Paula Cisewski


What about the luxury
of generosity
of certain music
of lightning sprawl

and of making work?
What about how a day is always

never what we expected,
exactly, it to be,         
and so each arrives,

solely in its own
way, predictably.

In the disintegrating radiance,
the newlyweds couldn’t choose what
to do next. In every direction,

toward or away from every rally,
lives someone else to love and
someone else to loathe.

They just climbed into
their car and drove.

Paula Cisewski's second book, Ghost Fargo, was selected by Franz Wright for the Nightboat Poetry Prize and released in 2010. She is also the author of Upon Arrival (Black Ocean) and three chapbooks: How Birds Work, Or Else What Asked the Flame w/Mathias Svalina, and Two Museums. Poems of hers have most recently appeared in failbetter; Poetry City, USA; REVOLUTIONesque; and BOMBlog. She lives in Minneapolis.


Sandra Simonds

No Sonnet

No Civil War Sonnet. No sex reassignment surgery sonnet.
No Black sonnet. No climate change sonnet.
No crossed out Unitarian Universalist sonnet.
No African American sonnet. No girly sonnet.
No boyish lip gloss sonnet.
No crime spree sonnet. No egret sonnet.
No machete sonnet. No.
No adorable sonnet. No iron-on patch sonnet.
No Crimean War memorabilia sonnet.
No Greek laurels sonnet.
No consignment store sonnet.
No global diamond store sonnet.

Into the House of Florida

You are my ounce, my octagon, my omen, ornate
      as palm leaf shadow curing the chlorinated waters
of the nuclear family’s backyard swimming pool. 
They own the world, do they not?  You are my zero sum game,
      my tribe, sailboat catching its cloth lip on the torn horizon. 
You are my minus sign, my time line, mathematic as water stored
      in a cube of antimatter. You open the cube
and poof—the genie, wearing a powdered wig, is out.
       You weigh organism. You weigh organ. You oscillate.
You climb into an oasis and come out as-is. As is always.
       You dream of Nazi-werewolves. I don’t listen. You drive to Orlando.
      To Tampa.        It is night. The bats’ sonar systems
            pulsate below our ozone, our little homeostatic zones
               like blood or home.

Sandra Simonds is the author of three books of poetry: Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books, 2009), Mother Was a Tragic Girl (Cleveland State University Press, 2012), and a book of sonnets tentatively called House of Ions (Bloof Books, forthcoming, 2014). She is assistant professor of English and Humanities at Thomas University in Thomasville, Georgia. You can visit her at


Aaron Belz

Naming Flowers

Naming flowers might be a poet’s trick,
but the rose bushes across the street,
green now in the shade of a green ash
and surrounded by overgrown crossvine,
the rose bushes hanging partly out
over the gravelly roadside, flowerless,
don’t remind me of us, or you, or how
you once empowered me with your anger,
nor do they remind me of myself, now,
depleted in your absence, because
aside from the occasional full breeze
that ruffles them, and though their leaves
are spiderwebbed, beetle-eaten, they
seem at peace with who they are.

No, we were more like flame azaleas
growing wild in a highway ditch,
like gentian, blood root, foam flower,
we were solomon’s seal, blazing star
mown down by jumpsuited inmates,
stalks and bright petals scattered among
rain-mucky fescue, fallen among clumps
of sweetgrass that grow in marshier
places, and that is not to say our love
was ephemeral but that it was maybe too
bright and mistaken for weeds, viable only
among hippies and children who pick
and assemble them into bouquets,
place them on domestic coffee tables
as if they had value other than the value
that is immediately apparent, maybe
some brightness for a day, a poet’s trick.

Aaron Belz is a poet and essayist who has published across a wide range of venues, from Wired to Christian History to Boston Review. He currently serves as a contributing editor for Capital Commentary, the weekly current-affairs publication of the Center for Public Justice in Washington, D.C., and writes regularly for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Books & Culture, and other periodicals. He has published two books of poetry, TheBird Hoverer (2007) and Lovely,Raspberry (2010); a third, Glitter Bomb, is forthcoming from Persea Books.


Matt Rasmussen


turn the sky into water.
All the animals gathered

and decided if the sky
were water they would

be drowned. So they cried  
until the oceans formed.

You have not turned
the sky into water,

said God. But we
have made a sky of water

in which fish swim
as birds fly. It is only

a matter of perspective,
said one of the animals.

God, who was trapped
in the sky, needed a way out.

When he looked down
on the ocean he could only see

his wide blue reflection.
This irritated him.

The mountains
which once caressed

now ground against him.
And God said,

Tear down the mountains
and build me some fields.

The animals gathered
and having cried enough

would never again.
God knew he had

asked too much.
He threw himself

into the sun and burnt
into white ash. It fell

from the sky and covered
the mountains. The animal

who named everything
called it snow.

Matt Rasmussen’s poetry has been published in Gulf CoastCimarron Review, H_NGM_N, New York Quarterly, Paper Darts, and at He’s received awards, grants, and residencies from The Bush Foundation, The Minnesota State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, Intermedia Arst, The Anderson Center in Red Wing, MN, and The Corporation of Yaddo. He is a 2012 McKnight Artist Fellow, a former Peace Corps Volunteer, and teaches at Gustavus Adolphus College. His first book, Black Aperture, won the 2012 Walt Whitman Award and will be published in 2013 by LSU Press. He’s a founding editor of Birds, LLC, a small, independent poetry press.


Jibade-Khalil Huffman


Instead of watching
a woman repeatedly
dropping her glasses
on the floor of the subway

and two people
sitting near her
reaching to help
when she drops her glasses

and each time
they bump heads
and say sorry
and laugh about it.

Instead of Major Dad
why not

just watch
these commercials.

Your love

was going to take us higher

into space
and get us

into “Spanish”
and get rowdy
after the fact

when it was silent
after the rest of

the vitamins were chewed.
Our mechanism

for removing

our drawers
is the only thing going
so far as          
tomorrow is concerned
with baited breath

has to know
where they think they
can rent a van
and cop a feel.

Your dream
is necessarily

someone else’s idea
of good fun               
in several phrases
of the jaw

and some of
the time before
we get to the station
during which

much is revealed
about a troubadour
who’d been standing
in the background
the whole time
pulling the woman’s glasses
with a string.

Jibade-Khalil Huffman is the author of two books of poems, 19 Names For Our Band Fence, 2008) and James Brown is Dead (Future Plan and Program, 2011). His art and writing projects, spanning photography, video, performance and poetry, have been exhibited and performed at MoMA/PS1, Mt. Tremper Arts and Southern Exposure, among others. He was recently a Workspace Artist-in-Residence with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in New York. Educated at Bard College and Brown University, he lives and works in Los Angeles where he is an MFA candidate in studio art at the University of Southern California.