THE LIGHT THE HOUSE ITS KEEPER
the light is what records you
it papers the house
a single nerve
I paid it
to keep you
it is perhaps the only way
to hold things in the present
it is like a life vest no?
it shines you out to people
it lets you know in orange
not to drown
not pictured: the wilderness
the wilderness was late
and the photographer
flashed and coughed
like a tree he had a disease
he had an appointment
the rest of us held up
our faces so they would
trap the oncoming light
which would reveal us
human and suffering
from non-tree diseases
in our white pants
in a bright shadow
some of us grasped
in hand numbers
to tell us how many
to tell us when
She lay down
like a lake
and rose up
a light blue
and the boats
the clouds but
she was pre-
pared to know
She lay down
fast she o-
where a whole
from the gray
belt that held
her and she
a green and
HEATHER CHRISTLE’s newest book is What Is Amazing (Wesleyan, 2012). She is the Web Editor of jubilat and lives in Western Massachusetts. [http://heatherchristle.tumblr.com]
IT’S OK NOW THAT I’VE REALIZED STARS ARE TEETH
Elvis shot his television
because the ocean in it boiled.
I hate beauty, too.
That’s life in the just
typed my password
wrong feeling. I vacuumed
the creekside with your sister
twelve years ago today.
She tasted like breakfast
oranges telling me how you wept
like a tablecloth the night
you punched me on someone else’s orders.
PATRICK CULLITON is a small blue sock from South Euclid, Ohio. His chapbook Hornet Homily is available from Octopus Books. Another chapbook, Horse Ballast, is forthcoming from Pavement Saw Press. He lives and works in Chicago, is Associate Editor for Conduit, and co-hosts the podcast Talus, Or Scree.
I WAS BUSY
That was the year that my brother put dates (2/17/04) on everything: the
mirror (12/3/04), the tea-bag tags (3/8/04, 10/9/04, 1/30/04), and the
dog’s water bowl (9/25/04). I’m alive right now, and have
been for a while, was what he told me. He insisted that his meals of pork
BBQ were not inconsequential. He had noticed that when babies crawled
out from women’s dresses, everyone
cried and took pictures. He said he was thankful for our scrapbook
minds: How “Pizza lunch with Uncle Albert” shares a ribboned corner with
“Jessica marries a man with a crooked bow tie.” But I
was busy noticing how fat girls hide their bellies behind notebooks and
couch cushions. Isn’t everything cruel?
HANNAH GAMBLE is the author of Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast, selected by Bernadette Mayer for the 2011 National Poetry Series and to be published by Fence in 2012. Hannah is the Poet-in-Residence at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago and also teaches literature classes at Prairie State College in Chicago Heights. Her poems and interviews appear or are forthcoming in APR, Indiana Review, Ecotone, Mid-American Review, and elsewhere. You can also follow her on Twitter: @Hannah_Gamble.
Bring a green chair into this shed
made of light. Hold still
watching the sailboats with their small
beaks sing through the night.
A flapping of clouds, some wings
that don’t work. The last two demands
I’ll launch into the ether: don’t stop
the beauty from thrashing my head
so gently in the mornings,
but also don’t let me off the hook
with my blunt need for evidence.
For example, one hundred smiles
from your made up face. The fly
with its head banging into the window
wants out though he’s stupid
in his unlucky method. He’s dumb with his need.
I’m feeling some feelings that I’m
troubled about, not because they’re wrong
but because they’re the kind that end.
I’m wondering if my face is bright
enough. Advice that I read from a postcard:
I wish you were here. Maybe I interpreted it
incorrectly. The words seem so simple
& so obviously right. It’s summer again
& the air is around me. Night follows
sunset & the cycle is endless. These days,
when I say forever I hope to believe it.
Before I would scream it & try to outrun it.
Today I’m in favor of standing right here.
A UNION OF ELEMENTS
We snarl when we sing because of the tree,
how it looks better after a catastrophe
of lightning or after the snowstorm that knocked
the last stupid leaves loose from the branches.
After we wrote one poem we immediately wrote
another though we lost our place in the din
& had to hire a new orchestra. We start each sentence
with the husk of the previous one, we remember
the past by altering it with new professional techniques,
with drama, with menus. We danced
real quickly because the night was ending
though it’s okay to keep moving as the sun
starts to catch us. Suddenly we see exactly
what we were trying not to look like – like people,
like regulars, like something that nobody
could ever love. Isn’t that the secret we hope doesn’t show?
The worst repercussion for the candle kicked to the floor
isn’t that it goes out, or that it makes too big a fire,
but that it just keeps burning not greater or less.
We wonder if it’s okay to make up new names
for the new things we do or if they’re too much like
the old things & we should just keep on going.
Sometimes we pick only one of each kind of flower.
because we want what we’re holding to look like a mess.
