GIANTHOLOGY

 

 

 

 

A forum for writing not whining, aesthetics not agenda, ideas not issues, vision not victimhood, GIANTHOLOGY is edited by the members of Heroes Are Gang Leaders.

Send 2 to 4 unpublished works to HeroesAreGangLeaders@gmail.com.  Please do not try and impress us by sending a bio of awards and schools with your work.

We don’t care. In fact we’ve heard so much, we hope we have not heard of you. However if we have heard of you, we won’t hold it against you if the work is Newsfeed and Manufactured Movement Free.

The less deception and trend in your work, the greater your chances of becoming a GIANTHOLOGIST.

 

 

 

 

 

Raquel Balboni

 

 

BROWN BREAD

 

breeding carefree attitudes in sand dunes

where everything looks like crumbs from a giant cookie

there are alien eggs to purchase on sale at the halloween store

halloween stores could be open all year round if people believed in god

or the reincarnation of life life life but we wait for an ending to celebrate

getting caught up in the corner shaking with the fear of never being able

to remember the flashes of the internal relaxation diagrams an unseen spirit

gifted to me on the needs to be replaced sofa of my psyche

sitting with my therapist in a dream about the movie i am making about myself

 

open up myself to unpredictable nature

how to abstain from madness

wanting to eat a lot a lot to prepare this body for new birth

wanting to spread open for you to bleed

all of my hearts desire

 

i

have

never

been so

into

someone

as

i

am

into

you

 

i want to crack up

 

 

A GRAVESTONE WITH THE WORD “MAGIC”

 

Having trouble focusing on my own magical hands, knowing

security cameras reset after 28 days

at least we got the bodily fluids out of the way

 

need some rest alone

when you repeatedly refresh the

understanding you have of yourself

some days yes and some days no

 

taking a burnt hand out from the oven in the middle of the stone hut

there is a center as wide as the mouth that won’t shut up

this never is my mouth, but the mouths of cracked open space

when space gets so big it feels heavier than black wire choking

diseases where flowers look like they are bleeding their own milk

 

the breeze that encourages me to bleed some, here and there

there is a mindfulness inside me i have left out some

having stacks of feelings and a motherload of dust piled on top

 

weird to catch glimpses of people doing

everything i do is unquestionable and happening

and i like it and won’t feel funny

as my bones are wiggling all strange like

 

i should be more of a walking performance energy wise

taking it all up like i want and think i can

making small movies of the future i intend to walk

thinking of crashing a party but feeling very lonely

 

PRAYING ANGEL INSOMNIA

 

Praying mantis relief

with jaws on the ends of my arms

you no longer want me i no longer think of it

how the beans boil in skull cup

drinking together from a river flowing through red dirt

i think i will spend the next few days

crouching low to the ground with my arms up

in solidarity with continuous spiritual transcendence

everything that can be touched

will burn a slow slim white light

connected to

stems of belonging

this is where you find me now

sitting up with an extended neck and green eye beams

with wires sprouting from the gut of indifference

because nothing grows in that biome except disorder

all the devices loaded, i got to stay awake a day then sleep extra long

used a camera that captured spirit eggs

then woke up and touched myself in your bed

to spread love energy i will you to feel

leaving your house like a knock on a new door

the day is raining and feels continuous

as the growing wind

 

Angel in a field oh my darlin

a black and white ghostly film grain

oh my darling, coffee cup

full of ice and dark like sleeplessness

on a bus for far too long

walking in the city with long hair

the sky is predicted to come out tomorrow

to sing a weeping lullaby

my skin feels like it is moving

as i crawl out from my own throat

i can see the other side of trust

when i stand on the tip of my big tooth

and i head towards orange light

 

Insomnia by accident

a bump in all of the difference

speaking in waves

feeling it now through

the task of breathing

inhaling the waves, noticing more waves

accidental waves, walking forever

never abandoned in ritual magic

unfinished & leftover as a tall gothic gate

so newborn freedom can escape

into a field made of wires

and you reconstruct the plan

to contain

more walking

more ghosts

more singing alone in fields

feels peaceful then

 

BIO: Raquel Balboni is a creative individual from Cambridge, Massachusetts. She is most interested in cataloging the magic that is contained in the mundane details of life. She writes in order to expand spiritual growth. She finds words to be important for connection.

