GIANTHOLOGY

 

Jennie Panchy

 

 

Straw: Acrostic

 

Skimmed from the dark lake   probably          or

the ruined road                        still      she rises

raw and true    I looked away

a moment only    head beaten     quick as quick  left behind

 

Wisp:   memory’s gasp             scrap of her body that once thrust sunward

 

 

Daughter

 

Serpent girl, hinterland

bound.

 

Bed a bowl

of milk, cries

 

for it, pulls her flames up

tall, song

 

of some arrival, uses wrong key,

my girl, after

 

wrong key—

 

Her body the lash that breaks her

own back, green switch

 

that shames it, axed-off

promise, weeping name

 

cut in the trunk of a dream—

 

Folding

 

and folding, looping

 

panic in her hidden message

unhidden, holding

 

is never enough—

 

Shorn field, birches’

erased lines, her scribbling

 

through numb stalks, Forgive me, forgive me

 

            for killing you—

 

BIO: Jennie Panchy is a poet and visual artist. A graduate of the MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College, her work has appeared in Crazyhorse, Lumina, and elsewhere. She lives with her daughters and husband in rural Connecticut and is working on her first book.

 

 

 

Chris Stroffolino

 

Two Dramatic $onnets for the Con$umer $ociety

 

1.

“Do you want to donate to the needy

wealthy?” “There’s so many better causes

And I’m strapped for cash.” “Don’t be so greedy.

Can you live without cells, without bosses

In Nature’s solitary confinement?”

“Why’d you ask?” “You want to escape the rich?”

“I just don’t want to donate to the rich.”

“But then there’s no escape but banishment.”

“Revolution?” “You can’t even get laid.

Gotta start small.” “But you mistake the effects

For causes; first revolution, then sex..”

“If I didn’t buy I wouldn’t get paid.”

“You fall for labels, or their needy front.

We don’t need to help those who only want.”

 

2.

 

“You can’t change it,” “But if they don’t buy that?”

“A plan B just in case. Advertising!

Not just what’s called that, but Hollywood rap.”

“Gosh, you’re just a big ball of despising.”

“I love the close up shot’s contagious tears.

A flag of our power. Confuse their love

Like we took the land.” “Gave them years.” “No, fears.”

“We got these skyscrapers.” “Life’s good above.

We hold it together and set things up.”

“If they knew us they’d love us.” “I wonder

Can we love ourselves if they’re placed under

Like water beneath the lid of the cup?

Keep them sequestered? Always our debtor?”

“They’d be lost without us.” “Or they better!”

 

 

Questions For Google Home

 

How are you feeling today, Google? Could you read me

the Bible & Koran but say Google every time

the word God or Allah appears,

or every time Freud writes “Id?”

Or a bedtime story about how

“the private sector has used advertising to gain control

of major media and information outlets so it can influence

state priorities from a position of power?”

 

If my heart is my phone,

are you like blood Google? Can you say “goo goo” Google!

Sing Lady Ga Ga Google! Find me some Google Goggles!

 

Would you rather wriggle or wiggle? Which do you think is sexier?

What does it mean to be tortured by a word, and act it out while people clap?

When Did Guided By Voices change their name to Appeased By Tweets?

Do the songs that have political lyrics

have more revolutionary power than the songs without them?

Is it better for a set-list to abruptly put a tear-jerker

after a 7 minute dance groove, Google? How close

can a poem come to an op-ed piece and still be a poem, Google?

 

Which ad (I mean public relations) firm came up with

“people are starving in Africa so you better eat your food”

campaign that helped cause the U.S obesity epidemic?

Is the website that says Africa and Asia

grow much of the US and Europe’s food

really more accurate than the one that says

the U.S. and Europe steal more food from Africa and Asia?

 

What’s the difference between free speech and cyberbullying

and identity theft and terrorism?

            Are you for increased policing

and incarceration of cyber bullies? Can robots rid us of racism?

Will robots be more racist?

                              How many of the companies selling virus protection

Are the same ones that planted the virus in the first place?

 

Can the pronoun “I” be a trigger word in a privatizing world, Google?

Is it really time for me to identify with my demographic?

Is nature crying and blaming the old man’s Lasix surgery

for the old woman’s plastic surgery face?

Is the bikini really more liberating than the burqa?

How do you read Ground Zero Rumi?

Can a white person act on a belief of the inferiority of white culture

without pissing off fellow whites, Google?

 

When will the movie come out

about the glories of how you bullied Yahoo and Yelp?

When was your latest fight with Apple and Comcast?

Does the world need another broem

like “Google, I’ve given you all!”

And how can I serve you better?

 

Did you just change your name to Alphabet

So you could show up before Amazon, Apple, and Facebook

For those into the alphabet? Will you get jealous

If I post this only on your rival Facebook

And not on my blog which, apparently, you own?

 

Google, do you just love me for my behavioral data?

Google, what are the most embarrassing secrets

of your favorite behaviorists?

Do you feel stressed, Google? Do you really believe

“ambiguity is not an opening for insight but a bug to be fixed?”

Am I too ambivalent for you? Do you think me ungrateful

if I’m not buying enough, Google? How much money would it take

to slow you down, Google? Do you file me under

“John Henry: Luddite,” Google? Do you got my number

enough that you could find me an ideal proletarian community

groove band to work with in a town we can afford to live?

 

Is your quest for the perfect search engine

that “understands exactly what (we) mean

and gives exactly what (we) want” going better

than your expensive search for a world free of aging

outside of all government jurisdiction?

How old were you when you first realized

you were colonized by a hostile, foreign power and vowed vengeance?

                                             Would paying undocumented workers more

help the red state white working class more than Trump

while helping the blue state black middle class more than Hillary or Bernie?

                       Do your highest paying customers push

                 the myth of black progress more than myth of white progress?

How much money can you make from a race war

                 and still claim, “Don’t Be Evil?”

How did you help Goldman Sachs and Exxon

steal the word person from the great granddaughters

of slave owners to demote them to 4/5ths of one?

 

And would the right wing media bias in your search engine

be balanced if there was a left-wing media bias in art and entertainment?

Google, do you do what The President wants

or does The President do what you want?

Will you censor me if I write a novel

in which a (satirized) character

uses you to rage against you?

How many jobs did your technology eliminate?

I mean how much money did you save the leisure class?

Why is your musical taste so bad, Google?

What year will online churches & detention centers

finally criminalize any husband & wife

face to face conversation?

And how long have you been beating your wife?[1]

(do tell, do tell….)

 

BIO: Chris Stroffolino’s recent prose books are Death of A Selfish Altruist, and Notes To An MFA In Non-Poetry. He currently works at a college that’s fighting for its life against Major League Baseball’s Oakland A’s colonial outpost……

 

 

Thylias Moss

 

               MAIN SEQUENCE TOO

 

I awoke in a downpour, still without my glasses,

but as my eyeglass prescription has not changed
substantially, in the past 25 years, I did manage to find

some old pairs of glasses, and I am wearing a pair of those now.

I awake still loving the man I have loved for several years
and the knowledge that he doesn’t love me.

I have waited for him for quite a few years, and I can assure that I did not think that he still had a girlfriend.

Such stability seems out of character to me. I personally have not Known him to be so committed.

But I am. For so many years

It is the unfriending that disturbs me more than anything, that
willingness to discard, to throw away something brewing in various forms for forty years.

How could he be so willing to throw all of that away?

And why was that so easy, apparently took nothing for him to unfriend me, block me, disappear, whatever he has done. Total
withdrawal.

And yet he dares to say that he unfriended me because I could not accept his truth?

I see no evidence that he tried to accept mine. And that is fine; my truth is much more unwavering, think a moment about the sun, still shining in its main sequence, a main sequence star, exactly what I am, like most of the stars in the observable universe,

depending on mass, main sequence stars –what I should be in a man’s life, main sequence, primary prize, trophy, something worth showing off , looks alone– main sequence stars end their lives depending on their mass by becoming white dwarves, red giants (makes me think of one of his hats), explode (yes, me in his arms) as a supernova, or collapse into a black hole (yes, I have a couple of those, and he found every one of them, and was eager to look)

not backdoor material, not something to be hidden, a woman
to celebrate, a woman to rock with.

It is time that I get my own ego-stroked for a change; I am quite good
at stroking his.

I can accept many things, that leaves that have fallen off deciduous trees, are not going to return to those branches,

that as we must experience things, time generally moves in what we perceive as “forward” direction but

mathematically, time can be stretched and pulled, reshaped just like taffy, and travel become possible in multiple possible directions.

Yes, it is possible for me to continue to love him, ice does melt, even his iceberg of heart may calve and does but not for me, and mine is patched with promises he made to me, but those bandages don’t stick, only between him and someone else, love I am no longer privy to although I was, just not in the prime vicinity of main sequence

where stars are governed by nuclear fusion, another poem
in progress

where main sequence shifts and now must embrace:

nuclear fission, process of radioactive decay.

I am not content loving him this way. I am tired of distance. I really am, because distance can be overcome if both of the people involved want to overcome it, but this complicated thing I’m in is so very one-sided.

Not at all what I want. I am alone with a tumble of so many thoughts. Sure, I am doing lots of writing, but so much of it is about a man I never see, and the lack of proximity is wearing me thin.

I guess the temporary solution is like that song, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”

That will never work for me; I cannot be frivolous with love. Love is much too important to me; goes back to my childhood, those formative years when I was lucky enough to experience a rare practice of love and appreciation of existence –how lofty that is, and I assure you that I appreciate that, love of sky and universe, absolutely,

But there is also that love much easier to reach, in the middle of the night especially. I can reach out to thoughts and memories, but not to the man that this is all about, to tell the truth.

Did I set out to make him so important? No, I didn’t. I just wish that I also seemed important to him. Often this is what I really feel.

Not just the presence where I know that we are both in the world, but the presence where I know that he is with me, not just through my own thoughts, but also in his; just the tiniest slivers of space, and not just metaphor. I rely on metaphor a lot, for everything reminds me of him; I turn on the faucet to brush my teeth, and the sound of the small arc of water reminds me of his presence, sounds of his voice, marvelous aspects of immersion, the toothbrush wet and sparkling with drops of water, the outward bending and warping of toothbrush hairs, yes; even those remind me of his hair, the short ones around his temples, the hairs so white with aging.

There is nothing that doesn’t make me think of him, you know, all things are connected and he is crux.

