Dis/obedience, Synecdoche, Vice Versa, & Machinations of the Absurdly Happy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anna Wang is a high school student from Illinois. Her writing has been recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, Hollins University, Columbia College, and the National YoungArts Foundation, among others. Her work appears in Hyphen, YARN, Red Queen Literary Magazine, and elsewhere. When she isn’t writing, she practices spoken word or attempts to puzzle out a lighthouse jigsaw.

Everything’s Fine

Untitled, Chuck U. Farley

Untitled, Chuck U. Farley

— for Brent Williamson

 

Every night the train rattles along the West 4 Street platform

like some futuristic bull pushing archaeological trash

through the catacombs of the city.

I walk out mid-station past the many times I’ve died,

looking back years later, with the edge of a knife scratching my cheek,

to the rooms where it happened, inches away,

on the other side of a dusty window

where I am sitting, crumbs on my shirt,

watching it all unfold and thinking

how easy it is to get tired of new places and new people—

 

I mean how everything gets old as a nine-to-five

and the more people talk about it the older it gets

and it doesn’t get any younger than the glass in your hand,

ever,

just the same drinks and the same meat on fire,

some Phil from accounting and his woman

or some Mrs. saying “Oh, sweetie, you’re just too much”.

Too much.

 

It’s not even a lie anymore when we enumerate

everything that’s been done.

And the stupid grin of some accomplishment

makes everyone else catch the same stupid grin like a disease

because we’ve accomplished nothing,

we’ve done nothing out of the ordinary,

we’ve tied our shoelaces twice and flushed the toilet

on our way out as the room fills with the stink of our own shit.

Some even set their alarm clock forward

just to have more time

for this.

 

I watch from the same dusty window

as I tell myself that I need to get away from myself.

I cannot stand how alone everything feels

when I don’t even look up anymore as they pass me,

the regular bums on the line whose lines I’ve memorized,

the painted eyes of a would-be lover

each downward-looking face

going home to some kind of crime against love,

hating myself for doing the same—

how all of us alone are dreaming of different parts.

Our poverty in the hundreds.

 

Everything’s fine.

The sense of despair crawls into even the most intimate places.

Into the dense fabric of it.

In the dark I imagine how the whole world

tonight is fucking on a really tight schedule.

How the plates and forks are in the sink to soak until morning.

Everything’s fine.

A good rain climbs through the window when you least deserve it.

 

When a ten-minute friend asked me once how I do it,

what he really meant was how can I do this,

night after night,

chipping away at the world

like some deranged animal who knows nothing else

but the perimeter and its soiled corners.

I’d always said I was much better suited for something else,

anything where a cinder block on top of another

means an end in itself.

I’d be damn good at it,

slapping on the cement, staggering the lines,

wiping my hands on a stained pair of jeans,

standing back and charmed to death by the stonework,

throwing the lunch pail in the corner s

oon as I walked through the front door.

The percentages were all in my favor.

 

But that never happened, I told him.

Instead I told him that I’m terrified by the ordinary.

Fucking terrified by failure.

Coming home too tired to grab your lady’s ass

because you’ve poured out all of your blood

and all you can think about

is the home team and yesterday’s leftovers.

I told that friend, who I imagine

is now lying in bed with a magazine, and she with a magazine,

the lights, out of mercy, an arm’s length away,

that unless you’re going to go all in into this

you might as well do nothing at all.

Unless being honest means that you might fail

but at least you haven’t failed life,

then, I said, you’ll make love only if it fits into the program,

you’ll put it down on the calendar and you’ll get through it,

or worse,

you won’t.

Which is probably better for people like you anyway.

 

And the forest will go on in the skulls of dumb birds.

The insane will arrange their shadows in ascending order.

As the good rain begins to come in. As I turn my back to this.

