poetry

"First Dad: A Decrepit Ghazal" and "Descort for a Blank Face" by Jerrod Schwarz

First Dad: A Decrepit Ghazal

A wonderful poet could transmute a father
out of recycled cork: squeaky, wine-scented embrace.

A good poet could arrange popsicle sticks
into an ambulance shape and sacrifice the embers.

Brand new poets could at least regurgitate
a birthday cake, ferment it, and imbibe.

All I want is an email with the history
of my family’s disease emergences.

All I want is for poetry and God and my wife
and my children to not be enough.

I need to need a spell, an ancient altar
where I burn something precious for his real face:

something like my own fingers, something
like a family dog, someone like you reading this,
and something like whatever it takes

Descort for a Blank Face

About one in fifty people have aphantasia:
they cannot conjure
imagery in their minds. If you think
they operate at a deficit,
you have probably never seen
the embalmed hands
of someone who made you laugh
and cry. (only one of my fourth-grade classmates
came to the viewing, so I
tried to make her laugh before
sitting in the bathroom for an hour

and every other week Facebook suggests
I add her
as a friend but I won’t
because if she had aphantasia
I curse-cured it, a blood letting
in the curled shape of dad’s thumbs. If I
kept you from a life
of perfect knowledge, I am sorry
Stephanie.
If your brain
is a paint bucket now,
upending and clogging your spine,
I am picking dried acrylics out of my
vertebrae, too.)
-
Jerrod Schwarz teaches creative writing at the University of Tampa and STEM programs at the Glazer Children's Museum. His poetry has appeared in print/online journals such as PANK, Entropy, Opossum, The Fem, Inklette, and many more. Most recently, his erasure poetry was highlighted on New Republic and Poetry Foundation. His first chapbook was published by Rinky Dink Press in 2016. He lives in Tampa, Florida with his wife and twin daughters.

"Palm Sunday" and "Ikaria Dreaming" by Margarita Serafimova

Κυριακή των Βαΐων
(Palm Sunday)

The southern sea was storming,
a point beyond the compass.
The ground I stood on surged.

Ikaria Dreaming

I remembered how you want me.
A golden raven took off the road.
-
Margarita Serafimova was shortlisted for the Montreal Prize 2017, Summer Literary Seminars 2018 and Hammond House Prize 2018; longlisted for the Christopher Smart Prize 2019, Erbacce Prize 2018 and Red Wheelbarrow Prize 2018; nominated for Best of the Net 2018. She has three collections in Bulgarian. Her work appears in Agenda Poetry, London Grip, Waxwing, Trafika Europe, A-Minor, Poetry South, Nixes Mate, Journal, Orbis, Minor Literatures, Writing Disorder, Chronogram, Noble/ Gas, Origins, glitterMOB, etc. Visit her page here.

"Two Lions" and "Other Myself for Myself" by Delia Rainey

Two Lions

I woke up and you taped a letter to my shoelace
gold leaf painted wood. the lions appear - yellow
gaffer tape used on video sets, to make sure
the camera comes to see the same place, tied
like a scroll or biblical text found in a cave, “trying
to say thank u for being patient” & the cages of bridges
brace over the chicago river like rusty muzzles for dogs
“hey delia you fell asleep” - in my grandpa’s artifacts
on the website for judaica and holocaust and humanity
two lions were found while he sprayed for bugs, the
Jewish exterminator, in the attic of a St. Louis home.
I sit with you as you drive yourself to the airport,
the freelance gig to film something. I watch people line
up outside the medicaid office on the south side.
entering the stranger’s attic to rid the wisp of moths
I place thing-power on the brush of gold, they belonged
to a long-ago demolished synagogue,
I’m putting
your words in my pocket and I won’t share more.
we can hug and kiss goodbye outside of “departures”
like anybody does. the chicago river wobbles me
in crushed blue velvet, embroidered with pomegranate
to cover a scroll of someone’s most comforting words.
I blur through the city, corner stores with 99 cent soda
and billboards for storage spaces. I keep the blue dust
of a butterfly in my notebook and I don’t know why.
the bug flipped over and revealed its other self: orange
and dotted, sanctuary. in my response: “trying to say
thank u for being” - old factories by the water
drag my feet with paper, so I can’t tie myself
my yellow breath aligns, ancient body curls into walls
I’ll find you later, when you’re ready to come back.

