There’s a Winehouse In Your Soul

The gravity of Sambuca
alters migration patterns.

Yesterday, a name smacked
against the window, the bleed
of each letter a trickle.

Today, a comma guts
the hot water heater.
Refrigerator shelves pang.

Tomorrow is a phone booth
with a broken door.

J. BradleyJ. Bradley is the author of the forthcoming graphic poetry collection The Bones of Us (YesYes Books, 2014). He lives at iheartfailure.net.

Poet’s Guide to Science: The History of the Second

You hear them on NPR, read them
on websites, store them for
cocktail parties and first dates.

Every second:
a hummingbird’s wings flap 80 times.
Thunder rumbles 1,100 feet. Four to five people
are born; two die. At least 100,000 chemical reactions
fire in your brain. You lose
about three million red blood cells;
your bone marrow replaces them.
100,000 cubic feet of water pour
over Niagara Falls. The sun burns
nine million tons of gas.

Or if you counted a galaxy’s stars,
one per second, you’d finish in 3,000 years.

But here’s the truth:
the second, or the second division
of an hour by sixty, was born
in the late 16th Century, one hundred years
before measured accurately
until Earth’s lopsided axis forced
its redefinition, then another
to the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods
of the radiation emitted by Caesium-133,

then again when this atomic measure
was found affected by altitude,
each second longer
in mountains than seashore.

So maybe hovering aside hibiscus
or sunset hyssop the bird flaps 81 times.
Maybe you lose three million and one cells,
or two-point-two people die.

You shouldn’t be bothered,
but these are differences that keep
you staring into bedroom-dark.
Those numbers mean
to disorient you, almost as much
as leap-seconds added here and there,
which did make your fifteenth year
the longest of your life.

You’ve no choice
but to turn back abstraction.
Become a child again to make it equal
how long you could plash puddles
before lightning drove you inside.
Beg for second chance to run
in the rain, when everything
was simple as hide-and-seek’s
one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three…

Levan_photoMichael Levan received his MFA in poetry from Western Michigan University and PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee. His work can be found in recent issues of Rock & Sling, Natural Bridge, Mid-American Review, American Literary Review and Heron Tree. He teaches writing at the University of Saint Francis and lives in Fort Wayne, Indiana with his wife, Molly, and son, Atticus.

Zeitgeist (A Foul Effluvium This Way Comes)

1.
The cardboard box is longer than wide, wider than deep, and it’s dragged out
into the middle of the floor where a team of six adults is given the task
of opening it and assembling the contents (a bike)

2.
In this instance a small group of adults is given twelve pieces of uncooked
spaghetti to construct a pyramid. Superglue or masking tape can be used
to cement the pieces. A marshmallow must balance on top

3.
Last but not least is the human knot. A dozen people (plus or minus) make
a teeming circle in which arms become radii, and each person is holding
hands with two others. Now, without letting go of any hands, they
must undo the knot

LastMan_RLS_PhotoR.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 Bateau, elimae, Rhino, Right Hand Pointing, 1110 and decomP. His first collection of poems, The Last Man, was published in 2012 by Desperanto Press.

The Road to Avery

Uncle Roger is at the bend again,
right on the rim of the road
before Cow Camp runs
into the Newland Tree Farm.
He waves at my car as it drives past,
but he is in the sunset.
I wish I were older, sitting with him,
with no place to go but wherever
my feet take me. It’d be nice
not to have to be home in time
to make dinner. Even though my son’s
well and grown now, engaged to be wed,
long as he lives at home, he’s got to be fed.
The baby is on the way,
and they haven’t even picked out a ring.

I work at the hospital,
so I can keep the rumors at bay.
The Wise family has been in Avery
since its founding, and there are skeletons
buried that, lucky for me, ain’t no one
bothered enough to dig up.
I married into it, ‘course.

Never divorced Jerry, though he drank
as heavy as his daddy before him.
Sure was hard when Ben was younger.
Most mornings, I had to clean the vomit
from the floor and carry his daddy to bed
before little Ben woke up for breakfast.

Jerry’s pa married a real good Christian
lady who went to church with us
every Sunday. We all thought grandpa’d
put the drink away for such a lovely face.

He did, for a time.
She had a real pretty granddaughter,
sweet little angel ‘bout Ben’s age,
kept him outta trouble in the summer.

