A doll to the sea cockleshells deep in the weeds water brings inward.
To make a home, to have it be so all things lined pictorial—she
bridesmaids her locks, turns brown under sun. Bed to fro, shifts into
cattle lowing morning her rooster face shock, head nodding
rock & roll the moon frieze. Come out of the boxes you rake your feet
in the sand make it holy—I thought holy every time I take it into
my chest my belly tightens remembering. We knelt in prayer, it turned
into a reclining. If you put your feet all over the earth drain
the water mara, think holes loosen the very cumber of your strain
says a horse is there: call it fast from the fence as though I must
have him come back to me. Should he lope, train him faster
for a thing needs a compromise duly, & to learn again I’ve had to.
Brazen & flow, fast now, mount & the trees that will turn amber in
the weathering—where will you be when the trees. Flamboyant a little tryst
for tomorrow, do not get your belly’s worth. From inside the line
called your next decade mama’s girl older odder how my hands shave
every piece of hair off my body sans my head. I need of my head for
favors, my fill to ladle the day, as in early this day & dark his trigger finger.
Born in rural southern Georgia, Shelly Taylor resides in Tucson. She is the author of Black-Eyed Heifer (Tarpaulin Sky Press: 2010) & four chapbooks: Peaches the yes-girl (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs: 2008), Land Wide to Get a Hold Lost In (Dancing Girl Press: 2009), Dirt City Lions (Horse Less Press: 2012), & the forthcoming, The Doldrums (Goodmorning Menagerie: 2013).
THINK AWAY THE BLOOD
Driving to Virginia, with the destination of your grave, I drive into a doe. The eyes bulb gently in their sockets; wide ears bend toward my bumper. Bone and body slam against the undercarriage. Your birthday, nine years after your death. It is 5am. I spend the remaining six hours thinking of that body splayed in the road. How long dead. How I travel to you with blood.
ONE OF TWO WAYS
You’ve jolted awake.
NINETEEN NINETY EIGHT
When he wrote, “There’s a glove in the crick,” I asked, “Are you from the South?”
He was, more or less. And when I said it, “South”—and why I haven’t gone back--
my sister ended up in my mouth. Like a bullfrog. Like cherry blossom—choking.
What sister? What sister.
He meant creek, you know. But I got [the usage] and [the origin] wept. He was my student.
Sweet and smelled like a delicious word. Anyway, the question wasn’t so much What as When.
CM Burroughs has been awarded fellowships and grants from Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony. She has been commissioned by the Studio Museum of Harlem and the Warhol Museum to create poetry in response to art installations. Her poetry has appeared in journals including Callaloo, jubilat, Ploughshares, VOLT, Bat City Review, and Sou’wester. She is the Elma Stuckey Poet-in-Residence at Columbia College of Chicago, and her debut collection of poetry, The Vital System, was published in 2012 by Tupelo Press.
The problem with a line
is you can never be sure
you’re in one. In the morning
we’re quiet, even as we fight.
Even as we fight we look down.
I feel sorry for large men
with bad backs. These rules
are stupid and we’re ugly.
I’m a child. I look up
and see letters: No
what you love. Everyone’s running
and hitting the knees of others.
Rebecca Farivar is the author of Correct Animal (Octopus, 2011) and the chapbook American Lit (Dancing Girl Press, 2011). She holds an MFA in poetry from St. Mary’s College of California and hosts the poetry podcast Break The Line. Individual poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, 6×6, The Volta, Word For / Word, Ilk, and elsewhere.
THIS IS THE RECORD OF JOHN
The first time I thought
about hitting her
I thought of those nuns
who, with their absurd
strategically to hymn
machines. On an ornamental
hilltop in West Virginia
I felt someone build a nest
in my mouth. I tore my shirt
at a stranger’s funeral
(blessed is the one true judge).
How sunlight I thought
can yellow the hemline
of a dress. How gravel
can settle a body. And by
gravel I mean, here,
I give you all my clouds.
Comb back your hair.
Robert Ostrom is the author of The Youngest Butcher in Illinois (YesYes, Fall 2012) and two chapbooks, To Show the Living (The New York Center for Book Arts) and Nether and Qualms (Projective Industries). His poems have most recently appeared in Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, Gulf Coast, and Cut Bank. He lives in Queens and teaches at the City University of New York and Columbia.
