Twenty-Eight Poets

Weekly Gramma 09242017

Jac Nelson

M O N E Y
   

I ma g i n e d e x c h a n g e b i n a r y  t wo
   
   

p e o p l e o r e n t i t i e s l i k e a f i g h t i s

        a s u r r o g a t e

i n t i ma t e f o r c i n g o u r j o n e s t o wa r d r e l i e f f r o m i t s

i n t i ma c y d e s c r i b e s t h a t f l o w t h a t c a n ’t b e

       ——n e i t h e r s e e n

——n o r c o n t a i n e d
   
     
     
     

M O N E Y


Wh a t ma k e s me a wo ma n
   
   

ma k e s me f i r s t l i k e  c o me h e r e a n d t h e n f u c k e d

       u p d o n k e y l o o k i n g

i v o r y g a r d e n i a 8 d o l l a r s t o n i g h t

I wa n t wh a t I d o n ’t s e e s e e i n g me

       ——s t r a n g e r s  t h a t i s a n d

——ma n i a
   
     
     
     

M O N E Y


C h o c o l a t e s  I d o n ’t wa n t t o h a v e t o
   
   

G o l d wa i t f o r my t u r n t o o r a l l y f i x a t e

       Oi l I l a u g h

Y o u t e l l me i t ’s n o t b e l i e v a b l e

J u s t i n c a s e I l e a v e r o s e s

       ——16 d o l l a r s

——t h e t a g s o n
   
     
     
     

M O N E Y


Wh a t d o e s s h e h a v e t o d o wi t h me c a l l i n g y o u s h e
   
   

T h e r e ’s a c o d e f o r T r u mp e t mu s h r o o ms a n d P o b l a n o s

       c o me f r o m

Me x i c o o r S p a i n b u t I ’m n o t wo r r i e d t h e r e ’s a s t r u c t u r e

h i d d e n  i n p l a i n v i e w k e e p i n g me s p e n d i n g s o me o n e ’s

       ——b u t

——wh o s e
   
     
     
     

M O N E Y


I ’m n o t wo r r i e d
   
   

n o w b e e s ma k e e v e n r e d d e r b e e s wa x i s n ’t

       I l o v e d y o u

wa l k i n g t h i s  mo r n i n g I  l o v e y o u

n o w t h e mo o n  s h o n e wo r t h we e k s

       ——we e k s o f wh a t

——wo r t h we e k s o f  wh a t
   
     
     
     

M O N E Y


D o n ’t I wo r k a l l d a y t o f e e d  y o u
   
   

o r t h e  n e g a t i v e s o me h o w q u a n t i f i e s b a b y g i r l t h e r e ’s a

       r e a l p l a c e I k e e p

y o u r mo n e y we ’l l g o t h e r e a f t e r I p i c k y o u u p

f r o m d a y c a r e a n d d r a i n i t s

       ——s y mb o l i c

——ma t t e r
   
     
     
     

M O N E Y


T h e r e ’s a l i mi t
   
   

T h e r e ’s  a l i mi t i t ’s me

       O r

i s t h e r e

a l i mi t

       ——s h i t

——y e s o r no
   
     
     
     

M O N E Y


I ’m n o t wo r r i e d
   
   
  T h e r e ’s a l i mi t t o wh a t e v e r c o me s t o a n  e n d

       R a t h e r t h e n

my we a l t h b e i n b o u g a i n v i l l e a b u t

I ’m o n e h u n d r e d t h o u s a n d d o l l a r s  i n

       ——s h i t

——mo r e t h a n t h a t
   
     
     
     

M O N E Y


I mme r s e d i n i t s s o f t f l o w t h e r e  wa s mo n e y
   
   

mo n e y e v e n i n h e r wo mb

       H o w

i s t h e r e a d i f f e r e n c e b e t we e n b e i n g a

g i r t b a n k a c c o u n t o r a b l o o d y b r o k e

       ——a mn i o t i c

——b a g o f wa t e r s
   
     
     
     

M O N E Y


L i q u i d a l l n i g h t h o l d i n g
   
   

y o u o n t h e r o y a l p u r p l e l i b r a r y c h a i r

       o r p r e s s i n g i t

i n t h e d a r k y o u r s we a t s a l t c l o u d s wh a t l a b o r s

f l a t  o n i t s b a c k o r f l a t  o n y o u r c h e s t

       ——d r y  a n d wh i t e

——s h h h
   
     
     
     

Vito M. Bonito (trans. Allison Grimaldi-Donahue)

comedy of flowers
and of emptiness
   

they stick to the skin, these flowers
leave wounds, incurable wounds

—MARIELLA MEHR    
   

I

the real diluted people
emerge at sunrise

like rain
take breaths

they fall a flood
from the sky
sparkling
   
     
     
     

II

abstractions will not save you

mygod said

fish shine from their own light

they don’t sleep

have no eyes
   
     
     
     

III

the little flowers in the field
to infinity
breathe together

the gasoline
opens the morning hunger

fasting makes dreams
dogs and babies
on the altar
   
     
     
     

IV

that you are praised
in tremoring shards

in the blackest emptiness
of the flower
   
     
     
     

V

the father often
accompanied them
to the cemetery

murmuring figurines
beasts
      divine
   
     
     
     

VI

use the knife
start from the left
the throat is perfect

hold to the promise
hold my hand
   
     
     
     

Drew Webster

Thou Drewest

   

Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee.

—Lam. 3:57    
   

Hasten in through my remains thou Drewest.
Though thy empty home I call clear, little-u-over-a-thorn,
thou newest Apollo through the door may be cruel in this
nearness. If something revelatory leeches out

in the torrent of the day, then clamoring
from the liar, windy stories grafted in the near day
Aeolus has a laugh, slapping thighs with Sextus,
thou Drewest now a caucus. Thieves, thee’ve stuffed plenty
in this canon, these strings, taut thou Drewest

Thou Drewest glamour
Thou Drewest neere in the day that I called upon thee
Why call you me out
all the time you saw us all we
all the time though thou called upon thee
   
     
     
     

Thou Drewest

Out, thou drewest out to winter’s minor edge,
snow, it less a pile of water than gravel,
hear it? the incoming crier,
oyez oyez oyez and the clamoring of it, a gavel,
the accused liar is nothing more, a negative,
nay, nay, nay.

