Gris-Gris, an online journal of literature, culture & the arts

Author Archives: kconner2

Summer Flash Fiction Contest Winner

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Audio of Tequio Youth Poets

Click below for audio of two anonymous Tequio youth poets reading their work.    

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Introduction to the Tequio Youth Poets

by Craig Rosen   I live in Southern California and teach poetry writing, primarily to at-risk and marginalized teens. I work for the Ventura County Arts Council, a non-profit organization, and much of what I do is supported through grants which I also write. +++One of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my […]

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A Difficult Winter

by Howie Faerstein   (Tycho Brahe–circa 1591) I planted a garden a refuge in murderous Europe but now swamps return and my forest hangs with death. If anyone doubts it and if they dare have them poke their heads inside the peasants’ huts. No cleaner than their pigs. Huddled in dung heaps awaiting their end. […]

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Love

by I.V. An awkward stare A simple smile My heart was stolen For a moment I glimpsed A beautiful angel  Who knew the universe conspired So that I could meet you    Ña kuni yuu Ni ndakuentee Nuu ña Ni xakuña nuu Xara ni Xakuinaña Corazon yu’u Miii Xaa’ra ni xini in angel Ndadu’duvaa Ndakuna […]

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Rebel Call

by I.V.   You ask me to be peaceful And to be non-violent You tell me to be submissive And to keep my thoughts to myself How can I be quiet How can I be peaceful When my dignity and humanity Have been stripped away My only option is to rebel Were they peaceful 500 […]

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the drowned man

by Kimberly Povloski   i picked the tarot from your teeth               left a shred of moon to rot fang to thistle–thistle as in milk, as in the opalescent sleep our mothers swallowed like tea the taste was mossed and bitter as the pewter heart of a bird hushed among firs   these are perils […]

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Identity Theft

 by A.S. I was born in San Vicente Coatlan in the state of Oaxaca I remember weekends in the fields with my grandfather Telling me stories of my ancestors At 13 my parents brought me to the States In search of the American Dream I knew my life would change but not how much In […]

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Reflecting

By R.L.   Dear Rosita I want to tell you about my feelings Every time I see you You give me a quick glance and run out the door All day long I’m alone I see your mom She admires me A little bit more than you do Your sister sings to me She probably […]

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Value

by L.H.   She gave it to Sam She didn’t see the worth She had a collection already He gave it to Juan He didn’t care for it It wasn’t the new brand Raquel tossed them back They weren’t the color pink And then they came to me I gave them to Paul Oh boy […]

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Bloom

By F.P.   I am becoming green again My branches stronger every day My shrubs nearly as tall as me My roots firm With the love of Mother Earth Nothing is impossible Your ax destroyed my branches My flowers and my fruits But you forgot about my roots Where my strength resides Injured by your […]

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A Moment of Happiness

By G.M. Working under the sun He thinks about his children’s happiness A body full of sacrifices and scars Working twelve-hour days no breaks all guts The fields are his second home Long days of hard work pass slowly All you see is the sombrero on his head Rain or shine it doesn’t matter Old […]

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Guilt

by I.V. I dream with my eyes open My body weary and shaking I see the mountains I must conquer The sunrise of a new beginning I lay here hoping someone will see me My mouth dry thirsting for a drop of water I ask myself, has the lord forsaken me? Are my transgression that […]

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Vespertine

by John Sibley Williams I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual. —Virginia Woolf Within the clink of light bulbs going dark, just before monsters reemerge from wherever we keep them & the prayed-to dissolve like freshwater in the ocean. Before the bedsheets, wet with panic, fuse the body to […]

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The Frog

by Jean-Mark Sens The fact, its croaking didn’t wake you up. A frog sitting on the top of the bed post green emerald and gold dots matching its eye color a lean, enigmatic body of an athlete and the stranger fact, it held a cigarette in its mouth– no smoke and it could not talk […]

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Girlhood, 1986

by Jenn Powers   virginal bedsheets on the clothesline strung between pin oak & white cedar, green canopy sparkling with suneye: +++++++++I am life here in old new england suburbs, dusty yellow grass & fleshy tomatoes warm from the garden, drink this dandelion milk like school glue at the splintered picnic table: wig-wearing aunts, iv-bruised […]

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tarocchi

by Kimberly Povloski you covet a man’s pocket-knife the blade he cradles like a song in his hand the faculty of it to hurt stars into dark shapes disperse light like clouds of silverfish you covet its sleep coiled into pearl, elk antler quiet bone the crooked smile that flickers open, demure and the safety […]

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The Man Who Played Godzilla

by William Miller A runt, a short man among short men, he looked for work in post-war Japan. Too small for the docks, construction yards, he stumbled on a movie set. The light was fading— someone told him to put on a mask, stand there for ten seconds. Fame quickly followed. He raised rubber arms, […]

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Sounds Within the Widow’s Walls

by Donald Levering   Late at night my mother hears the others doing laundry, taking showers. Pipe-moans mount to shrieks that stop and start all over. The plumbing’s clang and rush sound like the subway that hurtles under her building and then beneath the river. Her husband used to take that train to and from […]

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Reverend Golf

by Donald Levering Hunched over his putter in the living room, my brother Gary used to offer proverbs. The fate of your game depends on your choices of clubs. He gave us lessons to redeem our swings, caddied his own bag until he slipped a disc. Character displays in the handicap you claim. Before his […]

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Solitude Variations

by John Krumberger   In Amsterdam the poet is hired to attend the funerals where no one else comes, offering a poem for the unmourned: illegal immigrants, drug mules, sex workers, lonely tourists, the forgotten old, their footprints erased, no trace of how they arrived here. Farewell sir, without papers, without identity. What were you […]

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How Far Can You Fall?

by Mel Kenne Until you hit something or until something strikes you. Then we may say your fall is broken. Or else we may say you’re broken by your fall. How far you can fall is a matter of weight and mass, of how both may come all at once to matter, and of your […]

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I’m in Your Hands

by Mel Kenne That’s almost all I want to say. But a small explanation: the you I’m speaking of may not be who you think it is, although it is, we may say, an inspirited being who possesses two hands and likes to hold things in them, sometimes even other inspirited beings like its own. […]

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The Drought

by Mel Kenne   It will get better, we thought. It did not. More clouds gathered, but no rain fell. As far as stories went, none were left to tell. We can make the best of it, we thought. Those we saw as wise were now mute as the wells gone dry and left deserted, […]

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Like Light in a Basin

by Lois Harrod +++Appalachian Trail, Pennsylvania   All that night we seemed to be slouching toward something mirrored in the scatter of water, a moon, perhaps, wrapped in a papery mist though the moon itself seemed to follow us as if it were the bony dog we left behind. When at last we cramped down […]

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describe your mother

by Delaney Gibbons   describe your mother at her quietest swollen-limbed and teary holding limp socks in both her hands asking for help the sounds of her retching in the middle of the night bald head bent over a pink plastic bin lifting her shirt in the kitchen to show you the scar up her […]

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Almost 22

by James Deitz   She was a ghost orchid and I was her sphinx moth. A symbiotic connection but she wasn’t a flower. She was a soldier. In the weight room, she yells at a guy for lurking near squat press. Her dominating smirk when she saw someone staring at her breasts pressing through battle […]

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Matinée

by Ann Cefola — After A Touch of Mink (Universal Studios, 1962)   She honeyed blonde, he steel brunette.  Not Doris Day. Not Cary Grant.  Parents—mine—who observe those spar god-like onscreen.  Breathy amplification—whisper and scratch, outsized, bursts like sparklers. At five, I am animal, another species. Mouths move.  Unseen orchestral track.  Doris Day with spots […]

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The Passenger

by Emilie Staat   When you leave the concert, it’s after midnight in the Quarter. Sunday night is gone. Monday morning hasn’t truly started. You’ve forgotten how hard it can be to get a cab at this time, so you start walking. A few cabs pass you, already occupied. You start to worry. +++You could […]

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Mother and Child

by Ben Gottlieb   After two weeks of labor they decided it would be best to leave the child inside of her. A radiator in the throes of its short-cycle turned silent, and the room’s attendants receded through the sliding door. +++With her neighbor’s whinnies, the mother understood that success was now happening elsewhere: an […]

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Birth Announcement

by Eleanor Stern   After the news came my thighs shook even in my sleep so that I could not walk alone to the bathroom. Showering was out of the question. Finally Jonah pulled off the pajamas I’d worn for days and undressed himself too. We lay in the bathtub like two fat seals, turning […]

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The Hungry

by Nan Wigington   You didn’t think about it until you were much older, but those weren’t mustaches, just fine filaments of flesh, barbels. The fish probably weren’t hungry, either. And all the enchantment shimmering now tall, now fat on the cold black water before you was no ghost park, only a reflection of everything […]

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Heron Girl, Winner of the Summer Flash Fiction Contest

by Joy Kennedy-O’Neill   I’m already excited from meeting Dog-Boy, Alien-Man, and the fortune-teller who promises I’ll get my first kiss from a boy next year. But the last surprise is going to Martha’s house on the carnival grounds, walking through her parents’ dingy trailer and discovering her bright yellow bedroom, with Hawaii Five-O posters, […]

