Press Board Press
Volume 2 2 0 1 4
Press Board Press Volume 2 2 0 1 4
ÂŠ PressBoardPress, 2014 Edited by Patrick Riedy and Letson Williams Front and back cover art by Ira Joel Haber All rights revert back to authors upon publication PressBoardPress Buffalo, NY
Table of Contents David Hadbawnik | 7 Uzodinma Okehi | 9 Joel Wood | 10 Madison Clark | 12 Kenyatta Jean-Paul Garcia | 13 Changming Yuan | 22 Ira Joel Haber | 23 Moneta Goldsmith | 32 Jane Rice | 34 Andrew Lundwall | 37 Joyeeta Day | 39 Jamie Robles | 40 Christopher Sgroi | 42 Ricky Garni | 43 Brian Warfield | 45 Charlie Rasp | 48 Ruth Ă . Sacre | 50 Nolan Allan | 54 Neil Ellman | 55 Rachelle Toarmino | 57 Michael Collins | 65 Jeremy Bailus | 67 Contributors | 74
David Hadbawnik Confessions of a Car Salesman August 1 Here in a folder I have all their names. I sit sipping my drink with it propped on my knees. Ostensibly I have everything I want. You can’t sell a car to a person whose soul’s not dead, if yours is. It doesn’t work. Something clicks inside them. They sneak out, find another car, another dealer. I stretch and take a sip of my drink. You’ve got to live inside the dream. That’s the problem. Some people really believe in this shit. You can’t fake it. I talk to my neighbor Steve, out snipping flowers and things in his front yard. Humid day, my scalp itches. I sit on the porch and watch the girl next door bend over in tight shorts. She stands up. Looks at something on her cell phone. Bends down again. August 13 As smooth as a golf stroke, a well-struck ball. Yet there’s never enough room for the followthrough. Today I took a really great shit and it changed everything. My dreams changed. But I’m always selling the same car. I get this guy on the phone, I pin him down to numbers: dates, times, prices. If he doesn’t show I don’t call him again. It’s like someone you meet in a bar, the possibility of being lovers. Of skipping the intermediate steps. I look out at the empty driveway, the fading light. All inside my mouth it burns. It’s the taste of the sun going down. August 17 I was reading but really I was running my hand up and down the back of the dog but really I was thinking about a girl I’d dated in high school who’d fooled around on me with my best friend. It occurred to me the reason she’d chosen him: his body had laughter in it, the promise of having fun. It was a book I’d read a dozen times and I knew the characters and I winced inwardly at what would happen to them and I paid attention instead to the subtle effects of descriptions, the minute shifts in tone. I remembered my friend telling me years later that he and this girl had lied next to each other in bed singing the national anthem while jacking off.
August 26 Sometimes I spread out and fill up the whole room. My tongue rolls down and expands until it covers everything, picking up dust and dirt, absorbing sound, sticking, blotting. My fingers fan out and root into cracks and along the back of things, and my eyes bulge against windows pushing at trees and sky, and my knees seep into corners until nothing can move anywhere. I groan. There is not enough of me, even when there is too much.
Uzodinma Okehi Shazambro! Ah, man. This guy, look at him. And you gotta give it up. Just yesterday I was on the main floor doing a little survey, and if the rumors read, then this motherfucker’s touched on almost every girl around here worth getting for the last five years! That girl in the Art department, you remember, looked like Winona Ryder. Or how about what’s her name, that six-foot Dominican piece. And look at this guy. Balding, right up the middle. Look at that gut! He’s been wearing that same inside-out Captain Marvel T-shirt for six days at least, and I should know, I’ve been doing double shifts. You remember that brunette with the ringlets they sent up to the web department? Yeah, with the rack, she’d be wearing that tight, flower-print cocktail dress, man, kaboom! Well, word is, Zambro had her all open down there in the stacks. All over those tits and everything. The whole business got too close for comfort, so he cut her loose, then she went nuts. Crying, whatnot, it was a mess. Which was why she got transferred upstairs all of a sudden. Wait, here he goes . . . He passed, and it was the same each day, every week, giving us the head-bob, walking with that little bounce, beneath the awning, down the row of book carts, patting his pockets, and Valdez rushed to take out his own cigarette. I’m gonna light up right when he does, wait . . . But seriously, could you even imagine a girl like that getting all heartswept over you? Those lips? The heat of the moment? Think about that. How tall is that guy, like five-six? And you know he’s been wearing that shirt all week. Oh yeah man. Some guys know how to live.
Joel Wood HOW IT’S MADE There are symmetrical wheat germs burying their heads in dirt like arrows or foxes burrowing coward chicken cartoon movies. I hate that cracked snails in goo line the sidewalk, but then again the sidewalk is just snails churned thousands and thousands of times over and again, a disgusting smoothie. Like, elves could take some automated system with a simple caramel glaze and nick the hardened history like grocery store chocolate until they have a bright silver bucket full for you or me to walk in, over, on, under, over, & thru. And somehow this process includes cooling lava, extracted from tectonic plate, that coats our export like condom-thin melted cheese, over and over our prehistoric childhood wonder brought to you by Stan and Jan Berenstain’s ridiculous soccer shoe bindings or convertible car or the fact that brother bear is growing pubes but no one will write a book about it. “It goes against the notion that you’re smooth all around,” his publicist said. But he has no hand in the crusted purée I sit on, or lay on, or feel fear’s abdominal anti-venom secrete the distillation that gave Appalachia its shape as well as the wrinkles of an aunt whose face is probably, actually, an oatmeal cookie. And I want to smash my face and kiss this ground until my teeth chalk like buttermints, because I am mad to be in contact with it, & because the sweetness, above and past view and temperation and chicken sandwich philosophy is foil & not like the silver curve that swoops thru a cavern gut as the click clack cart careens over hill crest
where thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nothing there, and nothing needed but the magnetic force that corrals and guides in a calculated renaissance freedom, not unlike our planet or Jupiterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s orbit. We come down and lurch and look at our pictures on the screen after the ride and see, with hot tub embarrassment, the perfect, whole, secret witness of the inner and the outer in seamless flow, echo, and reverberation.
