William Doreski

Old Blue Chair

Trashing the old blue chair
isn’t easy. Too clumsy
to haul to the landfill, too ugly
to offer free at the roadside,
it coughs mice from rotten cushions
and smirks through years of stains.

So let’s hack it up and burn it.
I’ll saw off the arms, back and legs,
douse the wreck in kerosene,
and when this afternoon’s rain
begins I’ll fire it. The stink
of upholstery may sicken
half the village, but who cares?
Our neighbor smokes meat daily
so we all smell like bacon.
Our other neighbor piles manure
two stories tall and expects us
to admire the horsy fragrance.

Yes, I’ll use the chainsaw. The scream
of its two-cycle engine calms me,
and the hiss of the chain biting wood
reminds me of the miseries
of childhood. You laugh as usual
at my foolish talk, but the chair
regards us with apprehension
now that the mice have escaped,
and the reek of their nests
ghosts into the hot June sky,
representing lifetimes of stink
and aromas that have refined us
to fit this moment in time and space.

The sky bleakens, mouse-colored,
bringing on the rain. The saw raves.
I splash the fuel on the rubble
and ignite it. The blue chair burns
with blue flame, conferring upon us
the glory of the present tense. 


Blue Pencil

Sharpening a blue pencil
instead of a red or yellow one
I feel professional although
I profess no special profession.
Technicians in white lab coats
always choose blue pencils.
Attorneys pouring over law books
also prefer blue pencils.
Yellow pencil for schoolkids.
Red pencils for scrawling poison
pen letters to taunt police.

The shavings accumulate. The point
looks eager to kill. I empty
the debris into the wastebasket
and set it afire. A wisp of smoke
and it’s gone. The pencil stabs
at the sky, punching a little hole
through which even more blue leaks.
If I’d sharpened a red pencil
I’d have to stab myself to spill
a little red into the world.
If I’d sharpened a yellow one
I’d have to poke a summer squash
and allow greasy little seeds
to weep into common ground and sprout.

Maybe I should just write something
rather than wield a weapon.
Maybe I should write something fresh
and then erase it before demons
copy it into their textbooks.
I punctuate the sky once more,
then settle to work with a brisk
yellow legal pad, the blue words
flowing like a genealogy
in a scrawl only slightly mussed
by plowing through little puddles
of that seepage from above. 


Midsummer Runaway

Having escaped the freak show
by posing as a lawyer,
I arrive at your cottage
with my naked ego shining.

After you bury my stolen
blue serge suit in your compost heap
you clothe me in the standard
American male child outfit:

shorts, T-shirt, and baseball cap.
Nothing weird enough to alert
a suspicious public, only
a slop of human debris to stash

into your spare room where mice
snicker in the baseboards and books
mildew in unread innocence.
How will you explain me

to your tightly buttoned friends?
The days grow shorter. The marsh
sizzles with deerflies honed to kill.
We have to stay indoors and dose

ourselves with gin and tonic
to prevent scurvy and reckless sex.
The freak show police scour
the countryside, but you conceal me

under a tarp whenever
their baying sniffer-dogs approach.
Odd that I never hear that baying,
but your hearing is better than mine.

As summer progresses the heat
generated by that decaying suit
buried in your compost pile
rises in a blue serge haze.

I’m glad I never studied the law
but retained my natural-born
freakish outlook. You love me
for and in spite of it, the stink

of the marsh nightly embalming us
as we lie in our separate beds
reincarnating in layers
of shy but compelling flesh. 


William Doreski’s work has appeared in various e and print journals and in several collections, most recently The Suburbs of Atlantis (AA Press, 2013). 

Kendra Ferguson

I’m bad at poetry but also twitter here is a collection of what falls in between

I’m never moving to Los Angeles I am already chemically imbalanced enough thanks

Maybe all this stuff about millennials being total garbage is true cause I think I should be paid just for sitting here and talking to you

My mom texts me alot asking for news we both know she doesn’t want

Do I like books because they make me smarter or because they look good in a pile on my nightstand when you are fucking me?

Hobbies include google-translating romantic phrases from english to french so I feel lovely and cultured despite the fact that I can’t afford college

I don’t have any money because I spent all my money, not because someone took it from me

Do I even like the things I like or do iI like them because I like who they turn me into?