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Cabins

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On the Bayou

by Benjamin Soileau       At first Rey thought Gabriel was blowing on her neck, but that was impossible since he was unconscious in the backseat, or worse. “Hold on, Gabe, babe,” she said, reaching back to slap at the mound of her husband. “We almost home, babe. Stay with me.” +++The tickling traveled […]

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The Thing with Feathers

by Jesse Falzoi       We need water for important things. It was here that we shared a bottle of sweet champagne after passing my mid-exams. It was here that we killed a six-pack of Beck’s after granny died. And it was here that I told my brother Mika. +++You must be kidding me, […]

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Porches

by Tad Bartlett       Before John Flip grew up, became an accountant, had his brains eaten by maggots, and died, he was an only child in a house with no porch. The house was next door to the town sawmill. Log trucks rumbled day and night, punctuated by the clanging bite of metal […]

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Pale Rider

by Amy Conner       In the midst of life, we are in death—or so The Book of Common Prayer reminds us in its liturgical service, the Burial of the Dead. +++I can testify to that observation: one Friday morning in May of 1999, I died twice. +++It was already hot at 8:00 a.m. […]

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Other Houses

by Tina Egnoski     Here’s what the real estate agent didn’t tell me about the mushroom-colored stucco ranch at 51 Pinewood Drive: one bright afternoon in March of 1996, a woman named Bernice Lyle brought home a box of long-stemmed, peach-colored roses and inside the box, nuzzled among buds and leaflets, was a shotgun. […]

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Diary of 56 Days in an Israeli Psychiatric Hospital

by J. R. Solonche And on the first day they stared at him as he shaved and he showered And on the second day one introduced himself to him and he had scars on both wrists and they stared at him as he shaved and he showered and they gave him bitter cigarettes and they […]

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Spring Rain

by Stella Vinitchi Radelescu   I happen to be+++to be there in tiny places tiny hidden places on earth gathering crumbs pieces of sun seconds minutes for the feast of the year+ : years left on empty tables+++—hunger & innocence— I was enormous at times pregnant with the moon thirsty for blood a scream in […]

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Seven Pear Trees in Late October

by J.R. Solonche Far longer than these houses beyond them, they have stood in their row on this ridge, now filled to overflowing with fruit, a seven-branched candelabrum ablaze with the green-gold fire of pears. But they are never picked. At least, I have never seen anyone come out to pick the pears. Instead they […]

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Model

by J.R. Solonche Where have we seen it before, this arrogance of ignorance? In the portraits of 18th century French aristocrats? In the rough photographs of criminals on post office walls? Here it is again, in the glassy eyes. Here it is again, in the languid, glossy confidence of hair.

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Brief Instructions for Drawing a Portrait of My Wife after the Most Violent Week in Recent U.S. History

by Dante Di Stefano Begin with the intangibles: her voice composed from cradlesong and carry on, her kindness, a doe on the median, her concern, a heavy kiss, a deep breath. Continue by crosshatching the background, stars in the shape of fractured orbital sockets, anger shaped like a bruise, bruises shaped like protest, protest shaped […]

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Love Poem Written While Listening to “Alligator Crawl” Repeatedly and Misremembering Lines from Kobayashi Issa

by Dante Di Stefano All the time I pray, I keep on killing mosquitoes while the snail in me is stripped to the waist under the evening moon; yes, my wife is upstairs in bed with the dog curled up like a comic sans question mark beside her, and I have snuck down to brace […]

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*

by Simon Perchick   Every meal begins with your hands dry and around your forehead squeezes into its hiding place –in such a darkness both shoulders slump forward till they hear the tablecloth pulled closer fed air and a shirt collar left open, waiting to lie down where a plate should be –it’s the sound […]

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It Is Nearly Always Summer Here

by Eric Pankey The sunflower’s neck is not yet bent Wherever one walks a cloud of gnats hovers head-high Starlings break fast from a pear tree Twilight lingers long beyond the tree-line A deer and fawn bed down beneath dark hemlocks A tense stillness shivers through their sleep As the future approaches a dog begins […]

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Like the Amnesia That Sets in After a War

by Eric Pankey A line marks each day Not to commemorate But cross out +++++: : The moss-crumbled brick Rejoins the clayey soil As dust flakes and slivers +++++: : To hide the blood stain The entire cloth is re-dyed red +++++: : Impermanence takes its form As repetition +++++sunrise moonfall Streams and rivers swollen […]

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Romantic Landscape with the Garden of Gesethmane

by Eric Pankey Enrobed in shadows, the woods invite one to tarry. If given an exploded view, one might behold unquantifiable dark matter, a graphite under-drawing bled through, the trees rearranged, composed, variants of the present site re-sited: a tangled screen of vine and tendrils, a distorted perspective to undermine the reality of the pictorial […]

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The Martyr’s Cell

by Donald Levering ++++++Zahir once took the form of a tiger—Borges He’d never renounce his faith to gain release. Without complaint of moldy meals or sweltering cell, his sole request his jailers finally granted— colored paints and brushes. Other inmates said he had confessed no desire to escape. Yet they heard him perseverate— When my […]

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Looking for You

by Christina Kessinger One December in Tucson, ten years later, we drove a borrowed car down Miracle Mile, the three of us, your mother and two sisters I wondered what miracle could possibly have taken place on that wide strip of asphalt, cheap motels and fast food joints hawking themselves hopelessly in the vast blue […]

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OAXACA

by Tina Kessinger Walking up Tinoco y Palacio, the long hill, wrought-iron windows and the hammering swath of sun. A black dog gazes dreamily from green-water shade. A giant among small brown people, I’m unearthed in their gaze, the geranium music of their tongue strumming the violet air. Welcome the choke-fume of buses, the altars […]

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Picking Mulberries

by Tina Kessinger You two holding the ladder, looking up, as I reach into the wide green arms of the tree. I pluck berries, pass them down to the bowl, hands purpled with the sweet ooze of their blood. Precarious, this harvest, balanced on the top rung, the last fingers of sun lifting off the […]

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The Mountain

by Tina Kessinger At lunch near the plaza, the mountain rising blue and misted behind you, we talk of the malignant seed that grew quietly in your loins for years before it flowed into the warm river of your blood. Seventy-three, you say you can’t complain of the surgeon’s knife, biopsies, chemo-therapy. There’s a woman […]

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Your Eyes

by Tina Kessinger Your eyes climb into me, white-knuckled, reeling still from the loss that flung you, spinning, out of your life and into the night of a darker constellation. It was grief, sharp as roses, that receded with years. Each veil of it peeled you like a knife, until you recognized your life again, […]

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After the Hurricane

by Tina Kessinger The women light the broken house. Candles, wine, a séance for what is lost. The old tree hovers, long arms stripped of lace. Mildew scribbles ruined walls, roaches skitter. A song floats in the crooked chandelier … Oh my man I love him so … Six women, three who lost everything, taken […]

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Duran Canyon

by Tina Kessinger We gathered wood from an old beaver dam where the creek had shrunk and left it heaped, pale as bones, tooth-notched at each polished end. It made a good fire, warmed us as the mountain spread its nightly chill and we sat watching as the moon climbed the ridge and hung itself, […]

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Heading North

By Tina Kessinger Heading north to Santa Fe, Sandia rises out of the gentle slope of winter grass, stranded blue as a beached whale. The pavement of I-25 thumps under her wheels, a bus lumbers, coughs a blackened spew and she passes, the arrogance of speed uncoiling, fastening her more firmly into going. To the […]

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Black House

by Tina Kessinger The mind ignites its black house. +Charred birds pour ++from each window, funnel +++toward the chimney sky. The moon is a plate of bones. +Its voice is singular, ++unmoored, drifting +++like the small boats of stars. The doctor came +with her malignancies. ++You carved her up +++and buried her. I kept her […]

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Before

by Tina Kessinger Before anyone died. When the world was round and fit into your smooth, pink palm. You sat on the sixth grade steps with your transistor radio. Cool slate against your long, straight legs. Twist and Shout was an opening your heart leapt through. I’ve Got You Babe. You argued with your best […]

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Learning to Fall

by Ben Gunsberg How will you manage stairs when your old body trembles like a piece of straw, they say. Practice wearing a tool-belt, a backpack. Fall in heels, they say. Tuck your head. Round the right angles. No straight legs. No arched spine. Do not hold your breath. Consider the terrain, they say. Keep […]

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The Pointing Dictionary

by Merridawn Duckler I slept in the home of my childhood while my husband was gone. From him I’d once been as far as St. Petersburg. In fungal yellow bedding I tossed and turned as some outside halogen drilled into my skull and I blamed my parents for the incessant light. Around three-ish in the […]

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Rogue Time

by Merridawn Duckler My long lost girlfriend came to me during a nap I was not supposed to take. She smelled like colonial furniture and had shiny brown hair, slippery as an eel or a magazine page. She played something quiet, just outside my sight, a flute as she did when we were best friends […]