Andrei Guruianu lives in New York City where he teaches in the Expository Writing Program at New York University. He is the author of a memoir, Metal and Plum (Mayapple Press, 2010), and four collections of poetry: Postmodern Dogma (Sunbury Press, 2011), And Nothing Was Sacred Anymore (March Street Press, 2009), Front Porch World Review (Main Street Rag, 2009), Days When I Saw the Horizon Bleed (Foothills Publishing, 2006). He is also the founder of the literary journal The Broome Review, and from 2008 to 2010 he served as the Broome County, NY Poet Laureate. www.andreiguruianu.com

Spoke

 Which is a word that      means ghost, as it     wanders, so much

blown trash, soulful       only as you      make something of it,      interrupting its

leanings, a physical       event and vulnerabilities,      of buildings and populations.

Budgetary allocations are       patterns, they originate in the       popular will and the dirt

pressed back,       or down, it’s       so much work, or did       they count, or

did they use materials       to distinguish speech from       bricks, trusting       bricks a little

more?       Which are       of course       passage making devices,       where your

dead friends exchange       notes with the       rest of the dead world.

As you hear about       what went wrong       you think what you want

are ghosts that have to       stick around, complimenting       you and your presidency.

Hugh Behm-Steinberg is the author of Shy Green Fields (No Tell Books) and the forthcoming The Opposite of Work (JackLeg Press). He teaches writing at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, where he edits the journal Eleven Eleven.

Poem Composed Entirely with Last Lines from Tony Hoagland Poems

As I was walking through the Springdale Mall

somewhere outside Pittsburgh

down into the belly of the world,

 

I made a word my friend

with my breathless mouth.

No one knows why

 

it all turned upside down

to keep both of us amused,

in chains,

 

and capable of saying anything —

as to make us seem magnificent.

Galloping through bubbles

 

of any brave new world–

and everybody passes

with his practical black eyes .

 

This was our marvelous punishment:

to learn something about loneliness

and clap.

James Valvis is the author of How to Say Goodbye (Arctic Books, 2011). He has published many poems in places like Anderbro, Arts & Letters, River Styx, and Verse Daily. His ficiton is also widely published in places like Elimae, Los Angeles Review, Potomac Review, and storySouth. He lives in Issaquah, Washington.

No Hidden Portals

Tell her goodbye when you see her

because sometimes it’s best to start

with the ending & work in reverse.

I know a thing or two about phases

 

said the moon after no one asked it

anything at all. I feel bad about

the things that I said but also whatever

I didn’t. Tell her there are better days

 

ahead. Tell her sleep mostly eludes me.

Tell her you’re not looking for sympathy

on my behalf. Don’t forget to bring a map

when you set out on your journey.

 

Try to write a series of declarative sentences.

Afterwards you can worry about whether

the tone is a drone. You can freely add

more details, clauses that help the reader

 

understand you are ambivalent

about the emotional state depicted. The sun

I heard over the phone is a sun I’d like

to share in. Inexplicably, there are lots of cars

 

driving by. I have to look back to see where

I started. I don’t really remember what I was

trying to do. I have to close one window

in order to open another & check if you’re

 

trying to talk to me. We don’t like to make things

easy for ourselves. Everything I need

is in plain sight. It’s so sunny in the park.

It’s dangerous when it’s like that so late in the day.

Nate Prittes is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Sweet Nothing which Publishers Weekly describes as “both baroque and irrevertent, banal and romantic, his poems […] arrive at a place of vulnerability and sincerity.” His poetry & prose have been published widely, both online & in print 7 on barns, at places like Forklift, Ohio, Court Green, Gulf Coast, Boston Review & Rain Taxi where he frequently contributes reviews. He is the founder & principal editor of H_NGM_N, an online journal & small press.

The B-Team

Their pilot Mulligan was only crazy for golf, practicing his swing whenever he could:

on the tarmac, in the air, and even while fleeing North Korean groundskeeper cells.

Otherwise, plenty of rest and fluids made his world go round, granting the energy

and mental acuity to tackle each day’s tasks, like diversifying his retirement holdings.

 

Their conman “Hands” was an artist in the fluidity with which he communicated

with his arms and fingers, mesmerizing men and women in security uniforms

to give up their goods, which is how they obtained the ancient Dodge Ram

van, HQ for the group’s epic, scandalous and sometimes illegal adventures.