Other Myself for Myself

not the color of olives in a bird’s teeth. I’ll sleep in any
pattern you give me. I just want to be without the burden
of my history for you. the gallop of words cinch the stained
glass chandelier. my tongue becomes a gray piece of pickled
fish. murmur with heavy lulls like this. the wet, thick water
below the house does not go to church and I’m so hungry,
the flesh pink ham spirals into me. not blonde or smoothed
like a gold coin. your mom brought a bag of bread crumbs
leftover from the stuffing, (it got burnt in the oven), &
we tossed the blackened shards into the manmade lake
from the porch on stilts. why are we doing this?
there is no teaching moment about my cultural
apologies, yearly drowning. there are no fish
in there. it’s getting dark. the birds are all tucked
into their wings.
-
Delia Rainey is a musician and writer from the Midwest. She is currently an MFA candidate in nonfiction at Columbia College Chicago. Her prose and poems have been recently featured in Hooligan Magazine, DIAGRAM, Peach Magazine, and many others. Ghost City Press released her mini chapbook Private Again in August 2018. She tweets often: @hellodeliaaaaa.

2 Poems by Adam Tedesco

Ø

Somehow the hot sky over everything
I stared at—

the ceiling for three hours
in hopes of reaching fever dream fluorescence,
the brush-streaked cloud of what smoked me–

small white rocks, bitter crystal of too much
time pulled out from myself
to bake the day in place
with its small song–

the menacing & hollow dart of carpenter bees
grinding dust from fence holes,
the cocksure swiping of owners as dogs spray
onto rose thorn, and the washed out
blue observer effect in the thing above itself—

is as complete in its emptiness as flaws are as sustenance
for me and my regular need for punishment, regret growing
into full-on midday sun, teasing shirts from backs beneath
heads, their strobing phosphene maps of collective dissent.

How reality’s vibrato begs a second
stare, a selfie-king of bottomless heights.

Rain, reign, reins, the whole of life
asking Is that all you’ve got, my beautiful friend?

Ø

Clouds dream the dawn
Do you: your newspaper morning
Fly them through the choking park

Shine the word and leave
the bears standing bright, bewildered
under today’s high: an astral outlet

My eyes receive transmission aboard the dream
They like to hide behind time

Get me the words in the fields
around the tower wilding
cross electrical climb

The bears dream of answering telephones
light going up, spreading stir
starry America of the pastel desert
the fantasy of power ablaze
power crusted, blowing
coming soon
choking on the velvet horizon
a dust we can reach
-
Poet and video artist Adam Tedesco is a founding editor of REALITY BEACH, a journal of new poetics. His video work has been shown at MoMA PS1 among other venues. His recent poetry, essays and interviews have appeared in Laurel Review, Prelude, Powderkeg, Fanzine, Fence, Tarpaulin Sky, and elsewhere. He is the author of several chapbooks, most recently ABLAZA (2017), and the forthcoming poetry collection Mary Oliver (Lithic Press, 2019).

"dead phillip society" and "soliloquy in the siege of sevastopol" by AJ Urquidi

dead phillip society

dread mutations melt the ur-conscience 
tableau skedaddling do not go grendel
on that good coconut my demons 

                        overcrowd the foot locker audition 
for space beside my toughest grenades 
the local mall’s games are impounded 

                        a thousand shelves collapsed upon 
a gravitational pulse what of the salesboy 
who more than once talked me out of evil 

within i’ll never guess his trade-in value 
sliming a path back through organic gardena 
                        touch toes to the count of an off clock 

never met a sexual lexicon he didn’t dislike
chastity tube slung over a shoulder
                        we should get down to bass tracks 

                        find this slippy fish i never looked 
good on this world
they’ll say i said 
brooch on a bikini model scarlet anaconda

                        for a sleeve here lies the failed decoder
they’ll scat before my tomb he lived life 
as a subreddit but in death remains a meme

soliloquy in the siege of sevastopol

when one is sure of being followed
pleasure incises veins of fear
the moth in flight somehow stomped

intention lurks in ramification’s thresher
styrofoam plate beside spillway moon
prides itself on being the better moon

where threaded ducks juke in threnody
with a zipper stuck these taut summer nights
i work snoring through revisionist tasks

to self-actualize with verve my most vivid
nightmare nothing to be done with beasts
who bite skin sisyphean fools not to finish

such nocturnal projects the pigeon in flight
still thrown below truck chassis fiberglass
forces a better climax than forged fantasies

too drawn out and dour to avoid boredom
of chore screen door can’t stop a blade
determined i pray my vacant ribcage might
-
Based in Southern California, AJ Urquidi is an ace poet and editor whose writing has been featured in Dream Pop Press, FaultlinePosit, convergence, and DUM DUM Zine. A past winner of the Gerald Locklin Writing Prize, AJ co-founded the experimental online journal indicia and edits copy for LA Review of Books and EMBER.