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Lost Bayou

by Glenn Bergeron II Years ago, we paddled our pirogues down Lost Bayou beneath colossal summer Suns searching for wild blackberries along Dense banks of saw palmetto fronds, cypress Knees and tropic vines. Water moccasins, Coiled in matted briars, often guarded The prized fruit until shots from our rifles Dropped them thrashing in venomous fury […]

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Red Beans and Rice

by Glenn Bergeron II Monday wouldn’t be Monday without red beans and rice. (Emeril Lagasse)   I receive the call during lunch – sheriff’s deputies reporting a death and the services of our funeral home are being requested. The half-eaten red beans and rice in my plate remind me it is Monday. A regular day […]

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Genderless

by Emma Barnes   I sat and listened to the sound the world made, the murmur that escaped me only when the noise gathered and settled. She did not grieve at the sight of the body. It was a cyclical reversal in time and he was dressed in pastel potency, arms folded as if they […]

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Kinnehora

by David Axelrod   The Devil goes about his rounds in rags dragging his lame foot, pissing maelstroms of battery acid, and as Bubbe always used to warn my sister, the Devil pulls lizards from his bag to drop into the open mouths of sleeping girls. That’s our Adversary you hear now in the next […]

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Clock Affirmations

by Jose Araguz   Children, go make faces: a prize will go to the one who comes closest to the face of a clock. Practice making your eyebrows meet, and licking your lips. Be sure to leave a crumb or two on your chin. Milk moustaches are allowed only if they never dry. Remember, a […]

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Photo Gallery of the Chauvin Sculpture Garden

by Deborah Lillie

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Me and Don Baylor

by Tom Vollman   I spent most of last night in a batting cage with Don Baylor. I got there on the train—the A uptown to West 4th, then the D to 42nd. Don Baylor just appeared; he walked up in his pinstripes and spikes, climbed in the cage, and swatted a dozen balls with […]

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Saturday Symphony

by Jean-Mark Sens   On the other side of the fence the neighbor wills his way at the force of a weedwacker his shadow appearing and disappearing between the slats. He stops, the wind picks up a cool rest, a whiff of cut grass and the engine resumes its grinding his slow sway having replaced […]

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Music House

by Jean-Mark Sens   “This is just what we do in New Orleans,” he [Quintron] says. “It’s a kooky town, full of great musicians that just can’t keep their hands still, building stuff and tearing it down and inventing newness out of rubble.”–Smithsonianmag.com Should you judge—you never judge a man by his name—neither a woman […]

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Street Party Suit

by Jean-Mark Sens   Limp, it hangs in the closet leg cuffs bend over to the waist empty arms, flimsy shoulders shrugging up with padding— siblings—jacket and trousers matching patched colors—pinched at the hips and waist button eyes on the chest, chiffon carnation on the lapel stamped gold, amber, silver and copper squares all over. […]

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Chef Menteur

by Jean-Mark Sens   The East turns into the Gulf with the broad face of the sea behind a scrubby line of reeds and monkey grass tuffs before turning into Chef Menteur highway. We pass the promised land of fun and vertigo, Six Flags to nowhere country, Ferris Wheel, skeletons of iron girding the horizon, […]

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Night Tug

by Jean-Mark Sens   We passed under the train jumped over the fence one foot after another on the new, closed riverside park a smallness of rain meeting the Mississippi’s edge river traffic sparse in the night hour their sounds slow coming in the delay of their wakes ripples like our own voices in the […]

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Going to the River

by Jean-Mark Sens   You went to the river to talk to the river and the river’s wind breathed to your lips as one among many of its promeneurs, barges, tugs, ferries slanting waters with their low horns. A river is a form of prayer at its beginning and at its end, confluents, tributes of […]

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The Sculpture Garden in Chauvin, Louisiana

by Deborah H. Cibelli, Ph.D.   This article first appeared as “Chauvin Sculpture Garden: The rescue of Kenny Hill’s environment,” in Raw Vision, number 53 (Winter 2005), pages 58-63, and in heartoffact: the visionary environment of kenny hill in lulu.com, 2008, pages 13-18. To see images of the “Chauvin Sculpture Garden, go to the photo […]

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The Drug-pusher Friend Speaks

by Sheryl St. Germain His mother called me the day after he died in my house. She was crying, shouting, saying I’d killed her son, that I’d sold him drugs, that I might as well have stuck the needle in him myself. She said she hoped I would die. She said someone should kill me. […]

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The Grief Committee

by Sheryl St. Germain   One is some sort of cleaning woman constantly sweeping and dusting, straightening chairs, moving the furniture around. A pile of what she calls rubbish lurks in the corner of my heart. Her vote is to wipe our hands of it all, empty out every spidery corner, get on with it, […]

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What They Say To Comfort Mothers of Boys Dead of Drugs

by Sheryl St. Germain   a disease, +++++ think cancer, diabetes +++++ genetic, ++++++++++ think father, brothers ++++++++++hard-wired, +++++++++++++++think chemistry, dopamine ++++++++++x=x, +++++++++++++++nothing you could do ++++++++++fate ~ they show photographs +++++of the brain on drugs, off drugs, on, off, on, off they highlight with colored light the areas +++++damaged by drug use they chart […]

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it comes down to this

by Sheryl St. Germain   it comes down to this: a room, a needle, you newly clean, a small envelope of dope that delivers the same dose as always, though this time it’s been so long, your body’s forgotten what to do with so much ~   you choose the vein in the back of […]

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First Rehab

by Sheryl St. Germain   we are relieved, the small tribe that’s watched him make bad decision after bad decision, who have watched, hearts wrung, as he disappeared then reappeared then disappeared from our lives like a drowning man who doesn’t care about salvation, we are all sadly glad, these ones cursed to love him, […]

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Finales

by Linda Umans   Prep the cross   line up the nails if one must brutally atone in a life just leaving. I choose to consider the self ++++++++++++++++ in a life less flain a sail in a sometime hurricane   a flan loved only for the color and élan of the woman who made it. So             […]

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Letter from a Cold Aunt

by Linda Umans Can’t say I’m comfortable writing this. Pressure from Marjorie it was to tell the truth. She said, You’re dying, damn it. ++When we were comparing nieces, she was always envious. ++Yours comes to see you from New York, and mine ++can’t even manage once in a while from Pittsburgh. ++She always liked you. […]

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What They Told Me

by Linda Umans   A child’s memory after all. Limited view as “grandchild” which really did not last long enough. I knew him into my twenties. She died in the melancholy September before I was eight. They came from Hungary separately as children. Came together in New York, Fanny and Sandor. There was a tattered […]

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Way to Protect

by Linda Umans   It shall be unlawful and disorderly conduct for any person and that means you, neighbors, long-estranged relatives, loose acquaintances. to harrass, by words or acts on the streets or public places I will not visit your apartment your house or be anywhere proximate to your private space. any simple minded, idiotic, […]

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For Ronald (Speed) Bordeaux

by Linda Umans   I met you long ago in fiction (Carson McCullers to be precise) a school kid like me sitting at a desk in overalls you were the Carolina sun at two o’clock. Maybe you were struggling; maybe playful. I see a smile but it could be fleeting. What replaces it I couldn’t […]

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Polaroid Picture in Ferriday, Louisiana 1963

by Cody Smith     in the new land of the free live oak leaves christen the delta things could be black or white here where cotton glaciers the land contrast of thunderhead I imagine he posed her for the photograph reworked the composition to not capture the barn’s ribs of joists rot-thinned storm falling […]

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Useless

by Stanley Rubin   You need to watch the dog run crazy circles around the moon to understand the inefficiency of tails, the way something that follows you every moment everywhere can be a torment, like memories of someone lost coming back and coming back again. See how he buries his head in the worn […]

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Waves

by Kristen Jackson   “Every angel is terrible” – Rilke   The waves come at once, one lifts one drowns. A spinning whirlpool below the feet, arms wrenched backwards, awaiting the star in the chest. What power escapes? I will always be alone in your absence. What to make of this fitting into place, inability […]

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The Island Planet

by Alejandro Escudé   I’ve decided that whenever I encounter someone evil I’m going to speak to them in tongues because to speak in tongues is to lash out for the world, the suffering child, the minuscule adoration, the sign of the living god, which is to say, a waterfall, anointed with misgivings, and to […]

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The Trees

by Nancy Devine   Before the elm trees had begun to die, the older girls spread magazines and themselves, like sod, on the sidewalk under the leaves. The two of them, sisters, looked through the pages, as they let the little girl sit some distance away on the grass and look on. The older girls […]

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Between

by Nancy Devine They were other, those black boys at my prairie high school, exotic, midnight brought inside. And they had been over there, I swore, and I could touch them, the sugar of a new place on my finger here and then my tongue. Whatever was missing could be found through them. I didn’t […]

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The Ladder

by Jose Araguz             for Christine Maloy In a difficult time the ladder grows different, thinner. A wind comes and sways what you hold onto. A bee in the grass – I’ve stumbled like that on the page. Drunk, one would say. Staggering. Unfocused. Searching. When a friend dies you haven’t spoken to in […]

