Five Poems

by

Telling Grandma Stories

At the end of Grandma Esther’s cul-de-sac, summer moon found me coins. Mexican money—round plata imbedded in roots. How do our hands find themselves soiled? Old man bursts through screen door, barking ¿Qué haces? I should have grabbed two handfuls of dirt and run. Instead, Grandma’s pursed lips, unsure if mentiroso is tasted in blood.

Statue for Seamstress

Stand on chair, legs uneven. A mother is stability. Hand needles her voice, quells fidget. No little boy understands fray—quick work of time, rub and soft cloth. Waist, wide as mans. Limbs eager to catch-up. Boy sways. Finger pricked. Punch to thigh teaches patience and still.

Photos 3 & 5, Found In An Album We Don’t Talk About

In a solid red sweat suit and L.A. Gears, little boy enters dawn. Mounds of mulch scattered. Pick up that rake…Now with the hoe. Disposable in my father’s hands, meant to mark: boy holding tools too close to the claw—the majesty of ignorant wealth.

Demographics, 1991

On Paseo del Sol, periphery came to cul-de-sac. Estabamos chicanos at the foot & hump of horseshoe tú nos llamamos mexicanos. Elderly at our sides—Philippinos y queers opposite them. Sprinkled anglo, our street squeezed the american dream. And like asphalt, it was hard, unforgiving, sticky in summer.

Cheese

The memory is phony, prescribed photographic. Kaleidoscope shifts wonder—sparkle to offset dark. I question an eye that gives credence. What trigger makes it so? My Kodak truth—blank-face snapshots. Tickled grimace to extricate joy, search for a smile to say I’m home.

Ruben Rodriguez is a MFA student at the University of New Mexico where he studies poetry. He is the fiction editor of The Great American Lit Mag and author of the chapbook We Do What We Want (Orange Monkey Publishing, 2015). His poetry has been deemed fit for consumption by Passages North, Beecher’s, Superstition Review, Potomac Review, Bayou Magazine and others. You can find him at www.rubenstuff.com.

Drop-Menu Scheduling Calendar with Only One Black-Out Date

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When he took me out with his people, you could see he was ashamed of me.
The next youngest guy there was twenty years older than I.

Observe the parent bird strangely urging her babies from the nest.
The poet’s eye is a mother bird, and the tears are jumping off his cheeks!

Come, Corydon, forget your Alexis. Forget Amaryllis’s moods.
For this emphasis on sensual pleasure betrays your will to revenge.

The pursuit of knowledge is always a screen. Likewise, the asking advice.
People are poets. They just like to see certain themes being handled.

But if the artifact does not mean a thing until the maker is safely dead,
What are the audiences experiencing as I stand here and recite?

I have sixteen personalities, if each of my moods counts. And I
Have no personality at all if you’re expecting consistency.

The serpent moves quickly, Palaemon. Its head is a den of thieves.
Look how the sentinels inside are slightly parting the metallic curtains!

How appalling it is, in childhood, seeing that beautiful male brutes
Quite frequently, without any study, are masters of magical speech.

How appalling it is, in childhood, to be so often made to admit
That the lethal force of language is in the keeping of the oversexed.

I have no last words nor any last wish. Vive la différence!
Oh, but Tityrus, before I go, let us share a bowl of wine.

Let us share a bowl, Tityrus. Your Meliboeus must be on his way.
I’m off to the wrong airport: 4th of July, 2048.


Anthony Madrid lives in Victoria, Texas. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2013, Boston Review, Fence, Harvard Review, Lana Turner, LIT, and Poetry. His first book is called I AM YOUR SLAVE NOW DO WHAT I SAY (Canarium Books, 2012).

