Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Story

by Holly Day

once upon a time
we were in love
and then we weren’t
time has turned my hair gray
and my skin gray
and my eyes blind.
I wonder how he’s aged.
I hear the dirt moving
far above my head
the shovel draws close.
pebbles fall on my face as
metal bites into wood.
I have composed
so many love letters
down here, in my head
started conversations
mumbled explanations
but I can’t say a word that he can hear.
I see his face in the opening
framed in moonlight and wet earth
if I could feel
I’d feel him pull the ring from my finger
the skin sliding off the bone with
the cold metal
if I could speak
I’d ask him about the new girlfriend
ask him
if she’s prettier than me.

Halfway to Naked

by KJ Hannah Greenberg

Among hobbledehoys, some simple friends seem more adept at dressage
Than do slatternly peers with obdurate, chthonic tendencies.
Those others, who also perform the rites, remain all but larky.
Hardihood lacks sufficiency to face down persons engaged accordingly.

Consider that carnal factotums, after a time, disintegrate to dust.
Similarly, blackboots, selectively mute, can be found risen to grandeur,
Or otherwise assigned to mirandole princes devoid of ugly-minded gaffers.
When such peerage shakes, the world rushes to videotape their trembling.

As for the rest of us, we homunculi, no amount of alacrity gets us
Beyond halfway to naked; it’s a shamefaced truth that minions
Decenter their superiors time and again out of need, nefarious intent notwithstanding.
If only, liberties were equitably spread, we might better our lots, rejoice, rebel.

My Dead Come Down

by Art Holcomb

In the early hours,
my dead come down
from the alder tree behind my house
and drink from my swimming pool

cautious hands dip
scoop by scoop,
eyes on me,
as I stand on the other side
of my patio door.

I sip my coffee
and slowly crack the door open
just a bit,

     just a little bit.

They (suddenly) do not move.

And I quietly, through the crack,
steal a breath of
our common fortune

I hold that breath;

     it’s heady

and they,
having had their fill,
retreat back through the landscaping,

to vanish

electric coil glow like taillights
as we both make for the dawn.

Rotation Alley

by John Pursch

Hark, our feelers are coaxed into auction shorts and quaffed donuts, mesmerized by plenitudes, and chuckled at by savage hair nets. Modern man goes loyal at the sight of ankle jobs, sacrificing clay pots, reindeer, coulisse, ear-wax, real teeth, nostrils, snake pits, surface bangs, bludgeoned mice, fields of treats, and buzzing cattle; all for a hook, a menagerie of diamond numbers, a gleaner of the loosened chaste. A bowl of minnows cans peaches in a celluloid basement, swirls to centrifuge a meager rat, and irrigates a bunion, half complete. Cobblers crown a chortling monkey preened for stays of restitution, reinforce a Day-Glo hindrance, and titillate the moribund sexologist. Climbing on a cyborg, armatures finned with ballast, we answer merry lipids, defenestrate a bobbin, and circulate nude lacquer chips.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Eating an Orange

by Jessica Otto

I pick up the orange of the kitchen counter
and cut into it with a haphazard, serrated blade
crusted with peanut butter sleeping in the sink
next to a greasy tilapia spine that found
its final resting place in my coffee mug.

Inside the orange is something like the pulse that
floats beneath your heart murmur.  The juice
stings a paper cut when I try to dig out a seed that
is not the pearl I was expecting from this thing that
is not an oyster.  And eat it anyway.

Fuck You, Fuck Me

by Cynthia Ruth Lewis

I'm almost glad I gave my heart to you, asshole;
I'm almost glad you took me for a ride—
you really opened my eyes

I already had a bad attitude
when it came to men
but I took a chance on you
because you seemed so damned sincere,
but you ended up being
the worst one of them all

You stole what little faith I had left
and hung it out to dry
but I can't rightly say I hate you—
I hate myself more
for even falling for your shit
for giving you a chance
for stupidly thinking "maybe this time"....
for being hungry enough
to swallow your fucking bait
but it taught me a lesson;
one I won't easily forget

damn you
for stripping away my last shred of hope

damn me
for being foolish enough
to grab onto the frayed end of that fucking rope

Gently Flows the Rhine

by Paul Hellweg

Beauty intimidates, and
ego’s desire yields nothing.
My body in Room Nine, Joshua Tree Inn,
my timid soul needs to check in too.
Lavender bedspread, mirrored dresser,
floral drapes, paisley pillows,
room once used for nude photo shoots,
home of the singing Lorelei and
exuberant female sexuality,
unapologetic, undaunted.
Mermaids, Sirens, Lorelei
lure men to their fabled doom,
favoring those who fear the female,
murmuring rock, lurking rock.
Women have the incubus, men the succubus,
equal-opportunity demons,
both genders with something to fear,
intimidation, timidity, restraint,
limitations to lose ourselves in,
barring entrance to that Room Nine
where reality awaits the dream.