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Chippie

by Mary Jo Melone   Holly Eldridge knew how to make a man happy, and the people of Sunrise Isles Mobile Home Park deferred to her in that knowledge. Dying wives who could afford it gathered enough cash to procure, upon their deaths, one chance for their grieving husbands to lay down next to Holly […]

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Hotel Sisyphus

by Andrea Nolan   The dog was in the pool again. David knew the dog was the same one as before, even though it was night and there was no moon. He could hear its panting, could tell that it was sitting in the deep end, between the charred VW Bug and the shrinking puddle […]

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Cirrus, Cumulous, Stratus

by Peter Cooley   Such clouds the sky has set across my eye as if something had happened in the dark, to the dark, two millennia ago. Or while I slept, some everlastingness, and these all heirs, all shape-shifting, all ghosts. Out of such insubstantials I can raise the plot, characters, rising action, denouement, that […]

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Besides

by Peter Cooley   there’s never-heaven always in my hand reminding me my fingers have no grip on Heaven ever, coming through the trees— that kind of fastening the morning holds on everything the sun allows to pass under surveillance, possession, loss, loss, loss… Once I thought I was here to name the stars. Wasn’t […]

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Elegaic

by Peter Cooley   I sat beside my mother while she died. The light within the room was pale and weak. The light would come and go, just like her breath. She couldn’t speak. The light spoke both of us. The light said it was planning to leave soon. The light said you will have […]

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Alterities

by Peter Cooley   Will there be possibles—the other side? Morning through the clouds, New Orleans winter— the blue such depth and width as angels’ wings in Renaissance Old Masters— such clearest relic of my earlier life— but when? My image of a life to come— How? Now? ++++++++Through this blue everything begins— everything’s everything. […]

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Strange Music

by Jason Marc Harris   When Mac said he wanted summertime “cocooning” to focus on guitar, you joked that he was going to become a rock-and-roll butterfly. ++++You respected his needs for aesthetic solitude at first. ++++Told us how he’d hatch a composition transcending the tremors of string by Bach, Hendrix, Van Halen, Stevie Ray, […]

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Scenes from Another Country

by Mark Brazaitis 1. Maria, on a gray sheet, on a skin-thin mattress, in the public hospital in Cobán, a silver-haired doctor, stern as a priest, at her side. She’d drunk pesticide because she was pregnant and Reinaldo refused to marry her. From a window at the back of the room, sunlight slashed across the […]

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Night Witches

by Patty Smith +++In Senegal early on, Jim, a fellow Fulbrighter, and I are given a Guide to Living in Senegal, published by the U.S. Embassy, that advises us to avoid public transportation. I’m nervous that Jim, seeing the warning not to take public transportation explicitly written in the Embassy guide, will take it as […]

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Metropolitan Book of the Dead

by Matthew Ulland In the heart of Chelsea stained glass listens, whispers the syntax of promise and loss. ++++++++ The body of Angel Melendez washes ashore while the Hudson sleeps, folds liquid wings around the hull of the Staten Island Ferry. ++++++++ If you stare at glass it turns to water. If you stare at […]

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Eating Tongue

by Judith Skillman Nights they served tongue I kept to myself, nothing unusual for a bookworm. Sat at the table, saw circlets of lace crocheted together by the hook, once tucked away in a purse. Nights I didn’t eat tongue the sauce seemed thicker, creamy, at least a pound of butter stirred into the roux. […]

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Iphigenia in Alabaster

by Judith Skillman After the birds have pulled their share of grubs from the ground, under a waxing moon, it’s her beneath the apple trees. November cold, snow waiting in the clouds. She’s been changed again, this time to a sculpture resting on front legs in the grass. The car lights touch what is no […]

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Julian’s Blood Moon

by Uche Ogbuji For the boy the first words of whose employ Made a song and a sway for the sight of the moon For the boy thence grown every day, every night With a book by his bed, a model off-head Of the stars, of the planets, all mystery of space, For the boy […]

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Elysian / Echo

by Alicia Mountain the park in Echo Park is called Elysian with steps so steep we couldn’t speak pebbles before becoming a rockslide half of me holding out a hand to keep you my own cold plum I would buy you things I can’t afford an orchard emptied from the storm the tail of the […]

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MT-200 East, Humming

by Alicia Mountain Last night I read a high of negative five, but the truck starts. It’s as old as I am, twenty-five and a half for now. I put Stevie Nicks in the truck next to me. Along the frozen Blackfoot, empty company houses wait for the mill to run again. Stevie asks me […]

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they sip mesopotamian epics

by Matt Schumacher shiduri, divine alewife, serves ethereal beer at the tavern which rests between life and death. seeing both living and dead breeze through these doors, they lure gilgamesh into a bet: if they can outdrink the assyrian king, the gods must restore the primordial world. the famed monarch embarks. his first sip sucks […]

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liquid mountaineers

by Matt Schumacher The autumn night is vaporless on the lake. The swelling tide could bear us on to the sky. Come, let us take the moonlight for our guide, we’ll sail away and drink where the white clouds are! –Li Po   astride golden mountainsides, they elude gravity in hiking boots. soaked to the […]

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A Simple Waiting

By Les Bohem ++++She had such a pretty face. Maybe that’s why I keep going back, and not because I want to keep darkness as a friend. I am not brooding then; I’m in love. I sit in this cafe every day. I come in the morning and I sit, hoping she will be back, […]

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On a Platter

by Rena Lesué-Smithey ++++At the beginning of our two-week residency in Barcelona, my writing cohort met for cocktails in the home of Bob Antoni, a West Indian writer whose fame, if it were a cyclone, would hover over central Europe. His renovated third-floor walk-up featured hardwood floors, exposed beams, and one wall of the building’s […]

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The Duck Soup Had Consequences

by Howie Faerstein There was a disturbance. It roused me from bed. Atoms were gliding slowly & so the air was gelid. I walked out into the starry yard. Three Russian boys: fair-skinned, blonde, a ring of acne or was it tattoos circling their cheeks. They threatened me. Without words. Three black bear yearlings, each […]

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Bagay La

by Howie Faerstein Yet why not say what happened? — “Epilogue,” Robert Lowell I When a python encroaches, swallowing the forest floor, vervet monkeys cluck then vibrate. If eagles alight atop an olive tree they go tick, tick, tick. When leopards appear, the troop gobbles & squawks. For Shia at prayer in the Sadiq mosque, […]

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Morris

by Howie Faerstein My uncle, the house painter, had hands that were meaty but the rest of him shined like milk. His mother and brothers and sisters neglected him, always referring to him as feeble-minded, a simpleton, but Morris had a wife, Goldie, who loved him and together they lived on Mt. Eden Avenue. The […]

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1968 — Patchouli

by Howie Faerstein I wouldn’t sleep with her. Because he was fucking someone else he wanted me to sleep with her a ceremony to get them even but I couldn’t sleep with her though she was willing and I had always thought her hot. Of course I remember little of that night except for pushing […]

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View From Monhegan Island

by Howie Faerstein American Redstarts on pebbled shore pecking sand fleas. Bayonet rushes bent in shallows. Beyond this beach, streaming in seaweed, Eastern Egg Rock in the warming Atlantic. Overrun by butterfish too big for starving puffin young, herring school north. Volunteers cull gull colonies. After Hiroshima, life became much easier. People said they doubt […]

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We Have Ten Toes

by Howie Faerstein though only eight spaces between them. This makes perfect sense yet surely is absurd +++++++++ given sunset, given gravity, +++++++++ given that our hearts grow larger. The number of spaces is unimportant. Still, questions ring more clamorous with each passing season. +++++++++Where is the next space? +++++++++How will it be filled? +++++++++And […]

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After Six Months in the Field

by Mark Brazaitis 1. We’ve come back to the Center to reflect, a week to catch up and play volleyball, announcing the score in Spanish the way we did when we were learning. Some who were with us have gone home: Lauren broke her leg in a motorcycle crash; bird-watching in Puerto Barrios, Tim was […]

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My Thief

by Mark Brazaitis My identity was stolen last week, and I was too lazy to contact the police, my bank, my Internet providers. I didn’t even think to mention it to my wife until five days later. By then, she and my daughters were off on a two-week Caribbean cruise with the man who claimed […]

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Chronicles

by Karen Garrison (Can Anything Good Come out of Nazareth?) My mother was a preacher’s child by extraction by Mississippi tent revival by sermons and by fiery furnace and lost lambs in lions’ dens by sinners in the belly of whales by women wandering in gardens and by his other makeshift miracles and by his […]

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“We Are Lashed to Our Body”

by Lois Marie Harrod Linda Gregg Perhaps. If we are lucky, if we have wax in our ears. Perhaps Ulysses knew such chatter since he was a child– the voice that is there, the voice that is not, sick enough to hear half songs whole enough to know they were his own. He is the […]

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My Sister Hears Voices in the New Plumbing

by Lois Marie Harrod When she turns on the bath water, voices spit and flurry, sometimes Jackie Gleason’s Kramden shouting Alice, Alice . . . sometimes her friend Connie sputtering on about her grandson Troy this and Troy that, too often her gay ex now calling himself Nathan Bucklaw spewing on about the piano flub […]

