bedfellows winter 2016
Copyright Â© 2016 press Cover by Libby Landauer and Wunder Womb All rights reserved. ISBN-13: 978-0692613818 ISBN-10: 0692613811
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other, Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves, To let go the means, to wake. â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Muriel Rukeyser
BRIGHTEST OF ALL SUBZEROS | 9 from LEAVES & BRANCHES FROM SNAKE TREE | 10 THE 8-POINT BUCK | 17 BIGGER THAN THE MOON | 18 THE RECORD REMAINS IN DREAMS | 21 FISTFUCKING | 22 THE UNFOUNDED: A NECTAR GUIDE IN NAMES | 24 GO INSIDE WHERE ITâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S WARMER, NOT SAFER | 30 THE LAST REMAINING SOVIET FRIDGE | 32 UNTITLED | 37 from WITHOUT PROTECTION | 40
SEX & NUDITY (RED RIDING HOOD, 2011) | 43 REPRODUCTIVE PHYSICS: KNIGHT OF SWORDS | 47 IN THE DARK I LIKE TO READ HIS MIND | 48 THE WAY WE ATE | 50 SPELLS I TRIED TO GET EVERYONE TO WANNA FUCK ME | 55 PAPER MOON | 56 SIXTEEN | 57 AUBADE | 60 CONTRIBUTOR KEY | 64 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS | 66 EDITORS | 68
BRIGHTEST OF ALL SUBZEROS | I The eyes closed don’t mean we’re dead. The young can love each other, as they do, and it’s weird, as they say, and they know it. But we are not them, and being born never gets any easier. Pressure per-square inch: a half-built igloo and no roof so we can take in as much of the snow field as can be taken in— This open, blinding field hides as much as it shows in the pitch of its drifts running off without us. I lost you, you lost me, we lost us, all the above. It isn’t the love of love that we love, but the winter light. Angle out as wide as you can to get the shot.
from LEAVES & BRANCHES FROM SNAKE TREE | II “Are you sure,” my mother asks, “that you’re not, you know, furrowed brow
gay. bastard wing of a bird.
I hold her face in my hands. I am still only a theoretically gay child. “God told me what to name you. His plan for your life, it’s been there all along.” When she says this I know she is setting the table. One of the meanings of my name is consecrated to god. I said it wrong, added an extra n, sin from my mouth. wood, birch bark, flax, cord, leather, steel. I begin again with the description of my spine The hallway, shirt lifted
her apple picking outfit. Eve, drawn to the fruit / knowledge of—
god is satisfaction:
& it was good. Her taste
over & over
I kiss her halfway
on the edge between
a toothless axe Sodom and
Gomorrah. our jaw bones all ajar.
god is plenty: thighs of thick years.
Mountains kneeling, felted and grey. The stirring of wind chimes sky breathing on a mirror, mud cloud in broad daylight. In the shadow
the spires of churches
My landlord, a guardian of morality tells my boss her suspicions. The threat of a homosexual around children. Everyone is talking about me. Original Sin: to be made an example of, It is the hilt of a dagger hidden in the Good Book. My best friend lies to our boss for me. & I deny loving Stacey three times. Baby, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m sorry. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m so so sorry.
I am Babylon sitting on the seven headed beast.
Yeah, we fucked Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m not allowed,
six times a day. vulgar
Fucked the gatekeeper & the lion
I guess Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m fine outside of the gate.
bound to god: god is fullness:
my refusal. let me crawl into her.
