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American Mustard

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American Mustard

First Volume

A Collective of Mustard Poets

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Š 2014 American Mustard First Printing: June 2014 Cover painting by Kathy Avila. All rights revert to contributors upon publication. This book compiled and edited by American Mustard Collective: AJ Urquidi, David Diaz, Marcus Clayton, Olivier Bochettaz. Address digital correspondence to: american.mustard.magazine@gmail.com http://americanmustard.weebly.com/ Other correspondence should be left with the American Mustard pigeon service


Contents

Editors’ Note .......................................................................................................................................................................... i (poetic thoughts)...................................................................................................................................................................ii American Mustard Seed ..........................................................................................................................................................................................1 The Ceramic Dog .................................................................................................................................................................2 The Hope Chapel ..................................................................................................................................................................3 Lobelia On A Hill .................................................................................................................................................................4 Micah .......................................................................................................................................................................................5 Permanent Pavement ..........................................................................................................................................................6 Greying Sterility ..................................................................................................................................................................7 Touring ...................................................................................................................................................................................8 Love ...................................................................................................................................................................................... 10 Earth Coincidences ........................................................................................................................................................... 11 Für Elise’s Bruises ............................................................................................................................................................ 12 Looking At A Vacant Lot ................................................................................................................................................ 13 How To Assure Your Mother You Are Not A Winner .......................................................................................... 15 Throw Rugs........................................................................................................................................................................ 16 ephemera at the river styx .............................................................................................................................................. 17 The Arsonist ....................................................................................................................................................................... 18 The Runners ....................................................................................................................................................................... 19 As You Showed Me Your Wedding Ring(…) ........................................................................................................... 20 To David Goodis ............................................................................................................................................................... 21 In Back Of My Place......................................................................................................................................................... 22 colors bloom from his chest ............................................................................................................................................ 23 Mother ................................................................................................................................................................................. 24 Atonal ................................................................................................................................................................................... 25 The Day We Saw A Tiger .............................................................................................................................................. 26 I Consult The Delphic Oracle Of Imperial Beach, California ................................................................................. 27 Religious Stew.................................................................................................................................................................... 28 There Must Be Another Way ........................................................................................................................................ 29


Ode To My Angry Girlfriend ........................................................................................................................................ 30 Dog Trot ............................................................................................................................................................................. 31 “Coast Clear?” Asked In A Gallipoli Trench .............................................................................................................. 33 outlook ................................................................................................................................................................................. 34 Natural Mathematics ........................................................................................................................................................ 35 Cenotaph For A Nihilist .................................................................................................................................................. 38 Have You Heard The Joke(…) ....................................................................................................................................... 39 Pop ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 41 You Can Only Find Good Music At Fingerprints Records ....................................................................................... 42 The Seamstress’ Daughter .............................................................................................................................................. 43 Old Cabin Of Summers .................................................................................................................................................... 44 Perry Smith ......................................................................................................................................................................... 45 an addiction ......................................................................................................................................................................... 46 Awareness Heights ........................................................................................................................................................... 47 The Amphitheater ............................................................................................................................................................. 48 Contributors ....................................................................................................................................................................... 51


Editors’ Note

The poets of American Mustard have been handpicked by (and include) the editors. Accepting no blind submissions, the editors joined the poets to form a collective of transparency and direct participation. Together they congealed the foundations of a true mustard aesthetic. American Mustard intends to be read as an uninterrupted stream of poetry, which is why authors' names have been withheld until the anthology's final pages. American Mustard: A hive mind of disparate ideas. A geographical node spread across the globe. A refined product of the finest and rarest seeds. Taste it.

in in in in in

american in mustard we trust mustard we mustard we mustard we mustard we mustard we in mustard we trust mustard

trust trust trust trust trust

First Volume June 2014 Long Beach California

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(poetic thoughts)

The fundamental experience of the poet is dissociation—dissociation of one’s consciousness from the known, dissociation from the limits imposed by the body, the senses & the physical world. Only this awe-inspiring realization of the infinity of reality and existence can offer enough perspective for an individual to accept the fundamental complementarity between life and death, between impermanence and permanence. This is the very revelation which awakens a poetic, a prophetic mission within an individual: the necessity to light up the divine sparks asleep in humans. The surreal and the nonsensical are as equally ideal for a poem as a truthful anecdote, as they capture the logic and the insane camp of the brain’s expanding synapse-territorialization during any given thought stream. The weirdest combinations of the weird purify poetry. The subject of a poem must not appear through deduction or interpretation. It must not speak about beauty, ingeniousness, or compassion; it must be beautiful, ingenious and compassionate. It must not speak about god; it must be god’s voice. Art must not speak about the universe; it must be the actual voice of the universe. Abstraction should be earned through understanding; the reader should find it smothering beneath pillows of specificity. It’s easy to write a poem about the terrible phenomena of human living, but it is cruel to the reader not to dilute overbearing tragedy with punch lines, non sequiturs, or at least childish wordplay. A single word or phrase is as heavy as a sentence — work in a “phrase matrix” to isolate in columns anything from pairs of words to blocks of deadpan phrases, forcing the reader to make connections between elliptical ideas. The results produce an almost catatonic trance and even unintended, unforced meaning. Verse is posed to illustrate meaning that is rooted in a reality preceding our conceptions. The poet uses abstractions to represent beauty and fear, which exist before and after human consciousness. The universality of childhood, landscape and ecology presents an unsolvable riddle to be examined thoroughly and inconclusively by any follower of negative capability. Enjambment is not an end-stop, and left alignment is a coffin nail — poetry built around white space for aesthetic differentiation of phrases and the isolation of interesting fragments. The words must be presented as a visual art. Anything is artistic when it expresses the qualities of permanence: equilibrium, self-realization, generosity, and self-confidence.

