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YELLOW CHAIR REVIEW Issue #5

November 2015

Yellow Chair Review


Yellow Chair Review Issue 5 - November 2015 Editor: Sarah Frances Moran Assistant Editor: Kiera Collins Copyright Š 2015 ISSN: 2380-7091

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YCR NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

As of this release of Issue 5, YCR is closed for all submissions for 2015. It has been an absolutely amazing journey since its inception in May. I would have laughed had someone told me it would have grown this much in a mere six months. I thank you all, contributors and readers, for that stellar rise. The chapbook contest finalists will be announced within two weeks. The Pop Culture issue will arrive on December 15th. YCR is well on its way to that world domination it’s been speaking of. We hope you all continue on this journey with us. Continue submitting and continue reading and supporting our little space in the literary world. We will reopen for Issue submissions and Rock The Chair submissions in early 2016. Thank you for reading and for supporting small presses. YCR greatly appreciates you! Sarah Frances Moran Editor-In-Chief

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CONTENTS On The Cover: !

Joyride /Kai Coggin

Dear Samuel/Manuel Camacho!

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A Leaping Dog/C.W. Bigelow!

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What I Learned/Jeri Thompson!

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Mad As It Is, It Is Adam/Cathryn Shea!

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The Chase/Carsten Smith-Hall!

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November Cemetery/Jenuine Poetess!

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[grandmother stories]/Jenuine Poetess!

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Waco Storm/Jenuine Poetess!

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Second Person/Annabel Banks!

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Dexter/Jonel Abellanosa!

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When I Was A Bear or a Bum or a Bug/John Berry! !

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Casual Encounters/R.L. Black!

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Helpful Tips For Prayer (A Found Poem)/R.L. Black!

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Drag/Nick Gregorio! !

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The Little Shop of Horrors/Ace Boggess!

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Animal Magic/Susan Castillo Street!

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To Wash Away The Falsehoods/Heath Brougher!

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Giant Steps/John Grochalski!

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Killing Me Softly/Susan Evans!

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Real Realism: An Art Manifesto for the Disenchanted/Mark Blickley and Frie Jacobs!

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Hypervigilance/Matthew Borczon! !

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Apologies for Lesser Creatures/Tricia Marcella Cimera !

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January Longing/Virginia Farrell!

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Ascent/Catherine Zickgraf! !

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On Childhood/CaseyrenĂŠe Lopez! !

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An Alternative Bar Where Tattoos Speak Better Than We Do/Spencer K. M. Brown!

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Oil-Black/Sarah Thursday! !

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Victim/James Wade! !

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Ashes/Suzanne Langlois!

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Yes Trade-Backs/Yana Lyandres!

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City Life Timeout/Allen Forrest!

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In The Garden/Rachel Crawford!

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Record Rainfall/Maureen Kingston!!

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Blue Striped Pajamas/Robyn Ringler!

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Garbage Men/Miles Varana! !

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If I Was Not a Good Girl/Allyson Whipple! !

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Liking Cats More/Laura Madeline Wiseman!

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ECO ECHOES 263/Duane Locke!

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Against The Storm/Jane Frank!

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Passing Bloodlines/Josh Gaines!

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Rowboat (Alone I Paddle)/Brad MacNeill! !

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Random Texts To The One You Love/Alex Schumacher!

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Hum of Flight/Kai Coggin! !

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Becoming Vapor and Rain/Kai Coggin!

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Things/Marc Harshman!

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The Faceless Men/Stephanie Selander!

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Static Bodies/Isadora Jane Goudsblom!

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Childhood Retrospectve/Janet Reed!!

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The Arrival/Carlos E. Mijares Poyer!

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Your Word/Felino A. Soriano!

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From Eden/Audrey Spensley!

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The Little Book of Anxieties/M.K. Sukach! !

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Trojans/Gretchen Uhrinek! !

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Dear Samuel

Manuel Camacho I will love you forever Your brother saw you Or did he see Death? He stared into that dark empty Room whimpering scared, scared The next day they told us Your heart had stopped You were floating inside Your mother, loose weed In a fish bowl Her cervix the dirt Above your coffin She and I held hands Through a Hades of beige Halls and white laser lights above To watch you born A floppy salamander The clammy skin, the squishy chest Startlingly hard bones The bud of your penis, the open Mouth, your little tongue The placenta that failed You picked apart, immortalized In the literature, your mother as well A curious case! 300 AFP! And I’m another father Of a child like you Initiate to that grim fellowship Where is God? God has a reason That’s what people want to say God was your mother Wrapped with me in the shower Her head at my back as I wept Into the sink.

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A Leaping Dog C.W. Bigelow

Missile launching to a zenith, snapping like a whip up, up, up, before the Frisbee is firmly yanked from mid-air in your jaws. Never a fear of landing, or a doubt I’d fling it again and again until I grew bored and you’d follow me  home, head down, tag wagging, disc secure in your mouth. Relinquishing the leash was an experiment in empowerment – a caustic combination of youthful over-confidence and laziness – disintegrating as myths often do when your natural curiosity and thirst for freedom became our undoing. Ignoring my late command, the collision with the racing car shot you spinning across the road, visions of our life together flickering like lightning etching a stormy sky. Cradling your broken body, new wrinkles of guilt chased away my carefree youth. Imagining your final leap into the sky, I’m rushed through an introduction to the cruel reality of life.

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What I Learned Jeri Thompson

I blunder through life like an errant pinball bouncing off walls of men with legs unsteady, reading the Braille of my bruises. Across a square root of years I collect clues yet never solve the riddle: If I’m a shaded flower that has yet to bloom, how do I pollinate my barren heart? Mother never taught me how to use what was god given. Marriage was a regret served on a daily basis. Being vulnerable - a loser’s game; powerlessness - a woman’s role. Sexuality was an obligation whispered about in dark confessionals. Value is a topic she couldn’t teach. I learned from unexpected lips… pop songs. Now I know a queen standing next to her king is not diminished. Being vulnerable is strength in disguise. Being sexual is not a Saturday chore or a holiday gift but life and love continuing itself. What I learned about being a woman I learned from Beyoncé.

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Mad As It Is, It Is Adam* Cathryn Shea Let sap erupt               pure pastel, ! !

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[No—!!

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tie it on!]

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tug at a gut (lonely Tylenol).

No lemon,                   no melon, no garden,                 one dragon.

Did Eve [did] ! !

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borrow or rob bird rib?

[Name no one man. God damn mad dog.] ! ! !

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Dumb mud, we panic in a pew, doom an evil deed, liven a mood—

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do go to God.

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Yawn… a more Roman way…  Pope Pop.

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Won’t lovers revolt now? Raw, sexes war?

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God saw I was dog.

