issue 2 · winter 2017

Erie is an outlaw love song · Matt Borczon

in the
early morning
before
sun up
I’m driving
the streets
and trying
to sweep
the body parts
out of
the hospital
corridors of
my nightmares

I’m chasing
the ghost
soldiers off
the sidewalks
and into
the doorways
where I
can’t see
them and

I’m breathing
rhythmic like
my therapist
suggests

in time
with the
outlaw
love song
that is
my hometown

as I
push the
pedal hard
across 26th street.

The Tingler · Ace Boggess
Columbia Pictures, William Castle Productions, 1959

how this would explain my life
fear of meeting other people
fear of walking into any room
a monster growing
against my spine
like a desperate vise
beast I bore in silence
never screaming
not a whisper

if it were a creature like a lobster
wielding grotesque pincers
sewing needles
mine would be a history
in adventure-novel style
where the hero has a chance
to come through once
though unlike Vincent Price
he never does

Tristesse · Howie Good
If you heard the Kalashnikovs firing on surplus workers, you gave no sign. You just glanced one way, then the other, before passing inside. It’s possible, even likely, that you experienced a delayed reaction, a kind of thunderstorm blue. You wondered aloud which famous rock star you were. Everything is art, you claimed, including the 20-minute headstand you do on your terrace each morning. Later, when your date arrived wearing a lovely dress of used tinfoil, she asked, “What made you want to look up ‘tristesse’?” You wouldn’t say it was the snakes and turtles that someone had dropped from a great height, but it was.
Harvest · Clare Martin
They come for the sockets
and the eye itself,
(seer of all).

They come for the marrow
and curse the bone
into a galaxy of splinters.

They reap the heart.
They take the very last word
as it resounds upon utterance:
      dust, dust, dust.

To My Palestinian Hero · Belinda Subraman
Jordan:
machine gun dreams by the Dead Sea,
hyper reality near the bones of Moses.
Every mile there were guards and guns.
I had forgotten my passport in tribal lands.
A Texas license saved me
and a guard who would rather eat lunch
than create paperwork with explanations
and clean up blood.

I floated in 2 inches of melted salt
that became sticky crystals in my hair:
Biblical dandruff,
movable seasoning,
Lot’s wife in defiance.

A Palestinian at the Golan Heights
near the Syrian border saved us.
He spoke Arabic to our driver.
There was animated conversation
then the Palestinian began
speaking English to us.
He said our driver planned
to abandon us
just past the Syrian border.
We had trusted him.
We bought his lunch at the Dead Sea
laughed at each other’s pantomime.
Now everything changed.
He knew we knew.
We asked to be taken to Amman,
back to the American Study Center
where there were gates, 24 hour guards
with uniforms and automatics.
Maybe he thought we were diplomats
worth something somewhere….
a myth in a fairytale wrapped in a dream.
Just two RNs learning about refugees
planning to tell their stories to the world,
misunderstood by a refugee driver
working illegally
saved by a man whose country had been stolen
who saw the innocence of two white grannies
and revealed the plot to us.
To him, I am always grateful
even if this is my imagination.

Seduction · Clare Martin
Each bone is a highway. Each organ’s a town on the map of the body.

What is the nameless city you have taken me to? In it, we reside in a junked motel. There is dust from the road in my mouth when you bend to kiss me for the first time, again.

I have played a pair of deuces, all in. I have set the path behind me on fire.
I’ve lived one black dream after another for this one desire. Once, twice to love – who knew?

Is it a miracle, or a dilemma of death?
You bite my tongue softly; blood-tang sweet. Take me into a blissful prison. You fall asleep with the .45 under the pillow.

The bathroom door hangs off hinges. Ice melts in a cracked bucket. Neon light blisters threadbare curtains.

All night it is like the sun is watching. I decide to believe God doesn’t exist but such belief is ineffectual. How else would I have breathed so long outside of your arms?

Flying · Gloria Mindock
Flying on a plane,
I could touch Heaven…
clouds at my fingertips,
kissing the weightless passion.

