Matthew Burgess


Departure


The husband interrupts
the poem I'm reading
takes my hand in his hand
places the other over
his heart, a gesture
I mimic then panic
Is he fearing a tragic
take-off? 
Down
the runway we roll
God Universe Zeus
please don’t let the last
thing I eat be a plastic
wrapped strawberry jelly
candy called Tulip or
my last human exchange
be a war of words
with a brusque Greek
Easy Jet employee
over the size and number
of our personal items.
In the air over Athens
he releases my hand
goes back to his phone
while I scan the land
for illuminated ruins—
the prayer on my lips
the jelly in my belly
our personal items
stowed beneath
the seat backs
in front of us.

 

Hurricane Lyric


The husband lands
as winds whip up
charcoal cloudbank
over Newark, Jersey
smokestacks thicken
the soup so away
we zip across Canal
to brick tenement flat
beside the brackish
Gowanus freshly
aroil in such gusts
we quickly walk
before apocalypse
begins, duct tape
x's pepper the panes
& we hold hands
as chainlink sings
then home just off
mandatory evac
to cling in blanket
cocoon wondering
what night brings,
whether water will
rise to the sill &
we'll swim for it.


 

In Favor of One's Time


I.
How did we end up
here again, where fear
the first & last thing
& home less & less
outside? I swear
every fucking day
climbing the stairs
into Sal's arms,
sanctuary above
Bowery's sirens

II.
Making worlds is
an act of survival:
book, bivouac,
a room to read in
with red-stitched
cushions. Now
the flame is low,
voices in the library
await in their way
silent, each

III.
witness to horrors
beyond what we
have seen & over
soup Frank O'Hara
admonishes me
keep your head up
in the wind, get your
gay ass to the Frick
& never ever give
your joy away

 

MB Author Photo.jpeg

Author Bio

Matthew Burgess is the author of a poetry collection, Slippers for Elsewhere, and a children's book, Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings. An Assistant Professor at Brooklyn College, Burgess also teaches poetry in New York City public schools with Teachers & Writers Collaborative. He recently edited an anthology of visual art and writing titled Dream Closet: Meditations on Childhood Space

Chris Green


Memory with Reality in It

  • History is memories hot & cold. I remember standing in front of my first apartment
  • when, very slowly, my grandmother drove by. She was in her gold Honda looking
  • around, confused, trying to find . . . me? I didn't move. This memory has always sat strangely. Like
  • Joyce says, "Paralysis." All of my boyhood lost, something uncanny
  • about how I stood as witness. That day she was distant from home & it was not long
  • before she died alone in Uncle Mike's condominium.

 

The Self-Conscious Clock

Age nine, my daughter surprised me by writing a story called “The Self-Conscious Clock.” She looked up and said her teacher didn’t like it.

I stepped back. "I didn’t know you were writing." She said, "It's about a clock who hates being looked at, so he's trying to stop time. Oh, Dad, it's been hard."

I kissed her head. Already, she hangs at the edge, crossing her arms. She watches the day visible around her, watches sparrows climb toward the distant clouds, watches the black head of the dog laze. In her mind, time is battering the surface of the earth, the world as broken animal hiding its face.

A few days ago, I asked if she solved the plot. She said, "The clock scratched his own guts out. All humans were screaming and crazy. Then one brave little girl gave him more numbers. The end."

 

Author Bio

Chris Green teaches at DePaul University and his most recent poetry collection is Résumé (Mayapple Press, 2014). His poems have appeared in such publications as Poetry and The New York Times.

 

Ginger Ko


from "Biography of My Automaton"

 

Interval: Another war against species


After awhile the flashes of despair materialized as flickering lights inside the womb, illuminating a placenta come unstuck, a muffled unborn wailing. Each year the bleaching spread. The unnatural stacking of dead groundwalkers. Elsewhere beings kept growing with scorch marks. Something like weather, like the vacuum of a scene, is laughing, I was told. Gases, liquids, and light—laughing. The old mythology of the passive egg and conquering sperm made way for not any gristle to be left behind. Instead a whole uniform unit of food. I found I could be one of many pores. Poor pores opened up to stashes of contaminants, to sit like gaping bowls with small stones inside. What is worse to witness: a disappointment, or a loyal incomprehension? I never think of my physical symbolism; it is because my young do not burn more easily than I do. I find that they have inherited only my deep unrequited longing to hear a voice gently calling Wake up, love. We all want it more than anything, the calling. 