Three Poems

by

come to the edge, the edge

(a poem to dad)

i have followed myself to a hotel balcony
in switzerland and i still can’t decide whether
to take on that new editing project.
and i can’t figure out how to think about memory.
do you think we were the wood and
wrought iron bench outside the tackroom
at the horse show in louisville?
and i didn’t like fig newtons, though
they were sunday trail rides, leather and pizza.
wherever i am, my body follows.
though it’s true, neurons form every day and cells
slough off. the styrofoam planets that fell
from their pipe cleaners were spaces of amnesia.
and i was always grappling for you.
because i could never be sure if i tasted
the honeysuckle from the lawn, and even the windows
of your animal hospital had to be re-caulked.
i can see how my artist boyfriend had arms
that were pale and thin with charcoal.
but i forgot for a while the way
you wanted the hairbrush pressed hard
from your eyebrows to the base
of your neck. the oscillating speed at which
i drove toward you, weighing each second
against the corners with the cops.
and i’d still, would still. i’d give you
each new or sloughing cell
before i’d hold one back.

 

july 2012: genetic heart condition.

the day after i got the diagnosis, i was tired.
talking wore me out. i knew i was hungry
only when i heard my stomach late-afternoon
growl. my cousins took me to dairy-rite—
where my granddad and uncle and dad used to go.
so i had two strawberry milkshakes.
i wanted to neither shove nor clutch the clouds
of grief: lengthening storm. i wanted them to roll
of their own accord.

hand sanitizer in a hospital room

purell is purell.
it did not love him.
it did not guard
or say from across the room—
wait!

it has no memory,
no guilt.

it did not concern itself
with learning how to drain the tube
that threaded from his chest
through his never-sterile skin
to the filled-full air

or only using ninety-nine point nine-nine percent
germ-free fingers (if it had them)

or telling you (if it knew)
it was the nurse
or you
or no one
who once (perhaps) forgot.

it was not surprised to see you
wheel your father back
three days after you took him home

or to find he had an infection
and must have left with an infection.

it stayed in its bottle
in the hallway,
in the doorway of the room,
on his tray table,
in your purse.

you were wrong to think it could save you.
 
 
Linda Harris Dolan is a poet and editor. She holds an M.A. in English & American Literature from NYU, and an M.F.A in Poetry from NYU, where she was a Starworks Creative Writing Fellow. She’s taught writing at The King’s College and NYU. Linda’s work appears in The Grief Diaries, Roanoke Review, and Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine, and she’s a 2016 Best of the Net nominee. Her work combines poetry with photography, interview, and received speech as she seeks to portray histories of medicine and the sick body amongst daily life.

In Divers Fashion

by

 
 
 

5 Poems

by

Why I Don’t Ride a Fixed Gear

I walked down 51st street in the dark,
the heat – a soft bodied wrestler,
surrendering.

I thought of us on bicycles,
of myself on a bicycle.

At the stoplight the full moon
was as big and brief as Arkansas

– Jack and Charlie, knee deep in the Buffalo River,
for a minute, they were everything:
a crow, a spring trout, a muscleman, a kiss,
stickyweed, and the short ridges in a thick palm.

It’s not that the tent was colder that night
but it was.
It’s that when we drove back to Texas
you shaved off your beard,
and looked so different
that I spent a long time at your bathroom mirror,

cheeks beneath my fingers,
considering my own face,
the pink meat of a thick peach,
turning blue.

Loneliness May be in Your DNA

Some people have inherited loneliness like juniper berries.

Your therapist asks you:
How often do you feel that you lack companionship?
How often do you feel isolated from others?
How often do you moan at the night in yellow underwear?

The ache of isolation is
a new city
in a tourniquet.

Nell at the Table

I don’t think Nell eats the way that I do –
four slices of baklava
in front of a laptop
in big underwear.

I picture her rinsing chard
in sandals.

She’d eat alone too,
but not like this –
a city elephant moaning
for herself.

Nell After Work

On Thursday Nell still has a tan
she throws cigarettes out of her bedroom window
and soaks her feet
in a big basin
of Epsom salt and hot water.

At the party tomorrow she’ll wear gold sequins
and move through joy
like a trumpet player
in a powder blue Mustang.

Meteor Shower

the sky is a black anenome,
we watch it explode.

New Jersey, 1999.

(The third brightest star,
a fast animal,
lurches towards
Florida’s moon.)

I haven’t talked to you
in years.

