RED LIVES HERE
The one-room house rustles, wakes up
when I come in. Ears pop out of furniture
like mushrooms. I turn on my unpredictable plans.
A vase shatters on the ground, taking an ear
mushroom down with it. My mouth shuts
and I slip it into my pocket for safe keeping.
I set all the trees on fire on my way home.
I wait under blankets eating apples for the punishment/
apocalypse/wrist slap. Radiators click on and off
rapidly. I am entertained against stars and glaciers.
There is no evidence that I did it. The lord had no
expectations for me so I filled it up to the salt rim
and drank it down. I am wondrously patient
under my blanket and starving post-apple.
The mushroom ears twitch but they cannot tell me
the time. I am an abrupt listener banging,
Kate Litterer is a native Pennsylvanian and has an undying love for the Midwest. She is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts MFA Program for Poets and Writers and is sticking around the Pioneer Valley to begin her MA/PhD in Composition and Rhetoric at the University of Massachusetts in fall 2013. Her poems have been published in Ilk, Jellyfish, Phantom Limb, Sixth Finch, The Destroyer, inter|rupture, and are forthcoming from Forklift Ohio. Kate can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLASTIC SONNET FOUR
high on your breastbone footing
you are waking me up
the morning is stretched
these walls their full proportions
& if the light is to be believed
the city is making its way in
if singing in the shower
is a prayer against encroachment
you are doing a fine job
the mammal tongue is an adaptable
instrument but not as a weapon
it is okay to fall
it is okay
outside the city
is already totally drunk on your skin
Caroline Crew edits ILK journal. She is the author of the chapbook small colours like wild tongues (dancing girl press, 2013) and recent poems can be found in PANK, Nashville Review, Sixth Finch and other places. She lives between Old England and New England.
The Ambulance Outside isn’t Really a Moving Truck
Meg Wade was born and raised in the hills of East Tennessee. She recently received her MFA from the University of Arizona, where she served as poetry editor for Sonora Review. Her work has appeared in CutBank, and online at, The Feminist Wire. She lives, writes, and teaches in Tucson, AZ.
Put off guard.
Cycle of drinks making a blinking shroud of the brain.
Yo Yo Ma in gorgeous space outfit
Something there is awry in me,
work all undone.
When I die please scatter me in a friendly river
to the sea even though I am scared of it.
There is a blinking, agitating light,
don’t park there,
could send signals down to your clogged up heart
like an ash fountain
or a beautiful shadow
used as a dishcloth
and nailed to a stump.
Great sludge goddess
protect my sons from the drilling sounds
the lavishes of green water
James Grinwis is the author of two books of poetry and co-founding editor of Bateau Press. He lives in Northampton, MA.
DEATH DRIVES A LINCOLN
Just get on your knees, you’ve given up,
patchouli oil, burnt wicks, & dust.
Drink from scorpions in sweetened milk
& nuns who weave the rose crowns of your chest.
It’s 3 a.m., the neighbor’s windows turn
into neon glaciers. The door handle, locked.
Death accelerates while licking her steering wheel of ivory
outside a church in Oaxaca.
Your right hand will be buried deep in velvet curtains.
She tells you to get in, promises to wash your hair
struck with a match.
Ines Pujos is a poet living in New York, where she is currently getting her poetry MFA at NYU. When she’s not writing, she’s running around the city for pastries. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry, Puerto Del Sol, Alehouse Press, The Bitter Oleander, and Dunes Review. You can reach her at email@example.com.
AS BOSTON STARES DUMBSTRUCK AT MY THRUSTING ASS
As Boston stares dumbstruck at my thrusting
ass and hips you are a cracked bowl of pink
sand you are a storm of orphaned kites. We
beat it to the siege we beat our paper chests
in the squinting light. They have gold egrets
in their eyes and see us a quake of lumber
and moonflower. When you slipped off your
panties and said How About Now when you
took my fingers in your mouth, how could we
expect an entire city to look away. It’s not like
they’ll arrest us for becoming snow. For finding
the empress of tigers and uncaging. A roar
is a mouse with each individual hair on individual fire.
For impersonating an endless flock of miniature egrets.
A mouse is a roar in reverse and snow becomes
you in your nacre chemise. I want to take you
on the roof. Your hair is always at night.
I want to throw pink sand in the eyes of the empress.
