Dearth

Audrey CarrollAudrey T. Carroll is a Queens, NYC native whose obsessions include kittens, coffee, Supernatural, Buffy, and the Rooster Teeth community. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Fiction International, So to Speak, Feminine Inquiry, the A3 Review, and others. Her poetry collection, Queen of Pentacles, is forthcoming from Choose the Sword Press. She can be found at http://audreytcarrollwrites.weebly.com and @AudreyTCarroll on Twitter.

 

Matriarchal

We wake again pleading for the last time,
a forked tongue once lost between planetary

failures. Their rotation had become dangerous
like birthing hips on the move, either circled

in naked light, or coiling an orbit around
the throat of some dark diviner’s rabbit.

Anti-gravity had taken its unsteered toll,
the air having long been pressed out under

mean flesh, gaze wild and glassy. Gasping
a final incantation at the closing of eyes,

she prepares herself for the difficult
reentry, asks me to please cover up

her body with the stained-blue skin
of a warrior, or perhaps the fine cloth

of an ancient priestess, smiling the creased sorrows
of our plastic spacesuits back to me. She understands

that we will not come this time with grappling
hooks, pressure gauges, flood lights, steel cages,

tightly bound pages, ticking timers, and tested rules, all
these dusty instruments for making wasted spaces

between a concentric star
and a ghost that cannot answer.

I will lay in its powdery surface
and feel the rock beneath me.

Jennifer Seaman CookJennifer’s academic scholarship in the arts, media, technology, and visual and public cultures is augmented by her intermedial practices in poetry, creative non-fiction essay, and documentary. Her most recent essays can be found in Salon, PopMatters, and Heide Hatry’s photography book Not a Rose. Jennifer’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Cedilla Literary Journal (archived at University of Montana), Avatar Review, After the Pause, and more. Jennifer teaches regularly in American Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

To Hildegard

The tenth child, your parents gave you to the church
as tithe; I don’t know if I would do the same
had I ten, twenty, a hundred to my name. In our church,
the young families have begun to foster local children,
taken from mothers who are high, forgetful, taken from days
spent strapped in a car seat in the middle of an empty room.

One child has lost all of her words for love, another has lost
the correct shape of his head. He does not know how to hold
himself up, unaccustomed to free movement, to being held.
The State likes blood families; if mama shapes up,
she’ll get them back next month.

You see and hear, The Lord is holy in anointing
the dangerously stricken.

Born with a closed fist, I have a blue-collar sensibility
for giving. I count my children as mine. A child asleep
in each bed, innocence nested in every corner of my house,
careful packed, as if for travel. The day has no end to its asking.

You speak and write, The Lord is holy in wiping
the reeking wound.

The Lord, when he spoke to you, Fragile One,
was as a brilliant light, permeating your brain;
here all of the lights are out, except for the afternoon
cloud-choked sun, persistent in offering
its white light through drawn blinds.

Renee Emerson

Renee Emerson is the author of Keeping Me Still (Winter Goose Publishing 2014). She lives in Arkansas with her husband and three daughters. www.reneeemerson.wordpress.com

Aturdido

There is a black and white photo of El Capitolio on the wall of Abuelo’s house.
Its icy frame catches the golden dust in the kitchen air, appearing
Pardo. There is no such term in English. He tells me of the colors
like a dream. Suddenly, I am ten again, learning Spanish and shame,
drowning. He asks me, what’s wrong, as I struggle through my very first
foreign language assignment. In Spanish there are two verbs which
in English are both glossed as to know. The primary distinction is
whether the knowledge is a matter of fact or familiarity. In English,

to know is often used to indicate agreement rather than knowledge.
We sit at this same table, an asymmetric pentagon with a long arm,
he built himself. When I cannot translate a sentence about Cuba,
he says I must try harder, and I want so badly to explain why I am
confused, but my tongue will not cooperate. It, frozen in its complete
inability to decide whether knowledge of our people is propositional
or personal, betrays me. I have no answer more than I know. Now,
over coffee we talk politics. Or rather, we don’t. Hand held firmly around