 

Their driver, strongman, and mathematician A. B. Abacus could bench four hundred

pounds and recite pi to the thousandth digit, often simultaneously, sometimes while

also filling out the team’s expense reports. Forger of iron catchphrases, he inspired

millions of boys to recite, “I offer my deepest sympathy to the intellectually benighted.”

 

Their leader John “Patton” Doe ran an Army Navy surplus store and pawn emporium

that spawned many of their adventures on long runs through the night to pick up

howitzers for customers with erectile dysfunction and military grade glow sticks

for the tweaker ravers on the boulevard. Clenching a peppermint stick in his teeth

 

and spouting, “I love it when a gambit reaches fruition,” he organized the most

raging underground chess tournament in the Southland, one marked by the rescue

of a eighteenth-century antique ceramic set and the seizure of twenty kilograms

of bootleg Adderall peddled by Geert Van Wafel, that evil Belgian grandmastermind.

 

That was nothing compared to the recovery of gold medallions crafted for the KKK,

hidden in bunkers at Masonic lodges, where former athletes from East Germany

guarded the bootleg coins along with a super-soldier formula rumored to endow

the user with the verve of a hundred teenage men. The B Team dared not guzzle

 

much because half of them were taking blood thinners, but enough sipping occurred

for a great midnight cow-tipping escapade to coalesce, one which could have ended

in tragedy or, worse, capture if Mulligan’s remote-control helicopter had not masterfully

distracted both a shotgun-toting farmer and A.B., tonic-drunk, dancing with phantom

 

scarecrows that turned out to be Jack Mormons posing as corn-belt Amish outlaws.

The closest scrape came on a fishing trip in Appalachia, when Hands got caught

holding a pair of supple rattlesnakes as he taught a preacher’s daughter to speak

in tongues, the caterwauling from tent flaps an alarm for Patton, facing impossible

 

truths about aging and reaction time, coming a little too late, two punctures in an arm,

ministerial father on the prowl, sprinkling consecrated water from the sulfurous nearby

hot spring on all parties, the B-Team’s leader fumbling for antivenin, razor blades and

whiskey, Mulligan and A.B. out of earshot at the rushing river, three trout from the limit.

 

The close calls brought them to a relationship counselor who suggested that the Army

might not really be after them, but ex-wives might be, that the gun and knife shows

were not havens for smugglers and assassins, and the man bouts and whiskey shots

created a dance for them to lock fists and horns, a solitary animal bleeding its love.

Raised in Michigan but now living in Southern California, John F. Buckley and Martin Ott began their ongoing games of poetic volleyball in the spring of 2009. John’s chapbook Breach Birth has recently been published on Propaganda Press and Martin’s book Captive won the 2011 De Novo Prize and will be published on C & R Press in the summer of 2012.

Their previous collaboration, Poets’ Guide to America, will be published by Brooklyn Arts Press in 2012, featuring poems published in more than forty magazines including Center, Confrontation, Evergreen Review, Post Road and ZYZZYVA.

My Secret

Even if I did not dare invite anyone, I still wanted

a party—the fountain downtown to change

 

times, a saxophone to start noodling out of nowhere

as I crossed the street past mine or simply

 

a friend to sit me down at the table of pressed-tin under

the striped awnings where chestnut trees bloom,

 

a girl reciting from a book of dead poems:

holiness, danger, and the smell of lime.

 

The waiter bringing me coffee the way I like it—

scalding but not too strong, the tiny metal pitcher

 

of chilled milk. I would eat pie—hot with a small

dab of ice cream, the crust shattering as it should,

 

the fruit beneath sour enough to pucker my lips,

and I would remember what you stay alive for–

 

the days like merry-go-round horses— pretty,

painted, circling. I would know better than to wish

 

any fairground tricks, no jolting ascents or

swooping falls. Only a long dullish novel to read,

 

a train ride where I might stare out at fields—

hayricks and children playing in mud, a town

 

confettied for some minor regional festival which

would be my party, the one I throw myself, in

 

which I whisper to a stranger one true thing–—that

I know how far I have gone, that I am glad to be

 

returned, pulled from that blue edge—knife-flat

or turning wheel— what it is to be torn, paper-light.

