4/30/12

Holly Day

Spare Set

I might never have realized they were gone if
The garden frogs hadn’t been so adamant about it. “Look under the rock!”
They said, and I did, and found nothing. But they kept saying it
And soon I realized that it was the nothing
That they were referring to.
So I had to find a different way to get into my house.
Without my keys, the only alternative was to
Force open a window and get in that way. But gentle pushing
Didn’t seem to do anything, so I had to use one of the stone frogs
To break the glass and clamber in through the hole.
Unfortunately, I cut myself up so badly doing so
That I ended up passing out on the bathroom floor
Realized as I did so that it wasn’t my house at all
Which was probably why there were no keys under the fake rock
Which also explained why the fake rock felt so heavy and real.
Outside, I could hear the stone garden frogs
Croaking and laughing loudly amongst themselves
Words like “wasn’t” and “that” and “awesome” drifted in
Through the window, and boy, those damned frogs
They really got me this time.


The Wooden Man

a man made of wood would be a much more practical being
than a man made of flesh, a man with knotted arms
coarse flesh, rough bark, rooted to the ground
unable to leave. I imagine the women
of those long ago forests carrying
new babies in their arms, determined to forget
who the single sperm on that single night
came from, I see those women

holding their babies up to the best trees
the old, tall ones with birds in their crowns
squirrels in their crooks, rabbits under their roots
saying, “This is your father,” spinning elaborate
but believable tales of strong, beautiful, dependable dryads
visiting sleeping children during the night, planting
dew-damp and sap-scented kisses on tow-framed foreheads
whispering the secrets of the forest in their tiny
sleeping ears, and how the tree outside your door

is the thing that makes this home.



Holly Day is a housewife and mother of two living in Minneapolis, Minnesota who teaches needlepoint classes in the Minneapolis school district. Her poetry has recently appeared in Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Oxford American, and Slipstream.

4/27/12

Brian Warfield

spinal cord party mix

at work
my spinal cord
compacts upon itself
a coworker leaves a bag of party mix
& i tell her that while she is gone i’m going to have a party
when i eat some of the mix
it is stale

Brian Warfield lives in Philadelphia and publishes chapbooks through Turtleneck Press (http://turtleneckpress.com).

4/26/12

James Schiller

i think it is accurate that 
sound is measured in volume

wish. the richter scale
gibbers a little.

dream. chronic scepters
splay the damp
damp foreground.

it’s true, greed.

more, a moat
toward groping.

gut-lunged. grievish.

near-sighted ditches
tussel harp sounds
in parentheses.

if the ear trips
amidst this monster
slop.

bridges. fists.

the property of my arms
floppy with it.

genre-proof
uterus verses.

dozened blood.

homonym pollen
we can’t imagine
is accidental:

heard. herd.


James Schiller is the editor of SWINE, an online magazine of contemporary poetry. His poems have been published in elimae, LEVELER, Knock Magazine, and others. He blogs at oldtestamentdeaththreats.com.

4/25/12

Ryan Day

Balcony Scene

Psst ... Psst ...

I craned my neck to see where the sound was coming from.

She was old and seemed desperate. Maybe she’d been been locked in that apartment for years. Rapunzel grown old. Her hair too thin and brittle for any prince to climb.

Psst ... Psst ...

It was just a matter of crossing the street. Helping an old lady. Maybe she was some distant cousin of Franco who didn’t know he had died, the King restored, democracy left to pretend to be in control of the chaotic swings of economies, tempers and weather patterns.

I crossed Bravo Murillo, carefully looking to either side to avoid Vespas and hatchbacks zooming by.

Psst ... Psst ...

I waved to let her know I was on my way.

She was four balconies above me as I stood in front of the Chino. Chino. That’s what the Spanish call the convenience store. The British used to call them Pakis. Maybe they still do. But, for some reason I think they’ve learned better. The Spanish, though, to them it’s still a Chino. There are lots of Chinese in Spain. More every day. Even the bars, the little well-lit ones that make you think of Hemingway, the ones where whole pig legs dangle like wreathes in the windows, and cigarette butts cover the floors like linoleum, even those bars are turning into Chinese bars. So far the Spanish seem to be taking it well.

Psst ... Psst ...