 

Terese Svoboda

 

 

The Undersea Network

 

 

Starting from this very concrete subject, the physicality of the network’s underwater cables

 

(The ocean swarms with iridescent sex-crazed 10-foot-long Bobbitt worms named for the Florida man whose wife rid him of his manhood.)

 

breaks connectivity in strategic corporate landing sites where the discrepancy between the poor’s access to bandwidth and the high presence of cable infrastructure ten-thousand-miles undersea just two thumbs wide equals

 

(The worms flex hair-trigger jaws and five antennae that can split a fish in two. They wait, exposing just a few inches of their bodies.)

 

the digital-divide again

(The aquarium empties, fish by fish.)

military

political

and economic reasons

 

 

Forty-the-Roy

 

                                    A period of 40 days where it was forbidden

                                    to attack the nearest relatives of the offender.

 

While the lord readies the slaughter, it’s a game of Safe,

where ancient aunties pack the armoir or

 

negotiate or marry out, your grandma fixes up crackers

and cheese for the car, and twelve cousins find an ally

 

in an alley and fight back to steal you away

from the oubliette.You’re in custody,

 

you’re wearing that orange suit

and already eat crap you can’t swallow.

 

Because of love or just blood, everyone else

who showed up for whatever party

 

is guilty and have only forty days to paint

hash marks over their faces to avoid Exit.

 

The drones over your house stay noisy on pause,

your kids play ball and the wife walks the dog

 

for up to forty days. They’re all booking their tickets for after,

you hope. Otherwise, the lord has all this tedious killing to do,

 

every excess gene threatening his next generation,

Love bumps aside, the Romeo’d what Julie’d get

 

of debt between classes and I don’t mean junior high.

The lord’s upping his amperage, he’s backing up his files.

 

What about Uncle Harry? You never even spoke to him.

Uncle Harry eats from the bones of your poached

 

whatever animal, the bones found in the lord’s trash

which is always his to burn, which is his, burning,

 

while you, in your loud outfit that will stink of chemicals

the second you’re torched,

 

your ankles cuffed and your fingertips blue

with incriminating ink, you say Fine, let’s begin.

 

 

God Gave Noah The Rainbow Sign

 

No more water, the fire next time.

James Baldwin creeps me out.

 

It takes somebody inside

to see the clouds coming, arrived.

 

I’m way outside, white,

a nothing color, so blinded

 

by its sheen I can’t see a thing.

Lift up thine dripping crimson head,

 

parade thy purple spreading bruises,

importune with yellow jaundiced

 

limbs like flames: made by mine,

electified. Those gowns aren’t the angels’

 

& they haven’t been washed

in a long time, blood-of-the-lamb-stains

 

frame any bigot standing inside them.

No more water falling from on high,

 

just flame from the spigot:

blue, red, yellow –

 

all the colors, none of them quantified.

 

BIO: A past Guggenheim fellow, Terese Svoboda is the author of seven books of poetry, seven novels, a memoir, two chapbooks, a book of translations from Nuer, a South Sudanese language, and a biography of the radical poet Lola Ridge.

 

 

Jim Behrle

 

Star Wars Spoilers

 

Darth Vader is everyone’s father

It’s been a tough year for racists in poetry

But some of my best friends are

Straight white male poets

The first rule of white club is

Don’t talk about white club

The first rule of small penis club

Is have a small penis

I’m glad I don’t live in

Marjorie Perloff’s Poetry World

Like a shitty roller coaster

A year without Starbucks gift cards

Write less, fuck more, fail worse again

The only question my mom asked me

About the new Star Wars is if

Billy Dee Williams was in it

“Who’s racist” might be a good

Game to play in American Poetry right now

Goodnight Kenny, no soup for you

Ben made me sign up for uber so I’m

Everything I used to despise, too

My father was a bear blowing into a jug, etc

Not looking forward to bad Donald Trump poems

Grand juries suck and Greedo never shoots first

Do Greedo Lives Matter?