Once I tried to make a list of the things Ihave never learned but gave up cause one of those things was how to finish what I started

Sometimes I take an advil just in case something hurts and I don’t even know it yet

I don’t think my stupid expensive eye cream is working or am I just this tired: a memoir

I will fall in love with you probably but I also fall in love with sandwiches and nice fabrics 


Kendra Ferguson is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. Her work can be found in Alien Mouth, her twitter @mom_solidarity, and in her many open google documents on her laptop which if you come to her house she will share with you and feed you some bread she baked. She likes cliffs and sidewalks and falling in love and laying on the floor and probably would like you if she met you. 

Robert Crisp

Shortwave Heartache

The way it came down the wire, I thought
all hope was lost— your voice telegraphed terror
and I received it in the dusty little room where
I receive all such messages, from the mundane
to the world-shattering, it didn’t matter which.
Your beacon was turned on permanently,
as was my receiver. It was a love/hate thing,
heavier on the hate, but there was love at first.

You’re somewhere in Texas now, breathing
in hot, clean air, breaking all the promises
you made back then to keep in touch and turn
to me when dangerous times came knocking
on the thin cage of your ribs and jacked your heart
dials past ten, when glowing-eyed rats began
chewing on your internal wiring, when daylight
emptied itself and let the darkness kiss your hard mouth.

I’m in the room, listening. You’re just not broadcasting 


The Great Radio Silence

The Great Radio Silence began after the Committee
on Decency and Moral Guidance gathered by Lake Ocho
that blistered, vengeful summer, the heat turning
the men into brick-red trolls and the women
into sweatier version of their sharp, harpy-selves.

In the hinterland, a girl dreamed of riding waves
of information into the black, stellar ocean—
an act that would also be forbidden had the Committee
the dark ability to clamp down on the mind and snuff
out futures and block the infusion of hope that still ran

like a current through the people, young and old alike,
whose radios sat like mute children on tables in living rooms
where everyone used to gather to hear what the world
sounded like when it sighed and laughed and loved
and lost and told itself that everything would be okay. 


The Toothy Teethy Sisters

You have toothy teeth, my sisters,
said the Thin Neck Man.

Collectively, they told him about the bloody field
where they’d dump his body, another murder in a long
line of esteemed, legendary (godly, even)
slayings, going all the way back to Big Daddy Cain,
who’d finally had enough of Abel, that whining little bitch.

Now you’ve offended our Ivory Grandmother!
quoth the Thin Neck Man.
And our Alabaster Mother!
Defile not the sacred scriptures!

The toothy teethy sisters bit him to death.
He screamed, but not quite enough,
so they brought him back and did it again.

After, as promised, they dragged his parts
to the bloody field and asked the moon’s blessing,
which she (being a sister, too) granted.

Their shadows trailed them back home,
back to warm beds and conversations,
to unions with snakes that only they understood. 


Robert Crisp currently hides out in Savannah, GA, where he teaches and keeps strange hours and stranger company. He writes poetry as often as he can. 

Scott Kristopher

A Trilogy of African Tricksters


A Four Course Meal with Uthlakanyana of the AmaZulu 

HORS D’OEUVRE’S

From within the woman’s womb, Uthlakanyana demands to be born! “Mother – give birth to me at once. I am very hungry and I want to eat some meat!” The woman is shocked and yet thrilled to have such a prodigious child who has the power to speak even before birth. And just as soon as the woman exclaims the miraculous revelation of her genius child, Uthlakanyana delivers himself into the world. Cutting his own umbilical with his father’s knife – he speaks again: “Mother, I am hungry, where is my meat!”
 

SOUP DU JOUR

Uthlakanyana is of small stature, resembling a furless white weasel in the form of a tiny human child. His repeated deceptions depend on this common misperception. As each day passes, Uthlakanyana continues to discover new means of manipulation to get his meat. On the night before he leaves home for good, he brings all of the birds he has stolen from the villagers’ traps to the hut of the woman who bore him. “Mother, here is my meat. Place these birds in the big pot and lute them down with manure and cook them for me to eat, I am going out for the night.”

Returning to the woman’s hut before the sun finds time to arise, he eats all of the birds, fills in the pot with more manure, and leaves only the heads on top. Then he leaves and returns with the sun yelling: “Mother, I have returned, where is my meat!” Finding her still asleep he curses her, “you have been sleeping way too long – I bet all my birds have turned to manure! This is what happens when one leaves birds to lute past sunrise – I have seen it many times before.” The woman runs to the pot and discovers his accusations to be true. She throws herself at his little feet, begging forgiveness. “You are not even my mother – I gave birth to myself; and now I will leave you forever and make my own way into the world!” And this is indeed what he does.
 