I hopped out from in front of a Peugot which honked a loud and unnecessary honk delaying me momentarily from my efforts to save this old lady from whatever it was that had stranded her.

Chico, she said, Me puedes coger unas cervezas del Chino.

Beer. She wanted beer.

My son has gone to work, she told me, and I have made plans to play cards with the neighbors.

I listened closely.

It’s my knee, you see, which keeps me locked up here. There’s no elevator, and my knee, it’s false. It’s only polite to bring beer to the neighbors when you are going to play cards.

It made sense. Of course. Why wouldn’t I?

I walked into the Chino and picked up a liter of Mahou Classico.

The Chinese girl at the counter was about my age.

You buy for you, she said in a broken Spanish, or you buy for crazy woman?

I paused for too long and my answer betrayed itself.

You buy for crazy woman! I know! She is so crazy! Too crazy! She always wants beer and then her son he scream at me every night for too long! I no sell you beer for that crazy woman. Pschaw.

It was out of my hands.

I left the store and continued up Bravo Murillo where I had plans to meet an old girlfriend for coffee. She was getting married.

Psst ... Psst ... Chico ... Chico ... Donde vas?

Rapunzel. Rapunzel.

4/24/12

Cristine Brache

block of tongue

it only happens once
anger listens briefly
yet lingers with strange control
a canopy over my head
the structure swallows
the general greyness of my quiet
still words coming, going
smile, because the sun brings color out
even with gag in mouth


Cristine Brache is a poet and multimedia artist from Miami, Florida.  She is currently researching abandoned spaces in the industrial area of the Pearl River Delta for her latest video project.  Visit https://vimeo.com/ccccc for her video works and http://hushedincantations.blogspot.com for her poetry.

4/23/12

Robert Stapleton

SOMEWHERE IN THE COUNTRY OF LOVE

 My daughter has begun to sport a bra and buzzsaw. Our firstborn, candy statue, California ballad in cake time, her body is now shot with pistons, hammers of blood and industry. She is building a machine to fight and fuck and fly. Sometimes I stop her work, remind her of the geography of respect, map the country of love that is our home. Other times, I simply stand on the side of the road and watch her pull away. She is in a contraption I do not recognize, dust kicking up between us. As the wheels and wings whinny away, I wave my arms above my head, hoping she will see me, my love, our home. I stand and watch until she becomes a dot on the horizon and the only sound rising from the earth is the flat echo of memory.




THE FLIGHT MACHINE

Benjamin Holiday once fell from a tree and never hit the ground. He was climbing a climbing tree in Mrs. Brill’s backyard. Halfway to the ground, without knowing why, he twice tapped the scar on his right arm and stopped in mid-air. His eyes took inventory. No thunderclap or wind shiver or ghost huddle. Mrs. Brill’s old cat stood inside a bedroom window, its eyes cooked as if tethered to hot wires. Nine year-old Benjamin stepped down, stamped on the dirt earth three times, and slipped through the gap in the fence that separated his backyard from hers. Benjamin kept tapping his absent wing. He tested mathematical patterns and tried the trick while falling from his bed. Then he spilt down the kitchen counter and pitched over the workbench in the garage and finally he slipped out the back door, ignoring the mashed plums forming on his hip and knee, and looked up at the wood shingle rooftop. Benjamin said something like a prayer to the supreme power of magic and flight, and then he scrambled up the woodpile on the side of the house and, again, rose above the collapsing engines of gravity.
Robert Stapleton lives in Indianapolis and teaches at Butler University.

4/20/12

Mark Pietrzykowski

Floral

I am a jungle and I walk with care,
more life upon me than there are
cells in my circumference,
the jungle in my creases and my guts,
in my nose and in my mouth,
bacteria, and fungi, archaea; I would
stroke them, but there is no gentle way
to approach the anaerobic.
What gods and monsters must envy me!
I am a planet, a mountain range,
a dead branch, a clump of sap,
a demiurge of microbiota,
and when it rains, generations
rinse away, new ones burst forth.
On very quiet nights, I can hear
my flora chattering away,
inventing epics, spinning syllogisms,
disproving my existence. I
concur. I am a jungle, host and parasite,
blind and roiling, aggregate, oceanic, spiral.
No roads lead in or out, no sun or stars
emerge to follow; nothing here
but wet, snarled vines and tireless
declamations: here, not here, here, here, I.