 

And I would tell this person—this stranger,

yes, this world is glory, but always the

 

dust-bunnies under the bureau, the parts of yourself you

long to wrap up in old t-shirts and hide under

 

the bed, a book you are afraid to read, why I

need this small private celebration—still me, still

 

here—the mornings and middle–of-nights when

I am the cricket sawing its legs to sing.

Sheila Black’s books include House of Bone, Love/Iraq  and Continental Drift with painter Michele Marcoux. She co-edited Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability with Jennifer Bartlett and Mike Northen.  Recently, she received the 2012 Witter Bynner Fellowship in Poetry selected by Philip Levine. She lives in New Mexico.

Child Reaching For Maps On a Bus

She was three, maybe four years old, ages away from maps

and schedules, timers set to govern how late or lost she’d become,

how partially found among hours that went by dark and undiscovered.

 

However, her touch mechanism was already fully formed, activated

at birth—the rest of her life would be fine tuning the handicap of pulling

back, withholding, finally touching only the part that was once hidden in

 

the overcast of a newborn’s brain. Oh, they could’ve been anything—

guides to something historic like a birthplace, battlefield or prison, maybe

brochures of a theme park. The reach was toward many of the same,

 

what she’d later call a sense of security, no memory of this early impulse,

that primitive version of truth we don’t have to think about but do now.

I set my alarm for that moment some nights, some nights negotiating

 

an uneasy peace with what I’ve touched too long, too much. Arrivals.

Departures. I miss their quick kiss. I wish for that rural strip of air where

my eyes first took off, their hands full of time and place. I want them

 

circling my bedroom with all the colors, to watch while they invent

themselves, approach the black and white of my parent’s radar like

a balloon held up to the sun by its own fire.

George Bishop’s latest work appears in New Plains Review & Border Crossing. New work will be included in Melusine and The Penwood Review. Bishop is the author of four chapbooks, most recently “Old Machinery” from Aldrich Publishing. He attended Rutgers University and now lives and writes in Kissimmee, Florida.

Leaves Fall, Then New Ones

Through autumn leaves that lift

and drop like birdless wings,

perpetually rearranging

the Public Garden, my daughter

cartwheels and sings.

 

Tourists and policemen on horses

tap their feet, clap, toss coins that tumble

through the brisk air like brass and copper

buttons popping off a worn coat.

The attention makes her sing louder.

 

In this place ablaze with bare shoulders

and midriffs at the first sum of sun

and warmth, will she forget Chinese

operas, their coy heroines? Will she

forget the high-pitched Cantonese,

the hurried drums and gongs

marching warrior and dynastic lore?

What about the two-stringed

ehru’s hungry melody?

 

Already, my girl blends English

with hand gestures, using puppetry for words

she has no vocabulary for. One day, maybe

we won’t be able to talk at all.

 

And those rotting teeth, they grow

when she laughs or holds a note, but

what some call cavity, others may call

sweet tooth. But I won’t stop

buying candy that sticks,

disintegrates bone, the way

new language eats the old.

I’ll buy her records

of patriotic songs

performed by the Mickey Mouse Club,

and that Strawberry Shortcake album

on pink vinyl with pictures

of houses made of cupcakes.

 

By the bagful she digests

berries and Pez, a pill-shaped candy

proffered from another’s mouth.

Donning paper crowns,

she licks tartar sauce

from fish sandwiches,

and like royalty, sure

of another meal, and another,

she tosses both bread and fish.

Sometimes, I think

she’s a burgeoning emperor,

but is she conqueror, or the conquered?

 

All I know is this: Leaves fall,

and new ones will appear.

She’ll have no trouble

discarding words.

My little chanteuse

will sing and forget

dialogue and dialect,

displacing intonations

with new, delectable melodies,

enough to feed the most roaring

appetite, so much there will be

leftovers enough for three

pet lions, three lions answering to the name

of Genghis Khan.

Yim Tan Wong’s first poetry collection has been a Finalist for Four Way Book’s Levis Prize and the Kundiman Poetry Prize. She currently supports her writing habit by working at a Boston hospital. Her poems have appeared in Spillway, Tidal Basin Review, The Portland Review, Off the Coast, Crab Orchard Review, Crab Creek Review, MARGIE, and Michigan Quarterly Review, among other journals.

