Curt Huibregtse + Robert J. Baumann + Judd Nielsen

I can't really tell if King Charles is a straight-up horndog couching his lust with romanticism, or a clear-eyed Lover who just really likes getting laid. I'm not sure he can either, but I appreciate the way he handles it. The tension between love and lust is a horribly common song topic, but it's usually more dour and aching for whichever is missing (especially considering the work of the sort of UK bands I typically listen to). Charles gives it with boundless Prince-via-Andrew W.K. enthusiasm, a tempo teasing at a typical “excited” heart rate [citation needed], and an outright climax that drops into a warm, half-time afterglow (following some really wanky guitar work, natch). There's definitely heartbreak at some point after the end of the song, but can probably be safely ignored as long as it's on repeat.

Once, I was having relations with a young woman when, en medias coitus—mid-writhe even—she looked me in the eyes and asked, “You really get into this, don’t you?” At that point, the intercourse, which had been lopsided to say the least, was promptly ceased. The young woman, for whom I had shaved my moustache, dressed and left. We spoke very little after that. True story.

Point being, if you’re going to do it right, you have to abandon inhibitions or embrace the ridiculous. Good sex is a pretty weird thing and, in my opinion, should make one vulnerable. That’s what this song is/does: at times it borders on cheesy, but it’s sincere, and it fucking rocks. And I’ll be damned if I’m not excited that someone made it.

The romantic in me likes to think “Love Lust” could apply to a couple fifty years into a relationship. The song bounces into crescendo, admonishing us to surrender to fatalism. For the aged lovers, this is still present amid too-loud televisions, wrinkled skin, and pharmaceutically aided sex.

Of course, the other way love lust could end is the disaster that comes when we foolishly believe clichéd ideas of romance. We are first ignored, which makes us irrational. It escalates to actions and declarations we will never admit to anyone after the fact. Finally, the relationship is ended only after attorneys are involved. Think Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton: pure love lust.

All this is moot though, because I think King Charles would tell us to stop over-thinking and get it when we can.

Curt Huibregtse produces the "Quantum Sleep" podcast, the Internet's only lucid dreaming/Quantum Leap fancast. Subscribe on iTunes!

Since the aforementioned incident, Robert J. Baumann has had a very fulfilling sex life, in case you were worried.

Judd Nielsen currently resides in Lawrence, Kansas.


Jackson Nieuwland + Carolyn DeCarlo

Jackson Nieuwland:
I kiss your toenails and you flinch
because feet are disgusting and it tickles.

I pour honey on your skin because we are not vegan.

We will hold hands even though we both sweat
and when we part ways a puddle will fall to the concrete between us.

(we will never part ways)

I held your hand while you were tattooed
and I will hold your hand when you give birth
and you will hold my body tight when it convulses.

We get two Valentine's Days
because we have too much love to fit into just one,
and we deserve a reward.

Now Valentine's is over, but it is only a number.
I struggle on the special days to
say something more than normal.

(i am sappy everyday)

What is the world record for most times a couple has said I love you?
We will break it.

Like those other records we didn’t.

How can I write my wedding vows when
the ability of my heart to love you
surpasses the ability of my tongue to describe it.

(we are getting married)

I try to write you letters
but letters don't arrange
in the way I want to lick you.

We kiss the air sometimes.

I kiss the air as I read you stories.
You fall asleep but I keep reading
and watching and kissing you

Caroplyn DeCarlo:
my foot is in your hand and oh now it’s in your mouth. my toenails on your lips. the phone on your lips. your lips on the honey on my skin. the honey in the sweat on your hands in my mouth when we kiss. when we kiss on skype our bodies cannot touch. our lips touch air. when we get married we will kiss and the honey will pass from our gums out between our lips on our tongues. our tongues will write our love on the air in vows. our tongues write letters on each others’ bodies. our tongues will transcribe our hearts when our minds fail. our love is bigger than a body. our love shakes from the seams of our bodies. our love is in the spaces of pain when ink enters skin. our love is a lump of flesh formed from the meeting of our two bodies. our love is our love.

