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YELLOW CHAIR REVIEW

Issue #4 - September 2015


Yellow Chair Review Issue #4 - September 2015 Editor: Sarah Frances Moran Assistant Editor: Kiera Collins Copyright Š 2015

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YCR NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

• Submissions are currently open for our Horror Issue! They will remain open until September 15th or until the issue fills up. • Submissions will open for Issue #5 on September 15th. There is no theme for this issue. • Our Poetry Chapbook Contest is taking submissions until November 15th. There is a $5 fee. The winner will receive 25 copies of their book and a $200 cash prize. • As always Rock The Chair challenge poems are accepted always. • For more details regarding all of these calls please visit www.yellowchairreview.com.

. As always thank you for reading and for supporting small presses. YCR greatly appreciates you! Sarah Frances Moran Editor-In-Chief

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CONTENTS Cover: Meyegraine 93 - Randi Ward Reunion/Gary Singh!

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Balance The Books/Cathy Porter! !

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Everything Is A Bruise/Chris Milam!

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Summer Bird/Vidya Panicker!

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Hours/Jesse Ewing-Frable!

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Happy Independence Day/Marcie Eanes!

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Vaginal Virtue/Saheli Mitra!

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Alluvium/Liz N. Clift!

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Hector/Brandon Williams!!

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My First UFO/Cathy Lopez!

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Universal Themes In Literature/Howie Good! !

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Tree/Michael C. Keith!

Starbird Road/Jesse Ewing-Frable!

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When, Then/John Viera! !

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Leather/John Viera!!

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Failing To Fly/Hal Sirowitz!

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Coffee/J.K. Durick! !

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Prelude To The Afternoon of the Spawn/Julie Hart!

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Files Scan/Carol Hamilton!

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Hail Mary Militia/Paul Rogov!

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[The Mo(u)rning 16/12 Terrorist Attack on a School in Peshawar, Pakistan]/Faiza Anum!

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The Ache/Tolonda Henderson! !

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Holy Objects/Lisa M. Cole!

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Meyegraine 89/Randi Ward!

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Door/Randi Ward! !

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One Small Stuff For Greenkind/John Gorman! !

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Vertigo/Alan Britt! !

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In The Hold of Rain/Kushal Poddar!

Nowhere Sagebrush Wants To Go/Aden Thomas!

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Rhododendron/Randi Ward!

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Dream Rooms/Don Kingfisher Campbell!

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Shambhala Stupa/PW Covington!

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Flight/Michael La Bombarda!

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Three Pictures of Summer/A. E. Clark! !

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Lovers/Jessica Wiseman Lawrence!

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Acid, Mom/Kenta Maniwa!

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Canine Form/Alex DeBonis!

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September Ending/Barry Yeoman!

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Yellow Throats/Sally Deskins & Laura Madeline Wiseman!!

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Darkening/Sally Deskins & Laura Madeline Wiseman!

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Panic At The Deli/Terry Barr!

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In A Sad House/Brad MacNeil! !

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Grace/Jenny Leigh Becker!

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fall rains/Nathan Tompkins!

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Last Day With Emilie/Jovan Popov-Albertson!!

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Life on Mars/Kurt Yalcin & Meg Hurtado Bloom!

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Unspoken Soliloquies/Paul Strohm!

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Gunbearer/Drew Attana! !

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Body Image Etude #2/Jocelyn Heath!

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Dear Lord/Randall K Rogers!

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Mission/Ron Burch!!

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The House and What Happened There/Kate Ruebenson!

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Slaves of Some Strange God/James H Duncan! !

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Parting Song/Sonja Johanson!

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Paints/Jocelyn Mosman! !

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XX/Kyle Hemming!!

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Emily As Rockweed/Darren C. Demaree!

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Reunion

Gary Singh after Carolyn Forche Steeping loose leaf tea in a porcelain teapot, we crumpled together on a designer sectional and yakked of shitty tract houses and K-Mart wine, back when we shed layers to faded metal cassettes and our parents’ liquor cabinets. Suburban wasteland summers, they all blurred together, our aftermath remaining behind juniper bushes, backstops and church parking lots while dark valley skies loomed wide. During those hazy soirees, oak trees had our backs, the chaos of their acorns blanketing the landscape, each time nearing us toward something indigenous, while police-car spotlights looked in vain for those who did not respond.

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Balance The Books Cathy Porter I no longer speak when spoken to – I have called it quits on the act of conversation, passed the baton to you and watch as words fall out of your mouth as easily as a tap on a house of cards. I remember walking past the guy who asked for directions: “that was rude” – hey, he could have been a serial killer! The years seem to have taken the vinegar out of my piss – I hang back limply, slumped over memories I wish to dispose of undetected. It’s not about being rude: it’s about preserving what’s left of my energy and sanity. You’re in better shape than me and that’s fine – someone has to balance the books so nothing bounces.

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Everything Is A Bruise Chris Milam Between mouthfuls of popcorn, she rolls up the sleeve of her plaid sweater. The underside of her left arm is bashed with color, as if a gumball machine shattered then melted on her skin. ‘Who did this to you?” “I did,” she says, standing up and rolling a scarred ball down the lane. “It’s pretty, don’t you think? Tell me it’s pretty, James.” “I’m lost. Why would you punch yourself?” She tilts a beer, her throat flexing with each swallow. “Can I bum a smoke?” “Sure. But answer the question.” A hand heavy with cheap metal snatches the pack from my shirt pocket. “Everything is a bruise. What’s there to know?” “I have no idea what that means.” “Have you ever failed? Ever puked away fish sticks and salisbury steaks nightly because mommy said chunky girls never leave the trailer park? Ever dated a man with a charming tongue and greasy blood? Why do I punch myself? Because I can. If you create the pain, you can manipulate it, control the intensity. It will no longer own you. It’s like taking the leash off a dog.” I have no clue how to respond. Maybe I should offer her a hug. Or a bag of ice. "Fair enough. I’m dying for a corndog, you want one?” She watches me eat. After a couple of bites she flicks a finger at the diabetes-on-a-stick, coughs. “What? Oh, come on. It’s a battered deep-fried weiner. You can’t bruise food. Relax.” "You can a piece of fruit. Anyway, what about the cook? I doubt his dream gig is working in a rundown bowling alley, dropping unhealthy crud into a fryer all week. I wonder what he was thinking when he filled out the application. Was the pen like an ink-filled shotgun blasting a hole in his ego? And what about his family. Disappointment wounds, too.” “Should I weep because some random guy made poor life decisions? People wear their tragedy like a trench coat these days. It’s not about your success. It’s how massive is your suffering. Society adores the underdog, the cracked soul. It’s all bullshit, feel-good noise.” She blows three consecutive smoke rings, rests her chin on a palm. “That may be, but on our first date we’re sitting in this depressing shithole playing an old man’s dead game. Couldn’t I learn something about you from this? It doesn’t exactly scream financial strength. Or romance. Some people explore their dysfunction, others camouflage it with a snarky indifference. Like you.” I wanted to ask her to cram her shiny hand inside my chest and rip out my beating truth. Examine it like a surgical therapist. Tell me who I am. Tell me about storms. But all I can offer is a nod and obedient grin. “One more time,” she says, her sleeve sliding up. "Is it pretty, James?” She is going to leave a mark, this much I know. Rivers of color that spread like spilled paint.

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Summer Bird Vidya Panicker Every summer, he came home carrying a grey travel bag with a box of sweets, 3 white starched shirts, a change of underwear, and the return train ticket for the week after Took off his shirt, spread it on the edge of our cot to dry the sweat of 3 days of travel, sits on the reclining chair, legs up, asked me about my school and Math and English. From the brass box, he picked a betel leaf, spread lime on it, hummed a familiar tune, rolled and stuffed it in the corner of his mouth, biting a thick, spiced betel nut and chewing. He talked all the while, gurgling the betel juice, red liquid streaking the corners of his mouth, asked me if I am being a good child, obeyed my mother, and if I watered the Tulsi plant every day. When he left, I waited on the portico, waving, not feeling a moment of pain, glad to have my mother back, to be able to sleep with her again, to be able to lick my fingers after every meal My father was a summer parakeet— the bird who noisily flew in and quietly flew away, breeding and never staying.

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Hours

Jesse Ewing-Frable In our own time we return     to the hours   before remembering    hours   in that place   where time is still  cul-de-sac feet   cracked bloody   for the sake of summer   or a cherry freeze  from the van   humming a ghost   song by the crick  on Carnation  Road. See there’s still a scar   on my heel    from when I fell  chasing a toad   downstream  fumbling wild  through mud  in touch  and out of mind  too small to see  he’d already   gone. 