Piece Work

The glue on the envelope I just licked
tasted like sweat on a corpse glazed for viewing
in a chapel with water-stains on the walls
and heel-marks on the carpet--then the clock
pinched forward and I thought, how stupid I am,
and I licked another, and another, and the clock
spit up another digit, and another, and I put labels
on the envelopes and put them in a tray. I have seen
acts of contrition that would make a priest blush
red as a clown's nose, all of them on television;
I have let fortunes wash over me and down
through the sewer grate; I have been as much a king
as everyone else, and I have worked, more
than some, less than many, but everywhere, even lost
in woods and deserts and unpeopled dreams,
I have tended the clock, winded it, changed it's batteries,
nursed it like a newborn that follows my every move
with mocking black eyes,
and if I could I would strangle it in its crib.
Marc Pietrzykowski writes poems, essays, and stories. He has published several books of poetry, and his first novel will be available in Fall 2012. You can visit him at www.marcpski.com.

4/19/12

Dennis Mahagin

estoppel pays for the souls he threw over

It was the late summer of his life
and he perched on the brown slate roof,
his arm shakily slung round the chimney

as if holding onto a brick house wife,
her reasons for remaining cold, aloof
notwithstanding: she was no enemy,

in fact, had his back, packed no knife,
as the stars stayed put, illuminating proof
of soot, and a slope he sensed now, dimly.

So let's leave him be, in summer at first light
 with smudged cheek, he belongs on this roof:
a weary sweep, who fell asleep by his chimney.



Dennis Mahagin’s writing appears in magazines such as Juked, 3 A.M., 42opus, PANK, Storyglossia, Smokelong Quarterly and Stirring. Friend him on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/scruffy123/statuses/54281885257437184

4/18/12

Philip Brooks

Marry Me

You were a carrot seed
the rabbits planted.
I lived on a tiny planet
melting in a spoon.
When you were a donut
powdered with stars,
I was a cup of coffee,
served black.
[more]
I got work selling
trees door-to-door. You
turned into a horse,
galloping along the shore.
Soon, I was a storm and
you were an old lady,
asleep in your chair.
I pelted your roof,
knocked your tulips flat.
So you’d know it was me
even when it wasn’t.

Other work by Philip Brooks can be googled up on the internets, but beware: he is not Phillips Brooks, famous clergyman and poet, long dead. This poem is for his lovely wife, Balinda.

4/17/12

Matthew Salesses

The Boy Was the One with the Territory Issues

I gave the wifely woman a sunflower, which soon drooped in its vase, broken. We had a cat and a boy who might be my son, candidates for passive aggression. Since the boy arrived, the cat had left scratches on his backpack, a hairball in his sneaker. But it didn’t object to a little petting. The boy tried to over-love it, which—a lesson—had backfired. I wondered if the boy was really learning. I caught him watering the snapped flower.


Matthew Salesses is the author of The Last Repatriate (Nouvella) and two chapbooks, Our Island of Epidemics (PANK) and We Will Take What We Can Get (Publishing Genius). This story is from a series, I'M NOT SAYING, I'M JUST SAYING, others of which have or will appear in the Literarian, Puerto del Sol, NANO Fiction, The Lifted Brow, and others.

4/16/12

Shoshana Kertesz

Brooklyn

Down on the platform
Waiting for the train
I see a movie poster
Filled with graffiti,
A phone number and a note "call me"
I called but no one answered
Finally my train is here
I sneeze into the palm of my hand
And touch the pole
I wish I hadn`t done that
Now a nice Haitian lady
Named Bess
Is going to get my illness
Moreover she is going to pass it on
To her little niece
Who will have to miss school
Everybody on the train is African American
Except for two Orthodox Jews
And an unidentified person (that`s me)
She looks like a Jew
But she is wearing jeans
Maybe she is one of those organic geeks
Who live in Park Slope
But no, she is travelling on
Past the 7th Avenue
If she gets off on Franklin
And switches to the “2”
Then we know that she is a Jew
(an ignorant one, wearing pants)
She did get off on Franklin
But she is heading towards the exit
If she turns left she is one of those lesbian artists
But no, she turns right
Straight into the heart of Haiti
Where her home is
Where people can eat two donuts
And feel no guilt
They know how to live
And how to enjoy
They stand outside their homes
And yell a loud hello
Here comes the "snowflake" with a flat bottom
She is so pale, as if she is about to faint
She is missing red blood cells
Or needs to eat more donuts and enjoy more


Shoshana Kertesz is a poet and visual artist living in North Bergen, NJ. Her poems have been recently published in the L.E.S. Review, Foliate Oak and Lily Literary Magazines.