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American Mustard

Sometimes this mustard feeling clutches me also. Barbara Guest



Seed in provincial paths root on clan’s soil sprout rocky rocks push grip on steady stones go

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The Ceramic Dog (Who’s Weapon To Me) Your figure trickles on the monkey brain—purple groseille. Amber is feeling me. I have three friends: Johnathan aka Najo with red dreadlocks, Guillaume the army cook, and Adrien with diagonal smile. They are each spectacular and colored like fabulous troubadour lands. I know the code of your soul’s beautiful ghost. I am Run the wrestler; my crew is RWSrM. My new tattoo divine is a geisha red petal of rose blowin’. I know three people in the photograph: René smoking a log-cigar called ‘blue exhalation,’ Yasmina yellow stars, smiling at space in the lightning forest, and Charles laughing his eyelids shut. These three people are illuminate with happiness. I am in the two pictures and I am telling with my word the code of knowledge. 4-138. 4 is my birthday, and 4 is my family group. 1 is René, the renaissance; the reincarnation of the phoenix, a volute of teen spirit. 3 is the club, the forest and the soil. 3 is my and our family. 8 is a draw of threes, the union of right and left hands, the interbreeding of my origin. The 8 draws a loop of wisdom. Unity is the certitude to be born to know poetry and silence. In the photo: Najo, boyfriend of Dre, my best friend. Guillaume, partner of Isabelle, a friend of mine, and Adrien, an emperor assassinated. In the other photo: Yasmina and her boyfriend Charles. Mina has the same interbreeding as me. René is here, a clown, as always. Everybody radiates something indigo.

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The Hope Chapel It’s no surprise that in a mortuary the Hope Chapel would be the smallest and cheapest room available.

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Lobelia On A Hill Do you know the sensation of being open mouthed, purple throat fluted and choked with burs? You might spend a minute with me, filch a picture or a rock. You don’t know that gratitude is for the living. Don’t disturb me in my evening stupor. It’s the only time the light looks right into my face, opulent not half closed and smirked, messy with the sweat and dust that marks you as the only living thing capable of such proud ambivalence. If you could sit with me and finger the dirt you too would see the endless silt lapping the roofs.

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Micah pumps my gas and talks in a low voice that keeps summer from sneaking around its edges. At the corner of the station, the jobless boys of Cave Junction, Oregon, call to him. They run across the highway barefoot, shirtless with tanned faces that have never seen their names fake-stitched onto a greasy Chevron patch. With hands cleaned by the river, they wave and dodge. "You fuckers are gonna get hit!" Micah yells, finger still on the trigger. He looks back at me guiltily because of the "fuckers" part, and I smile so he knows that I swear too. Other customers are waiting, but Micah doesn't budge and we look at each other way too long as the low hmmmm of the machine fills my truck with enough gas to leave.

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Permanent Pavement Do you cold here?

it was Last time

remember any I could have

sworn it ten minutes.

at least Morning for

was this do you

remember faces I thought

haze emanations? in heat

Of mothers I heard

a train and thought

useless jacket my mostly

depart, donned of home.

Do you last time

cold here? remember any

It was I could have

sworn it morning for

ten minutes. was this

At least do you

remember faces In heat

I thought of mothers

haze emanations? I heard

a train my mostly

and thought depart, donned

useless jacket of home.

Do you Remember any

last time it was

cold here? I could have

sworn it Was this

morning for at least

ten minutes. do you

remember faces of mothers

in heat haze emanations?

I thought I heard

a train depart, donned

my mostly useless jacket

and thought of home.

Do you it was

remember any cold here?

last time I could have

sworn it at least

was this ten minutes.

morning for Do you

remember faces haze emanations?

of mothers I thought

in heat I heard

a train useless jacket

depart, donned and thought

my mostly of home.

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Greying Sterility Amidst the dying, rain-soaked leaves, a torn latex glove grows in the gutter— Greying sterility, swollen with piss & oil from the cloud-cleansed street.

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Touring When the world ended nobody had a clue. People made coffee and exercised like a regular weekday or Sunday morning. Internets and newspapers detailed pedophiles and car thieves, sublets and farmer's markets. The apocalypse became more of a catch phrase, a marketing scheme. Policemen ate breakfast in their cars, talking about weekend plans and pensions, old men picked up their Times, and coupes, sedans, and minivans clogged the freeways. In other cities it was nighttime. Moms assured their young that no monsters lived in the closet or under their beds—some finished bottles of wine and had sex on the couch, in laundry rooms, under blankets with giant animals on them, others spoke to friends and family, barely eating lunch. Radio stations cycled their DJ’s, and Subway cashiers stalled anxious parents who were trying to find someone to pick their kids up from school. Then, all at once, the sun popped— growing brighter in steady shades of pulsating light. People held hands up to interrupt conversations and squinted their eyes at the hottest thing they’d ever sensed. News spread quickly out before buildings and wiring were liquefied. Social networks and phone calls warned the darkness of its future. Those in darkness were disturbed only by a low growl as the sun began to melt the half of earth immersed in glorious heat. Most began going west, trying to beat the day as it crept closer. Those with boats sailed in panic towards more darkness, an idea of cooling molten rock they could run across. Nobody made it to the other side.