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Starbird Road Photograph Jesse Ewing-Frable

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Happy Independence Day Marcie Eanes Police sirens shatter peace in affluent neighborhood. Deafening wales heard for miles around, all cruisers screech to sudden halt on two freshly manicured lawns. Thin blue line separates two warring neighbors battling loudly in adjoining driveways. Officers briskly separate pair Each is quickly escorted  into their own backyards, urged to take slow breaths before calmly telling story. White man sheepishly admits  it was him who yelled out the word 'nigger' instead of addressing Black woman by name. She parked car in her driveway,  began unloading groceries said nothing to him. A mere joke , she looked so mean  Everyone should be smiling; Today's July Fourth. Indignant,  he added  his family stayed  put when her husband and kids moved next door No complaints until now. Fault is partly hers for screaming curse words at him; Kids shouldn't  be exposed  to such low-class filth. Unnecessary confrontation disturbed everyone's holiday meal Afterall,   this isn't confederate south Red, White, Blue flags blow gently in summer breeze celebrating liberty in north.

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Vaginal Virtue Saheli Mitra

My virtue in my vagina Your power in those genitals, Did then the vice hide behind those muddy fields? Where the golden harvest Swayed in the morning breeze Ready to feed the hungry mouths? Serene flocks of fragile cranes Hovering around the flowing pieces of nine yards. Tattered and torn, Smeared with the crimson rays of the morning sun. Prisms of stains, Patched designs, Blots of blood, A lifeless arm peeping past that harvest divine. Virtue lost? Hid behind those swaying crops Where the cranes yearned for a meal, Yet found none. They left hungry, Dancing on the ripped vagina, Claws soaked in mud. Virtue carried on their wings, To a distant land that heard My shrieking cries last night. When your power When your brains When your virtue Made way through those genitals, Robbing me, of mine?   In search of my modesty I lay dead, Amidst the muddy fields, Where I played as a child, Where I sowed the seeds in rain, Where I nurtured the crops with love. As a blushing bride, A caring mother, I tread the morning dew. They still spell of my virtue Snatched, crushed, but never lost.

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Alluvium Liz N. Clift

Or menstruation. Or compost. Or scars, the ones made with scissors and knives, the ones left by words, the ones left by hands running over young breasts. The ones left by the man who raped the woman. The one left by the housemates who called the woman crazy before telling her to move out. How the heart and soul can only bear so much weight before cracking. How new scars form under blades liberated from disposable razors. This might be better than swallowing a bunch of pills. Than taking a nap on some train tracks. Than buying some black from the men who gather under the bridge. How the shower water stains pink. How the blade tinks when it hits the tub. That thin metal. That glint. The sobs. The way the body remembers his weight, her hands, and sometimes times to twist away. It happens even as the water runs clear again. Even as the heartrate slows. Even as the newest cuts begin to sing into every nerve. Even as the person who loves the woman climbs into the shower with her, clothes on, and gathers her into his arms. Even as the water stops, and the ears fill with the dripdripdrip of the leaky faucet and the steady thump of the lovers heart. Even as the steam drifts out the window, a ghost.

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Hector

Brandon Williams I don’t know what happened to Hector. I know he worked at UPS for seven years, I know he applied and was rejected from UC-Riverside four times before he heard me claim I was a writer and begged me to scribble his application essay. I planned it on my fifteen-minute break at UPS, between two boxes of medicine headed to Kaiser and a shoulder-high stack of long white boxes destined for UC-Riverside that said “Caution, live bugs,” in bold black letters. I wrote it while he clocked out for lunch,  awkwardly bent in my car, ignoring my computer’s flashing warning as it fell below ten percent battery life. ! ! ! ! ! ! Four months later, and two months before I moved back to Placerville, before I claimed retirement, $300 a month as soon as I turn 65,  Hector bought me a copy of Uncanny X-Men 360, collector’s edition, chrome foil, and a cup of coffee  from the food truck.  He said, “You and I,” and we leaned against the chain-link fence and watched the big brown trucks roll out of the yard, the gates opening before their majesty. I never read the comic -- my brother sliced it to pieces with a bread knife when I refused to buy him a Pepsi at Holiday Market on a Tuesday afternoon three days after I’d returned home. We were standing behind a Filipino couple  that shopped at Holiday because the pancit, vegetarian and crispy, reminded them of Taguig. Hector’s goal, he told me,  was to shake at least one hand in every country.  ! ! ! ! ! !       ! A month before I returned to Placerville, degree in hand, Hector’s arm was caught in a loading strap, his hand smashed between a backpedaling trailer and the loading dock wall. We watched the paramedics wheel him out, and it wasn’t until I was eight hours north of Riverside, in a Cattlemen’s Restaurant eating a sliced-thin tri-tip steak and second-to-none mashed potatoes, that I realized I had no contact number, no email address.  All I had was the memory of the gurney wheels snapping tight like a cracked bone, and Hector disappearing into the ambulance, hand flopping in a loose handshake.

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My First UFO Cathy Lopez

I was showing off what I learned in astronomy. The sky was darker, so far from home. I showed you Betelgeuse rolling it off my tongue. A shooting star, you said, holding my hand.              Were you holding my hand? But the star didn’t fall. It sped and turned, rising out of the atmosphere. I know what I saw, but I don’t know if you held my hand. I want to believe.

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Universal Themes in Literature Howie Good 1 Man vs. Man "Get out of the car or I'm going to fucking smoke you!" roared the officer at the driver having a stroke. Anybody out there had a similar experience? 2  Man vs. Nature  Beat the wild goose with a rock or a wooden plank. Next, one of you should stand on the bird to keep it from flopping around while the other saws off its head with a pocket knife. Later, if the cops ask, explain it was a duet by an anonymous composer who was hungry and had nowhere to sleep but rooms full of rain. 3  Man vs. Self On the same day that a dentist from Minnesota killed a lion, we make our way to the pool for a quick dip, then jog to the bikes, do a short ride, then run 1/4 mile - all just to get the feel of drowning.

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Tree Michael C. Keith Nature conceals what only few see. !

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–– Anonymous

Three months after the sudden death of his 11 year-old son, Ben Devers’ mourning took on a whole new and unexpected dimension. The large oak tree in our backyard attacked and crushed my boy. It was a deliberate act . . . I have no doubt about that, even if my wife says I’m being ridiculous. “Trees don’t think!” growled Karen Devers “They just are. Do you think storms deliberately kill people? Jesus, it’s nature. There’s no premeditation or free will involved, Ben. It’s bad enough as it is. Stop talking nonsense. “Calm down, babe. I’m just saying . . .” “Look, I don’t mean to get angry, but your behavior is beginning to unglue me. You believe you can scream at that tree without our neighbors noticing and thinking you’ve lost it. Please, don’t do that anymore. If you’re going to act crazy, do it inside the house. In fact, no . . . don’t do it at all. This has gone as far as it should. Just stop right now! Do you hear me? I’m dealing with the loss of our child, too, for God’s sake!” “Yeah, I hear you. Don’t blow a gasket. I’ll take care of things . . .” “What do you mean by that?” “I’m going to cut its limbs off. Disarm it so it doesn’t kill me or you . . . or anybody that comes into the yard.” “Okay, that’s it! I’ve got to get away from you. Going to my sisters’ for a couple days. You better be over this nonsense when I get back . . . or I’ll have to think about leaving for good.” Ben didn’t try to dissuade his wife from leaving. In fact, he thought her absence would give him the time he needed to make things right . . . time to avenge his son’s death. It was the right thing to do. Indeed, he felt it was the only thing to do. You can’t arrest a tree for homicide and expect it to get what it deserves. It’s immune to the laws of society, but I can see that justice is served. I don’t care how much it protests. I know it did what it did on purpose. It hated Peter. How many times was he pushed from that scrubby piece of bad timber? No, he didn’t just fall from its creaky branches by accident. He was thrown from it. A kid doesn’t tumble from a tree as many times as Peter did. It hated him climbing it. Just couldn’t deal with it . . . that’s obvious. *!