Old Jedis never die they just become the

Co-chair of the Department and are dead

On the inside

Men explain Lolita to me and it’s fucking gross

Adrift across the glow-in-the-dark keys of a toy piano

Goodnight Vanessa, night descending

Over your career like coffee spilling over

A copy of Mein Kampf

Your mother slept with Darth Vader

Your mom had Darth Vader’s messed up babies

“You were wondering if after all these years I’d like to meet?

To go over, everything?”

Wrong number, Adele

The only thing I ever hear

Are bald eagles shrieking

They’re putting electric diodes on

My testicles again

I’m feeling kinda radicalized

Like a puppy in a bubble

We all live on the Death Star

And watch out the window as

Planets get blown up by us

It’s like shopping at Whole Foods

And your only shot at being

A real artist is

Growing up to be Darth Vader

So you can make a living

Teaching other people how to

Become Darth Vader

May the Force be with you

But not with anyone else in this room

 

 

Navigating the Habeas Corpus Party

 

“Take a look at my pics online”

dance with me on the ambulance

take a cookie from inside my skull now

This poem is blank

a white sheet of sea no one notices

53rd Street reflected in the glass

cooled pink galaxies have begun to crash together

new holes in the old numbers

What stone lies cold on you?

Your eyes roll back crushed so tender under the debris

I have wanted to give blunt pulses of love

My cock was condemned and was burned at the stake

A bluegreen January dusk

A heart that resembles a cave

A man is dripping blood

All this was fine, you said

velvety surprise cancels what I feel

Listen to your parents have sex

blood on the hips of the nation

We unbutton our flannel shirts

like an angel is freed

“line” and “gesture” more than a little shady

until tomorrow Justice Ginsburg

You have fucked my life

 

BIO: Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and works at a bookstore. His writing and cartoons have appeared in The Awl, Gawker, The Stranger and the Portland Mercury.

 

 

Thea Matthews

 

HELIOTROPE

 

My love rises

and rests

in the tranquility

of your breath

in the metallic

meandering stream

of your mouth

in the purpureal

shades of humility

found at the top

of your spine

Kissing me

you taste

crushed cherries

vanilla beans caramel

I have always loved you

My devotion

to benevolence

You know       why I am

          Heliotrope I allure

          as much as you tantalize

I disinfect the

burns you leave

after scorching

bodies in August

 

COLUMBINES

 

I take her back from the machines

from a world of artificial vegetation

glass ceilings

Skyscrapers built on wet sand

The pale skin call her savage

too feral to ever take the elevator up

deem her the ugliest tar cement has ever seen.

I take her back

from the gold rubies diamonds of submission conquest cash crops

from the soil of invisibility of silence of ignorance

telling her                    your existence is a waste

but she is more advanced

than the civilized who call her wild

her curves alone           obliterate the power

of blockbusters billboards glossy printed deception

She is the mere manure fertilizing this land

without her no one would know the freedom crying gives.

The perennial Sorrow

She is the daughter of my Columbines

Blood and Earth bound together

the galaxies are woven into her frizzy curls     when she walks

Mourning doves hoot for hours emulating owls.         Ravens flap

their wings uncontrollably.                  Hawks screech

their caw as they glide above the black plumage.

Butterflies flutter to the rhythm of heartbeats.

Coyotes pass the bridge without jumping.

Each night       glistening black waters entice

ghosts linger     stare

at the bodies determined to jump

the San Francisco bay becomes a puddle.

 

I take her back

Restore the light under stained skin

Warm her blood with my love

This one will not jump again.

She is the Protector.    A wounded warrior

 

May she live in peace.

 

HIBISCUS

 

Legs bruised                             found entangled

within the branches of a Spanish moss oak tree.

Tropical crimson shrubs shrouded in brick and mortar.

A young woman’s golden pink pistil protrudes

dangles in the hot wind.          Her eyes           remain open

constant           wide.   She struggles to stand

collapses three times    before grasping the tree with her finger nails.

Her petals radiate        a vibrancy still             untouched.

Prepare! She wails––

Prepare for infiltration

Counter-intelligence high surveillance

programs established by dubious politicians.

Prepare for burning temples

covered-up assassinations

severed limbs florescent lights

blood vessels pop!

Prepare for peeling eyelids back

Torture                        browbeaten cross-examination.

