issue 11 · spring 2019

Welcome to our 3rd anniversary issue. Goodbye to the summer of procrastination. Welcome to the fail of corruption, the veil of stupidity. Welcome to pocket door mishaps and disrepair. Welcome to loose miters and tight copes. Welcome to a sluice of hope squeezing through a cataract of despair. Welcome.

Table of Contents
Plovdiv, June 2000 · Lisa DeSiro

Fields outside the city, and in them shepherds holding hooked staffs. Romanies riding horse-drawn wagons. Children following us in the street outside the church, begging money. Clanging bells every morning. Piles of cherries at the marketplace. Thin coins smaller than buttons. Thin dresses sold for a dollar. Communist-era architecture, billboards advertising Coca-Cola. The evening promenade through the plaza. Girls wobbling on high heels over cobblestones. Internet cafés. Long-distance phone calls made at the post office. Men smoking at an outdoor restaurant, a gun on their table next to the menu. The stepped rings of a Roman amphitheater. A paved yard decorated with potted plants, flowers, herbs, vines greening the stone walls. Faded red folding chairs, paper tablecloth. Bottle half-empty, crushed ice melting in a dish. Candles melting. Midnight. Familiar constellations, hovering linden tree. And the four of us, drinking, debating. Bits of Bulgarian, English, German. Laughter our common language. And the question: What is art? The artist grinning through his beard, cigarette poised between his fingers like a pencil. The translated answer: Art is seeing and hearing what others can’t see or don’t hear. We raised our rakia, touched glass to glass. Little flames lapped the summer air like tongues.

Our Game · Judy DeCroce
But how nice, not to see the storm coming and blithely walk into it, singing. — Stephen Dunn

masks are hanging everywhere
on everything

while the world counts to 100
let’s play at hiding

brush by what we haven’t seen
keep hidden

not staring in that direction
not looking closely

after all… we carry so much already
it helps to look away

we believe in beauty
revealed in pinks and blues
while the dangers are lit softly

Unfrequented Whispers and Returns · Richard D. Houff
Dissolving into the forest,
there is a long silence

Thick foliage eclipses
both sun and stars

Shut off from the world
in this way, I am at peace

Waltzing with silhouette
and other shadows, I probe
hidden meanings from leaf and bark

Upon leaving, I follow a trail
of moss-covered rocks

As I approach the edge,
my steps become cautious:

unknown objects;
the human tragedy;
another day
Hermit Crab Uses Discarded Doll’s Head as Shell · Robbie Gamble
[UPI, Odd News, 9/7/17]

with eyelids that clatter, skitter-dragged
across tide-rills, those baby blues
pivoting to ward away yawping
seagull flank attacks.

The hermit taps its claws,
being oh so pleased with itself.

While somewhere in the dark, Ken bolts
upright in his Malibu bedroom set. He
would be clammy if he wasn’t plastic.
He would be allergic to shellfish.

Somewhere, a consumptive Prufrock
hawks an envious loogie. Only seaweed
now, no more patter of Michelangelo.

Doll-bound, submerging sidewise, to soothe
its chafing butt, and quench in brine
that damn wheezy “Maa-maa! Maa-maa!”
It has no mama, it was one of a million,
and besides, hermits live the fuck alone.

The hip-bone · D.S. Maolalai
the boats came in
and went again. he concentrated,
ignoring them. he was on his own, scraping
things up with some bacon for crab-bait; a minor violence
done against the shore. the dock
was stone and bone, sneaking weeds
and ages – the guts of mountains
all dragged out. and walking on the beach
afterward, he found a horse’s
hip; life drained
with salt and sunshine
until it might as well be wood. he shouldered
his equipment and hooked the crab-bucket
in under his elbow, then picked it up
and threw it at the dunes
for the dog.
oh, yes – there was a dog there.
and he walked on, feeling his feet
shift the sand to new places, the weight set on his hip
making his gait a limp. ahead, the dog strutted onwards,
carried its object proudly, flipping its head
like it had just killed a rabbit
and growling
and growling
and growling.
Sophie Podolski · Nick Zaffiro

Why did Bolaño care about Sophie?
He made them all,
Or perhaps she made them all,
Sit line by line,
Like seashells,
At the base of her shrine
Until nothing was left.
One of them
Made them all
And long for
And remember
And revere.
But did they mourn?
Did they know why
They admired
And longed for
And remembered
And revered?
Did they know why
She took herself beyond
Our world
Violently and desperately?
Did they wonder
How she felt in between
Her lines
In between
Her words,
The pauses that last
Unchanged for eternity?
What about Sophie
Did they see?
What about Sophie
Did Bolaño love?
What about Sophie?