Adam Fell is the author of I Am Not a Pioneer, published by H_NGM_N Books, and the chapbook Ten Keys to Being a Champion On and Off the Field (H_NGM_N, 2010). He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison & the Iowa Writers’ Workshop & teaches at Edgewood College in Madison, WI, where he co-curates the Monsters of Poetry reading series.
THERE IS ANOTHER WORLD AND I AM BETTER IN IT
In which brother removes my eardrum
and lightbugs nest in its place
Other things are Christmas lights
and thin film strips how it feels
to be wrapped up now I believe
this was a prophecy of men
fresh flowers on the table short black
dresses on fire escapes across America
Is it all right to encounter people
this way with fear Jeff’s here again
and we have a kid a doll we keep
in the car while we fuck in the backseat
Have I memorized the West or are these
dream highways from another night
How it feels to keep digging in
my pockets but nothing is there
Our kid gets out of line Jeff tells her
never to disappear again
I remain near sleep to finish
up a monologue enter the houses
of television families and eat
their bagels for breakfast
I stare at the blinds I check my temperature
Hundreds of hands open and close
They can feel me
I get up to piss realize I am out of bagels
Morgan Parker received her BA from Columbia University and her MFA in poetry from NYU. Her work has been featured in The Columbia Review, Blue & White Magazine, and in the anthology Why I Am Not A Painter, published by Argos Books. She lives in Brooklyn with her dog Braeburn.
ELSA DIDN’T WANT TO GO INTO THE CAGE
Elsa didn’t want to go into the
cage but she did anyway. What else could
she do? No mother no father just a
stubborn brother who never came home
last week. Here the cage is both meta-
phorical and actual. It was large enough
for an exotic animal. It was
there like a canker sore. Inside, handcuffed,
a small girl curled in the corner, trapped
under blankets and fur coats. No one asked.
Wearing a fancy hat she looked inten-
tional. Five men watched as it was dragged
onto the ship. She waved goodbye. Settled in.
Her wrists bled. Everything else fell away.
ELSA TOO REMEMBERS A DIFFERENT LANDSCAPE
I remember everything because the
remembering is all I am good for:
stone steps, stone streets in a light mist glisten,
narrow and winding. We know a downpour
is on the horizon. Cautious, we proceed
with open umbrellas. From inside
lights glow, shops close and we watch the lovely
softness rise with dusk settles into night.
The sounds of water absorbing water,
the sounds of bicycles riding over
bridges, the sounds of two glasses of wine
being enjoyed, sitting side-by-side.
A long meal. A hotel bed. A taste.
Elsa too remembers a different landscape.
a couple kids, bored and rebellious filled
their backpacks with empty bottles,
spent hours breaking
them all through the neighborhood.
they talked about what the glass could do.
there are other kids on the watertower,
they leave xxs on its face.
parents do not understand the meaning.
the kill rooms cassette surfaces,
meets boom-box after boom-box.
kids start talking about reagan. black flag’s
on everyone’s t-shirt. minor threat is back
together. the bad brains are black guys?
henry garfield is no longer his name. at
a party akfd, three songs deep, drunk,
slipping through their set, the bass player
starts spelling out what their name
means. aids kills fags dead.
i don’t want to tell you that kids cheered, or worse, laughed,
repeating the name, and the songs kept going.
noise and feedback.
i don’t want to tell you that
only four kids walked out disgusted.
i don’t want to tell you this.
Joshua Young is the author of When the Wolves Quit: A Play-in-Verse (Gold Wake Press) and To the Chapel of Light (Mud Luscious Press/Nephew), as well as the forthcoming collaboration The Diegesis with Chas Hoppe (Gold Wake Press 2013). He studies poetry in the MFA program at Columbia College Chicago, where he also teaches writing and serves as an editor for the Columbia Poetry Review. He lives in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago with his wife, their son, and their dog. For info about his writing, films, and other projects visit http://thestorythief.tumblr.com.
When you were born I was too,
stitched together from scraps.
I learned to walk just before you.
Sutures disappear, absorbed into skin
like a lost child we might never know.
It is the needle that numbs. It is
your body that allows us to forget.
I don’t have your powers of speed
and transformation, sprouting
blond hair from black, flyaway fine
and so light as to appear invisible;
growing bones and lengthening them
from nothing, from lips adhered
to skin. How do we know he’s eating?
is a common question of mothers
of breastfeeding babes. Weigh him.
And we did before and after nursing,
finding five minutes gave an ounce.
Your chins canopy then thin out.