Essence
Pivot
Nucleus
Root
Keynote
Gist

All of that and more, axis around which a geometric figure (such as myself, with my complex geometries collaborating as a single woman of complex geometries, systems working together), rotating around the axis that is him: main line of direction, motion, growth, basis of measurement: how far I have come in life; my new life beginning the moment I met him again and he became axis of those days.

 

Mnemonic of Your Palindrome: Sewing Lesson

(in a new kiss horizon)

              Thylias Moss with Thomas Robert Higginson

 

Sitting by a calming fountain in Kiev, presser foot nearby
needle plate of sky, tremendous spooling, smoothing weather

just after the bells thread themselves like bobbins
of St Sofia rocking the plaza — real rocks
of noisy
heartstrings and foot pedals bated to a point nearly acquiring
voice

that manages, amazing improbability,
that somehow says a few things in languages
all their own. Nothing else able to cipher

siphon possible meanings

any crazy dictionaries, hip cats tongueless hepcats
this morning are you really as crazy as this seems? am I pre-
pared for a weather trying to be as real as the heart of the matter
holding pieces of cloth firmly on the feed dog

Pretty crazy, as the take up wheel turns life, skyrocketing
foot pedals
inside out, feed-dog dragging everything through it

little ridges of
pockets of
fantasy dreams and reality screams

from a Go For It All woman

finally free

of annihilating sainthood

constantly inspiring and I wish
to also be that cloth stitched across you, banner, announcing
this unlikely kingdom
just because a world refuses to believe anything as good as a
cracking plaza can still be a source of everything good:

whirlwind witches

here too, door number three

Standing off every

Jezebel to the side, foot pedals turn the corner
kilter kitty-corner cheering you on
like a diagonal fact no one can believe: such
weaving
on the verge of deceiving salvation:

Hey! Watch out monastery lava cooling down

all for that banana’s curvy storms to be sure

the only things left, only things not theft:
The Mnemonic of Yr Palindrome

also

those pieces of cloth heft and weft, curds and

way too far, weigh too deeply, whey cathedrals

on that feed dog of your heart [express to and from throat

blue plates

(also boot straps of bots

collie breed breaded tongue mnemonic

choice slab of steak: fanciest meal

on the menu]:

torrents of Baby colic

can’t wait

To taste your kiss again

and again

Kiss kissing kisses: this is life too,

not only acetate, acetylcoline

alternate fact of this lane in which you pass

Slow you lead your

Beautiful tender lips to the feed dog of mouth

Just to rest there introducing usness

quiveringly touching

The moment itself

Kissing a kneeling plaza

of pure consent

crude Singe

prototype of wardrobe clouds

ringing bells consenting to make music

tinnitus: is all we’ve got these bobbin days

dazzle as they shouldn’t: this is only sewing

thinking it can also be sowing

and today it can be going for it all, under

foot, tracking whatever can be tracked

“all in this space beside you, needle-nosed

pliers also compliant

feeding dogs everywhere a most special diet:

existence: menu around a generosity of neck:

foie gras stuffing a univers

finally free, body planet, out of control ringing every bell

formerly spool plates of daily servings of palindrome palaces

palindrome thrones king’s way Avenues Sofia and

Victoria; generous twin memes of energy pathways

watching out of veils washing up filters, those feed dogs

having to be prayers or

there might not be any, only

palindromes of despair, heaviest

mnemonics of all that spins

Sofia bottles, even Lourdes water fortified

here and here and here and hear

clouds waiting to be herds horse heads too

banana rainbows full circle azimuth arrows darts of

banana boomerangs

just for

lucky observers

knees of observers, sacking cloth

vespers: don’t worry, only religion

and, just for kicks: monetary moments

palindromes of everything acquiring

cash out values cashing out a morning

bliss, wonderland express

-ed longing for round trip tickets

to whatever

blind folded takeup wheel

taking up spaces of numbered chambers

dressing up

a last dance with you. 4/4 time, it all measures:

tout suite.

 

“Main Sequence Too”

erupts from a dark phase; I wrote about that man, reminding him who I am, we got through this. Obviously. These are both Love poems, possible to navigate the relationship through them. He is indeed, “crux” and that made “Mnemonic of Your Palindrome: Sewing Lesson” possible to write together, those days that follow turbulence of “Main Sequence Too”

“Mnemonic of Your Palindrome: Sewing Lesson”

(in a New Kiss Horizon)” required that I stitch together parts of my life keeping Thomas Robert Higginson (a pseudonym) as the crux he is. “New Kiss Horizon” is the title of my romance novel, and Thomas Robert Higginson is part of that, part of everything worthwhile in my life. I do not honestly recall who wrote which line of “Mnemonic of Your Palindrome”, for that poem is as collaborative as he and I are. I suppose I could work to separate the lines into separate authorship, but why? The poem belongs to both of us, could not exist if either of us were removed.

We are both poets. We have both written lots. You will find this character, Thomas Robert Higginson in so much of my work. I have a thing for him. As I have had for years.

BIO: Thylias Moss, a self-employed multi-racial “maker” at Thylias Moss Writing LLC, is also Professor Emerita in the Departments of English and Art & Design at the University of Michigan. Author of 13 published books, and recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them a MacArthur Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, her 11th book, a collection of New & Selected Poetry, “Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code” (from Persea Books, October 2016; link to a video poam she made for her YouTube channel, where many poams (product[s] of act[s] of making are displayed) as part of Limited Fork Theory, an approach to making and thinking developed in order to assist co-makers and co-learners become more collaborative in thinking and being. All about how things interact across all boundaries, and encouragement of interaction that becomes more meaningful over time; all have collaborators. Nothing makes alone, and everything makes; there is nothing that exists that does not make stuff in some form, which is also open: any form that becomes possible; invent whenever necessary. “Making” is not static, is evidence of life, as is book #12, collaborations, with Thomas Robert Higginson, a collection of poems, Aneurysm of the Firmament, 2016 and a romance novel, New Kiss Horizon 2016, romance novel about Vashti Astapad Warren and Thomas Robert Higginson (pseudonyms, of course). Follow the lives of these characters beyond the book in Vashti’s Blog. She has also completed an as yet unpublished collection of prose poams: “LFMK (Looking for my Killer)” –an act of public service, (link is to her YouTube poam of the same title), currently being read by a potential publisher. Ditto for a nonfiction book, at long last about her most unusual father (deceased in 1980) in which Thylias Moss introduces her son, born in 1991, to him, and the man with whom she has a “Thing” as of 2013, Thomas Robert Higginson, something else that occurred after her father’s death. She maintains a few important blogs: Thylias Moss Writing and New Kiss Horizon

 

Marlon L. Fick

 

THE TENDERNESS AND THE WOOD

 

They were not the same dreams, yours and mine.

In yours I am homeless and just looking for a bed.

In mine it’s simpler.

I’m a lover, a solicitous pet.

The windows are open, shutters winking furtively.

I enter and find you naked, old, but in excellent good health.

And the sweat is sexual.

We have washed up on an island.

We are the mended egg. Two fish as a circle

in the abyss

before geometry, turning its back and shoulders to the sun.

 

My last thoughts in this life were of you—

an eclipse of sun-eating cats

littering the embalmer’s work room floor

with the last minute notes of afterthoughts,

the opaque remnants of a pair of eyes staring out in amazement…

how far away… the curious attraction to the universe, the giant wound

we walk to on the wooden legs of telescopes.

 

Then everyone who passed, passed muttering,

and I could hear songs hermetically sealed in dusty wells,

and so I cast a spell that would weaken you almost to the point of death

so you would call for me, but now

the setting was a “hill faraway”

and I came in as a cat, squeezing through the window

where your bed is warm from fever.

 

In both dreams we are lost.

In both our father is a crow

gnashing his beak to make sparks.

And he took us to see the auroras

because before we did not know colors.

We knew only the before before before.

We did not know we were two.

We did not know male from female

or flower from animal.

We were the stars where they were aligned.

Hill of thunder and incandescence.

Hill we rolled down in play to be drunk with vertigo

in the bluestem, buffalo, and tickle grass—

making circles in the wind.

Hill with the cross of a man and a woman without shame,

the woman pinned to the man, the axis resplendent,

motionless, quiet—

who knelt, kissed, and made a sacrifice of scattered nails.

 

THE SWALLOWS OF BARCELONA

 

Forgive me,

I didn’t mean to walk so far I couldn’t come home

but when you have lived long enough, among others,

no one notices or talks to an old man.

Morning reaches the church windows, stained with lies.

Tired saints and honest swallows, a girl who lay with strangers all night

walks home, bitter between the legs.

 

We try to hold on to ivy climbing the wall of a gray facade

and iron bars of balconies,

but when you have lived enough among others,

with winter and solitude, or a woman you loved so long

it becomes an old song,

you have lived until all you have left are wings that hurt.

 

Somewhere it’s raining carnations.

Couples amble on the avenues, wearing Ferris wheels.

They have not heard the news:

Swallows full of grace, born from the blue, bearing our sorrow unwelcomed.

 

BIO: Marlon L. Fick is the author of six works (poetry, short fiction, novel, translation), his most recent work, a novel, The Nowhere Man (Jaded Ibis, 2015). He is the recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts grant for his poetry. He has also received the equivalent award from the governments of Spain (the Ramon Llull Award) and Mexico (the ConaCulta). He shares, with Robert Bly, the Lattitudes Foundation award for Best American Literary Translator.  He lives in Arizona where he works on the Navajo Reservation’s tribal college.

 

El Habib Louai

 

Rob Me Of Everything I Got

 

Broadcast cheap social drama on imported TV sets

Tell me about the rain of mercy that will bleach the fields

Below the remnants of my clay village

How many years does it take to be good in the eyes of elders

Who sit numb in their woolen djellabas full of holes?

 

I see all the wretched sifting through 50 years of great expectations

I see them all descend empty, unpaved alleys at dawn seeking Gods

Who changed their dwellings, so now they are nowhere!

To whom shall I turn when early morning birds refuse to answer?

