Category: Contributor

Kat Dixon – Light Makes Motion

Light Makes Motion

Naked boy makes light like
mosquito, like

key drunk and the door.
I name a ghost for him.

I don’t care – all boys end.
Light goes, popped story like

wanting any him pushed, sucked
flat mosquito, to door.

I name the ghosts for them. Light
goes, breaking out like

wound-touch, like
school child, like

boy become naked can door.

Light goes.
Naked boy crawls shadow to bed.

His name says he will have
greater fortunes than this.

Sound for ghost goes
kwi-shin

like
boy swallows mosquito, like

boy I kissed once, boy
who swallows his name.

Like

like
boy kiss drunk and the noraebang

song loud as junk food and light
light sour stomach humming light

crystal-spun light
like

anyone turned on,
turned off.

My name says I will have
greater ghosts than this.

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Caits Meissner – The Muse

The Muse

He asks, who might you want
to be today?

Unwraps the scarf from
my face and sticks two blue
fingers down my throat.

In the past he has offered me
overalls and galoshes, arrived
a fish out of thin air.

Once, he brought a stethoscope
that I lay on my chest and
listened for hours.

He never wants more money
than for coffee when tired.
Sometimes he smells like gin

and apologizes the next day,
burning a hole into the ceiling
so I can see the sky from bed.

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Maggie Woodward – afterbirth

afterbirth

how hungry would I be after dragging my tongue along
the edges of a glass plate? maybe it would taste
like the brown-barked branch of a magnolia. I could be
a pigtailed girl in the woods: stung on the cheek by a hornet.

I could be a tombstone. how many soup cans
are lining andy warhol’s grave? I might be the broken
bottles in the parking lot. I think I am a bee-sting:
purple. what does it mean to feel swollen?

think of the church that baptized you. how thirsty
was the man who dipped his cupped hands into holy
water? he made me a steeple. I quiver in lightning
storms: counting down from ten to be struck.

how much longer can I sit still breaking my heart, beating it
against a stained-glass window? I think I live inside my great-
great-great-great grandfather’s name: look at it etched here.
I have learned to stare with the hunger of a stray kitten.

I have hurt like a piece of sidewalk where men stop to die.
how do I become a bullet? the fury of a trigger. I eat
with a teaspoon instead of a claw: how hungry
must I be to devour the quiet tree in the backyard

of my childhood home? I don’t know why lightning
hits things that grow. how hungry is the jackal
at his wedding? maybe I am ravenous: maybe I am
on the cusp. how much longer until I can swallow?

there are dead birds everywhere. please: grab my collar,
stop by and take my hand soon. I might be a lamppost
on a black night watching the empty street. people are coming
and I don’t want to see them die. how hungry would I be

if I couldn’t stuff words inside my womb? I think
I am a spine, crooked: my marrow filled with what
has made me cry. have we reached the day of rest yet?
please. someone let me go back to the woods.

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Alicia Wright – Jesus as You in the Window

Jesus as You in the Window

I am home before nightfall -
the warm winter has not brought
longer days, the earth sits
tightly on its axis and 4:30 brings
long shadows and I cannot see
you at the window, but today
I meet the sun still half-shining
above the treeline.

the birds are new this winter.
it is December and they are early
or late, nested on the windowsill in mud
and mulch from last year’s roses, precarious
on the ledge, dusting the ground where once
we stood and noted that the windows
should be replaced.

they cared as little as we did -
they homed there, where you watch
daily and at dinner tell me they
make no sounds while they spread
themselves atop their eggs

and pay no mind to the tipping of
their nest in the wind.

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Alicia Wright – On Choosing to Spend Our Last Moments Alone

Alicia Wright – On Choosing To Spend Our Last Moments Alone

You are going to die. You
will be cut open, carved
up, the yellowed tips of your fingers
compared to an examiner’s memories
of what a dead man’s hands should look like.

No one told you this. It is not unique to you,
of course, that your brain will be weighed
and your stomach contents sorted through.
It will happen if we leave our
bodies where, according to custom,
we should not.

Covered in bruises and soft hair, you will be
your grandfather asleep in bed or
the boy in the paper, his memorial highway,

his war-fractioned limbs beneath their sheet.
You will be burnt, maybe, or enshrouded
forever in satin and pocketed in the dirt somewhere.
Your family will wonder what could have been done.
There will have been no nurse in clean white scrubs
to reassure them, only the grim faced funeral director

and the organ music playing softly in the background,
recorded in the 70s and warped with the pressure of being
played so often and for so many grieving bodies.

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Justin Carter – In Spite Of Ourselves

In Spite of Ourselves

for K.

I want to remember your teeth,
I say to your teeth. This December
we eat bánh mì on a patio while
the first snow collects at our feet.
If we were in Houston, we’d drive
into a parking lot, smoke the last
pack of illegal clove cigarettes
that the gas station on Edgewood
had hidden behind the counter.
Instead, we spend thirty-five minutes
digging windshield wipers away
from glass. Let me hold you like
a John Prine song, I want to say.
Instead, we watch our hands turn red.