Interval: Dealing with the concept of light or hunger


In the few seconds it takes to watch a horse with its neck snapped in half, head bouncing along its withers as it careens down a mountainside, in the few seconds it takes to feel a deep regret, in the few seconds it takes to forget the creature altogether when the lights flare their cones from above: pleasure made up of leisure and shame like slicing tubes width-wise for biscuits. The costumes of capability differences give a soap, a soap, an astringent squeaky lack of oils and other tastes. Another preferred technique: opening up the insides under lamps to scrape away webbing from the night-grown flesh and rind. Not holograms but the quivering hiddens that had pulsed and chewed in the underground of the internal. Or another: studying how thick white spicy radishes get pulled up under spotlights, glowing from their black burials. And still others: a great pail of milk flecked around the edges with vivid grass clippings; premature young lain bonelessly deflated atop surgical napkins; paper-thin tissue torn at by water droplets.

 

Author Bio

Ginger Ko is the author of Motherlover (Bloof Books) Inherit (Sidebrow), and Comorbid (Lark Books). Ginger is a PhD student at the University of Georgia’s creative writing program, where she teaches writing and Women’s Studies. She is a contributing editor for The Wanderer and an editor at smoking glue gun
 

Robert Siek


Born in the U.S.A.

  • Money, money, money, damn chant singsong on Lexington
  • and 59th, a man with a cane limps past speaking loud,
  • arm extended, hand carrying an open baseball cap,
  • mesh liner loaded with change, dollar bills.
  • He hums what sounds like "Gimme Shelter";
  • he's gonna fade away. And H&M didn't have
  • men's corduroy pants despite the appropriate season—
  • stress of trying on clothing that should fit but sweaty
  • never squeezes past hips; this male figure
  • now adult Kewpie doll, god damn fitness,
  • the U.S. economy, the ability to accept
  • the things I cannot change and the courage
  • to change the things I can. Perhaps it's time
  • for new experiences: signing up for tap class,
  • learning to use a sewing machine, sketching
  • nude models in studios with charcoals. It's been
  • since high school the visual meant right this second;
  • this attention to details cost an extra day of income,
  • eight additional hours of trying to stay awake.
  • Perhaps it's important to pick up a trade,
  • because buildings multiply reversed clips
  • of a Jenga stack tipped over on tables, good-bye
  • abandoned residence, kind with planks nailed over
  • broken windows, very keep zombies out,
  • the serial killer hoping to clear house,
  • like every day is Halloween and one day
  • the power will shut off, the entire eastern
  • seaboard dark, and carpentry now useful,
  • as well as weapons and survival skills
  • in this country called a superpower,
  • an empire still dominant,
  • we'll never be refugees,
  • unbathed, starving,
  • or half-dead
  • asylum seekers,
  • fifty on a lifeboat. 


     

The Guest Room Must Be Haunted

  • Forced to watch a ceiling fan,
  • its highest setting, attack of pinwheel,
  • most giant UFO drilled through rooftop,
  • flickering circle, wash cycle, brain fed Adderall,
  • this full-size bed in a guest room, where a parent died
  • two years ago, the mother incapable of waking
  • the father. He always watched the television
  • when lights out and good night.
  • Don't change the channel. One eye
  • must be open. How can this be comfortable?
  • Central air on top of it all. The sheer navy valance
  • shakes atop closed blinds; each panel some undone skirt
  • a ballet dancer wore during a recital, a female ice skater
  • twirled in—the bunching on the rod, just picture a waist.
  • This room not so important, temporary.
  • The closet where his clothes were kept.
  • His wife claimed the walk-in
  • of the master bedroom.
  • Three toolboxes on the floor under
  • pants, shirts, jackets, their wire hangers—
  • a few pieces never worn after being drycleaned,
  • numbered tags stapled to washing instructions,
  • narrow ones through buttonholes, sights behind
  • clear plastic bags, so goddamn long, kinds
  • that dragged on floors, aging out
  • of outfits, necessary organs
  • not functioning, his hours on dialysis,
  • the air angry, batted out-of-hand particles,
  • weaved blankets flipped-out ghosties taking
  • cover when a helicopter lands,
  • unidentified flying object
  • destroys worlds.
  • The fake lilies
  • on the dresser
  • need to go.
     