Madison Clark Puzzle Pieced Celibacy i. If you vague-reference the Bible and I catch the meaning, will you pull my hair next time? ii. I am opalescent overlapping paisleys; you are unbearably simplistic polka dots. iii. I am sorry your theological leanings cannot fix your sisterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hiccupped thrumming of a too-excited heartbeat. iv. Unprofitable as a duo; what are we good for?
Kenyatta Jean-Paul Garcia Five Poems
daydreams now dry still stick close to ghosts keeping by where distance has no name
Secretly secretly, Persephone said ‘let’s go’
Safety safety lies not where it was left
Usefulness Delicate or merely sensitive? passing the Orient from Occident Reshaping dishes and prints turning cobalt to azure to blue Reason has been put aside for vanity. And for sake of a passing thought, the acolyte farmer falls quiet to hear the hay which rounded up makes way towards being done â&#x20AC;&#x201C; having already gone through usefulness.
Poem to a Poem as Young Poem Having fallen in love with the transitory thoughts stop at the entrance which likewise is the exit of the small room The chambers which connect and yet divide and hold together the vault of experiences, the cage of lifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s public affairs hidden away in the falsity and falsely accused private, personal individual The walls that lift and resist crumbling of the cells combine to form forms which extend into city. *** Whereas thoughts could go on forever ideas are abandoned when concepts are born of exhausted notions. Theories fail not in experimentation but in implementation and moreover in adaption.
Beauty is not so rare as the words utilized to describe those who are such as supposed to be in said blessed state of grace. *** Autumn is a violent season which brings gods to fall from canopy 15
For misfortune to be broken from cookies For school to repeat more disagreements and overlook what only innocence sees as breakthrough More so than merely the attempt to open into and upon the next.
Daydreams come because sleep was not enough time for the reception of visions And the sun then adds its touch to bake illuminations from fantasy from desire. Epiphany plays understudy in the wings of twilightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crepuscular rays. Yesterdayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s poem was the first love who moved on before the writer did
But calls to say good-bye and good luck And says somewhere down the road when some time has passed and we’re old we’ll meet again But the writer in want of closure creeps around the margins leaving traces easy to track back to the hand for a final confrontation which won’t because it can’t solve anything nor heal the hole left open for the broken-hearted courage of the right word. *** A first date without a sequel is also a poem of desire extinguished for the stanzas For the lines to bring periods to their sides. Then, one night those metaphors are seen with someone else drinking at the same place where a memory was made to forget before completion. Honestly, there was little hope from the beginning nonetheless, pain finds a door in some very small cracks. *** Everything slightly mundane 17
is worth believing.
Genius, sage, sweetheart Listen! Science breaks light with prisms into a rainbow so spectrum can be shared in awe Has a skeptic’s eye looks for the origin imprisoned by rain and clouds. *** Don’t be embarrassed little poem because the die has six sides because tricks have homes up sleeves because hats house white rabbits Don’t worry that the plane of the print is too low to cast shadow that nippled ‘i’ and erect ‘I’ have no place within your gallery of verses which is a word misused because you yourself refuse to be sung. But don’t let anything get to you but eyes and they who come 18
close behind those two. ***
And another thing, why did you do this to your vocabulary? It was only a passing dalliance with philosophy
Nothing could come of it. But, Because you are your influences you could use something more from somewhere new to you from an unknown borrowing of will become alive, animated, magnetic momentarily.
Dreams need an ear when morning comes to continue into afterlife -hereafter brined, marinated, cured pickled in deluge of voices moving, tossing still from sleep.
You have more mounds than pitfalls this is only to say youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve two breasts and an ass to other gaps
below the neck.
From above the throat dainty processes mingle with air to form more mountains from tip of tongue through teeth in conjunction with glottis conspiring with nasal behind the back of the mouth. *** Because temple has been confused with what tents your pants You have faith in prayers and unexplained And yet you know grace has no hand to stroke And angels are excellent wrestlers So call influence inspiration and by another name continue on to imagination.
And between people ask for a division of person, persons 20
and what secrets they hold personal.
Let catharsis enter its confession and give gallows a good begging before rigor sets in. There is pride in running call evasion hubris by another name also
And keep more names to call others. Call passion, karma and fate Call the comma yield and merge and detour also Call the period two lips brought together in want of two more Naked in the next small room.
Changming Yuan The Information Age far beyond the dark mountains deep in the virgin rain forest there is not a single human being not even a sheltered animal except piranhas, sun bears and an email message recently caught on the web of a shiny spider...
