BEING THE BOY
The mailman parks his mailman truck to teach a rough patience.
People with mail-waiting time have a lost world luxury.
The fed cat massages the window with her sharp claws. She is proud
of herself. Her slaughterhouse simulation. Her opulent style
of rolling in the sun. Also, resurrection. On my long list of ghosts
to invite to a tea party, Kiki de Montparnasse graces the top ten.
It is possible my cat is a reincarnation of Kiki de Montparnasse.
I have entertained the idea of us sipping gin. In this idea,
we go shopping and buy cookies. We wear silk robes and wave
from balconies far above the sidewalk. We wear satin slippers
with heels. When we get giddy, our necklaces fall into our drinks.
Our mouths smudge to match the peonies in the garden below us.
You are invited to this idea too. There are rules though.
For instance, hold the tentacle-shaped teacup handle in a fancy way.
There are no swans allowed. No feathers or sand.
You don’t always have to be the boy. Just today. And another thing.
Don’t ask me to make a fist when I am not angry. This is not ladylike
behavior. Much like it isn’t what you say or how you say it, so much
as I am the kind of girl who will be weather if you ask nicely.
Gina Keicher is an Associate Editor for Black Lawrence Press. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. She lives in Ithaca, New York with her husband, their cat, and their dog. Her first full-length poetry collection Wilderness Champion is forthcoming from Gold Wake Press.
LETTERS TO EARTH: DISCOVERY
I woke, as I tend to, with stars
crumbing my eyes. There was dark.
Nights took longer to observe.
I roved the house in search of you
and found water, instead. Some few signs of life:
a displaced coffee pot, a voice I mistook for yours
wraithing the radio.
It could have been me
who displaced, who repeated
albedo, albedo until the lights dimmed.
Discovery: a year depends upon your orbit.
Small impacts are never small – will ripple
even the stillest surface.
Dana Koster was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and a 2012 recipient of the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize. Her poems have appeared in Indiana Review, Southern Humanities Review, The Cincinnati Review, Muzzle Magazine and THRUSH Poetry Journal, among others. She lives in California’s Central Valley with her husband and young son.
from YOU ARE ONE OF THEM
[IN THE DREAM] the glass was green, not blue;
the moon struck against the teeth making them glow
like bulbs. You arrived late to the back-
yard, started tearing stars down from between tree branches.
I thought: Whatever I do not feed does not
exist. We called it was the error of light.
Not everything can be panic. The burning know that
[IʼD DIG A RIVER JUST TO DROWN YOU]
in it. You lay on the floor counting the ceiling fanʼs
rotations. I thought about the teeth
of all the people I had loved. You were talking to yourself
in the hotel bathroom. In the movie, he took a hammer
and swung it by the side of his hip. She picked the lock
to the gate of the swimming pool. You blew into my mouth
as a joke. I wasnʼt dead
[WHAT KIND OF A GENIUS] tries to burn
night down? The moon was elsewhere.
The tongue was split apart from the center.
I had two nights in me, each I fed &
fed. I fed each hard to exclude you. You
pressed your mouth to the phone
[WHO READ THE POSTCARD] on the wall? Who claimed
night’s fraudulent quality? I am sick of the sunʼs
excuses. You were in the background of the picture. The
light was bouncing off the swimming pool and onto your face.
And then, when everybody leaves, they are gone, and so
what? A body gets up from the bed. It washes its shirt in the sink
[NIGHT WONʼT CATCH FIRE] or will. Your t-shirt smelled like dirt.
The body was burned up in the accident. I am alive
with feeling the further you move away from me.
There are lots of people living. You are one of them
Maureen McHugh lives & writes in Tucson, AZ. Her poems have previously appeared in web Conjunctions, Third Coast, PANK, elimae, kill author, and -Anti. She co-edits The Destroyer.
Damage is never the aim
yet I wake, I breathe it.
by standing still. I am becalmed--
in the northern woodlot.
It’s the going on that hurts--
the architecture of fire,
rule of things falling day
by day by year,
mound of bloody stones
where the laws have failed.
F. Daniel Rzicznek’s collections and chapbooks of poetry include Vine River Hermitage, Divination Machine, Neck of the World, and Cloud Tablets. He is also coeditor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press). He teaches writing at Bowling Green State University.