Well, grandpa couldn’t hold back
that whiskey rage, and his new wife
became his ex wife; so it goes.
And that sweet lil’ girl didn’t visit again
‘til she was all but grown.
Uncle Roger says she’s doin’ fine.

How the town starts talkin’ when she comes for a visit.
Her and her lil’ cousin spend about every day
together, both with their granny’s face—
them big beautiful smiles.
Prettiest things in this town. I reckon
the boys ‘round here know it
Damn near untouchable.
Ain’t ‘cause she lives in Florida. No,
it’s ‘cause she was raised way every girl should.
She ain’t ever had no chains or fences
like Avery folk. She done made up her own rules.

Maria_Hofman_photoMaria Hofman is a recent graduate of Spalding University’s M.F.A. program. She currently lives in Palm Beach County, Florida, and is employed by Florida Atlantic University and Palm Beach State College as a writing consultant and English tutor. Maria is an emerging poet with poems featured in small presses and online literary journals.

Doll

In the attic, I cut off my Ruthie doll’s blonde hair
to make her look more like me, to see
if her golden locks will grow back. She wheezes
when she breathes. I pick two broken crayons
from the floor and scribble on her left cheek
the blue-black of a bruise. She recoils, looks up,
blinks, burps, chokes, as if to ask, “Mama,
why are you doing this?” Her head is as big
as my father’s fist and feels just as solid.
The front of the pink princess dress she’s worn
since the day I got her is stained with dirt and torn.
The wooden beams that hold the ceiling creak
in a struggle to support our weight. Outside the window,
a songbird perches on a melting branch.
The clumps of curls might make a good nest.
I try to see what Ruthie thinks and notice
the emerald iris in her wide left eye is chipped.
When I rub it with my thumb, someone shouts from below.
Footsteps pound up stairs. Ruthie’s plastic body struggles
from my hands and crawls away, not even looking back
as the door behind us drops down, its ladder unraveling.

joe grillo

Joe Grillo is a senior at Southern Connecticut State University, where he serves as the fiction editor of the undergraduate literary magazine, Folio. He is currently working on a collection of poetry for his Honors Thesis.

Unemployment Diary, Day 16

I hold the remote just
so, it feels like her
indifferent wrist.

Television is the oven
I rest my head inside.

My own tragedy splits
in two when
the TV star’s fiancée is stolen
by his evil twin.

(Same actor, but the evil version
is somehow more handsome)

Our clubbed hero wakes, wanders
the new city of his amnesia.
He doesn’t know
who he is now

—just like me!

His fiancée’s doll eyes (green)
close mechanically when the evil
twin’s crooked smile twists
into its kiss—I can’t

stand it: I want to save her,
want to screw her, I don’t
know her. I click over

to another planet, which reminds me
I also lack the determination of this
indestructible superhero crawling
into the deadly alien radiation,
and the tension rises, until it spills

over into a hand soap demonstration,
making hygiene so piercingly
symbolic, I will never again feel clean,
no matter how many times she claims
what I did doesn’t matter…

I click back to these twins
I’ve become, now locked
in awkward combat. Each fist
strikes its own face, then a clenched
blade quivers between their throats,
and the music crescendos like

a toilet bowl swirl, sanitized bright blue,
giggling synthetic blueberry bubbles—
Good God, I need you.

I hear so vividly my evil
twin scream—sucked into
a fall we don’t see the end of—
and the black swallows him like a lozenge.

 

I am ready for my whiter teeth!
a new and improved
lover! A delicious hamburger!
I am ready for something
else to happen.
Again.
Again.
I keep clicking to find
a responsive sedan
to drive off a moonlit cliff,
into the applauding waves below.

Wheeler_photoVan doesn’t think his educational history should impress you, but he gave them a lot of money, so: he holds an MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College. His manuscript won the 2012 Dorothy Brunsman Prize from Bear Star Press and was published as The Accidentalist. Some of his video poems can be seen on vandorenwheeler.com.

Tongues, speaking in

In our house, I wake to the random rolling of R’s
in a sing-song voice, mom’s voice, a terse
and rapid repetition of th-th-th-th.

In our house, for her, this is prayer
and if I go to see about breakfast
and her eyes are closed and she’s wailing
the answer is cereal. Do not worry.
I can tell which box says Cheerios
though I can’t yet read. Holy O’s
from mom and the brief chorus of dry
cereal in a ceramic bowl. She’s asking for surreal.

