen lake, thistle and cottonwood seed.
When we passed the high school, my son said,
“The new windows look nice.”
On the bridge, he pointed to the four deer
buried to their neck,
body heat creating puddles of snow
and the four of them stared at the two of us,
unafraid, unabashed, silent.
When we entered the first store,
removed our heavy scarves
and freed our hair from hoods
hot spiced apple cider awaited us,
and at the second and at the third.
We lingered with people we knew and people we did not,
shared stories of huge snowmen,
angels we drew with our arms
and then a man much older than all of us
entered the bookstore with a large snowball.
“Perfect for packing,” he said,
tossing it out the door,
We could not wait to get home and go cross country skiing.
First tracks,
the entire landscape a stained glass in whites,
tree limbs transformed into liberty roses
and white poppies

 

 

A REGISTER FOR LIFE

I will tell you this and I will tell you this this time
In the register of the person
In the rhythm of the building
In the stepping stones of one handshake to another
In the bathroom of broken concrete and scarred walls, graffiti and cracked windows
Twice the dream came over me like fog
Only more intense
Like thunder with lightning
A crack with fire
A break in the line
I woke crying and uncomfortable.
The terrible thing about writing in the morning is you forget that someone you love can
            die
Or you never knew them before they die
Or the breath you breathe is meaningless because someone you should know is dying.
Then there is nothing left to tell.

 

 

 

BIO

Michael BrownsteinMichael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, Poetrysuperhighway.com and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including The Shooting Gallery (Samidat Press, 1987), Poems from the Body Bag (Ommation Press, 1988), A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004), What Stone Is (Fractal Edge Press, 2005), I Was a Teacher Once (Ten Page Press, 2011) and Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).

 

 

 

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Amtrak

by Hannah Frishberg

 

I slept through America on a Greyhound Bus and woke up for cities I know only from 40-year-old films I’d watch on VHS tapes in my grandma’s basement, but there’s miles and miles of track between me and that musky floral plastic wrapped living room couch as thick with dust as these woods are thick with trees and cabins and boys named Washington (I imagine)

Silos round as this planet, green as algae, companies named after oceans now only so much rubble in these soupy towns churning out noodles, and I remember where I am from people are as complicated as telephone wires but here everything is muffled by moss and cars crawl by like giant ants on the freeway, crawling across the horizon as I steam through America

I stare until my vision goes fuzzy and picture Iroquois between the grass, which only lives to grow, whispering the secrets of the soil to me through dirty plate glass windows, the backside of billboards in Baltimore, this town of broken glass and baseball, smoke stacks and advertisements for things gone long before I came

Boxcars stacked like Legos, these homes are shanties, no one lives here, and you’re a million times my senior, Baltimore, but I want to kiss each broken shard of your glass till my bloody lips are a map of your windows, and be as complacent in my own decay

These cities are islands of humanity amidst the trackside wilderness, floating like the gardens of Babylon, industrial relics alight in a sea of leaves and Little League and cherry blossoms every few miles among the parked cars and baggage, among the endless tracks and train cars who alone have seen the edges of America

Land of radio towers, as vast and quiet as the open sky, endless attics and fields of green and a water tower in the distance! Blooming big and blue! A truck depot! And the clouds seem bigger. Buildings standing on three legs with little boys on top blowing kisses to the setting sun, and the boy sitting next to me, fast asleep

We’re almost there, and I can see the border of summer is clouded by rain and floating petals
sneezed into the atmosphere, in front of me like a mirage waving back as we slow down for the Last Stop All Passengers Out.

 


Danse Macabre

 

MEDICAL RELEASE: On 3-11-2004, at approximately 3:45 AM, personnel from the Kings County Emergency Care Center responded to a report of uncontrollable dancing in front of a pharmacy at 4752 Cropsey Avenue. A small crowd had gathered to watch a young woman, possessed with what was posthumously diagnosed as terminal Boogie Fever, dance her life away in the middle of the street. She’d been there for hours, one woman said, performing every Latin American dance in alphabetical order, except for when an elderly gentleman asked to mambo even though she’d only just finished the bomba. She hasn’t said a word, one boy noted, but 27 separate prescriptions have fallen from her coat pocket. Tony can’t stop tapping I think it’s contagious, a lady shrieked, corralling her children away from the scene. Witnesses verify that, in the month of February alone, the ailing female had been seen waltzing in Westchester, cha-chaing in Chinatown, swinging in Sunnyside, Lindy Hopping in Little Neck, and twerking in Tribeca. In Ozone Park, she remained on point for two weeks until her nails peeled up and rats gnawed off her toes. Two pre-med students on Staten Island measured her heart beats with a snare drum and approximated that she spun at the same rate as the world. Construction workers in Throggs Neck observed that neither thunderclaps nor wrecking balls made her miss a beat, and thus theorized she was being rocked by the City itself. It was at 5:32 AM (sunrise, exactly) that she danced herself to death, sporadic fireworks erupting from her ears as she tripped on cement in the middle of a dougie and bled out through her feet. Upon autopsy, no space could be found between the bruises on her calves, and it was discovered her brain had over oxidized on street lights. Her insides were a nasty bloody failure, her ribcage in pieces, her heart in shreds, her mind in shards. The body was too broken to be buried; instead it was cremated. At the exact moment the ashes were released into the Hudson, 36 different FM radio broadcasts across the Tri-state area were interrupted by a whispered:
Oh baby, do you wanna dance?


 

This Social Generation

 

I. Children in the time of technological revolution,
We are united in our conformity
To the blue paneled man.
We congregate on this combat zone of words,
Of suicide notes, soul-searchers, and virtual love,
To sacrifice our time
And privacy
In exchange for pixelated satisfaction.
We send our thoughts and feelings out to sea
On emoticon-ships and status updates,
Trusting the world will see
And care
About our wants and whims.
A generation lost online,
Individual personalities somewhat discernable
Between the crotch shots and the Photoshop,
The likes and the favorites,
Not flesh and blood but binary code
And computer innards.
Deleting loneliness by logging in,
The world grows larger
By becoming small enough to understand.
The exponential growth of pixels
The cancerous growth of machines
Our lives morph to fit into computer screens.
Wasting time, crossing space
The fabric of emotion unthreading into shapes.
We are natives to this electronic existence,
Fluent in its language.
We translate our dreams, translate our lives,
And feed them to the void.