Ira Joel Haber Eight Notebook Drawings
Moneta Goldsmith Two Short Talks on Booksellers Another Spontaneous Act of Education Regarding Booksellers If you look through the window of Alias bookshop, at twilight, when the shopkeepers collect their wares to make their way home, you will see a woman sitting behind a very old and very sad desk that is made of wood. You will see straight away that this woman is young and comfortable, that she is like a honeybee drunk with honey that is perched on a cluster of fruit. If she happens to be a redheaded honeybee – and hopefully she is, dear reader—I want you to walk right inside that shop and tell her that her skin looks like what the wind makes with illuminated leaves. Tell her that she has a voice like a bird, a heart like a house, that her eyes are what gemologists groan about in their dreams, that her hair soothes you with a cold delicacy normally reserved for complicated organic compounds. When the honeybee speaks, my pale and intrepid reader, I want you to cast your sad nets on her oceanic eyes. Tell her to be quiet. Her voice will grow thin and cracked as the tracks of gulls on the shore. When she speaks, if she speaks, stop her. Tell her that her breath is for Sparrows to wander in, that her back is spied by expert architects for future waterfalls. Tell her you want to clasp her in your arms the way the ivy clasps the walls outside the bookshop—the way her words climb all over you, as me, from a long way off. Tell her all this, pale and intrepid reader, before making your final purchases. Tell her with great care and tenderness, as if these words were more hers than mine. Go and tell her from you, as me, and then go and find your own redheaded bee, drunk with honey, perched on a cluster of fruit. This one is spoken for in a headful of ways. Go on. Tell her all this right now. I’ll wait.
The Disenchantress How should she not be there? – the long desired, the disenchantress, leaving alone the desolate heart with bitter ease. ~Rainer Maria Rilke, “The Duino Elegies” I was listening to this story about meteors the other night on the radio. Meteors, it turns out, are distinct from asteroids in that they are “seldom any larger than the size of a plump grape or a dried up raisin, and while asteroids are frequently concentrated from the remains of a planet that fell apart, a meteor can originate from the disintegration of a comet instead.” Well, I turned off the radio when I heard that, because I don’t much care about science – mostly because I don’t understand it, or else because I once got a ‘C’ on a test in elementary school for leaving out Pluto among the list of planets in our solar system. Sometime back when science announced that Pluto was no longer a planet is about the time I stopped believing in science. So like I said I turned off the radio, and I started to read about the French Existentialist Albert Camus instead. Camus, it turns out, believed that our behavior should be guided exclusively by “those three or four times in your life when your heart opened up” – before a Stranger, say, or else, as he so tenderly puts it, before the “benign indifference of the entire universe,” which may or may not be the same thing, he doesn’t say. Well anyway, I don’t much like for people to tell me what to do with my heart. So I closed that book up too, and I started to read a biography of French novelist Marie-Henri Beyle, aka Stendhal, instead. Stendhal, it turns out, despised wit and cleverness and the salons of 19th century Paris, although if he was not able to speak with some very clever people in the evening-times, he was “utterly asphyxiated to the point of death.” The kind of death, says Stendhal [I’m still basically quoting here] that “one might find in a pillow-fight gone radically wrong.” Well, I don’t much care about cleverness all that much, especially when it’s somebody else’s; and I don’t much care for it when writers tell me about their writing processes either—which always feels like a cheap and dirty little paradox to me like bombing for the sake of world peace or like, say, having sex in support of virginity-awareness. So I closed that book up also, and I dashed off to visit the nearest bookshop, of all places, to have a look at the bookseller I guess, or to talk to a stranger maybe. Sometimes I get so couped up I feel as though I can hardly breathe. Well anyway, this bookseller, it turns out, didn’t much care for cleverness anymore than I did, probably because she had so much of it, and after I told her how eloquent I thought she was, how she was the kind of eloquent stranger you might meet, say, three or four times in your life if you’re lucky, she told me everything out of her mouth was in fact “complete and utter horseshit,” and I’d “do much better to stick to the books”; and those were in fact her words, which reminded me of Montaigne for some reason, and how he once said he’d sooner save his books from a burning building than he would his own children; and another time, when he said that if someone were to ever submit his private thoughts to the eyes of the law, he would surely be hanged ten times a day, maybe more. Well anyway, I’m not one to dance on somebody else’s funeral. So I left the bookshop, and it might sound strange to you, but I saw the image of that girl from the bookshop everywhere on my way home, an image of the perfect stranger, you might say; and so as I walked along the street outside of that little bookshop I loosened my collar a little and I looked up to the stars— you remember to do that sort of thing when you can breathe again—and I remember thinking how remarkable it is that something as small as a grape can sometimes light up the whole sky. 33
Jane Rice Two Poems Tattoo: A L O N E He wonders what a baby dreams. Enormous word snaps, snaps back. Thought shallows, marks silence. He can’t run. Sadness falls from his eyes, ages his face. Can’t run, so desires. Sadness falls. Out of his eyes, series of stick-like gestures. He walks away, checks his phone. Glance aims where memory tells him to aim. Each word, little rock at the center, fills. What he might, might not say. What he’ll say, in fact, tomorrow. Blue rectangle, blue chalk. I don’t love you in the pool’s reflection. Your garden needs birds. Blue rectangle, blue chalk. Word POOL written in pink. 34
Words hammer haywire. I don’t love you, never loved you in the first place. Puts his phone in his pocket, not OFF just away. Sadness falls from his eyes, gobbles his face. Spider the size of a sparrow. Touched by silence even laughter lashes. Quiet things. If he were home, he’d shoot himself a glance in the mirror. Everything inside him cries. Words gobble ear, beat him with branches. He fights quiet mountain. Each minute’s slow, slack, delicate hum. “Run” repeats in three languages. All of them urgent, thrilling. Whole sky of things. Small, tight, far-flung smile. If only he could splash through the walls of the sea. Dreams coil, night collapses. Giant magnolias tap moon into sound, thick kisses. He lays his phone on his chest, crushes tears between his teeth.
