poet

"consangui(sh)inity" and "beacon in brink" by Ty Little

consangui(sh)inity

deciduous is a haunting word
I would like to change
the definition
if only

for you,

liberation of my cunt!

in the form of organ
trans plant

take it with you and I will kiss it
goodbye for the
abscission
of
cherishing

the only way I know how
to evolve
into an internal ecosystem

my
brothers
are
hunters
for
mushrooms / completion

I
search
for
both

liberation of fungal spore!

a coming

to
an
external
cycle
of
predetermined
choice

beacon in brink

some of you are ghosts now
a different type of animal
throats expunging
ectoplasm surely wrestles against the space
between where we stand

and stood

call the cops to the front!
I want to see them shrouded
in the uptick of
their own recession
from this poet’s fingers

if old technology
was like new technology
I’d photoshop their eyes

shut
-
Ty Little is a poet/vessel. They believe all dogs and poems are sacred. Recently, they moved to Richmond, Virginia and feel a little less scared of everything. Magic is real.

"It's All Around Germantown" by Keegan Cook Finberg

Rustic weathered chestnut and cream
Brownchickenbrowncow
He passed me in the intersection 
and said “hey” I returned the “hey”
and kept walking.

high volume of criminal activity
almond milk a dollar cheaper
non residents slipping in,
me, working weekends.
-
Keegan Cook Finberg is a poet and a scholar of literature. Her poetry has appeared in Sixth FinchPrelude MagazineRoveTwo Serious LadiesBone Bouquet and elsewhere. Her essays have been published in Textual Practice and Canada and Beyond, and her public scholarship has appeared in Jacket2The RumpusThe Believerand Southern Indiana Review.

"III" by Chris Caruso

III

If only by luck we stumble upon a stretch of meadow between highway fields. It is from here we shall g(r)aze and believe ourselves fulfilled with the language of others. What is the need then to present gifts of promises—a continued renewal.




This reminds me of that film, the one in the language neither of us spoke. A cartoon of two mallards in a frozen pond surround by a city. We never learned how they arrived. Perhaps an earlier story before we were born. I commented on their quacks that turned to screams. You were drawn to their fierce flapping, their feathers so much like slicks of oil. You remarked how it should have taken longer for them to die. I said it was pacing to keep the emotion real. The children disappointed re-watching; a hope that the ducks are freed, a revival of religious proportions. Through the eyes of adults, the way in which children find death is tragic.
-
Chris Caruso earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Boise State University. His poems appear in online and print journals as well as in anthologies. Originally from New Jersey he currently lives in Boise, but dreams of a small cottage with a Koi pond in Portland.

"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.

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.

"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.
-
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.

"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.

3 Poems by Maura Way

Slow Cooker

I left my heart in the general
pozole. I thought it would
be safe from harm. I got so
fat. Some pulling happened
while I thought about the crab's
immortality. I should be tender
by now. Silence is not peace. It is
the lack of courage in human meat.

 

Grand

Big Macs now
come in three

different sizes.
I don't want to

be a teacher. My
world can come

to an end. I'm just
documenting it. No

one cares about
superlative forms.

 

Babylon

The getaway will break me
into fourteen clay tablets. I
will have to arrange them to
create a narrative of a poppy.
Clearly prescribed life cycles
will emerge, but it will still
take a dogged wrongness to
organize a logical storyline.

Is it really releasing fear if you
step off the cliff, harnessed into
complicated belay system? I
know the trick is infallible,
but I don't believe in it. I'm
more apt to sleep on it. Only
blooms will hang overhead,
still & carabinerless legends.
-
Originally from Washington, D.C, Maura Way is a schoolteacher in North Carolina. Her poems have appeared in/on Drunken Boat, Verse, DIAGRAM, Ocean State Review, and The Chattahoochee Review. Her debut book of poetry, Another Bungalow, was released by Press 53 in 2017. She has been a teacher for 20 years.

