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From the Editor This is the digital version of The Big Windows Review, Issue 5, the print version of which was guest-edited by Chris Moriarty in November 2013. My thanks to Chris and all the other contributors. —TZ Ann Arbor, MI December 2013 All contents Š 2013 the individual authors or artists. Design and photographs by Tom Zimmerman. The works herein have been chosen for their literary and artistic merit and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Washtenaw Community College, its Board of Trustees, its administration, or its faculty, staff, or students. The Big Windows Review is a literary magazine of the beautiful and the strange produced by the Writing Center at Washtenaw Community College, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We are open to submissions of poetry, short prose, and visual art from WCC students, faculty, and staff. The BWR is the direct descendant of Blood Orange, the Writing Center's former print zine of the beautiful and the strange, which ran for 18 issues from 2005-2011. Tom Zimmerman, who teaches English and directs the Writing Center at WCC, is editor/janitor of The Big Windows Review, as he was of Blood Orange. Send submissions to orange Check out our website: zetataurus press | ann arbor mi 2

Contents Michael Moriarty

Ben Baker Barbara Sofia Branca Adam Lowis

Diane M. Laboda Chris Moriarty Erica Morris Olivia Oakes Sarah Levin Simon Mermelstein ArkinKnight Winfree Sheldon Ferguson Ayowole Oladeji Thomas Cudney Tom Zimmerman

How Close The Sounding A Dream About My Future Morning Radio Speaks of Freedom Not White Trash at the Appalachian Garage Sale Poem in the Bay Breeze Of Saints and Serpentine Pilgrims, Part One Steam Traveler Freud’s Interrogation It gets washed Dear Olivia: Fabric of Thought Double Cinquain for a Double Life Untitled Comet Tanka Shining Windows Virus Fallow Field Sonnet for the Long Married


4 7 9 12 13 15 17 20 21 24 26 27 29 30 31 33 34 35 36 37

How Close Cyclops stoplights blink their only eyes. The 2am sky smothered with electric orange haze. Chris and I drive home past heavy buildings with their dark mouths closed. A man. A man leaning into his walk. A man stumbles into his lean. A man stumbles through the thick summer air hovering. We are driving and a man step off the corner and loses all volition–and collapses face down in the street– right in front of us. Are you okay. Can you call me an ambulance. When I hook my arms under his and lift— his frame is slack, skeletal, bones shifting through red mud. I prop his limp body against a lamp post and his head lolls like a balloon tied to a child’s wrist. I ask him what happened he says, I just can’t get where I’m going. The 911 woman wants to know if he has any visible injuries. Well, no, I guess but . . . I mean, he just collapsed in the middle of the fucking street so . . .


She asks if he’s a white guy, or black guy, oh, I didn’t know there were only 2 options. Maybe just look for the half dead guy on the side of the road— I don’t think skin color’s that much of a factor. He’s all scattered glances and halfbreath sinking into his own shadow. Hands probably scraped to a pulp of wet raspberries. Ash flecked beard and faint rasp of a stare sinking back and I just want them to send the damn ambulance so I say, “black guy” and he’s like, “what the hell, man?” And I’m stammering, “I know, I’m sorry, this lady’s asking . . .” When the cops arriver they ask, “Have you had anything to drink tonight?” He goes, “I just can’t get where I’m going.” “Where’s that” “I’m just going . . . home” and the cop says, “where’s home” and I think, you’re lookin’ at it asshole. And I just leave him there with the officers and I don’t really know where all of this goes. The probably drunk of high man—kissing the yellow lines on the asphalt.


Our staggered waltz to the sidewalk. His breath warm on my shoulder. The cop looking at him like a stray. I don’t know what to make of this. It could have been anyone but it was me and him. I don’t know what to make of this but sometimes the man presses his thumbs to the backs of my eyelids or I see him falling like a bridge into the sea. Just couldn’t get where he was going— which of course is such a human place to be— the night shifting its teeth and the city shifting its roads— what to think except we all teeter that close to going down burning— to a simple request: can you help me? can you lift me to my feet?


The Sounding At The unhinging of one’s consciousness from a fixed point in time at which moment the sudden and flashflooded realization slumbers through that every emotion that would have unfolded in the rest of your day is somehow happening all at once like a strobe light pulsing in your house of mirrors in your heart of chambers—the disassembly of your matter. And suddenly every autumn leaf has turned its yellow sight on you as if to say, you precious dying thing, you beautiful and violent tremor. Just try grace like this. Just try turning so gold—every day—more alone. Days Pertaining to the ache across the chest like withered ropes holding a small boat against an old dock against a huge sea, against a body, the force of its ripping. The moon’s pitch and sigh for the tide. The fish the color of your best friend’s house when you were little. You glint and dissolve in all that shadow. Battered boat. Clamor and shake. The sense of ribs gone candle wax. The tensile strength of the rope, see muscle, see snapped open, can’t you hear the strands burst at the water’s pull. Can’t you drown in just a few inches of water . . .