"Android Boy Abstains" and "Android Boy Visits the Arcade" by Derek Berry

Android Boy Abstains

In the summer, empathetic to soup cans,
I abandon tins on the bookshelf, films of scuzz
congealing above tomato bisque, cheddar broccoli.
Instead, I sneak scraps from the junkyard, stripped
from a rust-withered jalopy.

Once, on an airplane,
I slipped out the flask I had smuggled through security,
chewed its screw-top until sundered.
After I am wrestled to the aisle floor, I taste
for the first time
scotch,
taped to tongue like a memory not yet cemented.

& bedroom becomes landfill, cramped with fragments
undigested. & how to name this uninherited hunger, this new
sharpened lust?
Consider spilling brown onto the hard drive, letting it fry.
Even after the liquor corrodes my throat, metallic skin
bloomed a sick green hue, I archive moments
unremarkable enough to obliterate. What else
to delete in search of a quiet interface: passwords, bank card numbers?
Consider how torment might too be only the silent
reverberations after a high note. The holy
silence of the disconnected.
What else must we name Heaven before we become it?

Android Boy Visits the Arcade

I have climbed inside the claw crane machine in search of solace
& withered among plush clones of my yesterday-self, survived
on cotton stuffing until muscles atrophied into redemption tickets.
Bartered bones for rubber aliens I wear on fingertips &
packets of Laffy Taffy to sustain me through the winter.
They have unscrewed my head & sacrificed my skull at the altar of Skee-Ball,
self-cannibalization ritual in reverse: open mouth, spit
screws onto the psychedelic carpet,
cough myself up one scrap of tin at a time.
-
Derek Berry is the author of the forthcoming poetry chapbook Good Ghost: Alive & Intact (PRA Publishing 2018), the chapbook Skinny Dipping with Strangers (2013), and the novel Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County (PRA Publishing, 2016). Their previous work has appeared or is forthcoming in BOAAT Journal, Pigeonholes, Glint Journal, K’in, armoralla, Fall Lines, Rabid Oak, & elsewhere. They are the co-founder of literary non-profit The Unspoken Word. They are the editor of Good Juju Review and co-host of the creative writing podcast Contribute Your Verse.

3 Poems by Kelly Dolejsi

The Lost Jockey

He wrote rattleboned, he wrote after soup,
he wrote in his banker’s suit and turpentine
that we are capable of liking what we like,
spilling out of bed each day like chocolate milk
or pipes or lenticular clouds or madonnas
and the others, the incapables, sleeping
and not liking to sleep but also he put them
in the dainty branches, a see-through forest
of glass trees, glass squirrels, a collector’s
dream, somebody’s dream. On his horse
in his gray stripes and painted-on hat he wrote
prose to unborn granddaughters, post-scripts
to Mary the blue sea slug, Chris her brother,
every shard in the whole trampled scene.

The Commuter

Thoughts continue toward yesterday,
always giving way to sameness as gnats 
do, as newly cut blades of front lawns. 
Again, I wonder how to head home when 
home multiplies, when I scatter my wish 
on too many stars. I head home. It is night, 
and so warm I could sleep on a branch. 
I listen to steady light rain on the shell
of a wandering turtle that every few years
I return to the creek. I feel both ankles
in the familiar broken ice at the bottom, 
and hear another girl breathing next to me 
in the snow. I gallop away, sure that I’m a horse 
and that I’ll never think about this day again. 

Vigilance

Midnight, children quiet as painting
of saints in a long hallway that no one
has ever entered. Midnight, our bed
like a long gray whale, its belly pressed
like one tine of a rake into the zen garden
of the seafloor. Midnight, your hand
on my leg like a major seventh minus
the third and the fifth. Midnight, is this
what it’s like to be immortal? Thing after
indigestible thing, each one praying
silently and yet I hear them all. Midnight,
and yet day comes — I wake to see a deer
in the backyard, and I wonder how what
we grow could possibly keep him alive.
-
Kelly Dolejsi’s work has been published in many literary journals, including Cincinnati Review, North American Review, Denver Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, Broken Ribbon, The Hunger, West Texas Literary Review, Timberline Review, Junto, Gravel, Dirty Paws, The Hungry Chimera, Joey and the Black Boots, and The Disconnect. Her poem “Loyalty” was nominated for the Best of the Net, and her contribution to September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Additionally, her chapbook, That Second Starling, was published by Desert Willow Press in 2018.