Today’s masters and slaves

Refuse to accept

Our Lives Matter!

We must lose our chains!

Stop enslaving each other!

Only together                          can we be ready

for Transcendence.      Liberation.                  Our deliverance

from unspoken unseen but always felt disdain aggression.

Tell me––

how micro is it

when every fiber in your being feels it?

Having to prove discrimination exists

tells us the sky isn’t blue unless we know

precisely

the molecules in the air

scattering the Sun’s blue light

In spite of the fact

that we both witness the sky is blue without measurement.

We need no measurement to confirm hate. We need no

empowerment.                     Our own power restores us.    No expertise.

No diagnoses. Rely on your own experience. Intuition never fails us.

Cleanse the river. She says––

Cleanse the river.         I say rise           Spirit and blood.

Band a double helix. Your Medicine. Your Healing.

Your Recovery                        is             within           you.

 

BIO: Thea Matthews is an American poet of African and Mexican descent.  Born and raised in San Francisco, CA, Thea utilizes Spoken Word to address the complexities of humanity, trauma, grief, resiliency, and ultimately, the triumph over trauma. A seasoned performer and published writer, Thea is currently working on her first book–– a thematic collection of poetry interweaving lived experience with flower medicine.

 

 

Jim Daniels

 

Money Talks

 

and I have listened. Laughing

at its dirty jokes, mugging

for its funhouse camera, looking

up its gauzy skirts, ogling

its tawdry numbers, fingering.

 

I have tried to smear its holy name

in the name of all that’s ruined

this world—in God We Trust, right?

Can I get an amen

and change for a twenty?

 

Money weeps. I wipe my own

tears with it. A pity party

till it’s all snot and moaning—

Money Money Money

Money, the simplest lyrics

 

impossible to unmemorize.

I do the money dance

against the chain-link fence,

razor wire of crisp bills

colorblind and ashamed.

 

I do not Respect Myself

when it comes to money .

George, Abe, Alex, Andy—

how about a little sugar, guys?

I bleed anxiety and forgetfulness.

 

Fullness. Is the bank half-empty

or completely empty? Shake it

and see—pass the hat

and the ammunition. Pray

for the rainy-day fund.

 

The nest egg’s got a cracked shell,

Mr. and Mrs. Bald fucking Eagle.

A poem and the price of a cup

of coffee will get you the coffee.

I’m all for the currency of the soul

 

and the scratch-off ticket,

the IOU erased into confetti,

the—oh, look at the time!

I really must be—is my ship

come in, or is it sailing?

 

Doubloons and Triploons

for everyone! Ante up

and get down. Shake

shake shake/shake shake

shake/shake the booty.

 

Pirates were mean dudes

but not half as mean as anyone

stepping on a dollar bill,

stamping it mine.

Crisp ones, dirty ones.

 

Ah, the metallic smell

of the holy grail and the fountain

of youth and the last ancient orgasm

of Uncle Sam!

 

I have lost

my place.

Was I saying something

about money? The busy signal

drizzles the fall of pennies.

 

 

 

REHAB

 

sounds much hipper than

rehabilitation—nothing sexy

about that. Like calling it sexual

intercourse, which sounds like

a new kind of highway

with a toll booth every mile.

 

Everybody’s got a nickname,

right? If we all had cool nick-

names, maybe we wouldn’t

be in here, right? Rehab

could be an old friend who fixes

you up with a sexy lady,

 

let’s you borrow his sports car

and crash pad. Something

just to take the edge off, right?

God is not happy with us,

am I right? He’s the one

calling us by our full Christian

 

names, refusing to play along.

Rehab on the phone, wants to

fit me into his schedule.

Rehab Jr., Rehab III—a family

tradition, am I right?

Rehabilitation, that wimp.

 

I left him puking back in the alley.

Stole his watch and lucky coin.

Luck’s got nothing to do with it.

I used that coin to pay my toll,

get me into Rehab’s cool new pad.

 

 

WHISPER/WHIMPER

 

“not with a bang but a whimper”

T.S. Eliot

 

wh(o)

wh(at)

wh(ere)

wh(en)

why(y)

wh(imper)

wh(isper).