the handle of a discolored mug, he brings the boiling black to his lips.
Mine, with cream, still burns my tongue. I stir in more, captured
by the contagion it casts. Curious, how just a drop renders the whole
of it white. He calls me back by name. Mine and his. It sits between us,
a vast and thrashing ocean. At this angle, El Trabajo and La Virtud Tutelar
perch on his shoulders. I apologize, lost somewhere in the current’s revolution,
and ask about our family. There are relatives he insists he can’t remember,
but I know them. He reminds me history has scattered us: exiles,

immigrants, Americans, those who stayed to support, to watch the house,
those who couldn’t get out. The ocean seems obvious, but I do not think
he can see how we have each become an island in our unfamiliarity.
We cannot agree. It is far too personal. We are too far left, or right.
We do not have all of our rights left. No one is right. We left. I can see
his skin crawl at the thought of Cold War. His blood boils. His face is twisted
as he toils to bite his tongue. He tells me to forget it. It’s in the past.
And he holds the coffee closer as he softly recalls childhood visits. In Spanish,

there are two verb tenses that in English are considered the past.
The difference is a matter of interior composition. I dream of filling us
whole. I imagine an old home bright in the glow of dusk, lechón roasting
the thick air and dancing. But his skin is so thin, I fear the mere proposition
would hurt him. Whether what is described is viewed as discrete and over,
or as ongoing and indefinite is irrelevant in English. The past is simply
the past: a matter of fact. Spanish requires deciding if the past is living,
if it is as it was, if it is sustained and continued. Knowledge of the past

must also be personal or propositional. This is how history is fragmented,
how memory becomes reality. In the photo there is a curvesome Buick
Roadmaster parked along the palm trees of El Paseo. They do not manufacture
these cars any more, but I know it still runs. Though I can scarcely describe
the view in Spanish, I am sure that I know the colors. By now the coffee
has cooled, and I try to unlearn this silence. I know that we all dream
the same dream differently. Yes, it is a matter of fact. We can never return
to the Cuba that we left because our familiar imagining is not right.

But I don’t know how to say it. Not to him. Abuelo tells me he is cold.
I wish I could give him back this name I am burning in. He is a friolero.
English does not have a word. The term Cold War suggests conflict
without violence. It says without saying. It does and denies. And I still do
not have a way to tell him what’s wrong because there is a revolution
of memory between each generation. Though it is the past, I know it is not
over since I am still drowning. I cannot forget language is an ocean.
We are its islands, and not everything translates.

Robert EsnardRobert Américo Esnard was born and raised in the Bronx, New York and studied Linguistics with Social Psychology at Dartmouth College. He has always been fascinated by the myriad ways he is read and obscured. It is this personal and academic experience with semiotics that motivates his work as a poet and a dramatist.

My Mother’s Mouth, A Gift Horse

Father glowers into her mouth—
a drain, clogged with leftovers,
a dirty sun. Lays his fork down,
swallows mashed potatoes
like they’re whole.
Her mouth, which never stays closed,
happily churns herring morsels and syllables
into viscous mounds that morph whole
sentences into crowds,
spilling in and out of a rush hour train
until nobody’s sure who’s going where.

At fifteen, she took the subways
to university. Alone in the big city,
no one saw her chew
when her father sent food
from home, where no one looked
gift horses in the mouth.
She’d bite thick chunks right off precious
pink meat, lick clean salt crystals
stuck in cracks of chapped lips.
On graduation day, he gifted her
a rope of sausage, apples, and good rye.
How they laughed, food flying from their mouths
on strings of salt-saturated joy.
And on her wedding day the same
and everyday until he passed away,
the same open mouth.

My father taught me not to talk
while I eat. He scowls into
my mother’s, a horse’s mouth,
that from afar looks almost human.
I keep chewing. She washes
his underwear, raises us
his way, eats alone. And in a different life,
her father praises her every tooth
like some ancient men worshipped horses,
like they praised the sun.

Tamara HartTamara Hart is a poet and a teacher. Her work, like her life, explores her Ukrainian/Jewish heritage and how it influences the everyday. Tamara writes about family dynamics, gender roles, immigration, and the passage of time in her poetry. Her work has appeared in Lamplighter Magazine. She writes and lives in New Jersey with her husband, son, and two over-fed cats.