3 Poems by Laura Houlberg

Red

In the shower in the cold light of morning we admire the new rust color of
your nails. Look I hold your hand up to the red tiles they’re the same. Acres
away and in the future a stag rubs the last of his velvet against the back of a
pine. I breathe fog. The deer breathes fog. The water is too hot so I turn it
down for you. Lemons continue to grow out in the front yard. They never
seem to fully mellow, flirting just past chartreuse, falling to the ground in
the middle of the night. The pain of something like water is so much less, I
would imagine, no matter how red my skin, than the pain of being exiled
from you. We could be blood brothers now, but your palms are clean, never
cut. All my private blood everywhere, without contract. The tile fogs where
your hand has been. One of my hairs finds its way to the tile and twists
itself into an antler. I feel spent and alive, cleaned red. When my house has
a tequila night I run outside barefoot to the yard pushing past the thick
confetti of dancers into the starry cold and pick an unripe lemon, cut it
slant on the counter. We bite into it, make faces. Tastes clean.

Wrestling in the Garden with Lexi

Two bodies. No sheets. Two girls. Perhaps not. Pushing on each other timed in
silence in the garden. Image borrowed from Grecian wrestlers, in summer clothes
and half shaves. They pull each other’s legs, heels, dog-like crouch and half
pounce, pin each other as dead bees on cardboard. Okay, one breath. Then — up
again. A fist in the cave of an elbow. Neck under a shoulder’s scallop. The Angel of
Victory and her sister do not watch. This is no sacrifice at their feet. The only
etiquette: avoid cruelty.

The exchange is lightning in the background, caught only as a slick brightness on
the trees. At times when one needs a rest, she splays, back on back, over the other
and stretches open, gasping into what does not regard.

MoonMoon

A moon of a moon has no formal name, so the question becomes what to call us.
Some dark dragged across a bluer dark stretched farther. Scratching at your
memory like the silver of a lottery ticket. Like the silver of a print left to develop
in a darkroom. Is this desire with the lid off? All four buttons of my jeans undone
with my boots still on, arms around your waist and then: my hand on the faucet
and then: naked together folded like a wing in the corner of the bathtub all clear
pale blue. You have this memory of abundance: lights sparkling at the edge of the
desert. It’s one of the only times I can remember where I did not have to leave the
beautiful thing. You remind me: my life in that city was one long sunny day.
Nights were suggestions to punctuate the bliss. The density of my living deepened
and lengthened time itself, like the way I used to drop a grapefruit at the market
into a bag and it would pull at the mesh. The lights at the edge: it must be how you
know how to greet me, with bags slung over my shoulder on your front step in the
evening, after eight months north at the drop-off. Now, party of people watching
through the glass as you run toward me. Collect me.
-
Laura Houlberg’s work has appeared in Michelle Tea’s Radar Productions: GLOW Queer Poetry Feature, Routledge’s International Handbook of Gender and Environment, the IPRC’s 1001 Journal, and Oregon Poetic Voices. They received an Honorable Mention for the American Academy of Poets Prize (2014) and competed nationally at the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational (2012 & 2013) while studying poetry under Mary Szybist at Lewis & Clark College.

"O my God, What Am I" by Devon Balwit

A gift, a love gift
Utterly unasked for
(Plath, “Poppies in October”)

Have twins and you are queened,
birth more, a sow,

the small sucklers’ upturned faces
muzzle-morphed.

Don’t make it look too easy—you—
tail lifted in heat,

each long schlong thrusting. Coyly,
devote a week,

a month, a year. Bemoan your delicacy,
the way you spread

legs only for God and Country. Bite
your lip so as not

to shout, coming become jouissance,
the smallest shiver.

Take the babies round singly
in a covered pram.

Maybe, then, the neighbors will lose count
and call you ordinary.
-
Devon Balwit lives scarily close to the Cascadia Subduction Zone. She is the author of the collections: We Are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/Complicated (a collaboration with Canadian collage artist Lorette C. Luzajik), and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). She also has a Flannery O'Connor-inspired chapbook, Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books) and a Moby-Dick inspired one,The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry).