Carolyn DeCarlo loves hugging kittens and Jackson Nieuwland.
Jackson Nieuwland loves unicorns and Carolyn DeCarlo


Donald Illich

Moon Poem

I cannot get enough of the moon
how it makes werewolves of us all,
tearing apart new clothes, swearing
this time will be the last with her.

Its light is solid – hold it in your hands.
You can throw it at opposing defenses
in a tight spiral of night. You can
eat it on a deserted island, no others
around to tell you it's not food.

In the evening you can bathe in it,
pour it hot enough so steam rises
from your body when you leave the tub,
the mirror and window full of craters.

When it still exists in the sky
in the morning, I'm glad to say
that I wave at it, thanking it
for being our only hope up there,
close enough that we can visit
if we really try, our sweet sister
who bakes romance and leaves it
on the window sill for us to steal.

I'm happy when it starts to reappear
after disappearing within the month.
Give me a ladder and I'd climb to it.
I'd plant one on its shining face.

Throwing Empty Coke Bottles at You

It is the only way I can express my love.

To throw another empty toward your window,
most of them hitting the brick facade
of your average two-story home. I wonder
if you're near the panes, if there's a chance
I can hit you with shards of glass.

Or if you're trying to ignore my efforts,
watching TV in a bedroom carpeted
floor to ceiling, letting detective shows
carry you to the scenes of fictitious crimes.

Maybe you're twisted like a fetus
on the kitchen floor, wishing for another
birth, where there's no such thing
as bottles, and people drink from cups
on yards full of green and nothing else.

I could stop tossing them day and night.

I could go home and fix a microwave
dinner, wait till it cools on the plate.

I could pass out in my brown armchair,
a book about murder left in my lap.

I could even dress for work under a sky
I believe is my own for once, the desk
waiting for me, pencils and pens arranged
in containers, each thing ready for use.

Another bottle crashes. It hits the lawn.
Fireflies start to glow in the ones I have left.

Donald Illich has published work in LIT, Passages North, Nimrod, and other journals. He was a semi-finalist for the Boston Review/'Discovery' Poetry Contest. He lives in Rockville, Maryland.


Jeff Rath

Chasing the Lie

When he quit school to join the Army in '43,
my father's American Dream
was the gold of the fringe on Old Glory
flapping in the breeze above the town hall.

I don't know which part of that dream
continued to fuel his aspirations
20 years after Normandy,
after the silver had already tarnished on the star
he had been awarded for bravery.

And what fragment of the dream's foundation
finally collapsed and died inside him
the day he snapped at me,
"Dream in one hand, spit in the other,
see which one gets full first"?
Perhaps it was then he came to believe
that working himself to death
was the only promise the dream had left him.

And the few times I was up late enough
to see him sprawled in his rocking chair,
a beer bottle in one hand,
a cigarette in the other, and him,
coiled like a mainspring--silent as a secret--
staring past the window,
his eyes wearing that same glassy look
I'd seen in the eyes of trophy animal heads
mounted on hunting lodge walls.

It was then I vowed to never end like him,
and every day since, my life's roadmap
displayed no meandering blue highways,
only 6-lane asphalt dragstrips
I barrel-assed down at full speed
until I was so white-line hypnotized
I realized there was nothing left inside
and took the only exit--
a town whose name sounded like Despair.

Everyone here tells the same story--
elbows on the bar,
hunched over a shot and a beer--
down-sized, bleary-eyed,
seduced by a dream never intended for the likes of us.

The waitresses sport purple quartermoons
beneath their eyes,
and no longer hustle for tips.
They can't remember why they smoke so much,
why their men never stayed,
or when their feet weren't always sore.
They no longer slap away brash hands
trying to cup their asses or
brush against their defeated breasts.
Remnants of their dreams, like peanut shells,
lay scattered across the barroom floor.

Does anyone here even recall what it was
we were striving for?--
our noses pressed against the confectioner's glass
behind which everything we wanted
and nothing we could have
until that hollow look our fathers wore
replaced our own faces.

And who among us would not choose
some other story--
or at least imagine a better ending?:
to not dry-up and die inside
of this slow disease
there is no pine box for.

