In the place that you land you have to live.
I demolish my house and build it back
stronger. Muscle, bone, blood, and skin
pull me together like a bouquet. I set myself
in front of myself and think good work.
I make myself a gin. I come undone.
Checking if the landline works,
I end up calling you. It works.
I can see where you live from my doorstep, neighbor.
A small place, surrounded by others just like it.
You hate it. All you ever want is to come over
and touch the parts that make me different
than you. The flowers burning in the kitchen sink
say something about the way we love to smolder.
Welcome inside for the grand tour.
Here is my foundation. Here is my paint.
Rob Engle is a journalist, photographer and writer who splits his time between Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York. He is a soon-to-be alumnus of Marshall University and his creative work has appeared in Hawai’i Pacific Review, Profane, The Altar Collective, and Texas Poetry Review.
from Saint X
[Despite years of practice, I never step lightly enough. A body has heft. Since girlhood I’ve pictured my organs excised and arranged in pretty jars on the windowsill. What lightness I would become, a mere space between air.
On television the women’s limbs are always splayed. It is always women kept on ice in a bathtub or left to turn rigid in a mattress. Women, we love you, with your bloodless wrists. Sit pretty.
For six months men pointed at my face and discussed what a shame it would be to cut into it. In the end I kept my tumor, my tiny, soft-tissue twin. Shark twin, Cameron. I am never alone. They cut out my mother’s uterus and sewed the rest of her organs into place. I am sorry to have wrecked her womb. Sorrier to tell her secrets here. Mother, I have laid you open by existing.
My mother was shoe shopping with my sister when her water broke with me. She bought a sweatshirt to tie around her waist, finished shopping, went home and made dinner for the three other children. The doctor called and asked my father if he was prepared to deliver me on the kitchen table. My mother did not birth me for hours. My father and the doctor watched UM lose in the Sugar Bowl. I was born and my mother named me without forethought.
A baby in the womb is sterile and inherits its microbiome during childbirth.
I imagine being excised from my mother like a tumor.
I imagine the bloom of my gut. How it mirrored my mother’s.]
Caroline Cabrera is author of Saint X (forthcoming, Black Lawrence Press), The Bicycle Year (H_NGM_N BKS 2015), Flood Bloom (H_NGM_N BKS 2013), and the chapbook Dear Sensitive Beard (dancing girl press 2012). She is editor of Bloom Books, an imprint of Jellyfish Magazine. She lives in South Florida.
I moved in and assembled
my bed by the window
the unfinished components
suggesting a cart
that would take me elsewhere
pulled by animals
from a distant time
but my bed remained still
with its protective skin
of linens from my childhood
while the window
like a bedtime story
described the idea
of elsewhere without
compelling me to travel there
a sweep of green leaves
fell cool across
this field of vision
like a lock of hair
my eye would pick out
one leaf at a time
blurring the others
seeing became counting
but I could not remember
what had been counted
and what had been left to nature
night came again again
and made a blind pattern
over my life I spent
dark hours enunciating
exotic possibilities not yet
prohibited by specifics
acacia magnolia cypress
Carina del Valle Schorske is a poet, translator, and essayist at large in New York City. Her work has appeared at Lit Hub,Prodigal, Berfrois, Prelude, and The Point, among other venues. She is the happy recipient of fellowships from CantoMundo, the Macdowell Colony, Bread Loaf, and Columbia University, where she is a PhD student studying psychoanalysis and race. Find her at carinadelvalleschorske.tumblr.com or follow her @fluentmundo.
What came first, Hegel,
history or consciousness?
It was the garden to end
all gardens, right smack
in the heart of Babylon,
a lovenest occupied
by jihadist terrorists,
cyber-bullies, him, and me.
At Christmas time, we hung
mistletoe and holly hock;
in autumn, a wreath
of orange plastic leaves.
Our genre was
An oral culture, our tongues
bespoke our minds in sheaves.
The civilizations of empire,
of blue-blooded aristocracy,
sank slowly, like a man
in love, to their knees.
Author of a poetry chapbook, Vox Populi (Finishing Line Press), and a collection of short stories, Anatomical Gift (forthcoming, Noctuary Press), Virginia Konchan’s poems have appeared in Best New Poets, The Believer, The New Yorker, The New Republic, and Boston Review. Co-founder of Matter, a journal of poetry and political commentary, she lives in Montreal.