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After his wife left, Ben walked into the backyard and then around the old oak’s trunk as if measuring its circum, ference. Wish I could just chop you down, but you’re too damn high and wide and would smash whatever you dropped on. Bet you’d like that, wouldn’t you––killer that you are? “I’m not a killer,” came a voice from the oak tree. “I couldn’t help it if one of my branches fell on your boy. Trees have problems with their joints, too. They get rotten just like the sockets in human bodies.” “Sure, you’ll speak when my wife isn’t around to hear you. Very clever . . . shrewd. And don’t give me any of that shit about you having arthritis in your limbs. My parents have arthritis in theirs, but their infected body parts don’t just drop off. C’mon, don’t give me that line of crap. You’re a killer, and that’s the fact of the matter.” “Look, I’ve been dealing with rottage. I’m loaded with pathogens and fungi that attack my seams and intersections. I think it’s called Ionontus, or something like that.” “What a bunch of bull. You tried to murder Peter several times. He kept falling off of you, and not by accident. Not so many times.”

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“He wasn’t a good climber. Clumsy. Couldn’t hold on like most kids.” “Now you’re saying my son wasn’t normal? That does it. I’m going to get my saw.” “No . . . no, I’m not saying anything. Maybe I was wet when he was climbing me . . . hard to get a grip then.”
 “Enough of your lame excuses. Time to give you what you deserve . . . bastard!” Ben stormed to the shed and returned moments later with his chain saw. “Wait . . . wait!” pleaded the oak. “A tree can’t do what you’re saying. We don’t have thoughts, and if we did, I doubt they’d be evil ones. We’re not like humans. You kill . . . we don’t. Listen to your wife. What did she say before going to her sister’s? I think it was, ‘Trees don’t think. They just are’.” “Oh, you think, alright. Just listen to you. I wish she could have been around to hear you. You don’t fool me. You hated Peter and got rid of him. You’re malicious and made it look like an accident. You’re a disgrace to your species, or do all you oaks have a streak of the murderer in you?” “That’s so wrong, Ben. We don’t have consciousness. We just grow and then die, like all things, and we aren’t even aware of that.” “You’re plenty aware of what you’re doing, but you won’t be dropping your limbs on any more innocent victims . . . not when I’m through with you.” “I wouldn’t do that, Ben. It will get you in trouble with . . .” “My wife? No way. She knows deep down that you killed our son. If not now, she’ll come to realize that soon enough. I’ll get her to see the truth.” Ben tugged at the power saw’s starter cord a few times before it started roaring. The sound blocked out the oak tree’s continuing admonitions. * * *

Two days later, Karen Devers returned from her sister’s place. She searched throughout the house for her hus, band, and finally found his lifeless body in the backyard. A knobby tree branch rested on him. His severed arm lay on the ground close by, still clutching the power saw. “Oh, Ben!” wailed Karen. “You foolish, foolish man!”

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When, Then John Viera

When, as a shopper, all your purchases suddenly become too burdensome to carry any further. When you come out with your hands up to the names your ancestors left you. When you remind yourself how those names, hands down, made this country. When the lumbar vertebrae will only accept tongued kisses (although, from anyone). When against the hammering winds your heart rages in several languages, only one of which you actually know and can still speak. When you are in love when incapable of love. That's then.

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Leather John Viera

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Failing to Fly Hal Sirowitz  If I could be your Flying Wallenda do life-daring acts on a tightrope for you without a net at the circus would you get upset if I fell? Or, would you want the show to go on, leaving tragedy for those who read the obituary columns in next week's newspapers?

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Coffee

J.K. Durick This second cup seems right brewed the way it’s done now, one cup at a time, so precise. No more pots or metallic urns steaming and stewing all day, thickening as the day went on. I remember the coffee room early on where I’d grab a cup then be off to the office or class. Back then, teachers taught on low salaries and too much bad coffee, and a belief in what we did. The coffee held me up, helped me make sense of endless comp classes and the survey course I’d survived. It all made such sense; the coffee and our courses contributed to an outcome they couldn’t measure. But, I had this mug I rarely washed, filled and drained so regularly it became a reliable measure of things. The coffee inspired such flights of fact and fancy, the connections connected, briefly glued together. I thought I was brilliant, a shooting star, fueled up on the highest octane darkest Maxwell House imaginable.

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Prelude to the Afternoon of the Spawn Julie Hart It was Sunday, June first, and I woke up at first light, not as hungover as the day ! before, mainly because I ate too much to keep drinking, stayed up late To get lucky, let’s talk poetry, poetry. Wrote all morning, wrangled wordings all ! afternoon: that one guy just would not let you say “fuck” in a poem, Went all syntax on your ass. By five pm I was exhausted, sharing my soul at bargain ! rates with strangers. Strangers no longer. Shameka and I will definitely Keep in touch. Went home on the Hampton jitney with a goofy smile on my face, ! Colin snoring lightly beside me. Paradise. Then on Monday I went to the Misnomered “round table,” women writing literary biography, not round, a panel, ! it was so perspicuous, though one said: “Don’t mention writing your thesis While breastfeeding your baby; it will be held against you somehow.” All too true, ! unfortunately. But what ground my gears that day was how Jay almost stood me up (again) by being late (as usual) and then not letting me ! know when he crept behind me that he had come after all, letting me Continue to think he hadn’t come. So I waited, thinking he had “forgotten” (again) ! until I saw him at the bar on the other side of the room about Half an hour in. Then I was mad. I could no longer focus solely on the speakers, ! I had to use part of my brain to wonder what reason he could Possibly have to act this way. Theories? I have lots of them. None are about me. ! If it had been the first time, I could have let it go, but—far from the first. Don’t do that to me! I told him, I’m perfectly able to smile and wave without ! disturbing the whole event, don’t you think? I am! He claimed shyness. I think he fears my anger. Yes. I should hope so. Then, too, I saw in the audience ! one of the cowardly laureates I keep telling you about: The one who told everyone in the class that she “loved” our poetry, but as that could not ! possibly be true, it made me feel like she hated everyone’s equally. Now when I see her at such events, I can tell she isn’t pleased to see me, she cringes ! slightly, a tiny moue of distaste at play along her lips: it’s either me Or she just hates everyone. I cannot align with that. (Oh, get over yourself, I think. ! You can’t be friends with everyone, you don’t even want to.) Tuesday, I watched my son sleep for several hours, but happily because Sherlock, ! the third season, is on Netflix now. I went to Poets House While the two loves of my life watched Doctor Who with Christopher Eccleston. ! It rained. I stopped for a glass of tempranillo at North End Grill, Watched money men slurp down oysters. Tishon was the best one up there, ! so at ease, ready to laugh at the ridiculous Necessity of poetry and his own desire for it above all things. (As I’m writing this, ! I’m watching the barista taste his own product, spit it out in a paper cup. He hazards being wired by nine most days.) The audience at Poets House was tattooed, ! hippy, gender-fluid, not-ready-for-metal-detector-studded, Young and old, not much in between. I saw a few people I knew slightly and they ! slightingly admitted they did. It was funny in a depressingly accurate way. It starts to feel personal, the way you’re ignored when you’re not a narcissistic asshole. ! This is why girls dance on the bar, I’m thinking, to see eyes on them, for once, Objectification be damned. Look at me! Sidebar. Sorry. Raining right now. Might be having ! an effect on my mood, on what I choose to remember, choose to write down. Of course it might. I have done without any attention so far, how outrageous to demand it ! of you now. Well, demand is a bit strong, don’t you think? Poetry

