Departure of the Ark & Land of the Free

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Fabrice Poussin, "First Error," photograph, 2017

Fabrice Poussin, “First Error,” photograph, 2017

DEPARTURE OF THE ARK

    At midnight it was still chewing quietly on its anchor chain while the puddles meandering along the waterfront engulfed the chunks of watermelon we had thrown overboard after our farewell picnic.

     At two a.m., sound of the waterfront tugs suddenly flapping and churning. In no time we were roaring out through the roads, ready for the open sea. The noise gave us all a case of the vapors. The fluids boiled in our brains. Just when we had finally relaxed into thinking about nothing worse than chipped beef!

     The moon took on a distracted, uncomfortable look. The sky was ripe with reflections. Not yet visible, the jagged edge of the earth, out there where the ocean becomes a flume of falling water.

Land of the Free

     Do you remember the day when you buttoned up freedom for ever? “The bug is snug in the rug at last,” you said. Do you remember how the legs of the bug were flayed and abraded by a summer of crawling up and down the screen door? How the children stuck pins through the screen and into the bug, which rocked and swayed and fell backwards into the amber waves? How the rescue ship broke down and had to be towed? Our home certainly offered no refuge from sorrow.

Motions for Red Coffee

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Magdalena Dukiewicz, Bastard 1, Hydrolyzed collagen sculpture, 20"20"50", 2017

Magdalena Dukiewicz, Bastard 1, Hydrolyzed collagen sculpture, 20″20″50″, 2017

 

Listen, my best wishes for you
are built from the inside out,
like a sentence after the eye falls
upon a reasonable stone and opens
a window I remembered

to save the glass,
to feel December’s bearable embrace.
At the cemetery edge, the shade
of a neighboring house passes
the afternoon in a hooky from the bore.

I am that afternoon,
swiping your parka in a checkout lane
where your granite face gives rise
to fresh gray hair; buy a candy bar
on special. Free sleep mask
with each bouquet.

Out of mounded sprockets
grows a castle into which the dreamer
reaches, sussing out a guillotine.
You are my sunshine, my pillory.
Come rack imagination
in the black well of a boot.
The dead have all lined up,
are never late. Throw your cue
into the low-slung lamp’s
kinetic dark — that it may break.

From One Crotchety Spectrum Septuagenarian Too Chicken To Do Real Speed

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While First Lady Nancy Reagan was exhorting us turkeys to Just Say No,
daughter Patti wrote, “my mother was a pill-popping Quaalude shrew.”

As a gaggle of rugged individualists, some fellow travelers pick stimulants.
Starbucks, CVS and shrinks offer caffeine, diet capsules, and Ritalin variants.

Then IMHO, there’s Lockean ecstasy vs. Hobbes’ hell — MDMA for joyous
afternoons with you, or squalid meth abuse — folks choose their crutches.

Speaking as a currently licensed physician, both stories really begin with
phenethylamine, the molecular skeleton on which amphetamine is based:

MDMA and methamphetamine are elaborations, with small structural
shifts significantly changing binding affinity, permeability plus longevity.

Methamphetamine’s formula is C10H15N, MDMA’s is C11H15NO2 —
thus essentially MDMA has an extra carbon plus two extra oxygens.

methmdma

Methamphetamine              MDMA

From Forum Grouch: “X is the lamest drug I’ve ever used…it’s for peeps
scared of speed, acid, shrooms, The Jaguar, Special K, coke, herion (sic).

there’s not enough of anything that’s in there, to get me off off off off!
what a joke! 20-30 bucks a pill for what? … We’re loyal crystal smoking addicts.”

From Speedfreak Emeritus: “Here’s my impression of meth vs MDMA.
They’re both phone. But when taken, they both have realistic promises.

Methamphetamine makes me feel powerful, potent, hung, virile,
superior, capable, strong, attractive, energetic and truly validated.

MDMA made me feel compassionate, loving, caring, gentle, friendly,
in-touch in-tune. I ADMIT it’s MUCH easier to quit X than speed.”

What boosters d’ya employ — chardonnay, chocolate (brownies), entheogens,
other exogenous chemicals, endorphin byproducts of meditation, exercise, sex?

Permanent Change of Station

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The room is bare, except for the girls
Kneeling surreptitiously by the window,
Keeping watch on harbor seals. The girls
Are formerly land-locked Army brats
Displaced by houses, yards and fences
Caught on rotating schedules like
Themselves. The harbor seals are rollicking,
As harbor seals are wont to do without a care
On danger-free, authentic coasts, capricious
With Orca pods to keep the daily quotas
Set before the girls had grace with curiosity.
The harbor seals are slick with sand
To coat their furry radiance, dispelling
Rapture mixed with sea salt as the girls
Behind their open window, present
Each other with a shared gratitude
In the secret form of fear called
Giggles. And from the ocean waves
Another seal emerges, presenting with
A ravaged fish — the glimmering scales
And punctured eye sagging from the floppy
Tedium, twitching now in the mouth
Outside their window — and wiggles.

Two Poems

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Teeth 

From a blindfold of lips
every particular touch
is as hurting is to grass.

On these nights, your fingers
almost sensibly
set their ask to air —

almost regrettably, tease the lotus
notion of passing, not
skin to skin

or such heat
but taking a route
rendering the half-opened flower of the mouth

something harder,
sweeter.
Only moments at a time

does the singing note
of my spine
rise organically;

rise again
like a snake between the eyes —

So you are fortunate
to graze the map of my thigh,

but sink hard in the head.
Make a woman

instead of some
lying leaf. Or totem of grief.