 

*

 

I feel/your sleep-

ing breath on

my neck/w(arm)

 

We R-gued O-

ver tie-M 2-

ge/a ther

B 4 U fell

asleep

 

*

 

I like whisper

hard listening

mouth close

to my ear.

I like tungz.

 

Not so crazy about

click click tongs.

 

*

 

And then the car alarm.

 

*

 

Who whimpers more,

a dog, a person, or an electric whiner?

 

mp=n (x-y2)

 

Or, all of the above?

 

*

 

Why does whimper sound wheak?

 

Sad whisper.

 

*

 

U whis-

purred some-

thing sex-

U-all, re-

member?

 

*

 

some-

times

during

sex

whimper

is not sad

whimper

wants

more

please

 

*

w(hen)

U wake

up I

will B

thin-

ner

 

all

this

think-

ing

 

w(ho)

noz

w(hat)

U will

say

then

 

w(here)

R U now

on dream-

map?

 

If I

kud I

wud

join U

 

thank U

4 yore

gift

w(hisper)

 

w(hy)

M I

w(himper-

ing)?

 

So not

to wake U

with m-EYE

sad-ness

 

lettuce

ALL WAYS

B to-

gether

 

go-

ing

oWt

how-

ever

we

go.

 

BIO: Jim Daniels’ recent poetry books include Rowing Inland and Street Calligraphy, 2017, and The Middle Ages, 2018. He is the author of five collections of fiction, four produced screenplays, and has edited five anthologies, including Challenges to the Dream: The Best of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards, a competition for high school and college students that he founded in 1999. His next collection of short fiction, The Perp Walk, will be published by Michigan State University Press in 2019.

 

Aliah A. Rosenthal

 

dear forty.

 

thank you for bringing me here

where my balls hang real low

            haters know

sweet barmaids always card me in a hoodie

            “flattery gets you everywhere“

I’m a troublemaker with my third eye

     wide open

smooth sage advice on tap,

            happy hour from every orifice

it’s true,

            I, celebrate myself

with new pair of shit detection specs

            blowing woke,

                                    up yo’ ass

 

forty is the new twenty,

that means there are

                             two of me!

lucky you

            I’m still so young

     you can have

                        all of me

for half the price

     and twice the fun

 

New York City

 

Oh New York,

standing on corner, high heels scattered, empty pothole

Oh New York
,

counting change, blow jobs for grande soy latte

Oh New York,

got enough BBQ Subway phallus to quench middle American gullet

Oh New York,

it’s a real safe place to live so be sure to Stop and Frisk my nuts

Oh New York,

aged hippie shamanism prostrate for five million dollar shit hole apartment pay out

Oh New York,

love gunning upper west side, backstab my lower east

Oh New York,

sucking that sweet 7-11 convenience chulo, washed down with chinese pork capitalism

Oh New York,

devour innumerable entitled succubi mid-shriek, “Oh my god, I just moved to the village and don’t you love the rooftop pool?”

Oh New York,

sell that trust fund pussy baby, bodega cocaine all nighters

Oh New York,

on your back, earning well deserved shopping spree V.I.P. valhalla

Oh New York,

squeeze your latina cheeks on slick bowery sell out

Oh New York,

serving up last jew deli scream into the ovens of neighborhood progress

Oh New York,

if you’re not fuckin’ it – it’s fuckin’ – you!

Oh New York,

too late to talk, you make your bed,

i’ll make mine

 

BIO: Aliah A. Rosenthal, poet and artist, was born in the East Village, New York City. He has read and performed at The Poetry Project, Bowery Poetry Club, Naropa Institute, Carnegie Hall, HousingWorks, Nuyorican Cafe and has worked with artists such as David Amram, Anne Waldman, The Lemonheads, Kool & the Gang, Philip Glass, Steven Taylor and many others. In addition, Aliah is the godson of the poet, Allen Ginsberg. Currently, he is shooting a role for the film “South of Hope Street” starring Michael Madsen. He lives in New York City.