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Doesn’t demand, it sneaks up on you, then you can choose to continue reading or ! slap the book shut, or click on an ad, or just not ever look at poetry In the first place. Demand? What demand? I have no intention of issuing edicts. ! Poetry, by its nature, is against edicts. Me too, poetry, me too. Well, anyway, what I meant to say was I go alone to poetry readings, and come home ! alone. It’s like a horror movie version of barhopping, but hey, I don’t need A wingman for poetry. Wednesday I went to HiFi on Avenue A to hear other ! underpublished writers spit their literature. They, like me, expect Their words to speak for themselves. No effing way that works in this culture, where ! the furious need for self-regard it’s not a story without pictures. No author photo? No thanks. And the right photo will get people to read silly ! annoying crap as if it is holy scripture. How did this happen? Wait, Don’t tell me. Adam’s story was tender and vicious in equal measure, but ! I’d already read it in the Paris Review. Kalpana was heartbreaking too; She dislocated our dislocation, but the dead brother lurks in too many stories. ! Or does he? My favorite, Dan, was funny like Sam Lipsyte and deadly Accurate like Don DeLillo. I had a Lagunitas IPA and talked to an MFA student ! who praised my posture (?) and a cub music reporter for the Brooklyn Rail. He said he was terrible at interviewing, because he just could not act dumb enough to get ! the subject to go on record explaining the obvious, which is What we all need explained. He said he was too prideful, which is one word for it. ! If you know what must be done and still don’t do it, what’s the word For that? I ask you. Thursday bound to be dominated by Knausgaard, ! waited in line for two full hours outside McNally Jackson to see Karl Ove. If I had known ahead of time, I wouldn’t have waited, but ignorance begat bliss. ! I gave my legs for literature. Then again stood to watch him questioned by Zadie Smith, her voice a form of therapy in itself. Karl Ove, the man, ! is naked before you, like in my many dreams where I find myself in public, Not a stitch on, carrying a towel. How a six-volume autobiographical novel full of cleaning, ! baby-minding, blow-by-blow humiliations became the literary sensation Of the year is both fantastic in the magical sense and unlikely in the extreme. Like Proust, ! it can bore you walleyed before it takes a croquet mallet to all your assumptions. Glorious. We all know Karl Ove better now than some people do their own spouses! ! Prideful writers envy his ability to strip down right in front of them as they tell Everyone they couldn’t do what he does. Never saw so many beautiful women ! at a book event: he must have groupies, pit-woofies, or dare we call them Chucklefuckers when the book is sad? I learned he wrote it at speed, ten, ! twenty pages a day, no looking back. I write like that too. He read it to a friend, all five thousand pages and Zadie interjected, “Nice friend,” like ! she didn’t have one of those. Who does? Which reminds me, it’s been ages Since I’ve read a new poem to Kay, immersed as we are in her breakthroughs. No matter. ! On Friday, down to Dumbo, to hear more (when will I have heard enough?) poetry. Captain Janeway, karate, and the genesis of mermaids came up. Not the right crowd ! for dancing, so I left early, for me, because I may be a glutton, But not for punishment. Poets may want to be loved more than any other people, ! but that doesn’t mean they’re more lovable, perhaps the opposite. Bianca said you couldn’t pay her to take a workshop now! And I agree. Time to stop ! listening to someone else’s muse for once! Saturday, we walked the Brooklyn Bridge at six am, so weird to be alone on it together: then, a biker. It’s sad in a way, ! but my jaw is losing definition. In my iPad mini, behind Orange is the New Black, I wonder who is that neckless woman scowling back at me? But I can forget about her ! when I’m people-watching first in Soho, then in Bushwick, tattoos equally Prevalent in both neighborhoods, the lingua franca here is body language. ! The tilt and swirl, the shrug and curl. OYE! DJ’s earphones worn Like a choker so as not to muss his fur fauxhawk, he spins and scratches platters, ! but he still needs an iMac. Outside on Starr Street, they’re all playing Dominoes, oblivious to wild bohemian leopard-print theater up here, but they have ! their own ink. Best use of Leo Delibes ever, as ions immolate themselves To fix nitrogen, reunited Platonic halves. Modesto, self-proclaimed theater addict, curated

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this vaudeville from among the variously talented and dogged members of Brooklyn’s creatives, which can mean “could work, but won’t” or “will work for love.” ! What separates these off-off-off-off Broadway works from mainstream is not Quality: there is some serious dreck on the Great White Way! No, it’s that they do not ! hew to accepted forms and formats. People will not know what to expect. Creatures of habit, most people would rather read the same book four hundred times, ! addicted as they are to mystery novels. I guess it’s comforting, to know Who did it and why, in stark contrast to the garbled chaos that is our daily life. ! Who wouldn’t want to know who to blame? After the potpourri Of spoken word, existential one-acts, and straight up nostalgia film, they fed us ! comida domenicana; we were starved because our brains worked Double-time, trying out trope after trope and failing to fit what we saw into them. ! Experimental equals experiential. We lived it. Our lives were suddenly Full of wonder once again. Don’t tell me I can’t use that word in a poem if that is ! what I feel; poetry is where you go to get away with things, like feeling.

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Files Scan!

Carol Hamilton

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The whole story is told in this room tonight. Think of love and such a calm still space even with the thresh and twitch of human passing. Titles on this bookshelf and on the screen speak as lighthouse sweep to calm and sooth even some storm-tossed sailor. So Galileo and his daughter, Winston and Clemmie, Beth and Bob, my granddaughter and I pushed together as we watch all the Holocausts and hackings. We steady each other, praise this gift. This is where the saints live. Peter sank seeking this love. He stepped out of the boat and sank. We, even as we praise and dance before the ark like David, we sink. We sputter and flail. I’m scanning the titles here, remembering them, know they lost each other, know it is all an instant, one we put on celluloid or press between stiff covers or dangle on a chain to wear around our neck or circling a finger. We do try. The computer screen says I have no infected files, though I know better. My computer guru says that nothing disappears, and with his magic fingers, he lifts the lost, and calm settles in again, a hopeful halo cast over all I have tried so desperately to hang onto.

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Hail Mary Militia Paul Rogov

Are you alone, Hail Mary Militia? Which one are you? You’re never alone. You are sane now, it seems. You’re humming, both on a chaotic and orderly path. I am even better than when you first knew me. How can I change when wrathful marigolds will not return my sighs? You threw a grenade to makes sense of a wish. 144,000 Virgin Mary’s in double the crimson combat boots Run in a full throttle siege Up through the hills, For cheap silent drills. Rolling, somersaulting. Each cradling a Divine Child in their arms, and a Cat O’ Nine in the other. Do you not know that Time and the hours and seconds work? Apes, and kickshaws----quelques choses, somethings; Fantastical; frivolous resistance; in an oblong box. Removing the fascia of recovery, From your heart’s badge, over it, I fit. Eclipse the moon with an orbit of petty demons, Up and down the floor I spit. Wait. Am I the mule or are you the mule? Yes, you are. I know. So: me. Now stop. I think of you lost and lovely running out of time. Dissolving in my mouth like a pepperoni Transubstantiated into an Orthodox communion wafer. See, I know a Beauty beyond human love, Beyond the chain of command, and the infinite regress A Beyond that Was or Is, or Will Be--A Beauty That might only betray the endangered faces Of those awful days When you were mademoiselle, and I prayed insane To a Makarov and a star resting on a coffin, With a bullet caught between my teeth and brain, While you brought on the night with friends With fresh credit cards and Coke. I gave away my youth to cherish you. And I gave away my freedom, too. But now this. This is us for now: for now this is us. We’re speaking in this way because that is how we are, Betwixt two vampiric graves of awful calmness, No one is here, I tell you. But where are you? I cannot tell. Heaven? Hell? Give me your hands, Green grass growing Give me your hands. Lowering our eyes to our will.

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To our might, to our contumely, Rising out my ears, body images and mirrors shattered, Again, blooming out, exploding flesh, dismembered for all time, Just lovely words we can already depart from them---shards: slithering away, dragging away uncreated, unmade the armor of a molting serpent, hissing across the shadow of a sinking cross. Invite the archipelagoes of my swollen thought To greet your spine and your consciousness on May Day. With the Morse Code of our imagination To the ruffles of crimson cloaks donned by avenging angels To the Mondays which take the form of Roman banquets. To the candles that sit in candelabras, To the ticker tape and jeweled boxes To the tailors, stiches, governments implanted into Giant Squids running entire countries. That sink beneath the waves, and let us forget our eyes and open mouths, As we swallow salt water to our surprise, yet breathe: Deeper, deeper, heavy sleeper, Deeper, down, plunge into the Abyss, Then up around, then stratosphere, Then by a fishing line yanked to the heliosphere, Into the crevices, the spun lava of the sun, Into the core, into the fish, into the fire fish. Into Complete and Total Control of the Solar System and the Universe. Then flung into the arms of Om and surrender. Truth steps forward as an unanswered flame, A riot, a revolution, a daisy-chain, Rekindling and recapitalizing the urgent uttering of a name One you had heard when your lights went out, The voice of another caliber, Another man, Another world, Another try, Another word, Another time, Another poem. Before you and I, lover. Before changing wind and bayou chime. Before the books we read were spread wide open Mocking us because we were not there first. Taunting us, laughing not even human laughter, but infernal, internal, calculated, cubic, digital laughter, Folded upon itself, shifting upon through its own twist. Then canceled out by a restart: Did we fly across a turn of phrase to forget where we are? And find some delicate position to call our own? Wait—that much I understand. What is impure will be remade, again, Into a magical forest where a dark lord sits on white horse and offers you fucking slippers.