 

Archaeology of Silence

Can we assume the bald man dresses
himself in a skin-colored turtleneck
to intentionally resemble a phallus
or must he announce he’s studied Freud?

When she suggests I think outside the box
I respond that saying think outside the box
is an example of thinking inside the box.

She looks at me like I’m French-Canadian,
her eyes dull as tulip bulbs that never bloomed,
and claims I resemble Connecticut:
my best quality’s my proximity to New York.

Her diction’s as crowded as Walmart’s parking lot
on Sunday but the more she talks
the less I listen, my protests pointless
as pockets in an infant’s pajama pants.

It’s better not to admit the thoughts
double-parked in my brain extend to —

There’s an awful lot of wrinkles in these wrinkle-free pants.
It’s probably the creamer but this coffee tastes like crayon.
Should I tip the delivery drone and wish it a good weekend?

We’re all geniuses when we’re quiet.

Should I join a gym to look like a guy who goes to the gym?
Do I purchase fireworks from the man with three fingers on his right hand?
The miracle of miracles is people believe in miracles.

Sometimes silence is the stone shown
but never thrown. Still, we honor the artist,
not the art; credit the rebel who hurled
the rock with heroism, never the rock itself.

WinnerBrad Johnson of the 2012 Longleaf Press Chapbook Contest, Brad Johnson has published four chapbooks of poetry. His first full-length collection, The Happiness Theory, was published by Main Street Rag in January 2014. Work of his has also been accepted by Nimrod, Permafrost, Poet Lore, The South Carolina Review, The Southeast Review, Southern Indiana Review, Willow Springs, and others.

Content is a glimpse

Content is a glimpse
+++++Willem de Kooning

+++++We look at the world once, in childhood.
+++++
The rest is memory.
++++++++++
Louise Glück

1. Cóntent is a Glimpse

Trapped in the dream of wisdom birthed out of the deep desire for a magisterial eye’s
+++++deific “I am” fantasy of a scalpel-sharp panoptical glimpse, itself at war with
+++++objects’ sexy adhesive lust, carving names loose, the whole world cited, sliced
+++++and diced, precise, to resolve the unsolved moot,
a single mind’s cranky light-machine, lost in the daze of its concocted blaze, unconscious
of its own hankering that shreds the world’s bright fabric into rags and waste, left
+++++sprawled and galled—
taxonomized, anatomized, categorized, itemized, pigeonholed, (do not staple or fold),
+++++sorted, aborted, graded, rated, played out and laid out, named and dated, racked
+++++and stacked by form and norm, median, mean, waft, heft, height, weight,
+++++heterogeneity, homogeneity, blood type, genotype, and phenotype;
the whole dismembered world rendered a mess of bits manipulated beyond measure,
+++++beyond pleasure,
so the whole mind-bullied creation shits its innards in a bright tangle, hiding itself and
+++++flummoxing the hungry hunter;
so the project of seeing precisely sees precisely

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++nothing,

blinded by bright profusion and deafened by the rowdy, bawdy whoosh of objects flying
+++++to each other when they will, beyond the limits of our mind-inscribed, gimcrack,
+++++jerry-rigged event horizon.

2. Contént is a Glimpse

Dreaming newborn Adam, waking to god’s voice, with his first glimpse saw everything
+++++at once and entire
in the glittering voices of Eden’s song, weaving light and shadow, singing alleluia at the
+++++wedding of void and form,
and shimmering with void’s ecstasy, knowing itself to be form’s darling and bliss, form knowing itself
+++++to be void’s best beloved;
all this in the infinitesimal instant in Eden when god was about to speak the “אָנוֹכִי” of his
+++++majesty, and not even then,
but just at that moment when god’s throat clicked as he thought to say, “אָנוֹכִי,”
Adam, born of us, bearing us, in that same instant knowing himself, thought, “אָנוֹכִי,” so
+++++they were one voice,
and as god’s immense, etheric circle contained Adam, so Adam’s minuscule bone circle
+++++contained god,
and in that first flawless, glimpse Adam saw for us all
the brotherhood of the river delta and the fibers of a feather and the roots of a tree and its
+++++branches and blood vessels’ nets pulsing and the track of mud that bursts and
+++++branches and spills through a bank of spring snow and the track of love that rises,
+++++clefts and flows, filling and freeing a life frozen until that moment and the spread
+++++of his hand overlapped by god’s hand, holding god’s hand, cherished, in his palm
and how the hum of a voice about to speak a word fosters and cherishes all words,
+++++implicit,
and how his “אָנוֹכִי,” contained god and spoke god into life.
And Adam glimpsed everything and was content and beheld it was very good.

