I call the suicide hotline

The man on the other line calls me doll
speaks in exclamations: don’t do it
you crazy fool! Someone loves you out there!

I’ve spilled a beer on my lap
and sit in wet jeans with a blanket
at my feet. Outside it’s like I always
imagined it would be – a dark and dreamy
fog arranged delicately over the yard
like I’m in my own Lifetime movie,
beer cans scattered over my coffee table.
Sometimes I have all the fight
in the world, I think, but don’t say
because all I really want
is for this man to call me doll
so I can imagine his voice
coming out of a soft boy mouth.
Mostly, he just says he understands
and I ask him if he knows what it’s like
to drink two-day old coffee over lipstick stains,
to drag a road-sign with your mother’s
maiden name out of the ground, only to leave it
on your front porch in the rain,
if he knows what gravel feels like
stuck in your palms.
I can hear paper shuffling,
phones ringing – he’s very busy,
I realize, and I’m very drunk
and I don’t even sound like I’m in danger.
Sometimes, I tell him, I just want
to get drunk alone and watch Braveheart
but tonight I just want to hear
someone say my name
and sound like they know
who I am

Mary Stone

Mary Stone is the author of the poetry collections One Last Cigarette and Mythology of Touch. Her chapbook, The Dopamine Letters, was published in 2014 by Hyacinth Girl Press. She currently lives and teaches in St. Joseph, MO, where she co-edits Stone Highway Review, serves as a poetry editor for Sundress Publications, and coordinates the First Thursdays Open Mic Reading Series.

 

Dear Masha (to the one I once called Peanut):

Have you eaten today? I doubt
you’d answer. Still, I ask, hoping you open
your mouth, that this letter reminds you
how I peeled grapefruit on my bedspread,
and you pecked, in the way of your fascination
with birds and the daintier things, the fruit’s
pink flesh right out of my palms, admiring
the thinness of my wrists. You said my hands
would forever carry the scent, bitterly
citrus, remember? Can you still smell them
across three thousand miles and three years
of not speaking since I started eating again?
It hasn’t been easy you know, to let myself
feel hunger, to feed it the way we never did,
to linger in the taste of peanut butter, recalling
the flavor, yours: the first time I felt another’s
tongue in my mouth, the desire to swallow it
whole, (restraint was it?) to keep from biting down,
and your collarbone, so worn, it stunned me:
your mouth then, was all I ate for days.

Replete now, would you still touch, still recognize
this body? Even at rest, your fingers softly pressed
would fall, would fold into hips and stomach,
unable to find the bones we were so fond of
reaching down to once. What would you make
of all this flesh? No need my dear, stay hollow
as you’ve been, and I will bear its weight for you,
but if you ever come, I’ll show you where
I’ve grown, show too where there is room
for you to perch, or even build your nest,
though knowing you, you’ll only leave a plume
against my chest, then fly away, starving and weightless:
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++iyour mouth, open.

Julia Kolchinsky DasbachJulia Kolchinsky Dasbach emigrated as a Jewish refugee from Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine in 1993. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon and is in the University of Pennsylvania’s Comparative Literature Ph.D. program. Julia’s poetry has appeared in Green Mountains Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Guernica, and Nashville Review, among other journals. Her manuscript, The Bear Who Ate the Stars, won Split Lip Magazine‘s Uppercut Chapbook Award, and can be purchased from Split Lip Press. Julia is also the Editor-in-Chief of Construction Magazine. Find out more by visiting her website.

Dysthymia

you are the bell,
and I am the tongue of the bell, ringing you
—Billy Collins, “Japan”

There are days I have been cast
(down) in bronze.
Gloom pervades me like patina.
I am the bells of Mary-le-Bow, long (fallen) silent,
mute, tongueless, hollowed out.

The claws of my dead dog clatter on the floor.
Even when I turn into the sunlight,
my shadow stretches in front of me,
and I can only step into the darkness.