  •  

What's Your Damage?

  • Fifty degrees out, January: I need to blow my nose.
  • Heathers on Showtime last night; I watched more
  • than half, very basement in my parents' house,
  • ninth grade, me and two friends on a leather couch.
  • And they played hopscotch in grammar school,
  • while I jumped rope in another playground,
  • where boys called me faggot
  • and picked me last in gym.
  • And I threw one down a hill,
  • his body a stunt double,
  • messy dive through a window,
  • like in an '80s horror movie—
  • when killers chucked corpses to shatter glass
  • and get closer. He smacked my head for no good reason,
  • so I pictured a jump rope around his neck and kitchen knives
  • in backpacks. I'd stab like beating out a fire, very Manson member
  • following orders, nothing like Michael Meyers jamming a knife,
  • a young man left fixed to a wall, like a reminder on a cork board.
  • And Veronica mixes milk with orange juice
  • in Heather's kitchen, her vengeance
  • for being asked, "What's your damage?";
  • called a cooze for being so high school,
  • puking in a hallway at a Remington party.
  • They want Heather to vomit the morning after.
  • Christian Slater's character fills a mug with rust remover.
  • Veronica makes a mix up, waking Heather with the wrong cup.
  • "You think I’ll drink it just because you call me chicken."
  • Never looking inside, Heather adds,
  • "Just give me the cup, jerk."
  • Then gagging, throat clutching
  • before the classic "Corn nuts,"
  • spoken half a second previous to her free fall in pink,
  • face forward atop a coffee table; tempered glass explodes
  • outward, granular chunks land voodoo-dust circle
  • trapping new dead. Three ninth-graders
  • laughed because it’s only a movie;
  • we smiled at acted-out scenes
  • of popular students being murdered.
  • I'm waiting for a J train and it's warm for January.
  • I'm stuck on Heathers, jocks stripped to underwear
  • and shot in the woods, this shit didn't happen
  • in either small town I grew up in:
  • boxers and briefs, bullet holes in chests.
  • And once I squeezed a sharpened pencil
  • in freshman math class, considering it halfway deep
  • in the back of a classmate after he turned and said faggot
  • before pushing a book off my desk. Boys being boys,
  • hand flying, closed fist knocking a locked door,
  • choose your favorite on-screen serial killer
  • approaching very speed walker.
  • Jamie Lee Curtis screaming,
  • "Let me in!" Punctures for real,
  • Heather's not breathing,
  • his blood on my desk, like Manson-style finger writing,
  • and I was red, face flushed, noticed stares from peers
  • possibly concerned—students claiming to have known
  • Heather when she was alive. My hand opened.
  • The pencil rolled across my test paper.
  • "Fuck me gently with a chainsaw."
  • Remember that line in the cafeteria. 
 

Author Bio

Robert Siek is the author of the poetry collectioN Purpose and Devil Piss (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2013), as well as the chapbook Clubbed Kid (New School University, 2002). His second book of poetry, We Go Seasonal, will be published in 2018, also by Sibling Rivalry Press. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and works at a large publishing house in Manhattan.

 

Kimiko Hahn


Found End Words for a Ghazal 

a hundred black

debut with black

said about black

Monday, black

two-hour discussion of black

many black

swelling Black

why black

emphasis on black

toward black

on a black

Monday, black

if it was a Black


__________
NOTE: phrases are from the article "'Love' and Disbelief Follow Donald Trump Meeting With Black Leaders" by Michael Barbaro and John Corrales, New York Times, 11/30/15.


 

from the Brittle Process series
 

Jittered Density Plot


At Pere Lachaise, division 94, I paid my respects to Gertrude Stein, her plot the least jittery and least dense what with tiny stones and buttons set atop modest marble. I guess I saw Jim Morrison's—certainly graffiti pointing in his direction. Jitters aside, there was no need, at that moment, to leave a tulip in Victor Noir's hat.
 

 

Brittle Process, i.


The red ball is posted. And still you lace up your skates, the dingy scuffed white ones that belonged to Meggie, then me. Next Yoko. After that, maybe Susie. Katie. And down the street, Chrissie. Mary. Patti. Debbi. Sandy. Sandee. Peggy. And up the hill to Lizzie, Bethy, Ellie, Barbie. Kathy and Cathy. Terry. Cindy. Janie. Angie. Jenny. All testing thin ice.  
 