Your hair is always on fire. Your kite string hair
is no cage for tigers your soft mouth says a storm
is a blitzkrieg of egrets is a cage for miniature eye sockets.
When the fountain died you were sitting cross-legged
on the roof of city hall reading tarot for the handless.
That’s not cocaine out there, it’s an invasion.
Nick Narbutas born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, is currently in the MFA Poetry program at Columbia University, a member of the poetry board for Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, and the social media intern for Wave Books. His poems have also appeared or are forthcoming in Ghost Proposal, The Journal, and Court Green. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PAIN AT THE PUMP
In the black alley, morning takes a hike.
Who are we if not a bunch of
When the liberal elite shows up
to take our jean jackets,
we’ll know it’s really the end.
When birth control comes packaged
as Baby Bullets we’ll know
the beginning happened
long ago and we missed it
like when your sister woke you up
because Jupiter was obvious
in the night sky but you laid back down,
regret a cold seed asleep
with you in your throat for years.
We said things like Hey,
is that your car on fire?
Do you want me to pick you up?
Since your car is on fire?
Meg Thompson‘s work has appeared or is forthcoming in DIAGRAM, The Journal, PANK, and Two Serious Ladies. Her chapbook, Farmer, is due out later this year from Kattywompus Press. She lives in Ada, Oklahoma, where she teaches at East Central University. She can be reached at email@example.com.
THE FUTURE IS NOW AND IT IS ADORABLE
One day kittens could become a major currency,
every country trading these adorable balls of fur
for potatoes or Camaros. This is very possible Harold!
One day we will have to carry large sacks
that are always meowing about the tight
spaces in which we crammed them, the very
hot conditions. I sweat just thinking about
all of these kittens, and how they will try to crawl
out of our sacks and we will have to press
their disappointed faces back into these deep
burlap bags where they may tumble around
for hours. That day could be tomorrow.
Today, we fold the faces of dead white men
in our pockets, but who knows what tomorrow
will bring? Fancy aircrafts or a new type of all-purpose vinegar.
I am allergic and will not make it in a world of kittens.
I will not be able to breathe while everyone buries
their faces in the soft bellies of their new
wealth so I wanted to tell you this much, Harold.
I have always admired the size of your head. From one
colossal head to another, it is amazing
that either of us own shirts that fit
the way they do, that accommodate
our ability to be allergic to kittens. Harold,
sometimes I think I am being reborn
when I put my head through another T-shirt.
Sometimes, I look out and can’t believe
I am able to see what I see.
Albert Abonado is the editor of The Bakery and curator of the Deep Fried Reading Series. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, Washington Square, Gargoyle, Guernica, Moon City Review, Bayou death hums, and Sugar House Review. He lives with his wife in Rochester, NY.
LOTS OF SPACE TO HANG THINGS
I got this
we can’t get
the foot cracker
stops its job
fast. a relish
plate for dinner.
for us to watch.
so I think you
like it here.
my dad calls
word for kitchen,
dead in that.
I’m too old,
I want to talk.
I’m a fishy
in your house
in a sinkhole
I often think
Patrick Samuel received his MFA from Colulmbia College Chicago. He co-curates a Chicago-based reading series/art cooperative called The Swell. When he isn’t busy curating and writing, Patrick enjoys petting his cats and bickering with his boyfriend. His most recent work appears or is forthcoming in Pinwheel, BLOOM and Gertrude. Patrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this weather all dogs
move like wild dogs.
Metal claws root out
worms and shells
and saber-toothed jaws.
a zeppelin’s proud gut.
beyond the courthouse.
A vendor scoops
a cantaloupe, then
hands me the skull.
There’s a terrarium
draped by a towel
on the only free seat
I ask the man what’s inside
and he says scorpion
It’s not something
I would ever do on a bus
but I lift my eyebrows
as if to say may I?
I stick my head under
the towel and see how
strange I’ve become
It used to be
I stood on a stump
and you stood on a stump
Now if I want to see
the mountains you see
I get sick with altitude
in a skyscraper
To see what you see
I ascend the city’s throat.
Bill Carty lives in Seattle. His poems have been published recently in Poetry Northwest, Hobart, Octopus, Page Boy, and Sixth Finch, and his chapbook Refugium is available from Alice Blue Books. He is a current fellow at the Richard Hugo House and will be a 2013-14 resident at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA.