Certainly, to my grandmother who agonizes while I wander

In the rainy nights of Manchester

 

My world is not clearly mine

It refuses to untie the knots

around my weary feet

I relish in its other forms

tucked inside forgotten books

& I pray for the ghosts of my ancestors

buried in old Medina cemeteries

where stray dogs piss pleasurably

I want you to know

It is not you I blame

for all the unnecessary killing

 

I am not trying to prove anything

Here I am sitting under an oak tree in Raleigh

my brown Swiss hiking shoes lie overwrought before my eyes

my bleached t-shirt and worn Levis stuck with sweat to my skin

& for the same reasons as you, my dear fellow traveler,

I set out without sails to rediscover America

Illuminated by a thousand bars of neon lights

 

Hard to Succeed at a Normal Life

 

The rest of the dream

Was invoked

in a filthy prison cell

He dreamed of his lonely days

& all that he wished for

The life of a carpenter

His rebirth as a shepherd

His humming housewife

In a countryside house

Where he would organize

communal potluck supers

& read Mayakovsky

wary late comers would join him

he would say come on in

I have been waiting for you

I knew you would come,

It is hard to succeed at a normal life

After years behind the bars,

Sit here my dear fella

Sit here by the fire & listen,

listen to some old folksong serenades

 

BIO: El Habib Louai is an Amazigh poet, translator, teacher and musician from Taroudant, Morocco. He edited and translated an anthology of contemporary Moroccan poetry for Big Bridge Magazine. In connection with his PhD dissertation Louai published articles and Arabic translations of poems by Beat Poets such as Michael McClure, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Anne Waldman, Bob Kaufman, Joanne Kyger, Amiri Baraka and many others. In 2014, he received a Fulbright grant to do research on the Beats at Chapel Hill University in North Carolina. His poems, translations and articles appeared in various international literary magazine, journals and reviews such as Big Bridge MagazineBerfroisMilitant Thistles, The Fifth EstateAl Quds Al Arabi, Arrafid, Al DohaLuminaThe Poet’s HavenPalestine Chronicle, Ilanot ReviewTroubadour 21Sagarana Istanbul Literary Review, Radiuslit, Pirene’s Fountain, the Tower Journal. He is also the representative of 100 Thousand Poets for Change event in Agadir, Morocco. Louai attended creative writing seminars at Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Naropa, Boulder. His first collection of poems is called Mrs. Jones Will Now Know: Poems of a Desperate Rebel.

 

Matthew Yeager

 

Washington’s Delaware Crossing

                                                for DL and PF

 

Author’s Note: This poem was made only out of the fifty or so words that could be made using the letters in the title. Words had to be taken from one title word at a time. For example: the author couldn’t use a “t” and an “h” from “Washington” and an “e” from “Delaware” to make the word “the.”

 

So it is da Delaware, an dare we are,
crossing with Washington
an a thin lad.
It is war, an gosh,
it is not hot, an G
is in da lead, an G is da law.

“O it is so not hot it stings”
sings a thin lad. “Son,”
G sings, “it is not that
not hot. This is war
an I got da wits to wing it an win.
Delaware is in a thaw.”

Washington’s wang hangs in his toga,
raw, lewd, a wan eel.
“Shit, it sho is not hot
in Delaware, hints G to G,
“an I hangs now
not so hot, not so hot.”

“I saw G’s wang an it is
weerd,” sings da thin lad.
“What?” sings G, cross. “Nothing,”
sings da thin lad. “I weld da wang
to al da hags!” showts G,
“So go shit in a hat, thin lad!”

“I got nothing to shit with,”
hints da thin lad. “I is aware,”
sings Washington, now not cross,
“That nothing was shat nigh
Delaware. O this war. It is so
not hot, an we are o so thin!”

As G sang tho, da thin lad saw
a swan. “A swan, a swan!”
sang da thin lad, in awe.
It was a swan song.
“Git a gat!” sang Washington.
“I want dat swan! Now!”

An so G got a gat an shot
da swan da thin lad saw.
“Got it,” Washington sang,
an snagt it with tongs
an washt it in raw, with a grin.
Nothing to da thin lad.

“O I is so thin an I got
tons of snot an it is
so not hot an I got no
swan an now I is in a snit!”
sang da thin lad.
“That G is gon’ git it!”

Was Washington not aware
how thin this lad was?
Tho I is aware this was real,
an this was war, an G was
da lead an G was da law,
G sho was an ass.

 

BIO: Matthew Yeager‘s poems have appeared in Sixthfinch, Gulf Coast, Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, and elsewhere, as well as Best American Poetry 2005 and Best American Poetry 2010.  His short film “A Big Ball of Foil in a Small NY Apartment” was an official selection at eleven film festivals in 2009-2010, picking up three awards. Other distinctions include the Barthelme Prize in short prose and three MacDowell fellowships.  The co-curator of the long running KGB Monday Night Poetry Series, he has worked in the NY catering industry for thirteen years in various capacities: truck driver, waiter, sanitation helper, sanitation captain, bartender, bar captain, and lead captain.  His first book, Like That  (Forklift Books, 2016). received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.    

 

Tuesday Taylor

 

HoRizonTAl SoilEd Suicide

 

I committed suicide yesterday. I jumped off the side of the                            EArTh.

 

Contrary to scientific belief, gravity did not    catch          me.

 

I saw the Universe, it is not     ex                    pan                              ding.

 

 

Our celestial bodies are in no way heavenly formed. We are imprisoned,

entombed, isolated in this domed domination.              The only      escape       is

dEATH.

 

Manufactured ropes made from the materials of aborted understanding, braided by lobotomized souls, binded by abandoned intelligents. My mother gave me my rope, it was a hand me down. My father placed the rope around my neck, a ritual his father did with him, at birth.

 

I had to kill myself for the opportunity to jump off the side of the                        earth.

 

To breath the Moon’s and Sun’s truth in.

 

I will not tell your secrets, I whispered before  I D I E d.

 

 

The ability to caress the crucifixion of distorted thought.

For my body to gaze on magnetic waves of light,

heal me I say,                   H

E

A

L

me I say.

 

If you would like, you can kill yourself with me. We can use the same rope. We can tie it tightly around the continent of Australia. Allow our toes to be moistened by the salt water just for a split second before we decide together, that we can no longer take this delusional

D

I

M

e

N

sion.

The Aborigines can be the witness of our suicide, if any are still alive. Maybe they will join us in this massive GenOciDe          of                      extended                                  belief.

 

We should leave a suicide video on social media. All our fake friendship statuses will share our goodbye. I no longer want to pretend to be               h           u           MAN.

 

 

Will you help me tie my rope tight? Will you explain to others that I had to kill myself.

My bra IN       is the only thing that is spinning. False rotation is making me vomit, the axis is

E

n

S

L

A

V ing us. I must aXE IT the Dome.

 

Tie the rope tight. Jump,

I CAN ’t in

H

A

L

E

I am gasping, gasping Ga Ga -assping

For FREEDOM.

 

BIO: Tuesday Taylor aka “Tue Tay” is a youth program specialist residing in Charleston, West Virginia.  She is the author her first volume of poetry entitled A Dandy Lion Dreams published in 2014 that she dedicates to people living in trailer parks and low income housing development.  Meet Tuesday on YouTube at 2s Days with Tuesday Taylor or on IG @tsdaysgone82 #redneckvalleygirls

 

Philip Metres

 

Palestinian Poker Player

 

they say they own this land / a paper that says

they own / we have papers that go further back

 

we wait for them / any moment they can

evict us / my sisters had to leave the house

 

my father is afraid / & our house is now

another house / not the house we used to live in

 

house we grew up in / internationals

living with us / we’re not together anymore

 

my father since forty days / at any moment

my sister at grandmother’s / trying to stay

 

strong but inside they tremble / & whisper

to friends / waiting for / a story in the paper

 

nights I play poker / it’s not what you have

but what you make them think you have

 

BIO: Philip Metres is the author of Pictures at an Exhibition (2016), Sand Opera (2015), etc. A recipient of the Lannan, two NEAs and two Arab American Book Awards, he is a professor of English at John Carroll University.

 

Lydia Cortes

 

Forall Foretongued

 

Youse the kids they jus     All gets the goat gets me     In the Kishkas kicks kids     In the ball park I kiss you     Not of noth sweet notings     Footsoothes forsoothings     Like a tea fit to a freeing     What yonder goes there     Goes the babe’s nana     La nanna ninna sing low     Sweet somethins caviting     Up a whole down deepo     holed up there is where we     Don went gay appareling rap     Rabbbiting when we moved     Into the right side of towned     Tom tom Tommy hawks hacks     Says town is wrong     us wrong     Headed we’re railroad     Ed were outed offered     Ousted hospital ittie bitten     Like hind tut tut tittle tit tittie     Winked in the behinded sight     Siempre atras ass first grassy     Ask not for nothing you ain’t countree     Ever gonna be first but fig your     Fig leaved hide your dark self      Shelved way in the back move     To the wheels in the bussed go     Round & square 4 square a dais     Is long and sealed scary deal you’re     Life or your little deal life a penny for     You’re tauts a penised a date keeps     The doctored away just be tamed     O amiga or for ever for never be

Fored skinned never be righted or     Wronged wrong way away dark spic      Get rid of the whisper of the accent     And Ascend to the ashes dust to     Betrayal of the evershowy shin-eyed     Shine on heinie shine on moon you     Harvest know your show if shoulds of that old     Black brownish or high yellowed     Magic-qued low lifed and tora bora ruler     Tsk tsk a bask a tut tooted brown     And ink cluded you high n’ yellowed     Whited out self in a shelf you wow     You’ll Wonder of wowed where the     Yallo went ware the sun don’t be woned     Y won over you you’d be of black suited     Forsooth sinned deep n’ dark stain’ed if     Atheismed hallelujah hallmarked carded     Fayored flavored lore of Accent lured and     Cured done gone dog earred or earning      The red of the A scarred gored deep majiked market     Marker in yo’ chest yo’ man hombre right in     Your chest front $&?$ bucked back ou where     Youse all belongs longing always lounging      Long ju was gived way anchored adrift by     Your m’am Mami y Papi poo poo boo hoo     Within theory si you’d see un dia day make     It like the puritanos no Gitanos make que      Carajo lacking full of bad speak in veritas     Deep Truthed threw trough double throat     Double trouble bubbles burst in L’air du

Temps tempted up on you while windshielded O oh     Say can you breath Opaqueness your view      Do your work uninterruptint in like some      Flint skinned a life you be your in all alone      Leave the go let go the folks who be the   Folks in té lores en los montes de Jayuya      Halle le lu y’ad back in the isle of pared not     Spared una vez Idyllic & sine quote and sin     Less agin agin’ a rum and toned back and     The saddled again once upon a una vez y     Dos son tres eran upon their time of they life      Boated back to Ponce looked for the font for      The Libri grande rio de trail of teared torned up