Hide and Seek

by Savannah Stuitje

Love is not to be found in the backseat of a car
A circle of moonlight on a glossy front lawn
A musty basement spangled with cobwebs
In a nook, a cranny, a crawlspace
A library, a movie theatre slick with pop corn grease
Love is not shoved up against a wall
Wrists held down, breasts pushed up
Like a paid actress with goods for sampling
A housewife with a plate of finger sandwiches, pigs in a blanket
It is not stroked down its stomach like a purebred dog
Trembling into submission by a firm hand
Or groped through a flimsy dress
Love cannot be gripped by the thighs, made to ride like a cowgirl
Love does not rake its hands down your back
It is not made to moan and thrash
Or hold you in its hands like a prize fish
Mumble rosaries as it prays to you, its mouth open and regretful
Love does not scramble for its clothes in the dark
Or leave an earring behind; breathe something hot and moist into an ear
Love does not wander fingers down its body looking for souvenirs
Love does not wipe itself down with printed napkins
Or lose its underwear, a necklace, a sandal
Love does not sit in the bathroom and take inventory
Text a friend, call a cab, scrawl goodbyes on credit card receipts
A number, an exclamation, a drooping smiley face
It does not leave with its skirt caught in the car door
Love does not drive to a diner and eat pancakes
One after another, moistened with syrup and butter
Crunchy bacon and flaccid eggs cooked sunny side up
To lose the taste in its mouth
Love does not smoke bummed cigarettes
Or swallow handfuls of water in a gas station bathroom
Walk to a local pharmacy for little pills and take them dry in the parking lot
Bury the packaging in the trash
Love does not picture the darkness of its insides,
Porous white egg shell and minnow quick movements
Love does not curl its body into bed at 9 in the morning
In a little black dress, no underwear, and cold sheets
Love does not dream of babies rolling in lazy somersaults
Their eyes closed, hands folded, waiting patiently
Of bellies rounded with expectations
Seeds that smell the dirt like heaven
That come through cracks in the sidewalk
Their necks held out for execution

Landscape of Reason

by Austin McCarron

Behind chrome plated forests
there is a stump
of light and bright
is the flame of its inner machine.

Hot as a roast the meat
of its gleaming fist.  On tours of air
the destination silence cherishes.
Its heart trembles like wood.
Plagued by doubt, its greatness of
spirit is revered and its life is a song
poured out of
concrete furnaces like a cast of wires.

The land is sweet, full of religious
smells.  Out of roots of chaos, springs
of water, wearing caps of snow.
On legs of blood
a journey through gates and passes,
where trees
with animal fur over time begin to thaw.


by Mike Berger

I've been down this ugly road a dozen
times or more. I've done some damage
along the way; leaving a string of broken
hearts. Striking up torrid love affairs, then
leaving without a word.

Always able to find a job and make a
little money. Dollars were made to be
spent and I rarely have cent to my name.
I drink only good scotch and I know how
to romance a woman.

Driving a new Porsche, I'm six months
behind on my payments. I don't fear the
repo boys, I'm gone before the can
track me down. It's a perpetual game
of hide and seek where the repo boys
are always it.

I'm getting old and not as quick as I
once was, but I still have my mojo.
I hold to the principle that good die
young; that way I will live another
thirty years.


by Rebecca Gaffron

I look in the mirror of your eyes and see myself, as I see myself, and wonder what you see. You, who called me beautiful while your calloused thumb rubbed traces of Halloween-costume-freckles from my smooth cheek. You gazed at me under a streetlight all but over-powered by the orange glow of a harvest moon. And it was clear you loved in that moment before your lips met mine. For an instant I wondered how and then the feel of you made me forget to question.

Now all I can think of is the reflection of your smile distorted by glistening water. A line whips and circles in the air.  A lure, so light—freshly  tied and real. The cast is perfect. I am mesmerized by infinitely swaying loops outlined against sky, like some complicated incantation, working and weaving the designs of the universe into our own desires. Willing this fish to strike.