Sophie Podolski was a young Belgian artist and poet. She was born in 1953. She wrote one book in French called “The Country Where Everything is Permitted.” She committed suicide in 1974, but her imagination, soul, and words have lived on without her body. She appears up to five times in the works of Roberto Bolaño, a Chilean born writer and poet who lived much of his young life in Mexico. In his short story “Dance Card,” Bolaño writes something similar about Sophie – similar to this footnote, not the poem. His interest in her reflects my interest in him and because I’m interested in him and he’s interested in her, I’m interested in her.

Coffee Shop · S. E. Clark

I have an unhealthy trust of dogs.
I’ve had to learn to sheath my
reaching hand, to wait for permission
before exposing my fingers
to a creature with teeth.

Some dogs are friendly,
others less so.

The same goes for coffee shops and
other shared spaces.
In some shops conversation is a given –
Look around, catch an eye, smile.
This is the place for hookups and marriages.

In Boston coffee shops I have seen more smiling dogs
than people.

Here we come with our own,
we talk with our own,
we do not acknowledge the existence of strangers
apart from ‘excuse me,’
apart from claiming tables with our books
and chairs with our coats.

I have done the same to the man
sitting across from me – we are
poised for conversation but I haven’t
met his eyes
though he searches for mine.
I haven’t said a word
though he coughs and sighs.

This is probably rude.
I know this is rude.
Old men write op-eds about this behavior, how it
signals the end of polite society.

I could open this window between us –
perhaps he is waiting for permission.
I could ask him what he’s reading,
why he’s wearing sandals in February.
He seems harmless enough,
all strangers do.

But I am from Boston
and I have learned to be wary of creatures with teeth.

issue 13 · fall 2019 · page 2

Old-Fashioned, God-Fearing · Gerald Yelle

Maybe as a way to distract from its being meaningless hearsay, the reporter served it up with a measure of conviction that had some of us listening. He said the guy across the road from his brother in Maine was afraid that a tree in his yard was going to crash down on his house. He measured its shadow at ten in the morning and four in the afternoon in order to calculate the tree’s height but he couldn’t remember the math – he couldn’t remember if he ever learned the math – or if the math even existed to find the height of a tree based on its shadow’s length at two different times of day. It didn’t occur to him until long after he solved the problem another way that he could’ve gotten the height of the tree by comparing its shadow with the shadow of something he already knew the height of, like a yardstick. Like so many other things you only think of when you no longer need them. He wracked his brain and nothing came. He didn’t give up though. No one thought he could do it, and at first it was difficult – it was no skinny birch but he kept at it: He had to see where it would land. It took him two hernias and a slipped disc but he got his answer. He bent that tree, lassoed the top and bent it toward the house, pulling with all his might. It would just miss it, so he got the saw, and was amazed at how easy it was.

White Stripe · Holly Day
There is a stretch of highway in Kansas
where the guy who was responsible for painting the line
down the middle of the road fell asleep and drove into a field instead.
It’s not usually a problem to pass this spot in the daytime, although if you’ve
been following that white line in a hazy hypnosis, you could easily follow it into
the waist-high yellow fields as well, possibly righting yourself just in time
when the tires hit the gravel shoulder, but at night, this line will take you
straight off the road and into pitch black oblivion. By the time the tall wheat spears
slap against your windshield, you’ve driven far enough off the road for your tires
to be mired in ankle-deep mud and thick, black fertilizer.
You’re gonna have to get out and push, and quickly,
because there could be a semi barreling down that road, right behind you
someone equally unfamiliar with the this part of the state, this road
the dead-end that ends in furrows and swamp.