4/12/12

Gregg Mosson

Unconceived Concord

A hard, bitter grape
hangs through breezy afternoons
on a gnarled, neglected branch
known to no one.
You reach and snare a bunch
to ripen on your sill;
my pit beats fragrant music
pressing for you.
For a week I musk and wait,
then begin to mold in the window,
alone among the multitude
in mocking brightness.




Gregg Mosson is the author of two books of poetry: Season of Flowers and Dust (Goose River) & Questions of Fire (Plain View). Mr. Mosson remembers the poet Adrienne Rich who died in March, especially her poem "USonian Journals 2000."

4/11/12

Kyle Flak

TRYING TO GO BOWLING

i am trying to go bowling
who will help me go bowling
the sun shining like outside there is a day there
i put my hands on my hips and
remark on the emptiness most humans feel
when confronted by a glass of milk
in an empty house
still trying to go bowling here, heh-hem heh-hem
look at my pajamas rather nervously from a distance hilarious stranger
i am writing to from a desk in outer space i mean west michigan
outside: a slow turtle on the sidewalk
is he memorizing where ants are
so that he can go visit the ones he likes
later someday when he is older
and less cocksure
i won't bother to answer that question
though still hardly bowling at all
trying not to be terrified by phantoms
i butter my bread with an award ribbon
yesteryear is the place to be
inch your way forward
i will stay here at my desk trying to go bowling
my mom slides a sandwich under the door
like i am worth
all of her laundry money in the world
hello mom hello help me go bowling please thanks



NOVELISTS ARE JUST REALLY MEAN ROBOTS WITH BAD BREATH WHO WANT TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT AND STEAL ALL OF YOUR HARD EARNED DOLLARS

the time when amanda put her whole head in my lap and
waited for me to grab her or something.
the time when i purposely tripped and fell on her parent's driveway hoping she'd offer me
a slender arm
and not follow the others into the house. . . .
i was there on both of those days!
so paste a bright pink or purple valentine's day heart on my head
and call me a hopeless charlie chaplin from the hit movie city lights. . . .
i can't believe my feelings are actually this exciting to talk about!
i don't believe my feelings are actually this exciting to talk about!
i guess the kind of life i have always wanted
for myself involves going fishing without actually
harming any fish.
i guess that is called "loafing around near a riverbank."
very well, then.
i am going to go loaf around near a riverbank.
bye!


You might remember KYLE FLAK from the time he played the role of Mikey in a Grand Rapids Catholic Central High School theater production of Rod Serling's teleplay "The Messiah on Mott Street." He also has a book out and a chapbook out, but hey why not read all of Turgenev instead for free as many times as you like at your local public library where I might be working if you happen to live near where I do???

4/10/12

Mindy Hung

But Not for Me

She made her mark in the music world by sounding like Chet Baker. Her fans loved it--or did they love Chet Baker? She held a trumpet, sometimes. She didn't play. When she tried to put the instrument down, the audience looked annoyed. They crossed their arms. It was hard to clap when hands were tucked in like that. She could not stop sounding like Chet Baker. It was how she sang. She asked, was she herself, or was she someone else? Even as she posed the question, the voice she heard was not her own.
Mindy Hung's novel Trip is forthcoming from Outpost19 (http://outpost19.com/).