For two nights we wandered the tent-squat encampments and mattresses under the bridge. Searching the patches of swordgrass and driftwood. Weaving some cedar-bough strands into sticks. Dream catchers made out of tin strips and dental floss. Trusses above us marooned in the moonlight. Standing like hashmarks or threads of an iron web. Angular, blue-looking, pocked white with grommets, missing the subtle expanse of the wind. The swallows descended. The bats circled high on the crossbars and pillars of rebar and rust. What bleated scenes burned in the Gold Medal Mill sign? What faint neon lighting reminded the skies of our progress alone on the earth? Holding a chink of that life in a sandgrain. Hearing our names in a trickle of piss. Huddled up next to the bridge-wall, the railing, the heat-lightning flashes and black bags of clouds. The Cloudmaker screaming, This dream is a dungeon. Those big rigger engines have taken my job! The fog lifting off in a gray slough of silence. The tugboat emerging from shadows that pass like a dark floating road in the midst.
The Cloudmaker’s Bag
He shows me the kerosene camp stove he cooks with.
Ten-dollar poker chips. Crystals he carries in small
leather pouches, tied to his shoelace, his belt loops
to harness the sun. He carries a matchbook, a cell phone
and charger, a lighter, an old deck of playing cards
with nudes on the backs of them. Needles and balled
thread. Thin strips of tin-foil wrapped up in two yellow
Ziplock bags. He carries his own wife’s bones on a necklace.
Fingers them round in the glow of the shelter-lights.
Nuggets he dug from the cremator’s shoebox of ash.
He is seven years homeless now. Living on food-stamps,
gravedigger jobs he has only been fired from, free meals
down at the church. He carries a homemade knife
in his pocket. Dull gray. Whetstone for keeping
the blade-tip able to break through aluminum cans.
Watermark stains on the handle from leaving it drawn
in the seaside rain. He carries a bible. King James
version. He carries a loose gold tooth on a string.
He carries a phony ID in his wallet. Writes down
the names of the good eucalyptus trees. Calls them
his Darlings, his Leafy-green Loves. He carries
an old pair of foggy binoculars, out-of-date passport,
a penlight for writing his words on the night sky.
Something he picked up in Bozeman, Montana. The stars
are so clear there, they beg for connections. For someone
to map out their infinite faces. To draw the invisible lines.
Kai Carlson-Wee is the author of RAIL, forthcoming from BOA Editions. His poems have appeared in Narrative, Best New Poets, TriQuarterly, Crazyhorse, and The Missouri Review. His photography has been featured in Narrative Magazine and his poetry film, “Riding the Highline,” won the jury award for Innovation in Documentary Short Film at the 2015 Napa Valley Film Festival. He lives in San Francisco and is a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University.
invite the blue
invite the hunger(s) the shy undecided plural
hiding in parentheses invite your best friend’s
vestigial tail what resists evolution
into meaning invite the envelope back
after the invitation has been sent blue envelope
blue licks invite them to hear
the blue whale’s worst anecdote
invite the gauche the shy ghost
invite Marge Simpson’s hair its blue
& height invite unsendable envelope unanswerable
letter some guttural blue opening(s)
longing to be legible the shy undecidable
who nonetheless would like an invite invite urgh
& sequitur non & eeek to your latest emergency
memoir of the present moment
it’s the middle of—the week? the street? the sentence,
please i need to borrow your basket because?
i’m looking for something. so ticklish with sound,
eerie with truth. like really good dance music.
like i’m in the middle of—a forest? a pancake? a pancake
burning in a forest while the forest remains calm?
perhaps i’m simply craving breakfast foods.
or what’s burning is me, the most oily of pronouns,
the life crisis that is not yet mid-, is always mid-,
is living. i’m the mid- of a foggy dialect,
garbled district. a primeval game
of telephone. i’m a muddle
trying to dial the cosmos. to sing out
another dizzying bit—of this.
Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and forthcoming spring 2017 from BOA Editions, Ltd. His work has previously appeared in two chapbooks and publications such as Poetry, Drunken Boat, Best of the Net, and The Best American Poetry. He is a PhD candidate in English and Creative Writing at Texas Tech University.