THE SILICONE VEIL
after Susanne Sundfor & Luke Gilford
light sucker me into light
give up my body
to light not
I have hated being not
something of light not in it
but of it a light scaled in reference
to the unknown measurements
forbidden to us
who are not of life having
to live on this earth
on this eve from eye run greening my skin
the bad before bad body
in not knowing an escape I rooted
and rutted with nightmares I found
the wrong things ate them like light
across the bad sky big moon buttoned
over and under to my thighs who bare
I daren’t be them snakes
there’s no long lines
anemone sucking away at
light the galaxy light
which is unreachable
impossible light how can you see it
and come back and live
Gina Abelkop lives in Athens, GA with her sweetheart and two funny dogs. She is the author of Darliing Beastlettes (Apostrophe Books, 2012) and Trollops in Love (dancing girl press, 2011) and runs the DIY feminist press Birds of Lace. If you enjoyed this poem, or even if you didn’t, please watch the music video for Susanne Sundfor’s “The Silicone Veil” (dir. Luke Gilford), after which this poem was written.
Francesco Grisanzio is the author of the chapbook Stories & Centauries (Strange Machine Books 2013). His work has recently appeared in Jellyfish, Front Porch, Handsome, and a Greying Ghost pamphlet.
POEM FOR TRAVIS NICHOLS
The city’s truncheoned
dwarf ghosts spin
over an invisible grid.
I know it’s for safety’s
sake that you
built a fleet of
untoward machines to
cordon your neighbors
& maligned pasts with.
Is it love? No. It’s
fear’s short give--
just a wild, unslakeable
desire to get fucked to
the ticklish earth.
Joshua Marie Wilkinson’s newest book is called The Courier’s Archive & Hymnal, just out from Sidebrow Books. He lives in Tucson, where he edits The Volta and teaches at the University of Arizona.
THE EASTER BODY
Why are you looking for the living among the dead? – Luke 24:5
Whenever the grass grew
to the second line of links in the fence
we would mow. I don’t know
what is shocked on the earth
or how all of the shocked things
bear our looking.
Or why the flies kept going
to the milk in the dandelions we cut
on the Easter that Sheldon’s car
pushed a woman into a dry ravine
where she was found to be dead
with the buffalo grass. The wind
moved the ridge. The cars slowed.
We don’t know if her body is on a mantle
or under a wide field, if she was whole
or cleaved when she was claimed.
There were women of the gospel who were forced
to look at an empty tomb, women
for whom emptiness was a shocking summons
to belief. They saw the hyssop and the sedge
flattened by a body’s weight but not
the thing that did the flattening. They were told
there would be no evidence.
And belief was the remainder, all they could bear.
The centuries moved ahead,
the spring kept happening. They say the body
walked constantly among us. Out of a belief made wholly
of absence came the changeless footsteps,
the intractable presence unrecorded by the grass.
Then one day, it was April in this century.
Only small bones
could be found by the fence
and only after we had mowed.
Natalie Garyet lives and works in Portland, Oregon, where she serves as Managing Editor of Tavern Books, a not-for-profit publishing house dedicated to poetry in translation and the revival of out-of-print poetry collections. Her poems can be found in her chapbook, Slow Witness (Berberis Press, 2013), and in The Grove Review.
SELF-PORTRAIT AFTER UNDRESSING
All day I’ve thought of bodies
that sink into creeks deep as a woman
how organs flutter slowly
into death. My tongue an arm loose
inside me. I sleep with eyes
open to weeds. Chime. Wind
entering me in an avalanche
of circles. My chest a sea
standing on its hind legs.
Ready to spill out.
Raven Jackson is a second-year MFA candidate in poetry at The New School and a Cave Canem fellow. A native of Tennessee, she is currently the Online Editorial Fellow at Poets & Writers.
Light is the universe’s way of staring.
She looked at me. Salt your teeth.
Save the eggshells for plant soil.
Blue a word and it turns kang:
river in Korean. Also a name.
I didn’t know after my halmunee died
I wanted to be with the dead.
Question. Who remembers the afterlife.
She was more Korean
than Korea. But so dead.