Fingers unfurl and begin to work,
to reach, to grab, to transfer, especially
fond of tools, of paper, of pillow tags,
of air. Bars you pull to standing.
Distance you cross by body rolls,
sheer willful throw of arm and shoulder,
then a drag and scoot. Then
suddenly, suddenly (it is always
suddenly—like suddenly I could walk
again; suddenly I was healed) you are
rocking on hands and knees. You are
jumping, leapfrogging on dimpled legs,
one ready arm trembling, raised
but uncertain: where to land, how to land…
You are searching for a landing.
You have come to us from space, and I
will be ready, doctor. I will be ready.
THE OLD HAND
After my father turned the field into a pond,
then a wetland, the water went back to what
it was before: a meadow for the mill pond,
the stone that once ground everyone’s acres
buried in silt with the blind arrowheads,
the flint chips and rose handles of teacups,
the won marbles, missing buttons and wire.
The first family threw their trash down the hill.
Everyone did. So there were china bits,
eye-catching as candy, where the hoe turned up
the garden. Machines in the woods rusted,
washing and refrigeration in the sun
between pines. Except the dog
food cans. They ate the meat, the old hand
explained to me, the first family did, and too
proud to leave the empties by the road or even
toss them down the hill where the crows could
see (they have eyes like knives; they can spy
anything), the cans piled in the attic. We took
them out, new owners, fifty years later. We took
them out, and marveled at the colored labels,
illustrations of hungry, moon-eyed dogs.
The dogs must have watched the family
as they ate, each night more sullen and scared--
the faces changing, muting, fading
even now as we ushered them full into light.
Alison Stine is the author of two books of poems: WAIT (University of Wisconsin Press, 2011), and OHIO VIOLENCE (University of North Texas Press, 2009). She has work forthcoming in Better, Iron Horse Literary Review, and Zone 3.
from INVOLVING NAMES & PLACES
I found the chapter in which you wrap yourself in the sail & sleep in the plot of land I saved up for. You wanted us to take the garden out of its misery. It involved bunching up onions & smashing radishes into the sauce bin. When these head-hollowing bells ring out I try as hard as I can to cry & alone in the fall. I end up falling asleep standing up.
I found out about our death in the papers. Remember that? You wanted me to write the Times about misappropriating demise. I was going to cook you asparagus & artichoke pasta but I’ve been rubbing my hands on the walls in my sleep & when I moved them this morning they were all bones & cracks & where is my goddamn voice?
I found that photograph of you & I carrying the dead Bald Eagle into the supermarket the doctor owned. You wanted us to come early for holiday, bring a date. My current situation involving you calls for days of silence & I’m only allowed to speak if it’s raining or if all the dirty clothes have been worn out. I haven’t spoken since March. I can’t see.
I found the best way to keep this sense of togetherness radiant & although you want us to move to Maine I keep fitting the city into my teeth & this involves grinding them down to the gums & when I kiss you my eyes open & it’s no longer you but a restless comforter summoned into shape by wifeless mistakes, my handless unholy head.
found you at the gallery again but you were escorting a handsome man into the video parlor. Mother wants me to involve her in my women’s worries. I’m wearing a turtleneck today & I took a cab to Prospect Park because I wanted to be more vehicular about arriving in nature. I signed my name on the lake with a rock & walked right in.
I found out that none of this is ever going to happen. Splashing in the laugh. Why won’t you get back? You left months ago & you wanted to take this back out of rehab. She’s senseless when controlled. I took myself into a church yesterday & screamed into the pipes with silvering shots of blood. You should have heard me. I pounded my body angelic.
I found finding things out to be the least significant part of my life. I take my photographs of you & me to Mother & Mother is gone but wants us to involve ourselves in psalm & my whole New York has released itself in between songs & this is not a new way but I’m alone & away & moving.
Tyler Flynn Dorholt writes and works in New York City, where he curates On the Escape. His latest chapbook, What I Cannot Recall, is out from Greying Ghost Press.
