topical

By Dennis Cruz

Poem

the specter of death
smiling,
Cleopatra
uncrossing her legs.
just a small glimpse
into the infinite
then it’s over,
a bad dream
lingering
like egg yolk
or menstrual blood,
on your tongue.
I wonder what
the apostles
imagined
when they
masturbated?
I wonder
if they were
dreamt up guilty
and shameful
like everyone
else?

perhaps.

we promised to come back for it

everyone had been to prison except me

my skull was a heartache

lightning was burning down the dance floor

my mouth was a copper runoff

i received a text saying the weather had gout

we built a box drain in the new cul-de-sac

with our nerve endings and bone concrete

T said don’t fear the machine

i was promoted to motherfucker

he got 900 gallons on pump 4

with an unleaded gas station croissant

someone said where the hell is 12 o’clock

T told the story of his divorce and we all cooed

he picked lunch from his teeth with a box cutter

a lifeline danced across my throat

we contemplated a tide of quicksand

becoming one with the f450

i saw a frog trying to find a stream

behind the big city houses

i tore the river down with a garden rake

and made eye contact with the crisis wolf

everyday i die and it gets so boring

 

This Big World

By Devin Kelly

Poem

 

for Bud Smith

 

I have been in debt for a long time. Some afternoons, I sit on the windowsill & take the risk of thinking I could fall out of it & fly. Everything is loud & mostly beautiful. It’s not a matter of perspective. If you look at a building upside-down it is only a building upside-down. It’s not standing on its head. It’s better to see it right. The chicken place across the street serves chicken & people walk inside & come out with chicken. We got some things right: best friends, slow cooking, glass-bottled Coke, remaining wingless & rooted to other wingless beings who leave us slowly or not slow enough. Heartbreak is one way of knowing you’re alive. Compiling obscene & ridiculous amounts of debt owed to a strange & robotic voice on the other end of a phone is another. But debt owed to a friend is a simpler kind of beauty. Like sharing french fries or saying just get the next one, next time. There’s too much I love about the world to think of leaving it. My own lunacy. The way I am still here, sitting by the window. How I can take the risk of thinking I can fly without the risk of flying. I’d rather watch the birds, those little masters, who make big geometric shapes out of one another & head off in flocks to find a beach, another summer. It’s winter here & everyone deserves a big coat. Something to smuggle inside of it & share, yes, with the people who have been smuggling you from each day, like this one, into the next.

Like those corduroy knee patches on my favorite fifth-grade jeans?
Or Portland raindrops spattering coffee in a recycled-paper cup.
How about a faded Pine tree freshener dangling from the radio knob of an RV.
A tuna-noodle casserole in Corning Ware cooling on a Formica countertop?

 

It’s there, in my stomach, and it stirs up; a wicked batter.  All nettles and ache.  My mom’s wooden spoon, weaponized, upside my brother’s heathen head.  I wield it.  I stick it in the mix and stir.  A bloody mess as it blends.  I taste it and wince.  Too much despair.  My hand heavy on the pour.

I open my mouth bucket-wide.  I shovel it in.

Swallow.

Start again.

Three Poems

By Joe B. Grantham

Poetry

 

’63 Chevy Impala

 

I had a brother once.

On the morning of my thirtieth birthday

I looked in the mirror and saw his face

on my face.

That was a first.

He chose to die six days later

halfway across the country

Three Poems

By Katie Foster

Poetry

 

DOG DREAMS

 

Today the dog dreamed of honeysuckle.

Today the dog dreamed of cheeks.

Today the dog dreamed of god.

in the movie-line with my parents

my mom couldn’t get her MoviePass to work

because the app needed to be “updated”

my dad said “gimme the phone”

and then, with something like disdain

“I can’t see, I didn’t bring my glasses”

 

It’s a gray day

The sky is one, large cloud

I watch a flock of pigeons from my window on the 17th floor

I look down on them

The space heater sizzles

I’m picturing Christmas

I’ve been on hold with NBA League Pass Customer Support for 23 minutes

Four Poems

By Sarah Jean Grimm

Poetry

 

HOUSE WINE

 

I throw my body around the room

Attempting to sweat out a decade

Of harm I’ll keep inflicting

Who am I to disrupt a pattern

Three Poems

By Sam Pink

Poetry

 

SAME THING

 

Talking to yourself

is really just

practicing all the cool shit

you might say to someone else

or maybe

wouldn’t waste on anyone else.

Either way, you know?

 

1.

The internet is

A long hallway and you are

Way down there yelling

Four Poems

By Babak Lakghomi

Poetry

 

Where I Work

 

On the first floor

robots and humans work together

On the second floor

only humans

stare at their screens

wait for five o’clock to arrive

they have lawns to mow

leaves to blow

Some of them have kids

Two Short Ones

By Alec Berry

Poetry

 

I have a few more years to go as I am,

then I’m changing my name to Lyle and disappearing

and getting really into BBQ and BBQ festivals and the people they contain.

I am saving money for this.

Brad’s Face

By Gene Morgan

Poem

My notes for a potential story about Brad’s face on the evening of November 8, 2016

Start with some general thoughts about Brad, maybe just the grass in Brad’s backyard and his cool studio/garage area. Focus on the small stuff that I like about Brad. How nice it was for him to invite us over for the election suicide party.