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A Blessing for This Man

by Lois Marie Harrod Bless this man who sleeps beside me who breathes his arms around my sometimes Shiva destroying sleep Vishnu with his lotus dream heavy-hodded Ganesh thigh across my thigh, fat foot against my own, most at midnight like the dire god neither of us pretend to understand the dragon some believe holds […]

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Love Letter

by Donika Ross Kelly I wake each morning. And am disappointed in the waking. In the evening, in the hours before sleep, I drag canyons into my forearms, dredge the little tributaries of mud and fish. These pits and hollows make a mess of everything they touch. I am reeling, spooling away from what holds […]

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Handsome Is

by Donika Ross Kelly In the dream, my father hides inside another man’s body. +++++++++++++++I know him by his hands. But how am I child? And this wall against my back, how long has it been a wall? My father follows me. Handsome as a close friend, a tree in bloom. I build a room […]

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Little Box

by Donika Ross Kelly The woman you love is afraid she is hurting you. This is the source of her fear. You are afraid to say, I am hurting. You are crying. You are afraid your parents will discover that you are crying, again, and send you, again, to therapy where a woman with long […]

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The Heart

by John Krumberger But maybe the heart does not want to be understood, too busy stumbling through its hours to accept the humility of an old woman wrestled from a wheelchair and deposited in a church pew by an attendant who has wandered somewhere else. Just she and I now swimming this river of silence […]

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Trump

by John Krumberger And for your crimes against the heart of humanity you are sentenced by the Heavenly Court to an incarnation in Racine, Wisconsin, only this time your father will not be a mogul but rather a man child unsheltered by those streets. And you shall wonder the alleys between Franklin and Center, lowering […]

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Van Gogh’s Trees

by Jan Lamberg Some days his trees gather like Matisse’s femmes, limbs overstepping a circle of fire, hair knotting. One tree, solid of trunk, its lowest branches too brittle for swinging, points toward a last day, its chlorophyll seeping through cracked bark, layers of sap-flaked cadmium congealed onto rumpled linen sheet. Most others reach through […]

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ephemera, etcetera

by Jan Lamberg My sister sends me things, reminders of who I am to her—a  bag here, a box of letters there; maybe missing body parts from the family attic will come next: my left ovary, many wisdom teeth (all mine?!) the plantar’s wart excavated when I was nine. How to tell her I am like […]

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A Night in Tunisia

by Donald Levering +++++++++is not the name of the stone-&-timber +++++++++former silver mine jammed with grizzled hippies, +++++++++feisty dykes, buckled bikers, jazz-&-black-tar +++++++++junkies who can point to the stool +++++++++where last week one of their own +++++++++slumped into his rush and never rallied. +++++++++Packs of dogs patrol the bar, as if we’d arrived +++++++++in some […]

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Fiddle Fest Contestants

by Donald Levering ++++++++++++++++++++++++++Kansas City, March 22, 1928 +++++++++Half a year before the crash +++++++++that scattered armies of the dispossessed, +++++++++my dad’s father sits with bow in hand +++++++++among his kindred with their fiddles, +++++++++mandolins, guitars, and single balalaika, +++++++++ready to be plucked from their era +++++++++to rest within a frame on my mantel. +++++++++A […]

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On Why I Became a Knicks’ Fan

by Bruce Lowry Because of Friday nights at the Garden. Because chaos is more interesting than order. Because the Brooklyn Nets +++++bore the hell out of me. Because Clyde Frazier, Spike Lee +++the Knickerbockers’ name. Because all-white warm-ups, The ‘ol orange-n-blue, Melo +++++raining 3-balls while Willis Reed beats Chamberlain +++++on bad knees. I think Knicks, […]

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Katoi

by Rachel Mindell The bars we found that night by losing course were tucked behind a market full at day. An entrance board read “Boxing. Boxing Thai.” As lights this faint were made to give one swirl or swoon or rich Caucasians Love Our Girls, we walked passed several stands with open sides to glares […]

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Hummingbird on Virgil

by Ron Burch I saw a hummingbird on Virgil, swooping quickly across the crowded intersection, through the groups of children in their school uniforms. A tiny green thing with a ruby throat, the most beautiful thing I’ve seen. But she flapped oddly, at an angle, her right wing bent, perhaps broken or sprained. She erratically […]

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Personal Statement

by Ana Silva My name is Ana Silva and I’m 18-years-old. I live in Oxnard, California. I’ve always liked writing poetry. I never thought I’d be good at it like I am now. Poetry does a lot for me. I want to tell other people what I’ve been through and for them not to make […]

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Pilgrimage

by Natasha Trethewey   Vicksburg, Mississippi Here, the Mississippi carved ++++ its mud-dark path, a graveyard   for skeletons of sunken riverboats. ++++ Here, the river changed its course,   turning away from the city ++++ as one turns, forgetting, from the past—   the abandoned bluffs, land sloping up +++ above the river’s bend—where […]

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Beneath the Sugar Maple, Late October

by Judith Sornberger As each crimson leaf becomes one corpuscle of a dervish’s +++++ brief body twirling in the blue + breeze of morning, I remember what lives in me besides your death, that the turbulence of loss sometimes subsides—or even blazes— into an ecstasy +++++ of turning.

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Theories of Time and Space

by Natasha Trethewey You can get there from here, though there’s no going home. Everywhere you go will be somewhere you’ve never been. Try this: head south on Mississippi 49, one- by-one mile markers ticking off another minute of your life. Follow this to its natural conclusion – dead end at the coast, the pier […]

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History Lesson

by Natasha Trethewey I am four in this photograph, standing on a wide strip of Mississippi beach, my hands on the flowered hips of a bright bikini. My toes dig in, curl around wet sand. The sun cuts the rippling Gulf in flashes with each tidal rush. Minnows dart at my feet glinting like switchblades. […]

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Letter Home

by Natasha Trethewey – New Orleans, November 1910 Four weeks have passed since I left, and still I must write to you of no work. I’ve worn down the soles and walked through the tightness of my new shoes calling upon the merchants, their offices bustling. All the while I kept thinking my plain English […]

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Incident

by Natasha Trethewey We tell the story every year— how we peered from the windows, shades drawn— though nothing really happened, the charred grass now green again. We peered from the windows, shades drawn, at the cross trussed like a Christmas tree, the charred grass still green. Then we darkened our rooms, lit the hurricane […]

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Still Life

by Judith Sornberger Get an artist over here to paint this image of eternity that isn’t—snow reposing in the eastern field as if it had no memory of any other home. So much a single, settled thing, glittering beast asleep under the stars, who’d believe it once was multitudes— an exodus of crystals, each brief […]

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Twenty-Seven One-Liners on Death

by J. R. Solonche 1. Before we are born, we are not alive, yet we do not call this death. 2. For many, death is the best thing to ever happen to life. 3. Death is the world’s second greatest mystery. 4. The opposite of death is not sex, as some would have it, but […]

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Friday Night

by John Grey Ronnie Kempher’s dad would cash his pay on a Friday, head straight for the bar. He’d take up his familiar position, butt spinning stool back and forth, elbows between ash tray and peanut dish, feet dangling. He drank one beer after another, figured he deserved it after a long week in the […]

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An Interview with Benh Zeitlin

by Todd Kennedy The following interview between film professor Todd Kennedy and filmmaker Benh Zeitlin took place as part of the Fletcher Lecture Series at Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana, on October 24th, 2013. Zeitlin was fresh off the release of his first feature film, Beasts of the Southern Wild, which had garnered broad […]

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All Anyone Can Do

by Ramona Reeves Stockard gouged another hole under a dry and worn out sky. The record fall heat, preceded by a scourge of rain, had prevented her from planting tulips in October. With mid-November approaching, she worried about them blooming late and struggling when summer came. The gardening books swore a person could plant tulips […]

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Welcome to the Gun Show

by Brent McKnight I grew up worshipping the films of John Woo and Sam Peckinpah, of Steven Seagal and Arnold Schwarzenegger. My favorite movies were, and still are, wild blood-drenched shootouts. I have a small dog named Bronson, and another named Swayze, if that’s any indication where my cinematic proclivities lie. I have lingering lifelong […]

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Entrance Exam

by Mathew Woodman New hands glow translucent blue. We are lost for words. We are lost. All we can do is watch our breath against the snow. All we can do is hold ourselves perfectly still. The moon is quiet. The moon is cold. We can’t wait to grow old.