(אָנוֹכִי (anochi) Hebrew for “I”)

David KannDavid Kann is a refugee from a long walkabout in the outback of academic administration. Having returned to sanity, he now teaches, writes, and avoids every committee assignment he possibly can. His chapbook, The Language of the Farm, won the Five Oaks Press chapbook contest and was published last year.

 

Mercury Diner

She sits over coffee until it goes cold
and I dump it and pour new.
I get her to take a bowl of soup

sometimes, which may be all she eats.
She doesn’t look bad, considering.
She can’t hear much. Sometimes

she writes to a daughter out West,
but mostly she’s deep in a book
or staring through the plate glass.

Once I asked if someone was
joining her. She looked startled,
like I’d slipped back into Greek.

Then she laughed. It’s our river
she said, pointing out. We watch
traffic. I didn’t get the joke, but

after that she smiled at me like
I was in on her secret. Sometimes
after the rush, she closes her eyes;

and I keep our loud busboy
from waking her. I let her
listen to trucks rumbling past.

Michael Lauchlan

Michael Lauchlan’s poems have landed in many publications, including New England Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The North American Review, Harpur Palate, and Poetry Ireland. His most recent collection is Trumbull Ave. from WSU Press.

Cassandra

Brother, your body
is a spit-pig,
a split trunk
of light-struck oak.

They will quarter
your meat, deny
you Styx.

In coinless eyes
I’ve seen the thugs
who come to stuff
themselves in
our scared spaces,

the waves of
snails that stick
horrible
to our shores.

My tongue tied
with limestone,
I cannot stop it.
Spoiled long
before a spoil of war.

cassandra poemErin Lynn is working toward a PhD in Poetry at U Conn where she also teaches freshman English. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University and an MA in Irish Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast. She is an editor for the “This Morning” column at Coldfront Magazine and co-curates Poor Mouth Poetry reading series in the Bronx.

The Sound

He follows you into the woods
as always, staying
within reach of a stray touch: out of habit, yes,
and because there’s no reason to believe
this day will end

any differently than others.
Were he to know
the spade’s grim purpose—blade
laced with rust, old earth—
he might plea for the earned mercy

of not seeing the betrayal coming.
But he’d still lie down
on the browning grass, place
his graying muzzle
on folded paws and watch

the squirrels shoot up the trees,
thin black lips twitching
with the vestigial excitement
of pursuit. Friend,
does it help to know he’s happy, finally,

to have found his spot in the shade beneath
the Tree-of-Heaven, where
a hundred scents course
the slight breeze, each another missive
from the secret world?

His eyes close, perhaps to remember
a time without the iron weight
in his bowels, joints not yet overrun
with wild tendrils
of pain; perhaps he’s just

enjoying the pleasure of breathing—
the last act of praise—
on a good patch of grass
on this day in time. Regardless,
this is how you’ll remember him: in love

with this cruel and beautiful world;
old Buddha, may his love shatter time.
The sound, when it comes, scatters
the black birds, ricochets
down the valley, blooming

like a black flower. You look to the sky,
feel the breeze rinse your face.
Soon, it will be necessary to breathe—
the way your children once did: full-throated,
and trembling with abandon.