Who among us would not trade-in
that straight-jacket clock,
that cement block and chain of responsibility--
the next 40 years scrambling up before the sun,
toiling in anonymous sweatshops
someone always standing over us
demanding more and paying less
to shore up his version of the dream
while we struggle for one more day
to outrace ruin's voracious tentacles,
until nothing--not brain, not muscle,
not even self-respect--remains
to remind us of what's been lost,
to chide us for how cheaply
we bartered away our own dreams
in order to chase the lie.

Jeff Rath is a 2007 R.E. Foundation Award winner and a Pushcart Prize nominee. His previous works are The Waiting Room at the End of the World--2007, In the Shooting Gallery of the Heart--2009, and Film Noir--2011--all published by Iris G. Press.


Kimberly Ann Southwick

Present and Preterit


Try to explain too late in an education
how there is no future tense and we

only hear there is no future. As if science class
hasn’t scared us enough. We are eating

less meat and taking more public transit
because if we aren’t the only ones riding,

we find it easier to get from here to there.
Plus, we can look out the window, at the river,

and calculate the exact moment we’ve crossed
the state line.


On either side of a sharp sword,

Guinivere and Lancelot slept to prove their platonic
relationship reigned. They parried accusations

that they could be two different people at once:
that their public and private selves were separate,

though their fingers interlocked secretly beneath the folds
of white sheets. Behind closed doors, the sword

proved an illusion of singularity; the lovers were plural.
Gwen and Lance lay, hearts ready to leap dead

from their chests at a key in the lock
of the wooden door.


How do we tell them, we know

what will become of you both. We choose instead not to.
We tiptoe in, as they sleep. We silently slide the sword from the bed

and replace it with a snake and an apple. We pray. Lead us not
into this uncertain future when cars run on fossil fuels,

when flocks of birds drop dead in middle America. The cracks
in the earth from the most recent quake startle at the curse.

Don’t tell them, when they wake, they’ll find the sword
beneath the bed. Watch, from the digital video camera

hidden in the medieval drapery, the panic flare in their eyes,
then the release: never again to worry or wait

for the rusted key sounding in the lock. The relief
at the thought: they know.

Kimberly Ann Southwick founded and currently edits Gigantic Sequins, a literary arts journal. She lives in Philadelphia and teaches grammar and literature. Her poems have been published by Barrelhouse, Big Lucks, Word Riot, and other print and online journals. She has a poem forthcoming from PANK. Follow her on twitter @kimannjosouth.


Nathan Floom

We, the Young Adults of Wal-Mart

We drive to Wal-Mart because there is nothing else to do. Too poor to try sneaking into a bar and tired of pinochle, the 24 hour appeal of the one-stop-shop becomes our next activity.

There are three of us. Me, James, and Ben. We smoke cigarettes in the parking lot which is full because it's almost one o’clock in the morning on a Saturday. The slush on the ground makes our feet cold. We stand and smoke anyway.

It’s something to do.

Inside we walk around and Ben begins to touch things. He runs his hands over the aisle of towels. He closely inspects the coffee machines. He takes them apart and opens them up wonders about their build quality, among other things.

I pay attention to the people around me. Most are old, some middle-aged. A black man walks around with a giant Valentine’s Day teddy bear. No doubt something special for somebody that may be gone the next day.

There are always next day returns.

We wander the aisles. Watch television in the electronic section.

James talks about how in two months he’ll have enough money for the 32 inch flat screen, not high definition. Only 780p.

Ben runs his hands over the television. He finds them smooth.

The sales associate eyes us. His blue vest is faded.

In the toy section, as we approach making a full circle of the place, Ben touches all the toys that make noise. A Mickey Mouse starts to play a guitar; a talking bus takes the toy children to school. The stack of bikes doesn’t look steady.

In the front right corner of the place James picks up two cans of jalapeño Pringles off the “for quick sale” shelf.

Two lesbians are arguing in a section called "Hygiene."

James makes jokes about how on the outer fringes of homosexuality and lesbianism everybody just sort of looks like everybody else.

We generally agree while he pays two dollars and change for his expired chips.