 

Brittle Process, ii. 


Not peanut or pecan. Not the stirring. To be stirred. Which is to say: not able "to resist damage or degrade gracefully," she could not help cracking open processes. Further, there is also a brittle star. The brain, however, is not brittle. I am not. I am not fragile as a father, faint-hearted as a husband. 
 

 

Recursion


If you are afraid to shake the dice, you will never throw a six. Every Friend Joys in your Success. Happiness is an activity. Cookie says, "You crack me up!" Wisdom in on her way to you.
 

 

Damaged Intelligence


I do not see trees, I see pointillism. I do not see three barn windows, I see motifs. I do not see a beach, I see fine texture. Or coarse. I do not see I do not see a hoarder’s home, I see material for collage. Such is the nature of the artist's daughter. 
 

 

Wormeostat


Around midnight, on the dog's last poo, I point my flashlight toward her poo-spot and squiggling night-crawlers slip into their holes. Dozens. Maybe hundreds. One thing I don’t get: if they have male and female sex organs, why do they need special bristle-like hairs to anchor the mate during penetration. But, I'm not keen on reading up on their anatomy just to get the picture. 
 

___________
NOTE: the titles are from Cognitive Science Dictionary, University of Alberta http://www.bcp.psych.ualberta.ca/~mike/Pearl_Street/Dictionary/

 

KimikoHahnby Beowulf Sheehan.jpeg

Author Bio

Kimiko Hahn is the author of nine collections of poetry, including Brain Fever and Toxic Flora. Both of these were triggered by fields of science in the same way previous work was triggered by Asian American identity, women's issues, black lung disease, and personal grief.  She teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College, CUNY and is President of the Board, The Poetry Society of America. 

George Kalamaras


Dream in Which Kenneth Rexroth Counts to Eight

  • So that dream where Kenneth Rexroth
  • and I raise coonhounds together.
  • Eight nights straight. And I recall all
  • details at 8 o'clock a.m.—
  • precisely, each morning—somehow
  • surfaced from infinity's sleep.
  • Chinese history is full of
  • accounts of eight—from yarrow stalks
  •  
  • stuffed in the spleen, to amorous
  • courtesans dampening the dreams
  • of rickshaw men, their teahouse time
  • misspent. Or from those eight milk goats
  • who mysteriously carry
  • in their udders an antidote
  • to the plague. Come. Position your
  • mouth so the liquid universe
  •  
  • might cleanse the Wuzhishan moon right
  • out of the monkey's teeth. I might
  • finally raise most marvelous
  • hound dogs, with Rexroth dreaming me
  • holding the merle galactic splash
  • of bluetick coonhounds on my lap.
  • Eight days straight as if Chinese T'ang
  • poetry finally mattered
  •  
  • to the plumber, cashier, wise-ass
  • poets who adore irony
  • and suspect death in anything
  • synchronous or visionary—
  • as if poetry didn't mean
  • new life bearing upon the tongue.
  • Rexroth says the octopus has
  • eight hearts, that if we count fingers
  •  
  • and exclude thumbs it all adds up
  • to Jupiter's eight fluid moons.
  • He tells me the coonhound whelped eight
  • whimpering storm clouds disguised in
  • fur. Says eight ounces each adds up
  • to sixty-four, the number of
  • hexagrams found in the I Ching.
  • And now Rexroth is strangely both
  •  
  • eighty and eight years old at once.
  • And the nipples on the coonhound
  • are oddly nine, one left over
  • perhaps for me? I can't drink in
  • the perfect eight words Rexroth says
  • to supposedly assure me
  • that each of Tu Fu's lines contains
  • just eight syllables. That if we
  •  
  • peer tonight through the moon's work,
  • something will be missing there yet gained.
  • Tell that to the plumber, he says.
  • Place that in the lap of wise-ass
  • young poets whose only concern
  • is jokes yoked to their urge to speak.
  • Still, eight nights straight and eight coonhounds.
  • Rexroth, eighty and eight at once.