WHERE WE ARE
Everyone was too tired to sleep after all that evolving. We had lost some weight and hair and were ready to procreate. Dogs growled when we woke them. We woke them constantly. No one knew how to turn off the lights, so our flaws were no secret. We knew it was important to keep talking until help arrived. The best stories came from shock and loss, after we forgot what we were saying. The birds’ throats could only shape the coming of morning. Everyone was very hungry. We thought the bottom of things was near. We mined deeper and deeper into the brightness until it caved in on us.
JORDAN SANDERSON: Originally from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, I earned a PhD from the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. Recently, my poems have appeared in Spectrum, Caketrain, and Double Room. I currently live between Mobile, Alabama and Biloxi, Mississippi and teach English. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Right there out the window,
in dawn muscle,
chrome-dead leaves are glistened with frost.
and I’ve yet to finish telling my favorite joke.
One about ducks and grapes,
webbed feet nailed to the floor.
And yesterday I looked right at the man
I thought had the saddest eyes I’ve ever seen,
the bobbing celestial anointing
only the comically tall
in its low dips and him waiting forever
to be brushed on the head.
I should love fucking my 3-month girlfriend a little more.
But maybe it’s just the dying season,
like hands of a floral clock paused
because they’re too wilted to move,
anther and filament teetering on their heels,
aping static, deep-sighing on-line at the DMV,
distance of the next season
shoving us through skeleton walls,
long slits on the arms of the previous season’s
salvationed, stretching open, begging to be re-stitched.
Motherfuck, tell it to stop.
Noah Siela: I have an MFA in poetry from The University of Maryland. I am from Iowa and currently reside here having moved back from Baltimore recently. I teach some college writing courses and am a proofreader at an ad agency. Guess which one of those jobs I hate.
I WAS NOT EVEN BORN WHEN YOU INVENTED MAPS
You had no idea where you were going.
You rode your bike through the blooming
bushes and knew the names of everything
amazing. Every morning I painted your portrait
and every morning I had a new painting of mist.
What I meant to do buckled under the weight
of what I didn’t and that is how we keep living
so ablaze. It is not as if we aren’t sometimes
moving in the wrong direction but what I mean
by wrong is coming up roses. If you want to find me
I’ll be in the other room translating my regret
into 25 years of cookies.
NICK STURM is the author of the chapbook WHAT A TREMENDOUS TIME WE’RE HAVING! (iO Books, 2012). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Aesthetix, Dark Sky, Dinosaur Bees, Forklift, Ohio, Hayden’s Ferry, Jellyfish, Red Lightbulbs, and elsewhere. His reviews and interviews can be found widely in places like Coldfront, HTMLgiant, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He is associate editor of YesYes Books and curator of THE BIG BIG MESS READING SERIES.
THE TOTAL NUMBER OF THINGS THAT MATTER IS ON THE RISE
Someone right now is a nervous wreck biking
against the dark ribbon of a highway like some kind
of quiet disaster. What is up with everyone’s apartment
infested by bees? Why did you instead gently
ease the door back into its frame? How yesterday
a street magician produced a blossom of pennies
from his sleeve that impressed us all. Then a bird
he let go. Then a never-ending ribbon flowing
to a single white rose which he tucked behind the ear
of a little girl. How often will you demand
silence before the reveal? If that sprawling road
never leads my friend to the sea this hurricane
surely assembles worse on my doorstep. Someone
right now thinks to remove his slippers before hurrying
to the phone. Some terrible little bees dive
into your soup from the urgent rim.
WENDY XU is the author of the chapbook The Hero Poems (H_NGM_N BKS). Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Diagram, CutBank, The American Poetry Journal, MAKE, Third Coast, Drunken Boat, Columbia Poetry Review and elsewhere. She co-edits iO: A Journal of New American Poetry / iO Books, and lives in Northampton. [extrahumanarchitecture.tumblr.com]
ANSWERING THE QUESTION THAT HAS NO ANSWER
Crisp September midday,
three flights of stairs with son
to outdoors, opening umbrella stroller
& locking it down, a bicycle kickstand,
a quick scan revealing a parking lot
recently re-tarred, re-paved.
What would the Romantics think,
open fields interrupted by malls, split
by divided highways, patches of brown grass
pocking, shadows cast by technology?
This koan of “what do you see”—the simplest
question usually the most difficult, Occam’s Razor
unreliable & not enough, too imprecise
to create an answer that is more than
Sleepwalk, then awake & my son
reappears, blurry, & he is half-awake & maybe
not dressed appropriately for the weather &
I hope that I have my keys because it would suck
not to have them—I was going somewhere--
& watch-less, I wonder how long this has been.
I am distracted by the after to come, the notes
that are to turn to poem, but first: refold stroller,
three flights of stairs, my knee, weather.
GLENN TAYLOR is originally from Detroit, Michigan, and continues to be a huge fan of Detroit sports. In his spare time, he writes music and power watches TV shows on Netflix. He is pursuing his MFA in poetry from Columbia College Chicago.