 

Bob Holman

 

Performance Poem

 

Voices. Voices. Listen, my heart, as only
saints have listened; until the gigantic call lifted
them
off the ground; yet they kept on, impossibly,
kneeling and didn’t notice at all:
so complete was their listening.
–Rilke

 

He’s diving off the front of the stage!
You better bring the house lights up some,
The audience can’t see him.
He’s still screaming,
Screaming and dancing
And he’s twirling the mic —
I dunno, should we turn off the mic?
I dunno, turn it up?
He’s running around, he’s twirling and
He’s still like reading.
The book is in his hands, sort of, the people
Seem to like it, they’re into it —
Maybe it’s part of the act.

Well, if it’s part of the act he shoulda told us!
Now he’s in the back of the house — he’s
Still going strong. This is pretty
Amazing. I’ve never seen anything
Like this! He’s running out
Of the theater — I can still hear him screaming
In the lobby. He’s back in the house!
(What’s he saying? — It’s something about,
It sounds like “lake snore freedom”….
I dunno. “Breaking down reason”?)
Oh shit! Oh shit oh shit — he’s got a gun!

Christ! wait — awww, it’s just one of those pop guns.
Shoots like firecrackers or popcorn or —
What about the hat? Still wearing the hat.
Holy — he’s dying now, I mean he’s acting like that,
Like he’s dying. This is it for poetry in this house man,
I’ve had it.

He’s just lying there.
The audience is wailing, they’re keening
You know, like at a wake. No, I do not think
He’s really dead. He’s getting back up, see, I told
You — it’s all part of the act!

It’s all part of the end of the world.
What am I, the guy’s father?
Come here! Look at the monitor yourself
He’s ditched the mic somewhere,
Should I go get the mic?
Look! oh my God — he’s, what’s it called,
He’s going up, he’s levitating!
Holy shit! The roof, the roof is going up
Music is coming in
The crowd’s up outta their chairs, man this is it
This is it I’m telling you —
Raising the fucking roof is what he’s doing!
Now he’s back on the stage with his poetry stuff
Yeah heh heh yeah,

He never left the stage
It’s what his poem was about
I’m just saying what he’s saying
Through the headset
Yeah, he’s good
He’s pretty good alright
But I could write something like that
Anybody could write something like that

•••

[There’s no such thing as performance poetry. It’s like what Prof. Ong (Orality and Literacy, The Technologizing of the Word: Routledge) calls a “retronym”: he likens the phrase “oral literature” to a horse being described as an automobile without wheels. That which came later is known as the thing itself, and the original meaning becomes an adjunct to the current usage. Poetry originally was performed, was combined with music, was spoken aloud, was performed (oh, I already said that. Repetition being an element of orality) (in fact, it wasn’t until the 1960’s that we remembered that Homer didn’t write The Iliad and The Odyssey – he performed them!) Poetry has been kidnapped by text; there’s no such thing as performance poetry! Thus, since impossible, it behooves me to write “Performance Poem” which is to be performed while running around the audience and following whichever directions within the poem one deems worth performing. Or, not. Dedicated to that great performance poet, Rainer Marie Rilke.]

 

BIO: The author of 17 poetry collections, including The Cutouts (Matisse) (PeKa Boo Press), Sing This One Back to Me (Coffee House Press), and A Couple of Ways of Doing Something (Aperture, a collaboration with Chuck Close), Bob Holman has taught at Columbia, NYU, Bard, and The New School. As the original Slam Master and a director of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, creator of the world’s first spoken word poetry record label, Mouth Almighty/Mercury, and the founder/proprietor of the Bowery Poetry Club, Holman has played a central role in the spoken word and slam poetry movements. A co-founder and co-director of the Endangered Language Alliance, Holman’s study of hip-hop and West African oral traditions led to his current work with endangered languages. Holman is the producer and host of various films, including “The United States of Poetry” and “On the Road with Bob Holman.” His most recent film, “Language Matters with Bob Holman,” winner of the Berkeley Film Festival’s 2015 Documentary of the Year award, was produced by David Grubin and aired nationally on PBS. Holman worked with language revitalization centers across Alaska and Hawaii in 2016, sponsored by the Ford Foundation. In 2017 he was Creative Consultant for  LINES Ballet in San Francisco. He lives in New York City and taught at Princeton University in fall 2017.