YELLOW There must have been more farms along this road. Can’t say she remembers them. Children don’t pay attention to things like that. Remembers herself barefoot in a sleeveless, yellow dress. A ribbon someone tied for her as if she had come from a children’s party, had nuzzled snow-drift frosting of a cupcake. In the painting one notices the strain in her eyes. The child is squinting. She tries to walk, gingerly lifting one foot. Feet find glass. No evidence of glass. No evidence of anyone but herself against warm gray. And this sea of grass has tides. This tide of sand heaves grains. Words fall outward into air. Song and memory of song outward through blue, through blinding white piece by piece replaced.
Andrew Lundwall Two Poems nod i. walls held in at night register feeble reasons no door drifts ii. comes in clusters a snowy ache that winter words scribble noiselessly iii. objects blink another place arrange darkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s arms crossed
ultimatums slither in peopled vines hatch uneasy hexing & angered dangle threatening unanswered
Joyeeta Day Come Soon Work is hard sometimes I am often not very good at it. We call so rarely That you receive with a Hello? (Who is this?) When I reach home I close the door behind me And itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s so private I think of you
Jamie Robles Three Poems from “The Wittgenstein Vector” 1.1 The world 1.2 The wor(l)d 1.11 The world is 1.12 The wor(l)d is 1.13 The w(h)orl(e)d is 1.111 The world is everything 1.112 The wor(l)d is everything everything 1.113 The w(h)orl(e)d is everything everything everything 1.114 The world is everything everything every(rhythm)thing
That is the case.
• 1.1 The world is the totality of facts 1.2 The wor(l)d is the totality of facts 1.21 The world is the totality of facts, not of things 1.3 The wor(l)d is the totali(gh)t of facts, not of things 1.31 The world is the totali(gh)t of f(acts), not of things 1.4 The wor(l)d is the totali(gh)t of f(acts), (of) no(t of) things
O world alight!
O: word alit and acts of nothing
Oh, word alit: o word delight!
• 1.2 The world divides into facts. 1.21 The wor(l)d divides into (f)acts. 1.3 The water divides (also); and beneath, is a face. 40
1.31 The water, which was whole and like the world divides, opens like legs to a face looking out at the world 1.32 The face, the fact, is whole and incapable of division from the world, which is whole and open and acts and reacts; this is fact. 1.4 The wor(l)d divides
and water flows
Christopher Sgroi Three Poems i just want to smoke a cigarette and contemplate quitting smoking a cigarette addiction is a prickly substance that comes around in a fluid and eases itself through the cracks and binds all the passes as it sets and digs and pinches and pushes its teeth deep
implication the baby found its fingers. i found my toes had gotten so far away.
hello wash me with a dandelion I’m yellow yellow yellow You thought I’d be mellow But I wasn’t I was crusty Believing for the first time in something.
Ricky Garni Three Poems ROGER All I want to take with me on my trip to eternity is the little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris.
MERRY RAREY FRUIT The Turquoise Ixia a rare color with an ordinary purple belly button. The Soursop Fruit pure white with three owl eyes its beauty takes away tumors. The Angel Oak Tree alive in the south, it pretends to be an aluminum octopus in autumn. The Blue Vanda Orchid congregates in the tree church like greek china made of snails. The Orange Ackee and its big eyes part rabbit part droopy hound precious fleshy and dangerous, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s yummy.
DR. J.â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s DICTIONARY Pg. 160: the couple-beggar. He who marries beggars. You were two beggars and now you are one. Two voices and now you are one. Two pennies and now you are one.
Brian Warfield The Bruise
The first thing I fell in love with about her was her bruise.
I stood in the corner at the party, having hidden myself away with a plateful of carrot sticks and cheese wedges and a line up of one-ounce wine shots. No one talked to me and I was fine with just watching other people’s mouths move and sound spill out. I was waiting for the right amount of time to pass before I could safely go home without feeling like a complete and utter failure. I wanted to feel at ease and to be accepted into some kind of social setting. Make witty remarks, or not. No, I just didn’t want to have to go home alone to my empty apartment every night. So when one of my coworkers invited me to this fancy party, I accepted, knowing already the feeling of utter panic that I was now keeping at bay with my 25th Dixie cup of white zinfandel. I looked at my watch and felt like I could leave even though it was still 45 minutes from my hour time limit I’d given myself. My plate still had ranch dressing on it. I saw the hostess heading towards me bringing another guest she wanted to introduce to me. The hostess told her that we worked together and then she told me what her friend did, but I was too busy nodding my head and fake smiling to listen. We shook hands and the hostess left us and there was that obligatory awkward silence that I wanted to break by saying “Well, I was just about to leave,” and excusing myself. But before I could, she started talking and asking me questions like she was very good at making conversation and maybe she was actually interested in me, you know, as a person. But now all I was doing was sweating a little because I had no idea what she was saying and I was faking it, worried she’d read through my façade and then tell the hostess, my coworker, who would be offended that I snubbed her friend and never invite me to another party again, which would actually be a relief so I could just crawl home to my empty apartment like a clam to die. I was responding though, saying at least something, and she laughed so I couldn’t have been fucking it up that badly. The conversation began to wind down and I was dying to look at my watch and she said it was nice to meet me and I told her, “Likewise I’m sure,” like an ass and she turned to go back through the party. As she turned I saw the low swoop of her dress revealing the flagrant swath of a bruise unfurled between her shoulder blades. It was brilliant and huge. I thought at first it must have been a birthmark, but the exact muddled purple brown tinged to yellow could only be a bruise and I wanted to dive inside it. But there it was, receding away, being swallowed up by the crowd like a fading and dying star. I wanted to rush after it, to see it again, but I was paralyzed. Everything moved around me as I stood still like in a Peter Gabriel video. That night I lay in bed staring at the empty white ceiling feeling something for the first time.