Ally Young is an MFA fellow in poetry at Syracuse University. She is a graduate of Kenyon College where she worked as a reader for the Kenyon Review. She is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets Prize as well as the John Crowe Ransom Prize for Poetry at Kenyon College. Her work has been published in several print and online journals, including The Fairytale Review and Borderlands: The Texas Poetry Review. Her first chapbook, “The West and Other Mistakes” will be released this fall from Dancing Girl Press.

Spider Monkey Got a Haircut

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Spider monkey got a haircut.
He sat down in the haircut chair.
I say to my kid: At the first sight of tears,
Your petition is denied.

An owl nurse came in with a speech impediment.
She couldn’t say what she wanted.
The mouse put on the helmet.
The inside was little boxes.

Clear glass and how many colors.
Nobody could put on that helmet.
If I ask you to hand me a thing and you do it,
The words had nothing to do with it.

Here’s a pair of jeans for you,
And a left-handed athlete for me.
The athlete needs to apply himself more.
The jeans were all right ’til they shrank.

Here’s a pair of jeans for you,
And a left-handed athlete for me.
She misunderstood what you said? Not at all.
She got all there was to get.

Rain isn’t as clever as snow.
Nor snow as smart as hail.
I fled that beautiful city
That makes you have to go numb.

The numbered sections are wrong a strawberry’s
Taken control of the embassy.
That’s how they knew it was Sin.
Just . . . whatever they repented.

The principal African animals
Are the lion, the witch, and the aardvark.
Best keep an eye on these Christians
Who don’t believe in God.

I think I know a porpoise
From an out-of-work broke-ass dolphin.
I can’t possibly be the protagonist
Or I’d be exempt from humiliation.

Dolphin, go to community college.
This dolphin’s six months pregnant.
This is a source of dissatisfaction
For the ant, the gull, and the ant shark.

We leave you the crystal of truth.
But we’re taking with us the crystal of fun.
You find out if you were an addict
The minute it’s time to quit.

Inchworm over and over.
Maggot once or twice.
But merit is not merit enough:
There has to be pleasure . . .

Oh, inchworm, inchworm, inchworm.
And William Carlos Williams
Yelling into the open mouth
Of a nest of baby ostriches.

Water’s made of molecules;
Molecules, out of atoms.
In therapy you can come to terms
With the millipede’s indifference.

The magnetic strip on a debit card
Lets you be tracked from space.
A moment’s the measure of time in which
Nothing at all can happen.

The airport has many hazards.
Impassable rivers and starvey wolves.
Their hunting patterns exactly match
Those of the stranded octopus.

And who is as the suckblob?
And who knoweth the interpretation of the suck?
Daddy Longlegs looked it up
In the Lithuanian textbook.

Oh, I know, I know, I know.
Interrupted a hundred times,
The psyche goes into crisis—and so:
Ineligible is the bat.

Anthony Madrid lives in Victoria, Texas. His poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2013, Boston Review, Fence, Harvard Review, Lana Turner, LIT, and Poetry. His first book is called I AM YOUR SLAVE NOW DO WHAT I SAY (Canarium Books, 2012).