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Laura Grothaus – Icumen In

Icumen In

Summer is Icumen In, sometimes known as the Cuckoo Song, is the oldest English round song yet discovered, dating from the mid 13th century.

Of mocking heat–– the slick then stick of sweat,
the itch of pores against the suck of wet,
the warbling river thick with gnats that fret
the air with shivers, wings that quiver and roll,
that swarm to lick a hollowness into jet
damp stones. We swallow this in spoonfuls:
hum and drone and crick and buzz and crow,
the quick slithers across streams, the tolls
of breathing, pants of pollen, where nettles hold
a strand of cotton, barbed round eggs in a slit
between withered stems, the nests of grit
where feathered liars left their brittle gifts.
Our grass-pricked knees know the rhythms need no
stopping. Bees blow through our lungs like hellos.

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Laura Grothaus – Candescent

Candescent

Think of your lungs as wet towels. Think of culling
all the yellow from a strawberry’s skin. Think
of planting onions in carpet, of chewing every lamps’
bulb, of crushing each vowel to your mouth’s ceiling.
That’s how it is to remember your hand
fingered by lamplight in a room that collected
beer bottles and a dead finch
under the bed frame before we had even arrived,
that lectured us on sin and salivation, the door
slavering doggerel as we came and came and left.
I am nostalgic for the dusk you confessed
your mother’s abortion, your mutt’s
near death experience, the portion of you
dressed in lace. This evening

backyards flinch with fireflies’ slippery drawl:
honey honey honey you are instinct you are scrawl you are light.

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The Places Letters Come From

Ryan Bollenbach – The Places Letters Come From

The Places Letters Come From–DUETMP3

The man behind the piano sent letters when he left.
They reached the empty mansion like his arms

reached over the keys. D, C, D, A D, C. Spider web on mirror,
or a crack. Each me big enough to carry a different piece:
my father’s shoes, my uncle’s belt, my mother’s blouse.

These are the places his letters come from: the landfill,
the police station, Nocturne in A flat, the train tracks.

Map my body with your fingers.
Bury me under the nape of your metaphor
ical neck—internal combustion occurs when the glass

house burns too bright and bends inward.
While masturbating in the shower, I think

I am internally combusting because pieces of me don’t come out
and scream “the landfill, the police station, train tracks?
We have rested in all of them and each lack

necessary protection from the rats.” Your Arms, feet, ears, lips, scraped knees, nose:
I could rip them all off, speak with them,

we could talk about the taste of dust and still I could breathe. Instead, I dig
a hole and bury the switchblade you gave me. I rub
dirt on my arm, exfoliate, scatter

the flakes of dead skin in the soil. In the letter I am writing you,
nothing is louder than the pieces of me rattling under my skin.

 

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B. B. P. Hosmillo – A Pessimist’s Theory of Hope

A Pessimist’s Theory of Hope

It used to be only Friday nights when the next morning
is the tasteless sweetness of remembering, but even now
is a celebration of self-imprisonment: today has become

my body devoted to retirement. That means the backbone

of afterlife is hope, and hope is you said we can’t perceive

what we look like anymore because we couldn’t produce

the same faces we can’t perceive, yet we tried to do it

anyway: produce what is not perceivable in perception.

II

Merleau-Ponty said this is the world, “man seen from the
outside.” This world is entirely natural, but we disregard
it as “entirely” and “natural” easily because the days we

spent abroad was about the brick we saw departing from

a brücke as if it was longing for something in us that changed

its color when we brought it home
a terrible beautyand
you realized your skin
a butter melting beside a non-man,
non-woman like me—was gone the way Kafka’s unceremonious

metamorphosis somewhere before consciousness didn’t really

happen. I told you: we belong in a disillusioned tick of reality

and when essence is a thin smoke invisible is why one of us

couldn’t go back to that which is the remainder of one of us.

III

It’s in the orient; agony is the beginning of enlightenment: here
triumph is in selfless poverty; there is always absence here,
a shadow still. No matter how black, a name arises from it;

from there manifests a comfort, the only benefit from history

where once allowed us to be bodies that played with our forms

against sunlight, against white, against anything too bright and

duplicable: that summer when we believed the world is going

to end soon, our time
in ittrusted our future peril, its brevity.
But it never happened as perils did not really destroy, but moved

hearts; there was no speech the way the city we tried to call home

spoke of the places in it we didn’t have ID to enter if we were

to remain invisible criminals like faggots in dark cinema duplex

and illegal immigrants in a laundry system faggots know their life

is the story of bubbles and bleachers: “perceptual” you referred to this.

IV

It is the message of negation, of want, of defect and like our
     misfortune,

it cannot be prechewed; not the dried fronds we crumpled before
the wind could dust them badly; not the knell organizing people to
     weep

and testify and recollect in a teeming quantity, present with absurd
     smile.