When they shot you in the head,
cut off your arms, no praying
could be done.
All the things you wished,
there was no time for.

Death calls, surrender falls
into a void of nothing,
an abyss of air.

The plane crashes …
Sunlight stretches rays
into the earth’s eyes.
Sorrow visits … burns.

Taxis to Nowhere · Nancy Iannucci
I have to go! I have to go where I feel most happy & right now  here  isn’t it. IT is __ (depending on his fixation, IT could be Italy, Florida, California to name a few). He staggered into the taxi & gave me a reassuring wink with one of his black eyes. We watched him clutch a brown paper bag so taut I couldn’t help but think of Linus & his blue blanket. Funny, he was cast as Charlie Brown in his eighth-grade school play. He reached down to scratch his left ankle bloated with a sandwich bag of secret Sweetarts. I knew he was checking to make sure it was still there. I’m alright! I won’t do anything stupid. Believe me. As the taxi sped off for the third time in two days, we turned toward the house like zombies.

issue 2 · winter 2017 · page 2

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Traveler's Aid · Gary Beck
Tourists in New York
no longer look dwarfed,
intimidated
by the big city,
prosperity diminished,
now dependent,
like other lands,
on the purchases of strangers.
Never-Never land · Pris Campbell

She folds her gown of a thousand stars
into a trunk.
Locks it.
Throws out the key.
Breathes.
Silence coats her with its quiet descent.
She recites his promises,
made then broken,
to that place in the wall,
the hole that yawns wider each night
into never-never land.
She’s not Rapunzel
or a lost Sleeping Beauty waiting
to be claimed by some handsome
Prince Charming, so when the Beast
walks through the hole,
she doesn’t struggle.
She’s just grateful to lie back
and let him take her.

Mermaids of the Charles River · Lee Okan
She heard them calling, calling for her the weeks leading up to the first spring blooms. Their voices faint, submerged beneath a ceiling of ice, yet she heard them singing, calling for her. She imagined they said her name, entombed in their calls. The rollicking waves rocked below the bridge as she trudged through the snow. It became like slush, caking the pedestrian walkway on the Harvard Bridge, and here, she heard them sing loudest. She paused, here, where they sang the loudest: were they singing for her? In the morning on her way to work, their voices burst above frosted waters, and at night, on her way home, the voices sang lullabies good-bye to the day. Their voices sank, then faded beneath the surf.

Nerissa crossed the Harvard Bridge twice a day, swarthed in scarves and bundled in wool. She heard the voices through her headphones, over the trilling piano keys, the rhapsodies and harmonies. She heard the voices asking, persuading her to join them. Nerissa walked on. In her office in the Pru on the fortieth floor, she heard the voices calling, a soft hum rumbling in her veins. She turned her eyes out over the river, stretching from Harvard to the head, and lowered her eyes away from the calling, persistent calling, longing thronging calling her to come.

Was it home they called her to? The flood of sleep immersed her into dreams, and in these rambling dreams, tempests broke across the land, with rain, with water rising high and intending to catch her inside the foamy waves. Nerissa tousled her blonde hair away as she moved back towards her desk cluttered with charts and reports, and as she pushed a strand from her face, wiped the squalor dreams from her mind.

Her eyes fell away from the Esplanade banking the shores of the river, the tree-lined strip of haunts and spirits who arose at night, gallivanting with homeless moonshine and motley clothes. The crew teams, the sailboats were missing from the icy river today. On warmer days, on windy days, the sails would dapple the water with color and the little rowboats would steady towards the river’s head, rounding just beyond the bend and into the harbor. In the harbor, the cruise ships departed hourly from the Long Wharf, to the Navy Yard or to Hull, Hingham, and Quincy; down past to Cape Cod and Provincetown. She had once traveled so far, to the tip of the sleeping fisherman, the very end of Massachusetts. She had stood at the end of the world, looking east, across the ocean and to the Old World.

From the Old World and from the Orient, great ships arrived in mid-July. The ships, they came again, for Fleet Week, and families and friends waited on the harbor to watch them come in one after another, great white ships blasting triumphant horns.