 

 

Deaths So Possible They Are Alive

Based on a photograph of Heidi, a two-and-a-half year old black and tan coonhound, and her litter of thirteen pups, Greenville, Texas, February 28, 1971

  • Let's not assume the coonhound was happy
  • giving birth to thirteen pups. I've said
  • death so many times, it is alive.
  • Scuffling away. On my tongue.
  • In my toe. In my left big
  • mouth, steaming, still,
  • on the sill. I said her name as mine.
  • I said myself into her, the way a hound
  • scratches forth a bed and suddenly bleeds
  • people-sticks and smudge. We sometimes think
  • ourselves into the crimes of rocks or
  • into shaming thoughts in the tight black top
  • of our favorite waitress. Often I don't know
  • where I'm headed. Even when I write
  • as if I do. Know this:
  • the poetic line determines the world's great ache.
  • Just ask the ends of our words, closing off
  • all we sing possible. Just ask your mouth
  • as you back off into it the phrase's
  • pain. Let's cook breakfast, poach two eggs
  • in the broth of a coonhound's afterbirth, cleansed
  • from the eighth century Chungnan Mountains
  • and cave-moments of Chinese solitude
  • we might think unworthy of our busy lies.
  • I say this. You say sat. Standing there
  • in the dumb-struck. Nothing is true. Everything is
  • as it should say. Because it came from the tongue
  • of childhurt, it is accurate and it is long
  • best strained. Let's not assume the best's
  • worst. Case ourselves, as if observing
  • an all-night scenario for sixty, seventy
  • years. We sometimes whelp a passel
  • of possible pups, just in thinking thin
  • skins of words as we read
  • the weather or the shell of a crow
  • thousands of years before
  • it evolved into flight, transparent as butterfly
  • ash between this world and its cover. The other
  • life we live—the one we could have had but didn't—
  • is said so long and often we tire
  • its delicious wattle-weight. Rocks
  • tied to our quicksand sleep. Sunk
  • to the upthrust and struck. The improbable
  • dust. The impossible way the dark
  • of a woman's blouse invites us
  • into curves so calling we want
  • to give all our hardness unto that
  • which eventually makes us soft
  • and impenetrably sad. The afterbath
  • of throwing ourselves headlong
  • time and again into birth.
Hound dog and pups photo August 14, 2017101.jpg
 

Author Bio

George Kalamaras, former Poet Laureate of Indiana (2014-2016), is the author of fifteen books of poetry, eight of which are full-length, including Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize (2011), and The Theory and Function of Mangoes, winner of the Four Way Books Intro Series (2000). He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, where he has taught since 1990.  

Annah Browning


Medium in the Morning

I have been sleeping strangely—
I've been living with

a song, that on and off
vibrates me like a beehive—

head on the floor—I hear
the flood of kazoos, dead people

doing their morning or evening
washing. Whatever

it is down there. I hear
the tinny singing of the spirits

and long for, I don't know
exactly what—a new geranium,

something red, something I can't
take my eyes off of—you know,

how they tell you to balance:
pick one spot to fixate on.

They say I live like Gemini,
the twins, or Rhodes—one leg

in this world, one slung over
into the next. I ride a bad,

bad horse. I'm so tired
of being vital, of herding

the mothers and the widows.
Gaslight murders my stomach.

Like all armies, the dead
march there, gobbling up

my perfume, the weather,
the communion of the saints

What wafer-thin things
their children are, conceived

in this life, born in the next,
toddling without lungs.

Their insides are black as the cores
of old apples, pistol shine,

my eyes in the kitchen window
washing up, saying, what art thou

doing today? Then I wipe
away the tea leaves, and try again.


 

Medium on the Dietary Habits of the Dead

What ghosts eat: slippers.
Static. The relative unevenness

of staircases. Migraine aura.
Trump cards. Delicate children.

Smooth flat stones. Fruits candied,
dried or desiccated. The recently

mated. Zygotes you can pop
like a grape. Bundles of skirt

unmended. Dishcloth carrying
the crumbs and blood

of daily meals. Odd forsakenness.
Metal toys. Rust and Rustoleum.

Soft toys gone mealy under
many a sweaty hand. How much

I miss, my mother. My mother.
Flags ripped apart by wind. The dirt

around the crater where my daughter
was not born.  


 

Suicide Ghost

Death is not a precise activity.
Just aim in the general

direction. Then there,
you've got it. Got what?