In the parking lot a faint snow falls. James munches on his chips while smoking a cigarette. Something I don’t understand and probably couldn’t manage.

It is night. It is Wal-Mart, and in the parking lot surrounded by strange people buying cereal with their discount beard trimmer packages, I wonder what it is we are doing.

We are doing exactly what there is to do.

We are the young adults of Wal-Mart.

Nathan Floom's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Contemporary Haibun Online, WORK, and The Seattle Review. He has a BFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University.


Ricky Garni


Sometimes I spend the whole day going from one YOU ARE HERE sign to another. I pack a little lunch of chocolate bars for quick energy. Sometimes I feel like Tarzan. Sometimes I think: why should I give up this vine, there may not be another one out there waiting for me.

Ricky Garni is a writer living in North Carolina. He is presently condensing twelve manuscripts of poetry into one: 2% BUTTERSCOTCH RIPPLE. His other titles include THE ETERNAL JOURNALS OF CRISPY FLOTILLA, MAYBE WAVY, and MY FIFTEEN FAVORITE PRESIDENTS.


Christopher Newgent + Tyler Gobble

Christopher Newgent

Let’s live life like we’re drinking pure sugar. Let’s pour gasoline into ourselves and see what gets sticky. I want you to have to carry me home in protest. I want to beat and scream at your back, something cliché like LEMME AT ‘IM or THANK YOU. I want to know I’d do the same for you. We need that sometimes. We need each other sometimes. Choices whether bad or good lead to yet other choices bad or good. It’s impossible to count how many mistakes we’ve kept each other from making.

Tyler Gobble

The point one of those blond girls
I am a sucker for was missing
is a billboard half way between our towns.

I rented it today. I got a pickup today.
Today I signed a tenth of my pay away
for three years. Enough gasoline in the tank
to get me to your porch swing.

The point I was missing--It is still loneliness
even covered in a wedding band even
drenched in sweat stumbling in a Hooters
even in words like OH SOMEBODY IT IS ME.

Zapruder wrote that poem about Dobby
and his sweatshirt, that time to bury into it.
I look at that poem daily. I look at my loan papers,
my insurance today. I have no clue what

any of this means but I find myself
counting--miles, dollars, the threads
of your t-shirts as I pull myself up.

Christopher Newgent and Tyler Gobble stand behind the Vouched Books table and sell their favorite small press books to unsuspecting passers-by. Once on a trip to New Mexico, an old Navajo weaver said they were each other's spirit animal.


Joe Young + Adam Robinson

JOE: When Adam gave me the challenge of a love-song 1990s-vs-2000s battle, he gave me an hour to come up with a song, except it took me the time walking up the stairs to get it: Dan Deacon’s “Wham City.” It’s no love song per se but it’s also perfect. I mean, the two top comments for this live YouTube video are “this is why i love white people” and “This song makes me feel like kissing strangers.” You know what I mean? Look at this pudgy little guy with his blissed out devotees crunching in the dark. And then look at Adam’s Guitar Wolf like a shining god on stage. You know? Perfect.

ADAM: I could spend days trying to figure out this question: which is the better decade for music, the 90s or the 00s. It's like a math problem with several angles of approach, and limiting it to “love songs” helps focus it. Your choice kind of epitomizes the 2000s, and it has a broad take on love. My first choice was “Explode and Make Up” by Sugar, but that isn’t on Youtube. What the heck? I thought everything was on Youtube. I mean, Extreme’s song “Hole Hearted” is there, so I almost picked that because it surely embodies the pre-Nevermind 90s. But that’s only like one year. I thought about hitting you with "Holland, 1945" but Neutral Milk Hotel is surely a 2000s band, even if that record came out in 1998. Then I thought about Nick Cave's murderous "O'Malley's Bar," because it's long and conflicted (“If I have no free will then how can I be morally culpable?”) and I think that's what the 90s were, too (as opposed to your long song’s celebratory and anthemic here-we-are-now-let-us-entertain-you). But “O’Malley’s Bar” is all about death, and death is the 2000s purview, as well. So of course I have to pick Nirvana now, like maybe “Rape Me” or something. Except screw that. I submit to you Guitar Wolf’s “I Love You OK,” which is epic everything, and which embodies the last throes of good stadium rock, brash punk, a guitar, an icon, and a heart on a sleeve.