Baptism, born again, water sloped around my body. Round birds when my father asks, “Are you going to church tomorrow?” When I leave, it will be white ways without a father. White ways without a family too. I want to be in the fold of god. abba, father, crawl on to her lap. let me stay here. I can’t --there are orphans & oddfellows hidden in the tuft of my hair. I am trying to write a story where it doesn’t end up like this. A syntax family,
a ghost home between every line. In heaven there is nothing only the sound of the rough heat of body against body
There is the Tree of Lifeâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;its leaves heal all things. & the River of Life flows from the throne of god. What it must feel like to never thirst again. & when I put my mouth on its mouth it turns from me. Eve couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t drink either, not after the Fall. Brackish. Backwards. Orange & brown I strike a match on the mouth of the river. Curse these branches
Curse this tree
THE 8-POINT BUCK | III there’s a buck in the yard, one hoof raised and someone’s running in the basement if I was my father, I would think brisket, backstrap, notice loin, each twist of the windpipe, musculature and shank I would consider closeness to my cheek, pulley system, spatter and scope distance in yards you and I sleep on a traditional twin-sized its coils have carved hard wood salty-spined, brisk and undone— the buck jumps into the thickets and I blame it on your whining, your muzzle and masseter whining, earsplitting even from the kitchen, over Fassbinder or fridge space
BIGGER THAN THE MOON | III This is a poem where I say no but you go and do it anyway, anyway. Last night spun into Sunday in this, another city on the coast— cab door slammed shut. Now I’m on the corner of Marcy and DeKalb. Black cassette tape hanging from a lit streetlamp flays the air with each gust. All that I love is reduced to inkjet dots. Will my friends understand? Warmest winter solstice Gospel of neptune in my gut the opened sky tilts itself and we won’t last if the droughts keep.
Think of a bobcat in a foothold trap, limb dissociation in chimpanzees, the meeting of two lower lips pawing like fire, big moon overhead. Red candlewax pools on linoleum floors. Waste, from the Latin vastum, neuter of vastus waste, vaster than the dust of which we are made. Even meteorites, exact in their million-year plots, dissolve into common elements. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m making mistakes. Now to the beach to wade into the same terrible ocean dry ourselves with the same matted towel. I humiliate myself with each poem, death spell, toxic venus and verbs.
Yes, I read the journals; gatekeeper poet lies; the expat ornithologist ogling songbirds takes inventory of avian fauna, adjusts his old groin the way an old lion licks his wounds while hoopoes juggle trisyllabic song across bramble— some of us cast magic, some of us cast stones trochees ghosting one or two lines I’d lick to liven this world, this clapping repeat I’d like to leave this world I’d leaven this word, I’d level this war abandon the confines of the body now this moon is crashing down it’s making its contact lowness and lowering halo— I want to be all flare and solar prominence loosestrife set to the mountain because holy is bigger than the moon because Jesus is in my name and there is work to be done.
THE RECORD REMAINS IN DREAMS | IV I turned the line of my back horizontal Sun-spined, sunburned At the bra line exactly. She the quiescent. Kneading Noczema across my back into the ridges of skin / like the roof of a feline mouth takes in scent I took in sun. She told me to use Olay early. Once I smelled my own bedsheets Recognizing my own scent Impossible to rise some mornings From the self in bed / in the brain of this dreamy character / She leaps across the hotel lobby in one bound. She pursues. She is also the hotel.
FISTFUCKING | V to heal the yoga of the sigmoid colon visible blood inches up the anus wriggles the vertical forearm the cavity the narrower impossible fingers notice the fingernails remove rings a process of course of sanding down the bed the tissue the intestine lined with a lubricant body expanded and well-publicized
becoming more and more alarmist there is a club of receptors that lose their manicure the partner the trim infection the bleeding flush with sensations of relaxation more and more tranquility has given his body the encounter of vegetable shortening
THE UNFOUNDED: A NECTAR GUIDE IN NAMES | VI “I hoped the Unfounded would pierce the ribs of a tiger and in that gesture transfigure my own landscape into the infinite” — Hilda Hilst, With My Dog Eyes I. Nectar. Your neck, obviously. Drink of the gods. Neck for death, as in necromancer. Tar, terre, to cross over, pass through, overcome. Sweet liquid of flowers, nectarine. The only way forward, as in “I want to be someone else”— is to borrow. I ask my mortal husband: Bruised from the daily Must I be mortal too? What say you?