Steve Mueske

Steve Mueske is an electronic musician and author of a chapbook and two books of poetry. His poems have appeared or will appear in journals such as The Iowa ReviewThe Massachusetts Review, Crazyhorse, Hotel Amerika, CURA, Linebreak, Third Coast, Water~Stone Review, Redactions, and the anthologies Best New Poets and Verse Daily. His most recent album, an EP of mostly microtonal electronica, can be found at http://split-notes.com/muesk-eventual/. Twitter: @SteveMueske.

Selenographer

i.

your desire for the moon holds the weight
of a steam-powered whaling ship.
it is why we braid wreaths for the cows,
why the light after dusk behaves like startled deer.
when the moon’s lamb-face appears through
the forest’s mane, your skin begins to bloom,
mantling me in its petals. a memory lets go
of your throatlatch; it is rain now
turning us into moss.

ii.

the scythe-moon rises above the wheat-fields,
its blade leaving us untouched. no one speaks here
but our bodies drip with names like faucets.
your body holding the vagueness of one between
vitrification and glassblowing. your body, a lake.
I do not ask if I’ll bathe or drown / desire is
the awareness of dying. no owls
in the hollow trunk of your chest. no moon.

Triin Paja is an Estonian, living in a small village in rural Estonia. Her poetry has appeared in The MothBOAAT Journal, Otis Nebula, The Cossack Review, Gloom Cupboard, The Missing Slate, and elsewhere. She writes by riverbeds, forests, various cities, countries and dreams.

Listen:

This is the sound of drunkenness held
+++++on the last twilit gunshot. The sound
++++++++++of your voice carrying from the flat lawn
+++++and up past the sleeping baby, past
++++++++++the boys whose ears have tuned
++++++++++to this semblance of fury.

+++++Tonight, Texas folds itself down
+++++into the hollow of your throat and nestles there
++++++++++++++++its whisky, its raw, hot breath baited
++++++++++++++++++++++toward the edge of our union.

This is the sound of my standing
+++++at a road’s crossing. This is the sound
++++++++++of a car tire wailing over and beyond
++++++++++a tornado’s berth.

+++++See me point two fingers in every direction.
++++++++++To the south of us, a mirrored bottle’s emptied
++++++++++++++++mouth. The north,
++++++++++an eagle of wanting. I wonder

who gave me this urgency. Who told me
+++++to pick through your heart, as if your heart
++++++++++was a sieve for my choosing. Where to go east
++++++++++++++++is to be singular and afraid of my uncoupled side,
+++++and where to go west is to turn myself inward
++++++++++to the fierceness of you, your eye’s

+++++cold spurn. Is to sit with my aunts
++++++++++at a table made from a cask’s aged jaw and watch
+++++their husbands spit arrows
++++++++++into an echo’s turbulence. I know

I would never cast myself into a pool of tongues, yet
+++++I am facing you or the creature of you
++++++++++built up in its fever and I am both fear
+++++and reflection, I am the sound
++++++++++of your freeness bathing in your southern
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++country,

++++++++++standing on the brink of a desire. I am
+++++shying away from the sting of a bitter turn,
the dark of our difference circling us in caustic balance,
++++++++++in a ruinous noise.

Clare PanicciaBorn and raised in upstate New York, Clare Paniccia is currently a PhD student in poetry at Oklahoma State University. In 2015, she was a finalist for both the Janet McCabe and Slippery Elm poetry prizes. Her work has been featured in or is forthcoming in The Pinch, Superstition Review, Puerto del Sol, Radar Poetry, Best New Poets 2015, and elsewhere.

Where the Heart Is

I’m driving through your neighborhood. It’s quiet and lonely, like a summer lake without a boat. In the air, white silk light, slow as milk. I can see through the houses. They’re more than themselves, like a minuend before the subtraction of the subtrahend. My thought music points me north. I’ve forgotten one of my shoes, but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t affect my driving.

Ever since my release, I have symmetrical taste. I don’t give feedback. I’m always on time. Yes, of course, I care about the animals I eat.

I recall your face, a soft petal above the thorn of your heart. Trust is what you do when you’re too relaxed.

As I pull my rental car into your driveway, your house is three shades of polite beige, calm as a desert stone. The kids must be at school. I’m in my own body, now.

