Sampson Starkweather

Department of Commerce
               —for Dara Wier

forgive me
I can’t stop blogging
a logos of LEGOs
building bullshit
since 1800-whatever
you’re welcome
are you going as Ground Zero
for Halloween again
running low
on Obama masks
just say boo a lot
and carry a big
bank statement
Abraham Lincoln’s beard
sold online for 2 million euros
it’s about time
for some green on green crime  
for once
could someone just die
from rainbow-related causes
Progress is more than a town
in Arizona
the Census tells us
people are afraid
of the Census
hard to get more modern
than not being born
what happened to all the hot robots
we were promised
and cities of dolphins
if forgetting a beer
in the freezer was a job
I’d be a billionaire
what you win
for being born
call it the Grief Sweepstakes
your existence cracked
an accidental algorithm
for nothing
Regan was right—
you’re a winner!
now relax into it
like a waterbed
look at the lazy ocean
getting fat
off kick-backs and wind-surfing law suits
I tell you what
selling bags of seawater
could be the next Netflix
could grow like swans
vivid blank thunder
what have you done for us
who knew this face-changer app
would start a race riot
should get a patent for that
the soul is an animal
clawing to get out
but we have fat tranquilizers
for that and the mind
an old-fashioned monster
in the dressing room
in front of the mirror
with a cigarette
trying to figure something out
could use a power nap
and some enriched uranium
the world is just a big rock
that’s the way things are
heavens to murgatroyd
love is down
200 points
some dumb compass predicted this
yet we climb into the blue boat
like reason in a storm
call it merciful or remote
all in
in america
where every dream ends
with a bull                           
in a corvette
at a red light

Sampson Starkweather is the author of 5 chapbooks, most recently Like Clouds Never Render from O’clock Press. His city-destroying mechabook The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather is forthcoming from Birds, LLC in early 2013. He lives in Brooklyn and is a founding editor of Birds, LLC. He is the starting shooting guard for the Williamsburg Crunchers, the world’s most famous poetry basketball team.


Michelle Sinsky

The Carnivores Have Resurfaced

Understand the cold season. Take both bones in your hands and rub them together to make water. Soup results, but the broth is thin. Rest knowing there will be more-- little soup means little skin and eventually, more bones. Quails step out of their feathers and back into them. Peacocks spare themselves, robes trailing. O why, crow, would anyone want to be such a bird when demand is on the rise for penguin stew, finch pudding? No one here knows definitively. More owls ask the question. Lyrebirds grind their beaks in imitation like chainsaws. Kaleidoscope flight patterns press into to the sky like foam. Just ignore the flightless ones, dinosaur descendants, their feet hammered to the ground. If they were meant to run, they would not have been plucked for eggs, plucked for feathers, from hatches or holes where they hide their heads. How would one of these brontosaurs manage to escape the low shoulders of a tiger, perched in a tree, sunk into its muscles, drooling gold? Great kitchen smells waft in bursts from their dens-- you can hear the sharpening of knives. For you, I’ll ration the best pieces. Every red slice coughed up for your carpet mouth. Defeather their terrycloth trains, tar their down with an oily beurre blanc. Could your stomach hold enough to last the winter months, love? Because we both know no one can preserve a parakeet like I can. And no one can quite salt a canary’s wing, or kill and boil a killdeer. Zebra waxbills are imprecise without a bouillon and they’ll put stripes on your chest done correctly. You leave this den and who will season a swallow for you like I can? Exactly! no one. Weather will creep in like robins in the flue. Very few will sear a magpie like I do.

Michelle Sinsky is an interdisciplinary artist and MFA in Writing candidate at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has appeared recently in Midwestern Gothic, elimae, Red Lightbulbs, Metazen, ANOBIUM, and others, and in collaborative works at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and Academy of Fine Arts, Prague. Her costumes will be featured on Dorothea Lasky's upcoming Thunderbird tour with Wave Books starting this October. She reads for Gigantic Sequins Literary Journal, translates French, and works, among other places, as an arts criticism editor and contributor.