II. On all fours,
The night falls back out of our mouths
As the world is filtered into colored light
And the human body decomposes into textured shapes.
Piss and blood and laughter
And that perpetual bassline
All surge and ebb with the beat of our healthy hearts.
Only we appreciate the many tiered flavor
Of a 3AM Mickey D’s cheeseburger,
The perfect smear
Of morning-after eyeliner,
The taste of a night shared with a smoker.
We treasure a day’s quirks
And never look at the bigger picture.
And though the lyrics don’t make sense
We respond to that bassline
Always the bassline
Trying to thrash out the music
Drink out the music
Forget the music,
The bassline.
God is long gone,
Heaven along with him,
And the static electricity in our bodies
Is far greater than any force in hell.
We are draped in shadows
And the night is cheering us on,
The chemicals in what we do so much stronger
Than the chemicals in what we are.
We are animals
Looking for the warmth of a whisper
The warmth of a body
With whom to share a cigarette
With whom to share these sunless hours
With whom to share this long winter.
Because it is cold
And snow is much softer
When there are two bodies in a nest.

 

 

 

 

BIO

Hannah FrishbergHannah Frishberg is a freelance writer and photographer whose work has previously appeared in the Huffington Post, Gothamist, Narratively, Curbed, Atlas Obscura, and Urban Omnibus, among others. She is a fourth generation Brooklynite and is working on a book about the Gowanus Batcave.

 

 

 

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Rene Ostberg

Bioluminescent Bay

by René Ostberg

 

I want this to be easy.
Like blink and we’re there easy
think and it’s done easy
wish and you’re here.
I don’t want the involvement of any effort on my part.
Don’t bring me to the luminescence
bring the luminescence to me.
None of this waiting for a new moon
banging around in the blackness with strangers
keeping kayaks in a line
swinging paddles through the Puerto Rican deep.
They tell us:
put your hands overboard
wiggle your fingers in the water
watch the little creatures crackle to light.
Little dinos, little flagellates.
I imagine a tiny long-tailed brontosaur,
a billion of ‘em, biting my rude huge hand
defanged piranha zygotes
lost in the Caribbean. It’s a long way
from the Amazon, a long way from the Mississippi
a long way from the Mesozoic.
I imagine a shiny long-tailed comet,
just one of ‘em, igniting my rude huge planet
smashing the dinos to bits
soldering speck-sized lights into their dino DNA.
The dinosaurs never died away.
They didn’t evolve into rhinos or birds.
They colonized the Caribbean
turned the Puerto Rican tides into a star show
you can swim in.
I want this to be easy so
I do what I’m told:
put my hand overboard
wiggle my fingers in the water
watch the little creatures
the little comet bedazzled buggers
crackle and roar to light.
I’ve come a long way from the Mississippi
for this.

 

 

Aisling

 

There are no locks. There are only high sand hills
which the woman in the house would not feel safe
without. Whenever the sun shines she thinks it’s a
gift from the gods of defense. The sun turns the sand
to coals the hills to flames and no one can get over
and in without a struggle.

The house has hardly a roof. The floors are flooded
with sand so the woman hears the wind whenever
she steps. She sees trees in the dunes and the horizon
through the trees and the lake below the horizon. She
looks for prowlers on the beach and watches them
drown climbing the dunes.

One day she sees the lake and the horizon congeal
to clouds she thinks or jelled waves. Something
is coming. The clouds are beasts cows like bulls running
to land and women like warriors with white skin wild
hair whale eyes and dark stiff dresses. The horizon
churns brown. The woman in the house runs but
has no chance. The sand on the floor is not meant
for more than a pacing.

A girl in a green dress appears and dances into
a side door. The woman spins her around and steers
her out. This is no time for turning mother. The cows
have jumped the hills. The women ride on their
backs. They surround the house and call the woman
across the sand. They list her looks her eyes like
theirs her skin the same her hair an echo of
the speed that they can run. But her arms move
different waving loose like the women’s
hair and the cows’ tails.

The woman in the house gathers the men around
her the ones she never trusted the ones the hills
kept out before needing their protection. They run
to a room that rises higher than the dunes and higher
than the women astride their beasts. There are open
windows in the room. The men lean out and laugh
and push the woman ahead.

The women on the beasts beat their chests and cry
a word that the woman hears but doesn’t know. She
feels her face sharpening her body rising with a rush
of air and she starts to circle the sand hills. She chases
the men down the dunes to the lake to the beach
ravaged by the cows to the dung pits made by the beasts
while the women take the house and call the woman back
to come land on their hands.

The women stay on. The men never return. The woman
circles the land that used to be her home. She circles
most at sunset while the women watch her fly and
list her looks every time she turns to home. The beasts
prowl the dunes and watch the horizon. They have no
memory of the opposite side they only see
a sun burning the lake.

 

 

Coconut

 

A smell is not a soul. If only it were
I would have made you my wife
made your scent my mate for life.

We kissed against the wet stone walls
me leaning into you you leaning into stone
your back suffering the jabs of rock
making dents vents for your coconut scent.

Put your arms around me the scent whispered.
Trust me it told me ghosting itself around me
haloing our embrace. But your mouth
your soft speaking mouth your clutching
tongue tasted of need.
It clashed with the cigarettes I’d swallowed
soured the beer I drowned every night.
…And I never could stand the smack
of a woman’s desperation.

When we made it to a bed made our bodies bare
I melted above your smell became a ghost
of a man haloed by your arms your legs
your lips. By the time we were done
your scent made my body soft
my pores opened wide as the wounds
in your back. My drowned man’s
aroma drunk man’s
corona beer sweat
and cigarettes
unholy trio
unsoulful
so unlike
your smell
coconut.

I don’t blame you for being gone before morning.
You never could stand the smack
of a man’s desperation. You left
behind what I was after anyway. Your mouth
your soft clutching tongue your soul
your arms
your scent
a halo around me.

 

 

BIO

Rene OstbergRené Ostberg is a native Chicagoan who still resides in Illinois. She writes a blog with a travel theme called ‘Writing and Wayfaring’. Her writing and photography have been featured at Drunk Monkeys, Literary Orphans, Booma: The Bookmapping Project, Eunoia Review, Wilderness House Literary Review, We Said Go Travel, Rockwell’s Camera Phone, and the Encyclopaedia Britannica blog, among other places. You can read more of her work at reneostberg.wordpress.com.

 

 

 

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Robin Wyatt Dunn poet

The Glowing Adventure

by Robin Wyatt Dunn

 

no hegemonic reserve
no final marker
no one and everyone
spent on the full valley
rhyming incessantly
pulled by the panther into the night
into our night

my night your night the night we fought:

but no matter
the light comes by the day
and the end, being closer,
grows sweeter,
your face more angry,
the light glowing:

 

 

Live at Five

 

Alive,
the rest of the end of the world,
the best of the least known chests,
skippered lightly under your blouses
& My mouse houses a world
under my bed

Tell me,
Was it you

who whispered ghosts
into my unrest
and blessed
all of my past

without my realizing it?

 

 

strange horizons*

 

we tilt with the rhythm of the hymn
locked boards seizing
thrusting
our ship like an animalcule in rain water
spinning underneath the sun.

 

 

BIO

Robin Wyatt DunnRobin Wyatt Dunn writes and teaches in Los Angeles. He’s online at robindunn.com

 

*Previously published in 1947 journal.