Her name was Kae Hwa Kang.
She was a million meters a second
because she was a star.
All I have to say: we won.
Victory is victory in Korean.
Before electricity and love,
she never knew she could want
to be everything.
The ocean is extinct
like human consideration.
The protocol is wet black eyes.
Light is the universe’s way of staring.
EJ Koh has appeared in TriQuarterly, Narrative Magazine, Columbia Review, Southeast Review, among others. Her poems are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review and The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics from Black Ocean Press (ed. Andrew Ridker Black Ocean 2014). She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She earned her Masters of Fine Arts at Columbia University in New York and is a recipient of the Kundiman Fellowship. She blogs at www.thisisEJKoh.com.
WINSOMELY IT WAS
how we went
into such enthusiasm
but our wipers on.
Come here, dear—near,
so I can text you
because how much longer
can we continue
to justify eating meat
and the heliotropes
loosed from the glaciers
they revealed us
When I said let us go
I meant us to let go
of us, and not
all these extravagant
(hear how they come for us,
the soft brushings
of early morning
but at this portal
you seek a handle--
to hold onto”
so I offer you grasp
on my star-
this here black hole’s
which, if we let them,
might in us/
let us flower.
Elizabeth Whittlesey’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Gulf Coast, jubilat, Western Humanities review, POOL: A Journal of Poetry, Two Serious Ladies, JERRY, Explosion Proof, The Manhattanville Review, and Noncanon Press. Elizabeth grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah and lives in Manhattan.
You thought I lacked facility
for foreign language, but there are depths
of mastery, my darling
my hedged bet. It’s no one’s fault
you heard harder when I said during.
epidermis, I said,
over and softly again.
You are my emergency
contact, scratched out twice
until you admit this
ink is an anchor, shifting
at my mention of wing.
You want a challenge, something
unearthly. How do I say I have legs for that?
What are the words for consider our phases--
Jupiter in storm, Io as stitch on the tongue.
There is no having. There is only the tide,
one eye open, and then the other.
K.T. Billey left rural Alberta, Canada, for New York and a Poetry MFA at Columbia University, where she is now a Teaching Fellow. Poems are forthcoming in Ghost Proposal and have recently appeared in the the New Orleans Review, Prick of the Spindle, H.O.W. Journal, Palabras Errantes (translations) and Other Voices. She is proud to be a mentor with Girls Write Now.
*poems excerpted from Jewel’s book of poetry, A Night Without Armor
Dillon J. Welch is a writer from Southern New Hampshire. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in CutBank, ILK, Jellyfish, PANK, Switchback and other journals. He is Editor of American Microreviews and Interviews and Poetry Editor of Swarm. Find him at: http://ratrapss.tumblr.com.
THE TOPOGRAPHY OF THE NEW WORLD
It was all over the news.
Beaming down from the thin
red and blue line
overhead was only rain,
nothing else. Edith, and what happened
to god, I ask?
He moved on. To another planet
with more potential, she says.
It’s just people now.
Edith loves Honduras
for the reason I love Appalachia,
like a blade pressed
to our faces. Darwin said one couldn’t die
without trying to
live at least a little bit. I’m creating
a new award for the living.
Calling it the dead canaries.
Like the Nobels, they will pay homage
to the dead, by rewarding the living.
They will be for the yellow world,
and the world that tastes like strawberries
and the world just before dusk and the world
of park swings on windy days
and the new, new world.
They will be for the kind
of foreshadowing I care about.
We will take home the first dead canaries for haiku.
We will put it on our metaphysical mantle
next to theoretical pictures
of our grandmothers. We will give
a dead canary to the rain
against the windows, turning to snow,
the grass turning to snow too
in the category of foreshadowing something,
long after we’ve waited
to see how this thing will play out,
white knuckled and fearless
of what we will know to be true.
Keegan Lester is the poetry editor and co-founder of the journal: Souvenir. His poetry has been published in: CutBank, Ilk Journal, Sixth Finch, The Barn Owl Review, and Death Hums among others, as well as an online reading for: Yes, Poetry. He lives is Morgantown, West Virginia and currently works for West Virginia University’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. He likes airports and flying. He earned his MFA from Columbia University.