A merry band of thieves we weren’t,
glass statues in us made glass statues
of us. Perfectly
etched by the love of grace, we couldn’t’ve
lifted a chocolate kiss to feed a starving heart
perfectly of us.

Come lines, come on, didn’t you feel it
coming on, this canary clock, it
is finely burst.
Time for one more image yet, make it
seem not so startling, reach—
out to the fledge
   
     
     
     

Micah Ballard

from The Michaux Notebook

We have forgotten

the names

they are no longer called

what they were

pollution time

“space teeming”

with antecedents

& consequence

endless productions

called to provoke

indivisible reality

being split apart

for pluralities

polarity conquered

over the triumph

of matter

the reverse side

of presence

primordial stuff

“that great panting maw”

* *

   
     
     
     

Cessation

of numbness

“breaches everywhere”

fugitively seen

pre-sensations

expectations of energies

“I emit green”

it’s the zine in me

unrecognizable anger

conjured away

to a kinetic side

whose dynamics

interpret everything

as consequence

for interpreting

“the current always being

switched on and off”

“I should like to exit”

* *

   
     
     
     

I will be every one of them

watch the reactions

first time heres

“on the shuttle line”

ons and offers

I will be them many times

too many seconds

“I can only furnish stunts”

thru repetition

* *

   
     
     
     

“a dizzying pace”

flying along

illuminating

devouring company

“promptly forgotten”

the additions

backward flashes

principal to the flight

of abundance

never resting

pursuing some course

plunged ahead

believing it all

without say

so that they’ll stay

Caught in habit

difficult

to introduce

formerly coming

together

announcements made

in the air

Are we the same?

   
     
     
     

Raven Taylor

What It Must Feel Like To Be Serena van der Woodsen

1

Spotted
Sleeping with my best friend’s boyfriend
He kisses me on the forehead like he is a man
I flee the city
We are playing never have I ever
In the penthouse suite where I live
Comfortably, never tossing or turning in my sleep
Never have I ever been with an older man
Like all rich girls, too pretty for their own good
I do not talk about my mouth


2

Your uncle is also your babysitter
He might ask you to get down
On your knees
He might be nothing but an inebriated memory
Smoke and PBR corrupting his breath
And then he wants to swim
And then your mouth is a pool


3

There is always a boy waiting for me
at the bottom of the stairs
My hair is flushed and brilliant
Floats down my back like a babbling spring
My teeth shimmer in a single file line
Like children in the school yard
My collarbones are peach pits
In the morning I take one bite
of strawberry for breakfast
Because I am never hungry
Because I have never wanted
for anything
   
     
     
     

C.C. Hannett

I Killed A Spider In Giardini Naxos

Beyond the green pageboy palms, uniform squares of yellow towels, yellow folding chairs, and yellow umbrellas punctuate the Hilton beachside of Sicily. I sat on the balcony, in the strong sun, watching myself float effortlessly in the salty Windex-blue ocean the day before. While I turned my attention to reading a book of poetry I received as a consolation prize from a contest I had lost, a small tickle shifted from a piece of loose fabric to a tiny spider spinning me into its baby web. In my frantic brushing of it, I lost track of my intent and smeared it to death with my winning poet’s book of poems. I immediately thought of the conversation I had with the photographer of our wedding. She told me she doesn’t kill spiders. That she’ll never kill a spider. That she has a little dude that chills above her bed and they’ve never had any beef. Down on myself, I sought the tender revivalist’s touch on the stain of squashed chelicerae and ganglia. Send upon it signals of life, I thought. Set your phasers to Zen.

     
     
     

Brittany Dennison

little dumpling

surrounded by you

i am filling

a crumb-bomb
meat jelly

a mouthful



you are a water

a mouthfeel

smooth sleepy skin



we the soup pot bubbling for attention

and the rich deep broth on which to float

the crumb trail going from mouth

to mouth

     
     
     

fear not

i’m practicing being divorced

being lonely


being my mother


having a boyfriend


taking the dog out


for my run tomorrow


that the dog will protect me from danger

that the garbage doesn’t have a man in it


that the dog is a sled dog


my own voice


if they can hear me


but i’m pretending


to practice


how to tell you


what i sound like 


 
     
     
     

the pepsi challenge

disheveled man on denny holds a large white pill,
large enough to be seen from
across the street
arm extended all the way,
brings it down, puts it in his mouth
a swig of pepsi
and swallows

     
     
     

Porn Star

A blonde girl with big tits and a belly ring

gets fucked from behind on a futon



She looks to just the top right of us

and makes a goofy, restrained face,

stifling a giggle



from some funny face

a boom operator must have made at her

     
     
     

Paige Taggart

Sitting in One of those Swivel Chairs

Swill momentum offering slip music tonight
n e key bad key pad we reiterate as bad
drop yellow mist cast pleans of eggy dew
it was a sleeping sound like a tent
here we rattle on for rattling sake
or shall we equate something slipping like that after
walnut trees
dirt a new tree
enthusiastic song being sung in a jumpsuit
a jet setter for after hours establishments
you wake up in a low lit space
a bagel for a pillow
we ignite images like math
survey the landscape
I'm sorry your eagle has landed in the wrong yard

my hotel lamp light was on when i came home
i dusted its edges to reclaim its glory
so at least there's that

maybe life slows down if you get your good shoe on

swivelling golden fringe ballad dancing like garlic pods in oil
loose ignition
yr flame is a hand
melted too

     
     
     

Days After

several days later
i became a mutt in the water
i didn't know how to swim
but i paddled anyway
i didn't see well past the glazing
tips of waves that swelled up & down
but i was encouraged
and thus trained my sight
in the water were other animals
beastly in fact
wanting you to drown
to be sucked undertow
but my friend made a life vest
out of tears and it was inspiring
to watch her do something
so unaccomplishable
that i too decided to preserve myself
despite the heavy swell
despite the low lit situation
despite the fog
despite the feeling of worthlessness
saddled to something so much bigger
than our individuality
is what kept the future here

     
     
     

Slaying Within Yr Fave Company

Even if staying
meant there'd be no leaving, leaving made it completely impossible to stay.