Nothing. That's about right.
Almost right. It's almost right

and straight on until
morning, though nothing

is thereafter straight. I have
a vision now of one of those

cats that mummified,
stuck behind the pipe organ,

going for that one eternal
mouse. No one thinks

they're going to become
a stray leather purse, an easily

mistakable grocery bag,
damp and flattened

in the outer lots where,
I have heard it said,

the women circle.
We want to call everything

planetary, but really
there's much more cosmic

dust—debris, you could say.
But that implies that there

was something there before,
something whole, now blown

apart—very often I held a piece
of glass in my hand,

and licked it, started
to curl my flesh

around it, just to the point
of blood. I do not know,

I never did, what the hell any
human heart was ever doing. 

 

Author Bio

Annah Browning hails from the foothills of South Carolina. She holds an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis and a Ph.D. from the Program for Writers at The University of Illinois-Chicago, and she is the author of a chapbook, The Marriage (Horse Less Press, 2013). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Black Warrior ReviewWillow Springs, Indiana Review, Boulevard, and other journals. She is poetry editor of Grimoire, an online literary magazine of dark arts.

Kimberly Lyons


Advent

  • What is this passing flick a stiffened glue
  • drop in midair, a single tawny mushroom like
  • an ear to call in to.
  • An invisible urn of curled threads.
  • A clay pitcher patched as if scarred dirt flesh
  • holds black pools of night air
  • provisionally. A mutable intersection
  • from which you could pour out a shape.
  • It’s a fishing line of silver dots.
  • The miniscule fish in air flow among
  • these swimming motes of thought.
  • I saw a ragged doll dress here hung on the wall.
  • An empty white office envelope in the dark.
  • I wrote a letter to you and lost it in my hand.

 

 

  • Filaments

  • A mass of twiglets
  • humped where breasts might be
  • bear a mossy, wood pharaonic crown
  • by the parking lot and old factory windows
  • that fluorescently shine on boxes of yellowed Xerox paper.
  • Filaments reflected hang in the air.
  • Everyone is coming back.
  • Passover must be near.
  • Chartreuse buds coiled near my hand seem too tight to unfold.
  • Only twinkie wrappers shine peripherally under a tire.
  • A yearning in April that is forgotten the other months.
  • A sweater I found at Goodwill of wool
  • and eucalyptus, crumbles yet seems to regrow, like soil.
  • Black plastic mesh over white metal stairs forms an
  • undulant doorway.
  • Underneath, I finally see
  • Antiques
  • is the word dim gold letters spell.
 

Author Bio

Kimberly Lyons is the author of Calcinatio (Faux Press, 2014) and Approximately Near (2016, Metembesendot.org).  She publishes Lunar Chandelier Press and lives in Chicago.  

 

Hafizah Geter


Naming Ceremony

  • Our father, who spends most of his days painting
     
  • pictures, says coming home to our mother
     
  • stroking out was like walking in on an affair.
     
  • Bending, he demonstrates how
     
  • an aneurism hugged her
     
  • to her knees. A man always
     
  • at his easel, our father tries to draw clarity
     
  • from obfuscation. Every retelling:
     
  • bluer, then redder. His memory
     
  • a primary color saturating
     
  • the ears of whomever he can will
     
  • to listen. Over and over, our father draws a loss
     
  • so big it is itself an inception, a story
     
  • he knows better than the day
     
  • his daughters were born.
     
  • His heart is strong.
     
  • He has the receipts:
     
  • a scar between his breasts
     
  • that I've cleaned like a smudge on a window.
     
  • Over and over, our father draws me
     
  • a picture of the crescent moon
     
  • fishooking her hospital room.
     
  • He loses the story for the pleasure
     
  • of finding it.
     
  • We lived in this
     
  • maze for years. I can tell you
     
  • our best days weren't glad.
     
  • He's a history
     
  • whittled down to this
     
  • single story. In my version,
     
  • when her mind blew,
     
  • boys were playing Beirut,
     
  • crushing cans of Pabst
     
  • against their shoulders. I flicked
     
  • white balls into red solo cups.
     
  • The night turning
     
  • like the wheels of a faraway gurney.
     
  • In their basements, I was an animal,
     
  • a pale light. Not yet
     
  • knowing how loss finds its way to you.
     
  • Or that sometimes when you think you are playing
     
  • someone else is dead.
     
  • These are the ways in which we come
     
  • to name things. 
  •  


 

  • The Widower

  • Five winters in a row, our father knuckles
     
  • the trunk of his backyard pine
     
  • like he's testing a watermelon.
     