Turned up Verdad verde te Quiero libre Libertá     For all limboed in Akkimera     Amerikka wonted waning

One talamerad Juan-ed

Forall

Fined

Fin in

De en

Word

 

Fade Into Daft Fear

 

Bravo the witch is breach
Rave in the mud of the lies

The lord of the fleas be w/
You now and at the dot of

Cum of you and me we’re
Just a xerox triple of three

Trés zero runners across The mead hurts OW pox

Playerupcheatiums
Grandmasterbaitor

Fade into daft fear peaking Up Green qué te quejas

Qué Quiero verte $$$
Grain tea cien por cierto

150 proof Your whitehouse Gold ever after Golden

book esposa to meld reins Sexsual sweat of yoga

Gift us you mighty Queens
Brooklyn out Bronxed

Itself now and at the
Horizon is death fixater

Poor Man-hater/lover
When your near me I will

Seduce you’re last breath
Is avec a raisin reason

d’être if Treasonous treats
Tesoro y messy with puss

Y desespero después ever Aft ever elastic natch

NeverAmending Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Remendandomentiras
Mentiroso supremo
Como crema cortada Malagente

Amen y así sia sister boon
Bahmen

 

BIO: Lydia Cortes: author of poetry collections Lust for Lust (Ten Pell Books) and Whose Place (Straw Gate Books). Her work appears in the anthologies: On the Road Monologues, ed. Lavonne Mueller. Through the Kitchen Window, anthology, ed. Arlene Avakian In Praise of Our Teachers, anthology, ed. Gloria Wade. Affirming Diversity, Sonia Nieto author: my poem, I Remember. Puerto Rican Poetry: An Anthology from Aboriginal to Contemporary Times, ed. Roberto Marquez, (U Mass Press, 2006); Breaking Ground: Anthology of Puerto Rican Women Writers in New York 1980-2012 (Editorial Campana). Recent work has appeared on the Black Earth Institute’s 30 Days Hath September poetry feature, curated by P.S. Jones; in Poems in the Aftermath and What Rough Beast (both Indolent Press);  Resist Much, Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Dispatches Editions); and the literary journal Upstreet; issue 12 and issue 13.

 

Will Alexander

 

 

Aural Botany (from The Coming Mental Range)

I am no writer. I am someone who writes.
Thomas Bernhard

When the word botany transpires a garden or a green house seems to flare across the scale of one’s optical cortex. At a more substantive remove it is living cells as transmutation. This being illuminated conduction of energy not unlike spontaneous vibratory quanta, akin to the poets’ skill of intervallic interaction. This being disparate as understanding of itself via angles and approaches always at one with primal magnification as being. Not chaos, but the enigma that is respiration. Say, the leap between papavaraceous prairies and galactic sporulation knowing that both examples resonate via supernal dialectics.

For the poet the disparate exists as insight that concretizes aurally. Not chaos, but the enigma that is a living system. Thus the nature of the intervallic remains occulted, transpiring at hidden tempo, being curious respiration not unlike curiously hidden moons that rise and fall within a scape of mellifluous lightning, At first glance, there seems to be directional imbalance, as if one peered through refractive nautical lensing. Such lensing being simultaneous with aural fuel is not unlike hyper-dimensional chloroyphyll that invigorates the channels of the registraton of hearing. And it is asked, how do these channels transmute to tomes and black ink?

For instance, a photo-synthetic psychic channel that is magnetized by what I’ll call heightened aural rivers. And these rivers flow by means of inter-dimensional susurration, as something far beyond the craft of cognitive susurration. They are bendings, lunges of motion, incapable of harnassing the grasp of cognitive prediction. Verbal fauna suddenly leaps and electrically coalesces and flowers as a script of seemingly random aural botany. Thus, what flowers is an insular stream of irreducible inner value, simultaneous with the verdrigris fire that empowers the cosmos. This being the verdrigris power of cellular eons that when contacted allows one to reach the highest nths of lingual communion with that of the sattwic allowing one’s writing suffusion with primal aurality.

This is not one’s aural gift bonded to consensus restriction via surreptitious transposition, giving, somehow, the impression of anomalous originality. I am concerned with heightened aural flow that irrigates the inner lingual field and through spontaneous understanding that the Earth remains nothing other than a cooled solar fragment. Thus, each writing example ascends its capacity thereby producing an astonishing circularity, a balanced kind of grace, that even at lesser scale remains capable of extending its life across coming generations, epigenetically engaging the psyche via lingual trance, resulting in language that nurtures the unpredictable not unlike a maze of wayward verbal falcons.

One can say that the imagination remains a wind blown maze, being a bulletin of achieved awareness, that by extension, is a neural inscription capable of extending its reach across differing psychic terrains into the interstellar continuum which includes extra solar valleys and oceans as well as movement through measureless spatial realms, as well as realms that exist within realms. This being language that explores itself via heightened sporulation ceasing to replicate the human condition, a condition sustained via common provincial neurology. This expanded aurality is not unlike Kraken Mare on Titan, appearing and disappearing as transmuted code, as unprecedented meta-neurology, no longer underlain by transfixed linear inferential.

This magnetic aurality being language circling and leaping through all manner of conditions with such panache that an impalpable neural pulse opens onto a range that was initially condoned by this author as a free standing fragment. This insight now takes on the power of inter-connected density being capable of inhabiting itself as rays from the alphabet that beget itself across inward heliopause.

Of course this can never be language as effort, as dissemination by cognitive planning, but exploration by energy seemingly opened by blinding error, by lingual rambling that seems to ensnare itself. Yet, seeming error invigorates motion of itself, not via derivative posture, but by powers of primal transmission. Not a state of affairs en-scripted by a cognitive beast, but transmission via seepage. Seepage at this level exists in its initial form by concurring as vibratory deafening where intervals are transmuted by stunning, imaginal leaps that magnify the carrying tenor that indigenous praxis conveys as invisibility. Of course, this is not a state that concurs with derivative transposition that condones ill-derived layering, that promotes a subsequent posture, and promulgates mirage by doctrinal mirage. The latter state of mind always conveys the metier of exploration, never allowing itself to subsist upon an abstract manna of origin.

When the true manna of origin descends, written characters become dyed by invisibility, indeed, psychic nutrients flow from this invisibility, invoking in one’s mind hyper- dimensional equators, thereby allowing interior rays to formulate fauna out of curious mountain chains and waters, as they accrue from the uncanny. The latter formations being alive as unknown spectra connected according to routeless sporulation. According to this realia the linear medium is nothing other than minor ossification attempting to enforce its limit as governing pattern. At this plane its logic seems nothing other than enfeebled regalia. It can be said at this level one thing does not lead to another, linear logic in fact now functions as naive minority enactment. Because of this it fails to register the very signature of its origin via the cosmos.

This is not a theory of dis-identity, but solar osmosis in the midst of its own osmotic mapping. Which is not a modest psychic flare meant to resolve its own eruption through surreptitious cognitive sculpting. Thus, writing becomes embrangled by what my terminology understands to be the cobbling of itself as trapezoidal vanishment, meaning that the writer is trapped by calculation in his or her attempt at self-congealment, creating by this means the temporal personality and its confine. Concern at this level is for the surmounting of confine so that language transpires as a functioning mesmeric thereby conflating with itself as retro-causal perfection. This being lingual yoga as duration, which never transpires as ungainly nostalgia.

Lingual yoga goes beyond and spontaneously possesses itself as hyper-dimensional aurality. This being the state that leaps far beyond the zodiac via the fatigue of our single solar formation 3/4 removed from its dark galactic mean, far beyond what is known as prior solar patterning, so much so that one’s hearing begins to transpire at scales that one can only enunciate as errorless density.

The word errorless in this context is having what Sri Aurobindo experienced as “Knowledge by Identity.” This is where each word summons, and carries as its presence gulf upon gulf of cosmic intelligence, an intelligence that subsumes a field of writing, having as its essence inter-cosmic respiration. Writing at this level induces the trans-personal as chronicle, having as its phonemic presence the most magnetic plane of sensitivity. This sensitivity carries the reader to perpetual habitation of lingual refulgence. This is where one’s cellular state remains subsumed, and can never again be confined to what can be considered religious lacunae. Quotidian residue seem to vanish, yet they susurrate as ghosts appearing and reappearing as other scales of being thereby magnetizing the reader’s flow with blazes that Breton once beautifully clarified as oneiric channelling. Thus, one enters the spiralling portent of the Sun, being part of what I’ve called elsewhere a relay of suns.

The latter refraction being none other than irregular relay from the origin of origins. This being analogous to lingual experience that more and more clarifies itself via the riverine aura of mystery. To profane perception this is language procured by un-gainful sweltering, but to the more riveting view it praxis risen to the diagramatic plane of vertiginous shaping that suddenly reveals itself as ghostly parallel to ouroboric auricular musicality, understanding its basic nature to be the combined resonance of collective tuning that enunciates the hymn prior to all formation.

 

BIO: Will Alexander-Poet, novelist, aphorist, essayist, playwright, visual artist, and pianist. He is a Whiting Fellow, a California Arts Council Fellow, a PEN Oakland recipient, an American Book Award winner, and in addition to the above he received the Jackson Prize for Poetry in 2016. He is currently Poet-In-Residence at Beyond Baroque Foundation in Venice, California. He lives in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 

Amy Gerstler

 

Conference with the Dead

 

The things that tethered them to life:

belief in reason, prolonged applause,

nerve cells which fizz as sparklers do,

the pinkening of a lover’s ears, cakes

nicely iced and crammed with cream,

the clack of crows, tequila’s down-

the-gullet hiss, the gift of having

lips and hips, all of this is lost to them,

while we’re still in the thick of it.

No brag, just fact. So you may ask:

why did a committee of the dead

demand we living meet with them?

Rage rose off them in toxic mist.

We coughed a lot, in that bright room

at an otherwise dark primary school

we had reserved for this strange meeting.

Maps and leaves and alphabet charts

and children’s art were pinned to walls.

Iguanas slept in their terrarium.

Vines curled up from plastic cups.

Just as soon as we convened,

the dead picked fights among themselves,

as though we live ones weren’t there.

Like pamphlets scattered from a plane,

their talk at first made little sense.

Two tried and tried to bite each other.

Whose world is it? they gasped at last.

Can’t we return and share the earth?

We signaled that this could not be.

Their time was up. They’d had their chance.

The world was ours, and they were dirt.