She remembered she had waited too, among the crowd, pressing in upon her and hot. Lowering her sunglasses, she peeked above the rim; something stirred within her. They lifted their faces upwards and the sailors looked down, grinning wide, corn-fed teeth, dressed all in white. They came down the planks with duffle bags thrown over their backs, and their medals shone and sparkled gold. In mid-July, the sailors came, moving three or four abreast down the sidewalk streets.

She watched them in Copley Square, sitting around the fountain pool while the children splashed and played, and the dogs panted with feet dipped in the water. The sailors dressed in white, moving three or four abreast down the sidewalk streets, down Newbury and through the Garden, and she hesitated and watched them go in white.

In July, it was a delusion to think of mid-winter. Now, there was sunshine aplenty and bodies nearly naked in the white sand. For forever it seemed, and she hoped. She would often drive down to Nantasket Beach alone and sit to read and waste away the weekend hours. They called to her then, they always did, but the sun was warm and she was so full of life, she whispered back, “I do not want to go just yet.” The Paragon Carousel rotated to mournful songs on the boardwalk of pastel colored buildings, the last vestige of Hull’s Golden Age.

She remembered the sailors moving three or four abreast down Boylston Street, and the solemn one detached from the others. He floated away from them and settled on the edges of the Copley Square Fountain, while the others followed the tortoise and the hare to stained glass and the Trinity Church. He took off his sharp shoes and rolled down his socks, and dipped his pale, colorless feet into the water.

She hesitated and watched him from above the edges of her book. The voices ever present, and the birds sang Greek; she hesitated and watched him from above the edges of her book. His medals gleamed, polished for show, and he turned his straw-colored head to the voices of his friends, waving him over by the doors of the church. They beckoned, and he remained, catching her eye as she closed the book.

She had once traveled so far, to the tip of the sleeping fisherman, the very end of the world, looking east, across the ocean and to the Old World. It would be summertime again: she would skip and dance, sheathed in nothing more than flimsy film and gauze. In July, the ships would come again, warmth and effulgent light. She remembered, she remembered. Dancing away from him towards the ebbing flow of the ocean water on Race Point Beach in the summer. They came early to catch the sunrise. Their distant voices hummed on the edge of the horizon, near the ripples made by breaching whales. She asked Levant, “Do you hear them, too?”

“Hear what?” He asked with a brazen smile. His voice was so flat and sweet and she could taste the Vermont apple orchard on his breath as she turned away from his kiss to the voices.

It was only the ocean, and she beckoned him with outstretched arms, saying, “Come, come follow me into the water.”

She heard them singing, each to each, but ignored the voices waking from the foam. She beckoned to Levant and caught him in her arms. “I don’t think two people could have been happier than we,” she said, and to the waters, to the voices calling one to another, she thought, “Not yet, you will not have me yet.”

Levant stayed a week, and in that time, they went everywhere together. It was summer; she took off from work, and climbed the cool blue spiral tower towards the top of the fish tank. They stared down over the rim, at the sea turtle wavering through the green-blue water. The barracudas darted between the sloping walls of coral, and the stingrays waltzed and dithered near the bottom. She never did this; she never had time. Nerissa cast a glance to her lover, took his hand and softened. The reef fish darted and splayed, and one detached from another to float along the belly of a nurse shark. Levant pointed to the moray eels, and she counted the tiny sea turtles.

Through the dark rooms, the eerie rooms echoing with children’s laughter and teenager voices, they gazed into the windows of sea dragons and moon jellyfish, the gaping mouths of piranhas, the hidden octopi, orange and iridescent against the Pacific coral.

After, they crossed the Seaport Boulevard and sat on the steps at the ICA. She said, “Let us go then, you and I, to Castle Isle…” and so they went by taxi later that night to Castle Island in Pleasure Bay, where the Tories and the Royalists once absconded. It was dark, and the evening spread out across the sky. She heard the voices on the crashing waves and the birds singing in Greek. He felt her tremble beside him; he worried after her pale face. To him, she whispered, “Let us go, then, you and I…”She took his hand and led him forth.