End The realization that the sound, song, or word that one is hearing is an external manifestation of a similar note turning in the bloodstream, marrow, guts and glow. The strange placement of a me in a body and the seashells that press their sounds against our hearing. Thanks for the sons you gave me. I don’t mind the other drivers saw me crying. It’s a good time to stop breathing It's good to hear the bells when the winds or lost men wake them. It’s a good silence to be smothered under. It’s a good pulse in the vein and breath in the lung to hum until the drummer and chorus are thunder and breeze until the self is something to get out from underneath. So much pattern for such a universe. So much song to be scattered between.


A Dream About My Future And Victor says a man can’t live unless he believes he has a future—in which my home is burning— in which there is someone waving behind the flames— and I’ve thrown enough dice to know what my hand with no luck looks like and I’ve dreamt enough nights to know what my arm with no skin looks like and there’s always a house on fire that I can’t run from and there’s always someone I love gone so silent and can’t remember what their song was. And the philosopher says, don’t say you lost it, say you gave it back. In which my mind is given back. In which my teeth are given back. In which everyone you know spinning off into space is given back. Something like that. In which, the poet’s craft, life raft, light breeze, slow collapse. In which, dreams contract until future and god are so incomprehensible they could be falling through the same silence. In which bone spur, old man, cataract. In which car crash, panic and or heart attack In which human is the only species that dies by its own hand and how human is that? Like palms clasp, prayer or holding hands, feeling each other’s heartbeats until you can’t tell whose is whose.


In which I don’t remember my last good sleep—that kind of dream where I can’t make it right like waking—like I can’t make right anything with these scattered hands and dimming brights. I can tell you I meant no harm. I can say I pray you’re okay every morning even though I don’t think anyone listens and I’m not sure if I know what a prayer is. In which I hope the wind loves our backs when our thoughts and bodies can’t—in which, I hope you’ll say something nice at my funeral. In which I don’t deserve a damn thing but to watch you go. Watch you all go. Give you back.


Morning Radio Speaks of Freedom The morning parade to work, not so bad really. But NPR announces a naturalist proposed a bill to outlaw creation Creation of robotic birds—Da Vinci dreams. Freedom is not metallic or of matter at all, No stars and stripes or dollar dollar bills y’all. Heaven in our heart. Hell in our head. And Hallmark all around. Turn the station, the morning rock-jock tells a story: Freedom is more like the video captured on a phone of Justin Bieber Asleep next to a Brazilian prostitute—not hatin’, just saying. The night before freedom is the sound of the door slamming, The smell of vomit in the back of a Yellow Cab— All insomniac—blaring its googley eyes Down dark streets to darker alleys to dark homes. Freedom is aspirational. Freedom is pain, of course. Freedom is the choices we make at IKEA and Starbucks. O, sarcasm—sad fool—bite your ankle! Have you ever dreamed of devouring yourself One chew at a time? There is no other freedom.


Not White Trash at the Appalachian Garage Sale I got $49 dollars in my wallet even that’s old Maybelle grabbed the fry pan for dollar fifty ain’t no one getting’ it from her the way she’s holdin’ it there’s a bunch people here what do I do? this a Maytag wringer washer God what would Jimmy say? I’m so blammed tired of washing my hands they old can’t get no cream this thing jus’ like new pretty and white jes’ a little dirt on the legs it’ll fix up nice Lord Jimmy’d be so mad he don’t understand a woman’s work Maybelle waiting for me she spoke her mind


I wouldn’t have to bend over no soap on my hands they wouldn’t ache so that wringer is downright new clothes would go through so smooth I wouldn’t have to stand so long my legs got veins all over them no wonder Jimmy don’t come ‘round he’ll be yellin’ if I do how much money be left for food? how will I get it home? maybe I won’t get any more spots on my hands Jimmy would like his clothes being cleaner he would like that Maybelle’s frownin’ waiting so long that lady’s lookin’ at it oh God what am I going to do? this my last chance to get something this good


Poem in the Bay Breeze San Francisco, San Francisco, Pull of the vast compass. Had to touch you, Had to tread your ground. Had to breathe in whatever air and particles of dirt lingered among the lungs of the authors of the revolution and progenitors of the revolution that will explode from the capacitor of tired apathy when it is finally BAD ENOUGH. Had to touch you. Had to wet my lips on your marine fog because you called with your temple iron bell through the echoes of ink-strains and rhythm streamed forth by my mystic fathers, my protectors and guardians of my realm of experience. San Francisco, San Francisco, Bringing my empty offering to the altar of City Lights and leaving only as hopeful that I could be counted among the hopeful who will be shelved amid your gallery of warriors. City lights, you beckon me like moth to flame, Hoping for a glimpse of the perennial grandaddy survivor who harnessed the critical mass of poetry's western Amida Pure Land big bang.