Adam Robinson runs Publishing Genius and Joe Young runs your mom.


Mark Cugini + Laura Spencer

Mark: I’m saying, check out these Gucci dog tags—girl, I’m about the blackest person up in this granite state. I ain’t got the gall (or the dexterity, even) to choreograph our courtship with my homeboys, but if you get with me in this beanbag I could teach you a few things about arrogant New Yorkers. You’re the air underneath my errant jump shot, the boot I want to give to them, and I’m thinking we could hold each other’s pinkies while the snow falls down upon our white washed dormitory. About six years from now, we’ll probably be in the south, trying to pretend to forget about all the absurd ways in which we objectified each other, but yo right now you’re about the flyest biddie up in this sneaker shop and I’m trying to holler atchoo.

Laura: Oh, I know all about those New Yorkers: how they wear all that pink clothing and don't know how to roll a proper snowball; how they laugh at pictures of Anthony Keidis and play 3-on-3 on a court surrounded by the woods of a town that the neighboring cities have never heard of. Maybe I'm wrong—maybe that's just this one arrogant New Yorker. Really though, I'll probably never care that you're going to give me mono almost instantly after we kiss. I'll probably be OK if a time comes when I have my hand in a toilet, trying to fish out the dog tag you may or may not have lost down there. Just realize I hold pinky-swears tight, just realize I ain't your average biddie, just realize that this sneaker shop is really a library, and they've been asking us to keep it down for hours now.

Mark Cugini and Laura Spencer are the founding editors of Big Lucks. They've published work in a couple of places, but they'd rather you work on holding each other's hands.


Jamie Gaughran-Perez + Margaret Gebauer

Don’t get hung up on the words. There’s gonna be some cheesey words along the way
And I’m not afraid of them.

It’s in the beat and the desert air.
Big states, domed skies, oceans, countries, rivers, lakes.
Meal after meal, meaning well, bad ideas, unchecked whims.

We’re not breaking the bone to reset it straight, but instead to suck the marrow right out.

I’ll get new legs.

I’ll get new eyes.

Somewhere neutrinos are moving faster than light and effects are causing causes.

Logic is a pale attempt to get on top of the world.
Let’s not make sense.

I love your laugh.
Let’s do this thing.


I like where we're going with this thing.

Let’s sway in the kitchen.

Let’s take a lap around the ice rink, far enough behind M and her friends so they can’t see us.
Close enough that we can.

We are planning trips to Bali and Austin and Marfa.
The Cape, the cottage, Fenway.

Put away the computer. Put down the phone.

Come here. Come sway with me.
Let’s do this right here.

We are changing the habits of our past.
We are dancing in our right now.
We are planning the plans of our future.

Jamie and Margaret live together in Baltimore and work in DC.


Bryan Keen + Kimberlee Hunter

Bryan Keen: "This is a love song.
I know you think it is dark and all despair. I know it seems like it’s just anguish and moody and brokenness. I know you think 'I have no idea why this could mean love to you'.

I don’t really see those things in this song, even though that has been part of my experience of love. This song is different than that for me.

This is a love song.
It is slow.
It is enduring not fleeting.
It builds.
It moves in waves and overflows.
It is repetitive and long-suffering.
It changes and returns and changes.
It is rhythmic.
It is groaning and wailing.
The high notes are mixed with the low.
It is electric but earthen.
It is expansive as a vast chasm but not empty.
There are tides.
It is patient.
There is resolution.
There is triumph.
It is difficult at the end."

Kimberlee Hunter: "I like it."

Bryan Keen and Kimberlee Hunter got hitched in a barn in Osceola, Wisconsin even though they live in Minneapolis, MN. They ride bikes, listen to music, grow and make food, and walk Henry The Dog down at the real actual Mississippi River. It's beautiful. They are idealistic people who work day jobs; they own a kid named Elijah who is rad and ten.