Michael Sikkema


If you were a kind of nest,
you'd be an open window.
You were saying something
about Sweden being a solar
system then you pointed out
the Martin houses. I imagined
all your words on red paper.
Sometimes though, it's no use.
The steam pipes are full of steam.
You're still all the animals.
I miss you. I saw you this
morning in a wall sketch
posing as a boat framed with
a pair of peep holes.

How to Talk to the Transformation Witch

Which moon

tickled your haystack,

honey? Remember,

you're lucky. Most

old galaxies look

like train wrecks.

Michael Sikkema is the author of six chapbooks, most recently Wander Rooms and Outside Noise (Grey Book Press), and May Apple Deep (Horse Less Press). He is also the author of the book Futuring (Blazevox). As one of the co-editors of Horse Less Press, he lives and writes in Grand Rapids, MI. He enjoys correspondence at


Kevin Walter

Behind [the dish]

Say everything that you know about baseball. Start with Keith Hernandez. Don’t tell any jokes, or ask anyone about any new tricks they’ve developed. It’s certainly possible to be funny—just be prepared to ask a slew of questions whose answers you won’t want to know. What do you miss most about your hometown? Take your time. Someone being eaten by a gorilla, or someone struck by lightning—now that’s funny. There was once a point in human life where one could say, For the first time in history, a little boy held a felled branch & swung it at the rocks his friends hurled at him. You have to make a game of it. In the All-Star Slugger illusion, a playing card is selected & whisked into the folded deck. A small packet of baseball cards—preferably one with a semi-powdered stick of bubble gum—is ripped open. Each of the cards is different. One of them features the mustachioed face of a first baseman. The top of the deck illustrates a swing in action. The mind has a mind of its own. How often do you stop to listen to each laugh in the repetitive track that follows you around the basepaths? The assistant inserts the card in the middle of the deck. Before you pass
                                                                   the dish
                                                                                   around the semi-circle for donations, promise: the image of the uniformed man will explore the deck & find whatever card was washed away. But promises burst too much like seasons, & the warning track sod & foul-line chalk are replaced by sounds of Danish electropop. It smooths out the field of hockey scores on the TV set. Your assistant looks at you in the uneasy & exposing orange glow & earnestly asks, Do you think I’m a child? There’s a huge difference between exuberance & youth. As you stand on the sidewalk—the rain pissing, a narrow rum bar upright on the island behind you—a stranger thanks you for your candid answer to a brand new question. It hasn’t become any less clear, has it? There’s a huge difference between fairness & justice, like & love. Everyone will be amazed when the card is flipped & the player in the picture holds the original card instead of a bat. You’d choose Bill Buckner over Keith Hernandez any day, despite the collapses & curses. You couldn’t have been born anywhere but where you were born. You couldn’t have been born into a peril other than the one that was yours, is yours, today, in the bright November offseason.

Kevin Walter lives in Brooklyn, NY and is a graduate of the MFA program at The New School. His writing has previously appeared in or is forthcoming from Forklift, Ohio, Sixth Finch, dislocate, Unshod Quills, and The Equalizer.  


Lisa Ciccarello

Where the map is blank it indicates nothing.

There is no place on the map where nothing exists. Where the map is blank it indicates something you saw but then forgot. Where the map is blank it indicates a task you failed to complete. Where the map is blank it indicates a lack of food.

Where the map is blank it indicates an island you have not yet visited. Where there is not an island there is at least a tower. Where there is not a tower a ship circles, groaning under its own cannon.

From the boat the island appears to be a plain tower of rock & grass & tree. It rises & sinks in the water. It is a floating tower. Or the sea is breathing evenly up its sides & down again.

Every island used to be a tower in the town that is drowned beneath them. The sea covers the town with its breath & the islands are anchored to the town though the town is gone. Towns have grown at the top of the towers. They never look down.

Diamond steps run the length of the tower inside the island. They are flanked on either side by great bowls of fire. The steps are not a ladder to anywhere. They are an invisible chest in plain sight. They are a hiding place for a cave.

In the secret cave in the diamond steps is the power to make visible the invisible. In the invisible chest of the secret cave is a visible chest covered with thorns. It glows with what it offers you.

Here is the map to the places of the invisible boat. Here is the map of how the boat of ghosts moves around the sea with the changing moon. The compass is a telescope with which you view the moon. The map is a map with which you track the boat.