3 Poems by Isabel Bezerra Balée

bodies full of womxn

so many womxn
toss their bodies
across floodplains

to kneel
at the foot
of the bank

all the womxn
who died in me
can tie a knot
underwater
& paint with fire

how we live together
in one room
with one
hammock

speaking
to our deceased
in animal tongues

expressing nothing more
than a need for rest

dipsea

staring into

discrete, euclidean

rays

on the cliff

facing west -

when someone dies

strangers park their capital

on panoramic highway

faceless / defacing

the upper crown

of the oldest tree

predating

borders between

here & other -

below, perennial streams

flow through gullies,

our corneas

divide the sempervirens

a passing

embodiment

of the costal

situation

to swallow

vast blue

is an act of refusal,

a kind of lawlessness

in pillform

the tallest tree

the spectacle

i.

i’m trying to draw a face
eclipsed by a screen
& the screen is touching me
in a sexual way
there are no bodies
or masters
only an immense
accumulation
ofmuted faces.

ii.

tired of being scared
to wake up in the world,
a trader joe’s parking lot

i cry & consume
5 vegan cookies in a row

everything that was directly lived
has moved away into representation.

my body doesn’t look how it should
in the dystopian mirror

i am grotesque

my mind doesn’t sound
like language

the mechanical force
of crashing waves fracturing
the rock into increasingly
smaller fragments.

iii.

in the feed-form
i must be unconscious
of targeted advertisements -

blocking what i don’t want to see
manufactures a different version
of the same tangible world

replaced by a selection of images.

at work i’m copied in an email -
consider saying white identity
instead of white nationalism
-

i need to identify
the root cause
of fighting with strangers
but i’m lost at sea
in the panic attack
one last
torrential downpour
until i come up
like a fish
leave me alone
please come back

describe these conditions
using the most specific
terms possible

there is no being
without being-with

the only path to liberation
is revolution

iv.

browsing 41 pages
of sneakers
designed for over-pronation,
a gaslighting term
which also seeks to
exceptionalize
the body

only serves
the production.

ever since i purchased
the 32nd shoe

i’ve had a lot to say

& the heat
has made us all
incandescent:

why all this pain,
how are others
complicit?

instead of touching the screen
let the screen do the touching

i swear

it changes everything.

v.

connected or removed
from all these people
who look familiar,

is dating science
also a construct?

it’s bad
so it must be
but i forgive you.

can a person
be overwrought

or is that
reserved
for aesthetics?

i keep ruining
what i meant,

every generation
thinks it’s the last one

oblivious to all
surrounding events

we could leave
this art object

at any time

don’t think about it too much
-
Isabel Bezerra Balée was born & raised in New Orleans and has roots in Northern Brazil. Her poetry has appeared recently in Elderly, Littletell, and Anomaly! She writes in an ambiguous genre, about a multitude of subjects, at: ibalee.tumblr.com. Links to poems can also be found there. She lives in Oakland, CA.

"Snowman at 25" by Marcus Clayton

Carrot affixed to face, slowly blackened
by blizzard breath, punctuates the micro
torso rounded above white mountain hips.

The arms are forks, the eyes candied orange and red,
everything ages backwards two decades; clothes
fit loose, goose bumps deflate with warmth.

Now stand back, admire the mosaic of flakes,
feel jackboot snow shoes collapse zero degree
snow, crunch dulled like a broken xylophone

quieted by cracks—an unglued mouth
fevered for notes. Overnight, M & M eyes melt
into an orange tear drop. Sternum and hips become one.

Fork spokes disappear into wafted white
of horizon and balcony skin. Overhead, a 747
cuts through the universe—blue
as a puddle—and does not explode.
-
Marcus Clayton is an Afro-Latino writer who grew up in South Gate, CA, and holds an M.F.A. in Poetry from CSU Long Beach. He is an executive editor for Indicia Literary Journal, and teaches English Composition at Los Angeles Southwest College, Long Beach City College, and Fullerton College. Some of his published work can be seen in Tahoma Literary Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, RipRap Journal, Angel City Review, and Canyon Voices Literary Magazine among many others.