MAIN COURSE

Many months and many years pass as Uthlakanyana adventures the world on his own. Time and time again he gets himself in trouble and time and time again he manipulates himself out of trouble – always using trickery and deceit to save his hide and get his meat.

I remember this one time he came upon three leopard cubs all alone in their den and just as he was about to make a meal of them, the Leopardess returns with the beast she was hunting. Dropping her prey she leaps to attack only to be struck by Uthlakanyana’s melodic voice: “Oh Mother Leopardess, you do not want to kill me – I was sent here to you by your husband to help you raise the cubs and build a better den.” After some additional persuasion she agreed to let the weasel into her service and they eat her meat together. On the following day he built a new den while the Leopardess was out hunting, one with an entrance much too narrow for her to enter. When she returns she is confused and calls out to Uthlakanyana and he explains that this type of dwelling is more conducive to suckling the cubs, which he proceeds to bring to her one by one. 

On the next day he has one cub for lunch and when the Leopardess returns home with the meat he hands her one cub and then another and then the first again to suckle before partaking of the meat she hunted. And the day after that he has yet another cub for lunch and then later passes the same cub three times for her to nurse before sharing her meat for dinner. The next day he eats the last cub and realizing the trouble he’s in plans his escape. When the Leopardess returns she calls to him again and again. Sensing her cubs are in danger she peeks her head in the tiny doorway and sees what has become of her little ones. Enraged, she forces her way into the den as Uthlakanyana taunts her and exits through an even narrower hole and thus returns to his mischievous adventures.
 

DESERT

After many more months and years of getting in and out of trouble Uthlakanyana returns to the kraal where he came from. The poor old woman welcomes him back with tears of joy, still thinking of him as her child despite the many years that have passed. She begs of him to never leave again to which he responds, “I will stay on condition that you and your village feed me every day until I am satiated.” When she agrees he speaks again: “Mother, I am hungry, where is my meat!” 

 

**Uthlakanyana, Zulu (South Africa) 


The Mantis and the Moon

This story begins with a determined Mantis
who believed he could catch the Moon. So as she moved
through the sky, he flew through the trees. At the moment
he came close enough to catch her, his memory
of missing her, and falling, drives him to madness.
And she slips away again – Oh, evasive Moon!

So why, you wonder, was Mantis after the Moon?
Dreaming of her love and adoration, Mantis
sought to be seen as celestial. This madness
possessed him, and he was mesmerised as Moon moved
and danced slowly across the sky. All memory
of his world before her was lost in that moment.

He learned her rhythm and memorised the moment
she crossed closest to his perch. Once each year the Moon
passed so near to his lips. He searched his memory
to recollect every kiss they shared, and Mantis
began to feel so lonely as her zenith moved
her further from the world and him toward madness.

Her distance deepened his decent into madness,
and the Mantis began to plan for the moment
of her nadir. He would capture her as she moved
in for their kiss. Once she was close enough, the Moon
turned her cold cheek to receive his kiss, and Mantis
jumped hard and fell fast, which knocked out his memory.

Shards of light pierced his eyes and stole his memory.
Alone in the dark he was left with his madness.
Only in blindness did sense return to Mantis.
Clarity and peace dawned on him in that moment.
In shadows he found his love requited by Moon.
Deep in his heart he laughed, and then got up and moved.

Slowly his mind returned and his memories moved
behind his eyelids like clouds. But one memory
eclipsed all the others. Visions of his bright Moon,
his burning desire, and plunge into madness
forced him to face reality. From that moment
on, he became the repentant praying Mantis.

The majestic Mantis stands motionless and moved.
Blinded by a moment, now lost in memory
where dark dreams of madness meet the light of the Moon.

 

**Mantis, Khoi-San (Southern Africa)  


Eshu's Elegy For Me

ESHU’S ELEGY FOR ME

I COME TO THIS FINAL JUNCTURE, WANDERING AND LOST,
TO LEAVE MY BODY OUT WHERE ESHU’S ROADS HAVE CROSSED.

THE MOMENT IS BEFORE ME, WHILE MY MEMORIES FALL BEHIND,
AND LIGHTNESS COMES TO BATTLE THE DARKNESS OF MY MIND.

I CHOSE THE WAY OF NATURE BUT HAVE FALLEN INTO GRACE,
AND FAITH HAS FORCED REASON TO BRING ME TO THIS PLACE.