Somebody bangs on the door at two
in the morning it could be a friend
or stranger who needs help it could
be a joke or burglar’s trick we don’t
answer we huddle on the stairs
and stop the music we were hearing
a taxi pulls over on the bridge
and the driver gets out he looks
at a building across the river an empty
office suite a brick warehouse with ivy
or his gaze connects to nothing Jesus
in the Mediterranean artwork haloed
by yellow the comfort of voices
from half sleep wafting down the hall
the array of horns that mean
terror and horns that mean victory
the wing maintains the form of a wing
but the bullet holes prevent it
from maintaining the principles
of flight percussion is a sequence
of short things little outbursts from
a hand or machine shadows on
the blinds as if one of us were trapped
outside the borders of the house
there were knocks on the walls
or from the floorboards no let’s not
answer a fanfare leading into
the traditional march formula where
is our engine what buzz or mirth
is it anger or a shadow little
blemishes obscuring our vision
The death is good the death is
welcome to our level of pleasure
the boulevards it allows to remain
open if a person leaves then snack
cakes are more plenty for the rest
is a universe ended in death won’t
we all have our moment in the dirt
nothing on earth dear girl is a crime
the judgment or the unraveling of
the verdict it is hung it is celebrated
reverie in certain bars a certain wet
there is warmth in our homes food
in our fridges even if it is the off
brand and much of it must be thrown
away periodically then entertainment
from any flat surface available tiny
messages of hope or command yes
they speak to us deeply the strings
beneath the narrative tell us to buy
or to give for the benefit of one meal
we’re heroes or pity is a weakness
or we’re in big trouble buster want
to get lonely tremors in hands in
support beams all the viewpoints
of the lost little things they’ve seen
in complicated and specific circumstances
unrelatable to unique ears mouths
the death is reported and drinks
are poured we feel real bad we feel
Glenn Shaheen is the author of the poetry collection Predatory (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011) and the flash fiction collection Unchecked Savagery (Ricochet Editions, 2013). His work has appeared in Subtropics, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. He is the poetry editor of Third Coast and editor of Matter.
She’ll never use the word adagio.
A wreck of self, of nervy tics and torque,
she spends her tenure at the fireworks show
not thinking cherry blossom, jellyfish
but grass gives me a butt rash and I wish
I hadn’t had that second plate of pork.
She’s grown untenable. Her looks concede
the sure discomfiture of Wonder Bras
and pews. She’s hooked on things she doesn’t need.
By now, the wash-that-man-right-out shampoo
has done a number on her luster too;
what started as a classic case of blahs
spread to her blood. Her gut’s a boiler room.
She’s sleeping less. She flirts with vertigo,
excusing truths: that she’s been groomed for gloom;
that, lecherous for what she can’t possess,
she’s left with fantasies—like faith, a yes
she conjures while her doubt is groping no.
Caki Wilkinson is the author of the poetry collection Circles Where the Head Should Be (UNT Press, 2011), which won the 2010 Vassar Miller Prize. Her second collection won the Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor’s Choice Award and is forthcoming from Persea Books in 2014.
THE SHAPE OF US, QUICKLY
A summer so long it feels dangerous.
Time thickens. Hot hours press their ears to us.
We want to pay for our alcohol in strange ways.
Shark teeth could get a case of beer for us.
Weathermen foretell mundane disasters
when stalled skies won’t clear for us.
But I can tell the origin of planes
reading the white trails that appear over us.
We play a band whose Japanese name means
Kinky Sex so loud the neighbors jeer at us.
They’ve discovered a planet with oceans
as deep as ours only light years from us.
In sleep, your hands move in imaginary fields,
running like startled deer from us.
On the evening of the hottest day, he said, Drive
faster, Sam, what is there left to fear for us?
Sam Ross’s poems have appeared in Tin House, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Guernica, and other journals. He has been awarded fellowships from the Watermill Center, Columbia University, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and he is co-editor of Circumference: Poetry in Translation.
He said loving me was hard in the end,
like Play-Doh mostly pressed through
the small asterisk of your Fun Factory,
when it becomes a matter of muscle:
you against plastic and your own best
packing skills. That night I dreamed
a giant stole my sleeping flesh, jammed
it into a too-small trunk. And then this
enormous headache, like my pelvis
was being born through my eye.