Lessons from the Salmon

by

They could not shut them, elephant feet not my own, no, not
you either like a reindeer these belong to a higher order, poor
Edda before the butterfly in the mirror able only to recognize
home in its reflection, material, not moral elements, yes trout
but what about salmon? I loved you and you just slept a long
green sound out over the lake, you gave the lake a spine. Animals
have a country more complete than ours say the people at home,
that dogs are generous, cats make intuitive decisions. Still, for
the flax chaff, he didn’t know what to do with his hands, and
opted convivially for the wash. They were approaching the end
of the stick used to measure their patience as a sort of lifespan,
musing upturned in the morning dew who might be
brought to them and the thoughts each carried. It seemed
an impossible scene rendering vaguely a shovel renting the earth
flinging clods into the neighbor’s yard, insisting upon this. Then
to me, he squints because he is left-handed and leaves sour
the parade of bodies seeking refuge. Romanticism is a nice salve
to sanity, a border-comedy of laudatory miscegenations of the mind
among listenings to two lira repeated in the cave – the smell of soup
brands a people, sick beast the night was, birds loftier than man
for all his puffed-up malingering. I don’t see the need of it, down
compartment, took note feeling the space to be filled more
as an opportunity to define this tunneling than to dwell on what
was in it, though I am only borrowing these gloves, chains
to the ocean in a collective dream. Shadowed nonetheless, they
root in my old age, corrupt glory white shine of the rosy plump
darling set among the swinging sea, humans on land like dumb
buoys looking for balls in depth barred by their floating nature
tombs, poor Edda, flax chaff stuck to me in weekly sketches,
chickens chirping on the steppe so many millions with me in bed
their feathers derange my senses, and no longer tickle. Was that
wistfulness in my voice, or the fabled sigh accepting that long road
extends unchanging? A tall old lout holds in his mouth a solitary joy
so many sparrows share, who flee to the sea, flies on a sheet to stay.
If one can speak of irony in connection with ghosts and green ghostly
things, they appeared bigger because they actually were so. Now
I like being afraid. What are the words to the new green songs, oh,
the lanterns position themselves, create the water’s having corners.

 

Darcy Eldridge studied English at Purdue. She currently lives in New Orleans, Louisiana where she works as a photo developer.

“My Schedule” and “Public Library”

by

 

My Schedule

 

I clean out the fridge and

scrub the stove. My mom keeps saying

you have no idea how

happy this makes me so I leave

 

for New York for like

a week and for instance

on the train these girls ask a guy

if they passed Times Square already

 

I fell asleep, the guy says

rode the train all the way to

Bay Ridge so now you’re on

my schedule. So like we

just stay on this train?

 

and even at the bar

through the front window

I think I see someone

I know      it’s impossible

 

 

Public Library

 

All the people who came in

and left the Chinese restaurant

without saying a word

 

and I equally said nothing

or took a picture of

lunch: they are here

 

now. Sitting at a broken

computer that might work

for all I know on a damp floor.

 

It is just one girl, full

disclosure: wearing

a pink hat. She is dancing

 

with her elbows and raining

outside. It seems we both

come from that restaurant.

 

 

Nick Chrastil is from Minneapolis, MN. He is currently studying journalism and history at Louisiana State University.

“Grizzly Peak” and “First Day”

by

Grizzly Peak

shows Mount Diablo in the distance:
the last time they think a grizzly killed a man
was 1865, Strawberry Canyon.
This was also the last reported sighting.
The dregs of that canyon’s creek slices Berkeley campus.
They killed the biggest ever found in California
in Valley Center earlier that decade. 1868,
the UC opened: lux fit. Last summer
we drove out to tour lavender farms, got lost
off the 395, argued, gassed up,
got there, were made
serene. “Grizzly” describes
the golden and grey tips of its hairs: golden
poppy, alumni who Bleed Gold. Tan splashing children.
Students jump Strawberry Creek’s narrow parts
to get to class. It rarely rains, so the creek
rarely swells.

 
 
 
 

First Day

Saw Amanda in neon and black—
Drank coconut water, agreed to meet at their party garage,
Glittered at the mouth and touched brows,
Bought potato chips ending up spicy, walked over twenty blocks,
Went with to get ice cream pressed between two cookies,
Drank coffee at ten and later at seven, showered,
Dragged shoes and blue clothes—
Bruised one hip on a table, kept silent from arrogance,
Kept silent from fear, was needy,
Was critical, took it bad when Carlos called “sweetie,”
Saw Andrew and told him to call if ever not well,
Read over a shoulder Voltaire “go to heaven,” caught a lot of periphery,
recognized the great joke of the process—

 
 
 
 

Kayla Krut is a fellow at the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her work has recently appeared in minor literature[s], Contemporary Verse 2, and American Chordata, and is forthcoming in the Berkeley Poetry Review. She is from California.