Aparna Jonnal + OWS

When I was a girl I wanted socioeconomic justice, but maybe I also just loved The Clash and wanted to wear a beret. It was a crush--on leftism I guess, that grew more meaningful. Now I'm deeply in love with the idea that being human guarantees a person basic dignity and rights, particularly economic rights which have been so trampled and ignored in America. The Clash wrote a bounty of songs on this, their prevailing focus if you ask me, but this one has the sweetest sound to me. It makes the important point that races should unite against classism. The root of so much conflict is economic, and some material equity would be like a salve for humanity. Like the most epic romance, my desire for equity has taken me from the highest euphoria to the depths of despair and longing, shifting with the political atmosphere. This is no theoretical Valentine theme for me.

My name is Aparna Jonnal and I live in Alabama with my husband. I would like to send this Valentine to the Occupy movement, which marks the first time in years that I have that fluttering excitement and hope in my heart on behalf of the poor. I want to thank you and send some love your way.


Randy Russell + Jeff Curtis

RANDY RUSSELL: All of my favorite love songs are sad songs—because how do you write a happy one that’s not gross?—the exception being this song “Cupid Come” by My Bloody Valentine. I love the tension, which could be sexual, and could be bending on the verge of breaking. I don’t know what it’s about, really, and I don’t want to know. I have always thought that it starts out with a woman singing and switches to a man singing, maybe even in the middle of a phrase, but I don’t know. I don’t know how the guitars sound like that, or how the drummer keeps from falling over. Popular culture has done terrible things to Cupid, but here Cupid comes from a coffee cup, which is something I can relate to. And sugar. Sickly, heavy hearts—when I look at you it pins me to the ground—mirror me your memories—it’s all very drippy and sticky and infected. I’m trying to understand, and the more I listen, the less I do, but the more it makes sense.

JEFF CURTIS: I am convinced that all of My Bloody Valentine's songs are about sex on drugs. Some explicitly so, like this one. It’s also a love song, because, hey, Cupid is in it! But is he singing to Cupid? It sounds like he's trying to seduce a girl, but then, holy cow, the entire climax of the song comes to a head with the line, "forget your vanity / Cupid come"—in other words, Cupid, let loose, don't take this "love" shit so seriously, enjoy the moment, lose yourself in the wigged-out, drugged up lust that's going on here—consummate the trip! Maybe he's talking to himself ... trying to get over how much he's into this girl he's trying to seduce (or likely has already successfully seduced, but now wants to bring things to a resolution), but he's too uptight, and he's trying to get over his embarrassment of being with this really great girl and just fuckin' shoot his wad already, to put it crudely. It's when you can totally lose yourself in the physical expression of your love for each other that love truly manifests itself. On drugs.

Randy Russell appears as a kind of anti-Cupid in the film Modus Operandi (DVD coming out on Valentine’s Day 2012 from Kino International) and has recently completed a novel, The Doughnuts, for which he has engaged the services of a dozen bakers to mold into deep-fried rings of poison pleasure.

Jeff Curtis hosts the WHAT YOU NEED radio program on WRUW FM 91.1 Cleveland, where he sometimes plays My Bloody Valentine records. You can listen here:

Randy is a regular listener to Jeff’s weekly radio show.


Aaron Henkin + Jessica Miles Henkin


When a precious gem is judged to have an imperfection, the jewelers call it an “inclusion.” I like that. Our family’s inclusions make us all the more valuable to each other. You and the kids are the light of my life and the beat of my heart.



I wish that Vic Chesnutt saw himself as an "inclusion". I think he'd still be around, had he done so.

Inclusions like a cat with a scabby chin who always wants to rub it on you while cuddling after a long day. Like a little girl, who will always be tiny, yet have the life force of a happy, gleeful giant.

Like a little boy, who wants to be a superhero, yet sucks his thumb.

Like a muscular radio man with one incorrect tattoo, who isn't told often enough that he's the most wonderful husband and father a family could wish for.

Like a wife and mother who has everything she’s ever dreamed of having, yet still enjoys recruiting anxious content in her brain as to why it may fall apart at any given moment.


Aaron Henkin:
  • public radio producer
  • husband of Jessica
Jessica Henkin is passionate about her family, autism education, Stoop storytelling, Baltimore city, keeping her house clean, finding most things funny.