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The sun was bigger and moved with much more purpose now, quickly catching up. Some hid in cabins, their bodies steam-cooking and curled on the floor. Others jumped into the water, slowly falling apart as they doggy-paddled in boiling Atlantic stew. Stiff scent of rotten fish and seaweed churned clouds of chemical smoke above the oceans until they were mush— then everything evaporated. The earth turned, mountains melted to the surface of the 3rd planet. The sun finally extinguished, died out slowly like a light bulb— the sounds of machinery grinding to a painful end. Cogs crashed, shrieking in their final revolution to the silence of the great expanse until all celestial rocks rotated to a stop in complete darkness.

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Love The two looked at each other in the nude he reclining she perching on the bed looked long and all over and that was it

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Earth Coincidences pine tree needles brittle lizard running in agapanthus hiding squirrel from torrey pine tops overlooking light breeze scents of pepper trees and sour pine saps deer on angel island’s picnic tables boat races blue notes in the bay buoys afloat yachts yakketing

in the distance woods darken densify mist appears in the distance the pearls of the city dance attuned to earth coincidences

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Für Elise’s Bruises Slap of leather bounces off a child’s skin, dances with an A minor spilling out of an adjacent apartment, and the sounds evaporate in harmonious wafts of wind so neighbors can walk without the guilt of earmuffs when strolling under the screaming vapors.

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Looking At A Vacant Lot I In the wind, hard caked dirt shimmers like a freckled pool over the face of the vacant lot.

II Like dredged up river smut smeared against a stubbled chin, the vacant lot wreaks of phytoplankton.

III Smoke under the bottle brush tree. Ashtray joints in the hollow pelvis of the vacant lot.

IV Throw words at the vacant lot, watch them stutter in its linguistic vacuum.

V Jobs jobs jobs FWD: Vacant lot.

VI Mattress, couch, kitchen sink, armoire: statuaries of the vacant lot.

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VII Moribund: the vacant lot’s thorax when the dew settles down on the grass.

VIII The only moving place in the slippery city is the caverned ground of the vacant lot.

IX Old blood, clotted around an eye— the vacant lot simpering in the night.

X A dirty piano key the vacant lot—depressed depressed depressed.

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How To Assure Your Mother You Are Not A Winner

Tell her you’re moving to Hollywood to become a sweat rag for The Incredible Hulk’s forehead muscles. Tell her you’re never moving. Tell her you want a divorce. Tell her you are brewing vodka with a potato and a box. Tell her you want to be a vegan taco for Halloween. Blame the Baby Jesus in the manger for the burnt presents and the missing ham. Blame bad timing for being late. Rake the lawn with a shovel. Ice the cake with a rake. Put flour in the vase. Dry the silverware in the microwave. Have your third grade teacher refer to you as unique, your sixth grade teacher as “a cry for help,” your eighth grade teacher as “dead to me.” Ask her if lesbians still get their periods, if on Mondays you could change your name to Sir Dick Boobington. Use the roof as a starting point for anything. Superglue grains of rice to your Sunday clothes. Never lock the bathroom door during puberty. Get usurped from the Frisbee club. Get rejected from a Walk-a-thon for Breast Cancer. Get accepted to Scared Straight. When all else fails, fake suicide with tomato paste, a salad fork, and a note that reads “It’s not my baby. I pulled out.”

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Throw Rugs Odd how lifting a bundle of them out of a dryer, rubbing them gently, inhaling the fragrance of supple, tender scrubbing, pressing the thin folds of woven tufts against my chest, squeezing the warmth into my fingertips as if some hidden radiance could escape my wrinkled pile of skin and slick itself onto the bottom stitching of each one flipped and stretched out on the floor, odd how none of this illuminates a single flaw in all this flow Is there a dance of a luscious maze between these rugs and their matted coils of mutability, each instant hushing as my heels and toes dig into the edges, the soft stub of rounded skin slithering on the flat pulp of the wooden floor on which the throw rugs prop themselves like islands waiting for their final volcano From across the room, scents scurry from the thrown rug by the door where I left my shoes after stooping in the garden Too faint to make sense of A tinge of violet glowing Looking down and far away, I see whorls of flocks emerging from a saturated, bedraggled paradise: flattened wedges of bark, damp dirt beside a fractured rock, millions of tiny talons scratching I’m fond of sitting here, a large ceramic cup almost overflowing, tingling with the pleasure of being sipped from I like that its edges won’t stay put and no one circle’s ripening ratios can know another’s vanishing

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ephemera at the river styx naked Charon sleeps among jubjub bird nests creosote bush ocotillo cacti the trolley conductor sleeps on his ankles like a flamingo a giraffe bamboo feral cats calico as dawn grey as dusk leap at his ears deafen him defeat him he wakes the sky is iambic magenta the world is a snail

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The Arsonist New Year’s Eve and Fred’s napkin catches on a candle placed at the dinner table for ambience. Flames engulf the shriveling cloth as he holds it up like a Buddhist monk observing the impermanence of everything. That same night in Hollywood an arsonist is rolling Molotov cocktails under people’s cars, and pelting them through bedroom windows. I’ll read it online before the guests arrive, note the similarity between “arsonist” and “artist.” My mind feels more like the former these days, constantly setting fires I can’t put out. Which is maybe why I don’t think danger when the smoke alarm sounds and Fred dunks his napkin in a glass of champagne, and why my wife is always reminding me the purpose of fire is not only to burn things, that for hundreds of thousands of years it’s kept man alive in the harshest winter freeze, allowed him to boil water and cook his meat, brought light into the darkest caves.