In between the routine thoughts embedded, you see faint outlines
for furthering the path towards a bearable future.

The propensity to ride the sting operation, fails on matter of principal
resurrecting godliness & deeming selves as respectful citizens.

Even in the gut of my biggest gut feeling
you fail to win somebody over
because crossed-out boundaries
string together
false identities & an unwillingness to ease tension
& show your hand holding something valuable & screaming :
this ego piece can be redeemed!

I slay
shaking a fist of salt and letting it fall into the boiling water.

It's not about where we are, it's about what we're doing.
It's about the things that we are saying~~
passing for coded speech
with facial expressions that gleam chewed off inheritance.

The way you leave is in itself a kind of stumbling, parroted
with self-flagellation
because the bits that you want to show most are hidden.

The deck framed by boundary-less vegetation, inside forgiveness is hatched.

     
     
     

Sophie Robinson

fucking up on the rocks

ducking my head under each wave on fire
island i try to think of other times ive felt this done
w/life & survived
frank o’hara died here everybody knows
alcoholics die everywhere all the time everybody knows
he was purple wherever his skin showed
    i never thought of myself as a useless drunk
        i never felt
so unspecial    through the white hospital gown
in the daytime it feels
like it would be easy to die
to dip my head under
        just a second too long
            but in the dark death is real
        like an animal up close
                he was a quarter larger than usual
on the edge of sleep you could fall
straight into & thru it    & nobody wld know yr name there
naked in the atlantic at midnight cutting a path where the moon hits
the water i could swim a straight line out into forever & nobody
would stop me. would know my name. every few inches
there was some sewing composed
of dark blue thread    i want to shut my eyes    i want to shut a million things
strawberry moon    orange to silver    my simple tits
bobbing on the water    some stitching was straight and three or four
inches long    others were longer and semicircular    urge to die breathing out & folding in
on itself until it feels like nothing    we get out    shiver    lose the keys to the house
find them & laugh on the porch    the lids of both eyes were bluish black    jameson
drinking an inch of mezcal & me sucking on my seltzer like it’s a beer
alive    smiling    only half quitting    only half gone    a normal heart
flashing in & out on the shore It was hard to see his beautiful
blue eyes which receded a little into his head     the wifi is out
my 4g is fake    replacing each image in my recent life with a square and a ?
(i know rite)     he breathed with quick gasps. his whole body quivered.
                i have taken a solemn vow to stop looking
at your face on the internet    to stop imagining your unkind thoughts
                of me    my life as a little nobody
there was a tube in one of his nostrils down to his stomach
i go to sleep in a wood panelled room the same length & width
as my bed & count the waves as they break
over my head    i sleep like im already dead
            face to the wall
greedy for the nothing    won’t fall
in the crib he looked like a shaped wound
i wake up constipated
in the morning sun    drink coffee & smoke
on the beach feeling full of shit    & good to no-one
his leg bone was broken and splintered and pierced the skin
every rib was cracked.
a third of his liver was wiped out by the impact
i could make a home here prone forever
belly to the sand
let my messages go unread
let my phone battery run flat
let the sun burn my back
let all the ships fuck up on the rocks
indistinguishable baby small    little pieces
floating    like the world floats gay    unbroken
bloated & golden
a monument to my favourite alcoholic
the greatest homosexual    who ever lived & died

     
     
     

Justin Marks

from The Comedown

Somewhere in the scribble

of my signature

is my name

 *

My stiff
body

My sour
stomach

I hold my body wrong
and live
in pain

My pain
amuses me

 *

There's my intention
and then

there's what happens

 *

First thought
worst thought

is the first thought I have
every morning

Trust issues
galore

 *

Fear has been a great
motivator for me

I'm told

So ready
to be wronged

Ill
prepared for
all weather

 *

To sit and talk
makes me extremely nervous

Good behavior is thinking
of all the horrible things

I could do

then not
doing them

 *

Ambition
is stupid

Nothing's as bad
as I thought it would be

The house is quiet

I'm alone

     
     
     

Maziar Karim

Poem

1

While outsourcing your hair to the wind

in front of the sun

the longest night arrives

2

Question mark your hands

and your response is

the exhausted hands

which haven’t had any question for years from the world

3

The bowl of my eyes

broke
The black fish died
It started to rain

4

Replicated the newspaper

and I continue to walk

the title was as usual
Two bullets had been fired
A scathing mother

     
     
     

Carina Finn

Space is the Place!

It was pre-history,
we were lying on a cratered
beach, so happy
in the world of ideas. It
was a pure, metabolic
delight. Megafauna
all around, the ash-strewn air
dense with possibility.

Imitation sandstone
hewed a plane against the
sky. In another time zone,
walking over a cliff of despair
one finds oneself
crying over a bed of cabbage
flowers in the January breeze.
Working backwards, we
begin with what we want and
end up somewhere
impossible.

We don’t have to go home
and do the same thing
every day. This is what
makes us different from
animals; that and platonic
love.

I was so mad yesterday my
skin was hot with rage.
Later, toeing the edge of a
black hole, I sent radio
signals to a distant green
galaxy long ago in space.
Machine-made beverages,
the morning’s dull
probability.

Kent Avenue in mild rain.
Once a gutted refrigerator
near the underpass brought
me to life, sugar
factories beckoned from
their Eastern shores. Now, the
light where snow plows
sleep guts me, crossing steel
giants at night, the wet
skyline.

He said, “I wouldn’t live in a
sleep tube,” the weather
an oilslick on waxed canvas.