Every fall, when it’s time to cut down the wheat, the combine tines get caught up in
things stranded motorists have left behind – watches, loose change, dead cell phones
bits of fender and taillight broken off, hazards of tailgaiting out here.
Something like a quarter won’t stop the farm engines for long
but something larger, like a hubcap, or a whole tire,
or a desiccated body sprawled out for the crows
could put the equipment in the shop for days. Eventually, they say
that stretch of road will be fixed, but it’s not a very important road
with not that much traffic, not compared to the 135 or the 81
so it could be years before anything actually happens.
From the Sunset Limited, Leaving Our New Life · Marianne Szlyk
We slept through most of Texas,
waking to January banana trees
on stoops in Houston,

their green recalling us
home to the Trees of Heaven
that would grow up north
on blasted earth,
to all that we had let drop

on the way to
a new life.
The Pleasure of Texas · Brad Rose
No preposition should begin with a sentence, although as the Bible says, Is it the bartender’s job to keep you sober? In the war to end all wars, historical research has shown, soldiers fired only blanks. Now, the hollow rain falls silently, barely making a splash on the ancient cathedrals, where, over the centuries, the ringing of the bells has quietly taken its toll. Even when inside out, umbrellas remain the enemy of rain. Last night, I failed my dream test because the answers to all the color-coded questions were either black or white. Of course, everyone is guilty, but no matter how tall the tree, few want a jury hanging over their heads. Amid the innocence of their screams, the firefighters informed us that it’s never too late to set your house on fire. Facts are facts. Despite the imprecision of the state’s executions, shopping is still a pleasure in Texas.
Upon Considering A Photograph On My Studio Wall · Peaco Todd
from the left
across a grassy plain
a white ribbon of road
angles upward
diminishes toward a
flattened horizon
then fades away

pale sky traced with light
gray field mottled
with shadow
in the center
bisecting earth and heaven
a road sign holding
a humped silhouette
speaks of bison
to the silence

nothing now
disturbs the plain
only ancient echoes
of a thunder of hooves
their weighty passage
a medicine for the soil
down from the horizon
they swept and swept
eclipsing the sky
then faded away

how the unscathed land
aches to be broken

with due respect
to the long dreaming
narrative of grass
the field is empty
it awaits the bison
the road waits
to be crossed
Done Eden · Daniel Moore
The voice on the tour bus cruising Clearwater Beach
said look on your right is the killer white shark eating

pale white tourists from Toronto
. & my voice knew they
tasted like chicken, knew there were no hungry Great Whites

in the warm blue Gulf of Mexico. They were up the road
at Bible College in the heart of downtown Dunedin.

Yes, I have done Eden. & barley survived with bite marks
as proof that a white man’s teeth can enter young hearts

cloaked in starched shirts & ties, with neck veins hard as the
steps of a ladder Jacob could have climbed to heaven on.

I was whipped by grace into a song so amazing, everyone
sweated a hot ounce of guilt on a bus I drove to find god

in a land that worshipped the sun like Aztecs on speed & didn’t
give a damn about dangerous waters under the tongues of men.
Sitting in the Lecture on Opiods · Melissa Rendlen

They die,
  my friends.

DUI’s, OD’s, suicides.

Other times it’s slow, a wasting.
Too many bottles of vodka
too many multi drug cocktails,
too many years,
too many times.

Not me!
That’s what I say.

In my mind I repeat terms,
   high functioning,
   low risk.
I don’t even fool me.

Lies my comfort,

   and likely my demise.

Alliance · Brett Biebel
At Carhenge, Mike said we needed to talk. It was winter, and we were the only ones there. Icicles dripped from the bumpers of old Cadillacs. We stood under them like they were mistletoe, or else rockets, hoping to launch themselves down below. He said he never told me this, but back when he was flunking out of Lincoln he used to sell plasma twice a week, and sometimes, on the same day, he’d go ahead and donate sperm too. This is back when he was still eligible. Back when they didn’t ask so many questions, or maybe he just fed them a whole lot of lies. He’d use the money to buy a fifth of Windsor and share it with his roommates, and they had a name for this. It was called the Triple Crown. They always finished the bottle, and it was three of them in total, and he’d usually outdrink the other two combined.