Heartsease

by

The chin is civil. Boring hair
worms through a chuck,
or doesn’t. Ingrown whiskers
wrestle. The worth of a weevil
depends. Inured evil,
as an enterprise, shills.
Even the upright magistrate
curves through a telescope,
which is his beaten wife. Indoors
his tight glands, a boy’s hands
cup an oblong rowanberry or
bury a row of oblong cups.
Competing examples bedizen.
Intestinal fortitude’s rigid
scrip. Loose schemata on
the quality of facial expression:
that it is struck open-handed.

 
 
 

Peter Longofono’s poems have appeared in H_NGM_N, fields, Luna Luna Magazine, and Tenderloin, among others. He serves as the Reviews Editor at Coldfront and makes music with Big Figment and TH!CK. His chapbook, CHORDS, was published in March 2016 by the Operating System. He lives in Brooklyn.

“thralldom” and “enemy”

by

thralldom

brain braid. of purple flower. she to the wickerwork. of fern.
pine bark. hello you deaths. so brain beat. trusted lavender.
to throb. she with sweat. her hours with chins. haircuts.
triangle mouth out. peninsula and her one finger. on the leaf.
ear to the ground. other in the sky. fill with rain water.
with mud. the other. her own body. amplified. can’t she know
the bottle emptied. cap in her hand. her ears still on
both sides of her body. a fault. where to. deadbeat
wishing and stiff-eyed. swamplily. you foamflower.
the whole run of flesh. with hair and nails. that flowerpot.
stuck between the two fingers in her ears.
some every. thing. made with her hands.
 
 
 
enemy

in a dream you are broken into, house violated and burglarized
by the apparition of him. you lay and write a letter into a blank
book. she and her mother wear rouge paper robes.
their teacher iman mersal. they can never contact. all they have
is their good book with the catalog info, author bio, advanced praise.
there are 33 blank pages inside the hard cover. I’ve stolen her book.
I write to her in it. the dog was beat to death when I got here.
your mother had a black eye. you call me while I write. I hear
in your voice that you know I’m placing ink in your book. but
it’s not your book. you are not her. you begin to imply accusation,
the best offense against the liar. the man stands in the doorway.
he killed the dog. he black-eyed your mother. there are more
terrible things than this book thrown somewhere
in this ransacked house. the man does nothing. I realize the woman
on the phone was here to read the words I placed in that book.
she killed the dog and punched out the mother. she needed to know.
and took what she wanted. the man hands me a phone number.
on a yellow sheet of paper. he’d found it in the street. my car
had been burglarized. they’d taken nothing again. I keep nothing.
but now I watch for them and wake up in the night and look.
 
 
 
Sean F. Munro lives, listens, writes, and teaches in New Orleans. Other recent poems appear or are forthcoming in The Offending Adam, ILK journal, and Spork. Nice to meet you.

Roland Flint

by

Excerpted from a longer work.

Grant us that we’re Roland Flint and that we’re not;
Yet who remembers Roland Flint? And who will
Remember him tomorrow? Mark Vinz, it’s true,
Marked Flint, remembered and was Roland Flint. But
    What was it he remembered? In
A poem he sees himself as Roland Flint, which makes sense,
Because he is Roland Flint. His act of remembering
    Is thus a thinking of himself;
Not a remembering of Roland Flint, no,
But still a remembering of Roland Flint. What then does
It mean to be thankful for good words, words that

Come from who knows where, as Vinz and Roland Flint
Were? Edward Hirsch remembered and was Roland
Flint, Hirsch, whose son would also die, who recalled
Roland Flint’s indignant anger at the first
    Gulf War, and his coincident
Attachment to his bourgeois life, his garden, the comforts
Of a home in suburban Maryland, the Tidewater
    Region, whose “subtle beauty and
Energy” Rita Dove felt Roland Flint’s work
To be “chock full of,” for Rita Dove is and remembers
Roland Flint, Rita Dove who described Flint as

“Roly poly” in the pages of the Washington Post.
Susan Kaye Rothbard remembered
And was Roland Flint. The writer
    John Balaban, known for his poems about
Vietnam and for his translations of Vietnamese
Poets, as well as poems from Romanian, also

. . .