Elizabeth YalkutElizabeth Yalkut is a writer in New York City, who graduated from Emma Willard School and Barnard College, Columbia University. Her poetry has been nominated for the 2014 Best of the Net Award and has most recently appeared in Spry Literary Journal and East Jasmine Review. She can be found on the web at elizabethyalkut.com.

Anatomy Lab

I.

You may find it emotionally difficult
to dissect signifiers of personhood
,
says the anatomy professor,
meaning these knuckles, these nails
still with dirt underneath them,
this stiff hand I hold as I trim
away skin to the tendons beneath,
thin ropes that, puppet-like, pull
up each finger. Their names
flexor digitorum profundus
abductor pollicis brevis

sound like a prayer counted off
on a rosary. The bodies’ palms
are all frozen open, their arms
stuck in extension as if
they are asking for something.

II.

You can’t just reach in
like an Aztec
, says
the anatomy professor,
gesturing where to cut
the cadaver. I break into
the body, pick the lock
of the ribs, take the clavicle off
like a necklace. Lifting
the lid of the chest wall,
light illuminates the muscles
between ribs—stained glass
sinew into which the music
of the organ rose, lub dub
lub dub
. I clip the pericardium,
pulmonary trunk & veins,
aorta, vena cavas, until
the gush of formaldehyde
subsides and I can touch
the primal valentine,
not offered up for love,
but sacrifice.

III.

Guess he didn’t make any films,
says the anatomy professor,
our cadaver poorly endowed
and ravaged by cancer.
We’re instructed to fillet
the tight skin of his penis,
peel it back like a glove
to reveal the sponge
of its center, deep dorsal vein,
dorsal nerves, and urethra.
The shaft that someone
once hungered to touch,
to fill themselves with,
now sallow & bloodless
& halved by a scalpel.
But his hair strikes me hardest,
a soft mat of curls
dark and thick as my lover’s,
whose body I return home to hold
and will not, cannot let go.

Celeste LipskeCeleste Lipkes’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattle, Smartish Pace, The Bellevue Literary Review, SAND, Labletter, Measure, Unsplendid, and elsewhere. She received her MFA from the University of Virginia and is currently pursuing an MD at Virginia Commonwealth University. Visit her on the web at www.celestelipkes.com.

Heart-Shaped Box

This is a photograph of your hands scooping water out of the river named lonely running through
the center of your grandmother’s chest. This is a photograph of your knees bent at the altar
painted with the years between you & the last time you saw your father cry. This is a photograph
of the look in your eyes when your blood stopped for that fraction of a second just before impact.
This is a photograph of your skin crawling on its belly to the ocean of your blue-blue tension.
This is a photograph of your mouth full of sand. This is a photograph of your mother forever
trying to floss out the spaces between your teeth. This is a photograph of the shadow shaped by
the tower of secrets sleeping behind your ear. This is a photograph of you leaning in to kiss the
collage of lips that the secrets came from. This is a photograph of your neck missing the feeling
of a breath no longer there. This is a photograph of the back of your head holding all that you that
you’ve ever known up until now.

Amanda OaksAmanda Oaks is the founding editor of Words Dance Publishing. Her works have appeared in numerous online and print publications, including Stirring and Dressing Room Poetry Journal. She is the author of two poetry collections, Hurricane Mouth (NightBallet Press 2014) and I Eat Crow, a co-authored split book centered around living in the Appalachian region of Western Pennsylvania (Words Dance 2014). She is currently working on a collection of poems called, Raised on Pop Songs. Visit her website at amandaoaks.com.

Speak-Easy

I knew it would be my last few days in the city,
But I wasn’t going to tell you that I was leaving.
We made our way toward the candled windows
Of Little Italy like a movie from the early 30s,
Grainy and aimless and your arm through mine.
Our throats were phonographs, notes of
Disinterest or cynicism hidden between the
Gentle crooning of hopes and dreams.
It was love.

Amid joyous pools of Italian families and
Red cobble, a sidewalk host lured us
Into the softly-lit velvet and golden trim.
We were strange and we were serious but
Our eyes made us welcome to the smiles there.