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That’s the last place and first place you’ll be. Where with shut eyes you’ll turn around and run away from me. And you’ll try to comb through your own life---on and on and on. Looking for traces of you and me with Trotsky’s icepick. In the paintings of Frieda and Diego, and the letters Henry and Anais. See, maybe Heaven’s too proud. We live silently or we live out loud. And there’s a war in the clouds. And still, there’s just you and me. And you’re a flash of flesh floating through Time. What’s a man to do when he’s chained to your eyes? Lady of my Life, I’m coming home to you And all I have is time when there’s nothing left to prove. We are what we were: Once on the phone, and again. Reading Dante Alighieri, Ovid and the rest of Rome. But in that graveyard in the snow. I said: “I’m leaving Paris, don’t let me go.” Well, back then, you were more than a girl and I was more than boy. Breaking hearts, however, trumps breaking toys. I’m far away now: Wrapped in blankets and clouds and Euros, dollars, and quid. You can have my brittle body, but it isn’t brittle, it’s solid. You were always heavier than a stone, lover. You were always the chance I never had, lover. You make me do this. I do this. I give and I am sold. They bought me. See? They picked me See? They branded me. See? Don’t be luscious stranger---will you or not? Perhaps, it’s true: that you forgot You’re not alone now, lover.

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In The Hold of Rain Kushal Poddar

Inside the cusp of rain 
 we roll, inhale
 each other's breath.
 Gale provides mad music. We keep our cat close, rats
 closer, parrots
 in our throats and
 dreams the closest, and yet when we reach for them 
 they seem melted,
 stale, sickness 
 flowing away through our grasps. Someone was to come. We
 forget who he is. 
 We forget what 
 identifies us. 
 I, you; you, me. No one.

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Nowhere Sagebrush Wants To Go Aden Thomas

Why do antelope feel the pull of highways? The tiny strips of asphalt, fenced in by barbed wire, splits nowhere sagebrush wants to go. My father spent his life fenced in by barbed wire he created for himself.  He knew that pull from nowhere which he knew was more. Where would he have gone had he slipped the fence or more? He said the mountains in the distance were only pictures from a brochure. He made himself believe by running. What if he had jumped and crossed without the thought of cars? Unlike deer, the antelope never jump fences. They press themselves to ground and cross smaller than they are. Maybe it’s their own weight they feel. A few minutes later, their deaths are rarely glorious contortions along the highway bends. Still they go to the asphalt, to die under the sun. The steel bumpers, we saw coming, but never say we noticed until several miles away.

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[The Mo(u)rning 16/12 Terrorist Attack on a School in Peshawar, Pakistan] Faiza Anum 
 Your mum’s mourn Mute moan Has moistened today’s morning mist. O! Angel, angel, little angel We know you’re stunned Your stony eyes are speaking Directly to your mum’s sigh.   Do not ask her. Do not ask her.   Let her calculate her loss Let her doodle down in her register As huge as her heart.   You know her soul has left To accompany you.   How could she leave you unaccompanied now?   That she is sorry at her previous trust.   She will enter His court with you Cradling you in her arms She will submit her register to Him That it is full now And will demand for her reward Or will be given a new one.   We can see yours and her soul Sailing in this smog: The smoke of your burnt blood And the fog of you mum’s moan.

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The Ache

Tolonda Henderson When it gets real bad and I want to use so I can hallucinate her back to me, I call the hotline. Hearing a stranger describe her hair or the little outfits I bought her means the drugs didn't create her, even if they destroyed her. That helps me sleep.

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Holy Objects Lisa M. Cole I I spend my life losing things. I summon my mother to find them. Her gold ring is just a baby moon, wrapped around my finger--hard & spry like the voice of animal. II There is a leaning away from this. I am wrote & rote. III The sage said, Something in the mind goes dark & the sledgehammer heart strikes its prey. The apache tear rock, the broken compass is my stain & distilled essence. My swallowed inertia. My breaking bones. The sage said, It’s 8AM. I’m feeling the ceiling. What do you need a sheath for?

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Meyegraine 89 Photograph Randi Ward

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Door

Randi Ward Somehow fireflies still find ways to slip through the keyhole and keep me.

Rhododendron Randi Ward

Your bright trumpets buzz in the steepest shade— please teach me your evergreen.

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One Small Stuff For Greenkind John Gorman

Rumor finally had its jollies, at Donnie’s expense. On the blustery eve of the City Council’s hearing to charge ten cents for plastic shopping bags, he and Vera barbed in Neptune Diner. “Flat out sucks,” Donnie said, cramming a forkful into his mouth. “The planet is already toast.” “Well, I always knew you were a cheapskate, but I never suspected you were heartless too.” “Do you have any idea how expensive groceries are? No, because Big Daddy gobbles it all up on his credit card.” “You’re a real jerk.” “Maybe, but I know what’s what. I bust my hump all day, stacking Alpo and Friskies cans. I got a right to be sore. It’s like I’m taking a paycut.” “Ten cents, you’re crying over a lousy dime.” “Is that all you think it is. Wake up. It’s ten cent per bag. Every time I go shopping, I get at least four heaping bags of food, and they need to be doubled or else Genoa salami, pinto beans, Doritos, and Sam Adams will slop all over the sidewalk.” “It’s about time you thought of Mother Nature and got yourself a canvas bag.” “I use those grocery bags for my garbage.” “They’re clogging up our drains, sewers, landfills, they’re stuck in our trees. Did you know it takes $90-some million, in this city alone, to dispose of them each year? Hmm?” “That’s a bunch of propaganda.” “Oooohh. You’re impossible.” Donnie turned his attention to the jukebox, and began flipping through the sheets. When he found a song he liked, he began humming the tune. Vera made a face. She hated whenever Donnie tried to sing. She wasn’t a fan of his humming either. “You’re afraid to try anything new,” Vera said. “That’s not true.” “Look at you. All you eat is French fries and French toast. You don’t even like the French.” “I try lots of stuff,” Donnie retorted. “Name one.” “Last month we went skiing in Hunter Mountain.” “Cross Country.” “It’s skiing right?” “But you’re afraid of going downhill.” “I’ve got motion sickness.” “You only drink Buds or Coronas.”

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“I’m loyal.” “And you make faces if somebody offers you pate.” “So what?” “You’re like a teenager. Not even. You’re like an 8-year-old.” “And you’re a dilettante.” “What did you call me?” “You heard me.” “I’m particular.” “Mezzo Sopranos are particular, you’re a dilettante.” “You little Bastard.” “So you admit it.” “I certainly do not.” “Well, play all the games you want, but I know what I know.” “I never want to see you again.” “Fine.” “Fine.” Donnie went back to flipping the jukebox pages. Vera rearranged the sugar packets. Her exquisite fingers smoothed every edge, flattened middles until the sugar distribution was even steven. “I’m going to tell you something you’re not going to like,” Donnie said. “Go ahead,” Vera said. “I’m just itching for you to top dilettante.” “That’s superficial nonsense. You want to know the crux of your problem?” “Oh yes, Donnie, please. Set me straight. Tell me what’s wrong and don’t skimp. Give me all the gory details.” “I mean it. When I spill it, you’re head is going to go from beet red to eggplant in T minus 5, and then that vein in your neck is going to pop out like a live wire. “You’re such a Drama Queen.” “There it is, there it is, popping already.” Vera burst into uncontrollable laugher. Her cheeks cracked two gorgeous gibbous moon dimples. Donnie had seen her so animated in the past two weeks, maybe longer. There was a brief whiff of reconciliation as they waited for the waitress to bring their change and Donnie’s leftovers. Vera ran her finger along Donnie’s elbow. She wanted him to tell her the crux of her problem, but Donnie shook his head. “Nothing,” Donnie said. “Go ahead,” Vera said. “I won’t get mad.”

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“No, I mean it was really nothing. I just know how to push your buttons.� Just then the waitress loped over with the change and the plastic bag of leftovers. Vera squeezed out of the booth, but Donnie stayed behind for a few seconds. He eyed the leftovers on the table and then opened it up. He left the plastic bag, his last freebie, by his empty coffee mug, popping the tinfoiled fries into his Parka pocket. One small stuff for Greenkind.