When I flexed again in the light
I was a bright pink snake, foot-long
star anise. Freedom! I thought
but then I felt the force above me
start to quake and sweat. My posterior
grew thinner—like, Here Comes my Tail!
Like, Here I Come in the Cool Grass!
But the giant would not relent.
I heard a booming voice above me
swear: “I will not end you, snake.”
Karyna McGlynn is the author of I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl, winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize from Sarabande Books. Her poems have appeared in Fence, Salt Hill, Columbia Poetry Review, Subtropics, Court Green, Ninth Letter and Phoebe. Karyna received her MFA from the University of Michigan, and is currently a PhD candidate in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Houston. She is the Managing Editor of Gulf Coast and coordinator of the Houston Indie Book Fest and Gulf Coast Reading Series.
FROM THE DEPRESSION
A killer is killing everyone I know. He chops them up: cousins, friends, former
students. I thought it was over when everyone I knew was dead. But instead his
definition of knowing grew flexible. He killed the actor John Hawkes because he’s my
favorite actor. He killed the members of Wolves in the Throne Room because I’ve seen
them play a few times. One day I was driving Sara’s car (RIP Sara) down Colfax & I
thought that maybe I’d try some of that frozen custard from Good Times because Seth
said it was pretty good (RIP Seth), but I didn’t. The next day I read on the Denver Post
website how the employees of Good Times had been found in the back office, all
chopped up. I was stunned & then I clicked the red X to close the pop-up ad
for Publisher’s Clearing House.
FROM THE DEPRESSION
My sister informs me that she likes a new blog & wants to exchange contact
information with the blogger. She starts singing & I tear up. There are bonfires. The
song is “Heat of the Moment” & the part where the song goes And now you find
yourself in 82 / The disco hotspots hold no charm for you, she is singing that right to
me. I was born in 1982. I emerged fully formed from a disco hotspot. They named me
Petition. They named me The Entire Song “Heat of the Moment.” It is like Nebraska:
always being there, always reaching instinctively for Fuck Your Emotional Bullshit,
thinking three things about that folk-punk chick with cameltoe up to her heart; a dream
from sleeping all night. But now my sister is singing. They are cherry trees from head
to foot, each branch sleeved with white glossy blossoms. I pity the
beautiful as the beautiful pity me. I had thought “Heat of the Moment” was by Toto but it
turns out that it is not.
Mathias Svalina is the author of three books, most recently The Explosions from Subito Press. Love Symbol Press will publish his collaboration with photographer Jon Pack, The Depression, soon. With Alisa Heinzman, Hajara Quinn & Zachary Schomburg he co-edits Octopus Books.
It’s Sunday morning and I’m in the dark
theater of myself again, waiting for the next
movie to start, this Technicolor
film from the 60’s, something with lawn chairs
and cigarettes, beautiful
women in their late 30’s wearing red
and white bathing suits, lounging like cats, untouchable, freckles
like leopard spots kiss their hot shoulders. I want to stand
under the blazing summer sky with one hand
on my hip. For weeks I’ve been posing
in front of the mirror like this, trying
to be more of a cunt, but I’m stuck
with this girlish frame, wearing pink pajamas, having
a slumber party with my girlfriends, my girlfriends, I’m always thinking
about my girlfriends, how far they’ve carried me
on what feels like a white sofa
with a silk canopy, because I am so tired
of spending my days
without you, sometimes I just need
to rest like an infant in the shade. It scares me,
how hard it is to live, how easily
my body breathes, how much I really
would have your baby if you asked. My breasts
tingle at the thought of it, and I wonder if this
has something to do with Jesus. I would like
to be saved. I would like to fall
into the arms of paramedics, like I did when I was pregnant
and had a seizure in the arms
of the only man who’s ever loved me, the home
I made and then left. I would like
to plead insanity, wear white and surrender
myself to professionals, cool, aloof, like the women
in my head, those long-
limbed gods sweating on the lawn, having a Coke, absentmindedly
brushing their collarbones, shooing flies
away like flies, like men, like flies.
Sarah Certa was born in Germany in 1987. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Paper Darts, Northwind Magazine, B O D Y, smoking glue gun, H_NGM_N, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA in poetry from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Minnesota. Find her online at sarahcerta.tumblr.com.