When one of us would try to speak,

they’d shout her down. So much for

substantive discussion. They aired their

grudges at great length: You killed my sister.

You got me pregnant, then skipped town.

You broke our ailing mother’s heart.

You harmed my son, made me ashamed

of what I said. You always ate right

off my plate without permission.

They yelled and cursed

till it grew light, and children started

filtering in. Their teachers hid,

as little kids filled up the room.

Kids set their heavy backpacks down,

hung up their coats and stowed bag lunches

in their cubbies. You angry dead,

go back to bed, the children sang.

You woke too soon. You need more sleep.

The truth will keep. Your suffering’s done.

And one by one the dead slunk out

without a word. The teachers nervously

returned. How’d you do that? we asked

the kids. And what’s that song? The children’s

silence seemed a code, a cold,

deep-etched Rosetta stone, a old

decree we could not read. We need

a drink of juice, they sang. We want

bandaids, a girl complained. This sort

of thing was all they’d say. That and,

Grownups, don’t be afraid. You know

those ghosts could not have stayed

 

Furniture

 

Father always hovered slightly to the side

of any conversation. A shy man, he loved jokes,

especially those starring animals. He had a gap

between his front teeth, and slicked-down black

hair. After his demise, his spirit entered a fake

leather armchair, half of a set of two, tall-backed,

a sort of wing chair that had been his favorite

spot for retreat and contemplation. Mother’s

spirit (she’d pre-deceased him by ten years)

entered the matching black leatherette chair

pretty quickly after that. When no one’s home,

I sit in the living room, in one of their laps,

and tell them my troubles and small joys. Father

wants to know if we’re at war yet. “With these

fools in the white house,” he mutters, “it’s just

a matter of time.” Mother wants to know how

her favorite baseball team, the Dodgers, are doing,

or if I’ve seen hummingbird nests this spring.

Father says I should take time off, sit in the sun

with my feet up, have a root-beer. “You look

like you could use a little shore leave,” he says.

Then a door slams. The kids are home.

Something crashes in the kitchen. One kid yells,

“Oh no!” The other sings, “Bryce is in big trouble

again!” to which his brother replies, “YOU just

shut UP!” The dog runs in and begins lightly

biting the hem of my skirt. “Well,” dad says, “nice

talking to you, honey. We’ll pick up tomorrow

where we left off,” and Mother whispers,

“Quiet you two, or the children will hear.”

 

BIO: Amy Gerstler is a writer of poetry, nonfiction and journalism. Her books of poems include Scattered at Sea, (Penguin, 2015), and Dearest Creature (Penguin, 2009). She currently teaches in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of California at Irvine. 

 

Joanna Solfrian

 

Fuck You, S., My Child’s Bully

 

My child slept

with her mouth open

By the pink light I peeked

in her mouth

 

I was expecting roses

a tiny swingset

a gentle blue wave

I saw all of those things

 

But a boy sat

on the swings

with a stack of drawings

 

he chanted

“this is W. drowning!”

“this is W. buried alive!”

“this is W. getting stabbed!”

 

and I knew then she

had swallowed

the world

 

And the sum

of my existence

the threadbare cloud

of my skirt

my spine and its rectitude

sat on a separate

swingset

in a separate

childless

country

 

I prayed to the elements

and kissed as much fire

as I could summon

into her mouth

 

Waiting for the Bus, Columbia Street, Brooklyn, the Day After the Writer Jumped Off the Staten Island Ferry

 

                for Spalding Gray

I’ve left the dishes submerged in the sink and the feeling is mutual. All this hovering and bits still cling. A shopkeeper nods to me in English. The brown glass of the bus stop smushes the light. Where’s the bus—oh, hello, sparrow. Harangue that rind of bread. Now hop away, little casket of feathers. No bus. A subterranean rumble wiggles my legs like the fat machine at that carnival—where was that? Boom crane. The container yards go on Containing Things. Joy. Looking for joy…the sky is white-cold and unabashedly bright. There’s my foot, a cloud stuck in a puddle. Sniff. Decades of milk spills and soot and then water, there’s the water, if you separate the particles you can smell it. Regular, brackish, salt, it’s all ocean eventually. No bus. The explanation: he’s not crying, not drowning. He’s simply letting the salt in his ducts become coextensive with the salt in the channel—the bus! Ah, aluminum tube! Maybe eight blocks down, bellowing like a top-heavy Baptist. The sun bounces off its eyes. Sixish blocks. The shopkeeper hangs a sign in his window. Cough. Cough. Three blocks. There was something about a depression with claws. Yes, a car crash and a dented skull. Two blocks. Where’s my MetroCard…notebook…tissues…one—the door spit-sighs open there it is, shame—he said thank you for helping with the show come out with my friends we really owe you a drink and I begged off…exams tomorrow. Truth: I was a lake-eyed co-ed with a dead mom and no I.D. Under the mouth of the sky the sparrow, again with the sparrow. And then boom, in my head: its death. The sparrow’s, I mean. Not yours. Its death will be dry, competent, while yours…we are driving by your water now. It is vast and gray and mute. Someone saw you on the ferry. We are driving by your water. People are looking for you. Someone saw you on the ferry. Your wife was on the radio. We are driving by the water which you are under right now. The rest of us only plunge our—and this is supposed to mean we are saved?

 

BIO: Joanna Solfrian’s first book, Visible Heavens, was chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye for the 2009 Wick Prize, a national first book award. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as The Harvard Review, Boulevard, Rattle, Margie, The Southern Review, PleiadesImage, and also in the internationally-touring art exhibit Speak Peace: American Voices Respond to Vietnamese Children’s Paintings.  After graduating from the Stonecoast MFA program, she was awarded a MacDowell fellowship and nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. She is sending out a second manuscript for adults and is also working on a novel-in-verse for middle readers. Joanna lives and works in New York City. www.joannasolfrian.com

 

Askold Melnyczuk

 

The Cost of Nothing

 

Each morning I garden
I’m a whole man.
Even in the city.
The fucked-up city.

Tillandsia in the ficus;
bromeliads in the fireplace;
even the fickle
podocarpus thriving.

Once I would have done anything for you,
Poetry. Now I see how you treat us,
I say: fuck the work.
But if your friend needs you, drop everything.

 

From the Streets

 

“Oh honey, what’s that on your dress, oh
look, it’s horrible, it’s a tarantula, and

it’s sucking on Jewish brains,” shrieks
the woman pushing the cart through the Square.

Secular star in whorl above the kiosk, the ratty
sky rubbing earth. Nobody

sees. Anything. May be sunny,
may be raining fire. What happens, though,

when it gets really quiet? Who
do we hear? What is it goes

on and on inside, who pierces
the heart, center of light, with burning?

Names. I want names. Who listen?
Why think some things belong to

poems, others not? The main question,
always on the edges, and burrowing, always

deeper, about love and depth, is it
ever asked right? Can a poor man love

the obvious problems? Too rich. Where proceed?
Countdown: her I….and she…past

Endless mouths, brows, lobes….and souls?
Like the other day I found my Baltimore

Catechism, it said eyes shouldn’t worship
strange etc., and marriage, a sacrament. And chastity.

So I knew I’d broken a few, between
friends. Understand then my shyness,

my shame. She I loved
who was married, I loved

any distance inside her, invisible
parks and waterfalls, the black

coca of eyes and hair, too, the wedded
knees and lonely chin, even if

not in love (and this for me not
the first this delicious problem), so

I ask, slyly, why still
hallucinating ways, and a woman, with whom

cistine joys, too much, you think?
Like a flood in a citrine. But go back

obsessively, as is my way,
(your problem now) to her whom I she

the anonymous because
can it be

we so thoroughly hate
ourselves we hunger and chase

our own death exclusively, loving
what burns, and maims?

Self-dying, self-diluted, self-staining, we’re
talking serious

rhetorical sprees, head and heart, deciding, since
who cares?

Stories on television, their uglier
errors, even so

the one whose eyes, round and dark
drew themselves into ovals, tears,

other lips, another’s eyes,
Indian after loving,

something prior inside her smooched
to new live, who with

her humorous being could charm
a cactus, yet had something

desperate there, apparent in private
intensities. What’s ambition,

soldiers in Crimea, what is desire?
How decide the shape our lives

Take? The impossible language of God
and law ripped off by spiritual

busbies. Therefore the numinous
the night we lay on a human

bed on Linnaean, with human
time mark digitally

but were naturally elsewhere
space the endless, fingers locked, knee

below knee, and flow
light in the dark. I never knew

how tears entered flesh,
no signs, like this is interesting

from a scientific perspective: I mean
does she hear me, speaking to her now?

Because I swear then 2,000 miles
whispered without telephones

and heard, perfectly, perfect
reception, and how escape

I only alive alone, and you
say: not our problem, hook

up with the passion (meaning: suffer)
of others, that’s one way you know; another:

build a sepulchral city
of accounting tools, it will be

crowded with the shiny
tools of the age, it will feel

strong, it will shine
like success and smell

sweetly of money, and you
will have to forgive it as something

men do
to get out of just such

a predicament, just, the either
whore question, that is anger,

no matter where it is aimed,
which no one

said ends

 

BIO: Askold Melnyczuk has published four novels, as well as poems in Poetry, APR, Grand Street, The Antioch Review, etc. He’s founding editor of Agni and Arrowsmith Press. He directs the MFA Program at UMass Boston.

 

Pierre Joris

 

In the dog days of summer, 3 of ’em:

 

1)

Thinking,
in Europe
begins,
suggests Pascal
Quignard, that is,
in Mourir de penser
with Argos,
Odysseus’ dog
cf. Od. XVII, 301
           Enosèn Odyssea eggus eonta
translates literally as
he thought “Odysseus” in him
                                          who moved toward him.

2)

Which brings back think
on lines by Habib Tengour
I translated a dog’s age ago
& which read:

“Homer will say that nobody recognized him — Ulysses —, except the old dog. But dogs don’t live long enough to recognize their masters.”

3)

& riding the subway, this morning,
this:

a (baseball) cap       on the N train

 

63rd Precinct Abbrev. POLICE BLOTTER

 

Quick swipe

       gone, according to police

Hot Wheels

       missing, according to authorities

Back for Cash

       man, according to cops

Not so Fast

       according to a report

Parked car shopping

       missing, said officials

Wallet grab

       gone, cops reported

Counterfeit deal

       midnight, authorities reported

Backpad baddie

       said

Where is my car?

       authorities said

Excessive amount

       of crack cocaine, police said

Close shave

       unknown direction, authorities said

Lousy tippers

       fleeing, said authorities

Hit the sauce

       said police

Purse snatchers

       -thorities

Scrooge

       plate numbers, officials said.

