Saturday, August 4, 2012


by Elisabeth Smith Wood

I didn't want to want him
just because he never called me someone else's name.
I wanted to snub his squared off fingertips that
covered his winter face.
I needed those hands to feel lizard commanding and
that face should have been goombah stupid or
truculent or a little too feminine.
I needed to remember that no dignified human
would sit on his sofa no matter how the cushions were turned.

I wanted him to be damaged, diseased and resistant to
my music. He should've used pretentious words that
would make me itch to slap him.
He should've smelled of sweat and cynicism or
filthy laundry and
he needed to never reach for his wallet
or my hand.

I willed him to be a lamb, a wuss or just
some fat Buddhist with a limp ponytail and
Oh God, I really needed him to be a lousy lay so
I could move on, relieved that I'd escaped the
ridiculous mistake that he would certainly become.

I wanted him to be haggard and spent, jaded
and unforgiving. I set out to hate him or ignore him,
to run from his crumbling corpse but
I haven't gotten what I wanted at all.

Explosion in the afternoon

by Marian Veverka

Our old man can explode with anger
Over the smallest dumb thing
Like a gallon of milk left sitting on
The table
The fridge door not closed all the way
Someone’s shoes sitting empty in
The middle of the living room
And the TV still on

He’d use real cuss words
So loud the neighbors could hear
And scream back for him to shut
The ----- up
And our baby sister woke up crying
And mom yelling because we woke
The baby

I’d take off running through the back yard
Down by the old bridge where the train
Tracks crossed the swamp
And imagine myself a hobo swinging aboard
A slow train to China
Or any place far enough away
Where all you’d hear was the chatter
Of crickets in the tall grass

The ghost of a whistle from the days
The trains still ran.
There weren’t so many babies
And Mom and Dad would shut
The doors and be as quiet as the night.

galileo’s finger

by John Grochalski

the two shithead americans
touch 18th century artifacts
in the galileo museum
then laugh when they get yelled at
by one of the docents
it’s hard to imagine a time
when intelligence
and artistic license ruled the earth
stranded here in florence
and tripping over every cobblestone along the way
i try to picture leonardo walking around
with math and science on his mind
or a young michelangelo
on his way to worship at
the basilica of santa croce
but i’m inundated with american boys
strolling down the street
wearing boxer shorts showing
the david’s cock on them
chanting and laughing
and making a spectacle of themselves
in that absolute american way
so it’s hard not to think of the these giants
as more ancient myth
than actual flesh and blood
but they must be real
or else the history books be damned
and all of this architecture and sculpture be for not
i like to think of these masters
in the florence of their day
donatello watching the sunset over the arno
dante sitting in his spot and brooding
galileo tinkering with telescopes
and seeing the moon for the first time
instead of dead and cut to pieces
by the catholic church
his middle finger and one tooth
left for posterity in a glass jar
for american girls to ewwwww at
before begging their mothers
to buy them a gelato and a leather handbag
from the san lorenzo market.


by Quinn White

I paint my face like a duck and you
you paint your face like a mouse and you
you paint your face like a dog.
Don't forget drop cloths.
Keep an eye on the trash. At all costs avoid
Penny's beach trinkets: the wooden sailor, the Ziploc
of ocean water, a dried seahorse, a snow globe.
You brought the beer?
Right, a duck would bring brandy. Hold on,
she's got my snifters stuffed with newspaper.
Faces on. Episodes queued.
Nobody take a picture.
Well, somebody has to take a picture.
Why can't we be duck, mouse, dog
and not tell?  Do your Donald.
            Who's got the sweetest disposition?
            One guess, that's who!
I stand, wag my white ass feathers.
            Who never, never starts an argument? 
            Who never shows a bit of temperament?
Penny needs to put in air purifiers or something. I'm winded.
            Who's never wrong, but always right?
            Who'd never dream of starting a fight?      
Take over. I need my inhaler.
Mouse-face pops up, brandy in hand.
            Who gets stuck with all the bad luck?
            No one... awawawhahaha!
You're nailing it. For a mouse, you're classic duck.
            But Donald Duck.
This is a good one. We all sit down.