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Signal and Noise

by Vivian Wagner We had the CB radio set up in the living room of the trailer where we lived in the California mountains. My dad let me pick a name for myself, and I chose Tadpole. He and I would talk with truckers as they drove by on Highway 178, heading from Bakersfield over […]

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Fly Me Around Like a Superhero Then Stick My Head Inside a Deer

by Ben Shields Before he lost his owl, Lance wiped down the bar and listened to his ex from way back, Elizabeth, because he felt the pull of her familiar face. He served her whiskey and soda. She’d left her boyfriend three months ago, but still she sat in front of Lance and dished her […]

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August Blue Moon

by William Doreski At five AM the blue moon glows like a hole through which the daylight of a different world is bleeding. Up to catch this phenomenon, I’ve wrenched a muscle in my back and bumped my head on a cabinet so hard I gained an excess of stars to accompany my glimpse of […]

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Suicide at 13

by William Miller He went missing for five days. The police, their rescue dogs, walked the creek where he was last seen, then turned the dogs loose in a pine forest. We heard about it on the radio, talked about the boy’s parents, how helpless they must feel. Then my scout master called, said the […]

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Rosemary

by Priscilla Atkins In a life with one cat in a quiet, high-ceilinged life in paper, in books and roses like the one-and-two friend, like the now and sometimes, like your happiest apart. In a then and Sundays, calm communion, in a once-a-month church a disappear book. In a window a certain pen, certain fountain, […]

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The Hive

by Sarah Weitzman It throbs in an outer wall of a museum. On display, the nest, bees and dank honey one vibrating hub. Bee-over-bee balls of bees wrinkle and smooth as their black shine worms in cells and out. But I won’t press against the glass to hear the whir of drones within. I know […]

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Ruinous and Jettison You

by Flower Conroy Helicopter sky. The stars slit their glittery wrists & what drips out, drips into two crashing seas. Every time I hear your name, I think how skin, cut from the same embryonic cloth as the brain & nervous system, gives away our feelings. Warm or cold anger? Forest in my mouth. I […]

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Cruise Stop

by M.A. Schaffner The Love Boat kisses the rock; dinner plates jump boldly from astonished passengers before they get to dessert. Everyone wonders if they missed this on the schedule. Nuns pray on the deck, having read Hopkins. The entertainers worry for their pay. Girls touch up makeup, boys try to act brave. Gamblers count […]

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The Starvation Artist Puts Her Mouth to Heaven

by Flower Conroy A wishing bell resounds in the clean cut air but is meaningless. The drifting lover says nothing of the night- jar’s churring—in twilight even stranger than dark’s other sounds, as of wings or horns, beyond the verdant herringbone of mountain-trees. Consider the whitespace a waterfall buried within, the back of a mirror, […]

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So many dead! let this pebble find her

by Simon Perchik So many dead! let this pebble find her and its own never ending emptiness to guide you through these graves –you almost hear her undress, far off half matted hair, half as if each cave is filled with echoes –bats are good at it shoulder to shoulder the way your shadow wing […]

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It’s a simple thing, you weep

by Simon Perchik It’s a simple thing, you weep and though your eyes are silent they don’t reach –what you see is your heart covered with stones that have no mornings either except far off where all mist starts the oceans are grieving on the bottom holding down your forehead –so easy a flower could […]

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POV Through the Subjective Camera

after Dark Passage by Kathleen Hellen Young, sweet, healthy…you’re ducking sirens in a cab on the lam from San Quentin. No buying time. No angle on the other side…something crashes. A pressure in your chest against the cage of your intention. Fear swelling… something hollow like a bullet paralyzing. Ask Bogey. It’s all about last […]

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Red Sweater

by Kathleen Hellen Every fall you’re plucked out of the spiders, quiet as a moth, nyloned like a war stocking, V-necked to imitate a crayon drawing of a bird breasting hills, chirping to a migrant expectation. Washed but never fading, worn warm, or hiding among the other warrened sweaters in the drawer, other garments ribbed […]

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The Miracle of Life

by Alejandro Escudé The astronomer says the Kuiper belt Is the result of the inner planets’ gravitational pull When they were concentrated like kids in a game of seven up Then the sudden release of all that energy So that now it is way out there, past Uranus and Triton, Where Pluto is now relegated […]

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The Products

by  Alejandro Escudé The kitchen lightbulb is without maker despite the Prominent GE. The table is not Ikea, it’s where We eat, the space where my daughter throws Vegetables isn’t a diamond like the one the Dodgers Play in. The car I drive is not a Ford even though It’s labeled a Ford. The movie […]

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Night Drive

by Aileen Bassis Night was a soft restless beast pressed against us everywhere in the panting dark, lifting the dangling moon, a bitten peach pocked with shadows above the night workers in hard hats walking back and forth and back under tall brilliant lights and machines beating beside a police car with warning lights rotating. […]

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Turn Her Mic Down

by Donny Rose One. The absence of Salt-N-Pepa, Sweet T, Ms. Melody, Monie Love and Queen Latifah Two. The unacknowledged genius of Rah Digga, Lady of Rage, Ladybug of Digable Planets, Jean Grae and Mia X Three. The little girl who identifies MC Lyte as the lady that does voice overs for award shows instead […]

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House Fire

By Donney Rose On some occasions when I’m out baptizing my liver with cheap spirits I catch “the ghost” of my father’s alcoholism haunting my face those bar bathroom mirrors show me just how much I have inherited his blood shot eyes Sometimes I smell smoke and it’s not the stench of minutes burning as […]

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The Woman I Love

by Donney Rose The woman I love is a cinnamon-coated shotgun her heart is Christmas dinner her mouth is 4th of July she’s my favorite holiday the woman I love is the storm before the apocalypse she’s a spring thunder a stubborn sunlight when she glows, she lights up everything the woman I love loves […]

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Late Rent

by Donney Rose When my landlord finally does call patience will have evicted itself from his voice shame will be heavy in mine I will give him an imaginary deadline pray to run into a homicidal ATM on a mass shooting spree collect the bullets call him back tell him I got rent figure out […]

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Untitled

by Donney Rose This poem begins as a jealous rant a story of how I wish I wrote as well as some of my friends of how I wish I was tall like my brothers of how I wish everyone else didn’t seem so damn perfect This poem transitions to something depressing it’s a story […]

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Fading Fathers

by Donney Rose Every other Saturday we are here brushing out the patterns of new growth and the razor lining that lost the sharp it had just two weeks prior the symphonic buzz of Wahl clippers and fragrance of isopropyl alcohol can be torturous when you are waiting to be made fresh again but we […]

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Civilized Shout Outs

by Donney Rose Smile smile harder cry in your casket make your teeth a place mat they will grind their dirty feet into your smile most times wince when they are not looking look around your new home dance like you’re happy sing like you’re happy there’s dynamite in your cocktail toast to new beginnings […]

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The Distance

by Chrys Darkwater I am light, fire, burning, not only taking up the space inside my body but all the area around me, a symphony in my blood, woodwinds and brass and percussion pressed between muscle and bone, trying to escape, aching for crescendo, pushing out through the short hairs that rise out of my […]

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The Weight of Air

by Chrys Darkwater Stanley fingered the Do-Not-Remove-Under-Penalty-of-Law tag on the mattress while the salesman rattled on about the differences between pillow-tops and summit-tops, coil counts and stitching patterns, and Diane nodded and uh-huh’ed at all the right times. The salesman clasped his hands together and nodded as if answering a question. “This is a great […]

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Lana

by Carrie Spell I’d been working all day at Wegman’s, a grocery store, and when I got home our schnauzer, Homer, was yipping and running back and forth across the front yard without a leash. My brother Dave was by the door, leaning over the porch swing. It was freezing and the last of the […]

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Over Water, Under Bridge

by Joe Baumann In the picture that appeared on the news and in the newspapers Amos looked younger, his hair short and rounded and even over his forehead and it made his face look different. Bigger and wider, pale and canvas. But the day he fell into the river, Posey’s hair, which swished just behind […]

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Dancer from the Dance

by Louis Gallo If you use an electron to observe Particles of equal size or smaller You must take into account The impact of the electron For it will change what is observed. How can the object-in-itself Ever be known? Just as the craftsman must gauge The thickness of his blade When cutting a fine […]

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When I Borrow Cuba

by Anna Schachner Elena Lopez was eight years old when she was my best friend in 1970, in Charlotte, North Carolina, my birthplace, where even in Saint Patrick’s elementary school a few of the nuns were already buying into the optimism of a new decade and abandoning their habits. “You would not see this in […]

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Feed the Head

by David Parker Jr. We keep track of time, even though there is no sunset or sunrise this far underground. There is only night here, hellish, hot and humid, but our foreman Pedro Alavar marks the hours carefully, using his wrist watch or the small clock in the rescue chamber. “Mario,” he says to me […]

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Somewhere in the Mountains of Splintered Wood

by Keith Rebec On the afternoon Julio Dejesus Ramirez got sucked into the wood chipper, we were working in Ida Grove clearing uprooted trees from an F2 tornado. “Damn looters,” Mike said. “They even rummage through stuff nowadays in broad daylight.” He scratched his beard with a rawhide glove, spat. Four houses down a man, […]

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The Mermaid

by Eva Sandoval Davey was on the beach checking his Uncle Chet’s crab trap the first time he saw the mermaid. She was pale and thin, with seaweed-colored hair that clung to her body and long fins that stood up out of the water where she hunched by the rocks. Her small white hands pawed […]

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Before the Divorce

by Jose Araguz   When afraid he would think of it in terms of a fable:   each evening, the boy turns and puts his hands   over his ears, closes his eyes and tries again   to stop the night, to stop the teeth of the key   running across those of the lock, […]