At your door, I don’t knock. I wouldn’t want to disturb you. I am the only thing I’m afraid of. My hands are steady.

I let myself in.

Brad RoseBrad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Boston. He is the author of Pink X-Ray (Big Table Publishing, 2015). Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize in fiction, Brad’s poetry and fiction have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, Folio, decomP, The Baltimore Review, The Midwest Quarterly, San Pedro River ReviewOff the CoastPosit, Third WednesdayBoston Literary Magazine, Right Hand Pointing, and other publications. Brad is the author of three electronic chapbooks, all from Right Hand PointingDemocracy of SecretsDancing School Nerves, and Coyotes Circle the Party Store. The following links will take you to Brad’s published poetry and fiction, audio recordings of a selection of his published poetry, and an interview.

Daughter I Bleed

Placeholder: Waiting for the Biopsy Results

The naked woman in the video I study—double
mastectomy—tosses me into possibility,

presses the soft muscle of what remains
of self against self, sternum and rib

shucked clean by surgical steel.  She stands sculpted,
a torso hewn to scarred catastrophe—

emptied parentheses.  The Mayans called it zero,
this mussel shell emptied of its muscle

set azure side up on night’s window sill.
No barnacle blemish or starfish bore mars

its heft and concentric stretch now less than
half of whole still glistening.  I pick it up.

Can ever such depletion feel full again?

A fixed place from which to measure,
numinous as a shell slick with brine and grace.

Wendy Mannis Scher

Wendy Mannis Scher, a graduate of the low residency MFA program for Creative Writing and Literary Arts at the University of Alaska/Anchorage, lives with her family in the foothills west of Boulder, Colorado. In addition to her writing, she works as a drug information pharmacist at a poison and drug information call center.

How the word poem shows up in my audio text messages

I say poem, the phone hears problem. Maze, no escape. Driving with my mother in a manic state. The sharpness of her no. Telling it like it is. She says “Crazy!” trying to explain. Unanswerable strangeness of the human brain. Equations, undoable. How to keep sane the status she wants to return to. I say poem, it hears pulling. The friction of what isn’t yet, but forming out of air. A turkey buzzard circling the house in fluffy loops. Wondering where the next dead thing is. The slowness of July, stultified. Fired like taffy. The tension & sinew of it. How heat can pull you into yourself until you are nearly a corpse slumped in a chair. I say poem, it spits pole. Magnetic, opposites, so hot/cold. How I never know which way we’ll go. I’ll be the dial turned to the right, spurting cold lake water. You’ll be scalding from the stove, so direct. Down to bone. I am done. I say poem, the phone sees power. How to write it down true, essence. Ore of words. Quest for the pure vein. Then, clown. How I want to be funny, really, I do. But, these poems scare me, instead. Mirrored slivers, winking, or leering from their tiny heads, such foul mouths. Trying to turn upward into goofy. The poem as goof ball. So silly, so dear. But, so dangerous, too. What the phone knows that I do not. Poem as morph. Poem cannot be left alone.

Ellen StoneEllen Stone teaches at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poems have appeared recently in The Museum of Americana, Passages North, and Rust + Moth, and are forthcoming in Chiron Review and Bluestem Magazine. Stone’s poetry collection, The Solid Living World, won the 2013 Michigan Writers Cooperative Press Chapbook Contest.

 

 

Karma*

We squat unbroken,
faces toward the earth,
feet on the shoulders
of the one below us, fingers
covering their eyes as we cup
their heads between our palms,
as if reading their minds,
feeling the weight of others
on our backs, their warm hands
blocking our sight, generations
of shiny bodies stacked
like vertebrae pierce the sky,
curved and determined, graced
by our articulations,
destiny behind us.

 

 

*23-ft. brushed stainless steel sculpture (2011) by Korean artist Do Ho Suh, Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park, New Orleans, Louisiana, which can be seen here.