 

 

 

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Charlie Brice poet

Variations on a Buddha Shove

by Charles Brice

 

One day while walking through the wilderness a man stumbled upon a vicious tiger. He ran but soon came to the edge of a high cliff. Below was another tiger. Desperate to save himself, he jumped, grabbed a vine, and dangled over the fatal precipice. As he hung there, two mice, one black and one white, appeared from a hole in the cliff and began gnawing on the vine. Suddenly, he noticed a wild strawberry bush. He plucked a strawberry and popped it in his mouth. It was incredibly delicious! (traditional Zen story)

 

I. Sight

The man skids to the cliff’s ledge
After him   a tiger

He looks down
Another tiger on the canyon floor

He must jump
He jumps

Grasps a vine on the way down
Dangles on cliff’s edge

Two mice appear
One white
One black
Gnaw on the vine

Gnaw on the vine with truculence

The man spies a strawberry bush barely within reach
He grabs a strawberry
Eats it

Luscious!

II. Touch

Tiger-breath bakes his calves
Thighs simmer
Toes cramp against the ledge

Are his shoes too small?

Wind whips his body
Vine furrows bloody his palm
Thick and sticky

Rotator cuff tears   like a tooth yanked with plyers

Legs flail like a noosed man
He feels a tiger-breath chrysalis form around his body

Mice torture and twist
Like night
Like day

Pained strain for the strawberry

Tongue scrapes rough strawberry ridges
Teeth squeeze
Tingle tease

Sweet juice soulburst!

III. Sound

Paws pound the ground like bass drums
Bouncing tympani
Mothers of thunder

His wheezes asthma the forest floor

Below

Toothy pre-crunch requiem
Ravenous roar

Wind buzz
Wind whirl

Hand-skin rips like a butcher’s slice
Rotator cuff pops like a firecracker in a beer can

Lips slurp sweet strawberry nectar
Tongue-suck jails the juice

His smile sounds like a smile!

IV. Smell

Olfactory offal terror reek
Predation musk
Perfume of prey

Acrid attar of lion-breath
Smell of blood

Dust

Dirt

Torn flesh and vine stink

Strawberry scent

Aroma of here
Aroma of now!

V. Taste

Acid
Vomit
Salt
Spitless tongue

Strawberry sugarburst

Sweet saliva syrup
A little tart   but in a good way

Palate of calm!

VI. Transcendence

His world lies in a hospital bed
Her face sweaty marble

She’s not going to make it

Every vein pulses
A tsunami of dread

He’s breathless

Death after him
Death waiting for him
For us all

He leaps

Grabs

Sobs

Days into nights into days into nights into days

Thick tongue mouth sear
Dangling between panic and despair

Forty years married he
Bends towards her face
The edge of peace

He kisses her lips

Luscious!


 

Ten Paintings by Matisse

 

1. The Open Window

iron bars

2. Blue Nude

aren’t they all

3. The Conversation

strictly one-sided

4. The Painter and His Model

were one and the same

always

5. Woman with a Hat

spits at Carole Maso

steals her cahier

6. Bathers with a Turtle

those motherfuckers

he was just a turtle

out for a swim

7. Beasts of the Sea

ask Churchill

8. The Music Lesson

slap my fingers again

bitch

9. Male Nude

age 27

they found water

in his lungs

10. Luxury, Calm, and Desire

set out the juice glass

watch the bees drown

we have time

 


 

Ten Jazz Standards

 

1. I Mean You

Don’t look around
I’m talkin’ to you

2. How Insensitive

On line all day
Hoping to get offended

3. Alone Together

You thought we were friends
We weren’t

4. A Child Is Born

Every time you open your mouth

5. Come Rain Or Come Shine

You are so predictable
Liver flukes are more interesting

6. Autumn Leaves

Why won’t you

7. Take The A Train

It’s for a-holes

8. Day Dream

Any dream
Is better than listening to you

9. In A Sentimental Mood

You hated sentimentality
Something no one will ever feel for you

10. How Deep Is The Ocean

Why don’t you jump in and find out?

 

 

Tarzan In Winter, 1955

 

1.

Our living room in Cheyenne,
fifteen by ten, so large for my
five-year-old body. Two planters
at the far end of the room
filled with ivy and bougainvillea
a jungle where Tarzan protected
Jane and Boy from marauding natives,
lions, tigers, and English missionaries
who threatened with civilization
and school. In my planters
poison darts bounced off Tarzan’s chest
like tiny sticks, the natives falling to their knees
as he beat his breast in triumph.
In my jungle Tarzan tamed lions and
tigers, rode them like a rodeo cowboy;
chased missionaries who ran so fast
their safari hats flew off their heads.
Tarzan, Jane, and Boy used them for soup
bowls on cold nights in the Jungle.

2.

The drums were loud that winter. Tarzan
held up his hand when Jane asked
what they said. It was important
to get it all. The drums said the white man
had made new suns that spread poison
clouds swarming over the land. Did the drums
tell Tarzan about my white count gone crazy,
about Sandy Risha who died of leukemia
when she was twelve; all those kids who fell like ions
out of mushroom clouds? Did he fear for Boy?

3.

Tarzan watched my father wrap me
in a blanket – my ankles swollen again,
my throat sore again. They said I had Romantic
Fever. My dad’s hangover arms held me
to his scratchy face, his hands too unsteady
to shave. “It’ll be alright, Charlesy,” he said,
and carried me through the snow, to the car,
to the hospital, where nurses took my blood
every morning for six months, shoved a thermometer
up my behind every day, made me drink canned OJ,
and wouldn’t let me walk. In my five-year-old mind,
Tarzan waited for me with Jane and Boy
in my planters. He still repelled poison darts
and scared missionaries half to death.
I’d ride a lion through that hospital
one day, needles bouncing off my arms;
thermometers shooting out my butt. I’d scare
those nurses so badly their hats would fall off.
I’d tell Tarzan all about it.

 

 

BIO

Charlie BriceCharles W. Brice is a psychoanalyst and a freelance writer in Pittsburgh, PA. His poetry has appeared in The Atlanta Review, Icon, Xanadu, The Quotable, The Paterson Literary ReviewThe Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, SpitballBarbaric YawpThe Potomac, Shadow Road Quarterly, Wild Violet MagazineZ-Composition, Arsonzine, Bear River ReviewJerry Jazz Musician, and The Front Weekly. Honors: “Goodbye,” third place, 2012 Literary Life Bookstore Poetry Contest (Robert Fanning, judge); “What She Held – 1966,” Editor’s Choice, 2013 Allen Ginsburg Poetry Contest; “Michigan Icebreaker,” semifinalist, 2013 Bailey-Beads Poetry Contest, University of Pittsburgh. Charles was recently named an International Merit Award winner of the Atlanta Review’s 2015 International Poetry Competition.