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Vertigo

Alan Britt

God, the slow locomotive forked-tongue primitive dawn awareness inches along the hipbones of truth! God, why not make us aware?   God, since we’re on first name basis, give some attention to this planet, earth; she needs your help.   God, & I’ve never said this before, now is the time to unveil all that you are; unveil whatever mercy you, particular god, all the mercy you contain.   Since I know rains depend upon you, & humidity in her wedding gown of boiled cabbage, or nude smashing the Iron Curtain.   Since I know a sidewinder leaps from your five ochre fingers along the squash-colored sands of the Mojave; since I know what I think I know, & since I think I know full well that whatever I know I never knew in the first place; therefore, this particular aberration has reached a milestone, aqua eyelids, you know, these South Florida faded sailfish-blue eyelashes curled tight against a Miami Beach nightclub next to rolling, wet sands crushed by a cement moon, crushed by a construction company on the verge of an aircraft carrier named after it, pushed along, pushed along, until your liver bursts, your liver filled with black holes, filled with priests, filled with Jesuses since primordial dawn, since amphibians gave up their celestial gods & decided to go it alone on treacherous terra firma, since that moment, Lacan, Derrida, Wittgenstein, Eliade & Rilke, since that primordial moment, algae in our gills, barnacled claws, as Shelley might say, since that fateful moment of bruised lightning rupturing the aorta of Cro-Magnon consciousness, a single shoot of some wild vegetable native 20 million years ago, since that night he entered the hallowed hall in his 1918 checkered, plush, pajama pants.   Imagine that.   A messiah in Pajama pants?   Imagine that.

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Dream Rooms

Don Kingfisher Campbell (1) Darkness arrives, we take off our eyes, lock mouths, wrap limbs, become two puzzle pieces on the bed. (2) Hamsters in the box with a cut-out window, huddling close impressing love on each other's body. (3) I hug my decade-long duende. She strokes the hair of her incubus wishing nine lives. (4) Trucks pass, phantoms down the street. We might as well be on a coupon vacation at a Dana Point Super 8.

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(5) We breathe in waves under seaweed sheets, mussels undulating on percale beach. We toss and turn in the flotsam and jetsam of separate but equal dream worlds. (6) Lying at this moment, other apartments do what we have done, moan exercise as people imitate sleep. (7) If an earthquake comes, we won't watermelon mind. We'll just hold on ready for evaluation preferring mutual breakage. (8) But the sun rises. Our minds return to conscious light, twitter conversation relay, door departure. (9) Until we meet again in the night, the nocturnal creatures, yin and yang, two familiar with being endangered.

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Shambhala Stupa PW Covington Hidden, white, shining Stupa Basic human goodness Celebrated Amid the pines Wild flowers, bees, and mountain breezes Sing mantras to those that will listen A path to mindfulness through halcyon, elevated, ether Closer to God‌ perhaps‌ Closer to the self that is not ourselves And has always been

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Flight

Michael La Bombarda A black oak And starling Are in the frame Of my window. Whenever I appreciate Something, It eludes me.

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Three Pictures of Summer A.E. Clark 1. Reached my hand into the hive halted halfway - your throat. Inside, your teeth let me be, but the bee stung until I was punctured, leaking sap.  Inside, your teeth let me be, but the bee drank up still until I was spent unto transparency. 2. Bored of swallowing the summer moth, pitcher plant splits.  It’s making wings. 3. You were already standing when I turned to check the clock.

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Lovers

Jessica Wiseman Lawrence I chose wind over sky –  wave over water. You chose ground and spark. Twins, beaming – bright gold, hiding our brass bones and copper sinew from the red-cloaked angel who asks if the crowd objects to our union.

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Acid, Mom

Kenta Maniwa !

When I was 16 my mom told me not to do acid. She told me a cautionary story about two people she knew

who took acid and drove on the highway. It was late at night and they were the only drivers on the road. Then they saw a refrigerator in the middle of the highway. The guy in the passengers seat convinced the driver that they were tripping and that the refrigerator was not actually there. The driver drove into the refrigerator. The car swerved off the road and flipped several times. They both ended up dying. My mom told me that acid was bad because it permanently altered your brain chemistry in a negative way. She also said that acid drained your spinal fluid, turned you crazy, and, in some cases, made you crash into mysterious refrigerators on the highway. !

Two weeks later I took acid for the first time in a famous park in San Francisco. I was uncomfortable the

entire time, as there were too many hippies wearing Grateful Dead patches and my legs felt numb. The next day I asked my mom how she knew, since they were both dead, what the two guys were thinking when they saw the refrigerator in the middle of the road. Maybe the refrigerator was unavoidable and that a sober driver would have similarly crashed. Maybe the two guys weren't even on acid. Maybe one guy spilled a soda on the other guys lap and then a bird flew into the car and started flapping its wings all over the place. Maybe there was no refrigerator. My mom said that I was missing the point and that the story was true. It was in the newspaper, according to my mom. Then my mom made a serious face and squinted her eyes at me. She made me promise her that I would never take acid. I nodded my head in agreement and I think she believed me.

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Canine Form Alex DeBonis

On Mom’s kitchen tile, toenails skitter loud then bandy-legged gait, handbag on allfours, gray skin mottled where fur’s been worn so thin. “There’s my little girl!” Foster daughter, canine form: Missy, my only sister. Mom sets the table with shiny ashtray, big Ziploc of pill bottles. I make grilled cheeses while the pug paws my feet. “Missy thinks she’s a people.” Mom drinks oxygen. Sister bolts kibble. “She eats when I eat.” Were this true, Missy’s fur would hang like a tent on a birdcage. Mom’s twig-slender hand pinches a lethal white stick, unlit. “Stop gawking. I don’t smoke. I just like the feel.” This lie hangs then rises up the wall beside tar columns. Mom loses color, long-time loneliness carves into her face. Too tired for more sunny lies today. They’re better than saying she doesn’t eat, likes an honest smoke, doesn’t have a child who can love her back.

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September Ending Barry Yeoman

Summer is gearing down, floating into autumn. It is a brisk and sunny Sunday afternoon. The seasonal chemistry of leaves tests like a litmus, displays a colorful spectrum. An ice cream truck cruises for children on residential streets. The theme from The Godfather, recorded in moog synthesizer, is piped over a loud speaker mounted on top. Shrieking kids heard through a screen door interrupt the NFL on CBS. Football on the 50 inch high definition television, armored gladiators collide and crash for gridiron supremacy like bucks in full rut. Sycophant cicadas rattle off sermons to the choir-boy trees as they start shedding garments for the yearly judgment. A wanna-be renegade flexes motorcycle muscles, rumbles through gears all the way across this small quiet town. It's hard to pinpoint when, but our lives lost luster. Soon, September will give way to winter. By then the bare trees will stop hobnobbing, as gas bills skyrocket, and moods turn black.

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The smell of supper will stop mischief for a while as kids come home and cats curl near heaters. Teenagers in hoodies will try to buy smokes at the corner food mart as weather turns bitter. But now, a truck's horn sounds off ceaselessly, the alarm probably tripped by a neighborhood cat. People stand in doorways looking for culprits wondering: “for God's sake, who owns the damn thing?� For all intents and purposes the sky is worthless. Stars in the night are light years in the millions, as the birds hold court in the trees unencumbered by the curse of numbers.

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Yellow Throats acrylic body, print, ink Sally Deskins/Laura Madeline Wiseman

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Darkening acrylic body, leaf prints, ink Sally Deskins/Laura Madeline Wiseman

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Panic At The Deli Terry Barr

Chuck and I are sitting at the downtown Browdy’s, Birmingham’s Legendary Kosher-style delicatessen. I’m gorging myself on the hot pastrami on rye slathered in mustard, half-sour pickles and vinegary slaw for support. I’ve eaten at Browdy’s all my life, and no one has ever had to tell me what to order. Mainly because my father’s side of the family is very Jewish. Chuck, as usual, has ordered the Ham and Cheese Po Boy. Ham. And Cheese. American cheese. Very yellow. He puts mayonnaise and mustard on it, and gets a double order of potato salad. Chuck is a country boy from Forestdale. We work together, at least in the summer when I’m home from school, at my uncle’s jewelry store. My uncle who is really my father’s first cousin. In Birmingham, Alabama, even a Jewish deli must serve ham. I don’t know where they get the ham, certainly not from Hebrew National. I like ham, particularly when my mother bakes it. Even then, I spread the mustard thick. My father likes it too, and bacon. But especially a good barbecue sandwich from The Old Plantation whose slogan is painted along its side: “Yas Suh! It’s Cooked in de Pit.” Still, neither my father nor I will order ham from Browdy’s. It’s pastrami, corned beef, or maybe salami. Nothing else. I don’t tell Chuck any of this, but maybe I should have. Anyway, he wouldn’t care. He especially wouldn’t care right now, because he’s doubled over and wincing. “Agh. My stomach. There’s a pain shootin’ through me.” When the pain subsides a bit, he continues eating. “Don’t you think you ought to stop, maybe get the rest to go,” I say. “Naw, it’s too good.” So he finishes, and we head back to the store where, almost the minute he steps in, he goes down. “I think I need to go to the hospital,” he breathes. Now I’m not a religious man. But I keep thinking, “Shouldn’t have ordered the ham. God can only take such blasphemy for so long.” As Chuck is being wheeled away, my father walks up. “What’s wrong with him?” “His stomach. Says he has a sharp pain. He was OK when we went to Browdy’s, but halfway through his ham and cheese, he began moaning.” “His ham and cheese,” Dad cries. “At Browdy’s?” “I know. But he likes it.” My father shakes his head as if the blind will truly never see. Later that afternoon, we get word that Chuck’s appendix has burst. He’ll be OK and back to work after a few days’ rest. When he does return, I never mention Browdy’s to him again. And he never asks.