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*found palindromes

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The Chase Carsten Smith-Hall Sadness. Such an undervalued and ignored emotion. Which I find strange: the feeling must be familiar to every single human being with just a grain of ability to live life. Why not acknowledge its existence, why not learn from it? Sadness is a friend of mine; I’m happy he isn’t selective when it comes to making new acquaintances. He is devoted and keen on details, never too busy to turn up to spend the night with you, and the more layers you peel the closer you get to his core. For instance, it took me a while to uncover he has a twin - she is much better spoken off and almost universally appreciated, some people spending most of their lives trying to meet her, even just once. In my experience, you often have the best chance of meeting her when she’s with her brother - in fact, it's hard not to meet both, love and sadness, at more or less the same time. I'll even go so far as to say that you can't have love without sadness. It's just not possible. If you meet anyone saying otherwise, you can safely tell him or her to take off the shades and turn their search lights inwards. Compared to his sister, sadness has been given short shrift in poetry. There is no end to love ballads, songs, and verses. Even Neruda wrote 20 love poems and just one song of despair. That's why I started writing that poem, to contribute to the body of sad poetry. I think. The first part of the poem turned out well and I also managed a fair ending. The tricky bit was the middle part. I wanted to describe sadness and why he’s so difficult to get rid of, to defriend. I got stuck. It helped when I allowed myself to think of her; immediately sadness joined me, the sense of suffocation and immobilization hit me. A photo I once saw surfaced in my mind; a sumo wrestler, beaten, with his face down in the sand, his eyes closed in resignation. I got no idea why I recalled that image or where it came from, though I believe she connected it to me. Inspiration flows from her as does forgiveness from Jesus. It made me do some reading on sumo; a grand champion wrestler is called yokozuna. I wanted to use that in the middle part of the poem. But what attracts sadness to me, making me feel as though I'm being suffocated beneath a yokozuna? Why is he after me, what does he want? It's not that a yokozuna leads an ascetic life; they are plied with good food and beer on a daily basis, to fatten them, to make them bigger and more victorious in the dojo. Maybe my yokozuna is tired of water and fermented starch, looking for something richer, something novel and stronger. And I surely have such an exotic drink stored by the barrel. Oh, yes. We, my love and I, have concocted our very own cocktail. The recipe wasn’t perfected in one go, far from it. It took us a couple of years to arrive at its singular fragrance and taste. And it's not only a matter of ingredients, it's equally important to mix them correctly and serve the drink comme il faut.  The first ingredient is fear. We don't talk much about it but we have plenty we can retrieve from known and unknown storage chambers. These are always easy to find, even if located in deep cellars, by their characteristic smell, like women wearing Chanel No. 5. Fear of wearing masks, fear of losing the path, fear of living to the full. To this you add an equal measure of imprisonment. We are both shackled and chained; it's almost impossible to make a free choice and do what your heart tells you to do. The number of nominal and functional laws and cultural conventions are limitless; do this and don't do that; each commandment another brick in the invisible prison wall surrounding us. Then you pour in liberal amounts of absence. That's our idiosyncratic secret ingredient; we hardly ever see each other. For every minim of time beneath the same cloud we have a gallon of absence. This doesn't mean we don't talk in one way or another, or that we don't understand each other. We do. We are connected by a bond beyond ourselves; we understand whether we like it or not. Sometimes I think it'd be better for both of us if we understood each other less well. So also add ample understanding to the brew. The last component is compassion. She's a major supplier; I suspect a part of her to be a primordial spring of sympathy and alleviation of suffering; it comes out through her eyes and smiles and words and touches. She can't help it; she is compassion.

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That leaves only the serving. I take care of that; I am, no matter how you look at it, married to another woman. Ignoring the good start and the fair ending to the poem, I set down the middle part:

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sadness pins me down an unstoppable yokozuna. I think he's with you too. What attracts him so? He's hooked on our drink one part Chanel No. Fear one part canned freedom two litres of concentrated absence an overdose of understanding all mixed with compassion and served with dull finger gold. A heart numbing cocktail.

I look out the window, into the moonless dark. I can feel him. I know he’s out there, circling the house, waiting for a chance to make an uninvited and unwelcomed visit. Again. So underestimated, so strong, so present. You just don’t defriend him.

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November Cemetery Photograph Jenuine Poetess

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[grandmother stories] Jenuine Poetess

we were sharing grandmother stories their ways of sprinkling wisdom a most integral spice over every morsel of life i called mine Gram or Oma when I was little when our home was more German he called her Abuel or mi Abuelita when he spoke of her to me my memories trailed off as i thought about all the things i never asked about and all the things i said he told me how he felt an urgency to begin learning especially her recipes “she writes nothing down knows it all by the feel of things” but her tamales are the standard by which all else are compared he said, “i tried to learn, to watch and take notes but she doesn’t use cups or spoons only pinches and portions in her palm but her hand it’s so much smaller than mine”

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Waco Storm Photograph Jenuine Poetess

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Second Person Annabel Banks

There is a dead spider in the sink. Now, you are not afraid of spiders, be they living or dead. What you mean by this is that the harmless fellas, the lotsa-leggers, scuttling along skirting boards don’t make you scream. What you mean by mentioning this is that cultural carelessness forgot not all spiders are created equal, so when washing windows in exchange for a bed you shouldn’t have picked up the creature you were threatening to drown. No one got bitten, no one got hurt. You only realised what you’d done afterwards. Realisation as a fist-bump with death. ! An image: small brown smiler in the centre of your palm. ! A whisper: come here silly come here. You fish the spider out with the tip of a finger and wrap it in kitchen roll. You think about the loo, then consign it to the bin, which is already overflowing with microwave rice packets and brown banana skins. Now, you’re not by any means suffering from an eating disorder. What you mean by this is that you imbibe ample calories from varied nutritional sources to keep the system alive, skin clear, hair shiny. What you mean by mentioning this is that you have learnt what combination of coffee, cigarettes and online-available off-prescription pharmaceuticals keep you just sick enough to supress the urge to curl up on the floor and eat everything everything everything. Rationalisation wipes the fridge. Sits on your hands. ! An image: some hint of the slogan is coming through. It needs another coat. ! A whisper:  Now they’ll leave you alone . Once the sink is clear of spider corpse you can do the washing up. Now, you are not the most houseproud of women. What you mean by this is that there are, at any time, piles of coffee-stained clothes, empty toilet rolls, scattered and gasping half-poems, twice-read books, and pocket detritus (lip balm, chewing gum, cigarette filters) set up as an assault course in your home. What you mean by what you mean is that you can get by, and that’s enough. You privilege the things you want and so do them instead of dusting. Call it ‘honouring your talent’. Call it ‘ambition’. But there needs to be some washing up done every now and again, or there are no plates for carefully careless meals. Bubbles can be fun. Water-scalds can be antibacterial. A lack of poison makes a day stand out. ! An image: you on your knees, scrubbing the floor, hair bundled under a white cloth cap. ! A whisper:  Such a good girl.   Now you are the good girl you can be a good girl forever. Now, you’re not suggesting the personality will not reassert itself. What you mean by this is that there is an idea of the perfect version, a leafeducated salad-orderer, a striding, right-side-of-strident Good Woman whose self-loving mindfulness spills from the generosity of her capable heart. What you mean by meaning this is that there is so much to control, to project, that doing the washing up leads to ideas of being a different person. For a few daydreaming moments you can outpace the spider saver, bad-food eater, fag-yellow-finger crumb-carpet roller, and sparkle like the floor would if you would just stop writing and get down on your knees. The retaliation comes in the next moment. ! An image: you, perfect. ! A whisper: That’s not you

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Dexter

Jonel Abellanosa April 2, 2009 when he arrived home in a Box of carton with holes larger than his Curious nose. He grew as companion, Dalmatian of worries, four-legged therapist, Expert in assessing my moods.  What to Feed him drives me crazy, afraid purines Grow stones needing another surgery, His breed prone to stone formation. I sank in guilt as he held on, limping Just above life’s surface, vomiting, Keeping me awake.  I brought him to the Likelihood of permanent separation, Missed earlier chance to rectify Nagging.  I imagined almost three days Of his inability to urinate.  The vet Proposed surgeries.  I stared at the phone, Quiet in tensed hours till blockages were Removed.  I’m sure he understood  Smells of dying.  We have words To know each other’s thoughts like “sit,” “Urinate?,” “shake hands,” “lie down,” “drink,” Vast his grasp of human language.    We play with words and gestures to Extend understanding.  I feed him wellness, Yearning for his good health, but I know Zero his tolerance for my food scrimping

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When I Was a Bear or a Bum or a Bug John Berry

in a previous life I’d like to think I had lumbered near to Walden Pond and stilled Thoreau in a moment inspired, shifted his pen in another direction before rambling off to Emerson’s cottage on other bits of bruin’s business. Or my overalls and broken toe shoes and lost eyes locked with Steinbeck’s gaze from the boxcar of my shattered life, conjuring Joads and paper handbills; promising nothing at the end of the line. Or the sleep creased face of Gandhi       stung with my need for his blood and he stayed his hand, considered my life, brushed me away to plague other flesh. When I was a bear or a bum or a bug and hummingbirds danced on the Roses of Sharon stilling the bear from his rambling tasks, drawing me deep in the grace of the forest, clearing the eyes of a man’s empty hunger, filling my belly with peace, inspiring mosquito to sample their nectar— and I to remember their quickness and beauty from this place and time as Rosasharn blooms and hummingbird dances aspiring still to find their wings on my back in a life I may yet live.