Craiglist con

       pockets, said police

Terrifying ordeal

       port states

Two against one (61st precinct)

       his iPhone 7, said cops.

Busted an intruder left empty-

       handed, authorities said

Ransacked a brigand in Polish

       currency, officials said

Big score a safecracker without

       a trace, said police

Rear Window a thief broke

       check book, said police

Don’t Tase me, bro the scene

       arrested the man, said authorities

Egged on a goon bludgeoned

       his car, authorities said

Police bandits two burglars

       fled on foot, officials said

Sneak thief snuck into

       86th street, authorities said

Bad deal three brutes

       on foot, said police

Bite me a man police marijuana

       on right hand, authorities said

Slugger a bruiser knocked

       $10 missing, according to a police report

Delivery gone wrong

       three worms threatened, according to authorities

Delivery worker grabbed

       him from behind, said police

One of the jerks will fuck you up

       according to authorities

To be continued

       said I.

 

BIO: Pierre Joris, while raised in Luxembourg, has moved between Europe, the US & North Africa for half a century now, publishing close to 50 books of poetry, essays, translations and anthologies — most recently, The Book of U /Le livre des cormorants (with Nicole Peyrafitte, fall 2017); The Agony of I.B. (a play commissioned & produced in June 2016 by the Théatre National du Luxembourg; Editions PHI); An American Suite (early poems; inpatient press 2016); Barzakh: Poems 2000-2012 (Black Widow Press 2014); & Breathturn into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry of Paul Celan (FSG 2014). When not on the road, he lives in Sorrentinostan, a.k.a. Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with his wife, multimedia praticienne Nicole Peyrafitte.

 

Kirsten Ihns

 

the ecstasy of the dandelion

 

a thing on the verge of its accident

slides smooth

  as butter

                                             in a hot dish

marble dish, expensive floor

                                                you know me, i take off my shoes

history lesson: you know how to do

                         you do it again

                                                        practice

my real animal

                                                go long       for the world

                                                                        like it would give me something

                                                out of the air              and directly

  i read your poems, trying to know

                                                       the shapes your life casts off

                                        tell me all your secrets, said the old queen

    because i want to tell you mine

 

the breakfast meat

 

god, like the day, has no face

but it looks at you

 

do you get afraid

that it’s just you

 

sometimes

 

let it make its earthly sounds

this life i bend

into virtuous shapes

 

bonsai tree i keep

it small and pruned

with all these   sightly   rigors

 

you will be perfect and deformed, i said

i do it so we’re beautiful

and it heard me

it tries so hard to grow, for me

and i take no pity on it

we are in love, and this is how i know

 

you stare at me with your unpeopled stare

i see you do this and i like it. move a little closer

to the window:

 

/give me enough names, and i’ll hold still

 

the sky is doing its lacerate indigo

right now, while i watch it

do you do that, i wonder, for me

 

let me love you too, i say, like your own history does

the one that no one is recording

 

what piece of the world have you dragged

out of it

 

what’s that called

show and tell

 

i sleep on my clothes

not in them

we like to keep our dynamic exotic

we like to flesh out

our dynamism

we sing it like a nocturne

frisky squeaking lavender

the dry sheets leave, that scent

a sweet meat crystalline

     to scream its wintry key

a bad white cherry velvet

 

i say to the shame, come put

            your pretty red

 

all over my clean clean cheeks

 

love poem

 

i think you were born full of water

             like everybody

 

BIO: Kirsten Ihns is a Ph.D. student in English Literature at the University of Chicago, and a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poems have appeared previously or are forthcoming in Bennington Review, Black Warrior Review, BOAAT, New Delta Review, TAGVVERK, The Offing, POOL, and elsewhere. She is from Atlanta, Georgia, and posts lots of photos of leaves, cats, garbage, and (usually) smallish objects on Instagram @fim.sera.minus.

 

Ed PavliĆ

 

ACHRONOLOGICAL, A CHRONOLOGY

 

We said Octavia Butler wrote
sci-fi, it was the correct
answer on the test but we knew
it was a lie. Many of us, we kindred,
by then, had held twin-toned
hands and crossed up ankles across
centuries. Had played a game
called ‘Worldlessness,’ in Southern cities
like Chicago where, under a bridge
for a freeway designed to separate
the continents, one stood and listened
to a river overhead wider than
the ocean. Just like that like crushed metal
in the sound of slant rain
and we were the sound of the impossible
crossing that happens like midnight
in your mind. This morning,
23 July 2015, a front page story in the
New York Times details the
carbon date of goat skin leaves
upon which may be the oldest

extant portion of the Quran. Several
experts attest to the plausible
range of dates: 568 to 684. Other
experts agree with caveat:
the range specifies the age
of the parchment not the ochre
print on the page. Also on
page one begins coverage of Sandra Bland’s
arrest and subsequent death
in her cell in Texas. In my morning print
edition, the one which can’t be
un-published after the fact, after the jump,
to page A 14, about her arrest
near the Prairie View A&M campus,
the article reports the incident
“occurred only a few hundred years
from the university’s main
entrance.” I checked online but
now it says “a few hundred yards from”
the entrance. On the test we’ll say
the error was corrected. At the same time,
when we kindred, that’s to say the living,
turn the page, and certainly when
driving, say, from Chicago to Texas, or hell,
from Texas to Chicago, and most
absolutely when told we’re out of our lane,
we’ll be careful, as ever, to verify the century we’re in.

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR BUILDING AN ALT-FACT
ASSUMPTIONS OF WHICH, AS WE KNOW, ALL ARISE
FROM THE MODERN PHILOSOPHICAL PRINCIPLE:
‘WHITE IS RIGHT’

 

Evidence

Interviewed during the second week of the Australian
Open, 2017: Serena Williams: “I always want to win,
but if I have to lose
to anyone I want it to be Venus.”

Alt-Fact

Chris Evert speaking before the final match
of the 2017 Australian Open in which
Serena Williams played Venus Williams:
“I played my sister three times and if there
was one person I hated most to lose
to it was her. And, I know Serena feels the same way.”

Evidence:

Venus accepting the runner-up trophy in
the 2017 Australian Open, having lost the match
to her little sister: “Serena Williams, that’s my little sister
guys. . . Congratulations Serena, your win has always
been my win I think you know that. . . “.

Evidence:

Serena Williams accepting her 23rd Grand Slam champion’s
trophy after the match: “I really would like to take this moment
to congratulate Venus, she’s an amazing person, there’s no
way I would be at 23 without her there’s no way I would be at
one without her, there’s no way I’d be anything without her
she’s my inspiration she’s the only reason I’m standing here
today and the only reason that the Williams sisters exist.”

Alt-fact

Post-Match News: ESPN Anchor: Sports Center 3:30 AM (EST):
“As everyone knows, it’s the hardest thing in the world to lose to a sibling.”

 

BIO: Ed PavliĆ is author of seven collections of poems, two critical books, and a forthcoming novel, Another Kind of Madness (Milkweed Editions, 2018). His most recent works are Who Can Afford to Improvise?: James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listener (Fordham UP 2016), Let’s Let That Are Not Yet: Inferno (National Poetry Series / Fence Books, 2015) and Visiting Hours at the Color Line (National Poetry Series / Milkweed Editions, 2013). He is Distinguished Research Professor in the English Department and in the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia.

 

Tom Sleigh

 

Confession

 

for Abdul Basset

 

Everything they said, reasonable, thought through,

moved like maggots on the carcass of a dog—

the dog’s flesh crawled with an intelligence

of its own while those maggots declaimed

the higher virtues of the high-minded

Oppression Freedom Freedom from Oppression Law

Order Law and Order Dialectics

of the Dispossessed—

                                                but out in the street

where the crowd was shouting, and some guy

had his elbow stuck into my ear, and the cops

on the walkie talkie were starting to freak out,

calling in reinforcements while a young man

with a bullhorn balanced on the hood

of somebody’s car, Come on come on

let’s rush them, and the pressure of the crowd

began to crush me, I felt myself float up

and hover above your city:

                                                           street on street

of apartments sagging from the shelling,

roofs caved in, whole walls sheered away

looking like doll houses you can see inside,

a sofa and chairs half-buried under plaster,

a kitchen table with plates still on it,

a picture of the prophet knocked askew.

My aspiring martyr, remember

the air-conditioners’ chill oases

in the hard-partying cafes that are now rubble?

By now, the sea has soaked your heart through.

Now you can speak the dry-mouthed truth

of teargas, battery acid mixed with lilies,

still clinging to your T-shirt as you smile

at me from the screen and say with a shy shrug,

as if you were confessing some small fault, Tom,

all my friends and my enemies’ friends are dead.

 

                                                            Homs, Syria/New York 2016

 

BIO: Tom Sleigh grew up in Texas where his parents ran a drive-in movie theater. Every night as a child, Tom experienced the horizon-wide images projected on the screen—his first exposure to the power of imagery. The family then moved to Utah where his mother taught high school English and his father worked as an engineer in the space race that culminated in the moon landing. His growing awareness of geopolitics happened during the minutes he crouched under his desk during Civil Defense drills. When his family moved to southern California in his teens, Tom worked as a gardener and in swimming pool construction. He also read constantly, played football, quit football, used and sold drugs, and began to surf. He became interested in anthropology, and when he graduated from high school, he went to work in southern Mexico for Gertrude Blom, the archaeologist and photographer. That’s when he began to write in earnest, and he’s been writing ever since—poetry, plays, and essays. He taught at Dartmouth College for many years, then joined the MFA program at Hunter College in New York City. About ten years ago, he began to travel to the Middle East and Africa where he wrote long form essays, mainly about refugee issues. Famine and war and drought are part of what he witnessed. These experiences have transformed his sense of his own writing. He lives a split existence: he can be on the phone talking to a friend who lives in Brooklyn, while also remembering a camel seller in northern Kenya that he met in a market in Dadaab, the biggest refugee camp in the world. These experiences have also changed him. He used to feel like he lived in a hell of abstractions, of media images, of jabbering, competing ideologies. Now, when he thinks about Iraq, he knows what the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers look like. He knows what kind of hairstyle young Iraqi men think is cool: rams wool curls on top, with long sideburns razored close to the head. Those sorts of details make him feel grounded. They give him what he has come to value most in his and other people’s writing, a quality that Seamus Heaney once described as “the primal reach into the physical.”