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In A Sad House Brad MacNeil

In a sad house, teetering on a rocking chair in a room with an old trap hosting a dead mouse. Loneliness could never be anymore precise. In a sad house I look out a dirty window. Dead flowers tilted, wilted; they do not bloom. With no wife to tend the gardens, no Eve to mimic Eden, I am a deserted Adam standing loveless in sand dunes. Gone is the happy home. In a sad house I watch the world go by. In a sad house I've seen everyone I love die. Hallways are quiet. There's no children running, no children laughing, playing. Hallways are silent. In a sad house, all echoes fail when innocence sinks and sets sail. Family life buried in the backyard; every day a year, family reunions are held in a graveyard. Three tombstones: What other reasons would I need to beg skin to unsheathe bones? Archaeology in a sad house; carefully I unearth the past to get a better understanding of what is missed. Paradisiacal memories clear a path. Dragging myself down this broken trail of one man's sadness, I crawl almost effortlessly inside the gaping mouth of madness. In a sad house this is a normal thing. In a sad house it's about timing if you want to be devoured by insanity properly, and I'm right on cue. Not a husband. Not a father. In a sad house I am nothing. I am not even a man. Love is powerful, but murder gets the kill. Death is king and under its rule I've lost everything. I was their hero and I let them down. In a sad house I polish Death's crown. Because regret is regrettable, a cycle that gives etcetera full meaning, I can't forgive myself and move on, not when catastrophe can't be undone. I just can't. In a sad house, in the darkest room where maggots ingest a dead mouse, I will teeter on this rocking chair until they're squirming through my flesh, because that is exactly how failed heroes should die. Every fucking last one of them.

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Grace

Jenny Leigh Becker Sometimes when I’m alone in my darkest moments I say “I love you” aloud to no one. It took me some time to realize I’m saying it to myself, making up for lost time and lost chances.

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fall rains

Nathan Tompkins The fall rains have finally come, to wash away the sins, the blood of broken hearts, the bone prints of death’s skeletal fingers, carved into the dry dirt between yellow strands of grass. Now comes the green lawns as the leaves wilt, tumble with the October wind. The sun hides behind the clouds, weeps for the loss of the moon, his one time lover, she left him for war king strength of Mars, he shades his eyes, when the two lie together in celestial sheets, his tear drops baptise the earth, washes away the sins, the blood of broken hearts.

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Emily As Rockweed Darren C. Demaree

Where she has hidden & where she has grown strong enough to breathe through the practice of forgetting sculpts & never reflects the reality of our world together. Emily changed the tide, without the tide knowing & I learned all about that when I was yanked to crumble in the reversal of a water meant to push me past her.

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Last Day with Emilie Jovan Popov-Albertson

Emilie says she believes me but she does not believe me because she is looking off the balcony at the church across the parking lot. Emilie is tapping the ground with her bare foot and looking at the church and she has hair pins that keep her bun in a tight bulb. I say Emilie, I’m sorry Emilie, but my home is not here, I’m not from here. I’m from America and this is not my home. I can’t stay in a place that is not my home. And Emilie says she believes me but she is still looking at the church and sliding her hand up and down the rail of the balcony of her government paid apartment. The hair pins in her bun are blue and red and yellow and never repeat. Down below a dog rips apart a leather sole. You have your daughter Emilie, I say. And I grab the rail and stand next to her and slide my hand up her bare arm but Emilie backs away. You have your husband, too, Emilie, I say. There is a cold breeze and I shiver because all I have is my shirt and my torn jeans. Emilie takes a cigarette and puts it to her mouth and continues to look at the church across the parking lot. The sun is weak and I can feel a slight heat on the tops of my feet. There are metal sedans parked in the dirty lot in front of the church. There are children playing with a ball. The dog barks and growls, swaying his head back and forth. Emilie, I say, picking up a cigarette and putting it to my mouth and rubbing my forehead, I’m sorry, I say, I’m sorry Emilie, but this is how it is and we both knew that this is how it is and now it has to be this way from now on. I’m missing words and feel the cold cement freeze the bottoms of my feet. Emilie says she knows, looking back at the church and finally lighting the cigarette, hanging at the tips of her lips and throwing the match in the air. I know, she says again, not smoking, but tapping her foot. I know, she says a final time and looks at me. Emilie, I say, I’m sorry about Barcelona, but I couldn’t help you, I say. Barcelona was a mistake, but I’m just one man, I say, spreading my palms flat in front of me. I am trying only my best. You’ve said that before, Emilie says and turns back to the church and breaths in her cigarette and blows the smoke out her nose and taps the ground with her foot. You talk so much, Emilie says. You are no good for me, Emilie finishes. The dog digs a hole. I know that Emilie knows. Nothing else is required of me. The church’s stained glass windows reflect shades of blue and yellow and red. That is my church, Emilie says. That is where I got married. And she points to the church with her hand that is holding a cigarette and says, I’m a married woman and that is where it happened. You are no good for me and I think it is time for you to leave now, Emilie says. I don’t want you to come back anymore because you are no good for me, anymore. I look at the church and say you’re right Emilie. I look at the bun on top of Emilie’s head. I’m going to leave now, Emilie, I say. Tell Aurelie that I said goodbye and I hope your husband is better, I say, before turning around and opening the door of her government paid apartment and walking quickly down the hallway and down the stairs and out the building and down the hill to the river and sitting by the cold water and feeling the twigs and leaves collect at my feet and hearing the muffled bells ring seven times. !

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Life On Mars

Kurt Yalcin & Meg Hurtado Bloom I. One drop running valleys of salt and cotton spills down my back until disappearance is natural. II. The undulating odyssey moves forward, the C-train's spinal chambers swishing through the underworld like a snake crossing a lagoon, regular in every interval but uncertain of purpose and bitter about it. III. Up above, it cools, and traffic stops. All women live a little closer to the Star: they hang along the subway straps, swinging like the fresh-butchered, channeling the planet brightest beside the moon. They dream. IV. The drop attains the sacrum, now little more than vapor. Sometimes the journey kills. We cross brooks with no bridge. We ford the glassy darkness, dip over Far Rockaway. V. Many leagues beneath, clams cry. Windows stream a million new patches of light hatched from the underpass and projected all over the floor. I project you. You agree.

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Unspoken Soliloquies Paul Strohm Carried by wandering monks designs                    cross-stitched in wool heavy stuff listing right angels clocks                        a striking work of art an ardent spiritual bearing uvula                      harsh vibrating sound houri                      with rails and canopies rebuking spectators inculcations wanton carnal occurrence of words homoousian                       captive behind glass patron cum servant veneration editing                       unspoken soliloquies

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Gunbearer for Cecil

Drew Attana They come year-round, in herds, in packs like the wild game they lust after, bribed to get close to, and plan to leave broken, free of flesh, split wide open like their own mouths after the gunshots. I’ve watched them all die, some from the first bullet, the others— bigger, more agile creatures like the buffalo or lion take wounds like merit badges and crawl off to die alone, in the trusted brush. These adventurers, these aliens, shout and shake hands, they fire from the safety of diesel and steel, looking only to us, perched upon corrugated bumpers, for canteens, to go out and fetch their new rugs. The flies beat us to the bodies, on open eyes and along ragged holes, and as we draw long knives, sometimes the beast groans, pleads, to sink, along with their tracks, into the wet earth, and we allow them. In camp, hunters drape themselves in mosquito nets, drink champagne because the sun has set—while we sleep outside, beyond canvas flaps, listening for the approach of heavy paws, the roar of tomorrow’s prize.