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Casual Encounters R.L. Black There's a draft in our bedroom. A crack lets the cold things in, and I pull a drab robe tight across my chest. I'm reading poetry. Edson, and Simic, and Stein. You're reading Craigslist. MFW, WFM, and everything in between. You'd never look at my poetry, but I steal a peek at the naked lady on your screen. Big boobs, nice lines, only looking for a good time, no strings attached, and she swears she's D&D free. What's not to love? You're touching yourself under the sheets. I pull my robe tighter and look back at my book. We both moan.

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Helpful Tips for Prayer (A Found Poem) R.L. Black i. Use an old towel to protect your clothing while praying and to dry your heart immediately after. ii. To avoid staining your soul, apply a small amount of myrrh around your heart line. For a heart with resistant sin, apply to sin area first.   iii. Rinse your heart with cool water to maximize shine.   Source Text:  Instructions for Loreal Preference Haircolor Seed Words/Replacements: coloring/praying hair/heart skin/soul conditioner/myrrh gray/sin

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Drag

Nick Gregorio First it’s heat. Blacktop rubbing against clothes, clothes rubbing against skin. Then it’s skin peeling off in tiny white rolls. Layer, layer, a third, fourth. Then blood. A trail of it on the road. 
 The chain doesn’t make a sound, pulled taught, clamped to a trailer hitch. It pinches off the windpipe, eats further into skin the louder the engine gets. The more red, pink, and white left behind. 
 It’s the spots, next. Bursts of light, stars in the periphery. It’s one, two, four, eight. A thousand. And they’re all getting bigger, more intense. Old-timey camera flashes popping, crackling now. Now. Now, now. 
 The pain stops, but the screaming keeps on keeping on. Gulps of air mixed with exhaust, bits of the road. There’s the feeling of spitting that shit out, vocal cords grinding, lungs voiding. But there’s no sound over the macadam erasing kneecaps, beer gut, ballsack and hips. Just a raw damn throat and an image of rubber shavings on college ruled paper. 
 ! Hands are mostly red strings and bone. But they go at that chain like they could unknot the atoms holding the fucker together. Busted nails, crooked fingers, none of it matters. The chain’s going to break. The truck’ll get smaller as it speeds up from the lack of drag. People will stop, ask if they can help, call an ambulance, get off their asses and goddamn do something. They’ll say, “It’s amazing you’re alive.”
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 ! And what else is there to say than, “Once I regained control of the situation, it was nothing.” A gummy smile, face all blood and exposed bone. 
 ! But no one can unmake a chain with their bare hands.
 ! No one can stop four hundred some horses by digging their heels into the street and wishing.
 ! No one can change anything when shit’s this bad.
 ! But eventually it’ll be over. 
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The Little Shop of Horrors !

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Santa Clara Productions, 1960

Ace Boggess What stands out is Jack Nicholson seated in the sadistic dentist’s waiting room. He’s happily reading a magazine called, Pain. Sure, the film features a once-fresh story about love, the inner city, & what a man must do to pick himself up from the basement floor. A few laughs, too: gallows-style as the noose tightens. But, it’s Jack, young & playing crazy as he does  so well, who smiles his billowing clouds of bleak on screen. It’s easy to see what mobster, sane man in a booby hatch, & ax-wielding psycho he’ll become. Such charisma,  ease. He swims in madness like a barracuda trolling depths. He brings his shadow with him like an extra coat. Jack’s not a star yet, but, as with the prophecies of Nostradamus, the future makes sense after it’s in the past.  Back then, no one sees it coming, not even Jack as he strolls dark-suited into the light or grins while he scans the torture pages, his eyebrows rising on his forehead like freshly reset blades of guillotines.

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Animal Magic Susan Castillo Street If I could be an animal, I’d be a lion. Majestic, languid, letting out the occasional roar, eating American dentists as an aperitif. Or a panther, sleek and black. Or a snowy owl, hovering over barns. Or a lustruous, pampered widow’s cat. Or perhaps a racehorse running free, or a seagull eating Big Macs, shitting on unwary tourists, or a whale sounding to dark depths. But on reflection, there are no ifs, because I am animal, and glad to be. Even with all the lusts, and killings, the being vulnerable to hunters and to my own hungers.

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To Wash Away the Falsehoods Heath Brougher

That wave is on its way, is soon to crest; that storm is on its way, is soon to hit with tender violence and gale-force Truth striking straight at the throat of Academia; right at the jugular an injection occurs; the esoteric confines of elitist Academia will peacefully unclench their controls and sing out in joy as the affirmation that there is no end-all poem, no standard way a poem is supposed to be written; they’ll see the cages they themselves built and lived in, out of fear, as a safety precaution; they will see through their own illusions and this resurgence of Spirit will open up the day again, will unlock the cages and unloose the cantankerousness building up inside them; there will be such a Dionysian romantic relish and rush of revelry spurned by the cast-off of their mental shackles as they trade textbooks and syllabuses for kisses and Intellect; ; poetic preconceptions will vanish like snowflakes and dinosaurs; for there is no Apex of human thought or consciousness; this wave, this storm, will hit with a much needed dose of Independence and Equality and Freedom and Empathy and Individuality and Honesty and Compassion and that most beautiful and important Furious Vulnerability that lives within us All.

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Giant Steps John Grochalski coltrane on the cover in a sharp pinstripe suit but i’ve got fat rolls on my neck beer rolls from too many drafts hungover brooding at work i watch cassandra in her denim sundress checking out books for a put-out mom and her wailing kid she has forgotten me completely forgotten the winter of our discontent i want to tell her i cried for her in the shower new year’s day but who needs that drama now? spring is here for real summer breathing down all our necks i wonder if peter got my letter about the merchant marines does anybody even join that now? these kerouac delusions no wonder cassandra won’t date me $750 in the bank when i hit $3000 then i’m gone for good but where? john coltrane on the cover of this cd tells me nothing calvin doesn’t believe i’ll go all you need is to get laid, steve says no shit, i say cassandra sits there reading i could scream my soul but it wouldn’t make a dent $3000 and i’m gone for sure putting down the cd i wonder if heaven got an abundance of blondes or just pittsburgh that does.

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Killing Me Softly Susan Evans

Didn’t hear my name being called at first; mesmerised by the explosive scenes on the suspended TV screen, in the hall of the Saddler’s Wells Theatre in London. For a moment, I thought I was viewing a remake of King Kong but I was wrong. And it wasn’t long before I realised that this wasn’t even a movie but live news;  explosions, shockingly real... no surreal Gorilla swung from the Statue of Liberty,   no sightings of Wonder Woman, in a spin or Clark Kent, headed for a phone booth to   change into something more heroic and save the day...`Issy Evans’ my stage name;   called again. Dazed, I made my way to meet the audition panel; informing the pianist of my key for Killing me Softly... Later, my agent let me know that the    marvellous, Meera Syal et al, would be shelving Bombay Dreams for a year ‒  among fears that the show was now untimely; too culturally sensitive for release...   The day after 9/11, I returned to my temporary post at the local council, where the   conversation at the office hadn’t moved on from the price of eggs and where   I’d remain gainfully employed for a further three years; lucky to be alive, at least. ********************************************************************* *Killing Me Softly With His Song ‒ The Fugees (Gimbel/Fox)