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The Runners Headlights spray joggers in the face: twilight mascara illuminating hoarfrost grass and balding trees. Their feet drag past the darkness carving out shadows from their fearless strides, like gingerbread men rapt by harvest, awaiting the icing eyes. What secrets do they have that keep their legs moving while starch wraps mine? Why do they chase away moribund skies, the gelid wind? Do they not know the chill is not a sin? I choose to drink in the gray, to swim in black pools of shadows— gifts from deepest night. I won’t budge to touch where streetlamps blanket— the ground the runners swear is bright. They can go fuck themselves with all those rays of light.

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As You Showed Me Your Wedding Ring While We Waited At The Mexican Restaurant In Torrance

I cried to myself in a voice you still can not hear. And all the way over in Kailua, the waves are reaching the shore.

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To David Goodis You are on the lam. You are of missing persons. You are down there, on the waterfront again, as the big ships rock gently like fat, complacent hens and the maw of the ever-hungry eater salivates into the puddled gutter. The waterfront bar is a loamy endpoint where stomachs fall to their knees and the nightcrawlers get awfully hungry when it rains, where the customers are pulp, wounded and slain, except for her. She is big and bold. She is a B-Movie Marilyn cash-grab simulacrum. She is a lot of round in a cornered 4:3 screen. She is the curves behind the curves of the ten-cent coin and she is what you bargained for. You try to drag your eyes away from her, but your eyes remain on her. Like snakes gliding into a pool thoughts glide out of your mind to make room for the colors of her; the lines of her; the flavor of her when you gulp; and she fills your brain so that your brain is crammed with her, because you are a tragic figure in a novel by David Goodis, and the curb over which you must climb to escape the gutter is polished by the oily fingers of previous existentialists. You are out of print, as one rides past a dead dog in the street, shudders at the sight, feels pity for an instant, and then rides on and forgets about it.

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In Back Of My Place The full moon chain smokes used cigarettes in its favorite alleyway puddle, until yet another is added & the ripples tear it into crescents.

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colors bloom from his chest Oscar watched two men sand blast a brick wall on a pre-noon Sunday in the heart of mid-city. They removed the elegy with precision, following each letter like a rewrite with invisible ink. The night before, Oscar got high on meth so he’d stop crying and ran to where his brother had been shot. With cans of spray paint he had stolen from his girlfriend’s dad, he rushed to lacquer the church wall with his tome for the fallen. “Always” was his brother’s name— Peter, really, but he was always everywhere, so it goes. Their mom wanted to bury Peter without Oscar at the funeral. So Oscar drove to the park behind the church and sat on a stump beside a hiking path. He could still hear his brother trying to sing like Eddie Holman, or talking about the stupid shit they used to do as summer-kids. As city tools removed his brother Oscar scratched Peter’s name into the stump, cutting his hands on the bark as he dug each letter deeper into the wood. And he kept him there on earth, always laughing, always happy.

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Mother In the morning when I look at myself in the mirror, my mother stands over my shoulder, telling me to stop using the purple shampoo. She jumps with the sheep when I have a hard time falling asleep. Her head waits for me in the microwave when I open it to place the Hot Pocket inside, telling me to put down my porter and instead drink plenty of water. When I am trying to watch TV, she finds her way into the screen to interrupt an episode of Scooby-Doo, reminding me that her family has a history of diabetes and advises me to go on a treadmill. During nights with my friends, she somehow manages to get her voice through the car radio, scolding me to come home because all the crazy people are out at midnight, but then I check the time and see it’s only 8 p.m. I dream of the day I will move into a house near the beach just so I can breathe. But in that dream, my mother is still there. Her little face peering through the pages of the library’s copy of Bridget Jones’s Diary, or sitting in the refrigerator as I take out the milk, asking me what I'm doing. She tells me she is cooking dinner, like how she adds salt to her fruits—she just needs a little extra flavor. So when she asks me to come over for dinner, I know she just needs me to be there to pass her the salt.

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Atonal At your soccer team picnic there was a war in the pines. Some sides, yours, had the advantage of age without wisdom. One coniferous grenade made Connor's scalp and face ooze tomato paste. No one understood but someone knew. You and Connor kept the identity of the arm in perfect shame. Mothers ate grapes and gaped, dabbed cherry filling stains while glancing around. A decade of distance— everyone met new confusions. You still know who has not confessed because every time some infantile girl crawls through your legs you crush her, you apologize to her mother and move on the way I never could.

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The Day We Saw A Tiger We asked the woman— the one in the lurid yellow zoo vest, scowl dripping from her face, desperately holding on to a rusted dust pan, as if it drove insulin into her bloodstream—where we could find the tigers. “Where could they be seen?” Pointing toward the direction where we came from, she told us they were hiding. She said, “I’ve been working here for over seven years and even I haven’t seen one single tiger. Don’t be too disappointed when you don’t see a thing.” If only we ran into the woman one more time to tell her how vibrantly bright orange fur can shine when auspiciously catching a tiger strutting around its mate with daylight directly above them.

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I Consult The Delphic Oracle Of Imperial Beach, California

“You don’t have time for chit-chat now.” As if I ever did. One wants to be kind, but listening is agony. Either say something worth listening to, or quiet down. “I’m slowly getting rid of things. I don’t want to leave this mess for you. Come visit,” my mother says, but there’s nowhere to sit. “Could you bring a couple folding chairs with you?” Once there were cow fields down the road, I think, gripping metal struts. Now traffic’s so thick, you can’t leave the front door open or fumes will strangle you. Outside, I stand by my old car and stare at the oncoming, who seem to gaze ahead like brittle rubber toys to their own raw fate. On the other side of the duplex, a jobless brother sleeps in from his night shift of scavenging. Another sister in Tennessee, 60, also jobless. Facts mock the lyric. This ninety-year-old woman dozes off, determined to outlive her older sister. Even in her sleep, I hear her longing to subdue the guttural sadness in all that she begot.