You are my mortal husband aren’t you? Then why don’t you answer? Why do you merely laugh? Will you soothe my daily bruise? But what say you? Must I be mortal too? Yes, so you may soothe my daily bruise Why must I be mortal to soothe your daily bruise? If you were immortal you would float away Why do you assume I would fly from you? Because I would only mortal be It’s pretty obvious you would leave me for another immortal
I don’t know any immortals O well. Do you want to hear more about nectar Yes please This is from Adventures of Maya the Bee by Waldemar Bonsels That is quite enough “The beetle returned and sullenly flung down some nectar.” Is that all? Yes What else? Homer, from The Odyssey “Her table covered and with rosy juice nectarous charged the cup” Keats: from “Endymion” “The love took wing and from his pinion shed on all the multitude and nectrous dew” Have you more to say?
Vats of nectar my love Neck is root of enough, finish, more broadly than death We should probably stop “Other tracks such as a demo track, industrial track or nectar track are under investigation” My characters are those who sip and assume they aren’t tracked, their shells intact. In gloves and masks worn.
II. Evening, drifting in and out of consciousness with a book. Sounds of voices, loudly, and footsteps on stairs. A bath is running, doors opening and closing are like a type of violence. Without them one is lonely. You lie in bed and hear the water rush through the radiators and wish all other movement and sound would stop. Unfounded characters to keep you company will never open a door you do not want opened, or step on a stair you wish to remain vacant. While waiting for your lover to stop moving about and come to bed. You wonder if tomorrow you will remember all you wanted to write down about the agitating sounds and empty silence. You realize as you write opening your eyes finally in the dark your tiredness has fled. You will not sleep. The problem of keeping company with the imaginary is that real persons chafe in comparison. When I imagine you, dear unfounded, dear nameless until given a name, dear written companion, your voice is never abrupt and is demanding only in passion. You are never weak or selfish. Naturally you exist as my happiness. Do you have another season? And now I hear my husband stepping out of the bath and going downstairs so as not to wake me, placing a towel down on the couch to sit with his book until tiredness comes. He does not know that I am awake now, in love with every distraction which also torments me. This must be the end of one strand of imaginary life because I will rise and leave one candle lit beside the bed and wrap myself in a robe and go downstairs to rescue him and myself from such an exile as the company of the imaginary presupposes. I hear a train and it is 11:11, line time, the time to stand and be vertical, gather oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lover and walk as parallel lines up the stairs and then become horizontal together not in sleep in the same way that lines of writing recline upon a page. Where the act of writing and the act of love merge. Nearing one edge of consciousness. We must retrieve our central selves by recognition of choosing to stand, descend, a sound. To lie down and resound each effort to understand. What is sleeping? What is dreaming? When are we awake and when do we admit to being mere lines?
Such fundamental disclosures can only be made to oneself and oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s other selves. To tell an invented companion is a different decoction entirely. I choose every dire confection and place my head against your real or imagined heart. In the end there is only listening to such distinct sounds which inform language. Without the warmth of your features pressed against mine, listening would never have become telling, and invisible transmissions would still be unborn.
GO INSIDE WHERE IT’S WARMER, NOT SAFER | VII as soon as one utters the word I one alienates the subject before them since I can speak in the future tense I’ll call back to myself and see who answers writing mainly to remain open to criticism each word revealing holes in which to enter and vandalize afraid finally I might invite an unwanted aesthetic so remain in the past tense entertaining myself (variously) I think Karen said, “voice translator,” but I heard voice transplant or branch of friendship not yet sabotaged I remain open to and write from the heart but that too is transplanted from, what did she call it ventriloquism, no affect but bombed out shelters of apathy thinking the organization of the liberal arts and sciences is heartless but Karen was right to have responded: “artless, yes He seems to have given Himself the right of way to control nature because its ambiguities controlled Him” never having the heart to ask if she was talking about Aristotle or God our lovemaking is constantly interrupted by all the books I want to read our bookkeeping is always interrupted by all the places in which we want to display our affections my hope is to discover the relevance of these sentiments and irrelevancies
perhaps reporting on them not as interruptions of daily life but as choices in the free flow domestic utterance of planned and prepaid empathy since our approaches to writing are by nature so vastly at odds: she speaks with utility and close examination while I observe the answers in silence: â&#x20AC;&#x153;is every sound an address?â&#x20AC;? a touch enough for us not to talk with our mouths full
THE LAST REMAINING SOVIET FRIDGE | VIII The details of what was become the details of what is: The dirtiest marble stairs. The highest ceilings. Half an art deco archway to nowhere. A bisabuela who goes to the hospital because someone will listen. The revolution she was there for. Tiled sidewalks and floors and many panes of colored glass: evidence. Rag mops for all those floors. Different fabric on the same strong line. Grand swaths of grass. Water set to boil. Euro-centricity still dying slow if at all. The everlasting importance of shade and breeze. And that beast of a box of a fridge.