     
     
     

Noah Eli Gordon

Love and the Commodity

I accept the terms & conditions

So that upon entrance

Into this kingdom

Of vast excess & endlessly

Coopted agency

Wherein each expression

No matter how individuated

And seemingly attune

To one’s sense of uniqueness

& private self is nonetheless

Like mirror upon mirror

Simply a reflection 

Of the expectations

Of privacy & uniqueness

Just as to pick 

In the temporal fields
Of happiness

From among the possible

Colors of the flower

You’re now holding

A light almost pale blue

One surrounded 

Like your iris

With a swell 

Of complementary colors

Moving as Dante

From dark to light

And back again
Is not an act 

As much as an action

The former a thing done

With awareness

While the latter

A thing done with 

A kind of stumbling

Wobbly faith

Accepting the terms

& conditions that lead

From the temporal

Fields of happiness

Through the fiery halls

Of capital and its snake-headed

Silk-tied Gorgons 

Guarding the entrance 

To debit-free afternoons

Of bottomless aspartame

And abundant strawberries

So red it feels as though

One’s eyes are literarily bleeding

Upon just looking

In their marvelous direction 

But I’m here to look

Directly at you

Beloved

So that we together

Might set fire to whatever index

Would so pin us to a single page

Would keep caged contained named

This feeling
This thing
This temporal field 

Of happiness

Where to pick a flower

Where to pick a color

For that flower

Is to reject the arrangement

Of beauty in all of its

Received & codified forms

From manicured parking lots

To the prison of a single

Penis as the key

To one’s pleasure until the end days

Until the day’s end

Until the room at the Days Inn

Filled with cock after cock

All collide with the expectations

Of domesticity and obedience

Into a winged thing that

Like a 14 year-old awake

Well past midnight

In the blue glow of Google Earth

From his new iPad 

Realizes with a shock

Agency is nothing 

More than the replication

Of a thousand cars 

Driving with cameras

Over every road while

Hundreds of satellites

Coordinate and reconfigure

The sublime into not an image

Of the earth as a whole

But that of one looking at

It not in awe but in the

Lazy familiarity of disgust

With one’s inability to rise 

Above the role of voyeur  

A role I’m determined 

To extinguish stuck as I am

In these temporal fields

Of happiness plucking 

Flower after flower

After flower with you


     
     
     

Elsbeth Pancrazi

Apollo’s Song (for theremin)

I wanted to love without knowledge
just from inference: palm trees:

the shoe you wore to step out of a limo:

curves my hands could float across
like clouds above low hills:

the northern lights: to love
the buried systems warming

hidden thoughts that push
your eyes like fish

around a bowl

to blindly love the room
you slept in, hush cupping

like a curtain hand

     
     
     

Cassandra bemoans the pettiness of dreams

You lie down in a river
but the river flows in an unuseful direction.
The previous day, you lay
in the same river again
and so on.

“I myself have examined the system of tubes and props and rivets
and wiring that makes the whole thing run,”
you assert with confidence.

But the interview takes place on a train
moving from the office complex
at the center of town
toward a bank of servers

where you continue orating to blinks and cooling fans
in the appropriate jargon without mention of the smell

of a dead woman’s perfume

     
     
     

Prophesies

Cassandra will walk though the technology trade show, accepting no free pens

Cassandra will mentally refresh the newspaper as she scans the headlines

Cassandra will be nostalgic for the skyline before it gets built up

Cassandra won’t enjoy the balmy winter day as a fluke

Cassandra will make her drug and liquor store purchases in cash

Cassandra gets in the habit of calling-in to the late night radio show to air her views

Habit keeps her from smelling witch hazel in December

Cassandra has always waited until she receives the email before beginning to compose her reply

     
     
     

Jeff T. Johnson

Last Poem #2

Last Poem #3

Last Poem #4

Last Poem #5

Last Poem #6

Rose Knapp

Pleasure Principle Profit

It's fun sometimes
Being labeled a sick
René-Robespierre
De La Salle De Sade
Shiva Marquis Pietra
Pietà Ponce de León
Cert past managers
~Reasonable cause
Motivate motor city
Renew w self-help
Books Redenbacher
Ford let the future 
Edison Ethiutopias
Decide if yuppies
Or trans ppl faced
More exploitation 
Under late capital
Why is it that we
Are always more
Attracted to hells
And jumping off
Berryman style
Bridges than
Being board mono
Calvinist theists 
Jumping ropes
Why does no 
One truly want
More of utopia
Hellenic flames
The few, the dowry,
& Humbert priests

     
     
     

Hypereal Codex Co.

Nothing in these
Masses of multi 
Militaristic verses
Makes me hate
As much as dead
Scot Scotched 
Smiles no. 95 skies
Theses or tractate
.docx .rx .popes
I am not anti .soc
Cult just inexjoy
Incorrect word
Being multi
Balkan mis 
Silo lyre store
Azure shores
Rise & devour
Houses Border
Lines litanies
Fall & freeze
Vladivostok 
Media tides 
Ices & flames
Faggot fires

     
     
     

Socio-EFascismo

Lanes are terms for
Dying white Broke Lan
Elit Stoyas who like
Segregation police
How deluded we
You when to strive
Equals followers
And boring capital
Capital is a consumer
Yet dying currency

     
     
     

Ally Harris

An Energy

Two days was a terrible stretch
whipping from trash
feeding basic facts
into a paper face like coins

cuz more’s allure
pulls & heats,
more putties
my carte blanche face

when more’s gum
cracks any rain
a shining turd flies
to the ground

is it any wonder I pick it up?

for general fun
or beauty
the word more
until it’s trite

makes any girl dribble
on a wave
or a city  just & naked
unafraid of time emptying

cuz information is information
material & opaque
unwinding
in milk  like lemon

avoids aliveness
or more
firmly manipulating
as I would, flinching

     
     
     

Ordinary Woman

Juggle two baubles
pick the hands
off a clock

laudanum, tussen
at the speed of light
a black boot fit
lie-snug
black hole
black car

I can’t wait to be dead

air’s lily, air and
crotch on wood
suspended,
mean like personality
brines one’s life

Ordinary woman

punch open

a door, smile

in airburnt fall,

clumsy worm,

that hard on

that pushes
the mouth’s
corner to smile

     
     
     

Christine Kanownik

I tried to write a ghost poem

It wasn’t a failure any more
then any other
exercise of language
That’s boring, though