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Religious Stew Mom was baptized into Catholicism. I was not. I’m told I got the left handed gene from Grandma. You wouldn’t know because she was conditioned to write with the other. I went to Sunday school once. I was kicked out. They said I asked too many questions, that I was disruptive. I was repositioned with the adults and told to keep quiet. That happened on a visit to my Dad and his third wife. I read Where the Wild Things Are and ate Nilla wafers silently wondering. Following Sundays were open for a while, then Grandma got sick and I decided to go back, went with the cleaning lady. The cleaning lady got fired for stealing. Grandma died so I quit. Mom got her second divorce and started going, this time she was born again. She gave the Church donations, even when late on rent. Now that I’m older she asks when I am going to get married. We don’t talk about religion and my mom assumes I am Christian, just like her. She asks if I will go to Church with her next Sunday. My good friend found God recently in an attempt to restore her complicated relationship. She isn’t entirely sure who the father is. They went to counseling at the Church. Christmas came and her boyfriend proposed. I saw the ring, she said yes. Then she changed her mind. I realized it didn’t work out.

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There Must Be Another Way The smart people say it’s just the way of things: After four lionesses surrounded the baby giraffe, the mother, in one last desperate act, charged at them, kicking out her long legs, until she lost all balance, stepping her weight on top of the calf, crushing it instantly. And after realizing what had happened, this mammal, so famous for its silence, repeatedly opened its mouth as if trying to scream, her hooves slipping on the rocky terrain when she finally did try to escape. And though I know this is how nature intends it to be, one creature preys upon another, a lion kills a giraffe so its cubs can feed, and man, too, has had to kill in order to breathe, I will never be smart enough to accept the agony on a mother’s face who’s trampled her own baby while trying to save it from being eaten, as just the way of things.

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Ode To My Angry Girlfriend Somewhere in the world there’s a girlfriend who doesn’t wallop the Empire State building when the yolk pops prematurely on her eggs over easy. But not in my home, not when candy corn went from 98 cents to a buck. Not when the whole U S of A is occupied by dick brains who can’t maneuver around a parking lot. If all of customer service congregated and sketched out the face of evil, there Dana would be with fangs and a receipt. Some may see this as a cause to run, to move onto a woman who won’t karate chop the frump off an old ladies’ handbag. Not me, not when I don’t have to figure out a thing, don’t have to decipher an eyebrow raise to mean I feel neglected, a long sigh as a scream of I fucking hate you. This woman would tell me she’s bloated over an intercom at our wedding during the part where the priest asks If anyone objects, speak now. Dana’s biggest crime is honesty. But who doesn’t want to cave the towering inferno on the next ignoramus to bust out a checkbook after the price is announced in a checkout line? Best of all when I am down in the mud that life seems to leave so often on my front curb Dana’s there for me, this big furious beast in faded jeans and a fanny pack helping me up pushing me back onto that bike to make it a little bit further down that dark, scary block.

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Dog Trot an old street dog sits still stoic impassible gutter-hued guardian of the restaurant facing the cafÊ at which I am having coffee and cigarettes with Florian who eats pastries and studies sociology Westie brighteyedly observes what’s vivid we admire his wit he knows the place better than us we think he is a king maybe the new Heracles or the head of some canine mafia to look that serene two flimflam princesses breeze in snap a picture and leave undisturbed old souled Heracles looks away

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dance of ochre sun shafts on the pavement Sainte-Claire gargoyles overlooking outwitted we leave the cafĂŠ the sun our ego-dog find a holy spirits store, amen, unscrew the saintly wine crash on a public bench and contemplate shoe-dragging loners glitter-eyed babies greasy djembĂŠ players hair-styled success stories as the spectacle reaches heights our olympian hairy dove reappears tranquilly trodding the paved street nodding at a rock a butterfly making his way through the crowd stained but white so white he knew what it was all about

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“Coast Clear?� Asked In A Gallipoli Trench

A Pollock of red showers the sandbagged ditch under clouds charcoaled with bullets that sprint like a murder across the sodden sky when you peeked for one second through tenebrous tint and caught a crow above an olive colored eye.

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outlook Friend left quickly like a glint of light. Gone baby, before real-light walked right through the door to wake you—most of you. Some parts stay asleep for days, trashcan brimmed with too many unused days, and weeks, then longer—when you finally crawl into the morning of an unearned perfect day. Tears won’t gain you a thing, and gain is the only boon this galaxy contains. So move stealthily and refuse prolonged hurt; you’ll need all your energy for the end.

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Natural Mathematics the more we sever our ties with the human race the more behavioral nuances natural mathematics of the physical world come into our possession uphill from the house ground squirrels frequent a simple system of escape tunnels beneath the middle school track in order to scurry safely to their barracks the stump on the hill this summer evening we halt our jog to study a heron named Ron whom I met a week earlier here at the track as indecisively he stiffens his neck like a San Francisco cypress and indicates the direction of the squirrel homestead we point the same way to concur he immediately crouches low to grass like a Monterey cypress creeps toward the nearest tunnel entrance twice he spears a dirt mound comes up empty-beaked I stomp the ground presumably squirrel-filled