I find myself unable to explain to C. When I can’t say it in English, I don’t know what might translate. What ever could draw me to this city again? Muddled, I admit my memories were cleaner. But I’ve never been able to explain why I like dirt or more, why I don’t trust clean. I start to, terribly, say something about honesty. And for who? Just hours after he explained, best as I could figure from the Portuñol, his fiancé’s impending arrival, and said we only have a few days meaning nights to crash into the shower, and lean hot into its low pressure cold.
Special Period euphemism: Jinotero/a vs. Yuma. Who wins this round? Y que Direccion? This is the experiment. Imperfect but no less impressive. A city that knows about the side hustle and the side jawn, and where the shot like sounds are only from the electric line that, like the rollercoaster at Parque Lenin, hasn’t been repaired since the 70s. Yes and. Whoever else has so thoroughly stood up to the fuck or be fucked policy de los Yumas? (because love/hate doesn’t capture it) Whoever else got off so easy? Relativo. Relativo. On the drive back from the beach a noose on a billboard about genocide and the blockade. Drunk and everyone remembers. A would be everlasting revolution. A revolution that needs a revolution. This is what all the rum is for, is why everything else runs out. And because a fistful will buy so little, soon they are changing the money. The system too good at reminding people they have the wrong kind of money. Though nada can capture what is sold to want. And anyway, it’s need your own fan kind of hot, so that guy is taking his to his girl’s to stay over. Por que, encapuchandos, there are all kinds of trained resistance. Like bucket showers twice a day or this fridge a kind of cold box. To keep the uncooked. To remind how we don’t want everything free.
Because when you want easy you get easy. And I’m not. Though I close my eyes and imagine what tension might make, another honest I might take— while I can. Siempre one of us will run before we run to. It’s probably me, but maybe, because you’re the one who leaned in, and I’m the one who remembers. Who struggles with everyone’s potential. On a return flight over a dogged, dogged midwest. Knowing below. The Wichita Inn at four am. The storage room before the new year. What was made after she braided my hair. Thick on me. Paint on everything. And where I took you in my mouth, the pattern of my teeth. And when I let you, desire. Stumbling desire.
The accessibility of spandex: Like many things, it’s best observed from the long, narrow commons of the Malecon. How it moves with the body so close. How it can feel light and thin. Such respite is what the people come here for. Though tonight an open air club attracts a class with more fabric options. Cotton. A pattern cut of silk. And the bedroom DJs are uninterested in providing a rhythm. A crime forgiven only if they are aware of the ocean’s. But then they would need to compliment it—like the fishermen do. With rods, or line on a spool with a bit of bait, or the local through the teeth hiss to catch attention in the ebb and flow. More people are out at this hour, but some are there all day. Watching. Waiting. A kind of living. Earlier, a man rode home one-handed, confident, pleased with the catch, his other hand holding a strung up fish as long as the bicycle was tall. For which he will happily hammer out all the ice built up in the freezer.
UNTITLED | IX your mouth is all these things, at least: a gilded tool for mischief and sometimes (maybe, maybe) pleasure sucking skinless whatever hears your warbling song and draws near; tongue on teeth tongue on rib cage roof of mouth *sssstt* sounds a pucker of the lips as though, perhaps, a kiss but none to be redeemed anywhere; softest at the top of my thigh while I am swallowed
by my awe of you liberated by shapes, bits of soft string, and words I don’t remember but can smell; a titan a tyrant galumphing over hilltops and houses, crushin’ niggas – always clumsy always smirking; holy in its openings, holy in its closings, irredeemable all in between; an open cave that secrets whispering demons;
softest at the top of my thigh pulled taut into wide ovals and then, into sassback and smiles; an extension of your slick tongue/ defiant ass bashing, then bouncing me to the ground; soft enough to live inside Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d lay in the warm wet of it, playing your frenulum like a harpsichord for the lacklove Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d pull your tongue over me like a blanket and be pressed by its weight and long for the rest of you.