 

 

 

 

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Emily Strauss

Going on Vacation

by Emily Strauss

 

Not even a camera this time—
it broke the first day, no paints
or charcoals, anyway I can’t
draw, only a plain notebook
will I carry, the words
clarified enough to tell a truth.

Collecting photos is too heavy,
better these pages of memories,
dreams— ephemeral stuff
but sufficient to record visions
of terraced hills in mirror ponds
each blade of grass etched

under a gray sky like a Chinese scroll
with light patches of color
signifying whole mountains, a hint
of river in the foreground—
I try the same effect
with quick strokes of a pen.

 

 

The Sky Leaps to Light

 

The sky leaps to light
in fifteen minutes
at the Tropic of Capricorn

dawn slumbers but little as
housewives wake to tea,
fried noodles, tai chi

their face-washing towels
immersed and rubbed
gamely over puffy eyes.

Suddenly they discover
the day rising fast, the sky
already white, no idle ruby

build-up, no lingering
anticipation, it is there
in a moment, flaming

disk engulfing the narrow
streets through fog creeping
past the fishermen at sea.

Street lamps wink out like
hooded snakes, uniformed
children begin their parade

another morning devours
its young.

 

 

BIO

Emily StraussEmily Strauss has an M.A. in English, but is self-taught in poetry, which she has written since college. Over 250 of her poems appear in a wide variety of online venues and in anthologies in the U.S. and abroad. The natural world is generally her framework; she also considers the stories of people and places around her and personal histories. She is a semi-retired teacher living in California.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jon Riccio poet

Streaming

by Jon Riccio                                                                                                     

The revenue a chat room derives from a duodenum
and a stapled pouch,

a stomach’s subculture of gain, cleanse, loss
                                                in the bypass
gifted to me when I turned nineteen.

The buffets it wrested,
            the domain I registered,
all those ethers clamored around a meme,

            the social word-shit one types
“like my lap band”      “tweet my gout”
            streaming on alt-dot haunts.

My searchability full-blown, I’m a phoenix
gone gastric with more boyfriends than you
have optic nerves       and that’s Ohio alone.

Mother, I’ve macerated my tract,
the live feed of a chafing dish
less invasive than bariatric.

Father, meet Evan from Ashtabula.
He crowd-funded my flab,

one download from betrothed.


 

Prompt

 

The writer wearing a mercurochrome corset
gives you a picture of half-eaten pie,
you inure a blood phobia,
the transitive inferred.

She sends the angel
with candy-wrapper wings.
The Rapture is a dinner bill, you
are its Andes mint. You jostle a trinity:

the abortion building
next to the Weight Watchers
near the Flapjack Shack,

rev the Z in Nazareth, smite its arcade.

 

 

Separate Recyclables

 

I am the nightmare of every environmentalist
turned conversion therapist
hoping to biodegrade
the gay away.

Woe to the zealot
who’s chained himself
to my landfill, its damnables
poking out of a cardboard pond,
diorama forsaken because I ran out of tape.

Each morning,
tribunals and a tin glade.

My handrail, on eulogy,
saying, “absence of rings kept me
beautiful, self-realization drained him alone.”

 

 

BIO

Jon RiccioJon Riccio studied viola performance at Oberlin College and the Cleveland Institute of Music. A recent Pushcart nominee, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Paper NautilusQwerty,RedividerCutBank OnlineWaxwing and Switchback, among others. An MFA candidate at the University of Arizona, he resides in Tucson.

 

0
Rockoff Lizut

April Fool

by Sandra Rokoff-Lizut

 

Why did I believe
our milkman
was leading a cow
down our city street that spring morning

First, weird things
happen. (After all,
it was 1971 in Santa Fe).

Second, we had our milk
delivered then, by a local dairy—
glass-bottled, cream-topped, unpasteurized.

Third, my ex-husband
was absolutely convincing.
I never doubted a thing he told me.

 

 

 

On Pollywog Pond

 

The young girl’s ankles
bend to greet each other.

Red nose drips
colt-legs wobble
mittened hands pose
to hold ice at bay.

Lips and cheeks chap
toes loose ability to twinkle.

But her mind glides,
spins, jumps,
stops so fast
silver blades spit shavings.

 

 

 

As Oregon winter begins

 

autumn weeps
its last leaves
on dark dank
afternoons

bare limbs
bravely
bare
their vulnerability

grey sheets
unravel
in an
unfailing
cacophony
of rain drops

 

 

BIO

Sandra Rokoff-LizutSandra Rokoff-Lizut, retired educator and children’s book author (published by Macmillan, Holt Reinhart & Winston, and Hallmark Inc.), is currently both a printmaker and poet. She is a member of Oregon Poetry Association and first place award winner in their Spring 2014 contest, Mary’s Peak Poets, Poetic License, Gertrude’s, and a weekly writing salon. Rokoff-Lizut volunteers by teaching poetry to middle-schoolers at the Boys and Girls Club in Corvallis. She also studied poetry through OSU as well as at Sitka and Centrum. Previous publications include Illya’s Honey, The Bicycle Review, Wilderness House Review, The Penwood Review, Wild Goose Poetry Review and Verseweavers.

 

 

 

 

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Marina Carreira poet

Capela da Nossa Senhora dos Aflitos

by Marina Carreira

 

Here on my side of the ocean, the mist
is a mantle of woolen smoke around the cliff
so many women have jumped from. I walk

steadily to the old chapel so many fisherwomen
have prayed in for the return of their husbands,
but I’m not here to pray. I stand and bear witness

to the crumbling blue and white tiles that form
the Blessed Mother of the Afflicted, the saint
of women plagued by fear and famine, phantasms

of both the mind and the body. No one knows I’m here
to plead for my mind back, for the return of the brain
that belonged to a woman who feared nothing.

To the kneeling woman on my left and the two
to my right, I am nothing more than an overwhelmed
tourist who forgot her camera but doesn’t care.

Rain is coming, and that is one less thing to get wet.
Later, on your side of the ocean, you tell me
about the sweltering heat of mid-afternoon in Newark:

It’s murder out here, even the sparrows stick
to the bark of the cherry blossoms to stay cool.
And we all know how they love to fly, so imagine.

 

 

 

 

Requiem for the Heart

 

Tiny purple gris-gris bags,
swimming in circles in my chicken soup.
I pick them out
and lay them lifeless
on the side of my plate.

The 4×4 cut-out
cards I exchanged with only girls
in my 5th grade class on Valentine’s day
now boxed
in my mother’s unfinished basement.

That pink birthmark,
a wet kiss on your lower back
hip. Your father has the very same
one he covers up every day
with Wranglers.

Hanging off the gold necklace
he gave me the Christmas after
we lost our virginities,
in it, our picture:
eighteen, unwounded, wide-smiling.

What my grandmother says
men are good at
eating. Easy like oranges,
their teeth slowly separating
each chamber.