And I can’t tell if I’m the fish or the fisherman. Not sure who is catching who.  Not that it matters. The hook is set and the work begins. We play each other. Reel in the slack and come up close, close enough to look in the mirror of the other’s eyes, where we see ourselves as we see ourselves and wonder what the other sees.

I could be a fish in your grasp. Caught. A gift you’d gaze heavenward and give thanks for. Or you, slick in my hands . A gift I’d tremble with gratitude for. But the run isn’t finished yet. So speckled, iridescent skin slips through hesitant fingers and the line pays out again.

I ache to trust you the way I have never trusted. I ache for you to kill me fast and set my soul free. I want to feel you split me open. Offer my depths to the river and watch as spring-cold currents wash away this mistrust. This doubt. This fear of surrender. I would do the same for you. Rub you down with juniper and salt, protecting more than flesh. Preserving those bits you thought you’d lost.

We could accept the gift of a magic fish. We could look into its eyes and see ourselves as we see ourselves, but also possibilities—a lifetime of harvest moons together and the lingering sound of your guitar, or my words, or the laughter of our children.

But then your lips meet mine and I wonder if this is refraction or reality, before the risk of losing you makes me forget to question.

Soul Star

by Raymond Keen

Why would I
not sing to you
in tears of
vermillion fire?
Sing the fires of blue flame,
sing the rage of form.
For these words
no location,
in the blood-red
depths of an apple-green
Yes, yes your azure eyes
speak mine.
You breathe Bordeaux.
Your body is a rainbow
in this gunmetal world.
Heather me, feather me
in this gunmetal world.
Your seraphic soul
a star sapphire,
your roots a verdant green.
Awaken me
you do
in this
most pale night.
You cry out in me.

The Digital Clock Hotel
South of Hartford, Connecticut

by Noel J. Hadley

I kid you not. Pain and agony – there
is no healthier way to put it.
To say my bones ache, ha! I think my spine
just exploded. All night iron
fists pulsate my back. And then, reaching for
pain killers, a land mine detonates!

That is about the extent of my night –
In bed, cold, swallowed in agony.
I shall never forget the sting of death,
as though all my youth had been bested,
beaten in one final blow to the bone.
That is the full degree of the night.

Except I have failed to cite the length of
the slow drive through a despondent blizzard,
and how, when pulling off the interstate
I spilled charred coffee across my lap.
The only hotel was blistered in heaps.
True, but everyone swore it wasn’t.
The gas station attendant, the Waffle
House hostess – they pointed me in this
direction. Five times – Yes, I say five times
I spun my car down the icy hill,
crossing ghost paths with a charcoaled hotel.
Then, on my sixth try, I kid you not,
I stumbled upon this place, VACANCY
sign aglow – the V and N darkened.

That is about the extent of the night.
Now I am in bed passing the time.
Cold, broken, alone – Death molested me.
Where are you youth? We were together
for a moment, it seems, or perhaps two.
A moment, a day, a week, decades,
what does it matter? Everything before
perdition is a childhood dream. Now
seconds tick as minutes – hours as days.
Please, grant me the breath to kiss the flesh
of youth, if only in a lucid dream.
To grace, let me sleep, fashion a beard.
I fear I shall never leave this place – that
the sun shall never rise – that this
bed should always plague my bones – this hotel,
that it would descend into ashy
embers, plowed by an eternal blizzard,
that I should be a covetous ghost
in winter, always alone, – craving youth.

So, that is the extent of the night.
Still, the part that I will not soon forget
isn’t the blizzard, coffee, hostess,
burnt down hotel in heaps, nor corpse groans.
The greatest torments of hell rest not
in those, but in the damned digital
timepiece taunting me from the in-table.
Yes, taunt! That miserable device,
inching ever so slowly through the night.


by Kyrsten Bean

I am thinking of all the ghosts I know
who are still alive
and I wonder if they are watching me or
if I’ve become a faint blip on their radar

I am another person inside this person inside this person
nested like Russian dolls
open one and you get another and another and another
and there are so many pieces of me smashed across the continent

we are missing smashed pieces our entire lives
and we can never recreate the whole glass bottle
because someone up there or out there has the pieces in their hands
is holding them. Is laughing.

But what do I have if not this: This attempt
what I had, what I did
so many pauses and starts
so many fits and gasps

Everything falls inevitably
cherry blossoming to the ground
And I spin through this bourgeois world wondering
And I spin through this bourgeois world wondering