It is your father to his then pregnant wife with a ball of sufferinginside
her complicated bellya shard of monster he said it came from
     another

world, from where seeing you again means the removal of your
body above me, from where as the world undergoes is the unnatural
body saving the impure in me, the color of ochre, the pigment of
     hope.

 

V
Memoryafter non-trivial shock, erection, decompositionwill tell
we have spirits and these will never remember as things do, but will
never die; it is your mother; it is why she told you her body is yours;

it is how she died in two parts, both fatal: the long journey to love

and the longer journey for her love to be returned. We, like her
     deaths,

are in one of these two bodies: one in the outside, the other a
     devotion.

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Lauren Boulton – Fathom

Fathom

There are depths beyond
our capacity to imagine—this is why the
unit of measurement for our
perception is only six feet,
why what we can fathom is
restricted to the distance
between the living and dead.
Did you know there are almost three thousand
fathoms between you & me and the bigfin squid?
Maybe, for the bigfin squid, who fathoms
four times larger than we do,
this seems a short distance. The world
to us is the bigfin squid’s elementary school,
a place that used to be large when he was small.
Perhaps, to the bigfin squid,
ocean, earth, moon, death
—these are smaller, more
comprehensible things.

However, we are not the bigfin squid, so
we’ll have to contend with disappointment–
while everyone knows the function
of our elbows, nobody understands
those of the bigfin squid. We need to know
that we will never fly through water
on translucent, pulsating wings
attached to our heads. And we’ll have to be okay
with the fact that all of those depths
we can’t imagine are the places
the bigfin squid drags house-long tentacles,
eating blind, glowing things
it bumps against in the dark.

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Elegy For A Picture of Sailor Moon

Ryan Bollenbach – Elegy For A Picture Of Sailor Moon

Elegy for a Picture of Sailor Moon

My pocket became your warm cave, warm
until you lost your voice in the rustle of my jeans.
You were lost in the rustling, my thumb unable
to navigate the jungle of lint to touch you.
I hope the occasional thumb rub that pulled through was enough
to hold you together through the day.
I dreamed of the day you walked
away from me. Would you walk because distance grew
between you and my thigh,
or that I let our mutual silence multiply?
Would you hide in the corner
and Moon Tiara Action my fingers as they groped
the empty darkness? Would I bleed?
I dreamed for a chance to fail with you. I dreamed
of paper cuts and hang nails and wasted tape.
I watched the day you found Tuxedo Mask’s broad shoulders
to lean on. I wished I could love him
too, could take off his black vest and top hat,
his black slacks. Rest his cane on my wall.
If I kissed my way down his magically defined abdomen,
I would understand you, transform into you.
Instead I woke choking, the soiled napkins abandoned
on my bedroom floor spilling from my mouth.
I dreamed that I held you to my lips and whispered,
and you listened. The printer paper you lived in turned Polaroid
in my fingers, and next to your shoulder a cuter me
grew into the white frame: hair slicked, straight-smiled,
and mild—the toes of your red boots faced me,
and no one else. I woke to a bright
bright morning, you sleeping
next to me, the long kites of your blonde hair streamed
warm over my shoulder, the blinds open, sky reaching in,
and I asked if we could stay like this,
and you said no.

 

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Quitting

Rhiannon Thorne – Quitting

Quitting

Whenever anyone talks about cigarettes,
they talk about your lungs, two sticky apricot halves,
reeking like burned blood and tar,
aging quickly under stress; they tell you,
stop killing the birds that push your heart into flight,
stop strangling your own air supply
like your throat is a damn. Then they move on

and talk about your heart, the giant fist god pounded
inside of you, just the right size to shove your ten-pint blood
from your toes to your head, they say,
stop poisoning your pony express, eat asparagus,
eat sweet potatoes, smother your tongue in oatmeal,
mason your stomach with whole grains, and for the love of god,
put down that cigarette.

Nobody talks about your tongue. Nobody says,
it’ll only miss the roll of smoke for a few weeks,
it’s nothing more than losing a bedfellow,
or being homesick, your tongue will learn to taste again,
it will sip soda through a straw
and begin to exhale without shaping a sigh. They do not

pay any attention to your teeth. You bite your nails
and they hand you sticks of gum. They are surprised
at your bleeding cuticles. They do not understand
the way you chew grapes and tear at red meat,

and when your lips are chapped, they do not see your addiction
as a pacifier. They suppose maybe you have a cold,
you spent the afternoon kissing snowmen
or licking pineapples, contracted teenager herpes. And forget about your feet,

the swish, the swish, and tap. They do not anticipate
your legs becoming their own beasts,
the nicotine emancipation, the nervous wild
which rushes to the door; when you catch your heels to the floor
and hold them there, pull almonds from your pocket,
coat your heart and gnash your teeth,
tell them something they may understand, say:
my hands are missing appendages.

 

 

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