 

 

 

 

En Route to Montreal, on Our Anniversary

 

  1. 5:36am

Day breaks slowly over the Catskills,
tree trunks scissoring the light.

White and wide as whale teeth,
lines divide us

from other cars on the Thruway.
I’m some spare part

of rib – rheumy-eyed, documenting
all my grandmother would call madness.

 

 

  1. 5:36 pm

We stop at Betty Beaver’s Diner
in Lewis. The heavy-lidded waitress serves us

bread and eggs as curry yellow
as the afternoon sun

breaking through the window’s grease.
Home feels four thousand miles away,

and it’s been nine lives since I overheard you
say Marriage is overrated.

 

 

BIO

Marina CarreiraMarina Carreira is a Luso-American writer from the Ironbound section of Newark, NJ. She holds a BA in English from Montclair State University and a MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University. Marina is an adjunct professor of English at Essex County College and a correspondent for the Luso-Americano newspaper. She is curator and co-host of “Brick City Speaks”, a monthly reading series at Hell’s Kitchen Lounge in Newark, NJ. Her work is featured or forthcoming in The Acentos Review, Naugatuck River Review, Writers of the Portuguese Diaspora: An Anthology, and Paterson Literary Review.

 

 

 

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Spent Grains

by Kent Kosack

 

Once it was salvation, that

First cold sip, the bitter notes.

So bitter!

The malty sweetness.

The bubbles in my nose.

The sun playing across the

Lot, shimmering with heat,

The empty chairs, the

Barrels of spent grains.

Once it was just so.

Then, things went astringent.

Bad end notes.

So bitter.

The way you stormed out,

Theatrical, past the grains,

Spent.

So bitter.

 

 

The attic

 

Youth is what you loved.

Yourself too. And maybe the

Margaritas we used to drink

Naked and close, in front of

An old air conditioner. Our

Own world, that patch of

Cold in an otherwise

Sweltering attic.

 

 

Your hair

 

Close-cropped it falls,

Thick and full and defiant,

Escaping through my greedy,

Searching fingers.

No one likes

Goodbyes.

 

 

Commute

 

Barreling down the hill towards (a job, I’ll say it, but who cares? It’s not me. It’s life in the cracks that counts) downtown, a piston, Barry Allen, a demi-god.

Yelling, straining more with the song of it than anything else, a half-remembered tune (from the Muppets?) humming inside me somewhere.

Approaching now, the road narrowing, options narrowing. The winnowing of a day. I, the chaff. And silence. Waste. A day-long suffocation.

Stepping heavily up each stair. Each. Stair. A change in atmosphere. Pounds of pressure per square inch, pressing, bearing down. Like astronauts in training.

Astonishing. A vast wonder. Lost in it. You can hear it—or not. What is it? (a tether to an unseen weight) All about, the void.

 

 

BIO

Kent Kosack teaches English and writes poetry and prose. He lives in Seattle.

 

 

 

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Ain’t Got No

by Claudia Putnam

 

In grade three Scotty said I ain’t got no
lunch money. We were delighted.
We crowed, That means you do.
If you don’t have none, then you have
some. Mrs. Cole, otherwise kind,

had just taught us the double negative.
But Scotty, one of those kids always
moving, dirty, in trouble, starved for food,
kisses, laughter, anything and everything,
still had no money for lunch.

Some languages would let Scotty
have his doubled poverty. Russian,
for instance, negates everything.
U nevo ne bylo nichevo. Literally:
In his possession nothing of anything wasn’t.

U nevo is interesting. With him, beside him,
near him, in his possession, in his situation,
in his position, he is characterized by.
Most common English translation: he has.
U nevo nichevo. He has nothing.

English gathers round Scotty, jeering.
Don’t you know how to talk? Haven’t
you learned anything? Can’t you think?
Russian isn’t concerned with that logic.
Russian is concerned with nyet.

Nikovo nikogda nigde nichevo ne bylo.
No one never nowhere nothing was not.
A person with no lunch money could say,
U menya nichevo, ni deneg, ni obeda.
I am characterized by nothing,

nothing of money, nothing of lunch.

 

 

This Isn’t Really Happening

 

My black bird was bigger,
my mountains were burning.
The snows stopped coming

sometime around 1999. The wells
dried. The shower sputtering
with soap in my hair

so I was always late. That tame crow
someone set loose spying
through the skylight, jeering.

How many ways is that? Each year
the river running thinner,
fleeing its shrinking glacier.

The Arapaho said the thunderbird,
black as any bird
gets, lived just west of here.

Someone must have seen it,
the day it flapped away.
We don’t get regular afternoon

stunners the way we used to.
You could set your heart on
those 2 PM monsoons. Biblical

lightning, all that water. Now: rusting
Ponderosas, centuries old,
disrobing. All good things

must end. Perhaps nightmares
also end. Not perhaps
in our lifetimes.

Poor lost crow, these are not
the best of times
to be falling asleep.


 

Sync

 

A few months with other women,
a woman bleeds.

Ten years’ time, a woman synchronizes
with her man.

Over thousands of miles, your arousal
brings my body astir.

Men make movies, you said—now they loop
through my head.

Golden locks on our dark headboard,
naked ass raised.

If I were making this up, I’d be watching you
both; the camera’s on her.

Your currents churn through my body;
don’t think I don’t know.

 

 

 

BIO

Claudia Putnam’s work appears in I-70 Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, Literary Mama, Barrow Street, Artful Dodge, Cimarron Review, Confrontation, and in many other journals. A chapbook, Wild Thing in Our Known World, came out last year from Finishing Line and is available from Finishing Line Press and on Amazon. In 2011-12, she had the George Bennett Fellowship. In 2015, she’ll be at Kimmel Harding Nelson. www.claudiaputnam.com

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Kelly Thompson poet

Legacy

by Kelly Thompson

 

My mother always said
(Giving me a look)
“You’re just like my mother.”

I see Grandmother’s ghost
In the corner of my eye
At the supermarket again today
Rounding the bend of an aisle, she
Pushes her shopping cart in rage
Her wet heart calls – Escape! I follow her
Path among the produce; she steals a grapefruit
Offers me an illicit berry – “Here take it”

Mother washes a dish, sighs
“My mother was not domestic.”
Dries a plate, “You should never get married.”

Back at the supermarket, Grandmother runs, crazy
Through the aisle, throws jars of pickles, relish, capers
Crashing to the floor. She screams, “No more!”
I bend down among the vinegar, the rolling
Olives, pick up the red pimientos.

“You’re just like my mother,” she would say.
My mother, dusting the piano, looking off
In the distance, wistful.

The chill air prickles my arms, sleeveless
The condiment shelves empty, price tags
Intact as if to remind us of the cost
All the jars
Smashed – ketchup and mustard, salad oil, peppers –

Grandmother and I bend
Reaching for the same jagged shard of glass
Her eyes my mirror, I kneel
Before the shadow of her early death
Her aborted
Passion.