I’d like to see a superbowl commercial
use puns to describe the systematic elimination
Of strange women from public spaces
or use white men’s bodies to raise awareness of the violence
Against the black body
I’d like to see an explosion
mend the flesh and preserve the dark

A man named Increase, the father of Cotton
fathers of such misery
but he wasn’t the father, I am

you can see my failure

there are no real ghosts here

just fathers

     
     
     

In which the protagonist eats naked unaware of certain tragedies:

The theory of the Wild Woman and the teachings of Madame Blavatsky were not far from my mind. The earth’s cycles and the undiscoverable language. A woman who makes lots of decisions for lots of people heard a Fleetwood Mac song at a bar and needed to leave immediately, as if bitten by a snake. Like Faust at his lover’s grave. The protagonist barely remembered Faust but remembered Satan and the Dead Lover quite well. How many times have I been killed by the soulless? But the protagonist is Stevens’ self-indulgent pagan. Dancing around the fires of I-don’t-remember before Puritans put them out.

I am dying
I am fucking dying

but seriously, we ask
what are you doing now?
what have you done all day?

     
     
     

Emily O'Neill

ode to how we happened

if there’s a wizard it’s cane / cut & bled
& liquor inside of a day or else
it can’t count / I do recall

your face / a penny staid
in the tray / burnished by my sweat
by me not charging for the coffee

& in the islands Zora calls
coffee girls a death / lilted
living by voodoo & a wallet

opened like a door / you shouldn’t
serve more than one Zombie
to anyone / serve coffee when

your stomach jumps / to become
a jagged city / if we lived
anywhere minus mice / anywhere

but the candid mischief of rum
how I’d rather grass / than molasses
how I pull oil out of denim & remember you

to the kind of home / moated by acres of trees
to split by hand & then another moat
the killing kind / rest of the world

built on fish but / what about us
it takes only a whisper of
I’m not bad in bed am I to remind

of ceramic men & cinnamon on fire
casks bled through our fingers
& over pellet ice / a Painkiller

the culmination of what field
tell me / how thin my veins got
on wishing / towards your shadow self

     
     
     

if you salvage the spill

staring at pebbled yellow / glass you
stole from sideboard fragile / memorial
to the stuffed house / place you gained

a height advantage / I wear heels to trip
into you on purpose / excuse to hook
hand around pulse / scared again

of leaving lights on / climbing out of bed
into relentless Tuesday / saffron not a spice
but marigold stamen / pansies soft & edible

what will grow when / spring evens her keel
honestly / cove with no outlet / sunflower
starfish plowing over circular bones / what

might you eat / could it be spineless
is there a veal season / did we call it
to table at Coppa / scared again of service

ending before hunger / slaughter / prior to
milkman knocking / leaving behind a child / Todd
carving your name into the cabinet / have I told you

fields of plastic Hadley houses / stinking manure spring
how gin stood in for water / how I lived a kneeling
life / prayer to body stretched against season / heels sinking

into floor / ways we are preserved children / ruining fairy circles
in mushroom forage / no shutter to stop it / no skis
to step into no mountain I could learn to diamond down

does crystal break for fear of breaking / break my grip
on the glass / little misplaced then rescued wonder / I trip
in your shoulder after dinner / full to spilling / brittle / touched

     
     
     

Jason Tobin

Binary Fables

No place to store it, I replicate light
even when the sun is furious.

The Greats alternate between cocaine and prayer.
The lesser Greats find pleasure between forecast and weather.

Devotion comes to me through scarecrows.
Shrines are being erected as I chatter.

False accusations, the demigods devour.
Aces! To call a tool a tool!

I climb and I climb and I climb
as it gets darker and darker and darker.

     
     
     

Robert Krut

THE AIRFIELD TRAFFIC PATTERN DISPLACEMENT CEREMONY

Light up the exhaust pipes,
the jet on the runway,
a thousand mosquitoes wait
to be blown off the surface
of an inconsequential city lake
only to return or regenerate.

In caves, candles lit by no one,
a ceremony has begun,
the ghosts of this park
raise a toast, moments here
that echo and turn
to ether inside rock.

The first kiss,
the run that ended in disaster,
the drugs done behind the soccer goal,
every song sung out of tune
now a melody of EKG lines etched
on a stalactite as if an ancient language

long past deciphering.

     
     
     

WELCOME

In the bulb of each fingertip,
the oval spheres of ten skulls—

in the lines on your hands,
a dirge melody waiting to echo—

in the reverse knuckles,
contorted demon face circled by fire.

And you would rather leave them all
behind while you walk away—

your ability to hold even the lightest
object, a lock of fine hair—

than hear that death song
every time you reach

to greet a stranger.

     
     
     

Rachael Gay

My Father’s Playhouse

You and your brother drove the splintered frame back from your childhood home,
already painted over and overgrown.
Those butterflies that sat on either side of the front door were already
packed in the bottom of yet another moving box.
Away they went from the wall that was your Christmas present.
Away they went from the crab apple tree and the cracked concrete walls.
Away they went from the alley of speeding cars
and the porch forever grayed by the ash from the Mount St. Helen’s explosion.
Away from the blue house painted black then blue again.
You took nothing but the decaying playhouse
with its cardboard fastened over the windows left over from a
desperate attempt to keep the feral cats out.
Your weekends were now spent
rebuilding the remains of your childhood.
Decaying walls and floors teaming with unwanted life
were discarded in favor of brand new boards from Home Depot.
When it was finished, you painted it that exact shade of yellow
that colored your memories.
You placed it in the backyard among the rocks by the evergreens
that died their first winter.
I haven’t seen you touch it since.
But oh, how I’ve seen you linger
at the back window,
searching for a remnant that you can take with you to remind you
that when you call him from the road
he won’t answer.

     
     
     

Sergio Ortiz

Don't ask Don't tell

could have worked
if you had a washer and dryer
at home, and you didn't
need to explain
to the Lady in Chief
at the laundromat
on Domenech Avenue
how your girlfriend was doing,
the one you brought to the apartment
with two kids, and another soldier.
The one you call your wife.