  • He scolds smooth patches
     
  • where bark won't grow,
     
  • breaks branches
     
  • to find them hollow.
     
  • He inhales deeply
     
  • and the pine tree has lost
     
  • even its scent. He grieves
     
  • in trees—our father, the backyard
     
  • forest king, the humble
     
  • king. The dragging his scepter
     
  • through the darkness king.
     
  • The wind splits him into shivers.
     
  • Rivers of stars
     
  • don him like a crown. Our king
     
  • who won't lay his tenderness down
     
  • trembles into the black
     
  • unable to stop
     
  • his kingdom from dying.
     
  • I have failed to quiet
     
  • the animal inside him.
     
  • If only I would
     
  • take his hand.
     
  • This man weeping
     
  • in the cold.
     
  • How quickly I turn
     
  • from him.
 

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Author Bio

Born in Zaria, Nigeria, Hafizah Geter serves on the Board of Vida: Women in the Literary Arts, and Co-curates the reading series Empire with Ricardo Maldonado.  Her poems have appeareD in The New Yorker, Tin House, Narrative Magazine, Gulf Coast, Boston Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, among others. She is on the poetry committee and Book Ends Committee for the Brooklyn Book Festival and is currently an editor for Little A and Day One from Amazon Publishing.

Megan Fernandes


The Poet Holds a Gun

  • The bullet is a simple, adolescent heartache.
  • When guns go off around you, you wince like a single sheet
  • and nothing in your body has ever been so simultaneous
  • not even orgasm which is more like the hungry sea
  • meeting an Aeolian beach with their sweet
  • caper storms and lemon trees. An orgasm
  • has more surface area and salt than a gun.
     
  • On the ride home from the range, from the first lesson,
  • I ask Alex if he wants to have a baby
  • and he explains the mathematical formula
  • for a circle tattooed across his wrist. He doesn't
  • mention that I am bad at holding a gun
  • or that I gasp every time I press
  • the trigger while my wrist flaps back like a muscle
  • from another life, or that I look like a meek captive,
  • or that he could tell, without saying
  • a word, that I was begging for him to take it
  • out of my hands. He doesn't mention the baby and it feels
  • like the small relief of passover when he gently
  • takes the gun and hits the target seven times
  • in a row, perfectly. We don't talk about
  • how we are both from the sterile MainLine
  • of Philly where the only big bookstore shut down across
  • from a milkshake shop, that we are suburban astronauts
  • who just shot at a paper plate target
  • like a white, punctured moon.
     
  • The poet holds a gun in the morning
  • and shakes, with the same fallen limb,
  • the knowing hand of Agnes Varda that very night
  • in New York where the faces of her film
  • beam at you in the most affectionate kind of love
  • which is love without sound or dialogue.
  • Varda is a small woman, sharp like a radiant heat
  • dressed in magenta, a ring of Saturn
  • around her head and she is telling me
  • something about my hand when she shakes it:
     
  • Megan, she seems to say the name that never meant
  • anything to me but who she knows
  • (and my mother knows) is very much me.
  • There is nothing here to defend and everyone is in love.
  • Here, her hand says, Megan, you do not need the gun.
 

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Author Bio

Megan Fernandes is a poet and academic. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Tin House, Denver Quarterly, The Boston Review, The Common, Rattle, Guernica, Pank, The Adroit Journal, among many others. She is an Assistant Professor of English at Lafayette College. She is the author of The Kingdom and After (Tightrope Books) and lives in NYC. 

Diane Seuss


My first night in New York 

  • My first night in New York I was such a beautiful
  • dick, my soul circumcised, no shielding foreskin,
  • wearing some sort of leotard thing and gold fabric
  • safety pinned around my waist as a skirt, I'd pierced
  • one of my ears with a darning needle, ice cube
  • to numb it, to hurt: the only verb I knew, stabbed
  • through that ear hole a gold safety pin, the kind girls
  • back then wore on pleated skirts, and K that first night,
  • his robe an evil green, his unacceptable glamorous
  • nose, eye-holes as if precisely cut from his face with
  • a utility knife to exhibit the dangerous spectacle at play
  • inside his skull, Roland Barthes: "I cannot get over
  • having had this good fortune: to meet what matches my
  • desire," and, I would add, he who would slaughter me.

     
  •  

I want drugs again; whimsy