 

Unable Mother

Flesh, cannot fathom the words.
Though your skin might
from time to time

recover a scent, a world away
in a rhythm of white walls
where moons are tugged down

and shame
is the only principle.
O, to be so

openly naked — how to account for that?
So much of you
was sunk, bones in a bed

burying the screams,
numb to the vital
wave of vibrations.

Despite the people, and all the methods
that tried to open you out,
your abilities failed.

You couldn’t accept the natural
give, the heavy
flower

of your uterus.
Someone had to drug
every knot in your spine

so you could hide
beyond the yellow mask
of sleep; almost in death

as the contracts in you crept
ever lower
with the infant’s head.

At her deepest point
the shadow-doctors
pulled her gory from the womb.

Despite the glorious pools
of blood, you insisted
you felt nothing — even when the last

toe
slipped hard and white
from the vertical wound —

you couldn’t mouth the sounds.
Your innards,
like a blown flower,

totally emptied.
O, to be so

openly naked — how to account for that?

I Have a Crush on My Mother’s Teen Idol

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On Hong Kong Island, I run into my mother’s childhood crush—
her teen-idol-gameshow-host-on-every-girl’s-wall-celebrity-
still-a-bachelor, trying on Korean glasses
in the arts district once used for police housing.
I pick up a pair I can’t afford,
hoping for the freeze-frame of the moment—
it’s like in the movies when strangers lock eyes
across the fancy boutique, and she drops her gloves.

I know too much about this man,
his tabloid exploits, the “bored stag” lifestyle,
taking women half his age out for drinks.
But, if I’ve inherited my mother’s face,
why not inherit her taste in men,
pretend she’s a best friend who’s betrayed me
and I’m trying to get her back, make her jealous,
go after this man. It’s a sick, twisted family game,
and I’m ready to hold his gaze a few seconds longer,
picture our dream date: me waiting for him
in a silk robe with dragonfly pattern,
ready to eat spaghetti with our hands,
let him lick the tomatoes and Parmesan off my fingers,
drinking Mexican Cokes, then off to an artisan bar
drinking Old Fashioneds on dim sum trays.
My mother and father would be at the next table,
but in this dream, they’re in their twenties,
art is the lie—she glances over,
sees this girl in a body similar to hers,
wishing she were me instead and that she’d leave my father
in that moment, chase after some bigger dream.
And I let this man buy me a couple more drinks,
downing shots, but in this haze is where the scene cuts short.
Maybe it’s because he’s too friendly to the owners,
or that he’s actually shopping while I’m not,
but I don’t think the rumors are true—he’s not that crazy bachelor,
and he walks home, alone, happy, every night.

Leading Man

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A crumpled flyer for the fall
play in his pocket, the fresh-
man who set a new record

for the number of times one could be
trash-canned in a year
staggers slowly around

the drama building at twilight,
determined to master
the voice of Quasimodo.

Metal

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Starved for contact,
sailors traded any last scrap
of metal for whatever intimacy
they could find.

My chest walks
to the rhythm of her stride.
Her scent spirals
the brainstem, petaling
my scalp with shivers.

They were dizzy with the breeze
full of frangiapani, heliconia,

the burning striations of the tiger
lily in her hair.

They slept on the ship’s floor,
no nails to keep up
their hammocks.

All my belts have lost their buckles.
My glasses are a pair of flat gems.

Loose floorboards rumbled
where the ship’s metal ribs
had been stripped.

I’d brave that long ocean
on a single plank, my teeth
pulled out for their fillings
& pawned.

The sailors didn’t
look back
at the shoreline shrinking
beneath the horizon.

My rear view mirror
is busted & my brake pedal
is covered with thorns.

Two Poems

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Tarantella

She was unaffected by the lump on her forehead. Its size was considerable, and her father was concerned. If you see that spider, kill it, he said. Or I’ll kill it. She smiled and nodded — fathers sometimes had to kill things in order to express their affection.

Everything seemed to come in squares. Architects had led the cause, incorporating sliding quadrants everywhere — polygons inserted into the natural landscape, and the movement of shadows made noticeable as they outlined the meticulous angles of a constructed space. These houses were always beautiful and forever unlived in until an Italian couple would purchase one for the express reason of not living in it but instead having it photographed. To see a photograph, which was no longer a photograph but instead a collection of pixels, was a thing to like. A person could like architecture, and in this way architecture’s likeability would grow.

She noticed the shadow of her head in profile — the lump really was considerable, and had she been in one of the new houses it could very well have disturbed the geometry of the place. Did the owners of beautiful houses dance? Who danced at home anymore, that unselfconscious unstudied type of dance that came in un-beautiful steps and furniture-threatening spins? The tarantella was such a dance, specifically manufactured for spider bite victims fallen under the spell of tarantism, where involuntary paroxysms of the leg and arm muscles carried a person about a room in 6/8 time.

 

*

 

Cary Grant Poses for Imogen Cunningham

Archie held three grapes in his mouth. The photographer was unaware that this was code for Don’t photograph me, and if you’re going to photograph me, it will look like I have three grapes in my mouth. But some people’s mouths are beautiful anyway, and the photographer made the picture. Archie looked down at his sweater. It was pilling in any number of places.

Some people want to be in movies. They say to a friend on the beach one day When I grow up. The problem with growing up is that some people never do it. The converse is also true: some people are born into it, and then they must find ways to undo their grown-upness. And then the things that their parents do, themselves still wrestling with their own scarcity or surplus of grownupness, these things change a person into the person they become.

Archie had already changed his name. In his mind, though he tried to keep his mind busy, he still responded to his given name. But a person longed to be loved, and if the longing was fierce enough, a person would change what they could. The damage shown in the mouth, its smile calling out I am ugly and Don’t leave.

Five Poems

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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

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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

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5 Poems

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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

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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”

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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”

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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.