SARAJEVO STANDS TRIAL FOR THE CHARGES AGAINST IT
They say I started world war one.
On my knuckle is the bridge where it happened, broken bricked. Across, the museum
brags its dates on the outside: a plaque for a fallen Ferdinand peeking between Ottoman
cobblestone & Austro- creamsicle buildings.
They say this bridge is where bullets shot through the skull of a royal man whose tire
tracks squealed conversation into my skin. That his assassinated blood dripped through
the gums of car doors, streaming into my rivers while I lay sweltering under your confused
heat: mounds of rubber-soled feet silencing my wrists in shackles.
They say I fed your farms the blood of genocide, that I make an excellent case study for
which decomposing bodies grow the best crops.
(four-year-olds. orthodox. the wrinkled. muslims. pregnant women. catholics.)
Now, they point to maps of my brown skin as proof that men are dogs best left with their
own breed, ignoring the families of green and yellow grass growing side by side against the
skin of my calves.
I have watched people flock in and out of my arteried streets like confused birds following
each other before crashing, not knowing how to properly use the air. I have watched
you accidentally fall into flight over and over, confusing yourselves into movement. A
disoriented wingspan: fall. fly. fall. crash. fall. fly. fall. fall.
I am a house of glass but no one treats me as fragile. You littered the sides of my lungs with
mines and now I fear the consequence of breathing in too deeply. In some corners I’ve been
left too gutted. Robbed. Dangling insides. You’ve erected fences to catch my crumbling.
I have watched people come and go. Fly. Fall. Crash. My thighs are marked with the sting
of a mortar missed, the persistent yell of a shovel’s lips. I have felt you layer my insides
with bodies; digging new rooms in the depths of my kidneys. Press my soil into your blood
before hastily turning, doubting we are the same family.
I have made a sunset for you like no other. Painted my purple bruises against a sleepy orange
sun for you to marvel at; jutted out my kneecaps and elbows to make a mountain-littered sky. I’ve
wrapped my arms around your glowing minarets, cradled you through snowglobe nights and
raids of bullets praying for your skin.
How easily you fly(fall)fly.crash.fall.fly away.
Fatimah Asghar is a poet, performer, photographer, writer and thinker who is almost always in-between two places. Currently, her heart is in Cambridge with her sisters while her body is in Sarajevo, where she is on a Fulbright grant, writing, researching, exploring and constantly tripping over herself. Her work can be found at www.fatimahasghar.com.
THE LONG DRY MARCH
We’d grown skinnier than a mile.The streetlights were white pupils staring out of
a coaled landscape. We even forgot how to smile. The years mocked the freckles
on our faces. The long dry march made us thirsty for an afternoon that wasn’t
hard as steel. Then a slice of sunshine helped us crawl out from underneath
ourselves. But the spinning of the world was trapped in our hair. Soon we’d spit
out our teeth so we’d have more room to swallow wind.
Martin Balgach’s poetry and criticism have appeared in The Bitter Oleander, Cream City Review, Fogged Clarity, Many Mountains Moving, Opium Magazine, Rain Taxi, and elsewhere. His chapbook Too Much Breath is forthcoming from Pudding House Publications. More of his work can be found at www.martinbalgach.com.
WINTERTIME MAKES ME HONEST
I haven’t forgotten snow on the tongue
Tell me where to find the ad you are in
I want your commerce on me
It feels good to be dirty on Sunday
The icicles don’t stand a chance
But that doesn’t stop me from
Going tree to tree with my fingers bare
Call the burns didn’t they tell you
The whole world has gone missing
Inside a single white envelope
Sarah Bartlett lives in Portland, OR. She is the co-author of two chapbook collaborations: Baby On The Safe Side (Publishing Genius in 2011) and A Mule-Shaped Cloud (horse less press 2008). Her recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in: Spork, Sixth Finch, NOÖ, inter|rupture, Jellyfish, Filter, New Delta Review, Burnside Review, Raleigh Quarterly, and elsewhere. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MUSÉE DU MAL
Scalp the incalculable balances, trap the indelible gray--
We arrange the night, climb its ladder to a point.
In our painting a boat is a beginning, and in our bedroom
bodies are corridors pumping red planes.
We’ve been dropped on a pool table without pockets,
we walk the rocking sea of walking. Air twists the eye bed.
You stare at my tackle:
this is my hangnail straddling a hammer handle,
here’s my flute plugged with gum.