from WITHOUT PROTECTION | X As if it were against (my) better judgment. Cold dark deep and absolutely clear, the clear gray icy water . . . She was both woman and quartz, a universe refracted with pain. Once, with purpose, I pressed my palm against her spine, the moon gathered in me. I watched her back swallow my hand, wrist-deep, a ghost hand. She was born in the year of the water dog so I called her Water Dog. When her tongue lapped my cunt, an abandoned kit burrowed wool blankets and slept in me. When she penetrated me, hard, like I asked her to, I shuddered and shut down, crying. Flowing and flown my 25th birthday, one month after my father died, one month after my girlfriend left, she appeared to me, her hand tight around my throat.
Adaptation is a kind of trauma, I tell my boss when he mentions my lack of accent. Some of us have no traceable affect, have learned our language from strangers. He shows my friend how to use the meat slicer, the scale. This kind of work will be good for you, he explains. In Poland, we were young engineers, we worked with the soldiers and dug trenches in the woods. Received. RE: Dyke Needs Man to Fuck Her Girlfriend- W4M 6:28PM (4 hours ago) Robert Mc*****<firstname.lastname@example.org > My name is Rob I just got out of jail I’m hot out of the box I’ll fuck and suck like an animal there’s no stopping me I’m going crazy for sex.
So long my neck coils tight, won’t loose. So long she varies what she places on my back: paperwork, books, belt unfastened. It’s not awful, aching arc of my spine, neck, floor wronging my knees. Weak. On all fours I suck her clit—gentle—she slaps me. I imagine whipped tips of soft serve.
I stay in my place.
She three fingers me, keeps me open, crawls me over like an owner. She loves me I know as if love is matter and I hold it. (Shallow, the bowl of my back.)
SEX & NUDITY (RED RIDING HOOD, 2011)* | XI A man and a woman are shown in a dream sequence and we see them from the shoulders up, kissing briefly, and holding hands. Sex is implied. A man and a woman lie in front of a fire at night in a stack of hay and kiss for a prolonged time (we see cleavage at the woman's scoop-necked bodice) and he unties the laces at her neckline but they are interrupted by a call for help. Throughout the film, women wear scoop neck dresses that reveal a bit of cleavage.
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An older teen girl speaks with a priest, removes her shawl to reveal a thin-strapped, slip-like top and says she'll do anything to help her imprisoned brother (implying sex); the priest tells her to turn around in a circle so he can look at her and puts her shawl back on. A man and a woman kiss several times briefly. In a party scene, a man and a woman dance with suggestive moves, including pelvic thrusting and shoulder and hip shaking.
Two women walk next to the couple and dance in the same manner and two lines of dancers form and the dance continues briefly until they are interrupted by two men fighting over a woman. A man tells a woman, "I know you don't want me." A woman asks a man if he wants her and he replies he does, but must leave town. A woman tells her daughter that the daughter's older sister is the daughter of a man she loves and not the daughter's father. The woman says she grew to love her husband after their arranged marriage. A woman tells a man that she will wait for him as he rows off in a boat.
A man and a woman plan to run away to be together; they do not. A man and a woman lie in leaves near a forest and talk.
REPRODUCTIVE PHYSICS: KNIGHT OF SWORDS | XII On a hot bright Wednesday I need you think the truth & some aspirin. She is lying next to you, bone to bone. An atom catches in her rib, her belly makes a sound like wish. The long weekend of her hip tapers in shy phrases of blue smoke. Window shards & cut apart trees. Abraham Lincoln on a handtowel. You take her hand light & cold go running through your arms. From the inside out, pretend. Angels wash their underwear in the minne-sota. Sun fills the gin from the big window behind the sink. There is no story yet, only raw elements. Tiny crosses of rain, your fist: holding flowers or eighth notes, bluegold clouds, a necklace made of turquoise & pendant earrings. You were cheating. You had cheated, you would cheat. Love seems to you to be beautiful. Or, let me say: possible. Yes, love seems possible. Carnal, & very precise. You turn your head, & can no longer see the children in the trees. That is the fairytale, & now you can no longer tell the difference.