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Photo by Frie J. Jacobs

Real Realism: An Art Manifesto for the Disenchanted Mark Blickley

TO THE PUBLIC: Pre-Ramble: In this 150th year celebration of Civil War’s end while presently in the era of Post Minimalism, Neo-Plasticism, Transavanguardism Stuckism, Cynical Realism, Neo-Geoism, Remodelism, Transhumanism, Hyperealism, Neo Expressionism and Maximalism, WE DEMAND conspicuous ethereal and raw depictions of emotion linked to a hard humanity through voyeuristic flashes that glimpse intoxicating reveries celebrating gratified indulgence and vulnerability in a dream archeology of symbolic imagery and concrete observations that define unfilled yearnings for wholeness in the dizzying orbit of eternal circles that allows a view of life at every possible angle. INNUENDO Before the disembodied slapping of tweets that have nothing to do with song, a demand for contact with absentees using letters of recommendation, condemnation and reconciliation, Before a muddy mixture of colors, referee between bright and sallow by shunning standardized tests through greater reliance on sense of smell, Before denying energy transformation renders sound waves eternal, make gasping sounds that swallow silence, thus mocking it’s very definition,

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Before drawing conclusions or any other expressive form of scratching, first identify the itch by observing hand movements that unify a dualistic mind and body, Before perverting a sense of beauty with ironic disdain, supplement medication and meditation with somersaults in the nude, Before fading into despair over non-incubated ideas, ignite creative experimentation by doing unusual things with eggs. WE THEREFORE PROCLAIM Real Realism reinforces the premise that everything transitory is merely a smile. All that we see is a proposal, a possibility, an expedient. The real truth, to begin with, remains invisible beneath the surface. The colors that captivate us are not lighting, but light as the graphic universe consists of light and shadow. The diffused clarity of slightly overcast weather is richer in phenomena than a sunny day where simple motion strikes us as banal. Real Realism acknowledges yesterday and tomorrow is simultaneous. We obliterate this time element by a retrograde motion that would penetrate consciousness, reassuring us that a renaissance might still be thinkable. This conviction is already and always present. Real Realism tracks the evolving, living alteration of a higher aesthetic based on nature. For what could be more natural than the transformative decay of time crystalized into the present? Real Realism dramatically echoes a suffocating nightmare that forces one to battle through visible layers of chaos and isolation, creating slews of ethereal night watchers on the cusp of a mortal dawn. Real Realism is convinced that all indications support that the demonic melts with the celestial. This dualism will not be treated as such, but in its complimentary oneness, for truth asks that all elements be presented at once. Real Realists join philosophy, psychology and theology in the universal quest for an understanding of dualism’s relationship to humankind. Humankind, the kinds of humans we console and confide, avoid and attract, intimidate and inspire, love and loathe, support and suspect, pardon and punish. Through Real Realism, the conceptual becomes visual, a vision not rooted in perceived differences as much the connective links that will enable a prostitute to sell her body for money and then offer it gratis as an artist model for life drawing classes, or a tough prison guard, working the roughest penitentiary in New York City, devoting his free time to sing in a classical chorus that releases the beauty of Mozart, Handel and Britten to the public. Above all, Real Realism is about human beings living a twofold existence, whose key word is fold. Dictionaries define fold as entwine. And this is the purpose of this manifesto--- to offer up an attempt at understanding how contrary, conflicting behaviors and actions often entwine via invisible threads of experience and conscience that wrap us all in a shrouded swaddling that simultaneously echoes and muffles artistic exploration and expression. THAT IS ITS FUNCTION

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Hypervigilance Matthew Borczon I thought it was enough to believe that I would go to Afghanistan to help people not hurt them felt right safe I could separate myself from the killing only that doesn’t work and death ends up in your bunk and in your shower stall its on the airfield and in every room you walk in and you taste it on your food like salt feel it on your skin like dust you can’t wash it off your hands like blood use soap use bleach use God use anything you can get them to send from home because you only thought of the ones you could save

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but its the weight of the ones who die that climb on you like 60 lbs of Kevlar and its their deaths that keeps you scanning every room for trouble keeps your back against a wall and it’s their voices that will tell you when its time to run.

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Apologies and Lesser Creatures #

#

#

for Sunny

Tricia Marcella Cimera You come to me in a dream and tell me not to cry; that you were old and never going to get better. I had no choice.   You understand. Your eyes are golden and you blink slowly as you gaze at me. Your fur is tiger-orange and white, and in my dream, it almost glows. You do not look old.   You look immortal, like I always wished you could be. I cry that I am sorry, the words falling uselessly as in life they often do. You say my name quietlythen disappear.

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January Longing Virginia Farrell I miss the green grass under my legs and days that had no ending only a softening, a slow smudge burning out beautifully against the patched horizon we memorized the art, how the candlelight moon tossed stars against skyscrapers until our eyes frosted over the sweet pine taste of your kiss this I miss, the wink of black lashes sweeping mosquitos away and the whispers of a subtle language of a love I once spoke of, the sounds we made I miss the words I forgot to say this I miss more than anything this winter is lonely, but I wait for a sigh on my neck, the sun breaking like crackling frost, your laughter your funny, strange laughter lost among the snow drifts, and the iced fields and the days that last hours, mere hours now this I miss most your laughter.

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Ascent Catherine Zickgraf Last visit, I assisted her climb to her lonely upstairs, past gray eyes in hall frames. We sat again on Dad’s old bedspread, where Mommom kissed her kids to sleep, praying over them confidence to live out their own beliefs. This visit, I speak sweet in her ear in her chair at the edge of her span from first breath to death. Yet soon they will carry her to where he waits— she’ll take her place, and I’ll plant myself deep between the soles of her hands. For the remainder of my own days, I will keep vigil to her life in me that sowed home my value so I will always know I too am worthy of love.

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On Childhood Caseyrenée Lopez

Don't you wish you knew me? I mean the real me. The me that lives under this rough skin. The me that lives under a façade of false perfection. Don't you wish you could see the tumultuous sea in my eyes? The waves that crash behind my eyes, forcing my tears to flood the nooks & crannies of brain ridges in my skull. Don't you wish you could believe me when I tell you that he hurt me & didn't stop when my childhood flashed before his monster hands? Don't you wish you could've heard him ask the 6-year-old me why I didn't moan like a woman when he stretched me open as if looking for lost treasure in some dark cavern? I wish you could rewind the clocks & see through time & undo the savagery of man against child. Of father against daughter. Of rapist against victim. I wish that when I yelled for your help the words weren't lodged in my throat like sugary sweet thorns choking me, & always reminding me (every day) how they’ve ached for an escape route, in the same way that my body pleaded with & begged false gods to deliver me from unanswered prayers, to save me from the rough hands that invaded my innocence & left me floundering on the floor, a dying fish sucking at the noxious air (the same air that breathes life into your lungs suffocates me).

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At an Alternative Bar Where Tattoos Speak Better Than We Do Spencer K. M. Brown

i walk into the bar, ready to leave and i watch all of the cool kids do a whiskey stumble across the floor as they listen to music they can’t really hear. and she comes up to me and says we might be able to really get along and have some fun while we’re at it. maybe, possibly. and we give it a shot and cold sheets warm beneath salty skin and we slouch a little closer towards enlightenment. only i find out the next day that she doesn’t read and never saw the point in poetry or sarcasm. and i’ll wait for it all to come to an end, but hopefully not tonight.

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Oil-Black

Sarah Thursday All those years I clawed at your photographs tried to scrape out ! your oil-black fingers, ! your thrift store brown sweaters, ! your creaky gravel voice For years, I called you Grandpa  ! called you kind-hearted  ! called you soft-spoken I wished to be a dog on your floor, ! a calculator in your pocket,  ! a stripe in your plaid shirt, ! a twinkle in the corner of your eye I clawed at your empty fridge door ! with one family photograph, ! with the faces of strangers, ! without my school picture —I had tried to give you my picture ! I never saw it on your door I scraped at your typed pages ! dug through Bible verses ! cut out the letters of your words ! burned First John Chapter 3 I dug for your own words ! underneath the type-written page, ! underneath the Ensenada sky, ! underneath black trees in summer, ! underneath the trail where I followed you ! into the Mexican desert —followed you like a loyal dog ! until you lost me like a stray ! lost me like virginity ! lost me like the Garden of Eden ! lost me like my school photograph I tried to pull you out of nineteen fifty-nine, ! to when I was nine, ! to when I believed in your God, ! to when I pulled on your eyelids —watched them slowly slink back ! over the curve of your eye ! sink into your deep sockets ! sink back into you

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Victim

James Wade It’s those other women-- the ones dealing with mental health issues-- who caused me to leave. I know it's cold out, and I know I don't have a coat or nothing, but they were just too unstable. I can't spend all my time with a bunch of crazies. One day they'll like eating potato salad, the next day they'll throw it at the wall, or go to rubbing it on themselves like lotion. So, I'm hoping it ain't too hard to understand why I'm here and not there. I hope nobody's feelings were hurt, or nothing like that; but I'm telling you, it just got to be too much.
 