Names in My Phone

by Jordan Jamison
















by Sana Khalesi

beneath the spell of your hazel eyes breathing
when right-or-left choices of
death or dying
a glare
a caution
with a respite on the cushion of your lips
or when
the innocence of your heart
my only belonging
and departs
with a 4-foot hole
in my still stale moth-eaten soul

oh trail me
regale me
seek this sick-me
with your equilateral longing legs
seek your poison snogs
on my lost-in-smoke-and-ashes lungs
and turn this crude cremation
into Louisiana Iris
all the bridges
from Shiraz to Paris
memories, reveries, treacheries
all gracious photos
and post-hardcore songs of EMERY

while nodding your hideous head
while sipping your afternoon coffee,
while listening to your only insanity-plea
peering to your vicious voice, uttering:
"oh oui oui!"
there's no ME,
and you are propelling
another mistress, Dionysus
with curly creamy short-cut hair
lost in her castle-in-the-air
peeling avocado pear
with your tender solicitous care

and I –
now dust –
beneath your steps
and missteps
giving an ear to Joan Baez's "Diamonds & Rust":
"...smiling out the window of the crummy hotel over washington square"
I dare
I dare you
pretermit me
by giving your fictitious look
a more factual gloss
in my loss!


by David Appelbaum

and do you, Demeter
she’s about to walk
naked in the north wind
enrobed in might
surely Celestine
to underworld eyes

what will you bring
an eye to spy
with nectar and laurel
while they to Hypnos

now leaves wither
to hide your ash
and soon your howl
with the jackals

night bees swarm
unaware of menace


by Seamas Carraher

Throwing light at the darkness that
seems more bright
lit with loudness like bones cracking,
throwing light like bread at birds
and light in its love, breaking,
his head in this prison hanging
(this head with no price),
now all the night in its religion
beats bellies into my wounds.

Throwing light at the darkness
this freezing darkness, its foreign light,
its arms broken with embracing
its skin calloused with caresses
its mouth washed clean and its teeth heartbroken,
throwing light like water at fire,
and light violent at this dead field
(with its chest in medals,
all its father fat with generals)
and this field which is home
to these dogs feet
and throwing light on the deafness
and light on these heads with their tongues removed
finally, in this birth half lit with life,
throwing light at the moon
with its anger in cancers
that grow like all sisters in his net,
throwing light away, useless
in its nutrition,
creased with these crumbs and democratic in dregs.
It has all stuck like a sermon in her throat
on this dull day weathered with employment.

Here is one without a name, random, mouthless,
without measurement:
entrance for a hospital?
textbook for an engine?
suffering for these angels with their covers like sex,
another inquisition for the holy fathers
another murder for life!
additional light for the dark, with no
lament for the dead,

here is a dog's life half lit by the dark
for this one here
who is neither pat nor joe
who is as we was
and half as bright.

And here are walls extended by the thumb
and hearts hit daily by their hammer
here is a belly who grieves silently
with its light sodden and bit with parts.
Here is our hunger.
Like a fat man burning
with fuel.
Here is a sad man masked,
more naked, and
weathered with unemployment.

And here is meaning. On the hour.  Impenetrable in its factions
with its spokes steel as nerves
with its brain bursting
here are all answers with my question in chains.
And in this hole i lie down and dig
coming from beneath to where the past has no shape.
Here the morning grieves and the bottles weep.
Here the children throw their fangs at the sun
brightening the day with their torn copybooks.
Here is their bible, its economy in silence,
and the stock exchange proud,
its budget and construction in corpses.
Here, equally virus and infection
is another meaning,
like a message in a bottle
this bright spark carved into a head
and chattering with teeth
for throwing light all these long years
like coins
at. all. them. dead. eyes.