IN THE DARK I LIKE TO READ HIS MIND | XIII Caught myself doing air guitar on the train to Doll Parts / couldn't stop. Put my headphones on and somehow Ani was already playing / didn’t question it. Cause there's a god. Cause there is a goddess. Thank You by Alanis. They really want you but I do too. The end of Doll Parts makes me think of my mom making fun of my grandma in 1994. Learning that everymom is not like your mom. I went to college, I wrote a short story called “the pullout method.” Learning how to wash your own clothes. Woke up with an overwhelming desire to wear the color purple. Put on the paisley shirt Amick bought me at H&M. Someday it'll be vintage. Someday not that far away. I remember when Tara turned 25 she posted "I'm officially vintage." I remember when Jason used Amick’s name in a poem.
Woke up with the feeling of wanting to vomit not drunk not pregnant, just sad. Really bad food. Where have all the good men gone & where are all the gods. I wear these sneakers my sister bought me that are so not me / but it's like I don't even care about my identity. Wanted to listen to Bangles radio. Love it in yr room at night. In the dark I like to read his mind. Story youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll tell your kid someday in a car. I didn't get that trivial pursuit was about it being trivial / still donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. Felt like a game that was made for boys in a world that's run by men / Poem I wrote about Freddy Poem I wrote about Jason I listen to Doll Parts I think it is the 90s. The pink one. Cut me another piece.
THE WAY WE ATE | XIV A fist blooms in my throat & buildings against bruised night collapse into a sea of blur Pigeons in huddled clumps on invisible wire, a blast of wings shuddering breeze Tears perched on the edges of eyelids set to burst into the streets, wash away spring for good I think back to the previous year, the summer weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d longed for how, heaving we clung to each other humidly with only too little or too much sleep
Now the fist or chestnut, something hard as shell or bone, swells expands into panging present A child again, I can’t breathe wracked with loneliness retching hoping this passes spring & all so I can live without you in summer I remember July salt on the wind grazed my tongue & lashes Rosemary asked “So, is he ready?” “Die,” I thought & politely replied “For what?”
Love, public & known knotted & twisted as we were like old branches & acres of kudzu or virginia creeper We were kids, you say, turning the wheel This implies we arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t anymore, so I wish I was again, me at nineteen the drunkest & earliest riser who could fix you with an alarm clock & enough water In a park only medium ugly we share a bench, unwrap hoagies we've bought The armrest between us says not for sleeping, but sitting.
The fist bulges, back again clenched, then relaxing, letting go I choke back meat & bread cheese, & love the taste of sesame seeds, salt the wet part on the end where the roll goes soft I clutch my sandwich like an arm or leg attached to you, devour long hots with abandon Hard of breathing I finally blink & you exhale like always, sweetly, a somewhat sad â&#x20AC;&#x153;no" Children trace half moons in the seats of their swings, their impossible bodies light & small spiraling in gravityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arms
They cling to machines I’ve never seen blur into trees, synthetic grass Rowhomes cleave to one another the way I’d love to cleave to you “I want to demolish the church they’ve built around us” you say & like when we used to wake from the same dreams, I completely agree, telling myself at least I won’t go hungry
SPELLS I TRIED TO GET EVERYONE TO WANNA FUCK ME | XV jk jk jk because 1) I’m not a witch, I wish I was but idk how to be that cool and 2) I don’t want everyone to wanna fuck me, I just wanna be wanted, mostly, and seen. and this is why I always want romantic friendships, the kind where I lay my head on your chest and we sigh and we kiss sometimes and other times we just hold. we just hold on, and we wait for something. I like to try to remind you that I exist w/o saying anything. this is the part that’s hard, where it would pay to be a witch. I say to myself, “I wouldn’t hurt a fly!” but that’s not true, I’ve slam-mushed bugs with shoes and books, poked you hard in the stomach with my acrylic nail and I know it didn’t feel good, I wanted it to not feel good on purpose. I’ve put my own hands around my own neck because I wanted to practice the hurting, pushed my own chin up up up til I saw my bedframe upside down, saw my own weird reflection in the metal posts. even while distorted, especially while distorted, I didn’t want me but I still want you to. I practice the hurting and hope that the wanting comes next.