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in hope that haphazardly they’ll flee their holes to hide in Ron’s gullet but he’s too preoccupied to thank me you and I casually enter the chain-link wide-swinging gate of abandoned ball courts the prison yard fence a recent addition circumscribing school property holds in contempt my past fondness for trading cards anticipation of Friday’s turkey sandwiches and potato chips high probability of two-point basket shots not enough to make me first choice for gym teams the tenth anniversary of the last year I knew not self-awareness has just passed and so has the tenth of the year my teeth were slammed into metal water spouts by a sweating hand the year my cards were stolen my thigh bruised by a shoe print bigger than three Yoda Band-Aids the tenth anniversary of the first year when I was the same age as the last age of Christina the same age she did not come home her dog returned with only a leash her parents exhumed remains a hundred yards from the family home bone brown-boxed monotonous

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never caught her decomposer passing the softwood bench in her honor weathered like Monterey cypress my middle school abandoned we exit the invaded gate past the track where the heron still tries to grab at his steadfast concept of necessity and up into California-pink sky we vertically wisp like thinning canopies of San Francisco cypress pressure-crushed dizzily settling at last for the most promising less

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Cenotaph For A Nihilist A grave should be no more Distinguished from a dumping ground Than any plate or pan Submerged in a sink of bubbling soap. Imagining a boundary To where my ashes totter And dissolve, surviving friends Should loft a warning sign: “Contaminated groundwater.�

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Have You Heard The Joke That Ends With The Punch Line, “And I Look Across The Table And Am Supposed To Say, ‘Dear, Can You Pass the Milk For The Cheerios,’ But Instead I Say, ‘You Son Of A Bitch, You Ruined My Life!’” For Orlando Aspasia

I. herded in the betrayal of Doeg’s crook, we leave the concert noticing the beaded brow of the bewitched, who trapped in echolalia chant, “I wish I was more like the ocean; no talking, all action.”

II. they pile into cabs and pillage the subway with reconstitutions of our antisustenance sniffle bullets sweat begins to cool with microscopic crystallizations of vicious wars waged between the allied foreign germ coalition and the domestic front of the people’s immune system.

III. our focus is indelible, our merriment, an obstructive monolith of discontinuous wonder and magical syllogism. with vapid incongruity we dance down the river bank skipping our apathy off flaccid lucidity until we stumble upon our stoop.

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IV. tucking them in we read The Giving Tree aloud and the youngest one asks, “when will Esther return?” struggling with the letter “r” and we smile because she does not understand that Esther never left. combing her brother’s hair with gentle ferocity, you posit questions from a clandestine epoch while I swirl the charcoal with shards of swallowtail wings in the molcajete. someone begins singing that one song about the adroit hunter who dies in a snowstorm then comes back to life in the spring while you remind me to mix the fat of fowls with six egg yolks and half a grated sugar cane.

V. sleepy time we store our debauchery in the fridge to set, and climb into bed, peeling the paper off of peanut butter cupcakes, spilling our ganache on rinds of seedless watermelon.

VI. disheveled and sticky you ask if I want to listen to The Big Takeover for sunrise? “How about Diamonds and Pearls?” I say, restraining myself from pointing out that there is no “the” in the title to Big Takeover. we listen to Le Voyage de Penelope. you hand me my socks and tell me the sheets smell like a yeast infection. “I wouldn’t know,” I say, before I ask you for the rest of my money, because later today I have to pay rent and then buy food for Smyrna and Ephesus, on the way to the clinic. we eat breakfast together never looking each other in the eye.

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Pop My great-grandfather’s skin was thin and blue Like skim milk He wore a black suit full of dandruff and dust From a closet full of coats that might have pockets full of gray hamburgers wrapped in Hardee’s napkins He sat next to a black rotary phone and stacks of Baltimore Sun papers Smelling of full diapers When I sat next to him in the car I would look up at him, travel down his long, speed-bumped nose to his hands And stare in horror at those protruding blue veins Gnawing through that skim milk skin I just knew that old Pop would burst someday soon and bleed to death And just prayed it was not on me

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You Can Only Find Good Music At Fingerprints Records

The Mars Volta’s DeLoused in the Comatorium goes for a cool hundred dollars on vinyl, the plastic seal feels the same as the plastic seal of Chumbawumba’s Tubthumping, which goes for three. Still costs more than biking along Belmont Shore with you, catching the ocean breath that juts into our skin—paved with goosebumps from the velocity at which we race gulls—the only thumping you hear is the boardwalk underneath rotary wheels. Listen to the wood sing as we trample the boardwalk’s tongue. Listen to the waves crash, the opening crescendo of cymbals starting Capn’ Jazz’s “Little League”. After you feel sand endlessly slip through slackened fingers, feel “your hand in mine” the way Explosions in the Sky demand of us. Look how the sun splits the ocean in half as its reflection skips across the water like a smooth stone, which admittedly looks more pristine than the cover of Hüsker Dü’s New Day Rising, and you’d want us to swim naked in that ocean and be two Nirvana babies—you know, the one on that Nevermind vinyl going for about thirty bucks, the one with the plastic seal that feels the same as the plastic seal on Tubthumping on DeLoused even on Transatlanticism, which I thought was your favorite. You said so the other umpteenth times I opted for the record store instead of the bikes you wanted. Every time I swore I could talk DeLoused down to about fifty. And every time, you’re without surprise when we leave empty handed.

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The Seamstress’ Daughter Our beige living room carpet was littered with loose threads: red, yellow, black, blue worm-like speckles left behind from cotton or polyester fabric patterns that you assembled with great care on your sewing machine. I liked to watch the rhythm of the stitching needle, the way that even barefoot you willed the machine when you pressed down on its pedal. I liked to watch the rapid force of the bobbin as it tugged and spun thread on itself, unwinding it from its cone with precision. When you were away, I liked to look at the machine. I could feel its robust presence in our home, even when it was silent. Sometimes I commanded the machine to speak, wanting to know what you wished for when all was silent outside and the two of you were the only ones awake. Our one bedroom apartment resounded with the clatter of your sewing machine. I could hear it through the school bus window and I knew that you were home. But the sound that I yearned for most was your song, (the way you sang those radio ballads) though it was always muffled by a roaring sound and the snipping of threads.