They walked down the Head Island Causeway, which took them out into the ocean with insidious intent. It was a narrow strip of road, a path rising out of the water, and as it curved, there at the center of the horseshoe, a pavilion sat empty and beckoned.

“Let’s rest,” she said to Levant, and as she motioned to the benches, he spun her around and kissed her. Kissed her, and she felt the rush and light inside her as she pressed her lips to his. Fireworks went off around the Boston Harbor, celebrating the ships return, the sailors, the happy weather of July.

The shells burst orange and pink over the city. A few large comet stars erupted, extending large tendrils that whipped out in either direction. A few fish explosions; he and she watched the flaming debris swarming in random directions, twinkling, fading yellow on the backs of the eyes. They watched the fireworks, the sad dazzling display. She counted down the moments now that they reached the mid-point of the week. Each second she savored, clamoring after time, begging it to last a little bit more. In three days, Levant would depart. And she watched her lover tenderly, fidgeted, looking back and forth from the fireworks to her. Their eyes met, and they fell in love. “I don’t want to go just yet…” Levant was saying, but the fireworks ended, and she grew cold. Time slipped away and then they moved forward on the Head Island Causeway towards the star-shaped fort. The island dark and empty, they kissed in abandon among the shadows on the sloping lawn, the fireworks cracking, whistling, blasting above them.

They had once traveled so far, to Race Point Beach to catch the sunrise, and swarthed in blankets, they waited on cold, white sands as the sky glimmered pink and orange. In July, the ships would come again, he said, and in the meantime, he would write to her, he would call her. Their voices hummed distantly on the edge of the horizon; she had not forgotten them. “Please. I hope you will…,” she said, dusting the sand off his pant leg. He wrapped her up in the blankets, in his embrace. “Do you hear them, too, calling each to each?”

“The whales?” He asked, looking off on the horizon.

She smiled. “Yes, the whales…” Of course, she thought, those are the voices, and the birds do not sing in Greek.

They woke into the warmth of early afternoon, and she swooped over him to plant a kiss on his forehead. “I do not think two people could have been happier than we,” she brushed his sandy, straw-colored hair from his face. “Oh, Levant, none happier.”

They stripped to their skivvies and dashed down the beach towards the water. She beckoned to him with outstretched arms, saying, “Come, come follow me into the water.”

The water was warm and the air was warm, and they bathed their bodies in the dark blue waters. It was only they upon the beach that afternoon, only their blankets and clothes spread out across the sand, scattered in a path towards the waves.

They played at being fish, diving down into the depths. Nerissa opened her eyes and looked up towards the elusive ceiling, the filmy effulgence of the sun washing out the world above. She heard them sharply and so distinctly, singing each to each. Calling her name, calling her to come. Their voices haunted the twitch of seaweed floating near her hand, encircling upon her arm, and it called so sweetly, so much louder than before. The rollicking waves may rock the world above as the whales broke through to the surface and roared, but here the world was calm and here the world serene.

She saw them riding heavenward on the vortexes of waves. They gathered the salt bubbles and beaded them on Maiden Hair tendrils green. Wreathed in seaweed red and brown, the sea-girls beckoned and brought her down. They grabbed her foot and held her tight, and laughed a little more to see her dear. Nerissa finally saw the voices that had called her for so long, combing back their white hair with seashells. All dimples, smiles and curls, complexions green and white, they beckoned her more with outstretched hands, and Nerissa looked up once more to the drowning, to the fading, to the dimming light.

Their voices sank, then faded beneath the surf, and she fell down with them.

She heard them calling, calling for her the weeks leading up to the first spring blooms. Their voices faint and submerged beneath a ceiling of ice, yet she heard them singing, calling for her. She imagined they said her name, imbedded in their calls. The rollicking waves rocked below the bridge as she trudged through the snow. It became like slush, caking the pedestrian walkway on the Harvard Bridge, and here, she heard them sing loudest. In the morning on her way to work, their voices burst above frosted waters, and at night, on her way home, the voices sang lullabies good-bye to the day, and their voices sank, then faded beneath the surf.