 

Barbara Jane Reyes

 

 

Brown Girl Manifesto: #allpinayeverything

 

Because so much depends upon the suppression of us, the erasure of us, the omission of us; because we are not made to scald, to starve, to stuff in closets; because we have our own lyrics to drop; because we inherit our mothers’ immodest tales;

Because our nests and nooks hold buttons, stones and string, pressed flowers, feathers; every rosebud, every bead, every tarnished charm, every scrap of paper nestled between rosaries, safety pins, and scapulars — there are always poems here;

Because so much depends upon the blaming of us, for birthing too many babies, for birthing none at all; because the unruled pages of this body refuse to be marked and ripped in two; because we bind our own perfect spines;

Because of the low hum soothing the lungs, thrum in the throat, buzz in the skull till the head is numb, the body is a chamber of echoing song; scars are stories, healed fractures are as well (this of course, you’ve heard before), but not all scars are bodily;

Because we are razor-tongued (this, of course, you’ve heard before); because we’ve been told since the beginning of time to hold the tongue lest we lose it; because we still recoil at tendered words; because we remember the water’s lullaby;

Because we are a nation of the wretched and the occupied; we reclaim our elders’ taken tongues, cut, then burned; because our foremothers were taken, cut, and burned too; and so we offer words, verses to warm, a balm;

Because so much depends upon white nonsense and white fragility, orientalists, white microaggression, white supremacists with their shotguns and tiki torches; because telling us we don’t fucking belong is an old and tired story;

Because our being, our breathing, our speaking were never guaranteed; because our father’s bones rest in this land and we have grieved; no, I will never leave this place, and no, I will never leave him; because his roots, this land are also mine;

Because so much depends upon vacuous speech, and so sometimes it is best to refrain from all human voice; because when we sit with ourselves, there is just air, just light, and this is how we will learn to listen —

 

Brown Girl Fields Many Questions

 

1.     what’s it like to be collected and shelved by people who dig your (mysterious) (alluring) (tropical) look, your dark lidless eyes, your endless straight black hair

2.     what’s it like for them to tell you with their wide round eyes, how lovely your accent is (they can’t identify where it’s from though) and yet you still speak such good English

3.     what’s it like to have white people coming up so close, gawking and poking at your flat little noses, your little bodies, touching your hair

4.     what’s it like to hear them tell you 24/7 that they wish they could bottle your skin like a liquid boutique bronzer for that glow that gold

5.     what’s it like to be this sun-kissed plump-lipped almond-eyed fine-boned keepsake they wish they could be so precious and treasured and sublime

6.     what’s it like to be so preferred, to be so trafficked and commerced

7.     what’s it like to be locked in for your own good so no one will get their oily fingerprints on you so that no one can hear your soft soft asking voices

8.     what’s it like when they mispronounce your alien name and shrug when they tell you your ass should be deported

9.     what’s it like when they push you off the sidewalks and into the gutters

10.    what’s it like when they ask your husband if he bought you

11.    what’s it like when they mistake you for the help the nanny the maid the janitor the dishwasher when they say you speak such good English where did you learn to do that

12.   what’s it like when they ask whether your mother was a green card hunting whore a nudie dancer near the military base a drug addict a welfare cheat

13.   what’s it like when they say you are an illegal when they say fucking monkey when they ask why you eat dog when they call you a dirty Filipino

14.   what’s it like when they tell you you should be grateful

15.   what’s it like when white kids in a prom limo yell fucking jap go back to China

16.   what’s it like when white dudes get in your face shouting anything not white’s not right

 

who will remind you of Bulosan’s songs of love (this meant something to you, once)

who will remind you where the heart is (there, between your third and fourth rib)

who will blame you for effacing your face, for peeling your skin from your body

 

17.   what’s it like when white people yell at you that you ruined the neighborhood because you people kept landing at SFO and goddamn Mineta is named after you people now you took over our church you took over our market you took over our donut shop you took over our liquor store you took over our beauty salon with your chatter and your babies

18.   what’s it like when they yell at you that you have so many damn babies now you are taking over over Silicon Valley and all the schools and now everything smells like fried fish and feet all the weird shit you people eat this place was quiet but now your grammas yelling who knows what to your uncles and your cousins why can’t she just speak English fix your busted cars in the driveway parked on the weeds in your junk front yard they’re spilling into our street you’re parked in front of my home move your damn car stay away from my daughters stay away from my dog fix your lawn this is not the ghetto where you’re from