The look of our stuff is something.
This photograph in a bus is a photograph of us for the future.
Your look’s a dizzy bridge, a wood jut, and I’m staged a gun.
There’s no room to shoot our poem’s problem and no way
to embrace its baby’s white face. A mouse runs the clock down
to gate the gusto pulled from the throats of berets. Bang. Bang.
Sally Delehant is a graduate of St. Mary’s College of California’s MFA program. Some of her work can be found in Calaveras, Columbia Poetry Review, The Cultural Society, Catch Up: Emerging Writers Issue and iO: A Journal of New American Poetry. Her first book of poems, A Real Time of It, is forthcoming from The Cultural Society in spring/summer 2012. She lives in Chicago.
It was awful. An eye holding its breath.
Later, some night,
I tested this weird spot on the ground
with my foot. I radically,
dramatically slipped and fell in, infinitely.
Cemeterians emptied shovelloads of dirt into the spot. They tried
to grave me. The spot wouldn’t fill. They built
(from what I’ve heard) an awesome grave marker somewhere.
No one briefed me about the inscription they left.
I got word that people fell in my grave spot all the time.
I never met any of them. If I’m all right, they’re all right.
I started out loaded with babies.
I was pregnant for most of the nineties. I was pretty
advanced. I developed good birth skills.
I gave birth to an ottoman, a bicycle, keys,
basketballs. I gave birth to Keith
and he was upset.
Much later, I met some people
like me. It could be said we gave birth to
everything; eventually our own parents, our
grandparents, and our selves. Our system
worked. A planet fell out of us.
Daniel D’Angelo’s poems have appeared in The Collagist, NOÖ Journal, H-ngm-n, and Jellyfish. He is Poetry Editor for Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and Art.
THIS OCEAN SUCKS SO HERE IS A PHONE
for Kay Lea Meyers
There is something in my phone.
It says, “Fuck talk.”
Language is not something I’m trying to fuck.
Rather, there are many shapes being sent through.
Who collects all the voicemails when we are done?
In my oratory lessons
I practiced how to say, “How are you?”
neutrally, because I know this isn’t part of the conversation.
There was so much information I had to offer.
Really needed to tell you about the mountain I am calling stasis
the mountain I am calling my mind--
how I pre-conceived clarity
or that the buzz in the ear
tells me the animal is quietly getting louder.
On the other side of this phone
you are still a body
sitting in a laundry basket
moving a paperclip
around in your hand.
Fidgeting with a light switch
wondering if I can see the shadows
on your face, or hear them.
Calling from other countries
the phone was gold and I thought
you might somehow know
because it is what you wanted for me, then.
I slept four hours
and then there were foreign birds,
I thought, “What a time.”
I’m not getting ahead
because to do so one must step out of line.
The way that I wasn’t sleeping.
Often the case of our proximity.
Someone translates the future-tense
of our wedding.
Or out of Spanish,
“We are going home.”
From under couch cushions
I would not say I love you
but an errant foot, in Spanish
with becitos and alfajores.
I built a raincoat so big
that rain doesn’t happen anymore
because of this human-
The hard truth restores itself
but cannot become more hard.
I’ve walked until there
is no circumference left.
Zachary Green received his B.A. in Poetry from Columbia College Chicago. His work as appeared in Columbia Poetry Review, South Loop Review, Cavalier Literary Couture, plain china, and the Desperate Reader anthology. He was selected as the second-place recipient for the 2010 & ’11 Elma Stuckey Poetry award selected by Jaswinder Bolina. He now operates The Good Neighbor Series out of Peterborough, NH.
Superstring theories spreading aesthetically are usually the aggressors.
Tomorrow, love, will be a fenced-in memory
of this momentary lapse in absence. Begin ungainly.
Again you are an axe
under observation, but a tree in anonymity.
A three progressing by anti-levy. By brevity.
A snake in the grass.
I saw this literally
drunken and dissatisfied
in a book
at the foot of your bedside table.
I am waiting to reveal other niches
I do not want to live with others
living in bed
alone with one thousand ghosted lovers
or limitless capacities for grafting yet to be named groves.
Travis Macdonald is a poet, copywriter, editor and occasional essayist living in Philadelphia. His most recent books of poetry include: Title Bout (Shadow Mountain Press 2011), BAR/koans (Erg Arts 2011), Hoop Cores (Knives, Forks and Spoons Press 2011), Sight & Sigh (Beard of Bees 2011), N7ostradamus (BlazeVox Books 2010), Basho’s Phonebook (E-ratio 2009) and The O Mission Repo [vol. 1] (Fact-Simile Editions 2008).