But then a pale, colorless hand outstretched from nowhere and brought her up. She rose and rose and rose with the hand, guiding her up to the watery ceiling, until she, like the whales, broke the surface and breathed. She breathed and breathed again, panting as her hand clutched her throat, and the roaring in her ears overcame the singing, the fading singing, the longing thronging fading down below.

Levant looked worried, but with a brazen smile, he said, “I thought I lost you, and we just met.” Nerissa looked at her feet paddling beneath her, thinking, Not yet, no, not yet.

Not yet would the tidal waves claim her. The flooding dreams, the tempest at nights no longer bothered her. She listened to him talk about the Orient, her sailor Levant, brushing his straw-colored hair from his face as he lay in her lap. They were on Nantasket Beach, the antique carousel turning to the chiming music. The week was drawing to an end, and her sailor Levant talked about the places he would go, the places he would sail. He tasted like Vermont, syrup and apples when she kissed his lips.

“When I finish, we should sail down the Eastern Atlantic Seaboard,” he said. “I’m serious,” Levant said, shading his eyes from the sun.

She dipped her head in front of his face to block the light. “So am I.”

“Would you then, travel with me? From Maine to Florida.”

“Why stop there? We could go to Cuba, too. Find the mermaids in the Gulf of Mexico.”

“Why stop there?” Levant challenged, flashing his corn-fed white teeth. Her eyes widened momentarily at his sincerity. You and I, she thought. Nerissa linked her arm in Levant and they braved their faces towards the sea, against the wind, against the sun.

They talked about spending a year after his service sailing, the boat they would buy, the things they would need. Nerissa would quit her job; she would sublet her apartment; she would follow the sailor wherever he traveled.

“I’ll write you every day,” he said, “I’ll call you when I can. Will you wait until next July?”

Nerissa looked up and out across the water; she heard them singing, heard their sirens, calling and calling for her to join them. But her sadness had ebbed away because of this straw-haired sailor. She turned her face back to Levant, “I will.”

She remembered it all, nearly nine months ago in July, underneath the starry sky, the evening spread out and wonderful, filled with bursts of orange and pink. But it was winter now, and she trudged to work over snowy paths, and below the bridge, the voices shrill, the voices unquiet, sang to her to come.

She heard them singing, each to each, and calling her for weeks leading up to the first spring blooms. It snowed, it snowed, it snowed every day, and she soldiered on in gloves and scarves, great down jackets, moving through the caked snow. In her office in the Pru, she heard them as she prepared herself to journey home.

It so happened news came from the Orient of a ship that went down. What was the error, what was the cause? How many survivors arose from the foam and swam for the shore? The weeks leading up to the early spring day were silent of news, and then, a name, a face, a memory. She whispered, “Levant, I do not think two people could have been happier than we,” before moving out in the winter squall.

Was it home they called her to? She remembered the day she almost drowned at Race Point Beach, the calm and serene depths, what a pleasure they had been. Her dreams were filled with rising water and foamy waves, and the voices calling her, calling her to come.

As she came to the Harvard Bridge, she heard them loudest, nearest to her heart. Their voices burst above the frosted waters; they pleaded and they called. She saw them riding on the surfs of waves, their coral necklaces orange and pink against their green and white complexions. They were all dimples and smiles and curls, and as she neared the center of the bridge, they beckoned more with outstretched hands.

At the 182.2 smoot line, she hesitated and watched. Beneath the crusts of ice, she saw them there waiting. Nerissa looked up once more to the fading light around her, nearly dusk, and all orange and purple and black. A few people on the other side of the bridge wandered by, and a few on her side, wandered off in the distance.

It was time, then, to say good-bye. They had called her long enough, and he was already beneath the waters. She could join him yet. She had waited, she had waited. July again would never come. They had called and beseeched her, and finally persuaded her, and she decided it was time. Nerissa took off her coat and her scarves and her hat, she stepped a naked, pale foot into the snow. Breathing a moment, she gripped the green railing and looked over Boston.