Yesterday the short woman with the frizzy red hair snapped one of the rabbit ears off of the television box and went to whacking a nurse right on her backside. That poor nurse was running 'round, screaming for help, and that little gingertroll was giving chase, whacking away, and just laughing herself silly. I would say that just goes to show how redheaded folks really do have a screw or two loosened up, but I feel like that antenna attack could have just as easily been perpetrated by the young, rail-thin thing with the cropped black hair, or that old lady who's allowed to wear Christmas sweaters over her gown even though it's February. That's why I grabbed the gun in the first place, for protection. You don't ever know when one of these other women-- the ones battling real strong disorders-- was going to go from mellow to manic. Plus it was just laying there on table at the guard shack, and since I knew Mr. Bart was busy with everyone else looking for me, I figured I should take it-- in case I ran into any of these dangerous girls, you see. 
 


I mean, you gotta understand, these other girls-- the ones fighting off demons from a real messed up childhood-- could be flat-out erratic. Last week, Tabby, the big ole fat lady-- not the stumpy blonde with the missing tooth, but the real big one who shaved her head and ripped off her fingernails-- came through the recreation room and asked if there's anyone keen on playing a game or two of checkers. The older ladies were mostly sleeping in front of the television box, while one of the nurses adjusted the rabbit ears-- this was, of course, before they were weaponized. The rail-thin thing had given up on solitaire and was trying to draw blood with the queen of diamonds, a few more girls were painting hearts on Valentine's cards meant for no one in particular, and everybody knows I only play chess. Well, I guess none of this set right with ole Tabby, because when she didn't get an answer she started hollering and cussing and kicking chairs. The older gals didn't really seem to mind her tantrum, but the little one put down the deck and hid under the table. The nurse ran to get help, and meanwhile Tabby started ripping up the Valentine's cards and throwing them at everybody. Now, I'll admit that Tabby didn't pay me much attention during that incident; and I'll even go so far as to say I thought it was funny that all them Valentine's Day paintings ending up looking like broken hearts. But that don't mean I wasn't uneasy when it all went down. I'm telling you, those other women-- the ones struggling to come to terms with an abusive, alcoholic father-- were so volatile it was downright scary. 


It might have been easier for me, and maybe I wouldn't have left, if I just could have understood what made these ladies tick. But, even though I like to think I'm the kind of gal who knows the score, these jokers made as much sense to me as Dr. Pepper. Not the drink, but that sandy-haired fella in the long, white coat who would give me the pills those other women needed. I believe it’s actually Pepperdine or Pepperman or some Yankee-sounding surname. He's from Illinois, but he didn't pronounce the 's' because he's better than you and me. He would give me a little paper cup and start saying words that end in -salazine and -barbital. If I spit or tried to act like my jaw was wired shut, he'd get all flustered and tell me about how expensive everything is. He said, at the rate I wasted things, he'd have to start finding a way to get the cheap stuff from Canada. Overall I guess he's a nice man, and I imagine he's a pretty good doctor too, for those other ladies who required his help. Maybe that’s why I feel a little guilty about being here and not there. When he wasn’t giving me the pills, he was talking to me about being my own person and not being a victim of my past. Like I said before, I fancy myself a pretty sharp customer, so it’d be a lie if I were to say I thought this is what he meant. I know it’s not. But I had to leave anyway, and I needed the gun to defend myself against those other women— the ones who couldn’t cope with being raped by their old man. Those women were just too unpredictable. Not like you. I knew you’d be here. Because it’s after three o’clock in the morning. Because you don’t have anywhere better to be. Because the bars closed an hour ago. Because there’s always more booze at home. Because some chicken-shit letter they gave me had this address on it. Because you don’t have a little girl to beat on. Because you don’t have a daughter to… ..well, I was dead-set on leaving that place, and I thought I had the right of it. But being here now, with you in that chair, and this gun in my hand-- I guess me and those other women ain’t so different after all.

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Ashes

Suzanne Langlois When my uncle was killed, my father was 3000 miles and a few differences of opinion away. Yet, he was the last one to hold his younger brother’s body, as the ashes sifted through his fingers to be lifted and scattered by the wind. How small the disagreements must have felt then— how light and inconsequential.

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Yes Trade-Backs Yana Lyandres

I measure time in how many paper towel rolls I have left and right now that's three. I can’t wait to give back these sparkling city sidewalk streets, its rats and grit all along its seams trade in that smell of garbage-piss— and who knows what else— the glitz of the glass, puddles—oceans—on street corners for the rubber turf of playgrounds in the suburbs, that trimmed-grass-and-bushes breeze, shop-owners that know my face in this small town, my old room with its frillies, pink walls— all the synonyms for “missing” I don’t write down. I can’t forget what I’ve grown up learning— that clean is something I can control, and so again I start to measure time in paper towel rolls and how many I have left. For now that’s two, but seems more like one and a half.

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City Life Timeout Ink Allen Forrest

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In The Garden Rachel Crawford Leave the smooth, unblemished, and shapely alone. Choose, instead, the full blown, the heavy fruit with lovely velvet bruises dark as sin. Sweetness and rot are blood kin.

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Record Rainfall Maureen Kingston

From my kitchen window I watch a skin-flick unfold in my late-summer garden. It starts at dawn, the randy cucumbers rolling into the double D tomatoes. At noon the cat o’ nine tail scallion lashes the sugar beets to ecstasy. And at dusk the sly zucchini and yellow squash give me the slip, disappear into the cottonwood’s shadow—two botanical berries up to no good on the down low. I wonder if my fall crop will behave any better. I worry about the pumpkins’ Baby Got Back behinds. What effect might all their twerking have on my excitable celery root, on my simple-minded butternut squash?

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Blue Striped Pajamas Robyn Ringler

Purple-haired dreadlocks boy. Thin Haynes undershirt with cut-off sleeves. Cocoa-skinned, black-eyed girl. No shoes or eyelashes. Barefoot androgenous child. Anemic face. My hands are mine. Feet, too. But this soft sofa sinking my ass to the floor. Not mine. These blue striped pajamas—I wear them every night. But the woven mat splintering my feet—I’ve never seen it. The red curly hair on my arms. Mine. Tiny Chihuahua with butterfly ears yipping at my ankles. Does not belong to me.