The Blindfolded Man III

Acting on the belief that anachronisms are talismen, he rode Helvetie’s

old elevator (3 people max) up and down at least three times

 

Once he got off on the wrong floor

 

Another time he got off to ask the night porter to uncork a local bottle

(bought down the street at Mosca Vins)

 

Anachronisms don’t always work

 

*

 

Of course chance plays a part

 

The following day he visited the Château de Chillon and there was a temporary

exhibit on witch-hunting in the Pays de Vaud

 

Passing through a forest of names and dates, he scratched his shoulder on an angling

branch

 

Apparently that was enough

“Welcome to the Vaud,” said the man

 

Though he was bleeding on his right shoulder, the man ignored it and stuck a needle

into a dry patch of skin just below his navel. Unfortunately it didn’t bleed

 

“Found it,” said the man

 

After putting him through some calisthenics on a contraption with a pulley and a noose,

the man and his fellow-thugs decided to forgo the usual wood and straw

and use a guillotine

 

“Brand spanking new,” said the man

 

Anachronisms sometimes work when you’d rather they didn’t

 

*

 

“The so-called pseudo-problem of mind/body is still bugging me,” said the man.

“Let me illustrate.”

 

Before he knew it his head (eyes lolling) disappeared behind the clouds, and his body

(legs like slogging clay) was flopping in the parking lot

 

[CHATEAU DE CHILLON: 9.00 – 19.00]

R L Swihart currently lives in Long Beach, CA, and teaches high school mathematics in Los Angeles. His poems have appeared in various online and print journals, including Barnwood Magazine, Bateau, elimae, Rhino, and 1110. His first selection of poems, The Last Man, was published by Desperando Press in 2012.

Un Instant Inévitable

Take myself. To know coeur. As us. Tonight. The thorn of to have—

What was done before the knife’s plunge. Without breaking the I am for you. That is no pain.

Before the sting of flesh, imagine—

To be played in the round. Plosion into fragile am, nor along the slightest edge: forsake our collaring debt, our lovers, our apologies. Never the spill after making.

If you are disinterested. Guess—

You is there as place. So, knife my I. Then my bowels. But continue the stitch. And come: palais of your Godliness.

§

As we are—knife edge sharp, as of yet untested. That is my foolishness: to call for my mother, my father; for you, my lover; my holiest God.

All worse than anything you might imagine—this, the making of a family: footing alongside the grave, first spill of earth.

§

We will ourselves. Already c’est inévitable. So, be tonight, sharp against the knife’s failed sting—

Blade plunged in lavender, bevel edged with honey.

Then, everything calls to you alongside the spill of clear desire.

I am becomes cold, unbearable. We is shaken out over a pit of hungry earth.

§

C’est inévitable. The moment before the sting, before our undoing—garland of palm fronds

Twined around our throats

My own death at the margin’s edge—years’ scattering of debt a wrongful apologia: voices Of lovers and of the closest of friends, last letters never sent

Afterward, you remain, reveling in God’s godliness, while I am cast out to weep

To shake, to spill my bowels over the ground’s sweet song

§

Take the knife, mon coeur. Always, the inévitable surrounding us. Here is the edge—sharp, as of yet untested.

Then, our foolishness caught in my throat, chambered with hesitation.

Derek Pollard is co-author with Derek Henderson of the book Inconsequentia (BlazeVOX 2010). His poems, creative non-fiction, and reviews appear in American Book Review, Colorado Review, Court Green, Diagram III, H_ngm_n, Pleiades, and Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak, among numerous other anthologies and journals. He is an assistant editor at Barrow Street, Inc., and is on the faculty at Pratt Institute and at the Downtown Writer’s Center in Syracuse, New York.

Grandma and the Football Team

Grandma didn’t always

hang with a football team,

sometimes she played hockey or

ice-skated with Chinese waiters.

It was rumored she went

skating on a date

twenty years after her

husband died.

 

She was a tall, peculiar

bride to Louis

who strolled near

Orthodox Jews

who came to her house

to perform miracles.

 

Ida lived with Mrs. Grossman,

who wore makeup over skin cancer.