19.   what’s it like when they yell how many goddamn illegals can you pack into that little house (fix your paint job this is not the ghetto) there are so many of you you’ve snatched up all the houses you built over the old orchards you picked the apricots gladiolas and almonds we remember the mustard flowers and the dragonflies our children rode their bicycles but now your boys racing rice rockets break the quiet into pieces you killed our peace you stupid Filipinos can’t even drive

20.   what’s it like when they say your boys are hoodlums and your sisters are indecent all your girls are whores just go back to where you came from go back to where you came from go back because you don’t belong here because we never wanted you in our neighborhood

21.     why are you still here

22.     why haven’t you given up yet

23.     why haven’t you disappeared

 

what’s it like when you begin to remember,

what’s it like when you recover your rage,

what’s it like when you reach inside yourself,

what’s it like when you straighten your spine.

 

BIO: Barbara Jane Reyes is the author of Invocation to Daughters (City Lights Publishers, 2017), and four previous poetry collections, including Poeta en San Francisco (TinFish Press),and Diwata (BOA Editions, Ltd.). She teaches in the Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, and lives in Oakland, CA. http://barbarajanereyes.com

 

 

 Donald Vincent

 

 

REALITY AWAITS WHEN WE WAKE

 

When we don’t dream, we die so

Close your eyes, sacrifice your inhibitions. Much

 

Of faith’s understanding and meaning depends

On our mental activity, completion of tasks, upon

 

Movement, upon memory, a

Moment a white bus ran a red

 

Light. You screamed, Jesus! gave Him the wheel

And your will was done. Later you filled a barrow

 

Full of weeds and trimmed hedges from your garden glazed

Over from dew and 80-year-old perspiration with

 

Songs of seeing the King soon. When it rains,

It pours, Grandma. Forgetting is Sandy and Katrina. Water

 

Drowns the itsy spider, yet saves the soul beside

The sin of superstition, aside from questioning, the

 

Story when coworkers believed you were born white,

Or you’d heading Home soon & there’d be no more fried chickens.

 

 

GREEN CARD

 

 

Green like Starbucks after the first time we shared the same bed.

I guessed and bought you a caramel macchiato, your favorite.

Though I wish we had met on a different day because with people

I’m picky and the grass was not as green as I hoped for,

fresh with morning dew. That illegal green— like running red lights

and speeding through yellows or like the green we inhaled

 

from front row VIP booths at hip-hop concerts. Green like a hoax,

a black cloud of negativity raining down with all the glories

of its insecurities contrasted with a childhood green, a cheese pizza

on a Friday night, on the couch under covers— you are

 

my sensei and me your four-renaissance artist disguised as mutant turtles

kind of green. Love is the fear of vulnerability, and we’re all

just green behind the ears. Remember I painted you a picture? I didn’t

use any green because you loved purple and like royalty,

you gave me the green light to treat you like a princess. I tend to dab

with greens that are mixed with blues like Miles Davis or the muse

 

of his music. Like spinach stuck between teeth, this green is an eyesore,

a white picket fence, daisies dying in a brown flowerbed,

so we tend to our garden searching for the roots of despair. We search

for a God like a green, burning bush. Moses, will these flames

 

save us? Shall it save this sacred soil we plan to build a life upon?

The best things in life are green, trees, money, tea leaves,

and my grandmother’s collard greens. Greed-green like jealousy

in the eyes of the beholder. These vegetables make us strong,

a backbone to keep going. I want to be your superhero, a Super-

man. You’ll always be my weakness, Miss Kryptonite.

 

Green was never either of our favorite colors, but let’s go green

to save ourselves from our future selves. It’s not easy

being green, but we can make this love a permanent planet for us aliens.

 

BIO: Donald Vincent also known as Mr. Hip is a poet, educator, musician, and founder of le pamplemuse™, a content development platform for vegan companies. He earned his MFA from Emerson College. His poems have been published in a variety of different literary magazines and journals. His music can be found everywhere that music is sold and streamed online. He is originally from Washington, DC and now resides in Brooklyn, NY.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One thought on “GIANTHOLOGY

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.