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Garbage Men Miles Varana

I looked into my coworker Steve’s soul the other day and I saw darkness, or rather; the absence of light. Steve drives the truck with hands wrinkled by competence. Without lifting his eyes from the road, he spits into a plastic cup, then returns it to its cupholder. The cup is almost full already, and it’s only eleven o’clock. He drives fast, very fast. So fast that at first I am nervous we’ll crash. We work unseen in the middle of the city, unseen by easy souls lost in coffee shops and lazy boulevards. The only thing they might notice about us is the smell- grime and gunk and mouldy cardboard and cheap wine and rotting carp- that coats us head to toe like the official cologne of overconsumption. I’m sure Steve takes that smell home to his wife every evening. I’m sure they both lie in bed pretending not to smell it. We pass an attractive woman standing in a park with a small boy, who’s crying. ! “One hundred percent genuine milf,” proclaims Steve. “But if that were my kid, I’d slap the shit out of him.” ! “He’s just crying,” I say. ! “He’s just a spoiled brat.” Because it is only my second day, I hold my tongue. After all, I have to work with this guy all summer. Steve asks how living in Hawaii is. I tell him. He asks if I’m getting much ass in college. I am. We go to Gino’s for lunch. I make sure to wash my hands thoroughly before eating. Between mouthfuls of sandwich, Steve informs me that he grew up in Northern Wisconsin. He tells me that he loves it up there, that the air’s so fresh up there, that the woods are endless up there. ! He doesn’t tell me about the meth up there, or about his mother, or his childhood, or rather; the absence of one. ! When we finish eating, Steve empties out his dip cup in the parking lot of Gino’s, and we continue our route. Steve sings along to 80s songs on the radio. His voice is gold. The afternoon passes with a slowness reserved only for those who hate their jobs. Sunlight pursues us relentlessly, and the back of the truck becomes a mobile broiler oven, flooding the cabin with the smell of superheated diapers and other such olfactory delights. Steve makes comments about cars we see on the road. ! “She’s a sweet little thing,” he says, referring to a black Audi convertible. “I’d like to take her for a spin.” He asks me what kind of cars I like. ! “The good kind,” I say. ! The hydraulic compaction lever jams. ! “This fuckin’ thing again,” Steve complains. ! “That fuckin’ thing again,” I say. ! He’s too busy fixing the lever to notice my tone. We finish our route early; there are still forty five minutes until clock-out time, although it feels much later. Steve asks if I’d like to see the largest house in Madison. Sure I would. We drive to a subdivision near the city limits and park in front of the house. It is very large. We sit and look at the house and imagine the lives of the people inside. Steve tells me that all the prominent Madison hockey families live in this neighborhood. I didn’t know there even were any prominent Madison hockey families. Steve says that only the smartest, happiest people live on this street. I ask him what he would do if he owned a house here. ! “I would sell it and take care of my family,” he murmurs after a moment. ! “Really? What about the happiness?” ! “I said that only the happiest people live here. I didn’t say it’s the houses that makes them happy. They can be happy here. I couldn’t.” ! “Why couldn’t we be happy here?” ! “I don’t belong here. I have what I have.” Steve spits into his cup pensively. “I’m good with it.” ! On the sidewalk across from us, a man in tight athletic clothes is stretching. ! “He must be training for the Iron Man,” I guess. ! “More like training for his next boyfriend!” Steve exclaims, and bursts into raucous laughter. He turns towards me, and I acknowledge his joke with half a grin. He looks me right in the eye. Steve thinks he sees friendship, or rather; the absence of ignorance.

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If I was not a good girl Allyson Whipple I'd blow off work tomorrow leave right now, half-dressed drive to your home, kill the headlights, wait for your wife to find distraction, take you west, because I haven't learned to stop romanticizing that direction. And because I would be bad, I would not listen to your worries about your job, or any of that damn responsibility, or the parts of your life that have nothing to do with me. Because I know the pavement lures you too, and I know you've never been immune to my body. And since I would already be bad, I would not wait for a hotel.  I'm a cheap date. All I need is a space headlights can't reach. And when we were done, I would keep driving, because cars are not for sleeping; stars can keep you awake if you let them, and even if I was tired, I'd still be fleeing the wrath of your obligations, the good girl I had shed—left on the floor hours before.

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Liking Cats More

Laura Madeline Wiseman The more people I meet, the more I like cats, I tell you this and you get mad because you think I should like all people all the time, instead of more cats more of the time. I’m showering because we just got home. I need to wash the work cat out of my hair, the outdoor cat from my skin, the local bus cat from my eyes, to change from city cat clothes to clothes of apartment. Last month, we quarantined the cats to the bedroom. I’m sleeping the living room floor in this test, all the while you’re dusting, vacuuming, wiping the walls. I can’t help. We divide chores along claw lines. My work was always cats— cat litter, cat food, cat brush, cat tend. Now it’s a series of tests to de-cat our life. All I do is read books, try tips, take this shot, swallow that liquid, tip my head back for the neti and my palm open for vitamin C, listening to the cats moving stuff around our bedroom. You ask when I’m going to see the allergist again. You want more permanent proof, as if the scratch wasn’t enough. I ask when about the cats. I say, I’m a vet. I’ll can find them a good home. Maybe my mom’s? I’m tired of cats, tired of their nine lives that last twenty of my own, tired of dead cats under the futon, dead cats in my dreams, tired of animal control knocking on all of the apartment doors, when everyone knows we’re the ones with one more cat than is legal. When they knocked before, I answered, I’m a vet. I’m caring for a client. The animal control man glanced at the olive trees wheezing with hummingbirds. I pointed to the desiccated geckos on the apartment sidewalks, mentioned the orange snakes we keep seeing in the palo verde trees, asked if it’s true about the mountain lions creeping closer to the city due to the wild fires on Mount Lemmon. He looked, he listened, he shrugged. When he left, I closed the door and turned to you. I want to give you the net, brown uniform, fast, silent shoes to nab the feral cats in our complex, the mountain lions in the foothills, and our cats too, to load them and drive to some safer place. I look at you on the futon, cats cradle tangled on your thumbs. The cats hold my tongue. If I told you this, you’d get mad at me, again, for the need-a-break-from-people-thing you think I have, when really, we’re both catatonic about this cat situation and I keep taking this tonic and that tonic, hoping something will cure cat. You glare at your hands, ones that were once our tonic, our friend. Remember how we held them as we walked single-file along cliff tops, the Irish Sea below us, the beaches full of barking sea lions, their pups pale and spotted.

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ECO ECHOES 263 Duane Locke There is so much verbosity spoken vaingloriously By virtuosi of vacuity. Verbiage is virtue. Verbiage is an opalescent opiate. I often speculate on how many understand the words They write or speak. I don’t mean just what the human stupid call “big words,” “hermetic words, “ or “esoteric words,” I mean ordinary, everyday, quotidian language—monosyllables, Slang, and so many two syllable word As “physical,” “spiritual, “ “mental,” “material.” Is everyone just a fabulist automatically and unawarely Manufacturing through the mass production of his mouth And vocal cords mendacities. Does anyone understand what he is talking about. Is all Supposed communication a type of vocalize.  Does the Utterer of words understand the words he utters. I once in Boston heard a bulky man assert he was a An antidisestablishmentarianian, a deep imagist poet, And thus he knew that the absolute truth was that of Magical materialism. I did not understand what he meant by “magic.”   Did he meant something “supernatural” or “natural”— This or other worldly—terrestrial or celestial. Did he mean something that disobeys natural law, Of as David Hume would have that is was a natural law That has not been discovered yet.  Perhaps, he Did not understand what he was saying, but Just repeating what someone else had spoken Into him.  As for “materialism,” I have never Found anyone who really understands what “matter” or the “ the physical” is. Most follow the Popular, diluted scientific belief that matter is Inert—the earth is not panpsychic, or pantheistic. Descartes can be blamed, so can the urbane pachydermatous Solipsists, who  are also guilty and criminals.  But in the past It was believed that matter was animalistic— Either naturalistic or as a signature Of the advertised monochromic  divine creator. I tend toward the psychophyicalist,  but I’m only quasi And approximate.   I like Leibnitz’ “Every stone Has a petite perception. “  Inside, limestone Is the mot juste that is the metaphor for lost water. But I still cannot with a precise, clear and distinct statement Say what the “physical” really is.  Neither Can anyone else, except the insane, or one Blinded by his narcissistic ego so strongly and self-deceived That he is a believer of absolute, universal truth.