4/9/12

Patrick Gaughan

Telegram from the White House for Carl Sandburg

I was in Chicago Saturday night
but saw nothing of you anywhere.
Now I'm on layover
at a podium, playing Lear
in a PowerPoint pageant
on morale. The south wind,
north wind, east west all whisper
amongst themselves. I am a pal
to the world. I defended my thesis
on the value of myth
in a valley between two hills for
three hydrangeas, a black cat,
and two hundred forty two deaf hecklers.
Our kind is a buffalo in the buffalo dusk.
With my last Lincoln face, I bought a kiosk
on Lake Michigan where hardhats
line the shore and headlamps illuminate
a lock box gurgling in the late night sea-wash:
'My people are gray
and I wonder where they are going.'
Patrick Gaughan’s poems and writings have been featured in The Brooklyn Rail, PEN America, BOMBlog, and others. With Avram Kline, he curates Peopleherd’s Readings at Milk&Roses in Brooklyn.

4/6/12

Mark DeCarteret

Getting Behind One’s Ears

Here, you can see where I killed
the lightning bug on the tile—
this greenish stain lit up against
what once had epitomized white,

as well as where I was bit while I
sat in the tub with my brain a-storm;

while it takes more than skill
to tell a tale that lacks all but what
has smelled like a lie up till now--
it takes little to get to the truth

                         but too late.



DeCarteret (Gets the Hang of It)

Even with my head’s wreath
knocked askew by this noose
I’ll still gyrate some, lit-up
from-within, still rig up this
sorriest of moons into allegory,
trade in on the last of any stars.
So soon, to gain an angel’s position,
be threaded into death’s tapestry
but seldom was I all-there,
targeted by any member
of the All Greek Muse Team.
One exception: that animal part
Lhasa apso, part gag shop toupee
passing itself off as a newly-napped
spaniel while I fanned myself portside,
and it peddled its other-pitched world,
jacked its ass against the heavens.
Far in the rear someone hooded
is pushing that out-of-print chapbook
of mine Simic picked for some end-of-
century list celebrating its “blistering licks”
and its “stick-to-your-ribs-credibility”
while a peddler with a missing ear, head
cold tries to sell a rare shot of Tate and I,
shell-framed and hellishly laminated.
I sigh rather than say anything--
as if my soul could be overheard,
this most dour of clouds never
given its place nigh the sun,
too clued-in on that silence I slept-off
in the pall of delusion and doubt.
For those of you who read minds,
listen well--we’re only slipped
these kinds of allowances but once
however thinly stranded or knotted.
Mark DeCarteret was Poet Laureate of Portsmouth NH from 2009-2011. You can check out his Postcard Project at pplp.org.

4/5/12

Matthew Abuelo

For A Self Destructive Heart

What heart have you claimed
in making love in a mad house
where every smile is intent
pigment is detail in defining
your ruin.
Here time is a landlord
always on his way with eviction notices
to kick you out of your own body.
But the greater trick is knowing when to leave
or knowing surrender
to permanent winter
that freezes all that is left of our
fortunes
which falls away in the bathroom down the hall.
We all hunt for a new source for our failures
which takes the form of rubies in the pants pocket of idiots still clinging to a loser's
dream.
It's an easier move
to vanish into our rooms
on the other side of walls
from shut ins who write themselves out of history
or dance behind drawn shades under the thumb of wasted hours.
To you who spend those hours in rooms
tucked way behind section doors
all motion stops
and the mind becomes a dead shark
vacant
floating in space
with no bite left.
What is lost
is knowing all depth
with no chance of returning to the
surface.
That's where the sun is
That's where the life you once knew
continues to move in all directions
with all its faces.
It was always about method
There was no style
To their exit from the streets.
Their eyes become fading receptors
Which always take in the images
that flash across the television screen
As imitations of the life four stories
below.
and the roaches take on the skin of comrades.
Each thought shatters with just one touch of clarity.
They (the shut ins) now live in rooms
As vacant as a roach's intent
Under the floor boards where there are no stars.
Do you know beauty's final curse
and where it ends
as it fades into another sleepless night
or do you rise above those failures
and waiting rooms
of Cornell
where I sat with lungs
filled with saline bags
impervious to holy air
like jelly fish in the coral sea
only to disappear with every fleeting hope
of getting out


Matthew Abuelo is a writer, professional blogger and award winning poet. He has two books out, Last American Roar and Organic Hotels, both can be found at lulu.com. He also as a third book out, The News Factory which was released by Plain View press.