At work the next day I told my coworker I’d had a good time at her party and thanked 45
her for inviting me. I almost let it alone at that, but then I said with obviously feigned casualness, Who was that girl you introduced me to? And she told me her name and that they were college roommates and she said other things I wasn’t listening to, waiting for my opportunity to ask when I might be able to see her friend again, although I didn’t phrase it like that. I was being awkward and the coworker saw through it but I didn’t care. Finally she said I should come to the more casual thing she was having this weekend because she’ll probably be there. I shrugged and said, Maybe, because that’s how cool I am. The next time I saw her, she was wearing a t-shirt and jeans. I had to make small talk with my coworker and her friends for half an hour because she was late. We were in the backyard and when she came in through the trellis I broke off the conversation I’d been having in mid-sentence to go over and say hello. I forgot her name again but it didn’t matter. Nothing mattered. I tried to get her to take her shirt off. Anyone feel like going swimming? I said. It’s February, she retorted. We were bantering. It was nice. She was actually quite funny and smart. She got me to stop thinking about seeing the bruise for a minute and I subtly hated her for that, but then she won me over. We drank beers from bottles and ate food cooked over a fire. That night we went home together and in my apartment, in the dark, I saw her bruise. It seemed less vibrant than the first time, a port wine stain of burst blood vessels. She flinched when I touched it. It was too large to have been made by a hand or bat. Something heavy must have hit her. We made plans for another date but it wasn’t until the next week and on that date we didn’t sleep together so I didn’t see her bruise. It was hard to concentrate and look at her face where her mouth was located and watch the pores of her skin covered in make-up to make her skin look like fake skin, one layer of consistent, undisturbed flesh. It disturbed me. I closed my eyes and imagined her naked which helped a little. She was talking about filing insurance claims, something to do with her work maybe, and I had an erection. We saw each other again and I was determined to get her shirt off at least. I didn’t care about anything else. I lifted her t-shirt which had the Ghostbusters logo on it over her head, her hair coming through the neck hole. I turned her around, looked at her back and the bruise had nearly entirely faded away. I was crestfallen and she didn’t even notice. She thought I was doing something kinky. But her expanse of back, between the shoulder blades where the bruise once bristled, now left me cold and she stopped kissing me noticing that I was inert beside her. I told her that I was tired all of a sudden. I told her that I was sorry. She said, no big deal. She said, soon. And I didn’t hear her at all. The bruise was gone. I didn’t stop seeing her though. I don’t know why. Maybe I felt guilty or I thought something would happen, something would change. Maybe she’d get hit by a car or an anvil would drop on her. I found myself squeezing her just a little bit too hard and seeing what bloomed up under my thumb. I didn’t want to hurt her. It was never the violence that got me off, just the damage of the aftermath. But I didn’t even like the bruises I made. They were inferior. I wanted her bruise to rise up from herself of its own volition like an expression of love. But her skin remained blank. I started seeing bruises on other people. A scar on the ankle, a black eye. Men, women, old, ugly – it didn’t seem to matter. Even those bruises and cuts and scrapes and burns and scars that excited me failed to achieve the same heights of enthrallment of her original bruise. 46
We were seeing each other less and I began to entertain the notion of breaking it off completely. But every time I thought I’d get up the nerve, a visceral panic clutched my throat. I might never see her again. Which meant I’d never see her bruise or anything that could hold a candle to it. She was the champion of bruising and it was only ever going to be on her back that I would want to see it. But as the weeks passed and my true feelings for her kept asserting themselves – that I didn’t love her – I knew there was only one thing to do. She spent the night one last time, and we held each other tenderly as we fell asleep. I rolled over and she seemed to disappear out of sight like a dream. When I woke up I could sense her behind me under the blankets. I rolled towards her, uncovering the small of her back. There in all its multihued, water-colored glory was the bruise. The original bruise, I was sure of it, having memorized its every contour and shape. I could see the whorls of blood and tissue, the soft discoloration of multiple dermal layers. I placed my hand on it and it felt like a solid cloud, viscous and alive, shivering beneath my touch. I wanted to drown in it, become immersed in the skin of it. I pressed my face up close, pushing further into the bruise, my hand reaching out, not finding any end to it. In my ecstasy I flung the covers back, and there, lying next to me where she had been, she no longer was. It was just her bruise, a thick battered chunk of flesh folding its winglike expanse around me, granting my every horrible wish. I buried my face into it and let the bruise suffocate me.