The Lady in Chief
who already believes
she enemy forces
starts laughing.
She's sure she can siege la plaza.
Asks: Sure, but are those your kids?

That's when you want to pull out
of desert storms. Your stomach,
hurricane Berta, stirs up the heat.
At ease soldier,
is what you want to yell,
but self-love doesn't let you.

That's when the combat
halts, another army stops
the crossfire. Both troops
head for their quarters.
Ceasefire, eyes
on the televised broadcast.
Comments postponed,

the TV soup
is about to begin.

     
     
     

Ambiguous

We agreed to move to the rhythm
of this ambiguity, to speak
without mentioning names.

At the risk of being wrong
we arranged to play this perfidious game
of rubbing garments and furtive glances.
We engaged in suspicious correspondence.

Someone should have warned us
that this game was unhealthy
—but how, if it was ours alone?

Forgive me, now, alone
with the kaleidoscope of your words
decoding each of the figures before my eyes,
all hidden denotation they entailed, revealed,
I do not want to be near this skin message,
your hot and throbbing body.

Let me ask for your forgiveness.
If I did not respond, if I kept dancing,
pouring soft lust as you turned,
if I did not dare to acknowledge your call,
it was out of fear and pride.

Tonight, I stop the dance,
lower my exhausted arms, advance
towards you, despite this suffocating fear,
the doubts oppressing my waist,
to give you a gift,
raise my eyes
to you.

     
     
     

Krystal Languell

The Art of Living

In Colorado, in Minneapolis, in Philadelphia I traveled alone.
I unlocked the door and saw the inside of the neighbor's
TV tucked against the garden entrance along with some metal
grating bundled with tape too. I flew to Maine alone. He never
called while I was away, which I readily misinterpreted. I have
watched the garbage traffic from my window now for two years
just as I've watched the shards of auto glass come and go
on the curb and sidewalk of the next block. Between the garden
and the boarded up showroom. I hook the helmet onto
the corner house's iron fence. Free stuff. Everything was
equally serious in my radical imaginary for a period of time
during which I sought to cement myself on my block as
a kind of permanent character. The leader of the community
garden explained that we could put out the branches and
trash on the curb any time we wished, since the garden was
city property and the city wouldn't ticket itself. I noted this.
I traveled, I returned, I was seen carrying a small suitcase up
the front steps on Election Day. The city is full of people
watching, but when everyone works for tips no one's your ally.
What, then, was I? Angry and employed, but angry and ugly.
He'd make up a rule that would last one day. I'd try on my old
clothes and listen to sexually explicit music, a muffled fluttering
beneath my sweater, the dynamic twisted. Dirty? I knew better
than to think I was lucky, rushing back to my station. Let's save
time: I thought exactly wrong, learned the rhythm of a city block
for nothing. No reward for my loyalty. Clean? Soon, I won't
feel bad about leaving my trash in front of other people's houses.

     
     
     

Every Morning I Wake Up and Read About Rape

Drinking my coffee in the window, I see a man come close to
examine the television guts. They are on the curb again. I can't
break from looking. It is late morning already, the collection
is running late. Trash up and down the block. He's carrying
the bundles to a white van across the street, then moves
the van closer very, very slowly. The work it will take him
to make something useful from this is significant. His van
appears full with air conditioners. Marina calls this art
gaze-dependent. I'm a white woman looking out at a
black man limping across my street to pull metal from the
curb, to be sure. I'm surprised but shouldn't be. I love
waking up and seeing that all the curbside waste has been
picked up; it makes me feel like we live in an ordered world.
But I know it isn't magic. Magic is how I let the criminal I
lived with correct my grammar. A criminal is a thief. A victor.
And not all stealing is thievery, but thievery is gaze-dependent.
I enjoyed having a house language fat with contractions.
Christina posted a meme that said if you understand well enough
to correct someone's grammar, then they have made themselves understood.
The logic was wasted on the criminal, who told me it was
important to be right, who asked Doug if he disdained him, who
said he's been afraid, a couple times, he might get raped too.

     
     
     

Allison Cardon

What was the sign you gave

u. It would be necessary to know more about a certain fantasy of clandestinity, which as see here might intersect with a fantasy of split personality: fantasy of the inner depths. (Let’s play on the ambiguity: for/fort [innermost core/fortress]: my interior as a fortress… the public/private myth, to be explained, by the way; it has been said: ideologically capitalist: but it’s the use of the ‘public’ that is alienated in a capitalist society.

     
     
     

Did you make this
sally by the command of
your voice?

Did you not
have on
the banner you carried
          a
representation

          of the world,
painted

with two angels, etc.?

     
     
     

                    “driving power”
                    hardly evidence

                    hard evidence
                    never had a conspiracy
                    if such it was
                    needed fewer conspirators
                    and more executors

     
     
     

v. This banality (I already suggested it when I said that the great sufferings (i.e. mournings) are bound to be processed through the stereotypes of mankind)—this banality is experienced and assumed in the contact with death: one never thinks anything about death but banal thoughts…in death, what is exorbitant, is its banal quality.

     
     
     

Has not the Angel, then,
failed
failed you
with regard

regard to
the good
things     of this life,

in that you
          have been taken?

     
     
     

                    conscience follows evidence
                    which he himself
                    has forgotten evidently

                        few among likely to be
                            nonentities

                    coming,
                    called
     

w. I (like everyone) sometimes hear myself qualified…with intentionally depreciative adjectives: accusation of “preciousness,” of theoretical coquetry, of muffling, etc.
     

     

What was the sign
you gave

to the King
Did the Angel
write you

a letter

What have you

to say about a married

priest
a lost cup
     

     

                    the odd notion, very common
                    that to be

                    lawabiding means

                    not    merely to obey the laws
                    but    to act as if

                    one were the legislator

                    of
                    the laws one
                    obeys  
     
     
     


     
     
     

Bibliography

Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem. Penguin, 1992.

Barthes, Roland. The Neutral. Columbia University Press, 2005.

The Saint Joan of Arc Center. “Saint Joan of Arc’s Trials.”