For Roland Flint was a stout man, Roland Flint, who dreamed that
William Stafford would outlive him
And was surprised to hear that Bill,
    Sitting on a chair post run, got up, walked calm
As could be to his wife who’d called him to their kitchen, then
Fell down dead on their kitchen floor, Roland Flint who wrote a
Poem about Stafford’s death, who
Wrote about the lives and deaths of other poets he knew
Or admired, for of course he was those poets, Roland Flint
    Whose goal was to be counted among poets
Whether his work was read or not;

Flint, whose writing was an existential act
Of self-assertion, -preservation, -defense,
An almost compulsive urge to put pen to
Paper, although he tried to “quit poetry”
    Several times in his younger years
After getting some harsh rejections he could not forget;
Roland Flint, who wrote about his father’s rage and his own,
    Who wrote about how poetry
Failed to temper rage, who wrote about yelling. . .

Robert Farrell lives and works in the Bronx, New York. His poems have recently appeared in the journals Underwater New York and unLost. Originally from Houston, Texas, he’s a librarian at Lehman College, CUNY.

Someone Someone Someone

by

Someone: I don’t remember how the yellow rods were positioned.
Walking shadow. I had to be pulling on the wheels,

one after another. Two points

of lighter color on a black rectangle define the mouth of the curve.
Two weights: one weight
breathing, one weight returning

to a pile of dirt on a pile of snow.
Someone: the curve touches the support at a second location.
Someone: a brick next to a bed.

The brick is outside? The bed is outside?
 
 
 
Oliver Strand is an M.F.A. candidate at Brown University. His furniture and wooden spoons have been exhibited at the New Hampshire Furniture Masters’ Gallery, Soloway Gallery and HENRY. His poems have appeared in Spoon River Poetry Review, Synecdoche and Anomalous.

That would be a chance to meet someone new

by

Excerpted from a longer work.

That is why, the distance eliminated, something one carries
rotates around a radial axis in front of the chest, this along
the exterior wall, disappearing out of sight

I will bring her her bag, extracting in a way with my hand
even amounts

What that partition is now—it might never have been pins
and needles

//

As an outward expression, that is the distance one carries
around

Looking out on the scenery might allay what is felt but not
there

Folded though equal, it is no longer a box, to be counted
outward, eliminating space

____________________________________

Each fish for a grid We count twelve then eighteen
Once more we expect some result, scratching the resin from

the wood, something to keep with our fingers
A spigot, was it a heart, was it a little change often

//

As the space between could either be happening twice or
not at all, anything would either be carried, fast, or empty

A bridge, as it is taken by a ravine, puts the material back
in

It would be the same as carrying a box in front of the chest

____________________________________

In it, the twisting lines do not come around through, as a
steel frame seen from a moving vehicle But for an awning
dipped by rain

There in this could be a lap

Without something to carry it through, won’t it have been a
way of sitting, of moving fingers

//

Not aqueous, not of the lightest color possible, quivering, it
is in miniature that anything is successful and prohibitive

Their paths intersect, one above, one below, the birds to the
water

Climbing into bed the hum of her feet

____________________________________

This might be why a bird, to dip its beak into the flesh of
the fish, sees the others who wait

This in the wing, the way I see

The beak be a forearm, also a bridge

//

In motion, looking back, the distance measured is a feeling
of vision made real

So we would, standing, circle an origin

From outside, the floors of a building wouldn’t be trees or
fish or anything—they could be seen all at once

And like the breath of a tree is only oxygen, these layers
collapse In a way it is a relief, in a way it is exactly a
flattening

____________________________________

So a bridge is not a sudden shrinking, but for the little hairs,
but for a little change often

A projection from the face of a wall, challenging our
expectation, a close-fitting garment

She would not compare bodies, as there is no point in
asking

//

Speaking, reaching out, I imagine this to be a mediation of
weight

These attentive energies are endless space in equal
direction, an outward-moving sphere

Then a truss can no longer hold, and in our way of reaching
we hope not to ruin the feeling ✧

 
 
 
 

Adam Greenberg is from the Seattle area. He crochets text-blankets and installs them on benches around Providence, RI, where he currently studies, teaches, and translates.