"i didn't know before but now i know it's real" by Greg Zorko

when i found out

that you buy chunks of mango

twice a day

at Trader Joe's

i was so impressed

by your ritual passion

i told you all of my theories

how we should make cash edible

in case we are hungry

and don't want to drive to the store

i build the world around you

i'm like a knock off

Steve Nicks

i remember in text messages

you used to spell it

Steve Knicks

like New York Knicks

i remember too

the eggs in the pan

the manes of all the horses

at the farm outside the city

i feel the movement of the sound around the room

but i don't hear anything

my heart is a hot corn bean bag
-
Greg Zorko was born in 1990 in Albany, New York. He is the author of Ghost in the Club (Metatron, 2016). He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

"Year of the Freshwater Fish" by Leah Leinbach

There is a sentence that exists between you and I
I want to lie down with it
water is underneath, I hear it
the world's shortest ghost story exists in my body
in neon colored spit
on public display
the word discomposure
something quiet pardons remembrance
a secret falls down
you appear out of a pollen cloud
and say boo
sneak your way up into my laugh
I touch your neck
and it is the shape a neck would be
if you truly existed
regret shrieks its way off a moldy peach
an out of order sign is out of order
my only question
if you were born in the year of the freshwater fish
would you have loved it any harder?
-
Originally from Seattle, Leah Leinbach is a writer based in Portland, Oregon. Her work has appeared in CHEAP POP as well as in the New York and Chicago based zine Metaphorical Fruit

"no one tells you" by Annette Covrigaru

                 no one tells you
 
             that     shadows shift on concrete

                         like light on water,

that                  darkness reverberates black tides

      leading, leaning, misleading, 

                 that       to rely on these selves

                  is to have faith in illusion, 

   &             it may as well be god lying

       faceless on the sidewalk, 

                    leading, leaning, misleading.

perhaps     we'd see more

          if we hit concrete instead of

     toying with translucence. 

                 perhaps            eyes don't belong

            imbedded in cement, 

                 but       higher, closer, higher.
-
Annette Covrigaru is a gay/bigender American-Israeli writer based in Brooklyn, N.Y. They were a Lambda Literary Emerging LGBTQ Voices nonfiction fellow and writer-in-residence in 2014 and 2017, respectively. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in TQ Review, Stitch, Emerge, Cosmonauts Avenue and Entropy. Annette is currently completing a master’s degree in Holocaust Studies through the University of Haifa.

3 Poems by Coco M. Keehl

PENETRALIUM PART 01

you will see this dog before you die
wet teeth crack, a bullet < bark >         before you
know / how the brain creates what the mind creates

dissociative vision & Antonio Damasio
states that  we see more than we  ( are )  
aware               I’ve been leading arrows across an alien surface

better now       tell me what’s inside
the cells your heart      < vibrating >
compact, memory, folding

paper cut the laws of physics
on oneside                 restricts the other side
( phenomenally distorted ) dreams don’t last forever

& gravity we know     is not gravity
as it knows itself, like warm gusher
jewel of eye                 a pseudo understanding

which still, is, an understanding
( to behold a beauty ) everything was  light &
everything indirect lightening

litchenberg, static, etching  in my eyelids        look     
look     how space is    a test of faith or fighting
not just < a  voice > wanting to speak about the void

a void speaking into the void
a void < wondering >how empty
possibility could be


UNDISCOVERED SUBATOMIC PARTICLES

Dark matter can’t be found
if it doesn’t exist or
god where be energy or
the physics of heat

& I rippled two black holes in & out unending infinites
            every               entropy
used to measure the rearrangement
I rearrange then
myself easier to remove
            unbreak reorder           was once
three in womb
but came in two           it did

not surprise me to learn
I was twinned.                         Here is             
my hand &      here
other palm to your shoulder
you surrender to god               
            so what

what makes you think
what makes you think
my questioning
is weakness?


WHILE EVERYTHING STILL BLOWING

across thick, the lawn
I did not understand but maybe

it was an important document
& everything you own

but first vivid image
subjected action partake-

ing apart; love your friendly alien
sitting golden going
nowhere else at all. 2 sandhill
cranes 2 family of geese & a

black bird with a bright red chest watch me
want condense word gut

rule, truth enough to believe
a bigger revelation I swear

I’m always digging deeper examining
observation: what matters, isn’t first

it’s the sparkle off the water,
the birds moving closer in.
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Coco M. Keehl is a poet living in the forests of Michigan with her dog. She is founder of GRAVITON and a poetry editor at Barrelhouse Magazine. Recent poems are in Hobart, WOHE Lit, FIVE:2:One. Find her on twitter @cmkeehl.