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Everything Song

by Jose Araguz                               Inside my head, all is tanka – (Ishikawa, diary) Even in this graveyard,          everything I see and hear turns to words: the dead here in their silence lay under words under roots and dirt under me in this threadbare body shivering under a wind with its own words under […]

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What Tune

by Jose Araguz                             after Ishikawa   I tap my fingers on my ribs      do you know what tune I’m playing – The wind passes through thin hair and cribs      and taps its fingers on my ribs – even ink pitters out from nibs      to say one thing through what I’m […]

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Birdsong

by Jose Araguz Aren’t those wishes,        asks the boy to the man     stooped      and holding in his hand  a spread of coins         dredged up from the bottom of the fountain. The man says: What,                these,         why sure  but what about those sounds                             the birds make all morning               […]

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Whirlwind: A Conversation with R.R. Vagnini

Jay Udall: Tell us about the genesis of the Cardboard Jungle. When did you start on this project, and what was your initial idea or vision for the series? R.R. Vagnini: I first began the Cardboard Jungle in the eighties. I was living in Monterey, sharing an apartment with my brother and another guy we […]

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Channeling Thelonious

by Dante Di Stefano   Just because you’re not the drummer, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time, doesn’t mean time doesn’t have to keep you tisking, doesn’t mean graveyard logic   proves America a theorem, doesn’t mean whiplashes and the feral tail of galaxies become meaningless nightmares in the dark, doesn’t mean spinning […]

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Your Freckles Compared to a Muddy Waters Song

by Danti Di Stefano   after Bei Dao   Between me and the world: you are the one bent note that breaks a chord into that lack, the longing of porch swings and honey bees, which is to say, you sail on, long distance, through the air with sepals as receivers.   Yeah, those sunlight […]

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Listening Ode

by Jose Araguz   Those few nights before I found a different place to live I would stay out past midnight to avoid running into her *  Into the dark I made my way to a place on the floor where I could close my eyes  *   Behind closed eyes I would hear her […]

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A Breviary for the Liturgy of Leroy Street

by Dante Di Stefano   Learn how to pray in the dirtiest street, the boulevard with the closed carpet store where mattresses lean on telephone poles and wooden spools serve as picnic tables. Learn how to pray outside at two o’clock in the afternoon when the sidewalks teem with no pedestrian except the ants that […]

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When in St. Louis, Consider the Saint

by Gailmarie Pahmeier   But first you must indulge in the requisite ride in the Arch, 631 feet of pentecostal promise, sunstruck mandorla reflecting the urgent churn of the Mississippi below. Stroll a ways to the Old Cathedral, light a candle for your mother, your son, the dog left to die on the tracks, all […]

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Y: Yellowish Musings

by Changming Yuan   Gold, lemon, butter, rapeseed flowers:   Pre-positioned, you function to lead A whole column of evils as in the yellow Peril, bastards, bellies, dogs, fish, guts Journalism, heels, even men and pups   After words, you will become as noble As imperial, as royal, or as Chinese Yellow. That makes all […]

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Petrichor

by Emily Strauss   The scent of rain on dry earth or the scent of dust after rain:   from the Greek, petra, a stone and ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods, thus the black volcanic rock of Thera of the Cyclades, where gods bled until the volcano blew a […]

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Late Night Song

by Stella Vinitchi Radelescu   creeping. after singing. after tears. after all. soft colors. silk silk. silky worms. shameless stars. shimmering night.   water under water. the highest point of a prayer. it seems. it dreams. waving from where you should come. kissing. missing   the prayer. the water. the kiss. so goes the wound. […]

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April Fever

by Stella Vinitchi Radelescu   Let’s sit down & chat      the last two chairs of the season start moving backwards        let’s hold hands & go crazy about each other’s eyes while under our feet something final something big echoes      desire and loss the midnight song of the Earth the roaming stars   Let’s be silent […]

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Ghost Word

by Cynthia Quinones   After dark, when my husband and I are walking home, talking softly, we often hear a bird we cannot see.   Every other spark of life has quieted or flown away, but still this one is calling, his chirp like the red blink of the radio tower on the mountain.   […]

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Encounter

by Eric Pankey   The buck, each flame on his antler candelabrum Wind-snuffed, freezes: poised to flee, but not yet fled. Moonlight narrows to fit the crack in the canopy, Only to widen and pool on the duff and underbrush, To drip from the rack’s flameless eighteen points. The buck, neither threat nor transport, shakes […]

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Autumn 1962

by Eric Pankey   Each day was a minor tragedy averted. A sandbag levee held back the crest.   Still miles away: lightning. Or so the thunder said.   Wrought of hair, hemp, and sheep gut: I was a changeling, a doppleganger,   A ghost whose sole ambition was to be seen. I nudged at […]

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Cart

by Rafael Montes   God or whatever.   Listen, spare me this amble— the slow walk dirge of these low-T men, slurring their steps through Navarro. Spare me these tiny collapsible handcarts, these frail aluminum frames—loaded down by tins of saltines, a six-pack of Boost, a small hand of bananas. Still, too many to eat […]

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Barrio

by Rafael Montes   This is barrio, boy, the brownest of appalachias. This is the greencard flatland of fat girls buckled by pregnancies, where all the old men stoop over cardboard boxes of fruit, where women, afraid of sidewalks, fight cars with umbrellas.   The glitter here is the shower of sparks a muffler makes, […]

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Dedication to Us

by Mel Kenne   God how lucky I am to be frustrated and depressed, rather than simply driven and complacent in my being lost in some meaningless obsession!   In this world, we are truly we, leaning toward each other and sometimes touching together the tender center of our one suffering I,   finally understanding […]

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Sycophants

by Tim Kahl   What could I say about my life that you wouldn’t see through, Mr. Brodsky, on your journey from the Russian steppes to your death in an American city. I accept the gift of my home, its dark, recessed corners where the dust is thrilled by entropy. I break eggs over a […]

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After the Show

by Christopher Dollard “Arriving from always, you’ll go away everywhere.” – Rimbaud   Pouring out of the crowded theater, the sidewalks packed with kids like me in dark jeans and t-shirts, I weave out of the crowd to start home, slip down a flight of stairs to the subway where I dig through my pockets […]

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Everyone I Have Ever Slept With

(Title taken from the Tracy Emin Object Trouve of the same name) by Joy Bye   my mother father brother sister grandparents   childhood friends   some random girl on the L   us two stuck between cars in the high heat of Chicago’s August   college roommates sleeping off a high   in my […]

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The Temptation to Diverge from the Path of Righteousness

by Joy Bye   The roan mare’s skin is folded over   exposing tissue   a gaping hole that leads to bone   female horseflies circle the blood meal   ripping at her flesh with their scissored sheaths   until they have filled themselves of her sinew   and flown into the distance   their […]

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Renewal

by George Bishop   The old Coke plant’s coming down, the one that never made it as Mike’s Dry Cleaning and became the haunted building on Main, tinted windows telling more stories than… Sunday. Two Caterpillars are lined up off to the side that’s not a side anymore, chalked with resistance. Not far away a […]

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Oh Poem

by Tatjana Debeljacki   Yesterday I was enormously strong. I immured wishes with no hope in love. With cheerfulness I painted all the agonies. Let the scents shine in flowers. let the blossoms of my joy bloom. I ‘m reminding with the poem of wrath. Mature bodies are turning after the immature. Their breathing varies, […]

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Saving Face

by Gailmarie Pahmeier   Nearly 35 years from today she’ll be asleep on a Sunday morning, her second husband spooned against her, the two cats cornered at the bottom of the bed.  She’ll rise to the ring of the telephone, shuffle through the hall to the kitchen, leave the man, a carpenter she’s loved for […]

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Persephone

(for Kate Lamont) by Joy Bye   I watched you write a song once; your mouth running like a river in the dark,   your voice a gift to the gods.   Dear moon, gripping nothing, this voice that swells the air all around   me pierces the shadows,   like an elegy to our […]

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When I Lean Closer

by Allison Grayhurst   Remember when we were falling, making hoops in the sky? When intelligence didn’t matter, only the desire to be alive? Remember when a different rank and inequality never blocked a friendship, when the heart was whole, and money never shamed us one way or another? Remember the light in our pockets, […]

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Travail

by Jack Bedell   Handling serpents doesn’t impress me. I’ve done it too often to feel any real breath on my neck from the act. I’ve come home too many spring mornings from the marsh at the back of my neighborhood with a pillow case full of snakes snatched from the water’s edge, thrown them […]

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11-6-10

by Jimmy Santiago Baca   The morning on the day we invaded Iraq I received an email from an Iraqi soldier. He wrote about his reactions to my book A Place to Stand, commenting on the landscape, the horror of imprisonment saying his brother was in prison under Saddam, that he knew what hunger and […]

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8-25-10

by Jimmy Santiago Baca   I have been reading on Buddhism to deal with the dark in me. To be a good father to you and nourish the cactus blossom you are, Lucia. To teach you to keep your thorny spines intact and alert for unwanted intruders, to open your soul and heart to sun […]

