I

I do not believe in this slice of time, but in the tremor.

Not in the bird, but the shoulder.

Not in the bear, but the honeypot. Not the near future,

but in the constant memorization

of all my mistakes. Not in the thunder, but sneaking out

of the party, but not in the rain.

Not the umbrella, but the cock, the gravel, not the sky

turned black, not the eyes, but in the music

of flies over new rot, the fruit and not the vine. In the swollen

moment of climax I believe in the self,

as a well, as other, as the therapy of being wrong. In being

wronged, but not forever. I believe

in the hand on my throat as evidence of being, but not alone.

Please don’t let me be alone.

Woods and Clouds Interchangeable, Michael Earl Craig

[This is a poem from Michael Earl Craig’s new collection of poems, Woods and Clouds Interchangeable, out now from Wave Books. Order it here.]

 

 

At midnight a blinkered pony clopped up the winter road.

A single toon, weirdly amid twin rows of slippery elm.

I am called Honcho. Irrevocable have been my words.

I flick my fingertips violently, as if sprinkling a crowd.

The demitasse broods. Is alone. Is lonely.

I find I cannot go over to it.

 

The pony looked aggrieved, moved only to bossa nova

(ears perking to “Dumpling”). Flanked with trees

the road was white, and very straight. We stood

at the pie safe wanting in, some of us knocking,

while blue dream-tassels shook gently at the cuffs

of the robe of a well-meaning cad.

 

 

 

 

Bob sucked the golf ball through the garden hose, reluctantly.

Dot said she had toe-danced her entire way through college.

I had my head down, I was thinking. A hand reached casually

into my field of vision—the waiter touched my fries with his

Band-Aid. Baby chicks stepped into the clubhouse. Each one

tripped a bit on the rug’s edge. No one stopped them.

 

Bob sucked a second golf ball through in half the time.

Dot held one of her ankles beside her head like a swan song.

The season unbuttoned itself in little burps of pink and white.

They fed the racehorse pot brownies in his stall. He ate them

thoughtfully. The jockey fondled his heavy snaffle. It rained

only over Roanoke. Which I guess is why I’ve asked you here.

 

This is farther than I think I meant to take us, but that’s okay because in many ways—ways like this way or that way or maybe some way that no one has thought of yet, because everyone knows this way and that way—this was exactly as far as we were supposed to go when we went, and we went and went because going and having went is the way we say it’s us together and no one else is here and we love each other and I love you and you love me and screw the rest of everyone back at the place we left because it was a bad and terrible place with nothing for us.

Gone are these camps, smooth-floored
clear of tents and all that filled them.
Desolate the realm of the departed
brimming is the wind that rings of
war cataclysm and buoyant love months.

It electrocutes me in the best possible way to watch the thoughts marching from afar like a terrifying army.

What’s this sick compulsion to shatter the celluloid that encases me, write my way out with a lyric essay, pervade, project light through light, wrap my head around what I am: a movie in the shape of a woman, seeing and being seen, writer-mother, a mixed genre, a person with another person growing inside her?

And what will happen if I can’t? Will my skin curl, crack, and harden till I’m mummified, bundled beetle-like in my own ambition? If only someone had told me early on, “You will never get the orange peel off in one clean spiral, but more haunting shapes will come out of it in the end.”

St. Augustine

By Mike Andrelczyk

Poem

St. Augustine is the oldest city in the U.S.

They’ve got the fountain of youth

I almost made it down there once

But there was a hurricane

And I was driving my ex’s car

And she got scared so we turned around

And went back to the hotel

And that was more than 10 years ago

Now I’m older and she’s gone and her car is gone too

But I was thinking about St. Augustine again this morning

My wife and I were doing the crossword puzzle in bed

And I was wondering if we’ll ever have a kid

And the answer was 86-down

 

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.

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.

I learned the art of detachment
from a destructive pest
romanticized by poets
whose origins go back millions of years.

Celestial nomads that feast on
leather, wool, silk, felt
and thrive on night
taught me to let go of longing—

After-After

By Shira Dentz

Poem

American is the new German,
German the new American.
A square of window might be
1/4 or 1/12 depending
on whether you think
said window is two panes
or one.
My name is Nazi Avenue.
I have a lot of gifts,
fertility isn’t one of them.
Glass against a night
sky is like paper
for any light before it
to be written on.

Your earliest memory, from the cot dreams
toys hoofing in a ring of light, to the tune
it’s a small world, after all that is poetry in itself
apropos of such unfolding, in nonage, in infancy
marriage at twenty-five, offspring by thirty
was never yours, nor office administration
not even the longest term mortgage, to settle you
into the long haul, the long yards,
the back yards, and cats and dogs
none of them yours. It was written in a villanelle
it was ordained by Auden, it killed your chances
you slid by the cornfields, under Van Gough’s sill
you fell into a lustful fate, a pond of muddy water
you swam with the eels, your electric adult
on the blink, powering down and dreamless.