"civil engineering"/"Peine forte et dure"/"Begotten" by Blake Pipes

civil engineering

i move gravel around in my mouth
somehow under the impression
the flavor will lend order
between death knells

around me
cranes swing forth skyscrapers
          just as predicted
by the street corner
preacher

          nobody wants to have fistfights
                     anymore

so stay asleep as long as you can

the tallest men just sling papers
and forge ink replicas wrought to
choke our animals

this sunday
i shepherd the hammer through
the television set, fatigued finally
by god’s slippery slurs,
and in my hand, glass glints
like so much fish flesh

          i have wanted atonement
          ever since i was a little
          girl

my lithium-ion blood
staggers like coal clumps
into the furnace

and i thin, i thin

Peine forte et dure

The water in the fishbowl gets lower
and lower. I think about draining it,
but never do. The fish floats around
the bottom, still dead. This week, I took up
boxing in hopes of being hit in the head.
So far, no luck. Yesterday, I heard

a man clad in sandwich boards
screaming on the street for a new law
that would force every major leader
to demonstrate signs of the stigmata.

Wading through the crowds listening to
him had me late to boxing. American life
is starting to feel like one big reboot
of the witch trials where participation is
mandatory and advertising more streamlined.

News stations call for witch blood,
demand retribution from the
covens marching in the light of day.

Do you want to be the witch
or do you want to be the accuser?

I sleep in the grass tonight, wake up
come morning. No one notices the deviation
from the script. I check the mail and walk inside.
There is leftover soup in the fridge,
but I think it’s gone bad. Out the window,
the neighbors have a fire going,
preparation for another trial.

I empty the fishbowl and
put on my boots.

Begotten
     For Sleep Paralysis

I wish you would stop choking me
while I sleep, stop lingering at my
back. This morning, I found broken glass
in the bathtub and I laughed
because with a crooked eye, it looked like
those ballet dancers
with their rubbed red shoes
and fine appetite.
Remember that one we saw last summer

whose pirouettes drooped like the death
of a spinning top? This month, she washed up
dead, no spinning top. Since then,
I have disabled every decoder ring in America.
Here is a portrait of myself
when I was younger. The story of my survival bleeds
out of both nostrils—you may have heard
that I

can’t see the future anymore. Days like now
I’m skittish. I try to position my body
so nothing is touching it;
the best I can do is stand straight,
a willing sacrifice of toes.

Yesterday, I painted the walls with a substance
that will not accept light,

each swath dressed beneath a fattier swath.
I watched the swaths propagate
and pin thick layers across my artifice,
my body of hollow columns.
Tonight, the carpet digs quietly against my face
and the dead dogs come out like switchblades.

No number of windows can protect me from the sky.

They just keep howling.
-
Blake Pipes is a recent graduate of Belmont University with his sights set on screenwriting. He has been published in Drunk Monkeys and was the recipient of the 2015 Sandra Hutchins Humanities Symposium Award for Poetry. He likes Nine Inch Nails more than you do and is currently attempting to read Blake Butler's full bibliography.

"Gender Studies" by Jeanette Le Quick

the body betrays them, seeking its justification
from external sources. the one you have is not
the one you want. I could not imagine you
without your mustache, your oil-slick hair rich
against your forehead, you like John Travolta, 
greased lightning. I did not listen to the words
you actually said, your feet tap-dancing what
I could not hear. the body is a limber thing, 
flexing its parts, its legs, arms, head, fingers,
don't we have much in common. what parts
are not you, I asked. the ones that matter. you
look at my nose when you say it, but your eyes
drift down to my chest like magnetic filings. my
breasts are hot potatoes, little spuds with eyes
of their own. mental gymnastics isn’t enough.

I want you to have your own
field of potatoes. 

I am ashamed of the fumbling conversations
we did not have. my skin is a luxury I forgot
to thank today, yours may resent you tomorrow.
did I not know you; did I fail you, how many ways--
the fraud we both lived under in those years hangs
between us, limp, damp. We are the same under
these overcoats, your heart, do I know you now.
-
Jeanette Le Quick lives in San Francisco. Her work has been published in Ghost City Review, Rat's Ass Review, The Curious Element, The Bright Line, Penumbra, The Tax Lawyer, District Lines, and the American Banker. She has earned residencies from OBRAS Portugal, Elsewhere Studios, Art Farm, and Sundress Academy for the Arts. She holds a Jurisdoctorate from Georgetown University Law Center and a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Berkeley. She regularly contributes theater reviews to DC Metro Theater Arts.