From Harvard to the head, her eyes fell away from the Esplanade and rounding just beyond the bend, into the harbor. And from the harbor to the ferries, departing to the Long Wharf, the Navy Yard, to Castle Island, farther on to Hull, Hingham, and Quincy, to Cape Cod, Provincetown and Race Point Beach. She had once traveled so far, to the tip of the sleeping fisherman fishing for scod and cod cheeks from the Atlantic oceans. She had stood at the end of the world, looking east to the Old World.

Now, she gripped the green railing once more and fell to the sea-side girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown. She heard the voices loud and shrill, singing still; she thought of Levant, she thought, None happier than we, and then she drowned.

issue 2 · winter 2017 · page 3

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The World's Fattest Man · Corey Mesler

I was a young sylph. I
was clueless.
I had 50 cents and I
paid to see him.
We were led in a semi-
circle trudge round his
seat. Not three feet
from me, his face
was indifferent, perhaps
masking contempt.
I was shamed. I
knew we were
the freaks; we wanted to
see something worse
than us, more animal,
more meat. I went
home and my mother
had left a cake out on
the counter, multi-
tiered and beautiful,
like a castle, like
fairy tale fare: dark,
mysterious, transformative.

On Learning the Arcane Fact · David Spicer
that lizards and snakes possess two penises, I imagine
Nature awarding man one more of the appendage

he holds sacred and obscene. I understand why
Eve preferred the serpent’s counsel and chose

to eat the apple and savor its wicked seed:
It’s obvious that two heads were better than one.

The consequences of penis increase? Monumental.
Women would tire twice as fast, but,

arguably, achieve double the pleasure.
The question is whether more or fewer conquests

would occur, or if the proprietor’s members might discuss
protocol: I’m tired, you do it, even though it’s my turn.

Or, You’re not holding up your end of the partnership.
It’s a common assumption that men dub their favorite

body part Dick, Peter, Alfonso, Junior – you
grasp the idea. Think of the repercussions on the name game

if the masculine sex were to assign his two compadres the same
monikers as comic duos: Mutt & Jeff, Laurel & Hardy,

Abbott & Costello, Jake & Elwood. Or, on a sober note,
the identities of influential historical couplets: Marx & Engels,

Lenin & Trotsky, Mick & Keith, Siskel & Ebert.
And would the hemipenes be fraternal, identical, or conjoined?

Also in the medical arena, would men need paired prostates,
testicle tag teams, and buddy bladders to support this dynamic duo?

Now that the subject of urination has leaked, do we admit
the term pissing contest would receive added ramifications?

Yes, two wild things to each male should require changes
in vulgarity: wouldn’t it be a mouthful to exclaim,

You cockssuckers!? Or, Dickheads, go fuck yourselves!?
Not to mention that an either/or scenario could exist

for Big Pharma: sales for Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra
would go limp or skyrocket. Don’t you agree this

planet is a more simple venue with men wielding
one tinkertoy at a time? Aren’t we grateful that

Nature was wise to stop the gift of two randy fellows
at the primitive and not proceed to the most regal of creatures?

Renewing Renewal · Ben Nardolilli
I used to get
into barroom fights
with anybody around

a desire
to be feared for a lie,
I picked at their wounds

I found one good love
among treacheries,
I turned up the music

for thirty years
I drank with Beethoven,
Mozart, Brahms

as the world
nears its end, I hear
reports of dinosaurs

time for me
to go back
to the bars

July · Aden Thomas
He crashes summer picnics,
the drunk uncle of June and August,
fire-tempered and boasting
that there will be no rain
as long as he’s in town.

His breath smells of hot asphalt.
He sweats through his shirt.
Grass turns sallow
under his dry and dog-eared boots.
Best to let him drink
until he stumbles into fall.