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Body Image Etude #2 Jocelyn Heath She returns to the studio. The girls in the rainbow shades of leotards watch her, part as though she’s a knife sliding through a cake, watching as slips into her place in the far back corner. Out of the view of mirrors. Behind the eyes of the dancers, looking forward. Even back out of sight, she feels the gnawing hunger in her midsection. She draws in her stomach, places a hand over it to calm it down. The softness is still there, may always be there, but she must not stop trying to remove it from there. At the press of her hand, the gnawing swells into a slow soft burn. The girl in pink stands to her left as they warm up. Plié-to-relevé, always the barre work first. The girl in pink stretches to make her legs long, her body light—those bones hollow as a bird’s, suspending its body midair in flight. She feels the marrow of her own bones weighing her down, feels the thickness at her hips drawing her back to the ground. She kicks so high that she sees stars, grabs onto the barre to keep from tipping over. The swirl of vertigo passes—she keeps her control. Over her shoulder, she sees concern glance across the face of the girl in pink—of course she has noticed. Combinations, across the floor. The girl in pink turns quickly, kicks high, her skirt whirling out in a disc around her body. Beneath, carven ivory thighs that surely never touch. Nowhere does the tight elastic she wears cut her flesh into mounds like rolls in a baking pan. Flat lines, flushed skin. When her own turn comes, she shakes her head clear of pink. Her temples ache, but she knows it will become routine. It always does. She can’t lose focus now. Out across the floor, eyes roving everywhere but at the mirrors. Eyes, too many, watching her. Studying her. As she turns, she is distracted by the mirror: a tremble of flesh on the back of her arm. Still not gone. Still. She slips out of pattern and stumbles. Two things now wrong. Making it to the other side, she leans back on the barre while the world stops rotating. To her left, again, she sees the girl in pink watching. Scrutiny? Concern? She turns her face away. The burn on her insides roils up again.

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Dear Lord

Randall K Rogers Today, may my eyes, and how I use them, be beautiful.

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Mission

Ron Burch I know you love your guns. You have nine handguns, 12 rifles, and three automatic weapons that you have purchased over the years. I know you love your guns by how you sleep with them at night, you pile them around the bed, your service revolver near us like an open marriage. How you gently clean them cooing to them as if they are your children even though we only have one. I try to understand but I worry. I know how you love your guns. You became a police officer because you wanted to be allowed to legally carry your gun around with you at all times, that you would be allowed to legally fire it and now that some states say that any person can do that, you wish that you could leave the force, the paperwork and your unfriendly supervisor. If you didn't have a few years until retirement, you might leave the job. My cousin runs a bakery mid-city that might not be so bad although the hours are early and you don't like the texture of flour against your fingers. Something I read online sticks in my head: the act of a gun is to go off. That is its mission. That is what it has been built for and until it fires a bullet out of the muzzle it has not fulfilled its mission. You want to teach our son to shoot. He's only four, I say. Good age, you reply, to learn to protect himself. Hey Buddy you say to Ryan, his tiny hands covered with crayon as he colors blue the shape of a dog. He smiles and my heart breaks. I don't know how else to explain. Look at this, buddy, you say, starting to hand your revolver to him. Are you out of your mind?! It's unloaded, you reply. You open up the gun and spin the barrel: it's empty. It's okay, you say, it's okay. If he's going to be a hunter, he's got to learn how to handle it. That's responsibility. I'm unsure; he has other things to learn first. Our son throws it down, not interested. Not as interested as he is in coloring the dog's bulbous nose red. My husband tries again. Look at this, and Ryan puts down his crayon and tries to hold the gun up like his father. The revolver's heavy and black like a room without a light and Ryan's fingers aren't strong enough to hold it up without shaking a tiny bit. My husband holds up his hands, as if caught in a crime, saying, You got me. Ryan giggles and says Bang. He then slowly moves the gun in my direction, points and says Bang again until I hoist him over my shoulder, carrying him out the front door and to my car, the gun still awkward in his little hand, his lips against my ear whispering over and over, Bang, Bang.

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The House and What Happened There Kate Ruebenson Light brown in morning light in the afternoon turned almost Beagle brown the house we came back to like a favorite line in a favorite poem by some poet few recognize. The window was small but determined: Lit up my room as if the whole west facing wall were glass. I slept under the coverlet I regretted choosing against another until you complimented the obstreperous yellow geometry: then I loved it. That house has since been torn down, replaced an empty lot in its place. Days replacing days until years, until years elapsing into lifetimes. Before lifetimes we had standing in the cold kitchen by the hot stove trying our dinner. Taste tells a tall tale: sweet, but spoils (first forkfuls flirt the way I opened your mouth the way you let the cinnamon linger). Leftovers melancholy, lachrymose (not tart, no tang. It’s as if buds have forgotten how to be). In desperation I welcome sulfur. Before the eclipse we were in the bathroom doing the sink swing, towel switch, socks shuffle, head bobs called “4 in the mirror” spitting toothpaste into art forms by the drain. I sit at another foreign counter contemplating the visceral swallowing of loss. Thousandth time’s the charm I open my mouth: my mind opens too. Two correlated events like this are rare. My tongue tips towards the tooth roof (--myself age 5) I let it stay supporting the structure a secret house upheld by muscle rafters bone, even flesh stability. Wood/brick fallible, flimsy.

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The self survives. My house has been torn down since I abandoned it for summer. Where it always stood, where I always stood, where I’d have climbed to my room: the wingback, the framed leaf, the coffee circles. I’ll leave myself instead in the apple orchards as the four o’clock moon birthed prematurely turns the apples darker until I stopper to the highest ISO until my camera surrenders Only eyes that see and saw and a mind that sees what I saw. I’ll feel mostly at peace I can taste again: butter, berry, barley.

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Slaves of Some Strange God James H Duncan

from the elevated subway platform you can see the street below full of garbage and potholes and generations working so they can keep on working ten years from now, and ten hundred years after that, supposing we all live to see the next train come barreling up, sweeping the stink high and wafting through our legs and arms and spaces between our solitary crowded stance in evenings after shoes and clothes find the floor and bourbon finds the heart we lay inside and listen to the sun sink out there, fade into some far away sea where nobody knows the trouble we’ve seen, and nobody knows our sorrow    there will be awful nights when you cannot sleep, your life, your guts will twist up around your sides and neck, your legs and swollen feet, feeling sick, nausea rippling the sheets and the bed is hot to the touch like fever and I believe that you, like me, suffer so no pillows or sheets bring comfort no totems or wishes or memories will bring us the things we want, the people we need, only the people we don’t and the midnights we cannot escape look around the room now, isn’t it true that our lives are only the decorations of a tomb? I wish only for total silence, for slaves of some strange god to brick up the doors and windows and train tunnels all around this room, create a dark respite, a timeless unknown that pulls and chews on our bones, cursed by our own sickness, all of us just lint left behind by the ageless ages bring me that; there’s nothing else to bring unless you bring morning, when I will agree, let us rise and see what might come next

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Parting Song Sonja Johanson

Days after a heart is retracted we only have the ability to do certain things. We can go looking for answers in the blaze who is at fault, what the problems are, the integrity used in two sets of images, the skittish equation encompassing who we are the hardest battle when you're working on the fringe, they're on view, at once stiff and florid. Or, despite widespread public longing, we can do things that are fun and whimsical: give kisses to families handing out orange slices, examine the regenerative capacity of the heart. The beautiful taboo, unexpected terrain of your life after a death. Â Beginners welcome. Source text: Boston Globe, April 12, 2014

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Paints

Jocelyn Mosman If I could paint the same words over and over on bone, muscle, organ, deep into the core of my existence— I’d paint the story of the sparrow or the blue bird a body— parts sold separately your name until I could not forget your legacy, your promise— best friend, I’ve painted us into every poem for the past two months best friend, I’ve used your name to mean panacea I’ve used your voice to soothe the bruises black and bluing these breasts when I said my body was blank canvas, I meant it had potential so I painted a sparrow on my shoulder made sunrise its wings I painted this body with words I have yet to comprehend words that mean chaos and passion and shadow I painted this wine stained time line of adolescent-turned-adult turned artist it’s all I could aim for in this tiger scratched skin I paint this poem for the wings tucked behind my ribcage spinal cord attached corseting my heart

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for flying above the wreckage of this polyester existence with you here beside me for the curve of thigh and ass, the palm turned fist to wall the etched marble of mouth for all the disaster wrapped inside these rough edges I paint these words on every inch of my interior shatter expectations grind my reflection back into sand lose myself inside my self everything is every thing I think I am this blank canvas is steadfast yearning for the artist it knew I could become. Â

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XX

Photography Kyle Hemmings

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Yellow Chair Review: Issue 4  
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