Paula Bomer + Nick Rockwell

P J Harvey, "To Bring You My Love"

ME: This song is not soothing, not loving. It’s all pain and ripping your heart out. In fact, it’s about selling your soul to the devil. P J's blues influence, thematically, and musically, was huge at this point in her career. I’ve been married for sixteen years and I love my husband, but it can feel like death, and no one can hurt you like the person who knows you best.

MY HUSBAND (cribbed from past conversations and I’m making shit up too): This song is about the depths P J has to go to in order to write music. That writing music, bringing her love to her audience, comes at a great cost at times. It’s a very Robert Johnson song. Music about writing music.

ME: I fucking hate it when he’s right.

Paula Bomer is the author of Baby and Other Stories, which received a starred review in PW and Bookforum called it "punk rock for the thoroughly domesticated." Her novel, Nine Months, is due out in the fall of 2012 by Soho Press.

Her husband, Nick Rockwell, studied literary theory at Yale and his band, Hustler, played at CBGBs, The Spiral and other places, in the early 90s.


Roxane Gay + xTx

One day we’re gonna drive and drive until we reach some wherever place, and we’re going to be so damn good and free and we’re going to call each other different names like maybe I’ll be Remy and you’ll be Portia and we’ll have these real names we’re hiding beneath our real skin, the real ugly beautiful skin we only show each other, and we’ll sleep behind what’s left of some abandoned building but we’ll be in some wherever warm place so there will be hot pavement against our backs while we’re staring up at the night sky, our bodies always touching, always, and sometimes I’ll say what do you want to do and you’ll say whatever as long as it’s with you and you’ll say when do you want to leave and I’ll say whenever as long as it’s with you and we’ll talk until our lips chap and our throats dry and even that won’t matter because there’s still more to say and when there’s nothing left to say I’ll bleed for you and you’ll breathe for me and that’s all we’ll need wherever we are.

Remember that place I have for you? Where we stole so much, yet not enough? (Never enough.) The place where we swallowed the things that scared us? The place where I took your rib and you took mine?

I think of that place. Often.

Not enough.

Too much.

The stitches you made in my heart with your hair are still tight, but ever loosening. They will need mending soon. Your rib is safe inside me. When I am missing you in that way that aches I slip my hand inside my skin to touch it. It beats warm.

It assures.

That place, is this wherever place, is a place I continue to want to be.

With you.

With you.

With you.

Roxane Gay lives and writes in the Midwest. xTx lives and writes near an ocean. They are best friends who met through writing and then met in real life. Sometimes, there is drunk texting.


Kate Zambreno + John Vincler

(click image to enlarge)
Draft selection from Heroines
corrections in black ink by KZ
corrections in pencil by JV

Kate Zambreno is the author of the novels Green Girl and O Fallen AngelHeroines, a critical memoir that revolves around her obsession with the wives and myths of modernism, is forthcoming from Semiotext(e)'s Active Agents imprint in September. She currently lives in Carrboro, North Carolina with her partner John and her puppy Jean Genet.

John Vincler is a rare books librarian, poet, and partner-in-crime.


Christie Ann Reynolds + Amy Lawless

Christie Ann Reynolds on Fiona Apple’s "Not About Love"

I am not in love right now. Which may explain the amount of time I have for all the yoga classes I attend. Pigeon pose is my favorite—it feels amazing, but it also kind of aches. There’s a saying about this pose: the moment you want to crawl out of it is the moment the stretch is beginning to deepen—the moment it is “working.”

Fiona Apple’s song Not About Love considers ache: This is not about love/'Cause I am not in love/In fact I can’t stop falling out/I miss that stupid ache. Yes. That ache. The love ache.

I’ve already been thinking a lot about love; no longer writing revenge poems (although they were about love too, ya know…). I’m teaching a course where the central theme is L-O-V-E and creating the syllabus was kind of like filling in the weeks I couldn’t afford to go to therapy. But I think Fiona is right—love is about having an ache—both good and bad aches, a horizon (you + your lover) balanced between the two.