PAPER MOON | XVI five creams peel a silver flower a drop makes the snake dance in kinship with the infinite playing I spy, I spy a space odyssey star increasing star in luminosity lasting brilliance, candle flame jub jub birds with madness from above new growth in the burnt section reminds me I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t spend all day with you you say an invisible hand connects us you loved the ride until you got hurt still you pan gold in the panhandle shake manna from a dollar tree
SIXTEEN | XVII Dre’s Chronic is the only time he leans head back the humming plank unearths tender brown neck bruised you watch smoke’s sorcery weave a bullet’s song from the nest of his lungs almost hear a horizon’s whine silvered by Soviet fighter-bombers taste venom of unborn love the black hole war carves in a body he will speak once before language Kabul running to where his father & other mujahedeen were lowered scorched ground in prayer mats no instruction manual no dialectic to mouthfuls of dust you masticate collateral damage meaning
ask to mend bones still breaking inside you pilgrim of chrome & knuckled glance make your imprint a shard of fire if one golden summer you agree to believe love can hold explosives love is as strong as the land love is this jaw of a boy who pins you face down by the nape and through whose fist you will enter your haunting meaning somebody better get this bitch can you wrest the dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s moon from a cloud of moths thicket of Nikeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d ankles baseball-capped heads turned the other way can you never ask yourself what you would have done
the sky & the fire forever equal parts of your heart if the poem will come the choice to give away what you will not learn to live without
AUBADE | XVII When the wedding was over, the witnesses gone, the wine-stained dress back in the arms of its maker, we drove down to Monterey, forty-degree weather to test the eternity we had sworn to. I thought I heard the ghosts of Mack and Eddie laughing in the trees as we fumbled for warmth, suddenly cruel, clumsy with each other in the middle of a room dazed by its own genealogy: mahogany armoire and wrought iron table, Victorian sofa in navy rose print, cupids engraved in the oak bed â&#x20AC;&#x201C; cheeks flaring hallelujah at redcoats on the wall whose rifles are trained on coppery men with wrists tied behind their backs â&#x20AC;&#x201C;, a gold-leaf frame. Moths flickered: scraps of news from another world ablaze on the spinal cord of night as though they too had touched the fury of our fathers, when we as children crushed earlobes into fists
as they dug pits in our mothers, who endured and kept enduring, who mended themselves like old uniforms that would not be outgrown. We came as though nakedness wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t at once a forked road and the fury drawing its noose around us. I want to believe the sun hovered in the larkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s throat before it flew away, before we saw the white wall rise behind each otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eyes, remnant from when we held a howl in our hands and tried to write the story of forgiveness.
CONTRIBUTOR KEY I| II | III | IV | V| VI | VII | VIII | IX | X| XI | XII | XIII | XIV | XV | XVI | XVII |
THOMAS DEVANEY ELIZABETH G. BABER JOEY DE JESUS LAURA KOCHMAN GABRIEL OJEDA-SAGUE LAYNIE BROWNE CHRISTOPHE CASAMASSIMA MARISSA JOHNSON-VALENZUELA CYRÃ&#x2030;E JARELLE JOHNSON GALA MUKOMOLOVA TRAVIS MACDONALD EMILY CARR MARISA CRAWFORD BRYCE BAYER JULIA PERCH FITZ FITZGERALD CYNTHIA DEWI OKA
We would like to thankâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; Patrick Blagrave for his editorial eyes, Libby Landauer & Wunder Womb for providing us with a lovely cover, Leslie at Lâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Etage for her hospitality, and the Philadelphia poetry community for being our home.
bedfellows editors Co-Editors Jaclyn Sadicario | Alina Pleskova
Managing Editor Laura Blagrave