On those nights, he’d have these dreams, these visions, hallucinations while passed out on the floor. He saw armies of children coming to his house. His wife hid in the basement. The kids were all male, and they looked 15 or 19 or, on occasion, 32. They had tattoos of hawks and scars on their forearms, and they asked for the things he would have asked for, which meant beer and money for women, or else anything soft where they might be allowed to crash. His wife would stomp her feet and shake her head no, but she couldn’t talk or maybe he couldn’t hear, and he’d find himself helpless, torn between obligations and basically frozen in place. He said the whole thing was always more prophecy than dream, and he took my hand and asked me if I could do it. If he could consider me in. His fingers felt like wet cement, and I told him I’d have to think about it. Even though I’d already made up my mind.

issue 13 · fall 2019 · page 3

Oprah’s Frozen Pizza · Heidi Blakeslee

She died on the kitchen floor
where she cooked with love
her restless mind shut off
the heart she shared with me
no longer beating
her breath released a final time
our kiss at the bus stop
a broken memory of what I lost
and a group of strangers
frisked her body for money
before they all forgot about her
and I will always remember
her in a haunted daze.

On the Kitchen Floor · Kevin Ridgeway

She died on the kitchen floor
where she cooked with love
her restless mind shut off
the heart she shared with me
no longer beating
her breath released a final time
our kiss at the bus stop
a broken memory of what I lost
and a group of strangers
frisked her body for money
before they all forgot about her
and I will always remember
her in a haunted daze.

An Afternoon in Little Italy · Rae Rozman
The old men play bocce against
the backdrop of red brick buildings.
Fire escapes dangle perilously above the alley.
A woman sits, watching,
an unfinished orange quilt on her lap.
She licks chocolate gelato off swollen fingers
and stares intently- pupils dilated and unfocused..
The old men smile and eye her figure –
Still crisp amid graying hair and marks of age –
and go back to their game.
It is just another day
and she is just another ghost.
Husbandry, or, London Pubs You Should Try · Janet Bowdan
While she goes to her eye appointments
three days a week, each with a different specialist
and one of them the specialist she’s been waiting
for six weeks to see who’s supposed to show her
how to use the new lens. Though “see” is not
accurate, and “show” probably also a misnomer.
He’s bringing her to Moorfields, since it’s hard to get to
and around London when everything beyond your nose
is a blur, and then when he’s seen her to the specialist
of the day, he’s got his book of London pubs to try,
looked up Youngs pubs near Moorfields, sorted out
The Artillery Arms, The Angel, the Harp, The Barley Mow,
The Earl of Essex (“a good pub that we went to whilst
waiting for a table at another pub” the review goes),
The Counting House, all within a quite reasonable distance,
mapped it out, the delightful anticipation of one new pub
per day, the only rub being the chance that he might
really approve of the first or second, because if
it becomes a favourite, a pub to return to, he’ll miss the fun
of trying the next on the schedule, and only so many
appointments. But perhaps he can escort her to the pub
after she’s seen the specialist (or the specialist
has seen her) and she can have a half-pint of something
half-bitter bought by the husband she vaguely
remembers as being tall and handsome.
Toronto, Mon Amour · Kevin Tosca
or: When I Want to Rip Their Arms from Their Useless Bodies Like They Ripped the Tree from Its Useful Life and Let Their Superfluous Meat Freeze to Death on the Sidewalk Before Being Thrown into Garbage Trucks by Angry and Hopeless Men

  February is no month to die.
  Yet a group of young Canadians destroyed our tree last night – Saturday night – at 3:13 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.
  Laughter. Screams. Violence and Fun.
  I feel more for that tree than I do for any human being living on Madison Avenue.
  This, my love, is the stupidest hell I’ve ever known.
Stay to the Body: a series of found poems · Melissa Saunders

Round One

i knew. i was down. points in shape. rusty, sharp, elusive. hard hit. with one clean shot. moves. hard to catch. square pressuring. the heart. it’s a win. go to the body. keep to the body. this is your fight. tanks empty. fighting on fumes. more leather to face. more pain. the ribs. more. aching arms. and legs. more breathing. lungs gasping air. neither expected. we fight our hearts out. and don’t say jack. because if you see it. want it. out of mind. felt like a heart attack. nervous warnings. in the center. the ring starts. to bomb hand. and lands straight. backs. don’t give anything. pump. jab. soon. you feel it. set now when. you hand are free. up the middle. touch the jab. deep crowd. the way. feed off the noise. keep the pressure. more angles and movement. movement. on the cut. clean and clotted. round sounded. patented double drop. down to land. a body blow. the eye inside. a pool of blood. more. up and down. chest too deep. too long. not even bleeding. blood streamed down. the cut suffered. against safety. used feeling. as bad as the one i wanted. i’d rather lose it. on my back.