Stars were being blown out somewhere and
Dying anticipation suffused.
An aura of stillness
Fell around the table,
Along their glow’s trajectory.

Outside, we smoked,
The manhole smoked,
Behind the glass the wicks smoked
Between two licked fingers.
The bar lights
Flicked off.
There was a shadow in the small
Of your back as you walked away.

Zachary C. Spencer

Zachary C. Spencer lives in a small city in Central New York. He has been writing poetry for seven years. In 2011, he published a trilogy of poems in the since-forgotten Railroad Poetry Project, a poetry journal based in the U.K. which focused on revamping Beat-style imagery and free form language. Another poem of his entitled “This Is Then, That Was Now” will be featured in the fourth issue of an up-and-coming experimental poetry journal called Pretty Owl Poetry. His greatest pleasures in life include singing, skateboarding, stone-stacking, and drinking beer.

What It’s Like When You Escape

Running from Virginia to the other shore
you’re halfway there in Topeka or thereabouts
which is where you stay and serve coffee
in an Edward Hopper truck stop
where it’s always dusk and the interstate
rolls flat out parallel to the sky
straight as a chalked line snapped against a wall
no curves or hills or valleys or stop signs
to slow your progress toward that other shore
should you decide to leave the warm circle of light
that holds you and the coffee and the truck drivers
who smell of work and loneliness and greasy burgers

And let’s say you’re wearing a yellow
dress the color of Kansas corn
and your hair tassels down your back
and you fall in love with every single truck driver
who asks for apple pie because this is America
by God and the apple pie smells like freedom
and the coffee tastes like every dream you ever
had even the ones that turned to ashes
because this is America where dreams
are the slippery currency of existence and
we all know where existence leads in the end

And let’s say you’re imagining that other shore
with its palm trees and drive-ins and suspect blondness
and you spill the coffee and damned if it doesn’t
puddle neatly into the shape of California
which is where America always wants to run
but you with your Kansas-yellow dress
you only managed to escape as far as Topeka
so you tie your apron snug around your waist
and mop up the coffee and cut another slice of pie

Sally Zakariya

Sally Zakariya’s poems have appeared in numerous journals, most recently Boston Literary Magazine, Emerge, Third Wednesday, Evening Street Review, Theodate, and Southern Women’s Review. Her poetry has won prizes from Poetry Virginia and the Virginia Writers Club. Sally has designed and self-published illustrated alphabet books on food, literature, and anatomy. She has published two chapbooks, Insectomania (2013) and Arithmetic and other verses (2011) and blogs at http://www.ButDoesItRhyme.com.

Suburbia

Dad got drunk in the afternoons.

He slouched in his short shorts and torn

Ocean Pacific tee-shirt for hours after work

watering the magnolia sapling by the driveway.

His sneakers pressed yellow dimples

into the St. Augustine sod

as he watched the teenage girl across the street

bronze in her strapless two piece.

 

His gaze was epic. In the skies around him

smoke from backyard grills

bent into tangy question marks.

 

You could almost hear the magnolia’s screams

gurgle from its bark,

its tiny gasps for air

as the drooping hose spilled pools into its bed.

Once the tree drowned, a stick still jutted

from the mud.

He watered that too.

Brian McCartyBrian grew up in the suburbs of Jackson, MS in the 1980s. (Imagine Delillo’s White Noise but with a heaping serving of Southern Baptist hellfire and brimstone.) Consequently, when it came time to decide what to do with his life, he opted to study absurdist literature and write absurdist verse. His poems have appeared in Flyway, Indian River Review, and Product. He currently resides in Manhattan, KS where he teaches English at Kansas State University. In his spare time, Brian roams the Kansas countryside in search of the world’s largest versions of just about everything.

L’Heure Bleue

What are they that move
Through these rooms without even
The encumbrance of shadows?