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“The “physical” is the celibacy of the cerebral.” “The “physical “ is the semivorous life style of purple fiches.’’ “The “physical” is the nocturnal domicile of the eremite.”     The naive and “dumb-downed” educated will say “Look in your dictionary, but the learned know That long ago Ludwig Wittgenstein discredited This assurance, for the temporal and tribal modifies The fixed.  We just play language games and always Lose.   I once had a student who was so stupid he thought He was a deconstructist.  He boasted, I have studied “the rigorous thought of Jacques Derrida.”  This Was after he had a course in “Glas.”  I don’ think He understood Hegel or Genet, or what they were Doing together in opposite columns.  He exposed His ignorance and simple-mindness when he asked For “definitions,” which Derrida and host of others Had discredited.  Definitions, just as “themes,” Are only reductive falsifications and never correspond To what they are supposed to correspond. “Definitions” are sedentary secretary coping The amnesia of an obtuse ideologue. Definitions are like a fake map that only leads in The wrong direction.  When you arrive where You never meant to go, you spend at least Twenty five years of your life doing noting But verbally rationalizing you are in the exact Location where you intended to be. Once upon a time before I learned that Most of the fashions, the art, the poetry, the ideas, The beliefs, the values, the life-styles of the Twenty century were mostly lies and retarded one From fulling realizing his or her humanity. I actually thought I knew that the word “transcendence”  meant. Then I reread Immanuel  Kant’s version of The “transcendental  synthetic a priori apperception,” And now I am not sure. Most of our children are taught by our “dumb-downing,” Nescient, sequacious school  teachers  who ex cathedra State that “transcendence” means a “ not a focus On this earthly life, but a focus on “God” and an afterlife.” This meaning attribute to the word “transcendence, “has behind it Balagangadrara belief that primitive human were Essentially religious, and is enforced, perhaps, More secularized, by Jung and Eliade that religious Need is protypical.   For Years,  I have been trying to understand what Emerson meant by “Transcendentism.” I usually give up and go across the street to the sacred grove In an unsacred  fishing and sports public park to watch the red spots On the heads of newly born black bodies of baby gallinues, I am entranced and enchanted by this observation Of natural miracles, the birth of a gallinule, and Natural mystery, their relationship to water, the sky, the earth And their parents.

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Against the Storm Jane Frank

Outside, the storm sweeps away anything not tied down, branches and leaves, plastic and paper but a silver web, spider written, heavy with rain, still holds to a tree. Inside, I’m scrolling back, through a text labyrinth, everyday prattle, kisses in constellations, poems: wild irises beside rivers of sleep. I know that no matter what else dissolves, words will hold.

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Passing Bloodlines Josh Gaines

! ! “Bad idea,” you’d said, Gulf of Mexico to your knees blue crab under my foot. I ignored you, said, “You can go on,” and reached unblemished beneath the water for the safe back flippers. The crooked-smile scar across my hand proceeds every decision I make now without pause. I feel it there, measured by winces, glances away from my pink-white wax-melt line, a proud ornamental ruin. Was it pride in your laugh when I tore my failed hand from the water, the claw in deep, flinging salt and blood, your smile, a relief beneath multiple scars across your own crooked nose? As if in failing to protect me, you knew we’d survive: “Now I can go,” you said, and were, For the first time in my life, no one but yourself.

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Rowboat (Alone I Paddle) Brad MacNeill

In a rickety rowboat down dark waters, sailing between high cliffs with no peaks, alone I paddle without sons, without daughters. Into the black where silence shouts, no one speaks, saturnine currents drift me further away from love, from life. On a desolate beach sullied by grey clouds asphyxiating a drowning sun, no hands sombrely wave goodbye with grief from a mourning wife. In this leaky rowboat, alone I paddle with a lump in my throat and tear ducts pushing out tears like miscarriages from apprehensive mothers-to-be. Amazing how never having someone to lose could bring so much sadness. Anxiety steady as a metronome, fear the pendulum I've always known; in its hypnotic rhythm I've been mesmerized by its praise for utter madness, for how else could insanity be defined by something so precise? And so in this rowboat directed by the insight of crow's nest eyes, black waters carry me towards the Stygian mouth of infinite space; there I will reflect on my life the fading phantasm, waving as my vessel slowly capsizes into the swallowing chasm.

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Random Texts To The One You Love Alex Schumacher When it’s all over/it won’t be the flowery remarks/full of sugar/spice/piss/and vinegar that remains as the ultimate testament to the object of your desire and affection. No/the true legacy will be found on the dirty path littered with miscellany quips and phrases/adequately exemplifying just how simpatico you were in mind/spirit/body/and humor. No mere hallmark memory could surmise the twisted/intertwined/and complicated journey together nearly as well as abstract texts plucked from the midst of conversations equally comprised of emotional depth and bullshit mundanity. •!

Miss you. Feeling like hell today…

•!

I think we’re good otherwise. Unless the Evan Williams is 9 bucks or less.

•!

Most of the time it’s a shit show.

•! ! ! !

Did you hear about the accident on northbound 101? A lane and onramp are closed at San Miguel Canyon Rd due to a pedestrian-involved accident/so you may want to check traffic before you leave.

•!

No/that’s very true. This phone enjoys fucking with me.

!

Apparently my gums are incredibly inflamed… Which is why they bled.

!

You’re wonderful! I just wish I could actually make that dream come true.

!

I don’t think they’ll mind at all. And yeah/that’s what I am worried about as well… Barf/and squirts/and what not.

!

A little paranoia is not a bad thing… Especially in light of recent events. Honestly/I don’t even care about the stuff. Stuff is replaceable.

!

Oh/and just FYI/I did get a chance to get a fresh bandage and Neosporin on the wound.

!

I got beans from across the street/but maybe if you want hips and guacamole or something…

!

So/my sister just sent me this picture. It’s our dad. With his new husband.

• ! ! • ! ! • ! ! • ! ! ! • ! ! • ! ! • !

•! !

I wish I was something better for you. I wish I could support you in the way you deserve.

There is not a birthday/anniversary/or holiday sentiment in existence to encapsulate the broad spectrum and infinite expanse of real love. Only on the most intelligent of telephones are the highs and lows/the divine and the repulsive truly and wholeheartedly captured.

50


Hum of Flight photograph Kai Coggin

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⌘Becoming Vapor and Rain #

#

“I want to do with you what spring does to the cherry trees.”- Pablo Neruda

Kai Coggin Coax you open with soft color, pull you back from winter’s dead lips, you are naked, stripped and I will warm you with the sun I hold on my brow-line, fire that wants to burn your name into the hips of the earth. I offer you this open heart, bury it underneath your branches, until I root into your roots, until we tangle into forests of wanting into a system of knowing what only we know, nourish, soil, earth, mouth, dear love, I want to crack open the sky with my tongue against the breeze, I will be a cloud that follows you to the ocean, a loyal fog, be the river that meets me there, and we will merge, make a beautiful steam, evaporation of desire, evanescence of impulse and lust, we will rise as vapor together into the mouth of blue, we will come down like rain, our atoms, our bodies, becoming joined water, filling all the empty hollows with our deluge, making pools that reflect the moon, this is union, love.

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This is how I found you when all I had was the taste of wanting on my lips, I followed the water, I flowed into everything until you floated up into me, you are my budding hope opening, blossom of all that is beauty, heat, heat, we will rise like heat into the upward draft of zephyrs, and there we will carry on this dance, this perpetual cycle of becoming lifted vapor and gentle rain, rising and falling live the heaving, breathing earth, making everything wet and new with our love.

53


Things

Marc Harshman Until she got glasses, age thirteen, ! she had not seen ! the clouds, their whiter mountains ! and it was this she swore to her mother ! ! gave no other ! ! choice, no other ! ! destiny but witchcraft. No need for pentagrams and hexes, no spells ! but how to tell   ! what her eyes saw beyond the horizon. ! Just that. This, she once told me, only a boy ! needing a toy, ! lost, and needing found, and it was. This was how it worked, she’d said, ! and so it had, ! worked well:  my fire truck in the green weeds.    ! Found. But later when the hue and cry went up, the knives out for her, ! for her those same clouds ! first glimpsed with the science of simple eyeglasses, ! those clouds came to ground, returned ! a good and blessed fog. ! Saved. She walked within.   A good fog, she walked within, and blessings followed, ! and I knew for sure ! she had for sure ! seen again the horizon’s true-telling end.   Never saw her again.   Still, she leaves me things, special things, things ! to open doors where no door has ever been.