Oh San Francisco, Whose pictures in books are crowded and dense in the multiplicity of pervasive Victorian Bay Windows. San Francisco, The camera does not lens you right, skirting your hills easily... Even your Tenderloin is somewhat tender to an innocent abroad. You have not become the choking, smoking metal hell that is L.A. San Francisco, San Francisco, You are as integrated as the binding wires of your streetcar grid, and beg the question: why do others not employ your antidotes to toxicity? San Francisco, Do not let me leave you for long.


Of Saints and Serpentine Pilgrims, Part One The saintly Lamas have said, "Love every being as though it were your mother in a past life." From behind gregarious smiles come such directives, as if they were as easy as tying a simple knot. Tell me rinpoche, sunim, cifu, Roshi, Shantideva or Lord with your hand to witnessing earth, What is one to do when mother was a snake laying bare the nest to unlikely predators, blind to healing and her polished secrets reflecting a veneer, but no substitute for light? When sad eyes disaffected nourished their scared isolation at the expense of her writhing offspring. When the thermometer stood as the imposter of affection? Where do these serpentine pilgrims find their mothers? As they writhe upon the face of the rocks harvesting the skins of their molt to burn as smudges into the rubbing ash of their initiation upon charnel grounds. When a sky of scavengers was laid bare to her eggs as she busied herself


to a presence felt with an onus never witnessed never substantiated, or even a hint as obviated as the flesh and blood staring her in the face! She was a snake in a brood of puffed-up doves with feathers radiant white, with bellies fouled as rats. He was the horned one himself whose oats were never close to the belt. Scattering in the explosion like seeds in the dry and burning harvest, who never looked inward as he wore his intelligence upon the cusp of his erection. Whose own children imprinted on fading negatives were too close for light to find his ample reflection. From their union come those who burn but who cannot gamble upon a smile's swindle, nor upon love's warm deception. There are no angels, but only sultry monsters of lips and slippery silks, when a wanton surfeit of nights disappearing like alchemy powders, burn the firecracker, pace-setting memories of their own rhythms, and standard colors borne


and leave the serpentine pilgrim, breathing still, yet again, hours pass with no movement, under frost-laden rocks in the morning, before the light of dawn.


Steam I steamed his letter open, the one that came in today’s post, the one that smelled of jasmine and honey, the one I did not send. The flap of the envelope curled into a snarl, baiting me to read, choking me with my own intent. The curly words made it hard to read every one, so I read between the lines and saw the plot grow warmer there. I saw amid the steam soaked letters a flame igniting, one which I could not put out, one whose embers would never die. I steamed his letter open, the one that would make him follow, make me obsolete, make me dissolve in the mist.


Traveler Who will row that singular boat that will take me home? Will it be my beloved, or someone with a guarded face—someone who’s been there before? Home. Will I know this traveler, who comes faceless in dreams, as my guide and faithful companion across the still waters, through the mist of doubt? Will I know the place to meet him or will my journey be secret, one not written in atlases of time, not marked on any folded map tucked in my pocket? Will I still be fearful of the passing over as I am now, or will hymns that I know serenade me, will the light be soothing, the breeze mellow?


Will I make peace with my mortal soul, know that God has forgiven, know that friends and family have given grace to my passing, showered me with sweet jasmine. Will I be willing to take an oar, when the traveler guide tires, point us straight and true and take the journey as another adventure into the unknowing present. Will I see all this coming and not look back at a wasteland, untouched, and unknowing of my presence? Will I have done enough good for a smooth passage?


Freud’s Interrogation Every dream you have in life is a wish-fulfillment. Twisting down the path of memory, seasons pass by in seconds: winter, spring, summer, fall off the page and you wake up in a home that is so much like yours, but, but, but the doors go nowhere or to the room you just left. And your heart starts yammering as the uncanny as it slips into your life like a last shot of liquor or a guitar slide to the bottom of the neck But comfort! A lover waking up next to you in bed and shaking you out of this nightmare and she hushes your disjointed narrative with a finger to the lips and kisses you on the mouth