In our house, dad is gone for weeks practicing war
and when he comes home, he lets me unlace
his heavy black army boots, lines the living room
rug with empty brown beer bottles by morning.

In our house, dad stays in bed on Sundays,
is angry with me for letting Jesus save me.
Mom will want me to pray soon with tongues
nonsensical to all but God, syllables that make

noise like words. But I know for what she is praying.
It’s something like the small life preserver
floating in the milk of my spoon.

Holm_photoMelissa Holm holds an MFA in poetry from The University of Mississippi. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia where she works as the Research Project Coordinator for The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett Project at Emory University. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Journal, The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol. II: Mississippi and she read her poetic tweet on NPR’s Tell Me More. Melissa is also an avid runner and enjoys racing in several road races a year with her husband, Matt.

 

Nix

the sky rolls by
acres & acres

of blue
wind swept
sheets

dappled by
skeletal wisp
teased cotton
clouds

clumsy footed
down here I
collect the teeth
lost on
my last bet

never was a good gambler
golden days behind me

the cold whistles
through dark pines

brooding on my ass

gumming
old wounds

in my nest of
orchids
racing forms
& glass

Menesini_photoJohn Thomas Menesini is the author of The Last Great Glass Meat Million (Six Gallery Press 2003), e pit ap h (Six Gallery Press 2007) and endo: Poems and Sketches 2007 – 2011 (Six Gallery Press 2011). He also appeared in the anthology Honeysuckle, Honeyjuice: A Tribute to James Liddy (Arlen House 2006). John lives among the filth and throng of Manhattan.

Renaming the Roads

The unit we replaced had named the roads in our AO after porn stars. We enjoyed those first mission briefings probably a little too much: So we’ll turn on Ariel, the lieutenant would say, then go down on Jenna… We came to know every curve and blind spot and pothole of Jasmine, Paige, Britney and the rest. Months passed before the regimental commander caught wind of our beloved roads, renamed them for colors and created new map overlays. Toward the end of our tour, some of us got to remembering Hemi and that medic from Dragon Company who died when an IED took off the back of the Bradley clean, leaving the tracks intact, emptiness where the crew compartment had been. It was here, Bennett said, tapping the map, right here on Yellow. Chief cursed and walked off lighting a Miami. He came back after a while having dug up one of the old porn star-laden overlays, oriented it correctly over Bennett’s map and the argument was finally settled: It may be Yellow to yous, Chief said before sucking on his cigarette, but it’s Olivia to me.

photo 2-2

Brock Jones holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Wyoming and is currently a PhD candidate in the Literature and Creative Writing program at the University of Utah. He served three tours of duty in Iraq for the U.S. Army. Brock lives in Kaysville, Utah, with his wife and daughter.

Up Ahead

Asphalt meets gravel like
a mountain birthing a river,
an alarm clock. A truck
lugs shaking crates,
the bed secure as boulders
smoothed from running
engine parts across three
states: mountains, desert,
water. The path plays
a georgic game, plows
mud divots. A recent storm
set traps for anyone who slows
emboldened into pastures
long wizened and settles
down to watch the restless
cattle lift their heads, stuck
like a dusk-sun on a canvas,
wet rust in the Arizona distance.

PetrieMark Petrie’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Blackheart Magazine, Winter Tangerine Review, Geist, SNReview, Booth and other journals. He is the winner of the Academy of American Poets/Andrea Saunders Gereighty 2012 Poetry Award, as well as the 2nd Annual Geist Erasure Poetry Contest. He lives in Lafayette, Louisiana, where he is a doctoral student and University Fellow in English Literature/Creative Writing at the University of Louisiana. You can find links to his work and he can be reached at markpoetrie.wordpress.com.

Halve This

Since a man in a car over a
centerline changed what
we mean by sister

your eyes are ashes in my palm.

I can only think of your
hair now, the red of our father

as a girl I wanted to put
my hands in its clouds.

That man we shared, half sister
you knew a father of him, I knew
he loved Popov,

and when I toast you
tonight, something
cloudless in the good glass
I’ll think how

when cut, you and me,
we run clear.