Then Mrs. President, with your life lit with lips
in the dark dressed with suits
in the secret dark and
our light hid in bottles,
in this criminal time
with the sun measured in pesetas, in drachmas,
in deutschmarks and dollars,
and its calling in mothers, in mourning,
more shopkeepers! and thieves!
in a dog's life,
in a lousy life, with a stone for my name,
and a stone for a chest,
and dead as a rock,
and my truth for a cigarette, and our sun silenced,
with no place for these legs,
and no priest to absolve me
here we stand with our war much in ruins
and this multitude, our mass, and its eyes set in stone,
and our flag still in shrouds, with its hammers blunt,

here we stand legless, and stumplike,
with our tools in the dark
foreign to ourselves, like a shadow to the light
blinded by gold, and greedy like a machine
all that money imprisoned in their paws,
all grain, wheat, and produce, in their wallets,
murdering with their automobiles
more vaults, prisons, executions,
more factories and funerals,
these bulbs blinded with commerce
these ribs cracked open by that dark lie
raising these arms here, now
heir to my labourer, reverselike,
nailed in concrete,
sinking in clay, sinking in suns, drowning in air, infreedom,
in fear.
Like my corpse surprised in explosion,
who is already dead!

And this man, this nameless man
in an hour no longer content,
this man with a knife for a liver,
with his brain in guns
and his tongue in chains,
this rising man still sleeping,
and this sorrowful man, and
this man with his face no longer a mountain
and his furniture hard with rent
and his rooms investigated
and these bones, after all their surveillance,
indicted, censored, subverted
cracking like roofs, like veins, like hope,
all ruins
raining with light on his head
and these loud men and this envious man and this greedyman
and fearful of the light
calling the night day and the darkness light.

And it is dark, no matter what they tell me
and a train travels the length of
my artery
and i am travelling without a name
in all our forgetfulness
carrying the dead ones who are
as nameless as myself
going nowhere in all our digging.

And you there listening, with your ear to the dark.

This is the dog's life
and a song for the dog's life
and a bitterness broken and the light still
and the food is still stale and all this noise
and this still mysterious dark
and these weapons
and all of this
this is where we are sinking, who are civilised,
where we are rising in all our drowning.

This is the dog's life and here without a map
this is the wound walking legless,
this is what lights our longing,
this is terror!
and this longing like life in all
this blinding
and all these stones, and all their limits,
and these
cities and in this dark with its differences
like a tourist
this must be the terrorist life and the
surgeon's life
and these feet tied in circles, their ankles, and joints
like hinges to wood
in here the day is not even day,
the dark more dialectical in knives
our sickles sharp, and sickening
and always our hunting, and beating
and the one half eats
and the other watches.

And here is a song looking for life
strong as a stone, furious like a fist,
but then these swollen bellies!
these backs bent, these chests beating,
and nailed into their boxlike muscle
and soft and engined with these sacklike lungs
and lives singly like a moth, in pairs like a child,
multiplying like a face, emptied by the wind
and all the rot seeping from this officeblock
it looks like the world
is falling
for this light feeds no one.
Who else owns hunger?

And this crowd that gathers
its feet in ropes
and these sounds that are silenced in wood
and this ache chestlike
without a nationality
but diplomat in denial, with no brother to forgive me,
and no president and no absolution,
and no State and
here strangling in the dark, the invisible dark
full of helloes, and no healing
and it is all we are
all throwing good light after the bad.
It looks like, here, the rain will never stop.

And these sacks full of children
are too hard to carry
and these objects defy me in its shape and their size,
and this tongue is not even mine
and i do not have a name for this dead friend
nor a place to bury him we can call our own
and i can walk this way no longer
in the dark.
And always for us
the dark and more of it
travelling backward in search of a name.
Then this weight must be the dead.  The decent dead.
The forgotten dead.
Dying in the darkness
for want of the light.

And so it must always be sunday
and the children sleep
and the sour drink settles
and the moon lies dead
and the clock explodes
and the walls are no less prisons
and we are here ticking, we are drifting,
fuselike and patient,
and the war goes on
and the hungry groan
and no one knows how to say it, to speak it, emptying,
and the earth shifts swallowing our seed
and i have been dead a long time now
and the wheels no longer make revolution
and them priests steal the drink from our bottle
the blood dries to dust
and the time changes but we no longer change
and the old books bleed
and all our questions dry up
and with this almost life in continual ruins
and the wounding grows
in one hand here
i am throwing this light that cannot light the dark
i am throwing it away
and here
now is the last point of the dark
where my heart stabbed itself,
thinking there could be more
after all our digging.

She is throwing the light like
the end of all life,
in its beginning, like a lover
into the cold,