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Old Cabin Of Summers Elongate webs descend from umbrella hem to glass garden table edge and you subtly desire to climb them shrunken, to summon by wire their delicate host. The woven shirt spiked by screws and splinters squints white flecks beneath time’s crust of mud, jostling in timberline wind an oak-iron chair. Just last August you perched here, abandoned the rag in sight of parched hills blessed with thieves sufficient to discipline in tatters.

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Perry Smith The last Kansas kettle of common night hawks settled in the wet whirl of my November depravity on that night when I dangled in a gallows rope ballet of mass and hemp and gravity. Goat suckers clustered along the silver-veined pecan limbs, and a hangman’s stage cast a shadow against the thin mask of man’s morality. Cain among Cains. Brothers weighting the balance. Murderers and malapropisms are better executed at midnight or dawn, never beneath the scowl of sunlight or veracity. One raspy bird rousted the clan to abandon winter. Their frog-kicking bodies bounced from the twigs and snapped a silent flight five thousand miles south toward Argentinian avocados. As the relentless mass of solitary fliers fled, my body sagged, contented to reenter the ruckus of night hawks. I will nest upon rocky ground as my flapping brothers rest self-satisfied.

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an addiction When the clouds finally soak into the mountain, let the sun burn shadows onto clean concrete. Angeleno heirloom tomatoes, only unafflicted chickens in my eggs, please, while I fill my lungs with fake sage vapor. Bended boroughs connected by 469 miles of always breaking freeway: frayed tendrils spit cars and soot into the ocean; one vexed but charmed by the attention. And I can’t leave. I tip toe around the umbilical, cordially invited to the park where threadbare men watch suited men work just as hard at something else. On the subway: not allowed to eat your sandwich but please, youngster, let me have two Snickers and some cigarettes instead. The train blurs charred and vacant squatters’ mansions, pushing past the crest of TV antennas, wobbling us to a stop before the rocky backdrop to ogle what Castro handed Fremont in a fit of haste. I won’t leave. Baby-blue specked with palm and yellow hue; breathing is supposed to hurt like this, injured for reminiscence. I love the flush of city framed in brilliant lights, all at once through the window of a descending airplane: to forever admire her lost patina. Empathic, I stand on a Sunday street downtown, heart in beat with sirens as they shriek up soapwashed windows and trail streaks until their echoes break the sky. My tether’s only loosely fit; my ankle has a crooked gaze to hold it warmly.

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Awareness Heights the sycamore knows the weather in france and in india the beetle hides in the hibiscus before the cat leaves the house the sunflower folds her leaf as the boys cross the road a brunette jogs beside my car and I crash straight into a pole

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The Amphitheater A grid of pink and scattered flecks of white holds still, then rouses in a fierce tremble. Another pause: I close my eyes to listen to communicants of glowing, splattered opacity. Bowing ever so slightly front-center, the conductor whirls and coils the softening light. Those who are beautiful in love know how the sounds confound the orchestra’s colossus: the viola’s cautionary tale an incitement to caress yet again the aching skin. For the blessed, the amphitheater throbs with radiance like an oboist double-breathing. When the music halts, the inconsolable listeners begin to pray. They may not believe they’re praying, but they are.

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Contributors AJ Urquidi hails from Monterey, California. He received his B.A. in Creative Writing and Film from UCLA, then studied guerrilla poetry for two years in the NYC streets. AJ's poems have appeared in Westwind, The L.A. Telephone Book anthology, autolycus, Bird’s Thumb, Bookends Review, and CIRCLE Poetry Journal. His first poetry collection is called The Patterned Fragment, published in 2014 by LUMA Foundation. He is currently earning his M.F.A. from CSU Long Beach. Permanent Pavement (6), Atonal (25), Natural Mathematics (35), Old Cabin Of Summers (44) Bill Mohr had a poem published for the first time in 1972, in a magazine in San Diego called Fuse. Since then, he's had poems in dozens of magazines and over a dozen anthologies. Holdouts: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance 1948-1992, a literary history of L.A.'s poetry communities, was published by the University of Iowa Press in 2011. He has a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of California, San Diego, and teaches American literature and creative writing at CSU Long Beach. He was a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute in 1996, and was the recipient of the George Drury Smith Award from Beyond Baroque in Venice, California in 2014. Pruebas Ocultas, a selection of his poems translated into Spanish, is forthcoming from Mantis Editores in Mexico. Throw Rugs (16), I Consult The Delphic Oracle Of Imperial Beach, California (27), Cenotaph For A Nihilist (38), The Amphitheater (48) Originally from the wilds of Monkton, Maryland, Carey Baxter is now a proud downtown Los Angeles native, where she lives with her husband Josh and cactus George. She is working on an MA in English literature and a teaching credential in physics at California State University, Long Beach. She also teaches English part-time at Los Angeles Southwest College. She rides public transportation everywhere and loves observing and recording this astounding life. Her favorite poet is Jane Hirshfield. Love (10), Pop (41) Casandra Hernandez grew up in Southern California. She graduated from CSU Long Beach in 2012 with a B.A. in English Creative Writing and Journalism. She is currently pursuing her M.F.A. in Fiction from the same school, while tutoring at Golden West College. She is Co-Editor-in-Chief of CSU Long Beach's Literary Journal, Riprap. During her formative years, she lived in Riverside County and then moved to Mexico City. Since returning to southern California she has tried to reconcile those two starkly different lives in her fiction. Although she mostly writes short stories, she loves to write poetry. The Seamstress’ Daughter (43) Born and raised in Carson, CA, Chantal Lozano received her B.A. in English, Creative Writing from CSULB in 2012. She recently received her post-baccalaureate certificate in Technical and Professional Communication also from CSULB through which she gained internship experience in scripts, copyediting, and publishing. Some of her interests include: brunch, Christmas-related activities, camping, movie nights, to-do lists, and good company. Mother (24)