Charlie Rasp Untitled
Ruth Á. Sacre Three Poems The Difference between Screaming and not Screaming is the moment when you find yourself face to face with the cashier at Rite Aid after waiting two hours in the check-out line— or when you’re all soaped up in the shower and the hot water turns off (so that you’re clean but not quite clean), and the cashier looks at your Boca burgers as if to say: “Tonight the sunset is going to be a hoax / the sky will break free at last of its weeping clouds / lagging behind them / like a child with so many handfuls of unspent tears”— Suddenly you don’t feel like waiting in line any longer. Time is suspended, as for terrorists at the airport, and the water starts back up again. Your mind tries to take flight like some halcyon bird cramped in a sextant of smoke and mud and you begin to understand that the air is a meth lab you will carry with you wherever you go and that by nearly anybody’s standards you are probably unlovable— Blame it on the sky, compelling as a river. Blame it on the air, avid and unchanging. Blame it on the sun, empty beet-faced pretense. It’s too late to turn back now. You’re face to face with cashier number four, and she looks at you, towel-in-hand, as if to say: “I can see your heart sticking out a little / and what’s more, it might rain later on, / you better tuck that thing in / so it won’t catch cold”— as if to say:
“Each day is going to be like this. / There will be no windows or exit strategies, / no train to leap across the abyss where the bridge is down. / For whatever reason, / you’re going to wake up / in a cave / that is larger than the entire earth— “Just in time to make your final purchase.”
Wet Dream I had this wet dream about you again. I’m riding my bike along the coast and I find you stuck in the sand. It’s late, so lace is no longer underwear; it is a nightbikini. Your body is a message in a bottle. It’s trying to tell me you need more coconuts. It may be that your island has grown low on supplies. Your eyes are wet with seaspray; by wet I mean, of course, the way one wave can make way for another. The way I imagine your body feels to the touch. Your body in my dream is made of salt instead; The kind that can fall on the cheek before it needs to be replenished. Your skin is beach butter that’s been run through a meat grinder. (Your skin is the opposite of beach butter.) I’ve come to cover it up. I’ve come to tell you I got your message, that I brought more coconuts.
The History of an Odradek after Franz Kafka There I am standing at the bus stop unsure of my footing in this world, with not a single thing to say for myself even in the most casual direction, in this town, in this life, and there is this girl with fine-meshed lace and tendrils on the bench nearby (her hair is in tendrils that dance on her shoulder there); and there I am listening to the trees, not looking at the girl at all, just thinking about the trees, about their private lives and losses, thinking about their nightly whispering and their ancient tremors, all the things that trees might do and complain about, the vandalism and the accidental tattoos that lovers carve into their loving bark, those kinds of things that cover up the greatest of man and manâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ambitions, and so I am standing there, a man apart, a young old man listening stupidly to the trees in their dull dreams, imagining their fear of breaking the silence, a silence of whispers, or of words, a silence that even the trees fail to admit, and so I am standing there picturing all this when the girl sitting on the bench nearby, a girl no older than sixteen years old, she lurches over her side of the bench sheâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been sitting on and she rolls onto the concrete there, she rolls and rolls until she vomits all over one side of the bus booth and there I am hearing myself laughing as she vomits right on my shoe there and I just laugh and laugh like a man who doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have any lungs, and so the girl looks at me, the girl sitting there on the asphalt ground, she just looks at me like an abused puppy, and all the while Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m laughing, laughing terribly, laughing like a man without any lungs, right on the spot where the girl has just vomited a moment ago; and so the girl rolls back, she rolls slowly, like her vomit has now been rolling far down into the gutter there, as if her lungs were falling out along with it, collecting a thick mud as robust as tendrils, settling over the bench and covering up the curb and the bus is about to arrive now, and there she is practically rolling down into to the street until the bus is there, and until the girl and me and the trees and everything else comes to a stop.
Nolan Allan The Crest, forlorn Emerald cocoons mined from hot soil. Music in the air, bleeps and bloops, like God has a fetish for his 8-bit glory days. Imaginary bodies of water serenade you to sleep. I found the altar where the people saw your naked shoulders and wept. Learned men chastising sparrows on the ramparts of airy castles. I found the forge where they made your heart out of cold stone and tin.
Neil Ellman Four Poems Enigmatic Combat (after the painting by Arshile Gorky) The battle is waged between the others and us whomever whatever they are we are the ones who fight for love of god nation or not for democracy, aristocracy or something-or-other brothers-in-arms our flag is green or blue with stripes or suns and/or a fleur-de-lys we bleed uncertainty without a reason we fight an ambiguous war for a precarious peace but not our own. Buddha Walking Among the Flowers (after the painting by Odilon Redon) Among flowers with jewels, thorns Gorgon and Chameleon Plants in the silence of his steps he walks through gardens of his enlightenment, he sees Nirvana in a lotus leaf the truest form without a form of knowing what is trueâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; released, delivered he knows himself Siddhartha born anew awakening the Buddha from a trance. 55
Self-Portrait with Monkey (after the painting by Frida Kahlo) My selfâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s menagerie without my self a monkey draped around my neck where it was meant to be together as a single face not mine alone not even with a name to call my own we are inseparable as if our lives were one my monkey and me survive in this portrait of our self we seem alive. Europe After the Rain II (after the painting by Max Ernst) The rains having fallen In the shattered nave of our medieval edifice like the sound of mice chattering ancient hymns through the empty pews and down the lifeless aislesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; no place to hide in the sepulcher of crumbling bones no place to pray the day after the day before the rains came to immolate the past and sacrifice eternity to yet another god.