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Every doorknob in the house is loose from Esai and Lucia

by Jimmy Santiago Baca   Every doorknob in the house is loose from Esai and Lucia running and chasing each other and playing games like hide-n-seek. That’s how it should be, life should be used, things worn down, broken, mended and reused, fixed, handled, hit, bumped into, given to the world and the world’s traffic […]

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Passing Thoughts on the Death of Don Francisco Pizarro

by Juan Morales   June 26, 1541 “Here is the skull of the Marquis Don Francisco Pizarro who discovered and won Peru and placed it under the crown of Castile.”   In the after dinner ambush, you met death via rapiers and daggers: defense wounds, neck thrusts, nicked vertebra, damaged sphenoid, and an eye socket […]

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Subterfuge

by Juan Morales   In the wreckage of mission accomplished, Pizarro, Almagro, and other leaders sorted gold and silver into equal shares. Seated, they became children devouring unknown delicacies described only by eccentric adults. They recalled how hopeless steps guided them through vacant stomachs and cracked lips to victory. Their gambles paying off.   They […]

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The Descendents Who Slipped Through History’s Fingers, 1539

by Juan Morales   In towns, the navel of the earth they emerge   features of two continents born to laze together.   Boys and girls molded in anatomies with Old and New World bloods   unified through arteries and tiny hearts. The high cheekbones and tan complexions   flare against fathers’ fair hair and […]

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The Four Quarters, or Tawantinsuyu

by Juan Morales   Above the continent, Sun God and Sister Moon oversee the Four Quarters, calling down to Tawantinsuyu, settled in its hum,   stretching southward along coastlines with mountains that segment the entire band. With its rivers,   the Four Quarters thrust through deserts, tumble jungle vine to bend into the towns illuminated […]

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Morgellons Syndrome

by Ann Keniston   The afflicted body itches, then one’s fingers must pull out   the series of narrow fibers lodged in the skin   to be saved in a small container, a matchbox maybe   evidence of the frailty of all defenses, emblem of the need to join with other sufferers though the doctors […]

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Breach

by Ann Keniston   I dared myself to go past the breach until again some little or great thing prevented me   and then sometimes without trying I felt a loosening, was giddy and free   because to have survived means knowing what it is not to have survived and also the dumb luck of […]

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Paper Doll

by Ava Leavell Haymon   Afterwards, she looks in the mirror. She sees her own face, but no   background. No wall behind her, no gesso white, no painterly landscape,   nothing. She’d forgotten herself in the accident. Or was it an explosion? Maybe disease.   And why is there no neck? She stands on […]

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Mrs. Calendar Backs into Chaos

by Ava Leavell Haymon   Mrs. Calendar knocks on the door of Chaos. She has her Coach bag over one shoulder, car keys clipped on, monthly scheduler,   a few bills she must remember to drop off at the post office on Bennington. She is on time. It’s 9:30 to the minute.   Chaos is […]

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The Way We See It

by Ava Leavell Haymon   Outsized head, knees curling into transparent belly. The sonogram fuzzes all edges, monotone gray. Right elbow tucks against a haze of ribs, back of hand twisted under chin— some of us sleep that way still.   Healthy fetus, everything we expect, except the left arm floats out toward the sensing […]

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Raptor

by Jack Bedell “It’s the story that makes us understand.”—Mark Jarman   At the end of fall, the hawk sits on his wire overlooking the air field. He’s been there every season since the storm chased vermin out of the shadows and into town.   I pass him on his post going to work each […]

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Namath

by Jack Bedell “He moves like a human now. He did move like a cat.” —Bear Bryant   I have a picture I bring with me to class whenever I talk about what the lyric can do even outside the world of time, how it carries story, holds movement, seals histories in one click. The […]

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Bone-Hollow, True

by Jack Bedell “Matisse with Doves” Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1944   In the photograph, the old man grips a bird in his left hand, clamps down on it, not to trap it but to set free what part eludes the eye. His fingers reach into its meat. He rolls its bones carefully under his thumb, bones […]

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The Red Center

by Ed Hammerli   In the red center of the South, life is flat. From dark plows brick dust rises higher than the swamp-green forests.   White cattle egrets descend like fingernail scratches to live off earth’s flaked, red skin, torn to blood by heavy tractors.   Shallow cotton crop roots will stitch ripped flesh, […]

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Dump Dog

   by Ed Hammerli   As if to take a nap or a long sleep   that would help things make things better,   or maybe thinking she would wake up   somewhere else than a trash dump beside   a shell road looking for lost gone taken puppies,   she decided to curl up […]

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Negritude

by Yusef Komunyakaa   I have also been left singing Careless Love but my negritude is nobody’s coonskin cap     on a mountaintop or down by the riverside.   My negritude has sucked all the joy juice from the days of wild virginal forests     I made to kneel with axe & crosscut.   My […]

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Make-Up

by Nancy Devine       Way Bandy highlighted the crests of letters in his new name, each a bone casting shadow he brushed under brows of beautiful women where it, too, became beautiful for Cosmopolitan covers.   With sable bristles he dusted brown powder along Lauren Hutton’s nose for contour, for Vogue softened the […]

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Two Kitchens

by Uche Ogbuji   I was alone, but my hand took on my mother’s, Hovering over the pot with a command gesture, Smothering all thought inessential to the task, All distractions from the essences I’d ranged: Cinnamon, cardamom, and then, snake-charmed From coriander, cumin and turmeric I swelled to the stove, which sprang wormhole To […]

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The Rails, The Roll

 by Uche Ogbuji   I palm this pocket blown with heat, The blast our breaths cajole; Caloric trove these heaving folds. The steel of rails, the stealthy roll.   The red glow calls the hammer stroke, Sparks out on hammer down; The blow begets a crown of frets. We’re roused by wailing through the town. […]

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It Is Not

by Allison Grayhurst   It is not the hole in the wall I fear where the ants crawl through or the red tail in the wind that keeps me here, but it is the leaf over the grave stone and the cat on the small hill without a hope of going up any further that […]

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Turtles Watching the Stars

by Robert S. King   Some say our eyes make everything smaller like looking down the wrong end of a telescope where watery lights of stars swim at the top of a well, light years away but liquid as dream, reflective bubbles orbiting far above our shell-shocked past.   We do not want outsiders close […]

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The Driver

by Frederick Pollack   Some idiot blocking the intersection makes us turn to shake our heads with someone: me in the left lane, he in the right; he in his black Ford Fusion, me in my rented black Ford Fusion (I like to rent midsize, for some reason). And each of us sees that strange […]

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Native Land

by Frederick Pollack   The dream was exceptionally bad, exerting an undertow, so that I couldn’t leave it as quickly as usual, but kept looking back, to check if those cluttered, airless, disintegrating rooms were not, in fact, real. (What was that stripe of color in a crumpled quilt, those other touches of long-defeated liveliness […]

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Pity

by Ann Keniston   Toward the end when we sat in our chairs, tenderness rimmed us and pity   like the dark around a lit place or a sewn border, the little stitches too tight, pulling the cloth   or sparrows at the feeder, never close enough to touch   because from her weakness, she […]

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A Small Space

by Tony Morris   I pared some pieces down, whittled ends to nubs then stepped away—   the needle rasp, the riffler, jigs and hasps all splayed across the bench—then walked   the hill back home where she’d buckled, bowed and fell between   the sink and kitchen table, her floral apron spilled like paint […]

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Pheromones

by Jacob Mercer More than anything, he was hooked on Leslie McGarrigle because she smelled like a can of tennis balls freshly opened. Sharp. Chemical. And stunningly, thrillingly new—not pristine necessarily, but novel, new in the sense that this scent hadn’t existed long: a matter of decades, he calculated, in one of his more fanatical […]

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Junko Miyashita

by Robert James Russell   She stands in the doorway twirling her fingers in the air above her head as if it’s some universal signal I should recognize. I tell her I don’t, and she stares at me, lips puckered, leaning against the door frame, robe half-open, exposing a slit of milky white skin. I […]

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Cuckoos

by Robert James Russell   And here she is, in the night, in this house not her own, sneaking and creeping in the dark, her hair pulled tight into a ponytail, makeup smeared on her cheeks, wearing her husband’s Detroit Lions sweatshirt, the one she kept after he left, her breath smelling of Cool Ranch […]

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Mosaic

by Jennifer A. Kuchta   In Bellagio, Gustavo stands beside the Mercedes, my bags in his hands, alert and ready to take them into the hotel, but above and behind him I can see her. Seimone stands on a second-floor balcony looking across Lake Como towards the villas on the opposite shore. She is surrounded […]

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One Night, One Afternoon, Sooner or Later

by Karin C. Davidson            In the uptown Canal Villere we are standing in front of the wine shelf, looking for the Bolla Valpolicella. It’s late on a Saturday night and we’ve nothing better to do. Micah says his brother’s out of town, so we can go to his apartment and watch movies. Jude […]

Posted in Issue 2 | Tagged | Comments Off on One Night, One Afternoon, Sooner or Later