Michelle Taransky is the author of Barn Burned, Then, selected by Marjorie Welish for the 2008 Omnidawn Poetry Prize. She is a member of the Critical Writing Faculty at Penn and an adjunct poetry instructor at Temple University. Taransky is also the reviews editor for Jacket2 and co-curator of the reading series Whenever We Feel Like it.
Joseph Cooper is currently writing and teaching in Princeton, WV. He is the author of the full-length books TOUCH ME (BlazeVox 2009) and Autobiography of a Stutterer (BlazeVox 2007), as well as the chapbooks Here Come the Groovies co-authored with Andrew K. Peterson (Livestock Editions 2010), Memory/Incision (Dusie 2007), from Autobiography of a Stutterer (Big Game Books 2007), and Insuring the Wicker Man Shadow Created Delusion co-authored with Jared Hayes (Hot Whiskey 2005).
j/j hastain lives in Colorado, USA with hir beloved. j/j is the author of numerous full-length, cross-genre works as well as many chapbooks and artist’s books. Recent work appears in Trickhouse, Vlak, Unlikely Stories, The Offending Adam and Eccolinguistics. j/j is an elective affinities participant, a member of Dusie kollektiv and a regular contributor to Sous Les Paves.
The man we sought wasn’t
home that day. Fire came
through the roof—they
changed tile for cement
and prayed. In our night vision,
white was warmth, bright
body count took to the air.
The desired effect
ricocheted off the taut
firmament, the tide slid
out again. At the podium
the tone was sanguine.
SYMPTOMS OF PREY
The night she never came back:
it stays this way.
Treat ourselves to grief.
Take my last words back.
It’s funny how the day keeps.
We don’t make wishes. We take our tea. Anyway,
I never knew where to put my hands
when she laughed.
We can only guess at these events: if the gun
came through the door first, who chased whom
in the parking lot. How much was held in
that gesture: one hand to her head, one
switching the lamp off. We know how the body
smoked after. How the blood left her like a cloud.
Stiff shadow of a streetlamp.
Chain link, spent match, loose brick.
Red light rolls over. Ants go about being ants.
To open your chest and put you back.
How does it end this way? Wound scents
the water and the sharks come. I have been flesh
hungry and at sea. I have come down
kicking. The way sweet sinks
to the bottom. That last draw.
ALWAYS BRING FLOWERS
Which is the way this goes again?
Lock step with me, one-two-three,
bound in a box, taped to the floor.
Draw my next step in chalk.
Every atom of me says faster,
giddy up up up, skull-fractured
my skinny hope on the popcorn ceiling,
eyes full of snow.
Before we could beautify our death
it was a white noise in my head, underwater-
red. The bullet holes in the walls
were stars and stars.
I’ve been unrolling to a thin flat line, reaching
long for an other-side. Deliver me
from the hothouse when it’s over.
Carry the first fistful of earth.
STILL LIFE WITH CAPERNICUS & HYPNOPHOBIA
I lose my footing and step onto the air
I reach for you It is too late for that.
Consider Alice in her blue
dress. Then Alice is gone. A coyote
baying in the fields. It’s late and there’s no one here
to wake. Sleep is a threat
and nothing’s promised after but an ending
that’s disheartening for all that’s left
I’ve given up
on sense, except the patterns
of the morning the way you sigh and shield
your eyes from light. I, too, have feared
the sun in its indifference its relentless
sequence its cause and its effect. This terror
is a lesson in mediocrity. All I am
in the end is a trivia, a story,
a series of events— my body
a collection of particles turning
in space. No place in me is worse
or better than any place else.
Camille Rankine is the author of Slow Dance with Trip Wire, selected by Cornelius Eady for the Poetry Society of America’s 2010 New York Chapbook Fellowship. The recipient of a 2010 “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, her poetry has appeared in numerous journals including American Poet, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, DIAGRAM, and Indiana Review. She is Assistant Director of the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Manhattanville University and lives in New York City.
WOULD THE HARE’S WIFE SLEEP WET?