Ida worried if Julia, Mrs. Grossman,

stole her cottage cheese.

 

Grandma—pale, thin and hunch-backed at 80—

was no Leon Trotsky,

nor was she Michelangelo’s David;

and never wore pants.

In all her years,

“I will never wear pants,”

didn’t stick her hand

in the daughter’s closet, hoping

for polyester inspiration to

enter the 20th Century.

 

One weekend,

while her children went to England,

her children’s children, that is,

the burnout Jimmy Hendrix fans

who did acid and smoked pot,

drank a few beers and made

fun of the queers,

the incarnates of New Jersey,

sophisticated and aesthetic culture,

decided to have a party.

 

But they did not

invite Grandma,

they locked her with

a hook in the lock

Ida in her nighties

while the boys in the band

and the girls in the boys

went rollicking through the

kitchen where Ida,

twenty minutes before,

ate gefilte fish.

 

She took off her stockings,

letting the long toes rip,

when in came Lakewood, New Jersey’s finest

like a herd of erect penises

to celebrate with a woman whose heart valves

were rustier than old bicycles.

 

Bras snapped

the dog Shrimpy got high

goyisha weight lifters

made love to Brooklyn Zionists.

 

The skinny woman

with a full head of grey hair

and bumps on her head

in her flowered nightgown,

where you could see her

flabby breasts bouncing,

yelled, “Eleanor! What’s going on?

Eleanor—I have a heart condition!”

 

“We’re having a party Grandma,

would you like to join?”

 

“Vey’s mir!” she whined, screaming in Yiddish

to the Polish, Irish and German quarterbacks.

Smoking a joint, one went up to Ida,

“Would you like a hit?”

 

 

Ida’s grandson, in a veil of pot,

led her to bed,

where she snuggled under a

pink comforter

while the pot shone through

like a vapor against the window.

Eleanor Levine’s work has appeared in Fiction, The Denver Quarterly, Midway Journal, The Toronto Quarterly, The California State Quarterly, Prime Mincer, Happy, Penumbra, The Coachella Review, OVS Magazine, fortyouncebachelors.com, Milk and Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry (nominated for a 2012 Lambda Literary Award), Downtown Poets (anthology), New York Sex (anthology), The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Blade and other publications. She has work forthcoming in The Evergreen Review and Gertrude. In 2007 she received an MFA in Creative Writing from Hollins University in Roanoke, VA. Eleanor is currently a copy editor and lives in Philadelphia.

Breadcrumbs

So many substitutions in this story:

stepmother for mother, brother for father,

morsels of muffin for little white stones,

 

and once the oven is hot, witch for boy,

and in earlier locations, Gretel for pearl,

girl for teeth, take my thumbs for chicken bones,

 

grandma, take my babies for wolf meat.

I’d give you my incisors, my mother said

when I knocked out my own, carrion for crow,

 

cave for castle, ogre for goat who suddenly regrets

he didn’t eat the damn kid when he could have.

It’s a wonder any of us get back home.

Lois Marie Harrod’s The Only Is won the 2012 Tennessee Chapbook Contest (Poems & Plays) and her 11th book Brief Term, a poetry collection of about teachers and teaching was published by Black Buzzard in March 2011.  She teaches Creative Writing at The College of New Jersey. Read more www.loismarieharrod.com

Folklore     pg. 2650     Folklore

Begin with the equation: wood = bone. If bone,

a rib splintered, branch in fragments. Fabricate

from these pieces, the parts for a miniature ship

—delicately assemble her through the narrow neck

of an oblong bottle (if glass, then skin) to be corked

 

and kept. From bone, bone; skin, skin.

This is the beginning, so it goes in certain versions.

Others have a different first. The one forgotten

abandons the expected narrative, replaces, yes, yes,

with southern storms and thunder claps,

 

holds the desire to determine the fate of all things

in fingers closed to palm. In the earth beneath

a willow tree, she plants the handle of a broom.