There’s a super fast moment in the song where doe-eyed love becomes eagle-eyed love—where she admits she fell for the kingcraft of a meritless crown and that I'm not being fair'/Cause I chose to listen to that filthy mouth. But alas, that stupid ache prevails. The idea of new love becomes an ache and your old love aches too—the one you pulled yourself out of only to wonder, if you stayed, would it have changed in some way? Would it have started working?

Fiona sings: Take all the things that I've said that he stole/Put 'em in a sack/Swing 'em over my shoulder/Turn on my heel/Step out of his sight/Try to live in a lovelier light. And so a few months ago I too, began my quest: I “packed” up all the things I felt were “stolen,” and I turned on my heels despite standing in the cavernous shadow of a very bad type of ache.

I spent a lot of time alone this summer wandering around London, trying to live in that lovelier light. On my 28th birthday, which was a few days before I was set to return to Brooklyn, I decided I was going to leave all my emotional baggage in London. Literally. I picked a beautiful, grassy, wild spot on the Heath and metaphorically left all my shit there—the heartache, the sadness, the weight of a few specific aches. The very next day London burst into a riot: buildings were burned, stores were destroyed and looted, a pub I was having dinner in was evacuated. I secretly thought that in some butterfly effect of the emotional universe I had invoked a dark energy—I had caused this to happen.

I also couldn’t stop listening to Fiona, thinking about the various species of emotional ache one could embody, and whether or not I should be dancing around to more Cyndi Lauper instead. But however sad, angsty or depressing some people might consider Not About Love, it actually makes me feel really happy. I find a small amount of solace in listening to this song in the same way I get excited about a line from one of John Steinbeck’s letters about love in which he wrote to his son, Nothing good gets away. No ache goes away entirely. For right now, I have Pigeon pose to remind me.

by Amy Lawless

I have no man to flip onto his back at night to beat into a slow death.

I secretly steal a glance at myself in a mirror after I meet or talk to a guy I flirt with
just so I can for a moment imagine him looking at me.


This lens is continually appealing and interesting.

I will never know what it’s like to be you.


One day some rando asked me why I’m so funny.

It all comes down to fast slow fast SLOW.

When someone crushes into giggles at something I say, I win.

Life isn’t about winning.


I think women are ridiculously funny when they tell the truth.

I love to tell the truth.

The truth includes the mechanics of flawed human bodies.


The truth includes acknowledging the fast slow fast slow & retarded spit coming out of your mouth when you talk too excitedly.


By fast slow fast slow I mean we’re all going to die.

We each have so many moments of heartbreaking solitude.


Let’s be fast when we’re together because the slow of it will come.

Then the slows will all pile onto themselves like a multi-car crash.


After you die do you want to be known for slows?


I want fast fast fast.

No not like boys WANT SPEED.

When I make people laugh I topple them over.

Epiglottis constricts the larynx.


Nutcrackers line up in a neat row.

Christie Ann Reynolds and Amy Lawless most likely met at Café Loup, a popular after-workshop-hangout (Think: the Peach Pit from 90210 but with pomme frites and booze, no milkshakes) during their shared graduate school years at The New School. However, in truth they don't remember. Christie Ann is a Leo; Amy is a Pisces. They regularly attend yoga class together and Pigeon pose is their favorite.

Christie Ann is the author of three chapbooks, most recently Revenge Poems (Supermachine 2010). Her first full-length collection is forthcoming in 2012 with Coconut Books. She teaches Writing in the Humanities at Hofstra University, co-curates The Stain of Poetry Reading Series and the brand new series TOTEM: poetry + film. Recent essays, recordings, poems or reviews can be found or are forthcoming in Sink Review, Forklift, Ohio, Poor Claudia, InDigest, TheThePoetry Blog, and Action, Yes!

Amy Lawless is the author of Noctis Licentia (Black Maze Books, 2008) and the chapbook Elephants in Mourning ([sic] Detroit, 2012). Her poems have recently been published or are forthcoming in H_NGM_N, Forklift, Ohio, and Sink Review. She was named a 2011 New York Foundation for the Arts fellow. She teaches Creative Writing at Rutgers University and lives in Brooklyn.