Glazier1Stephanie Glazier’s poems appear in the Iraq Literary Review, Calyx and Foothill. She was a semi-finalist in the 2012 “Discovery” Boston Review Poetry Contest and a 2011 Lambda Fellow in poetry. She is the host of “Public Poetry Announcements,” a weekly poetry segment on WKAR in East Lansing, MI. She holds an MFA from Antioch University LA.

birdie fly, birdie stay

when voices hush, the night lies down,
tucks itself under a bulky plaid quilt.

you’re wrapped in sleep, snoring lightly,
as coco saunters in from the rain, meows,

disappears behind an armchair.
i get up from bed, move hastily about the

room like a thief, stuffing a sweater, a scarf,
two nectarines into a rucksack.

5:56 a.m., a cab beeps impatiently outside.

my hand on the doorknob, my legs straddling
the doorway, i pause to hear you sleep-talk:

birdie fly, birdie stay… birdie, don’t leave…

there are reasons to why we all come and go.

i’m not the best version of myself.

the commotion in my head loses epic battles.

the broken in my body needs repair.

i’ve been searching for nutrient and light—
a nest to escape from the november rain.

sorry for shutting the door, for leaving the key
under the welcome mat, for not saying goodbye,

for coming and going like those women who
talk of michelangelo.

Chau_photoHa Kiet Chau is a Chinese-Vietnamese American writer from Northern California. She teaches art and literature in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her poems have appeared in Sierra Nevada Review, Off the Coast, Third Wednesday and Columbia College Literary Journal. She was also nominated for Best New Poets (Ploughshares 2011) and Best of the Net (Flutter Poetry Journal 2012). Her chapbook, Woman, Come Undone, is forthcoming from Mouthfeel Press. http://hapoetryblog.tumblr.com/

 

Dear Melody

The stage too can be a disguise. The light catches
the glittered bow in your hair and the auditorium

is all sparkle, no shadow. But everyone knows that
shadow is where the living happens. Where loss cuts

its teeth on our lungs. The acupuncturist who lives
down the street says our lungs are organs of grief:

If we slice them open we will find years of damp
growth, fiddleheads rooting themselves around

the bronchioles. Is this why we find it so difficult
to breathe when bad news comes: your mother

disappeared like a nightlight snapping off; the air
thickened around you. Now you curl up each night

under a quilt she loved, sneak a length of flannel
from beneath the mattress. This is the first secret

you’ve ever kept, her favorite pajama pants slipped
out of the dresser before your dad forced himself

to take inventory of his sadness. Her scent is long
gone but you are still grateful. Tonight your mouth

opens on stage, one more set of crooked teeth.
You sing a pop song with everyone else but inside

your lungs are dark rooms filled with ferns.

Bunting PhotoRachel Bunting lives and writes in Southern New Jersey between the Delaware River and the Pine Barrens. Her poems can be found in online and print journals including Weave Magazine, PANK and Linebreak. She is currently at work on a full-length manuscript. Her roller derby name, if she played, would be The Hammer Fist.

Translate Me to Another World

“With strangers in your line?”
– Marina Tsvetaeva, from “New Year’s Letter”

I.
Into and across
my words must travel,
yet they stop, then mix up
within each other. I want
a spare, clean line – I am
so warm and so thirsty.

II.
You come from a place
that is different from my place.
Something I slip on my tongue
makes me realize this. Words, yes,
but deeper than tongue.
Non-words inside tissue traveling
to synapses that are soft
and bulbous and pinkish-grey.
I let them loose
and then they stall: clouds
surrounding spines, ice
on the eyes, electricity
in the hands. I feel it
but can’t make it green.

III.
You traced the forbidden
with your stolen quills
and glass bubbles. Your soldiers
laughed when camels hauled the snow,
never walking across or into
the pine trees. My soldiers wrote
“Fuck Hitler” in German
in the same snow, sleeping under
the earth, not side-by-side.
In their eyes are your ears,
where you found God over God
over God. And the echo,
your echo, my echo: a bell tower
placed in my mouth.

IV.
In the town you grew up in,
I fed bread to the seagulls
when I was 13. Now I only want
a desk where keys are not notes
but branches that play music.
You know German, Italian, French,
and Russian. You were born
a childhood poet. You walked
in cherry trees before you died.
I try the words in my mouth: I am
so warm and so thirsty. You have eaten me
like an olive or a pickle and only
the sounds remain.