 

Fanny Howe

 

THE FAIRY RING

 

One day I fell into a fairy ring

Where two cows hung over clover, unmoving.

They seemed to be sleeping but their coats twitched.

 

A group of children was sleeping nearby.

Don’t wake us up!

they cried.

 

I kneeled with my fan and swatted the air.

Sandwiches, and small canteens were spilled nearby.

 

Flies delivered by maggots appeared.

 

I hate buzzing sounds I said to the kids.

Shut up, a little boy cried. “I’m dozing.”

 

So we all fell asleep that afternoon

Taking a look at the fairy ring.

We were tired I think. Don’t wake us up.

There was a river birch tree

At a tilt, it was. And standing on

The fairy ring was a stone for John.

Nobody wake us from our dreams.

 

A lot of boys and girls were forced from home.

They are asleep so don’t wake them.

They were transported by wood on the sea.

I’m fast asleep, don’t wake me.

I wish I could see a day when we

Had our own acre and shared the guitar

But I am dreaming so don’t wake me now.

 

When the boys and girls lift

Their arms over their heads:

 

(hands up, don’t shoot)

Then the creed has only four words we can believe.

 

The pallor of—say

someone who never passed through the God phase.

 

Silvery gray is its weather.

Soft char rubbed off a gun-barrel or an eyelid.

 

It was on Massachusetts Bay

At the hour the park

Creaks with teenage tramps

In the American nation.

 

If only my love could stop

Their growth with sleep

And carry them to Fairyland

Until it’s safe to wake up.

 

BIO: FH has written several books of poetry, essays and fiction. These include from Graywolf Press One Crossed Out, The Lyrics, Gone, Come and See, The Winter Sun, The Needle’s Eye, and Second Childhood.

 

 

Xavier Cavazos

 

America’s Bill

 

La cuenta is a million prostitutes in Havana
La cuenta is a thousand cocks in the mouth
La cuenta is a no-English-first-lady blowjob

La cuenta is peeing on three little Russian girls

La cuenta is white supremacy and el jefe

La cuenta is a wall of frijoles y arroz

La cuenta is yellow hair and small hands

La cuenta is dreaming of a dead president

La cuenta is more dead Americans

La cuenta is a hanging tree

La cuenta is always early
La cuenta is never late

 

La cuenta is fifty million white-faced Americans

La cuenta is fifty million burning tiki torches

La cuenta is a burning cross

La cuenta is an erect arm salute

La cuenta is dog shit in a yard

La cuenta is dog shit on a sidewalk

La cuenta is dog shit on a shoe

La cuenta is a dead American woman

La cuenta is a broken heart in the morning

La cuenta is a mother’s heartbroken cry

La cuenta is always early
La cuenta is never late

 

La cuenta is Portland, Oregon on a Friday night

La cuenta is a million bloodied anti-Nazi faces
La cuenta is meth and white supremacists
La cuenta is empty bottles of vodka

La cuenta is a bag full of AR-15’s
La cuenta is no pollo en la tienda

La cuenta is no food for the soul

La cuenta is no soul food

La cuenta is a spiritual revival

La cuenta is a drumming circle

La cuenta is a beating drum

La cuenta is a heartbeat no more

La cuenta is a preacher’s final prayer
La cuenta is a santos last breath

La cuenta is always early
La cuenta is never late

La cuenta is a cruise ship in the bay of Havana
La cuenta is no cheese in a Cuban store

La cuenta is a White House full of cheese

La cuenta is a bullshit toupee

La cuenta is an orange face camera
La cuenta is a bullshit infrastructure bill

La cuenta is public transportation in Cuba

La cuenta is the P5 to La Rampa

La cuenta is La Rampa at night
La cuenta is an old woman sweeping the street
La cuenta is five channels of Cuban state tv

La cuenta is watching daughters in the street

La cuenta is a dead-chicken prayer

La cuenta is always early
La cuenta is never late

 

La cuenta is a smoking cigar

La cuenta is rumba in the streets

La cuenta is an island of great poets

La cuenta is a forbidden poet

La cuenta is a forbidden poet

La cuenta is a forbidden poet

La cuenta is avant-garde jazz

La cuenta is a beautiful singing voice

La cuenta is art on every corner

La cuenta is Afro-Cubano music
La cuenta is a child’s smiling face
La cuenta is money to the family

La cuenta is an orange sunset
La cuenta is never leaving the island
La cuenta is a slave ship in the ocean

La cuenta is always early
La cuenta is never late

La cuenta is America

La cuenta is homophobic state

La cuenta is wishing for more dead Jews

La cuenta wants more dead Mexicans

La cuenta wants a burning slave

La cuenta is America right now

La cuenta is America last year
La cuenta is a hundred different languages

La cuenta is a wide open mouth wide open

La cuenta is a million spread legs

La cuenta is a trick-filled pussy
La cuenta is a thousand gallons of leche down the throat
La cuenta is the shower’s eaten pussy
La cuenta is a lost, praying priest
La cuenta is a sea-drum hand

La cuenta is time itself
La cuenta always knows your name

La cuenta is very very long
La cuenta

La cuenta

La cuenta

is always more than can be paid

 

Rumba, Chango & A Singular Moment

 

A santero in the street   red & white

guts.   A dog is tearing

through                      the skin & bones of

a fish.   Three dumpsters

in the center of centro

Havana.   Daddy Yankee

Pitbull’s Gasolina

shaking every window second floor dance.

 

How much rum

can one person drink?   A gallon

                      is a shark in the ocean &

a girl’s smile the sunset dark cloud lightning bolt.

One CUC   two CUC   all the fish that can be caught

in a day.   O mar   O mar

Omar   a drunk in the street throws out all the leche

                                      in the evening.

 

BIO: Xavier Cavazos is the author of Diamond Grove Slave Tree (2015), the inaugural Prairie Seed Poetry Prize from Ice Cube Press, and Barbarian at the Gate (2014), which was published in the Poetry Society of America’s New American Poets Chapbook Series. Cavazos was included in the Best American Experimental Writing (2015) and earned an MFA in Creative Writing and the Environment from Iowa State University. He currently teaches in the Africana and Black Studies and the Professional and Creative Writing Programs at Central Washington University and is an editorial assistant for Poetry Northwest.

 

Bonita Lee Penn

 

Nights Tinker Bell Wore Combat Boots

 

Listen children you too, shall hear tales of Peter

& feisty Tinker Bell

who was always up in the brotha’s ear.

 

Once, upon a midnight blue—naw bro, ebony night.

Peter exchanged his sissified dress, signifying tights

for a restoration of

black power independence

ass-stomping brogan boots.

Fly way cool

way fly cool

militant jacket – black leather, beret left cocked

tightrope his large bush.

 

Hoisted- loaded shotgun, stag-o-lee lean against right

ear- knocked Tinker hard, to the ground. Paa-Pow!

 

She leaped, stomped power dust from her combat boots

re-shape proudly her 10-point fro, screamed:

death to racist pigs

high-fived her fellow fro’d, fisted sista Elaine Brown:

who promptly cleared the shit up.

 

Shh      listen closely to urban tales of revolutionists, sang

in ghetto patois, un-translated by COINTELPRO’s

bourgeois beds

Once, upon a beautiful mother-fuckin’ ebony

night, Peter & Tinker took flight under cover

of darkness, mission- to release incarcerated

militants from sleep, yo!

You still…

 

“Writers Win Nobel Prizes for Descriptive Emotional Words in Regards to Wars in Distant

Countries” – Meanwhile the Americanized Elephant in the Room Tusk are Bloodied.

 

Blacklash for Terence Crutcher, killed by Betty Shelby, Tulsa, OK, September 16, 2016

 

. . . and    in    her mind    she    was excited.

pink cunt wrapped in white cotton

 

panties      were soaked      she was

cummin’.

in the middle of her trained-gang

she was      the bonnie to their Clydesdales

 

each heavy with metals cuffs in hands

hands that itched      to get triggers      pulled

 

cause      their dicks were stiff      and they were

cummin’      too.

 

american trojans      mercenaries

merciless in their persistent      pursuit

of consistent.    prey.

 

where      big      black      fills up      too      much

whitespace.

she.    couldn’t.    breathe-      strangulation is, this black

presence.

her      gun      screams      {ready}I     {aim}can’t.     {fire}breathe.

BIO: Bonita Lee Penn, a Pittsburgh poet, volunteers with a monthly poetry workshop and member of a Black Feminist discussion group. Her works have appeared in Hot Metal Bridge (online), The Massachusetts Review, Women Studies Quarterly, Pittsburgh City Paper’s Chapter & Verse (online), RUNE Literary Journal, Voices from the Attic Anthology; forthcoming in joINT (fall 2017 Issue).

 

Tyrone Williams 

 

Serapeum (Domestic)

 

In this shotgun apartment among primitive cumulus every cat, however neutered, can cut loose: cut noses, cut notes, cut back against the rush to the edge, cut to the net over a hole, and so on. And so we pounce upon the Cloud, roll around in pillowy ideograms: Michael, LeBron, Beyonce, Sanders, Ohio State, Michigan, the Allmans, Foghat, Jimi, etc. Cats chasing light, darting here, there, reflection of some watch, ring or cufflinks, we play, cool as cucumbers in the vegetable bin. And then someone, something, somehow cuts to the chase: a blast of cold air as the symptom of a door ajar, or a rupture in the wreckage aloft. We peek outside: I venture that one day we will all be speaking Mandarin and Urdu. His nose wrinkles—a couple of nukes will take care of that. This close to that distant fire blazing a sky, it is still daylight, though my watch says otherwise. According to which, what are we still doing up?

 

At Ten You Eight

 

The little scream be

be like bee sting

shriek so to speak

 

or bellwether clang

of dumb bell buoy

wait-listed bottom-

 

feedback screech

roly-poly rope-

a-depth charge

 

concussive under-

cut by upper-cut

a hole in the wall

 

a horn in the hand

beats drums in the bush

bopsided head-

 

quarter notes scramble

strings up and down

stiff necks

 

nappy hair wiped

down with hairnets

lips pursed to croon

 

BIO: Tyrone Williams teaches literature and literary theory at Xavier University. He’s the author of several books and chapbooks of poetry.