You Find Yourself · Paul Brookes
sharp in the knife drawer,
paired in the sock drawer

folded neatly along the creases
in the airing cupboard

arranged with the ornaments
on the mantelpiece

crumpled in the washing basket
tumbled on the spin cycle

dibbered in the plastic pots
weeded in the borders

So Find Meaning · James Croal Jackson
in the blue diner
we laughed
made something meaningful

but how you puckered
your lips
didn’t mean you need
communion

I am
trying to make my way
down High street
without kicking every red hydrant
I walk by

without drowning in wish
without
finding meaning in every stop
sign
every green light
turned red

I’m finding out greasy fries
aren’t made to be shared
they clump
onto the salty plate

every intersection
is just an intersection
avoiding cars
strangers

every passing honk
is for you

I was not made
to philosophize

words
mean nothing
until spoken

issue 2 · winter 2017 · page 4

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The Neighbors · Nancy Iannucci
Mother’s mood
swings four seasons.
Father’s forest fire rages.
Son doesn’t set.
Daughter’s paisley dress
goads them in a dance.
Pulling down the shade,
their sideshow closes
for the evening.
A Winter · Paul Brookes
lapwing is imagination,
iridescent green

flickflack, barrel roll,
Cuban Eight above fields,

a fan that winnows grain
from chaff,

a long, slender, upcurved crest,
a shrill cry,

catches the insects of words in flight.

The Last Hours of Christmas · Mark DeCarteret
Earlier, I’d ladled dead mayonnaise
into the sink – eggs ever the informants,
so as to recycle the plastic container,
and then did time with yet another poet
wanting to be my estranged mother.
Eighteen miles from the sea (when in
reality have we ever referred to it as the sea?)
and still the gulls huddle, reading for their parts on the roof,
too cold to even bully any room at the feeder.
More neighbors will be lugging bags of wrap to the cul-de-sac.
One, clad only in thermal underwear, patched jacket
talking about duct taping the mouth of a loud dog.
Another, handing me a flyer lousy with used gum –
Every Friday is Ladies Night! Free Admission!
Maybe, I should introduce my soul on a dare.
And afterwards make raids on some variety store dumpster,
a 70’s security camera trained on my activities,
this sound like big fish gills clicking open and closed.
Instead, sparrows will rouse in the eaves, dallying
longer than usual, in their outdated wear.
The sky, so dull, our kisses seem rave-induced.
And there will be that sour inquisition of sleep again,
my eye-lids dialing up some prototype of peace.
Why am I late getting to most everything?
Putting away the cot, slept-in linens.
Stocking up on more top round and catsup.
Maybe I’m saving myself for the poet’s last task,
all that volunteering I’ve been thinking of doing.
Or for taking in the lights. Once the sun
has had at them a little while longer.
Dance, God Damn it. Dance · Jeff Weddle
This is our hollow place.
This world that says a badge makes a hero,
that victims are thugs,
that does not remember Tina Modotti,
that has forgotten Emma Goldman,
this amnesiac, flattened landscape
of steadfast plastic and manufactured desire,
this Titanic an inch from hard ice,
this death rodeo,
this land that elevates trendy parasites to high office
and discards the truly good,
this nation that hated Eugene Debbs and murdered Joe Hill,
that extinguished Martin Luther King on a Memphis balcony
and Medgar Evers in his home,
that blew Addie Mae Collins
and Denise McNair
and Carole Robertson
and Cynthia Wesley
to pieces,
that screams the name of Jesus
as it lets its children live in squalor
and praises God as they die in shame,
this blight, this cancer, this ugly scar.
This scab heaven.
This is our hollow place.
This is Orlando Charleston Sandy Hook
Aurora Boston Columbine Virginia Tech
Baton Rouge New York Vietnam Iraq
your house at the end of the lane.
This is headline and story.
This is Joe McCarthy and his questions.
This is earned darkness.
This is the sky breaking to blood.
This is tainted pleasure and all the rotten eggs you can eat.
This is the March of history and the revolution that never happened.
This is a monkey with a gun.
This is what they will allow.
This is what makes us happy.
This is music and liquid flesh.
This is the Hot 100 and the Host that Loves You Most.
This is the rule.
This is our hollow place.
This is pure sex and death.
This is the hood you wear.
This is your shackle.
This is what they give and what we take.
This is slow starvation.
This is our hollow place.
This is our war.
This is our 1930s dance marathon and no one wins.
This is tomorrow’s bread line.
This is the unseen hand.
This is politics as usual,
the opium of the masses,
the murder of art,
the big win for the Gipper,
the girl you wouldn’t give the time of day and the heart inside her.
Remember your parents.
Remember the Mother Church and the Fatherland.
Remember the party.
Everything for the good of the party.
It is standard procedure.
It is our hollow place.
We know all of this, but we jump to the whip with bright, shining faces.
This is our hollow place.
Remember your function:
Dance, god damn it. Dance.
Perfectionist · Robert Beveridge
Seven scars across one arm
six across the other
blade tip rectifies asymmetry