And she says “don't worry, Chris. It was all a dream� But your name isn't Chris, and even if it is, maybe she didn't say it right. And you wake up again and again and I have one question for you: When was the first time you ever woke up? Its okay not to remember, because maybe it never happened Or maybe you're still sleeping. Sleep is not the cousin of death. It is your mother. And waking is the umbilical cord being snipped from your gut and falling from the International Space Station Into the perfect blankness of night. And seeing your cord detached from everything you hold dear. Some might call this freedom Or somber reality But really it's only a dream


It gets washed Life and death begins on the corner of South State Street. Born with a black tray and sticky fingers in a room full of strangers. It’s time to play the part always wearing a smiling face. Behind the bar they are working and I am serving a room full of broken glasses. I’m waiting for the tip and the voice of my manger to say it’s time for you to move on. Everyday wiping down a new table and brushing my fears back while beer drips down my sides. If I keep moving maybe I’ll be fast enough Or I may die on the corner of South State Street. I try to glue my dreams together with sticky lime juice fingers. Hoping it will be enough to keep the performance in line. From time to time I sit outside watching smoke from my cigarette spreading through the air. Although I try to blow out all of the inner hate the wind catches my breath And I breathe it in like morphing cancer When the time finally comes for me to make my way back inside I stare at my cigarette butt in the dumpster And think of how all the trash would make a great bed for a homeless person.


Dear Olivia: Forgive me daughter for I have sinned I have sucked from your hole I have slurped through your straw I have sunken my head in your rocking chair Dribble dribble dribble spit spit spit you've licked me like I love it you cunning little bitch. Don't tell Mom she'd be besotted her little girl and husband sharing a piece of cotton I'm all gnarled up now Get Mom's dryer Take that round brush and blow me out straight smooth out my curls with your silky ass shit


If I gave you the impression that I fucked with your locks I seek your forgiveness But it did really rock.


Fabric of Thought The sounds in my head Zig and zag Herringbone Making me mad The sounds in my head Twist and turn Paisley Making me mad They eat me The sounds in my head Houndstooth Making me mad The stripes hem me in The sounds in my head Trapped by a thread Making me mad You send me to the house on the hill Hoping The sounds in my head Clothed in flannel Stop making me mad


Double Cinquain for a Double Life Wednesday. Lunch date. On the menu: Guilty conscience. Another man's amuse. Sexual frustration. Denial of impulses, of inevitability, with a side of fries.


Untitled Bloody blades and bloody wrists and bloody all around Funny drips and funny lips that are bleeding on the ground From my runny eyes to my running thighs going nowhere all the time Yearning sighs and deathly eyes at something I thought was mine but turning heads and jeering jabs have left me bent on over my mind To what is real and what is fake and now i’m forever blind wiping tears and gleaming beads of blood off my cheeks lightly hit and gently bruise my egos already weak ripping hard and cutting a dying body way too much And skin so soft but metal so hard braking with just one touch With bloody face and bloody taste and blood just dripping down Funny drops, i’m funny lost missing somewhere in this town


Comet Tanka Up in sky a big Bright fiery chunk of rock Comes shooting downward Striking the ground at high speed Leveling everything


Shining Windows It’s a dawn day afternoon Peaceful and dark Fog covering all over the huge windows Seeing everything dooms like shattered pieces Bright and early as the sun rises The blistering heat fights through the fog Moving from down south across the valley woods Suddenly it shines all over the windows Sparkling and beaming Rays of light reflecting on the colorless panes It shines so bright You could see your fingerprints Pasted on the tinted windows


Virus Regarding learning and information: Some say they are a sponge, but sponges get full and heavy; they absorb refuse and sloppily leak it everywhere. I am something else: A virus. I am as invasive and destructive as I will be. Each question cast at you is a tail fiber. Don’t let my head implant in yours, unless you have a taste for disease. I cannot be weighed, I cannot be measured! I can rewrite your paradigms. But I play nice.


Fallow Field Green leaves in the fields grow. Across the dirt road lies one fallow. Dead stalks rot in its fecund mud, But next year germs will surely bud. Green, violet and blue as the skies, Their young bodies will sing and rise.


Sonnet for the Long Married Tom Waits is on the stereo, a beer’s in front of me. I’m dicing chicken breasts, and you’re still at the stylist’s getting some relaxant for your hair. But it will come, the beggar’s prize, the dirty penny of the moon, tonight’s romantic trope we’re wise enough to fool ourselves with. Bubbles rise— within the thumping pasta pot, the flute that cunningly impounds the sparkling wine I’ll pour for you, the space between our ears where everything engenders: making love beneath the trees, the scents of earth and pine, the softness everywhere our hardness rests, the whispers, vows, and, somewhere high, a hoot.


BW R5 zetataurus press ann arbor mi

The Big Windows Review 5  
The Big Windows Review 5  

The literary magazine of the Writing Center at Washtenaw Community College, Ann Arbor, Michigan.