V.
Bravery and intimacy
and inadequacy. The notes
in the margin. A comet
that breathes dashes, gulps
syntax in notebooks. I recite
your words in unison. But to name
them would be to separate
myself from them. The sounds
again: you are moaning consonants
that won’t open.

VI.
I hear your spit with my ear
on your chest. Between
shoulders broader than any
shoulders. I throw back my head
and my neck spasms. I want
sugar for your dead daughters.
Another desk for our elbows. I go
by voice across the riverbed.
Where there is
no water, I will lick the sky.

Barbara Berg earned an MFA in Creative Writing in poetry from Antioch University Los Angeles. She won first place for her short story “Waiting for Forgiveness” at Northern Virginia Community College and published “Close Box before Striking” in the prose poem edition of the online journal In Posse Review. She uses speech recognition software where she lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend and two goofy Maine Coon cats. They are currently fighting an invasion of fleas.

On the Road

Through blue highways and heads hung in shame
we wisped away and whisked history down the drain
with whiskey to make us feel okay, maybe flush us numb
until our lips were pale and we couldn’t stop from falling down
and our tents were soaked through and through in the morning
fried steak and eggs were the meals, every day, all day
as we flew across the stars in our little blue suburban
as far away as we could, from teenager pop-punk suburbia
get me the hell out of this hellish little town

We relished the diners and the people who all shook our hands
the napkins we wrote on from lack of notebook paper
on the back of stationary, a leftover lawyer’s pad
we composed poems and songs and sang them with our guitars
we rode horses and pretended we were cowboys in cars
cadillacs and mustangs and pontiacs and ponies, rev up your engine
you’re only as good as your last grease-job, you tooth-puller, you
and don’t think we can’t smell you from a mile away
you’re all the same, escaping and evading
but never ending up anywhere new

We pioneered the land already-pioneered
we peed behind bushes and wiped with our compositions
smearing ink and feelings on our unspeakable vestigials
laying down and holding hands, holding hearts as well
our parents, we knew, didn’t know about this at all
and through blue highways and heads hung in shame
we yelled and hollered loud for the entire world to hear
golden with beer and fireworks, we could be sneered at
but the world would never know, so we couldn’t care anyway.

Swofford_photoRyan Swofford is a young writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is the author of the forthcoming chapbook Sunshine Liar, as well as the young adult novel The Ducks, both expected in 2014. He edits The Weekenders Magazine at theweekendersmag.com and has written for a variety of publications, both online and in print.

Quiet

[two_third]ТИХО

Няма ги нашите майки –
излезли да купят
нещо вкусно
и не се върнали

Няма ги нашите бащи –
отишли на гробовете
на бащите си
и там останали

Няма ги братята
и сестрите ни –
хукнали да намерят
майките и бащите си
и се загубили

Няма ги
и децата ни –
убити на тръгване
от собствените си мечти

Затова
тази приспивна песен
сега
е за нас

лека нощ
лека нощ
лека нощ
[/two_third]
[one_third_last]Quiet

Our mothers are missing –
went out to buy
something delicious
and haven’t come back

Our fathers are missing –
went out to visit
their fathers’ graves
and stayed there

Our brothers
and sisters are missing too –
rushed out to find
their parents
and lost their way

Our children
are missing also –
killed on their way out
by their own dreams

That’s why
this lullaby
now
is for us

good night
good night
good night
[/one_third_last]


Stoykova-KlemerTranslator’s Bio:

Katerina Stoykova-Klemer is the author of three poetry books, most recently The Porcupine of Mind (Broadstone Books, 2012). She is the founder of poetry and prose groups in Lexington, Kentucky. Katerina hosts “Accents” – a radio show for literature, art and culture on WRFL, 88.1 FM, Lexington. In January 2010 she launched Accents Publishing.

 

Original Author’s Bio:

Born in Sofia, Bulgaria on June 23, 1961, Petar Tchouhov holds degrees in Library Science and Sociology from St. Kliment Ohridski University in Sofia. He is the author of 11 books of poetry, most recently When Unicorns Return (2011) and his work has been translated into many languages. Petar has received international recognition for his Haiku, including the 2007 Basho Museum award in Japan and his lyrical poetry has garnered many other international awards. Petar also writes music and performs in several bands.