I can’t stop thinking of the blind young man’s tapping,
and that dandy cuckolded Bloom, the sickening sirens,
and the whole work laying over my commute, the highway,
like an exploded Church, my tires crackling over each brick,
every day like another ballad to the sun, exposed like Dedalus
buying a little milk in the morning—Comey, Yates, McCabe—
the tarpaulin, pulling, the top, the teepee, top parade, the babe
being strolled by his good mother. I listen to the seashore,
the heave and ho of the country’s nostrils, its punctured eye,
the people asking: “Who did this to you?”—America responding,
“Nobody. Nobody did this to me.” His falsehoods are music,
nearly innocent and childlike. His Hamlet-breath, still speaking
to his father atop a real estate project. “I am thy father’s spirit.”
Swelling at the throat, the aria that may cast a darkened light.
Marking the long tale, I feel as if my insides were cold dust,
the heart reduced to a monologue. Where to go for lunch?
Somewhere where I won’t run into him, the world-whisperer,
the eternal flatterer, the black helicopter filled with steaks
and the stone wife, playing at odds as if we needed to believe
in her statuary. Dignam is dug and gone; his life is spoken for,
the attributions, the lectures in the library, the greasy man
has passed, the barmaids giggled, the world is the world.

You surprised no one by dying of an overdose.
Was it glue or oven cleaner?
I can no longer recall, but I know
you enjoyed them both to the full.
Your time on earth was brief, though not brief enough
to keep you from torturing a cat to death
with leftover fireworks and a refrigerator box.
Why is sharing the pain always easier than sharing the joy?

What does it most often look like around you when you write? Do you have a zone?

I like a big desk and a bulletin board. I decorate my writing space with earthly treasures and many different notes that help guide me through my process. I also like to have space to get up and dance while I work because moving my body makes it all better. I like to be in complete solitude while I write. The best is a room with a view of nothing but landscape and a nearby wall that I can tape paper and images to. I’ve been lucky enough to conjure this at various times in my life and am in awe of the privilege. I seek out solo retreats in Joshua Tree and Humboldt County. The natural world, as opposed to the urban, is a consistent part of my practice.

Start by loving a God that lives
Inside the shell of a black beetle.
Now get a little older
And become a Jew
Who loves a God inside letters
That read backward on the page.
Older still and Christ comes
To teach some other version
That wipes us all clean
When we get dunked
In an above-ground swimming pool.

Chè Bắp

By Jenna Le

Poem

In the backyard, Father grew
ears of sweet corn,
green-swaddled blimps
of ocher bluster.

When the wind gusted over,
the stalks bowed so low
their rigid plumes
would graze the cakey dirt.

On the designated day,
Father would gather the ears
and heap them, firewood-like,
in the house;

Went to jail today to get a rap sheet
through metal detectors and elevators out of a ’60s police show
found the right room down a long marbled hall
of plexiglass windows
people shuttling in and out of doors with numbers on them.

2001sharpie2

I am driving up a mountain pass on my tractor,
a blue plume behind me, when I spot
an abandoned car on the side of the road
with no license plates. I am just cresting
the pass, my speed has slowed; I could almost
step off this tractor, I think, and start over,
and try something totally different,
like breaking both my ankles, I think, because
stepping off a moving tractor is so different
than say stepping off your back porch,
and the car is on blocks and all the wheels are gone.

The runner’s the disciple of travel,
Ambassador from determination;
All the wars a runner fights are civil,
The self-turned challenge, the primal agitation.
We tritely say that running signs the human
Spirit, community of close-stepping pack,
Second wind as individual omen,
We measure with matched morals on the track.

Troubador turned beggar, a dapper king growling from your jeweled
throne as I enter your home. You turn your whiskered nose up
until I offer mice bites of cheese from the icebox.

You take them carefully from my fingertips with your tiny teeth,
then to show your love of all creatures great and small, you hump
your giraffe. Our pilgrimage begins, we step out amidst

the Poor Clares, you sniff gingerly. Slip and click, claws scrape
hallway linoleum as you scuttle from doormat to doormat. Sit
your silent protest of passive resistance at top of stairs—

it worked for Ghandi and Martin Luther King but you’re just ten
tough pounds of hair and teeth, a bat without wings, this city’s
great rat terrier, terrorist king. Jacob’s not the only one

                                                                  A letter from Spain
reads, “I poured the old woman’s blood in the garden,”

as though it were possible to explain such an action,
as though that sentence could follow any other, or

be followed. I read the letter over and over, and later
take a man in my mouth, drink a spoonful of his life,

Mothers I love to fry
Mothers imparting feral logic
Mothers in lactation frenzy
Mothers iterating life’s fullness
Mothers in like flint
Mothers in lustrous fortitude
Mothers in lonely friction
Mothers in Lucifer’s foliage
Mothers in lockstep formation.
Mothers’ irascible leverage force
Mothers I’d like to fluoridate
Mothers I’d like to forget
Mothers issuing lyric phraseology
Mothers insipid loady frights

‘cross two vast ponds of depleting treasure
rises a brilliant rainbow

strawberry, lilac, violet
fill sky and cloud
so distant as to not exist

but for the inexorable inclination
to gaze directly
into blustery eyes
of these storms of grand ego

storms so arrogant
as to endeavor
ends of such a bold, self-assured palette
eschewing some hues
for those unique to
they who await no invitation

inclement weather
unconcerned of the void
into which it stares
knowing the void

is always staring back

Dear Eve

By Heather Bartlett

Poem

The answer to your question is not
in the longing, the rage
and range
the reaching – what will you find
when your hand touches
something solid? Behind
the wooden door you close
and latch so carefully, as if the sound
of closing alone will echo
off the empty walls, the scent
of someone else’s breath is shut in
with you.
You are alone
as before she moved
her small body
under yours.
And here, inhaling
swallowing, holding it
as the poem you forgot
you’d already written, this is not
the love that carried you
away to this small suburban
space, where the dirty light
from under the door
illuminates only
what has fallen from your hand.

Evolution

By Dan O’Dair

Poem

The internet is changing my name,
eliminating the apostrophe like some
cyber Ellis Island. I am attached to

my apostrophe, the “of the” of my father
and all his drunken Irish forebears, a gentle
breathy caesura before learning from whence
I came.

And then there’s the apostrophe itself, the South Dakota
of the semicolon, the most unassuming cousin
in the punctuation family portrait,
hair-combed neatly in the first row,
so often misused in plurality when all
it really wants to do is possess.

O the clock, of my father, dead now
ten years and without a grandson that bears
his name. Back in ’59, the year he shipped out
for Okinawa, there had to be a bad
key on the Smith Corona for the apostrophe
to be abandoned, and the typer never scolded
you for using an “invalid character.”

If I decide to the fly the 2,000 miles
to my father’s grave I’ll enter our name in
the appropriate field. All the wasted years, all
the whiskey drunk will come with me and when
I land I’ll hope despite one missing speck
that I am still his son.