Rachelle Toarmino Eight Poems had a covert chance shouting too tied to act back pull the present tense last deluge delicate too broke off a sentence words fell to the floor: but since i kept what i kept best left no other other? an other here no other thing
without despair we have vacant frames but we’re entitled to grief memory stretching for the most everyone has already made me free food and rust heads for my details when you’re a potato bug you’re a head of lettuce you are in descending order and i am yellow nuts and bolts under an empty set of parenthesis and i have always believed that fiction acts as a jet invites you into a stranger’s beautiful things i’m having a world of chance if you haven’t yet like how we yield to music and use it these homeless mental landmarks to see it back visit our affections to never forget if all the beasts happen to the future then i’m totally entranced with this and all other voices speak inside our skin my greatest wish has some sort of terminal illness you are the equivalent of an eyelid against which is this hang up your pretty and patient little hopes the sun is opening the static is sitting still and here i just trip over a strand in it pause at the end of his teeth where you bring your dreams my favorite old blink last february
color inside lies like streets lined with city blocks and inhabit new space cover shades of new space covet new words like new worlds hues to trace myself in and when i canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll just walk around my house naming new rooms and new nears with a mirror in hand face up toward the ceiling and my face looking in
when a pass has passed she practices for then whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s passed fractions to past to when to flesh breath kept and traffic on the floor on toes, touch decorative drag to get to the door
asleep she is her first for me and out from me patiently like a vine she is waking movement and mine twice: my linear reflection she herself is many lines
happy belated year of yesterday when february was nothing more than space between knuckles i need to pack my lunch for tomorrow everyone walks away with dust on their hands the sky is white and it smells like slow dancing today was “how many times” we’re a hundred years ago wearing the present like clothing now so familiar is this train that someday is how we pass through
swollen and sleepy below bloat knees swell between snuck snacks disc tracks and options, options, which count butter count cream one cup cold drink dust dressed potato chips Open Mondays, Fridays for breakfast, Tuesdays for lunch, and Tuesdays slice of steak sleek hell shred of shoulder grated gut rich violence spoons fly wonderfully written! and, choreographed by: look at my shit! look at my shit! but look at it quick i haunt behind it
the shrill pull to be drenched in shadow to hang in the space between sunscreen and sand on his skin and his skin or inside effective and quiet hands and to consider what belongs and where
Michael Collins My Soul Apocalypses My Dream â&#x20AC;&#x153;The dream the poem rebirths is not the dream. The dream the poem destroys is not the dream. What matter if I myth around what was? That the gods had rained down flames upon the earth, transfigured landscape into memory, as if the constellations had demanded to be reunited with the mortal mythwives, by whom they were born, for whom they carried unspeakable pain to their fablegraves. Small bands of livedons left to starve and salvage. Knew they must journey to lands unseen to build a new world for their children. Yet they feared, for the youngest was sick, would never survive the privations of travel. Yet they feared that the gods they had angered would not allow passage without a sacrifice. So the leader, whose leg the newdancer loved to cling to, circled his people around the child. And commanded him to dance, said it was medicine â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the boy whose grin reflected the quickshadow of the soul to whom the old man had grown strifeblind as she suffocated under his sworn duty, though he would never let it to be spoken, though he would never relinquish the ghost of the spiraling, childancing tike, his arms a tornado, one leg then the other earthquaking painlessly for their amusement, his hair alighting as the ducks once had
when couples strolled too close for comfort by their perches near the esplanade, his tongue wagging like a young sheepdog, his teeth still shining despite the misery, as if he would dance forever. And then, the old man closed his eyes and made a fist. And the circle they had to preserve kicked the child to death. Life given to the invisible that life continue, for every apocalypse is a negation, for every apocalypse is an expression. And all you can firemind is how horrifying! Yes, they will summon a legend from their dead world of a childgod who gave himself for his tribe, freely and willingly loving himself toward the torture; they will lifesong a worldmother who, in her kindvicious vision, claims every beloved existence that temporal affection would permit to stifle the wholife; then finally a fathersky, whose creations so pained and betrayed him with their ingratitude and malice, he had to incinerate their wickedness; he had to let the survivorighteous inherit â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Have you not also put to death what couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t live? Endlessed what never could be spoken in mattertime into an epic? You realize: What for them was ceremony in you poems. For songlone fleshlings live by lyricing such dreams into your shamed and sacremaciated world, dreams in which the slaughturial dignifies the necessevil, permits timelings to take stories of loves that only bones will suffer, to bury them between the lines that bind the brilliant stars.â&#x20AC;? 66
Jeremy Bailus The Language of Geomorphology
Contributors David Hadbawnik is a poet living in Buffalo, NY. In 2012, he edited Thomas Meyer’s Beowulf
(Punctum Books), and in 2011 he edited (with Sean Reynolds) selections from Jack Spicer’s Beowulf for CUNY’s Lost and Found Document Series. Other publications include Field Work (BlazeVOX, 2011), Translations From Creeley (Sardines, 2008), Ovid in Exile (Interbirth, 2007), and SF Spleen (Skanky Possum, 2006). He is the editor and publisher of Habenicht Press and the journal kadar koli.
Uzodinma Okehi writes and draws a zine called Blue Okoye. Joel Wood is a Douglas Scholar for Creative Writing at Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. He is from Arkansas and living in Buenos Aires this year.
Madison Clark studies creative writing and religion at Susquehanna University in
Pennsylvania, 1,050 miles from her hometown and fifty-six minutes from the nearest Chipotle. She competes regularly at Bucknell University Stadler Center poetry slams and fills the rest of her free time with athletics. She is currently studying abroad in Limerick, Ireland and has poems forthcoming from Walking Is Still Honest Poetry Press and Black Heart Magazine. Find her here: madisonclark.webs.com.