Marcel Fernandes (trans. Rob Packer)

THE VOYNICH FRAGMENT

the next love will come from outer space
from kic 8120608 to be precise
he will curve the sun around him in one click
in two he will resuscitate the dead

the prophecy says he will be a fiction writer

will bring an inheritance in his crossed legs

will give ballpoint pens to the poor of spirit

will bear rolls of kraft paper on his eyelids

will be a revolutionary

will abolish the use of leggings

replace magicians with blue balloons
give porno cards to our nightmares

in the end, when he becomes conscious of life

he will embroider fake poems in the clouds

and cover the sea with insignificances

     
     
     

X THEORY

it's true
cosmology can
explain the birth
of the universe
just like
it explains gravity’s hold
over our bodies
until the point of collision
after colliding
nothing can be explained
the phenomenon is still
unknown to science
when two hearts collide
they emit indisputable
gravitational tsunamis
not even beuys
predicted in the palace earthquake

such emissions of energy
the vibration patterns
are frenetic
stars form
from the particles’ agitation
oscillations of light
ensue in glances
with great frequency
and the motions
of bodies in space
become unpredictable

     
     
     

SYNOPSIS OF YESTERDAY’S NEAREST ATTRACTION

it is the beauty of this place

that bestows so many orgasms on us
it is bodies being crushed
the hands of the gargoyle over our heavy
necks weighed down with medals
glances averted from the brilliant eclipses
of falsehood, the fairytale newspapers
it’s our own desire that we lend
and for a thousand and one nights they won’t return
the spectacle of stars to us
large explosions inside our small mouths
hydrogen bombs in our genitals
a pinch of salt in the intimate flagpoles of our
most special moments
as much love and consideration
emotion oozing from the sky
so beautiful this place so cruelly
decorated with green landscapes and white smiles
a stage of tragedies
and the wind humming the hours
ideas like kites sketching this space
birds in full employment with benefits
drinking the milk of pregnant asteroids
we are real successes
the savagery was catalogued and everything is inventoried
the beauty of this place was tattooed on the tongue
and this is how it goes: the lights come on
a seraph enters and everyone goes back to their cubicles

     
     
     

Noah Burton

This Kills Me

I left my moped in the Emperor’s
garden, orange ribbed over the bluish
patio. No weeds!—No Weeds!
the Emperor yelled, his window
sliding up, smattering down.
The palms lean against the stucco
like the ladders of the crushes in all
the Friday night sitcoms whining,
No weeds! at the slight odor of cartoons
on the flower bed. I left my jars of snow
on the driveway, and dropped my shoes
on the Porsche. The freshly paved cul de sac
socked my feet coalish. Imprecision all around!
the Waste Management driver announces now
through his bullhorn. This kills me:
whether to stay in on my day off or go
out to someplace and stay in there?
On the stereo, just now, the band leader
tells me I can battering ram my life.
The Emperor feels his mahogany desk
shake under the shadow of his gold feathers.

     
     
     

Antonio Lopez

Thieves of Light

I

Don Ramón Gets Pulled Over on my Way to Jumu’ah

Two generations later, thieves of light pace
the mind
    in deadened toll, hollering
        Pass the government seed,
    umi preaches el camino recto,
        as-Sirat al-Mustaqim.

I rest against the transit’s spine, camión coughs.
Corriendo tarde, thinking how

my bootleg’d din
began as the back of a paper bag
of her day job, where she drew
green marked stick-figures of us.
My heart’s an open-throated bakery
An-Nikah rises my chest, burst to the now.

To pop the question, I
had a Dominican brother
who works part-time at El Merengue
taper me up for today.
Purple and white button down,
mi papá’s old slacks,
kufi perched atop my head.
Am I ready?

O servants of Allah,
    make my    intention.
Chain-ganged    mentality
fastened to the back
of a Rolex.    Cradle fajr to
            graveyard isha,
    a slave-shift clockwork, where the hostile serves    and
    freedom’s the watchword.

It’s noon at Newark,
I step off Roseville and 4th Ave. Watch the city stretch from the bottom bus-step.
An inner city qibbla    prays to    the corner liquor store.
    Vices rank-and-file    the block
    like a
police line up.
        The pollo hervido of white masters        on the beat,
purging for signs
of last night’s idol worship.

A slender dutchmaster peers outside a
primo’s half-fajada shirt.        Alguien le grita,
    “Nomás agacháte
    ya güey.    Oyes,
            no seas pendejo, ya tienes two strikes”
            from
        broken taillights        and
broken English.

At the back of his
    rusted blue Honda,
        Don Osito’s three weeks overdue for build-a-bear surgery,    stickers from doctor
                visits screen the window.
        Neon orange soccer shoes tied to gutted seats.
    Still,
        the canine squad
            licks their fangs,
        suspecting lunch came early.

     
     
     

II

Crossing 18th St to Get to Masjid As’habul Yameen

Before I met her,
my bootleg dīn walked with a stumble.
        Vacant jaw lotted wit a wheel lock,
    Arabic’s on backdoor parole,
            running suicides ‘cross the two stoplight    borough.
    East Orange-Newark. All it knows
        is the concrete horizon.
    Tongue’s a hunchback addict,    jorobado Spanish
clung onto dime-bags of
        rituals and proverbs
    rotations to rakats. I’s cleaned up my act,
shaking off el crudo, the
            Jahiliyyah-aged sin,

        I’m further downtown
at slash-faced sidewalks,    where
        the sun bleeds through shards of glass,
people is half-finished jigaw’s.
        Al-Fatihah crackles outside a
        Dollar Deal.
            God’s nostril breathes
    through its manhole cover. Its thick bars now
    molten amber
        pouring into their eyes.
    Marrowed temples shaking off the jinn.

Sirata al-ladhina. Sirata. Sira. Cierro mis ojos.
She adjusts the folds
of her abaya, gold trimmings embroidered
at the hijab.
Two hours prior, she stood
    at the silhouette of my shadada.
We celebrate by
    staining the sleeves
        over a half-finished ketchup cup at Five Guys. Asks me,
        “So what are we?”
Skeleton cutlass supreme’s
pull me out the dream.