George SuchGeorge Such is currently a third-year English PhD student at University of Louisiana, Lafayette, where he has been awarded a University Fellowship. In a previous incarnation, he was a chiropractor for twenty-seven years in eastern Washington. His poetry has appeared in Arroyo Literary Review, Barely South Review, The Cape Rock, Dislocate, The Evansville Review, and many other journals, his nonfiction in Phoebe, and his collection of poems Where the Body Lives was selected as winner of the 2012 Tiger’s Eye Chapbook Contest.

On Missing

I could play the guitar
just barely and I would try
when we’d arrive home

all liquor dilated, hearts
more capable of loving.
As far as I can tell, there’s nothing

that lights me up like this
once did. The magic in my life
is quieter now, but grace,

once parsimonious, now crackles
through my circuits: microscopic
wildflowers in my rushing blood.

I hear it in the right side of early mornings
the bright side, long past my vice
slide to the bottom of the sea.

Call this “Forgiveness,” “my thirties,” “God.”
What was it that held me there
and now has let me go?

So little happens on a given day
but I feel lucky, standing solid gold
outside the event horizon.

Melissa WattMelissa Watt holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Her poems have been featured in The Breakwater Review, Ohio Edit, and elsewhere. If she’s not writing, she’s probably singing karaoke with a live band or catching spiders and taking them outside as a favor to her loved ones.

A Stop Sign Worn as a Helmet

I

He cared for her whimsy
and for the way her shyness played out.

At some gotcha point, in the negative spaces of photos
spotted at some exhibition downtown,
he started to imagine her silhouette,

her T-shirt a burst of yellow
competing with Cape Cod pelicans
and stealthily-erected Jotunheimen high-rises.

She confided in him like a windmill,
invented new flags to lay claim to the territories
they never knew existed.

Everything smelled like good timber,
and the caterpillars grinned friendlier than ever.

He was the road crisscrossing her terraces of abstraction,
the man wrestling with a marlin at the car wash.

She was the mountain centered in his mind
with the slightest suggestion of a dirigible above it.

They hypnotized themselves with each other’s choices.

II

Hidden among century-old trees,
surveillance cameras recorded grotesque occurrences,
lined them up in rows,
served them with paprika.

The clouds above the cruise ships
looked like resolute middle fingers
from the shore. It was hard to tell what was going on
with locals hopping from Escher staircase to Escher staircase,
always coming back to the same general tornado.

A half-torn shack blinked satanically with its windows.
Yellow flowers were doors to assorted bad news.
After a while, governments looked like ants.

On the beach, everyone blimped around
with stupid eyes.

He decided he really couldn’t be happy
unless a midtown station
demolished in the middle of the last century
rebuilt itself on the double.

A spark in a solar panel started a fire,
but she was too busy long-distance-calling.

The babies who used to hug them wherever they went
looked uncomprehendingly
then fussed.

Sisyphean wrestlers
in a doomed circled wagon,
the two of them finally told their lips
to stop moving.

An unkindness of mockingbirds
marked their generation.

III

Before you meet again,
look for ravens on abandoned rocks
until you realize they are not the point.

The mysteries on which you’ve given up
are resolved by statues of obscure statesmen
on the Saint Petersburg bridges you’ve breezed across.

It’s almost September,
and the foliage slowly turns into leaf-peeper paradise.
All the church domes are already yellow.

Don’t rush back to the garden
where your kiss was stalled
by the sperm-smelling Lower East Side blossoms.

The slouching men you see on the cruise ship decks
are not birds. They won’t migrate toward the better,
though they might give you directions yet.

These wires reach beyond the horizon,
where the Sun still makes an appearance,
though a tad morosely.

A rusted ship might float again someday,
if you are nice enough to the bacteria
that captain it from now on.

Anton YakovlevOriginally from Moscow, Russia, Anton Yakovlev studied filmmaking and poetry at Harvard University. He is the author of chapbooks Neptune Court (The Operating System, 2015) and The Ghost of Grant Wood (Finishing Line Press, 2015). His work is published or forthcoming in The New Yorker, The Hopkins Review, Fulcrum, Prelude, American Arts Quarterly, Measure, and elsewhere. He co-hosts the Carmine Street Metrics reading series in New York City and the Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow reading series in Rutherford, New Jersey. He has also directed several short films.