The insoluble rift between two hares
Huddled in small depression
Not a matter of brotherhood, per se
But the ease with which one severs the moon
From the other’s movement
To please, in other words
The wicked shall always win
A young hare bounding bright eggs off the mission
The taste of old straw, until there is tension
To let us break crotch, I could stare
And hairless, walk
Through light discord
The world was so, and handsome
I will divest you for my robe
And my elaborated skull
Floating over with twenty-eight teeth. A film
Racing primitive ground beside a primitive
Line cannot crease a future in books. Exactly
Where would I find the significant hares
Mating on islands with berries
Crushed into white brush and fluffy?
Everything must fit everything
Is speculative. Suddenly
A chimney screams into the picture
Belching smoke-red highlights
The whole world
Is incorporated, buying a soda without squinting
Walking in on a hare taking a dump
In the shower
Pounding black harrows like elixir
While boys cutting lace beneath heads of wives
Stuffed with the guts of the largest friends
Insinuating your name
In the softening wilds, can I
Be finally through with you?
I just lost a thousand pounds
Hopping over the lightest brains
In reflux, spring’s bloodiest shoots
Being chased is a thrill
Spoke the gentler hare, as is
Bathing one’s boils in fresh water, however
Long blows continue to spread
Tender night as illusive as armistice
The night is tender
on the bed of grasses …
… in night dew?
Brandon Shimoda was born on the west coast of the United States. His most recent books include O Bon (Litmus Press), The Pines: Bubble (with four friends from childhood) and The Girl Without Arms (Black Ocean). He has lived most recently in the woods of New England and a container port city in East Asia, though is currently living in the desert Southwest.
THE PROPHET REMEMBERS HER BEING
it’s hard to find a living person
hard not to google the others, their blogs so polished…
it’s weird when people use facebook to communicate
with the dead but I get it:
the way humans evolve to carry useless organs around
I’m a machine with my own colossal network
the small print: it’s a beak in my hearts
when you’re asked
to check yes or no
the world prefers me
the way humans evolve to carry useless organs around
saying, I am the ticket
‘til rubble fills the throat they come
clotted and pieced. I help:
“you’re at home with the soft leopards”
“you should be in a tent”
“you should be getting your tent removed”
cuts and pulls
to loosen I
gill-less slithering I
“had a simple air sac beneath my throat”
“for real-world problem solving”
hot and bloody hot and bloody
I loose this body I loose this body
the memory of our sheer amassed tonnage
our beached aggregations
the only wholly imaginable key to a valueless net worth
the vascular alternative to a machine
dear flapping and whumping
in my queer and ordinary heart
the way humans evolve to burst out of their forms
tell yourself to be careful
then do the thing that’s danger
that’s an example of a conversation
between powerful beings in charge
Ellen Welcker’s first book, The Botanical Garden (Astrophil Press, 2010), won the 2009 Astrophil Poetry Prize. She has poems and critical writing in Leveler, H_NGM_N, The Quarterly Conversation, Capitalism Nature Socialism, Tinfish and Shampoo. She lives in Seattle.
SWEET DICTIONETTE, YOUR CHANCES INCREASE WHEN YOU'RE SMILING
I’m beginning to accept my hair
never faight nor strine nor blawberry strond
and neither will my tongue. Closed
coffee cup for travel music
perpetually sounding dreary
beside a monthly: this photo of #417 chantilly black
lace has been lightened to show pattern. Silent
tongue, I wanna be a railcar
operator like hard-hatted liberty, a pushup
in paisley entrussed panties. “Will you
lift these boxes for me?” Pity
an unsupervisory name, gathering decades
almost dung in glass of prophylactic
fucks. I should be hung for likening it,
to dates not sited in expensive glints. Pencil lights
cast, dim shopgirl, on notebook thoroughfares,
the underwire guardrail a peekaboo
scratch of captions deep and saturated black.
As adults we net
the pool all molten night, scrape
sugar off lemon squares.
The student’s Halloween
hair looks just like you
the morning of our camp site.
Remember the lawn?
Frantic moths like teeth
flitting about the drunk shoe
lace your cigarette
a minor poem:
SWALLOWED THE SPIDER TO CATCH THE FLY
I ate a dandelion cap, his hand
sunk in the quiet
hoof of the river. We
muled, stood like fields
of prayer, scars
a clean combustion.
“Your elbow creaks
in the moonlight”
and we love everything,
a gathered pot of cherries.
He, the carnival, swallowing
my body’s horses, esophageal
tall grass forever
a frightful duration.
Nicole Wilson is alive in Chicago.