Source text: Halloran, Bob. Irish Thunder: The Hard Life and Times of Micky Ward. Lyons Press, 2007.

Round Three

challenged. i’ve seen you take cuts. trying. running. raging. sprinting. shouting. a protest possibly. body drain. sweating. letting him drift. the wind. a moment to lose. ordinary irascible. this was fun. both given bit. as fluid rhythm. on pockets of air. the onslaught is very predictable. head movement double. jab overhand. he is looking for a hook on you. when he gets close just keep him. boxing beautifully. the speed straight. look at me. i’m over here. stay focused. listen to me. boxing. stick and move. moving from nowhere. full force. sheer force. in trouble. thrown low. below the belt. you keep doing it. you know it’s happening. i’m all set. i want to go. blows to the body. wince and backpedaling. the night. for good measure. blood from above. smeared all over. aim your punches. give me your head. let me work on you. in the opposite. shouting. punch him. punch him. staying inside. taking necessary body punishment. don’t take it. suck it up. like a champ now.

Source text: Halloran, Bob. Irish Thunder: The Hard Life and Times of Micky Ward. Lyons Press, 2007.

Round Four

listen. he’s in. the same fight. you’re feeling. the same you. nice and smart. he gets close. to you. your upper body. touch, touch, touch. keep that second wind. look at me, baby. this fight. the marbles fortunate. blood down. barely aware. the wound. on these both. just stimulates. the terms of the heart. strategically sound. well around. another win. ring and engaged. one minute. to focus. on a singular thought:

are you breathing?

bang the shit out of him. fight hard. busier punches. landed flush. nearly enough. to regain control. with a flourish. and a force impossible. i knew. i had to. get on him. he was still. hurt. hit me to the body. but he could. still taste unanswered power. staggered going somewhere. going down. where i wanted him to go. head. he is me. everything i can. backed with a barrage. of body. the fatal hands. barely eluding. harder hands low. all he had left. harmless breath. series full-speed. full contact.

Source text: Halloran, Bob. Irish Thunder: The Hard Life and Times of Micky Ward. Lyons Press, 2007.

Round Five

midsection. to help himself. we were hanging on each other. nice and hard. bang, bang, bang, bang. throttled by his throat. whiffed with punches. unable to add to the damage. already done. who refused to go. or stay struck. courage nerve. nostalgia forensic. shows that show. open hearts beating. open-heart prize-fighting. visceral factories. valor could see through swollen eyes. chose to not wear a patch. roaring. tell me. a word. someplace else. a body simply possessed. dark sides of envy. wait for the word. everything was extraneous. potentially disastrous. a moment. they hold each other. did not clench. merely leaned against. one another. humbled. paced to bleed. history itself. because it was not intentional. between two warriors. heart dropped brutality. repeat the utter. the gusto.

“if you forget me now i’ll forget you later.” you’re in control. all that matters. again on my own. burn alone. undisputed. never-surrender. never moving laterally. arms out in front. appraise the brutality. me, this is yours. this is a fight. with respect. price. and the other family i’m from. who i am. clean combinations. to the body. a bit low. patience rewarded. it ain’t better shape. fighting mad collison. “let’s go, baby.” give it to me. don’t get caught. nonstop and unnecessary damage.

i boxed the way. my legs stayed in front of him. i was close to him. hard landing body. i was low. the wars inside. “let them live with what they did to me.” we’re one-to-one. belief left him.

“I can’t take the heart out of a guy and he can’t take the heart out of me…”

to land his body

this is what i love

growing whispers

empty inside

something left undone [stopped on page 307]

Source text: Halloran, Bob. Irish Thunder: The Hard Life and Times of Micky Ward. Lyons Press, 2007.


Avalon · Patricia Carragon
Summertime samba,
Astoria, 2016.

Amid gentrification,
trees twice their size
shade my former block.

A few two-family homes,
still guarded
by roses and basil.

Fragrance from
homemade tomato sauce
sends me back in time.

From an open window,
a Bryan Ferry song plays.

The samba takes one
out of nowhere,
but my party’s long over.

He never came –
I will never know why.