In a decade’s span, attempts to harvest—

finds a serpent in the crop and… forgive us

 

our trespasses, those who trespass against us, lead us…

All those s’es. The sound of the snake with second sight

and the skill to see through reflections. A convicted spy,

seductive. Amsterdam, Shanghai—follow her

from a kiss in the aquarium to a climatic shootout

 

in the Magic Mirror Maze, take images in shards

—“With these mirrors, it’s difficult to tell…”—

replace with even more deceptive ones

—“You are aiming at me…”—

on to the next and on—“…aren’t you?”

 

Does he need to ask? He’s her target; she’s his.

The angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection

i r) an infinite loop: looking glass inside looking glass,

repeated from this point to the next morning.

“Put on some lipstick and dumb yourself down,”

 

he says. The sound of gunpowder exploding in the chamber

of a small room: her deafening response.

A spider web of glass, shattering. The impact of bullet

on his reflection, on hers. Killing me is killing you.

Me killing you is the reason the sun will rise, my love.

Dina Hardy, author of the limited-edition chapbook Selections from The World Book (Convulsive Editions, 2012), has received a Stegner Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize nomination, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work appears in numerous journals and anthologies, including Agni, Black Warrior Review, Lo-Ball, Transom, and Meridian’s Best New Poets.

Actor on a Bicycle in the Sun

We made fun of him when he was young

and we made fun of him when he was old

 

It’s because he was so beautiful when he was young

interestingly enough, beautiful when he was old, too

 

I am not talking about an inanimate object.

For example, this candlestick here.

 

The wick is fresh.

 

No, but I cannot tell you of whom I speak

for if I did you would say to me

 

But he was beautiful when he was young

and interestingly enough, beautiful when he was old

 

You would believe me

I don’t want you to believe me

because then you would believe

 

That we made fun of him when we were young and beautiful

and fun of him when he was old, and beautiful, like in this photo

 

that is so difficult to really see

in the candlelight

 

Now that I have turned off the lights

and cannot find the candle

Ricky Garni is the author of The Eternal Journals of Crispy Flotilla, My Favorite Fifteen Presidents, and Butterscotch Zero, which will be released this fall. He lives in Carrboro, North Carolina.

The Geometry of Us

It was that minute in the elevator,

that moment when we

careened through floors

with only a gap of words between us.

It was then that I knew

the way we watched each other

would have to end.

It would have to be untangled,

like a skein,

a section at a time

until we could stretch out in parallels,

untouched,

the space growing wider and wider

until we become only dots.

Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time either writing or reading. Her works have appeared in Exercise Bowler, Blinking Cursor, Theory Train, Cartier Street Press, Berg Gasse 19, Precious Metals, A Handful of Dust, and many other publications. You can find her here: carabosseslibrary.blogspot.com

Black Coffee and Skinned Pigs

Before the endless cups of black coffee, you dreamed one night of a plump man the shape of a pear hanging above your bed screwing on a golden penis. “It wasn’t the fact that it was gold that made me wake up in tears it was the fact he was turning it to the left and it was getting tighter.” She told me she hated things involving force penetration, but loved watching Law & Order. The montage of banana rapes and the most famous person who done it kept it real enough with a tinge of fairytale, like she likes her coffee: dark & sweet. After black rings paste together cup and table we exit in front the cha-ching of a register then through doors chiming with golden bells,  “wait, can you smell that?” She had often stopped me to smell things: fresh cut cold cuts, smoked fish, all reminding her of a place she barely knew. The night carried more than honking cabs wrestling for uppity travelers. “That’s Poland, right there, breathe in deep.” Pacing over Queens Village’s empty nine dollar Georgi Vodka bottles, our feet crunched on broken glass, onto the lawn of an abandoned house, it came: firewood burning. “That’s the Poland I know, but New York strips people like a butcher skinning a pig, all that’s left are bones.”

Gabriel Cabrera was born in one of New York City’s most diverse boroughs, Queens, to a Puerto Rican mother and a Dominican Father. He uses Queens Village, nonfictional and fictional experiences often as his platform for his writing. He wants people to view his writing as a portal into a life in Queens, to experience its beauty and its anomalies. He is currently an MFA student at Queens College focusing on the “genre” of poetry. He is currently working as a Research Assistant at Queens College and is on the editorial board of the online journal newtownliterary.wordpress.com.