 

Colorado

Denver is the capital city of Colorado. My heart is the capital of a small frozen pond.

All of the “Beulah red” marble in the world went into the Capitol. It cannot be replaced.

Flower – Rocky Mountain Columbine (1899)

Left on my porch in Blue Jay, California for my 42nd birthday.

Colorado was admitted to the Union August 1, 1876. I was admitted to schools, hospitals, psych wards.

Tree – Colorado blue spruce (1939)

Hunkered down in Alaska, blue spruce between me and the neighbor.

Colo. is the abbreviation for the state. My mind abbreviated by grief.

Bird – Lark Bunting (1931)

Sorrow my sparrow, as soon as I left: a murder of crow, a kindness of raven.

The area of Colorado covers 104100 square miles. Circles I made in the snow.

Animal – Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (1961)

Exposed on the cliffs the day I got up from the table. The world’s largest flat-top mountain is in Grand Mesa.

Colorado was the 38th State to be admitted to the Union. I admitted, at last, only to failure.

Gemstone – Aquamarine (1971)

At the western base of this ancient chain of granite peaks was once an inland sea. Still,
I kept trying to get out of the boat.

The three largest Cities in Colorado are Denver, Colorado Springs and Aurora. Minus 47 murdered in Denver.

Colors – Blue and White (1911)

I said yes to the stretched out hand and walked on water.

The Colorado State Motto is “Nil sine Numine,” translated as “Nothing without Providence”
And just it is that I should pay the rent.

Song – “Where the Columbines Grow” (1915)

I shall already have forgotten you when the river runs red.

 

 

Shape of a Song

 

Who stole it from me father?
Fear of the water is inborn in some.
Your great-grandmother was a witch. You’re just like her.
Her power lay in the words she controlled. She had a pack of wolves, a swarm of bees, a murder Of crows.

Father said she read his fortune in tea leaves but when she looked into Gene’s cup she turned, Refused to tell.   She wanted a pair of silver shoes.
It’s a gift, she told him. You’d have to sell your ____ to the devil.
But even she was afraid of the dark.

The witch’s daughter told the great-grand-daughter how it would be. She sang her into the shape Of a song.
She lived so long that a little girl could outwit her.
Father would not spill the water though the creek ran high.
The Wicked Witch of the West was destroyed by water.

The place we would step into the current will not come again.
But first, she starved the Cowardly Lion.
In the wagon they carried their most prized possessions, a guitar and a fiddle.
The witch’s daughter rode shoeless.

The witch foretold that men would land on the moon.
She saw the writing on the wall.
She named their firstborn but they declined the gift.
They preferred a new rhythm.

In time and space, they gave their children something blotted, blank, something human,
Where before, a melting witch lay steaming on the floor.
Father, said the daughter, I still carry her bequest.
The remnants of fires lay banked around them.

You were born without a ____, he said. Consequent bastard, he said.
The silver shoes I have thrown in the ocean.

 

 

BIO

Kelly ThompsonKelly Thompson’s writing has been published in 49 Writers, Manifest Station, Metrosphere, Limp Wrist, and Reflections: Narratives of Professional Helping. She has won awards for her poetry from Writer’s Digest and was awarded funding to attend Key West Literary Seminar based on her short fiction. She is currently working on a memoir entitled Oh Darling Girl. Just as the narrator gets sober, one of her two barely adolescent daughters descends into addiction and rebels against her mother’s new found lifestyle of recovery. As the narrator struggles to save her daughter and face down a transgenerational legacy of violence, addiction, and shame, the lives of grandchildren hang in the balance and heartbreaking choices must be made. Kelly is also currently working on a chapbook of poetry focused on the themes of ancestry, transgenerational trauma, and legacy. Besides writing, Kelly is a psychotherapist who primarily works with soldiers returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their families. Kelly lives in Denver, Colorado, in the sunshine of the spirit. You can follow her on Twitter @stareenite.

0
Lowther

Selections from 555

by John Lowther

 

*

You know, this stuff you put four drops in a pot with boiling water and feel like a koala bear goin’ wild on drugs.
And even more starkly, there’s a very clear trend in the data, where each step up in waiting time results in a higher risk of death.
It all looks more than a bit scruffy; there is nothing along the road to soothe the eye, no riots of flowers to cheer the heart.

I get off where thought addresses the unthought and articulates itself upon it.
The occasionalist argues that all events are radically independent of one another.

*

Only through communism can we come to experience our bodies again.
Despite the title this is not about finding your soul mate.
The preamble explains why this matters and where this is going.
This is non-reg, but the cops have better shit to worry about, especially when it doesn’t impact the corporati.
Death is a black camel that kneels unbidden at every gate.
Frosties are just corn flakes for people who can’t face reality.
If the tweetstorm is right, this is a pretty grim situation.
The ego is the theology of free enterprise.
All theory of knowledge has sexual connotations.

*

I welcome the dead into my soul.

It uses many of the genre tropes, little kid, estranged family, nobody who believes, creepy house in the woods.
The world is its own best model.
The problem with all of my dreams is that I don’t speak the language.
Here’s some Swiss cheese and some bullets.
Don’t fall in love with yourselves, with the nice time we are having here.
It’s a fast-paced sci-fi trip.
The ride to complete the loop from the mine was on a diesel engine, which blew out lots of debris.

But what about those things out there.

*

A revolution without dancing is not a revolution worth having.
They were too close to the door to close it.
In the back seat was a fur coat, and in the street was blood mixed with car fluid, nail polish, lip gloss, baby booties, a toy piano, condoms, and a collection of music on compact disc by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Vacuous suavity remains the abiding deficiency of self-consciously ‘good’ writing.
One is always responsible for one’s position as a subject.
Thus, by building robots, our intention is to learn something about intelligence, and not so much to build technologically sophisticated robots.

*

Judging from your pictures, you hate facts like poison.
The wind tunnel tells them all the same thing.
Sometimes I text myself a little pick me up.
I like knitted hats and I like vinyl records.
This is the traditional modus operandi of the sophist.
Without judgment, because it is judgment that defeats us.
Please try to stop shaking now and just breathe.
Don’t ever be yourself, it’s the kiss of death.
Let’s talk about spout fluid beds, fundamentals and applications.

Desire is the crucible within which the self is formed.
If you’re on board you’re on board all the way.

 

 

BIO

John LowtherJohn Lowther’s work appears in the Atlanta Poets Group’s anthology, The Lattice Inside (UNO Press, 2012) and in Another South: Experimental Writing in the South (U of Alabama, 2003). Held to the Letter, co-authored with Dana Lisa Young is forthcoming from Lavender Ink in 2015. John also works in video, photography, paint, performance and other mediums as the need arises. He’s writing a dissertation to reimagine psychoanalysis had intersex and transgender lives been taken as foundational for understanding subjective possibility. He blogs as Lowtherpoet at WordPress.