54


The Faceless Men Stephanie Selander

Her son only removed the mask when it was time to eat. All men eat, of course. Even men masquerading as ghosts. Still, every time her son peeled back the waxy white paper from his cheeks it startled her. She’d become so accustomed to the garish sight of the wide, red-painted smile that now answered her every question, that the flesh and blood boy hiding beneath it could be disarming. There were days she half-imagined that this mask was how her son had always appeared to her, though the frequency of these thoughts troubled her. How are you? she’d ask the mask each day. Fine, the mask would reply, smiling wide. What did you do today? The mask would stare up at her with slitted eyes and smile wider. Nothing. This became routine. As the mother prepared dinner each night, she’d berate herself. Surely a mother knew her son well enough that a mask meant nothing. She began to test herself before dinner. What colors had her son's eyes been at birth? Green? Brown? Hazel, surely. Did he have dimples when he laughed? Were his front teeth crooked? A mother ought to know. Every night when his face was unveiled, the mother beheld the living, breathing boy underneath the waxy exterior and compared it to the boy she had once known. Were they one and the same? At times she wondered. Too often her memories didn't match reality. Why the mask? she dared to ask one day. I don't like to be looked at. People are more likely to look at a man in a mask than they are to look at a man without one. You mean they will look at you, right? They’ll judge you for having a masked son. The same way they judged you for Dad. The painted smile then became unbearable. She’d seen it fixed upon his father's face too many times, the mask mocking her from across the bed as he fell asleep. Every night of their marriage she would reach towards it, uncertain. Could she pluck that cursed mask from her husband’s face? Was it even possible to do so? For nights and nights she’d tossed and turned, torturing herself with inaction, until finally she gripped the mask in her slender fingers and pulled, her nails prying into the paper like knives. The mask had screamed. Thrashing in her hands, the bloodless mask stared up at her and screamed and screamed and screamed so loudly that the whole house shook with the red pulse of its anger. Her son had a face, back then. Yet when she turned to face her husband, she saw nothing—not eyes, not a nose, not a mouth. Just a blank expression of skin stretched across bone, infinitely worse than the mask shrieking in her hands. In vain, she tried to place the mask back upon her husband’s face, but it was no use. A man without a face is merely a body. A body without a face isn’t a man.

55


They covered his corpse with a sheet for the viewing. She could’ve buried the mask with her husband in his grave, she supposed, but she was a woman who left nothing to chance. She took the mask to the fireplace and watched it burn, the paper devouring itself so that its cruel smile folded in and shrunk into nothing. She had thought then, naively, that she had won. Morning came, and the mask had merely found a new face to take from her. Her son walked in with a plastered grin, spreading from cheek to cheek in that hideous ruby color. How are you, mother? the mask had asked. Fine. The mother’s voice faltered as she leaned against the wall. I’m… fine. What did you do last night? Nothing, she breathed out in a rattled whisper. Nothing. While she watches her son eat, the mask watches her from its place upon the table. She can sense its unsettling gaze scour her skin, lusting for the gentle curve of her cheek, tracking the frightened flicker of her eyes, the faint tremble of her lower lip. A mask without a face hungers for what it cannot have. It waits. It waits.

56


static bodies

Isadora Jane Goudsblom love inks dries up runs out the wrinkles in our skin, and our increasingly stained duvet cover a wedding gift close your eyes absorb the ire drops trickling down your cheeks an ancient invention where the real thing has ended. don’t wait for the sudden disappearance we linger, that’s our relentless flow and oh so permanent.

57


Childhood Retrospective Janet Reed

Back to the birth of the ratted beehive and the fire of the Corvair convertible, the agony of new math done at three, the bookmobile waited at the corner, its exhaust a sweet-sour mix of soft serve and machine oil, the idling wizardry of its engine like wet earth and patchouli conjuring word adventures like holograms, the Oculus of possibilities on every page: Amelia waving goodbye from her cockpit, wardrobe portals, magic rings, and old clocks holding danger-dispelling secrets, heroes far from Buck Owen’s twanging tiger on LP, its tail plain to see in the cracks of Elvis’s  blue suede shoes in the house of lunar eclipse where pandemonium pushed open church doors -their call to prayer and discipleship imposed on bed wetters and day dreamers. In his black suit, skinny tie, and cheap shoes, God, on his dais, shouted hallelujah and marked sins in his book with black ink laying low the liars in the lake of fire. Loving Leviticus, preaching Paul, he made wounds in the fertile fields where King James landed. Before wounds grew scars needing a surgeon, winters whetted illusions of salvation; before the Pinto proved combustible and malfeasance the new black, fuel tanks shattered the silent sureness of belief. Before Lazarus dipped his finger to cool a rich tongue and Mary Magdalene was pardoned but never quite forgiven, there existed a penumbral figure at first arabesque then dancing in guilt.     !

58


The Arrival Carlos E. Mijares Poyer In the sky the winged arrows swing in peers of lightthe anemone delights a one-tone rainbow as fallen in the deepest of blue oceans. I do see you comingfar away, sparrows cajole trees and imaginings in a home a candle-light suffers time and the arrival of new beginnings. Lately, as it seems one has commenced rituals and foreseen desires and world theatres I can not begin to impress a thing as my own link to that which has been and approaches, softly... Not even the subtle movement of air-as-rain comprehends the careful tenements of this end or its quiet advance The wind carries the same elements untouched by fingers or eyes and the dream conjures it always interprets and conjures/.../

59


Your Word Felino A. Soriano Felino, please spell the word calendar— my eyes a happy splay of knowing and expecting . . . ! !

the internal shape of this word —one used on this Friday to encompass studying and readiness . . .

calendar:    c     a     l     e     n     d     e     r                                                                                                                                                   no, I am sorry, that is incorrect.  the a threw its boomerang into my embarrassed ontology     returning with reflectional alteration,     knowing and expecting to include the baseline for the my mind’s unexplained mistake

60


From Eden

Audrey Spensley Something like the sound of a cherry snapped from its bending branch, when your thin fingers flex on the wood and I hear your ribs purring. We were fasting for a week but kept walking into the woods past the stone church and the gate. Because the cherry was scarlet and our mother was a thin thumbtack in the fold of a white mattress. It’s not about the skin but the things that live beneath it. Beneath it I watch your fingernails teasing the skin of the cherry, its ripe-rose mouth. You lips changed when touched by the light. Light blushing the tree branches just to strip them down in winter, the new and naked sky. We talked about hunger, how wet it was, how clean. Who would call us home now? My ribs cracking like frozen branches in winter. I always thought there was something more real than our bodies. But there was only the cherry— trembling in the breeze, your fingernails caressing a groove. Sweet as the inner core of a baby snake.

61


The Little Book of Anxieties M.K. Sukach

If all the pages are on fire, well then, that's a difficulty, but you can't read it otherwise, e.g., each gracile nerve ending sprained at the fingertip, which pressed to the tongue returns to the book by rote, just suffers and suffers no matter the healing water in which you were baptized, thrown, dunked  held by the heel, there's always a ledge you don't see in the plot, just enough gas in the air to ignite the building, and you can't just skip to the end before the bridge gives way, or, after a critical look, you misjudge the last rung and your bone sticks out like a blood spot in the yolk, you'll want to touch it, sheath it like a book mark... needless to say you think a lot about the elasticity of your Achilles tendon.

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Trojans Gretchen Uhrinek I want the kind of ass you dream about falling into ! night after night. I want to fill your daydreams with butterflies ! and your stomach with warmth. I want to be your Helen of Troy. Love me unconditionally ! so the serrated blade of loneliness ! ! skips a notch ! on its way into the ether of my ! ! impossibly soft !

collapsing chest

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Yellow Chair Review: Issue 5  

Yellow Chair Review: Issue 5 (November 2015)

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