issue 2 · winter 2017 · page 5

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Love Note · Aden Thomas
Along the highway
just above the cottonwoods

a flock of geese bend
across the blank page of sunset.

Their cursive wings
hover a moment in the salmon light.

You take my hand,
and with your fingers,

you trace our secret language
across the lifeline of my palm.

Active Art Is Always Overlooked · Ron Androla
Thin
brush-
stroke
clouds
expand
the ribs
of a drenched
watercolor
sky split like a
barge’s
wake.
2 southern
cloud-
streams
penetrate
atmosphere
with their
penile bull-horns
made of chopped
wet rocks,
moist dawn fog,
& tenuous moments
of fleshy
veiny northern
dusk. Mountains
of discarded
skulls spit &
blow flames,
apocalyptic
confetti, fanged
lightning
bugs, &
quantum-
shifting
UFOs.
I whittle a confused,
phosphorous-rich,
match-stick head of
tadpole sperm
into a microscopic
knife
that stabs
& guts
& pulls
blackberry-
bloody
summer
ripples
overhead;
the ripples undo
the pulse & the
breath of me,
they cut wide
holes out of
Lake Erie’s
trout-shimmering
surface reflection
trimmed
in old
peach
light;
what
stays
evening,
what’s old,

evaporates.

Winter Rental · Mark DeCarteret
After backlogging last week’s losses
I lob the whole book into the sea.
You could easily see me from any window
but the one in the kitchen with the niche
beneath the sill you have hidden your secrets.
Retired, I shape putty into the littlest of whales
and laugh as the cat swipes at them, riveted
while you pull out your apron like a safety net,
knuckles scored from the table’s edge,
before grabbing for the spyglass
keeping look out for that barge
with its belly of paper scraps, parables.
I can taste brine, a billion lies going bad
but this too is garbage, ad-libbed on the deck.
A military jet passes, a red X on its chest,
a gray similar to all the black and white
ever compromised, made to play nice,
its shrill cry a baby hawk’s or a ghoul’s.
You’re wondering if it’s still possible
to drown under miles of words,
stirring only to sit even further inside
the British, floor model, version of yourself.
Is it there that you touch the one thing
that serves only your soul, the non-existent?
I feel slipshod and blowsy just mentioning it,
my teeth and tongue bent on my throat,
wanting none of this pinned on them.
Pomegranate Explosion · Richard King Perkins II
Golden copper descends
from the latest sunset

indirectly upon you
lighting contours indescribably seen.

Someday,
we’ll dissociate like the forgotten tail
of a falling star

but tonight, our moisture circulates
without resistance, petals on pond water,

drawn together with the ease
of ghost attraction and subtle enchantments.

Smiles and your eyes begin so many things;
fingers curl to secure them

and then –
a pomegranate explosion luminesces
on the endless horizon

and a new sun appears beside us

or perhaps,
with the wish of a lover’s whisper,
we have made it suddenly appear.

My Dirty Life and Times · Howie Good

Impossible tasks attract me,
It’s good to create obstacles.

I, at least, don’t work well
without obstacles, To bring

the past back to the present,
the noises must become music.

The rest is telepathy.

Assembled from Robert Bresson, Bresson on Bresson, Interviews 1943-1983, and Notes on the Cinematograph
COLOPHON

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 copyright Annie Pluto.