Over the years,
my samba went solo:
eight heartbeats
per step –

um – dois –três – quatro –
cinco – seis – sete – oito

It’s getting late –
the Brooklyn-bound N
arrives on time.

Phantom thoughts
walk to the exit.

Life’s picture
in constant change.

But eight heartbeats
per step
can’t convince me
that I still have
what guys want.

issue 13 · fall 2019 · page 4

Drinking Irish Whiskey on the Red Line or the Missing Puzzle of Shane MacGowan’s Teeth · Sean Thomas Dougherty

I see this commercial
  with MMA icon Conor McGregor
for this new whiskey
  that my friend tells me is a “mild
disappointment for the tongue”
  but then asks if I’d tried the whiskey
distilled with the help of Shane MacGowan
  legendary ex-lead singer
for the Irish punk band, the Pogues,
  I saw play at the Orpheum
in Boston when I was young
  & Shane was so drunk he forgot
the words in mid song singing Dirty Old Town
  & lit a cigarette
& when he opened his mouth again out came
  I can’t get no/ Satisfactionnnnnnnn
by the Rolling Stones,
  & he was one of my heroes,
I learned as much about poetry
  from his lyrics “I saw my love
at the factory wall”
  & the red brick mills
gone silent in Lawrence and Lowell
  playing hoops till dark with Greek & Khmer
& Puerto Rican boys,
  & there was something in the air
with the Cubans fighting in Angola
  & Mandala speaking from a prison cell,
& the shady boys from Southie we drank with
  who we knew ran guns to boats –cargo holds
of contraband headed to Northern Ireland—
  it was all part of a great struggle
not completely apart from—
  all those rough boys missing teeth,
like our Irish hero Shane MacGowan,
  those gone two front teeth we knew
were somewhere on some bar room floor
  in Tipperary, kicked out the front door
& how they turned into the opposite
  of empty bullet casings on a Belfast street
or blooms into white peonies
  that ran along the dirty river
in a dirty town along a factory wall,
  turned into posters and pamphlets
& LPs and broken guitar strings,
  the two front teeth of Shane MacGowan
became accordion keys
  that played a punk riff
in some dive club
  where the boys & girls clashed
into each other’s bodies
  & lifted their pints
& knew the lyrics to every song
  as if they were singing out a new anthem
to a new revolution & thousands were sailing
  back then, coming over from Dublin & Derry
to work as waiters and waitresses
  & bar backs & loading trucks
& in the last shoe factories
  without green cards
& only a phone number
  of someone’s cousin who lived on the third floor
of some walk up tenement in Revere.
  We were hopped subway turnstiles.
We were the records and the late rent.
  Our rented lives
we could witness something small
  & beautiful in the distance
leaving us,
  like two sparrows
flying over TV antennae’d roofs,
  Or the two sorrows
we carried in our chests\t
  empty as the bullet holes
we fingered
  in the bathroom door
of every dive.
  What righted wrongs.
What uncollected debts.
  Beyond something that could be ruined,
there was a useless kind of love we claimed.
  We were the space between things
we ran up the long stairways
  of walk up flats,
the dark tunnels between trains,
  back alleys & empty lots, corner stools
in corner bars, the white space
  between words on a page.
The silences we turned into songs.
  Like Shane MacGowan’s missing teeth,
what absences we named.

Gray Love · Wilderness Sarchild

My love for you is like
the chickadee’s love
for weather, singing
through every season,
staying put when winter
winds force other birds
to southern climates.

Our love is like
the silver-gray side
of daybreak, the
gray chill of February,
not good, not bad,
(sometimes we forget),
only weather
that we fly into
and through
again and again
staying put

Devil’s Proverbs · Mary Birnbaum
  You can say a forbidden Word.
You can knot your hand like a rope.
  You can find a place to be hard and fast,
when the terrible wind blows through you.

  You can buy a second-hand soul.
You can simply point.
  You can multiply yourself.
You can make another man’s face melt in your mirror.

  You can find unseeing in silver.
You can hang clothes from a line.
  You can hang clothes from a tree,
the tree still living.

  You can raise a man like a flag
who will not awaken. You can find unseeing.
  You can worship the lie. I
simply point. The rope tightens your heart.