 

 

"No Tomatoes" and "Thinking of You" by Carol Ellis

No Tomatoes

Rainfall and I am outside
in rain with rain as rain

apologies to everyone
to myself with wet hands

thank what air to look like that
I grow and comb my hair today.


Thinking of You

If you could run down to the corner store
for a pound of hamburger

don’t wear green socks,
makes your ankles look like small lawns

with only room for one chair
a small table that holds the entire point of a moment     

that sits and drinks iced tea outside or if this is winter    
constant hot tea helps

or let’s face it, coffee is the strong answer
to the start of any day, the list continues,

late at night in a room when it’s too dark to sleep
might as well wake up

besides the electricity is being turned off today
they told me why

and you’ve returned with hamburger
but I’ve become a vegetarian

just in the time you were at the store
so take it, it’s for you.
-
Carol Ellis was born in Detroit, Michigan and lives in Portland, Oregon. She’s been around the academic block with her Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa. She is the author of two chapbooks: HELLO (Two Plum Press, forthcoming 2018), and I Want A Job (Finishing Line Press, 2014). Her poems and essays are or will be published in anthologies and journals including ZYZZYVA, Comstock Review, The Cincinnati Review, Saranac Review, and Cider Press Review. In 2015 she spent time in Cuba writing a book and giving readings.

3 Poems by Anthony Hagen

Cough Drop

“I never went fishing,” said the doctor. “Instead, I did homework. For my son, I have bigger plans. I’ll catch a fish for him one day.” I brought home a vial of medicinal balm. You insisted on putting bread in the refrigerator, to reduce the likelihood of infectious spores. You went for the discount toaster, so it’s still cold in the center. I could guzzle down broth in the time it takes for you to toggle the thermostat. When there was still time for it, we would take strolls down the muddy embankment, wade in the shallow region, and catch tiny minnows in our palms. Now there is nothing but cinnamon and ginger ale on ice. “There seems to be a problem with your prescription,” said the doctor on a call. “The most obstinately intellectually devoid among us have seen fit to saddle me with ill advice. Cease all ingesting of the tablets. Come to my office as soon as possible. You know my extension.” We tried to lug the couch into the parlor area, but could barely lift it up before dropping it again.


Sneeze Guard

It was the first morning of frost, and I noticed the leaves broken beneath my shoes. I was in the midst of negotiations with the CEO. “Sentimentality blooms like flowers nowadays,” he said. His office was adorned with a large oil painting of several multicolored horses on a plain. I was complimenting the décor when, without warning, he blurted, “I am no longer able to continue this conversation,” and ran out of the room. He left half a mug of black Italian dark roast coffee. It hung in the air. I was tempted to drink. It was early. You always advised me out of speaking and into listening. Your gift of that nice leather chair helped me, to such an end. Out to lunch, we could see the glistening tubs of chopped pork behind the glass. That tone you set, the one that always wakes me up, took all the germs from me. I can constrain myself with a necktie, and fall in love with my shirts, but everything flows, and flows like rain. The CEO left me an odd voicemail. “I have not yet begun to fight,” was all it said. Thanks to you, we are never wanting for the newest scents. For that, I am thankful.


Impeachment Proceedings

Frequent stops: gas hub, feeding station, rubber emporium, discount cattle outlet. Communiqués to party headquarters, screaming matches via fax machine. “I’ll murder this job before it murders me,” you said. “What do you suppose they make figs out of?” I said. We departed the fruit barn just in time for the industrial fudge squirter. “Obscene?” you said into the phone. “Of course it’s obscene. Don’t distract from the real issue at hand.” Onward to the semi-legal explosives warehouse. “I can’t look at anything colorful,” you said. “I must look away.” At the hospital, scrubbed nurses stitched my wounds while chatting about the recent banking scandal. Outside the room, doctors stared at clipboards while chatting about the latest baseball scandal. “I have my own life too, you know,” you said, perhaps into the phone. Machines next to my head beeped like flugelhorns.
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Anthony Hagen holds an MFA from Hollins University. His writing appears in CalibanBoston Accent LitClarionBird's ThumbThe Hollins Critic, and DenimSkin. 