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Christian Vannasdall spent the first ten, quiet years of his life in Kentucky. This was followed by nearly a decade of continuous rambling around the States, until he settled in Long Beach, CA, where he now lives, goes to school, and writes poems. Greying Sterility (7), In Back Of My Place (22) Clint Margrave is the author of The Early Death of Men, a collection of poems published by NYQ Books. His work has also appeared in The New York Quarterly, Rattle, Cimarron Review, Verse Daily, and Ambit (UK), among others. In early 2015, NYQ Books will publish his second full-length collection, Negligence. He lives in Long Beach, CA. (www.clintmargrave.com) The Hope Chapel (3), The Arsonist (18), There Must Be Another Way (29) David Diaz has been growing up in Los Angeles. He received his B.A. in Literature and Creative Writing at Long Beach State, and is now currently pursuing his M.F.A. there, while living in Lakewood CA. He has had the support of his friends at Tiny Splendor along the way, which has helped for reassurance. Touring (8), colors bloom from his chest (23), outlook (34), an addiction (46) Marcus Clayton grew up in South Gate, CA, and graduated from CSU Long Beach in 2012 with a B.A. in English. While currently working on an M.F.A. in Poetry from the same university, he also tutors extensively and occasionally runs workshops at the Los Angeles SouthWest College. Outside of academia, he is a passionate fan of music and comics--both of which play a significant role in his poems. His work can be seen in FreezeRay Poetry, Bird’s Thumb, Cadence Collective, and RipRap. Für Elise’s Bruises (12), The Runners (19), The Day We Saw A Tiger (26), “Coast Clear?” Asked In A Gallipoli Trench (33), You Can Only Find Good Music At Fingerprints Records (42) Michelle Slieff is a local of Southern California's coastal cities. She enjoys hiking, poetry, and cured meats, but not necessarily in that order. Michelle has been in the restaurant industry professionally for the last ten years, and unprofessionally her whole life. She recently graduated from Cal State Long Beach with her BA in Creative Writing and is working on her Master's degree in Creative Writing. She's combined her two passions of food and writing and is a freelance foodie. Religious Stew (28) Olivia Somes is a recent graduate of California State University, Long Beach where she earned a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing and is currently a second-year graduate student in the MFA program for poetry. She is president of HipPoetics and a section editor for RipRap at CSULB. You can find her poetry in Verdad, Carnival, Crack the Spine, Cadence Collective, and Bankheavy Press. Her first chapbook, Life After Purgatory, was released in the Fall of 2012 (Bankheavy Press). How To Assure Your Mother You Are Not A Winner (15), Ode To My Angry Girlfriend (30) Born in the French Alps, Olivier Bochettaz recently migrated to Long Beach in order to join the local community of poets. He has a B.A. and a M.A. in Literatures in English from Stendhal University, France, and was granted the EAP Scholarship in order to spend his last year of undergraduate studies at UC San Diego. He is currently part of the M.F.A. in Poetry at CSU Long Beach. His poetry appears in Cadence Collective, RipRap, Synesthesia Literary Journal, and Electric Windmill Press, and his critical works in DUMAS and The William Carlos Williams Review. Seed (1), Earth Coincidences (11), Dog Trot (31), Awareness Heights (47)

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Ramsey Mathews is a second year MFA poet at Cal State University Long beach. His desire is to embrace the world with all his senses, yet somehow remain detached to record the experience. ephemera at the river styx (17), Perry Smith (45) “I’m René Prade from Marseille. I speak about interbreeding ‘cause my father is from the south and his mother is from the north. Marseille, dear American friends, is the city where the French Connection is born. I am mixed with Italian and African blood and I will bring heroine into your country. My poetry is chemistry.” The Ceramic Dog (Who’s Weapon To Me) (2) Shane Eaves is full-time graduate student in CSULB’s M.F.A. program. He is a big fan of mustard, especially American mustard. He enjoys being outdoors, camping, and hiking, and has an affinity for staying up late. Lobelia On A Hill (4), Looking At A Vacant Lot (13) Toren Wallace is all about tofu and vegetable stir-fry. The only thing he takes more serious than stir-fry is himself. He enjoys fireside chats with hedgehogs, walking his unicorn on the beach at midnight, and drinking hot chocolate with wizards. He is looking to unite the world through individualism. His poetry reflects a longing to let people know. Have You Heard The Joke That Ends With The Punch Line, “And I Look Across The Table And Am Supposed To Say, ‘Dear, Can You Pass the Milk For The Cheerios,’ But Instead I Say, ‘You Son Of A Bitch, You Ruined My Life!’” (39) Ursula Loscalzo is currently working in the film industry as a cinematographer, but she still enjoys putting her English degree to good use writing poems about her hometown in the Pacific Northwest and her current life in the Los Angeles area. Micah (5), As You Showed Me Your Wedding Ring While We Waited At The Mexican Restaurant In Torrance (20) Zach Mann was born and raised in Los Angeles. He’s lived in many cities in California and one city in Russia. Currently he attends CSU Long Beach’s MFA program in Fiction. To David Goodis (21)

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