 

 

0

Where Erasers and Wastebaskets and I Am Kept

by Gerard Sarnat

 

I work for two desks.

One overlooks the sea, the other the forest.

The former is Lucite. Uncluttered. It’s all about open water.

The latter’s socked in by zealous woods plus sentimental photo fog.

On holidays overlords undo my chains, force me to go outdoors.

 

 

BIO

gerard SarnatGerard Sarnat is the author of three collections, 2010’s HOMELESS CHRONICLES from Abraham to Burning Man, 2012’s Disputes, and September 2014’s 17s. He is now working on Patriarchs. Harvard and Stanford educated, Gerry’s set up and staffed clinics for the disenfranchised, been a CEO of healthcare organizations and a Stanford professor. For Huffington Post reviews, future reading dates and more, visit Gerard Sarnat.com. His books are available at select bookstores and on Amazon.

0
Ho Cheung Peter Lee

Coffee

by Ho Cheung (Peter) Lee

 

New shop opens downstairs.

His affair with caffeine wakes

him punctually against every medical

advice. Acting some forty odd years

he enters the shop being a Frenchman

with the slangs and winks and all.

The coffee today as dark as ever.

He thins it with water and honey

for that differs it from the coffee

perceived by him as toxic.

He takes one sip after another;

each sigh a chronic suicide.

What matters now

is not the days in his pocket, but

the forbidden cups in which he still

manages to find his flesh and guts.

First day we meet though.

A pat on the back of my head and

he leaves with glints of gold

in the majestic storm he carries.

 

 

 

 

 

Without

 

Whose good heart —

cursed as he bears his face

poisonously elaborated by this

monstrous bulge of growth.

Other than his right eye,

he gave up every facial feature

in this complex of meat and

feral veins doubling his head now.

I tried to visit him again today.

The Internet inference brought

me to the decapitated victim

of some Israeli governmental

acts though; and in that prismatic

mass, I saw myself kissed by the

Pope as he mistakenly took

me as the disabled boy from

Rhode Island. And why not?

I was inevitably reinvented

from my sacred obstinacy

against you;

your shampooed hair

still murmured the weight of

your sockless feet.

 

 

 

 

 

2700 fps

 

The sag swelled with fluid crystal,

waiting patiently

 

for the inviting tip of the lean silver

to pierce its impermissible membrane.

 

A chosen sperm motionless, it

ruptures the wall of life for life.

 

The pink layer fractured and

shrunk to set off the hungry fireworks.

 

A translucent orb uncovered in mid-air,

emitting sparks and mist of diamonds.

 

Her face wrinkled and wavy

like melting glass.

 

She gushed downstream naked

breaking into an abstract splash.

 

Left behind her a galactic brook;

A burning tail of a formless comet

 

to commemorate the ever-ephemeral climax

of a soundless blast.

 

 

 

 

 

Eaden

 

Term breaks. I was a kid back then only

summered by him returning from Baden-

Württemberg. Five years older this ex-neighbour

under whom I was put ―

the only right thing my parents ever did.

My cell windowed every Wednesday as I

could go. This chamber never had light with

the two crumbling vine-encumbered

trees blackening every vitality. He brought me out

from the water of the pitcher-plant,

washed me with his radiance. His room my

wonderland. We read and gamed. He taught

me how to slice like Graf and counted my

new-formed pack. He lifted the shirtless me

during my brittle chin-ups. Our sweat took

most of the dirt from the carpeted floor

as we wrestled like in the movie

we came back from. Two damp vests

dangled from the corner of that tall

cabinet in the whispers of the air-con.

He combed my bare back that night when

I had my first wet dream.

There was a time when I looked up

the cobwebbed ceiling every night just

to find that stone-blocked opening

through which I last breathed

in the outer sky.

 

 

 

 

BIO

LeeHo Cheung (Peter) Lee, Ed.D., resides in Hong Kong where he teaches and writes. He earned his doctorate from The University of Hong Kong with a thesis on teaching reading. His poetry has appeared in aaduna, FIVE Poetry Magazine, Poetry Pacific, Red Booth Review, The Chaffey Review, The Interpreter’s House and elsewhere. His short stories have also been published in Eastlit, Miracle Magazine, River Poets Journal and The Oddville Press. He is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of BALLOONS Lit. Journal (www.balloons-lit-journal.com).

0

Loneliness Grows Stranger the Larger It Becomes

by Colin Dodds

 

We brought food to their lips. But they would not eat.
We implored them with prayer and self-flagellation.
But they would not be moved.
We blasphemed to the limits of our imaginations.
But they would not raise their hands or voices against us.

Still we fed, praised and cursed them.
Until, with an atom bomb to deflect creation’s question,
we left that home.

 

 

 

 

Secrets of the Modern Race

 

My tribe held a gun
to the head of the world,
only to learn
that you can’t just laugh off
something like that.

Babies find it strange
to be born among us.

The TVs fill with fantasies
about institutionalized cannibalism.

And even the billboards concede
that the primordial trust has been broken
in the worst possible way.

The shape of that catastrophe
worry the men all day
and give them erections at night.

“How are we supposed
to get excited, to glow,
unless people are maimed and killed?”
asks everyone, in or near a movie, now showing
all the time.

The ancient processes are short-circuited.
Certain extreme measures unveil themselves.

The urgent center expands,
takes the newspaper as its skin.

 

 

 

 

Room Without End

 

The endless room flickers.
Its lightning is line charts and its thunder is poverty.

The endless room makes men and women
equivocal as anthropologists’ apologists,
even in the privacy of their own hearts.

You can do alright here for awhile.
But you’ll never beat the dead man in charge.

 

 

 

BIO

Colin Dodds grew up in Massachusetts and completed his education in New York City. His poetry has appeared in more than a hundred fifty publications, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. The poet and songwriter David Berman (Silver Jews, Actual Air) said of Dodds’ work: “These are very good poems. For moments I could even feel the old feelings when I read them.” Dodds is also the author of several novels, including WINDFALL and The Last Bad Job, which the late Norman Mailer touted as showing “something that very few writers have; a species of inner talent that owes very little to other people.” And his screenplay, Refreshment, was named a semi-finalist in the 2010 American Zoetrope Contest. Colin lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife Samantha. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com

0

Phone Rings

by Kevin McCoy

 

phone rings – eight people answer – i don’t know none of them – vapors through wires boil and collide – center of the sun – they squeak

incinerate the earth in a flash – lay to waste the demon hordes – drive the divine from the day – new sun deals the hand

phone rings – the truth is never nearer – baking winds – summer’s long flames – landing zone is hot

road is eternal in its twists – past fountains of bishops where flows complacency – regret – apathy – can we meet in circles – leave the squares for better people

phone rings – dog answers – he is busy building tombs for me – can’t talk – can i have him ring you back

 

 

 

 

A Thousand Threads

 

these images run through me –
a thousand threads.

a thousand burning needles burst
in the black.

the crashing of the ages around us.

voices crushed by radio static.