Kenyatta Jean-Paul Garcia is the author of This Sentimental Education and Enter the After-
Garde along with two other collections of poetry. He was raised in Brooklyn, NY and has a degree in Linguistics. He has studied several living and dead languages in addition to philosophy and poetry at SUNY Albany and Hudson Valley Community College. He spent over ten years working in restaurants – cooking, washing dishes, etc. Currently, he works overnights putting boxes on shelves. By day, he runs kjpgarcia.wordpress.com and altpoetics.wordpress.com.
Changming Yuan, 7-time Pushcart nominee and author of Chansons of a Chinaman (2009) and
Landscaping (2013), grew up in rural China, holds a PhD in English, and currently tutors in Vancouver, where he co-publishes Poetry Pacific with Allen Qing Yuan and operates PP Press. Most recently interviewed by [PANK], Yuan has poetry appearing in nearly 800 literary publications across 28 countries, which include Best Canadian Poetry, Paris/Atlantic, and Threepenny Review.
Ira Joel Haber was born and lives in Brooklyn. He is a sculptor, painter, book dealer, photog-
rapher and teacher. His work has been seen in numerous group shows both in USA and Europe and he has had 9 one man shows including several retrospectives of his sculpture. His work is in the collections of The Whitney Museum Of American Art, New York University, The Guggenheim Museum, The Hirshhorn Museum & The Albright-Knox Art Gallery. His paintings, drawings, photographs and collages have been published in over 135 on line and print magazines including Rock Heals, Otoliths, Winamop, Melancholia’s Tremulous Dreadlocks, and Thieves Jargon. He has received three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, two Pollock-Krasner grants, the Adolph Gottlieb Foundation grant and, in 2010, he received a grant from Artists’ Fellowship Inc. He currently teaches art to retired public school teachers at The United Federation of Teachers program in Brooklyn. 74
Moneta Goldsmith is a writer, teacher, and former poetry editor of The Northridge Review. His
works have appeared both online and in print in the following magazines: Sparkle & Blink, Apiary Magazine, East Jasmine Review, among others.
Jane Rice lives in San Francisco and pursues her interests in poetry, art and art history. Please
visit Propolis Press for information about her letterpress chapbook entitled Portrait Sitters.
Andrew Lundwall’s poetry has appeared in numerous print and electronic literary journals internationally, including La Petite Zine, RealPoetik, & Cultural Society. He lives in NYC.
Joyeeta Day works now at a non profit but wishes all day that she was an unpaid poet on an
inheritance. She did her undergrad in Philosophy from Delhi, India and spent a year doing a masters in London in Sociology of Education. She hopes to be ready for life someday.
Jaime Robles’ poems and reviews have been published in numerous magazines, among them
Agenda, Conjunctions, Jacket, and New American Writing. She produces many of her texts as artist books, and her bookworks are in several special collections, including the The Beinecke Library, Yale University, and the Oulipo Archive in Paris. Among her awards is a grant from the Fund for Poetry. Her latest book of poetry, Hoard, based on the medieval caches of jewelry found buried in the English countryside, was released January 2013 by Shearsman Books. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she currently lives part time in London.
Christopher Sgroi is a graduate of the University at Buffalo. He feels the pull of that little big town and hopes its pulse will swallow him up one day. Until then, you can find him exploring other things. (Many of which have a stronger pulse.)
Ricky Garni is a writer and designer living in North Carolina. He is presently completing a collection of tiny poems entitled WHAT’S THAT ABOUT, banged out on Faye Hunter’s 1971 Smith Corona typewriter in purple cursive typeset, and dedicated to her memory.
Brian Warfield lives in Philadelphia. His website is http://brianwarfield.weebly.com Charlie Rasp is an amateur photographer from Buffalo, NY, who shoots what he sees as he travels around the country, never forgetting his hometown.
Ruth Á. Sacre received her MFA at the University of Life in Xanadu, Missouri. Her focus of study was on gallows humor during the 19th century, with an emphasis on the guillotine. In Latin, her name is an anagram for the phrase “sanctify the pain.” (Evidently, her parents do not share her sense of humor.) Nolan Allan is twenty-four and graduated from the University of North Carolina with a
degree in English many years (to him at least) ago. He’s had a couple things published online which you can find by entering his name into a search engine. He often tweets here @nolanallan
Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, Neil Ellman writes from New Jersey. Hundreds of his poems, many of which are ekphrastic and based on works of modern and contemporary art, appear in print and online journals, anthologies and chapbooks throughout the world.
Rachelle Toarmino is from Buffalo, NY and is currently living and working in Madrid. Michael Collins is a graduate of Kalamazoo College, the Warren Wilson College MFA Pro-
gram for Writers, and Drew University. He teaches creative and expository writing at New York University. His work has recently appeared or will appear in BlazeVOX, Grist: The Journal for Writers, Kenning Journal, Pank, and SOFTBLOW. He lives in Mamaroneck, New York, with his wife, Carol.
Jeremy Balius writes and paints in Fremantle, Western Australia. He was born in Texas, raised in Germany, educated in California and has lived in Australia for nearly 10 years. He looks after Black Rider Press and sings in Oh White Mare. Jeremy’s first chapbook ‘wherein? he asks of memory’ was published by Knives Forks and Spoons Press and the self-published bilingual chapbook ‘the halation assembly kit / der lichthofbausatz’ appeared in 2012.