The boat is invisible even after you have found it. You see it & see through it & it burns with the burning bodies of ghosts. The boat needs no map. Inside there is only one small room. You can fall down into it but not get back out.

In the ship of ghosts there is the light of their burning bodies & of the lanterns they carry. They enter your body & turn back your eyes. They make your body burn with the light of their lanterns.

In the ship of ghosts there is one ray of light which comes neither from the moon nor the sun nor from inside the boat. In the room the ghosts appear & disappear but the light is constant. This light is how you burn the ghosts out of your own body when they have taken you over.

In the circle of light a flower grows from the invisible wood. You cut it down & cut it down.

 Lisa Ciccarello is the author of three chapbooks: At night (Scantily Clad Press, 2009), At night, the dead (Blood Pudding Press, 2009) & the upcoming Sometimes there are travails (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2012). Her poems have appeared in Handsome, Tin House, Denver Quarterly, Leveler, Poor Claudia & Corduroy Mtn., among others.  


Bruce Covey


The Mets have traded right hander Tom Seaver for Pat Zachry and Steve Henderson.
The Mets have traded Nolan Ryan for a bag of dimes.
The Mets have traded a row of bleachers for a catcher who is about to die.
The Mets have traded Donn Clendenon for a key lime pie.
The Mets have pulled off an upset.
The Mets have traded Steve Trachsel.
The Mets are fielding a circus troupe or a ferris wheel.
The Mets have traded their scoreboard and torn down Shea.
At home in Queens. Flushing NY.
The Mets have acquired several new caps and socks.
It's a new year, Rheingold.
The Mets have traded a player to be named later for the rights to all star Alice Notley.

The Mets have traded Schaefer for Miller.

Schaefer is the one beer to have when you're having more than one.

The Mets have traded for a shorter left field line.

They've have brought in the fences.

They've mortgaged their future for an aging present.

They call right field the “Strawberry Patch,” but start a real one in the bullpen.
The Mets have signed Mookie Wilson to serve as their new first base coach.
The Mets have traded for All Star center fielder Carlos Beltran.
The Mets have released Mookie Wilson for the second time.
The Mets have swept.
The Mets are starting the late John Milner at first.
The Mets have traded the late John Milner.

Cleon Jones won the batting title that year.

RA Dickey wins the ERA title this year.

The Mets have signed Joe Torre as player-manager.

They've drafted Robert Cheesman and George Kazmarek.

The future.

Wilmer Flores, Jeurys Familia, there is no future.


First Base: Assigned the number 3. Uptown shopping for downstairs business. This time around it’s two catchy originals and a personals and the pizzas cover on white vinyl. We compile an enormous amount of data on fine art and artists and attach our own labels and attributes to each. Ten birds landed on the southwest corner of the field, providing ample opportunity to declare players out and prevent them from scoring.

Second Base: We’ve all locked lips with one—the lizard, the washing machine, the cannibal, the spelunker. Does it matter if clothes are on or off? Toast doesn’t cling or get linty. Participating areas are selected for their safety, novelty, and cultural experience—and the scenery is breathtaking! Also known as the keystone sack.

Third Base: Weekly washers, one-dollar mimosas. Fair or foul, this position requires a strong arm and good reflexes. Do some girls look cute in snow gear? The hot corner, ice as a culture thief. Today’s alienated and cynical youth give blowjobs and eat out pussy to their heart’s content. The accompanying video featured a bevy of humorous cameo appearances.

Home: Sign up for x-rays or a premium UV electric toothbrush! A shuttlecock, pave lime, golden sacks, or cloud-nine skin! The ball is hit in such a way that the batter is able to reach home safely in one play without any errors being committed by the defensive team. Crunch base, frozen sausage. If I put a sock on the doorknob don’t come in.

Bruce Covey has taught at Yale University, Emory University, and the Atlanta College of Art. He is the author of five books of poetry, including, most recently, Reveal: All Shapes & Sizes (Bitter Cherry, 2012) and Glass Is Really a Liquid (No Tell Books, 2010). He lives in Atlanta, GA, where he edits Coconut Poetry and curates the What's New in Poetry reading series.