4/4/12

Dan Lundin

Between Green and Union On a Day That Is Sunny All Day

Dorian looks up more than most. Not that he is anti-ground, he simply prefers up, the up to eye parallel wedge. He frequently stubs his biggest toes, but other, more desirable things result from the habit. With a wide sweep of his arm, he throws his keys into the open window of a third story apartment. There had been a woman leaning out of the window moments before, an attractive woman, a girl his age. His action was impulsive. He thought it would make for a good opening line. Unfortunately, the arrival of his keys does not bring her back to the window.

Hello, he calls, charming woman who leaned out her window a moment ago, hello. She still does not reveal herself. When a tenant exits the apartment building, Dorian catches the door and makes his way to her flat. He knocks. No one answers. Returning to the street he sees that her window remains open.

He is young, in good shape. Finding ample foot/hand holds on the Victorian facade, he navigates his way up. No one shouts to him from the street below. Inside her apartment, music plays to a room full of artifacts. Lining a shelf over her couch, resourcefully crafted figurines: porcelain doll heads glued to nostalgic tin can bodies with limbs of wire, calves of spool, feet of thimble and bottle cap. Books socialize with vintage cameras and cologne bottles shaped as a motorcycle, a gun. Her ataman is a leather rhinoceros; her end table is a standing ashtray. An exit sign misguides over the closet door. There are no live pets. The flat is cat and cat odor free. This is important and cannot be understated, Dorian’s list of cat cons being precariously counterbalanced with only one pro: edible. He searches her entire apartment, not understanding what has gotten into him or how far he will take things. It does not matter. She is not there. Trying to determine where the keys had landed, he goes to the window. On the street below, she is there, jingling his keys like a bell, teasing him like, yes, a cat.

Three flights later, she is gone. After searching a café across the street, he takes several steps toward Washington Square then doubles back, going an additional half block beyond her apartment building and peeking into an artisanal bakery, an organic florist, a low VOC nail salon. No luck. Nose twitching from overstimulation, he triples back, and looking up again, forty-two degrees, there she is, leaning out her window, sipping honeyed Earl Grey’s tea from an oversized cup.

Bethany is two months into her fifth successive relationship with an older man, the current being twice her age. She will be the first to admit that she likes the attention and the gifts and the freedom. Looking down at Dorian, an attractive young man, she wonders, am I too cynical for this?

She has nearly forgotten how younger men kiss. Nearly.


Dan Lundin is currently collaborating with artist Tom Vadakan to create Los Desperados, an offbeat/oddball/underdog comic that frolics on the edge of things. Catch up with all his literary high jinks at: www.gonelumberjacking.blogspot.com

4/3/12

Victoria Sroka

12 -

how many occasions are there for lost letters?
letters written, but never sent.
letters sent, but never arrived.
letters arrived, but keys lost
key found, but letters unread
inside here is my letter to you.
its function is that which courses
through your veins
when you sleep.
the leaf floats down to the east,
but travels the creek to the west
& I have no sense of direction here,
but the way my body falls in its
retractable motion.
the fish on the hunt for their
chase after one another,
pulled out of my stencil sleep,
which would be worse if you weren’t
here watching me.
it starts in my hips
the mouthful digested in my belly
around and through the corners of the
maze of my ribs
it’s trajectory slings past my heart
climbing through my throat,
but my ears, it can’t move past
my ears, so it stops.


Victoria Sroka is living and working in Litomyšl, Czech Republic. Her musings and anecdotes can be found here.

4/2/12

Donal Mahoney

Dropped By A Peacock

I can no more justify these poems
than can the pyromaniac
his conflagrations. We both
stand back, the pyromaniac
in his alley, I on my hill,
each of us loving
the leap of our flames.
His are gazelles but mine
are just feathers
dropped by a peacock.



Haberdasher’s Thoughts

The haberdasher has
that season of the year
he rids his racks, his bins
of oddments.
I have no season of the year
like that.
Today, or any day, a derby,
spats or chrome-tipped cane
can shuffle out from stock.
I have no choice.
I have to offer counter space.


Donal Mahoney, a product of Chicago, lives in exile now in St. Louis, MO. Some of his early work can be found at http://booksonblog12.blogspot.com/.