—Tracy K. Smith

 

In a land so sharply lit
Of such vast emptiness     dry scrubbed
Of rock ocotillo and arroyos
Framed by mountains canyoned
Toothed and mesa flat     a sky
That won’t release one’s gaze
The blues of it with broods of marbled cumuli
Veined grey and blue     the sky
Its clouds receding to horizons
The bottom mete the mountains
Always mountains

In this land cast shadows jar one’s vision
Vultures’ moving shrouds sweep mesas
Juniper and pine     ebb and flow
On canyon walls     a butterfly’s dark splash
Across the rock the scrub the sandy soil

Shadow’s other side comes traveling
In the midst of this sharp clarity     dust whirling
Devils out on cattle range in suddenness
Become a gusting gale where all is dun
No shadow no horizon     a day of this

The curtain lifts     again
The boundlessness of earth and sky
Toy freights traversing the desert vastness
Toyed with by the mountains’ masses
Yet seductive and hypnotic     engines barred
Burnt orange gold and black
Underscore the ground of bistre coffees duns
The hybrid power’s push and pull of miles
Of rolling stock     Gallup     the dark twilight’s

Wounded reds its pumpkin oranges
Its yellows     now hairbreadth streaks
Below the brush wash up to midnight blue
A silvered nick of moon
The engines and their stock
A rolling shade

While blink between these silhouettes
Of cars of coal and double stacks
The city lights on 66 the spark of tracks

The vultures roost the butterflies
The devil dust the rolling stock
The Mother Road     the hour blue

From sorrows     or from dreams
From fear     or from our open hearts
From shadows lost     or blue
From shadows found

Peter SeidmanPeter Seidman was born in Chicago (K through 4th grade, he went to school next to Wrigley Field, hence the Cubs cap—once a Cubs fan always a Cubs fan). He was educated in the Heartland as well as on both coasts. Peter retired several years ago from life as a teacher, R&D program manager, and editor. He gardens, swims, hikes, and regards his writing as a Practice. He has been published, among other sources, in Gertrude 13, River Poets Journal, and Presence, as well as in the anthology Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Ars Poetica (Or: Walking in Lines with Five Feet)

What have we to say that bears repeating?
Statements that start out I love … or I’m sorry
those are best. The rest of speech will mostly
miss the mark we aim for. Language frets free

the instant syllables escape the lips:
so little mercy from our mouths. Wonder
is best expressed in music, or in clay,
unless the gods send motes of meaning, blessed

by truth and beauty, to a skillful hand,
and then that hand moves without fear across
the snowy page. Scant are the essential
writings from our kind. Clouds are more fluent.

Oceans can’t go wrong, inscribing endless
hieroglyphics the sand does not ignore.

Annie StenzelAnnie Stenzel’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ambit, Catamaran Literary Reader, Quiddity, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and Unsplendid, and in the anthologies Patient Poets and Ten Years of Medicine and the Arts. Annie is also a letterpress printer and was a member of Thicket Press, a Bay Area collective that published a number of hand-bound chapbooks and broadsides. She pays the bills by working at a mid-sized law firm in San Francisco.

 

At the Museum of Modern Art

after Mark Rothko’s “Rust and Blue”

I watch a woman who smells
of Dior bare her hinged fist at a Rothko:
My grandson could paint better.

As she swings her hips toward Renoir,
I want to catch her handbag’s strap
and say, Look again.

Here, my chest peals with iron bells,
my sternum cracks like skinned lips in winter.

Here, my throat lifts like a dust mote
sleeved in morning light. I am the wide slope
of a meadow dotted with bluebells’ bent heads.

Here, the heels of my bones quake
like the last downstroke of a symphony:

I am horsehair tight in the bow.
I am the lone cello’s lowest note.

Emily Rose ColeEmily Rose Cole is a writer, folksinger, and MFA candidate in poetry at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Last spring she was honored to receive the Nancy D. Hargrove Editor’s Prize. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gulf Stream, Weave Magazine, Jabberwock Review, Neon, and Word Riot, among others. Emily’s debut solo album, I Wanna Know, was released in May of 2012. She is currently working on a collection of persona poems that re-envision The Wizard of Oz.