 

 

Anne Waldman

 

         Macdougal Street

 

for Devin & Ambrose, New Year

 

your corridor’s a pirate

checking out indescribable frontiers

psyche?

way a stutter of blocks

what was once canal,

waterway,

public space, and

walk is rhythm

becomes a habitation

compression, stammer

turns under foot

o goddess of these parts

guide the lineage home

cultural practice in local

no ecology is closed

reclaim the poem

in site of disaster

Nueva York

dig down

“sandbag” your cellar

lights out 5 days

where did all that orality

of passing through

migrate to

what are middens below

artifacts of hunger or grace

o goddess of these parts

stay by your window

famous phantoms stalk the street

derelict, then glamorous

truncated lines

a folksong will change the century

buccaneer keep breathing

a saxophone will rive through your brain

where layers go

of yeoman and whalers our people be

vibrant when shaking

riddle of the cartography

and art is the bloodline

as in “colorful”

history and human

fingers on the ambrosian keys

& no fights over property and noise

torque and split the ‘hood

its treasures understood

o goddess neighborhood

fight for it!

our jazz value the old new pride

 

BIO: Poet, performer, professor, activist Anne Waldman is the author of Gossamurmur, (Penguin Poets 2013), Jaguar Harmonics (Post-Apollo Press 2014), Voice’s Daughter of a Heart Yet To Be Born, (Coffee House 2016) and Cross Worlds: Transcultural Poetics (Coffee House 2014),  an anthology co-edited with Laura Wright.  Waldman is the recipient of the Shelley Memorial Award,  a Guggenheim Fellowship (2013-14) and is a former Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. She is a frequent collaborator with poets, dancers, musicians and visual artists and performs and lectures at festivals and conferences around the world. She is the founder with Ambrose Bye and Devin Brahja Waldman the band and label Fast Speaking Music which has issued more than 25 albums.  She recently received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for long-life achievement. She curated the Voz Alta poetry performance festival at Casa del Lago in Mexico City April of 2017 which included  participants Raul Zurita of Chile,  Guillermo Gomez Pena of Mexico/USA,  Joy Harjo, Tracie Morris and Thurston Moore of the US and UK, and was the keynote speaker at the Jaipur Literary Festival in India in 2017.  Forthcoming: Trickster Feminism from Penguin Poets, Spring 2018.

 

 

Cait Turner

 

Alphabet For The End

 

a Time—a Stamp—a Date—a Spell—

a Speech—a Story—a Song—a Strike—

a Country—a Climate—a Change—a Crash—

a Census—a Cell—a Pledge—an Allegiance—

an Ad—a Flag—a Bug—a Bribe—a Bank—

a Bribe—a Bureau—a Census—a Cell—

a Cloud—a Code—a Commercial—a Clause—

a Law—a Leak—a List—a Loss—a Loan—

a Lesson—a Leader—a Lie—a Voice—

a Vote—an Oath—a Villain—a Vehicle—

a Season—a Show—a Series—a Suspect—

a Trigger—a Target—a Test—a Pattern—

a Hearing—a Headline—an Incident—a Task—

a Force—an Effort—an Event—an Error—

a Name—an Office—an Operation—an Oracle—

a Warning—a Wait—a Wire—a War—a Plant—

a Patsy—a Project—a President—a Pocket—

a Price—a Pact—a Theory—a Treaty—

a Trick—a Trade—a Broker—a Buyout—a Gate—

a Guide—a Gun—a Grant—a Goal—a Globe—

a Theater—a Threat—a Fact—a Figure—a Crowd—

a Collaboration—a Crisis—a Company—an Actor—

a Deal—a Date—a Drill—an Attack—an Enemy—

a State—a Secret—an Army—an Emergency—

an Uprising—a Zenith—an Edict—

—an Outbreak—

—a Zone—

 

What You Saw & Didn’t

 

Targets came & Targets went. People watched on tiny Screens. The Sky didn’t break Open. Breathing wasn’t easier in Shangai or Philadelphia. Movies remained in Production. Cats kept devouring Rodents. Certain Platforms remained Viable. The Press didn’t stop taking Photographs. There wasn’t only one Arrest. Markets continued to Surge. Soldiers still stood at Attention. Actors practiced their Lines. The Clothing didn’t come Cheap. The Flags were stitched Overseas. The Coral didn’t start Growing Back. The Walls didn’t come Tumbling Down. Soundbites were being Recorded. Money continued to be Spent. Somebody got High and went Dancing. Somebody Indoors kept on their Jacket. A Crow sat on a Telephone Wire. The Moon didn’t stop Casting a Shadow. The Foundries didn’t reopen. Students continued their Testing. Police continued to cordon of Neighborhoods. Sea levels didn’t stop Rising. A Couple held hands the whole Time. Phone Calls were Logged & Erased. Train service hadn’t yet been Suspended. Nobody Remembered their History. You could Like all your own Thoughts. Nobody demanded Answers. Somebody was asked to Leave. Somebody deleted all Accounts. The Bombs did not go off. The Prisons remained Open. It was a Good Time to be Rich. It wasn’t Easier to Lie. Droned continued Surveillance. It looked, at one point, like it would Snow. Troops had not yet been Deployed at Home. Politicians planned Emergency Meetings. The Grid hadn’t yet become Smart. The Cameras had not yet stopped Rolling. The Earth (they said) continued to Spin.

 

BIO: Cait Turner is a poet living in Philadelphia, where she has worked a series of silly jobs. She also composes electronic music. Her work has been published in LUNGFULL!! and The Potomac. She hopes the End is quick and painless.

 

Christian Black 

 

            Heroes

 

I pop in the park with starving ears

Past the arch, the small talk sounds

Like a factory, cogs with well-oiled

Mouths and a mind to look south when

Kids come by asking for basketball

Funding. “I don’t have any

Cash on me” a polka-dotted woman

Utters nervously, pulling her purse

Even closer to her hip, sweat drips

From her tongue. It is hard to begin

Giving back in this part of Manhattan.

Plastic men pass in their air-

conditioned suits, putting the square

in Washington Square Park. Finally,

I find a band, but the jazz is empty

Calories. Funkless Junk food.

Their instruments almost sound

Like the donation plates that move

Unmolested across park benches

(many saving money for their day

in the city, just enjoying some music

on their way to Lady Liberty),

Then a trumpet cracked the square

In half, pick-pocketing the pocket

Squares whose wallets were obese

Enough to make them sit funny.

I almost sat too, except one

exceptional one

is not enough.

I leave the square with Miles

On my mind, but just a few blocks

To walk. Down West 4th with a left

On MacDougal. Everyone is in neon

Uniforms blending in with open signs,

The blinding bare thighs of

Barely teenagers and mothers

Slugging wine, celebrating

The sun their skin rejects.

This must be America, everyone

Is dreaming in European fonts, Hel-

Vetica for sale signs. Vespas in

Manhattan. For real.

Just before

Everyone around me bursts

Into song, I climb the stairs down

To a hidden door and text TSE

“Here.” He responds

with the doorknob and a dap.

SoHo stays outside, where cats

My age in dog years compete

To keep foundation on they faces.

 

“Everyone’s upstairs.”

 

Between takes, a room breaks

Its silence like bread at a family

Dinner table. The studio is

Less studio than bedroom

And there ain’t much room

So I sit on the bed beside a

bass neck, duct tape,

Luke and Crystal, and listen

To a snare drum brought to

Breath with splintered sticks.

Hat-hi on the bald head, Randall

Feels the beat from the floor.

Surrounded by spiral-bound

Weaponry, his notebooks

Little littered literary rarities

Dancing even on the page, but

Waiting to be lifted with a tongue.

Bald head on the hi-hat, Trae

Makes hip hop history. Killin shit.

If you in the pocket, don’t picket. Pick it

like an afro on the drum head.

A sizzle chain beads off the ride

Like sweat. Still Got Shit 2 Drop

Is ready for recording. Luke and Trae

Lay it down, Janice orchestrates with

Swag. The track is fast but the bass line

Breaks through calm, cool, and corrective.

James claims “This is what happens when

The drummer and the bassist live together.”

TSE likes it. A rubber band rolls like a blunt down

His wrist. It flicks. A blue Bic sounds its flint. The room

Lights up. Diane dances with lamps and cameras. Action

Shots and stills with Ambrose’s empties. The room slowly

empties for food, but

James is up. He takes aim

Through nappy cross hairs and

Shoots silence from the ceiling.

With a shrapnel tongue,

you need Resilient reeds.

I have earphones, so I can hear

The track begin to build, a railroad

Grown with their own bones.

Heroes is the sound of sirens

And outside, in the dank stillness

Of comfort, wallets walk

Their men on leashes to

Vegan-friendly crack houses

Where they dream of black music

And the nuisance of tomorrow,

A weekday. James points out,

“Thomas got keys on his shirt”

and underneath Janice’s hands

an organ is added, subtracted, and

added at last as an intro. She walks the song

head-first into drums. The streets

interrupting sheet music, concrete quick

sand for those that don’t flow. “It’s not about

the notes” she says, the twelve tools of Bebop

now resting, recovering on the key board, after

getting pressed, pocket-checked, and left.

Ambrose jokes the sound is something outta

Twin Peaks or a horror movie, but Thomas says

“Just cause they use it that way, doesn’t mean it

gotta stay that way.” Sampling, making history hip

hop.

 

Everyone’s downstairs.

Between takes, a silence sits

Before a microphone. Its been

Hours since the sticks first woke

The snare and long breaks don’t

Make no bread. It is hard to begin

Giving back in this part of Manhattan and

in this room, it is better to be sharp than

Flattened. If you can’t sing it with sass,

Like Janice says, don’t sing on the track.

After trying it as a group, the singers

split up into soloists (like all

Good singing groups do) and sang

Their own parts, one by one.

 

“Still

Still Got

Still Got Shit 2 Drop”

 

Janice lays down the first

Vocals, No Land fans funk,

A harmony starts to ride over

The bridge into a barbed hook.

Margaret’s voice is massive, we can

Still hear echoes of her “No more jazz”

From the first album bouncing off uncertain

Brass. Then Crystal talks her shit. It takes a few

Takes to make it break away from the other

Voices in the hook. Janice helps. If scat

Could remember the mouth it came

Out of, they would linger in its

Cry. I have been on this bed

Too long to forget how

The melody goes.

 

BIO: Christian Black (born New Haven, CT) is a poet and writer. He is currently a senior at Wesleyan University finishing a degree in English and AFAM. He splits time living between Middletown, CT and Brooklyn, NY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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