A ceiling in a heart, a dugout
in a lung, a picked
keyhole in the second
pantry, the scuffed rungs
of the spine, the cosmodrome
waterlogged, the wolf
cuffed to the lighthouse,
practicing his vowels.
Or a pallor, cultivated, a caravan
hitched to a picture window, an attic
out of which the lunatic son
might sort his wars
Or a trampoline
in the trick barracks
of the luxury liner
against which barnacles fast
as the masters of ceremony
dim their operas
Or the luminous balloon at the periphery of nothing
the homely apes the shape of Poland
dancing the mother dance
And the chutzpah of seedlings
in the dark tent that was spring.
Michelle Chan Brown’s Double Agent was the winner of the 2012 Kore First Book Award, judged by Bhanu Kapil. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Blackbird, The Missouri Review, Witness and others. A Kundiman fellow, Michelle lives in DC and edits Drunken Boat.
_________________________ with cloister from EXERCISES IN PAINTING
Once immune to plague dreams,
chase translucent monsters as a theoretical
mix of shaman & siren. The body untucked. Alive
in the red-lit tunnel, in the metal crowd, in the
presence of the cockeyed few, a priori
freedom from everyday decoratives.
Clamoring for a breath, dream anti-trope
dreams of almost sleeping in another
canyon. Lie there nonchalantly as coyotes
close in. Wake up at the point of feeling
most surrounded, wake up to walk too fast
& spend too much time in crowded houses
only to drift away from companions
& never use another human being to open
the obvious space for begging.
Khadijah Queen is the author of two books of poetry: Conduit (Black Goat/Akashic 2008) and Black Peculiar, which won the 2010 Noemi Press book award. Individual poems appear widely, and her new chapbook is I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men and What I Had On, available for download from Sibling Rivalry Press. Read more about her over at khadijahqueen.com.
I began wanting to be an astronaut
but the world said There is already
a monopoly on satellites. World,
you have your own explorations to
commit to. Now like a vacated sofa
holding human shape you are an
oddity of space. This is my counsel:
in the closing days no cloud will take
a tether. If the seas cough up their
silver we can dance on a beachhead
shod in scales. The astronauts return
as diving bells, beaten stellar in the
absence of a breeze. Turn the radio
off. The sky got sick waiting for you.
Chris Emslie is assistant editor at ILK journal. His poems have appeared in PANK, The Pinch & elsewhere. With Caroline Crew, he is co-author of the chapbook YOUR STUPID FORTUNE GIVES ME STUPID HOPE (Furniture Press, 2014). He lives in Tuscaloosa, where he is an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama.
The wide-horizon line under the wet canvas sky
stretches taut brushed with clouds
or thoughts changing as they dry
In the Alleghenies, a small black bear leapt
across the dirt road;
was gone as we braked
There was no time to take
pictures so I’ll paint it for you now, &
I’ll forget your gamey residues
: a smell or the shapely well of an armpit,
the private hell of cowboy
quiet : I never could
tell with you
Marina Weiss lives in Brooklyn. Her work is published or forthcoming in Tin House, Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, Narrative, Canteen, and elsewhere. Find more at marinaweiss.com.
LOS ANGELES, NY
What he can’t remember is why soon they’ll stop meeting
in the gold, lonely rooms. Through the old streets, through history,
the limousine came and inside it you flipped like a page in a cheap paperback.
The ride into death glowed past summer
and the end took a long time to write—mostly descriptive:
peeling away the fruit’s meat and the smell still under your nails.
Like a scarf, the adjectives barely covered us.
Although it was beautiful, the dialogue revealed little about anyone else.
“We are not just those persons which we were”
wrote John Donne, and it was a question.
How love disappeared like money,
and you ran the asylum inside you alone…
Alex Dimitrov is the author of American Boys (2012) and Begging for It (2013). In 2014 he launched Night Call, a multimedia poetry project through which he read poems to strangers in bed and online. Dimitrov is also the founder of Wilde Boys, a queer poetry salon in New York City. His poems have been published in Poetry, The Yale Review, Kenyon Review, Slate, Poetry Daily, Tin House, Boston Review, and the American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize in 2011. He is the Content Editor at the Academy of American Poets and teaches creative writing at Rutgers University.