"When You Go to Where the Bells Ring From" by Cooper Wilhelm

Other people are the lightning in our lives,
joining sky and earth, churning dirt
to glass. Now

what am I?
It’s okay to be afraid, to wave
at everything
like a leaf prepared to fall.
Death

is coming to save us
from the things we love.
-
Cooper Wilhelm is the author of three books of poetry, including DUMBHEART/STUPIDFACE (Civil Coping Mechanisms/2017). Swine Song, a chapbook of poems about pigs, comes out next month from Business Bear Press. He used to do a radio show about witchcraft. Yell at him on twitter @CooperWilhelm.

"7" by Rax King

The following is the seventh recitative in Rax King's The People's Elbow.
-
I think about kissing The Rock a lot. I think about what a huge person he is, but how tender he’d be, and what his smile must look like when it’s shy, when it’s nervous. In my waking life, it’s always me who’s shy, it’s always me who’s nervous, and it’s always me who’s smiling. I believe that he kisses like I do.

He’s so big he’s so big he’s so goddamn big. Masculinity in macrocosm. No man exists who’s as big as The Rock is in my imagination— there wouldn’t be enough food in the world to feed that man if he were real. He’d starve. My outsize feelings can only thrive in the context of unreality. My body can only thrive in the careful grip of a man the size of an SUV. It goes without saying that The Rock is not in love with me.

 Calculate how much he’d weigh at that size. Calculate the weight of even one single hand. Understand that any human, any real human, would be crushed to death instantly by a hand like that. Imagine it stroking your shivering gooseflesh back into itself, hot but not sweaty, firm and heavy and correct. There, now. Don’t you feel better?
-
Buy the full chapbook here and read the other twenty nine recitatives. Thanks.

3 Poems by William Repass

Sound Horn

Exhibit Y? Photogenic proof—albeit

pixelated—stumps even a rigged jury, painting pictures of a land florid with fauna. Out past the lumber mills, past the lumber yards, past the chugging auto saws and acrid plumes; out beyond the slope of thistle, of stumps and mist and rust: the land of boon, sprouting honky tonks. Yes. There. Where the towing just ain’t enforced. Parp parp!

For it was then the blowhard caption horned in, reports The Bugle, sounding off “On the Recent Spike of Oryx Sightings: a Symbology of Cornucopiæ.” And almost... well it almost... sneezed up a hunk of manna.

Almost. Instead: a helical tusk sur le bout de la langue. Magisterial companion to our rotating cast of carousel mounts. Cast in brass, that is. Talking animals?! Shorn affidavit. Political allegory?!—a horse shoe crabbed by narrow margins, purely milling.

Poof! And as for this “protrusion”?

Crushed to a fine, glittering powder, cut with poppy, pressed into neat pills, patented by Little Big Pharma, and finally, sold. Antidote to the common cold—

the only side effect, excessive swearing.

 

Scum Purse

Interest you in a gimlet? Consider this, technically, your official welcome to the pond. This sump sunk dead center some dead aristocrat’s Cartesian garden. Pring has prung. Our vegetative hat grows knobbly as a sacful o’ limes, disbursing a twist of ignoble gasses. Common slaw—a fish wife fragrance,

available for limited time only. We may be bottom feeders but, I tell you this, that our pond has got a whole lot going on. Iridescent scales but in whose flavor? Lil’ fishies nosh big fish, neck ticklishly, in the shape of exfoliage and trashy novels. Deconstructed salad days, if you will. These turgid whiskers not for naught.

What you might call in technical terms our common craw chews common slaw for us. Now that’s what I call haute couture!

 

Thud Aplomb

Rex ink hole hot off the machina—itself squamulose w/ prefeathers. Gothic curly cues amidst which the character, extinct to us, returns. That’s P as in pterodactyl. Equipped with the advanced new pulley system, can we not master the past faster? Monarchist! Your philtrum is awash in slobber. Suchlike behavior reads illegible, a glandular feint. Shrink peccadillo.

Newtonic fig squelch and ensuing dropsy paroxysm, averted both. Thanks, air plane gluey foot pads. Don’t suppose you happen to know the where bouts of my cockatoo, exiled since last December? Lizards affix all over. After tarring afterfeathers, gravity pules.

Cigarette?

Any last words? You just never know. At this late hour, any word

at all could wind up famous somewhere down the line 

“You and what anvil?”
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Originally from Los Alamos, New Mexico, William Repass lives in Pittsburgh and works as a projectionist and film librarian. His work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, Bennington ReviewDenver Quarterly, Hobart, Small Po[r]tions, and elsewhere.