Off the Path · Ann Howells
Quick breath on my neck,
nip of sharp teeth,
large, rough paws molest my body
every night in dreams. I want
the taste of him,
Grandma says: Every young girl
yearns for a bad boy
Grandma says: You'll cry tomorrow.
Says: Find a nice woodsman,
settle down. Wolves
aren't the marrying kind
Grandma's old and desiccated,
has forgotten what it's like
to be young. I could drown
in the fug of his fur, wake trembling
and damp. Every day
when I go to Grandma's house,
I stray from the path,
sing torchy songs, let him know
I am waiting. My basket is full:
baked chicken, and sweet
ripe apples blushing red.
I'll invite him to picnic,
know a very private place
beneath a sheltering sycamore,
a field of purple lupine.
Grandma says: Chicken
is not what the wolf wishes
to feast upon.
She says,
He craves your flesh. Oh,
I hope she is right. I, too,
have a hunger. One day
I will arrive at Grandma's house
disheveled: twigs in my hair,
grass stains on my cloak. I will
be smiling; I will
be holding the wolf by his tail.
April 30th, 2019 · SB Campisi
My bedroom is late spring cold.
I refuse to shut the blinds
before I drink up
all the daylight.
The neighbor with the orange house across the way
picks through the leaves
of her small, budding trees,
brushes a gloved hand over the shrubs.
For eleven months of a lease,
I have watched her tend to her Garden of Eden,
only two blocks off Medford Street.
The sun is lower now and my neighbor is gone.
I am still here, a cold bird perched
at the window, looking at the dull bushes
and sleeping grapevine,
watching the sun turn the branches to shadow puppets,
struggling to remember the last time
I watered my orchid.
The Tertiary Stage · Bill Yarrow
(he probably thinks this poem is about him)

They say his irrational outbursts and insane rants
are the results of untreated syphilis. Well, that
makes perfect sense to me. I've always thought
of him as a tessellated spirochete, a narcissistic chancre,
festering pustule of a blistered imposthume. And why
wouldn't a claptrap mind also have the clap? But what
thirteen-year-old girl gave it to him? There's the rub.
There's the paper-thin tissue not yet punctured howsoever
soon it is to be assaulted. Ah, I don't care where he got it.
That he got it fills me with prosaic justice spiked with pride.
But hurry up. Bring this sub-cretinous indiscretion to an end.
The vile Tuskegee experiment lives on in his welcome death.
Ferlinghetti Autographs My Book · Zvi A. Sesling
One nice day in December 1995 I am in San Francisco and decide I should go to the City Lights Bookstore founded by the great Lawrence Ferlinghetti who challenged a rulling that his publishing Allen Ginsberg was pornography. Ferlinghetti won his case and freed America to read whatever it wanted. Anyway, on this I am in his bookstore and there he is. I ask, Mr. Ferlinghetti if I buy your book will you sign it for me? He tells me he will, so I quickly buy “Coney Island Of The Mind” and he signs it. I stick it in my book bag and leave. On the flight back to Boston I pull Ferlighetti’s book out and open it only to read that he dated it December 1997. Good God I think, he better stay alive two years or no one will believe he actually signed it. So two years later I am back at the City Lights book store and there he is again. I buy another of his books and he signs it correctly as I watch. You know, I say, two years ago you signed it 1997, but it was 1995. Ferlinghetti looks at me and says, I was probably down street at the café having a toke before I signed your book.
I will not leave one word out · S. Stephanie
just because some have shutter thumbs
racing toward that next image
that stands out half – head in front
of the others – just because the small crowd
gathered along the fence skips every other
word to get to the finish line where
there are no flowers or standing ovation.
Nope. Not one word becomes champagne
at the end of this poem. There is

a simple meadow here
and it has one bee hovering above
a single Black-eyed Susan.
No one is questioning where the other
bees have gone. No one asks
if there are other flowers, perhaps
more deserving, or if this one
will survive the heat, the tornado
the current administration, or the impending

war. Nope. No one wins. This is it. This is
all there is for the crowd today. In the end
it is all about just one bee gathering
all it can from the slender Black-eyed Susan
who still waits for her Sweet William.
This poem is not a horse. It wears no saddle.
But for those of us who know their flowers
it is terribly and forever romantic.

Fonts used:

Arvo for text; Merriweather Sans for titles; Montserrat for button and navigation text; Cormorant for issue title.

All works copyrighted by their authors; all rights reserved.

Cover image from the collection of Lauren Leja

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