 

 

 

 

King Street Aberdeen

 

king street – aberdeen
i give you place.

long ago.
i give you time.

i give you electric dreams –
desperate wisdom.

i am alone.
top of the double decker.
senior commons room.

face – hands.
i give you flesh.

i am alive.
breathing – dreaming –

stretching for something maybe
forbidden.

my eyes blink blinding
i give you sight.

and for worthless mouths
i give you taste.

 

 

 

BIO

McCoy KevinKevin McCoy’s works have appeared in Forge, Wisconsin Review, Crate, Natural Bridge and several other journals. His collection “Tea in a Bowl” will be published by Unsolicited Press in January 2015.

 

 

 

0

THE THIN SCAR ON SUSAN’S RIGHT WRIST

by John McKernan

 

Under silver jewelry & light
Would point at a thread of moon

White shadow
High in a midnight sky
Off-white woven blue thread

In a red background
If ever she noticed me
Noticing that scar
She would whisper some thing

“A beautiful body
Deserves a gorgeous tattoo”

“At least it’s not a rusty bullet
Through a left ventricle”

“It’s me but it’s also not me”

 

 

 

WHY DO SOLDIERS

 

Carry
Brass knives

Where do they get
All those silver axes
In leather holsters

Who gave them
Buckets
And buckets
Of waterproof melanoma

And how come
Those gold pitchforks
With oak handles
Monogrammed
Sparkling in sunlight

When all it takes
Is a thick tree limb
Or a stone
The size of a small hand
To send a neighbor
A million miles away

 

 

 

BIRTHDAY NUMERO 47

 

My father died
When he was forty-seven

I still love chocolate cake
Chocolate frosting
Candles in a dark room

My name is
My father’s name
The same sound
But the silence is different

Spools of tomorrow
In green slats
Of sunlight
The letters are identical
Written in granite

 

 

 

PUBLIC PARK

 

A dog trotted over the orgasm sunbathing on a towel and lifted his right leg

The woman in the black dress walked up to the orgasm and kicked it

The professor whispered “Thank you   The word for orgasm in Braille is orgasm

Waving a shovel in the sand the child might have been screaming at an orgasm

An orgasm snored in a Dell computer box under the foot bridge to the Rose Garden

A large boy bounced the orgasm down the hill as if it were a soccer ball

When shadows of an orgasm floated past the young man’s heart he began running

An orgasm disguised as a prayer floated from the old woman’s lips

Twin orgasms pulled off their see-through bikinis and began giggling

An assortment of daylights loitered calmly   Each one bearing an orgasm

The man with the propane tank & a lighter waited to become an orgasm

The orgasms hovering on the motorcycle mirrors winked twice then vanished

One idea of orgasm flew from the apple blossoms to the eye of the old deaf man

 

 

BIO

JohnMcKernan2John McKernan – who grew up in Omaha Nebraska in the middle of the USA – is now a retired comma herder / Phonics Coach after teaching for 41 years at Marshall University. He lives – mostly – in West Virginia where he edits ABZ Press.  His most recent book is a selected poems Resurrection of the Dust.  He has published poems in The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, The New Yorker, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Journal, Antioch Review, Guernica, Field and many other magazines.

 

0

Sniper’s Rhythm

by Tamer Mostafa

 

lay belly down
arms overhead
and palms flat
lift shoulders
expand rib cage
move belly
so the dome
of diaphragm
clenches the guts
line rifle on side
of dominant eye
fit butt and guard
into proper pockets
of the body
keep eyes open
relax forehead
jaw lips eyelids
in that order
recognize wind
speed and direction
adjust accordingly
hold breath
identify target
and begin counting
one                  two
and                  pull

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk to the Coffee Shop

 

Under a crabapple tree
a black cat
lies on its side
absorbing the leaves.
The stench undeveloped.

A crusted napkin
once red in added color
is picked up by the wind
carried to the tunnel’s
graffiti and halogen light bulbs.

On the unmarked street
a truck runs over
sets of rubber rumble strips
that mimic the sound
of premeditated rapid fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dealers are Sleeping

 

The lessons become redundant,
how to cover when you crush
on the clipboard. No credit cards
or crisp bills.

It’s minutes before closing
in the Walmart ammunition
aisle. I haven’t been this light
in years.

Here’s the deserted road behind
the river and all those abandoned
houses that come to life after
midnight.

We shoot bullets to the moon
and hope its shattered craters
land at our feet.

There’s talk and scheming
on how to live righteous
when our numb nostrils
and teeth regain feeling.

You’d forgive anything
in this state, unless it’s only
residue lining the inside of my
cigarette pack’s plastic pouch.

I’m sorry. I mistook you
for an old friend. Can you give
me directions to East Manchester?
I have a pickup to make.

 

 

 

BIO

Tamer MostafaTamer Mostafa’s work has been featured in California Quarterly, The Rag Literary Magazine, Poets Espresso Review, Confrontation Literary Magazine, Stone Highway Review, and No Infinite. He was the recipient of the 2011 CSU Sacramento Bazzanella Literary Award in Creative Non-Fiction and the 2013 Lois Ann Latin Rosenburg Prize for Poetry.

 

 

 

 

0

from 244 Passivity

by Tim Roberts

 

*

 

I want this work to appear in the place where it says nothing will

break through. Where subject matter is the action of doing, what

you are given, the act of writing. We are going to be reciprocating.

The budget and bread of the day. But still, open water, as you

contemplate the happening, it is happening. So that if subject can

only be impossible, only that, then, in front of you. Because of our

motion.

 

*

 

The table makes us simplify. When we get to a question of anger.

When we move through the atemporal, we’re saying “must be,”

I think. That’s all. It’s no more than what you do to lay out the

questioning, which is taking that preeminent place of value, which

is the place of value, writing it out, that is, or are you dragging it

in, something about you that did not want you, to be touched by

you, to be remembered so that it forces you to forget, if you try,

writing it out, to put it down, memorialize it. It won’t be.

 

*

 

There’s fear related to thinking. In the box set on marginal

cities. There’s a right way to rhyme, so and so having chosen, the

element. You study and are not chosen. Why not? It’s the material,

which under certain conditions bends, or doesn’t bend but is

molten. Or then, time passing, you go back into the shade, an

attitude, colorless swamp. Is that you? I have stretched the motion

of contemplating. What I seem to be lifting is story itself. The best

of old behaviors, night birds, quiet flying roaming, and a perch,

one eating another one. There is also a bend in the rain. Forced.

 

 

 

BIO

Tim Roberts is a writer and editor living in Denver, Colorado. He is the author of Drizzle Pocket (BlazeVox, 2011) and the director of Counterpath.

 

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