MURMURS FROM THE SINKING ARCADE
do you remember a time, data-bodies
when the city was filled with hills
we climbed them or took funiculars up them
and there were sculptures of saints and virgins
and bodies came from all over the midwest to say things
to the saints and virgins
who spoke back to the bodies
and this line of communication
this network of information
that traveled between saint to body to virgin to saint
fertilized the land and we ate apricots and peaches
and combinations of words traveled through networks
and merged with other combinations of words in other networks
and we drank coffee in factories with galleries inside
and the children played on winding iron staircases
and everywhere there were gigantic knickknacks
and cast-iron columns and molded steel and copper and bronze that formed valleys
and when our homes collapsed
in the rotten carcass economy
there were midwives
rushing from one arcade to another
from one mountain to another
and it was impossible to tell what was inside and what was outside
and we were lying on the ground thinking about artillery
and somebody said something like you and I in this room
are the snot that comes out of God’s nostrils
and the midwives wrapped shawls around our heads, covered our bodies and said:
freedom from labor, yes, this is a privilege
and there were screams and the houses would not stop collapsing
and the streets were filled with water
and the trees disappeared
and the rivers held nothing more than the dehydrated carcasses of fish
and the buildings where the children were born
turned into casinos of rain
rain fell through the ceiling
and money kept flying out of the machines
and out of the doctors’ smocks
and then the money was put back into the machines
and somewhere in these transactions
the newborn children were deposited and regurgitated
into the machinery
which became part of the network of unregulated information
the children turned to water, a voice said
and the water they turned into
fell furiously from the sky
for several torrential years
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.
WE STOP WRITING ABOUT THE MOON
We stop writing about Jupiter, about the undertow of rings.
We stop listening to jazz, sew piano strings into our calves.
We bleed silver coins. Our bodies are answers. We scoop mirrors onto our skin.
She said that a baby is not a woman’s body. The baby does not attach itself, is not you. She said that the baby is its own body and knows it.
Blood lines sheets.
He broke a plate by the river. An exploding flower.
We stop writing about petals, fleshy blades.
She said god haters wore black and ate fog. The fog is the god hater’s favorite breakfast. They make documentaries
over these things. Watch them on TV channels where god haters are eaten in small forkfuls, where god haters are being fed to babies, one finger at a time.
Photosynthesis weaves sad wounds. We continue to mate in empty laundry rooms, in shower stalls, in elevators. Our bodies surprise us. Babies become babies when we show them how.
We have forgotten sky. How far we used to drive to get from one state to another.
Our fingers are our weapons. The only way we see ourselves in pieces.
We stop writing about mood rings. Pull of Mercury. Pianos and remission.
She calls her friends on the phone. Tells them she found another one. She will turn this one. Fetuses line the walls in the grocery store, their decay a scent of bananas and powdered sugar. She will not see the fetuses no matter how many times she walks by.
Consider the way a stapler works to hold things together. Imagine the ripping.
We stop holding hands like lovers. Sometimes we laugh at people on bicycles. We erase our laughter. Replace it with bandages.
BEFORE YOU DIE
A bird staggers in the bathroom, flapping against the mirror like you’ve done so many times.
We wake to feathers, the tile draped with galaxies. We drop them out the window, watch them land on concrete without disintegrating.
A lure of bones and beaks.
The moon wipes memories with olive oil. Smears them across the ground.
Only days before, I find you molting on our bedroom floor, the sound like ripping silk. How do you say earthquake after shedding love letters?
You look in the mirror one last time, pull barbs and quills from your cheeks.
Behind you, I adjust your beak. Your crying is like crows stumbling over lakes.
An empty bird cage on the window sill. Later, I’ll discover your nail clippings and a paper doll sitting upright, waiting to be moved.
Mary Stone Dockery is the author of Mythology of Touch, a poetry collection, and four chapbooks, most recently Aching Buttons and Blink Finch. She currently lives in St. Joseph, MO. You may contact her at email@example.com.
DOWN IN THE VALLEY
All at once
there were new trees.
Trees grown sideways,
like this: ______.
and made new homes
in the shade.
The birds lost their wings.
Some grew antlers.
Some started to moo.
Many birds wore prosthetic antlers
to blend in.
they thought it was funny.
In the distance,
another type of tree grew –
one that grew upwards.
sat a bright yellow canary,
stretching its wings.
The birds stared wide-eyed.
Some were ashamed
and smashed their
antlers on the ground.
Others did nothing.
In that moment,
a newly formed deer and cow
motioned the birds forward.
Wingless and tired,
the birds obliged.
The cow pointed his hoof
towards the canary.
The deer looked down
at the birds and said:
ask the canary.
That motherfucker will sing
Andrew Terhune is originally from Memphis, Tennessee. He is the author of the chapbook Helen Mirren Picks Out My Clothes (the greying ghost press). He lives in Stillwater, Oklahoma with his wife and two daughters.