My bootleg’d din’s
held by
Brick City’s pillars,     as thieves of light bump they heads
to dark-tinted    throwbacks.

    Thumm.
        Thumm.

Thumma kallā sawfa ta`lamūna
Peddlers yawn off
    their untagged assets.
    Pawing the dhikr beads, one of ‘em
        opens his toothless bizarre, and gawks
“‘Fat cats and hood rats are kin’
    separated at the shit
            someone gave.”

            I swerve past the dust-cropped tarps,
and slip off    my airforce chanclas.
    —    Left foot, “I did it for her?”
    Right foot, “I’ve studied Islam since high school.”—
    before the storefront masjid. Maxim turret rolls
    out the umma’s greeting in rapid-fire
salaams         Bid my peace to the urban sahaba, as they
shake their heads to the blue-slippered sister
    jotting down        this week’s numbers.

    Baby let’s take inventory:
          3 hours per nights spent over the phone, falling asleep to your confession.
          Two months talking.
          4 visits to the mosque.
          $68 spent on Uber Select (‘cuz I didn’t know the difference).
          A 25 cent gumball machine that popped in the middle of our walk around Southpoint mall.
          6 jetblack brochures on the faith.
          One trip to Harris Teeter donde me miraste, asked
            My name not as a question, but to see how it tasted on your lips.

‘Powerball’s a poor man’s zakat,’ Miguel chuckles.
    Him and Darius
        chop lips on ol girl’s dress,
        Bleeding paint off the jezebel-saint.
    Darius tilts his head in jagged tashuhud.
            Issues a fatwa off the dome
“Half-naked    females ain’t sunnah,”

    paying no mind,        I grab the Noble version, ‘fore he axe me
    in cumulus’d cataracts
        “Habibi, can you believe sister Aisha?”
            Minbar hangs at my sigh, “I know.”
“Astaghfirullah” rolls off the sandpaper’d walls,
“Check your pockets brother,” they tell me.
“Give her sister Karen’s number.”

He clasps his cane
    with willow-barked fingers.
        I snapped.
    “Fuck her attire,
my people tired.”

“We ain’t even got frozen juice cans
    and y’all trippin’ bout
    Aisha’s dress?
Ol’ girl could be wearing wedges,
    fine-strap her back, but
            jamás

I’d come at her edgewise.

Our dawah
    should be a food drive
scribbling suras
    off the spines
Of WIC checks. “

Matter fact y’all shu-”“

     
     
     

III

Salat after Transgressing an Elder

                “Aqeemu as-Salah.”
A grunt faintly trims the air.
            “Keep your lines straight,”
            Imam Rashid, formerly the
West Side tenant,        grita.         His voice
    dries hadiths
off the 7th floor of Jannah.        used to
Chase Shaytan to the ledge of his veins.
Siphoned blood from its valves,
skipping service and heartbeats.         Until he
    stacked up 2-foot minarets
        off the downtown paternity clinic.     Ahora subhan’Allah,
    Paycheck-less men seated cross-legged
in front of a rehal,
    Pulsating with the saged rhythms
        of our beloved’s text.

As I met her,
my bootleg’d dīn flossed Friday’s best
thobes,
    standing shoulder to shoulder with white t’s.
        Shoe rack gagged with the finest flea-marketed tims
        n’ space jam’d high tops.
Across the street,     Otis’ run-down gas station
sells Warrior jerseys and barbeque ribs.
    Owner’s a believer,
        but
brothers is broke these days.

     
     
     

IV

Migrant Dowry

Outside the prayer mat’d jumu’ah,
child of Ibrahim raps on the register.    the courtroom-cashier,
asked for his knots    up front    in quarters.     Obsidian grimace
only thing soft ‘bout him
    his father’s puffy jacket.
Lil’ man’s a juvenile gambler,
    slot-machining his dreams
on palm-sized basketball courts.
    Scarlet hair betrays his Irish side.

My dīn’s an infant, bootlegged off a
a hunch and a hitch.
“So what’s it goin’ be man?”
Her brother’s voice sings in my ribcage,
heating the monarcas inside.
“You goin’ do this    right?”

—Poised pa’la respuesta,
I think back
    to outside that crummy café. Where
playing with the inside of my blue flannel,    she
            caught my heart henna-handed. With unspoken music, she
                plucks each thread from her abaya,
and somewhere between a joke and jab, says,
“To be honest,
I ain’t really seen Mexicans like that.”—

7 months later.
I’m here now.
Inside this Salafi mosque. Rashid offers me a fountain pen.
My bride’s dressed like la virgen guadalupe, green shawl haloing her body.
I throw a small joke as my dowry,
“You the lightest person in your fam yo”
Black Islam leaves Malcolm’s memoir,
    a sea coursing through the 30-some faces studying me.
A paloma perching on the rest of my life.

Curley-headed Luqman
ushers in the small red room,
—He musters his overseas Spanish 201,     “Trátala bien.”
Her father’s hard-earned blessing
seated next to him—

to inside, a satin red room
and next to her.
Playing with the inside of my sherwani,
she leads me,
henna-handed,
to sign the kitab.
    The sisters giggle, at the convert-turned-man.
My fingers thumble, in the maze of Arabic, to find my name on the dotted line.

My bootleg’d din
somewhere,
    along the way,    forgot the fine print. To leave America. Apply for Emerati citizenship.
Oil money, teach English to diplomats’ children, my Afro-Latin kid loses her Spanish.
    Amá. Apá. Mexico. Michoacán. Allah what did you do with Dios? ¿Dónde lo pusiste? In EE.UU? In U.A.E.?

My bootleg’d din,
    threatens to steal me too.
Swallow me whole.

I softly press my hands against hers,
        and confess
    to her
            “Querida
            I can’t.
            Do this. Err’things too mixed up.
            No puedo
            Orar a dos dioses.”
        Let the Spanish fill the air to ease me
in breaking this House.”

Look at her one last time,
her freckles are the stars in Mt. Hira.
            “I can’t worship two Gods.”

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