ABANDONING TRUTHS CREATIVELY WROUGT OUT OF DECEPTION
UNBINDING MORTAL FANTASIES TO AWAKEN TRUE PERCEPTION.

MY SPIRIT TRANSCENDS UNTO A HIGHER WILL OF CONSCIOUS,
WHILE MY HEAVY HEART WEIGHS THE GRAVITY OF CONSCIENCE.

AND IN THIS STATE OF STATELESSNESS I BEGIN TO WONDER,
WILL FORM FOLLOW FUNCTION WHILE BEING TORN ASUNDER?

THE VOID RECLAIMS MY MIND AS I CONTINUE DOWN HIS PATH,
ONCE PAST THE POINT OF NO RETURN, ESHU BEGINS TO LAUGH.

HIS WICKED GRIN BETRAYS ME AND I RECALL THE FEEL OF FEAR,
AS MY PITHY PARTS DISSIPATE I PRAY FOR MERCY TO APPEAR.

I AM SLIPPING INTO SUFFERING AND FALLING INTO FIRE,
AND AS THE FLAMES BAPTISE ME I AM PURGED OF ALL DESIRE.

THE BEAUTY OF CREATION IS THAT LIFE NEVER ENDS IN DEATH,
FROM NOTHINGNESS I AM PRECONCEIVED IN MY DYING BREATH. 

 

**Esh-Elegbara, Yoruba (Nigeria) 


Author's Note: Each poem is an oral tradition from specific African Cultural Groups and the structures and styles of my poetry and prose is my own negotiation and reinterpretation of traditional forms – thus the notes in the footer and different fonts. 


Scott Kristopher is a Book Artist and Storyteller from Buffalo, NY . He is also a Barista. In a past life, he was trained to be a disciplined Social Scientist; and in some life before that he was most likely a Baobab Tree 

Meredith McDonough

Birth of the Amazons

Marked by a sign much like Hollywood
the Well of Souls brims with women
murdered by man’s hatred

Not a neat dozen
that could be placed in protective shells
and decorated with red wax on a festival day
but a multitude of eggs
like a salmon brood
multiplying even as I watch

Each woman’s last wishes
tips from the porous membrane
of one cytoplasm to the next
until they roar cacophonously
like the chamber of a conch shell

I coax a single soul from her sisters
by offering her my own skin as succor
I feed her bits of rock and clay
until she feeds herself
first as a serpent then as a bird
then a copy of myself
with veined wings

I leave her for short periods of time
so that her interior voice
is distinct from my own
and her sisters’ lament

She makes adjustments
barreling her chest
so she speaks like a thunder clap
weighting her limbs with tracts of muscle
Gradually she is a fortress
wearing her face as a figurehead

She alters the shoreline
leading her sisters into little tide pools
they evolve in unique patterns
but all end as weapons
She bloods their wings
and names them for flowers


Helen Alexanders Becomes Silver Swan

When I asked the god of war for beauty
he stretched my body like a bow
and searched my line for violence
He took Leda’s scream for my voice
the false feathers from my father for my wings
and plucked my new face
from the puckers of their trammel

He gripped my feet in one hand
my wrists in the other
and set me to flight
obedient as a rubber band

Beauty made in his way
is my pain made into yours

My attempt to be heard
is the shattering of your eardrum
and my insult coated skin
the fire in your husk

He releases me an hour at a time
to rearrange your city of confident men
into my image
a scattered concrete puzzle
asymmetrical and hopeless
as a girl called ugly

 


Dr. Psycho Becomes Captain Wonder

His dream slips
like butter muslin
from his mind to my skin
as we all dream of power in a new body
our thoughts clench into the artless muscle
of a super hero

I catch the shape of his and wear it
viscous and blood-like
It shapes over me like blown glass
twining into veins
Orbing into eyes
Snaking into fingers
His dream and I are an open field of nerves
begging for skin

A face hovers over my own
caught between the vague shape of
Wonder Woman’s
burnt like a prophecy
on cheese cloth
and his own plaster grimace
as he struggles to be
the woman he desires
and himself in his best-bloomed state

I ask him
with the lips of his dream
made malleable
What is our name?
Captain he says Wonder 


The Duke of Deception Becomes Wonder Woman

He takes dirt
calls it Intelligence Loam or Dehydrated Desire
Its brown makes a girl grimace
He sells a new feminism
The first wives shall have jobs
and then second and subsequent wives
shall raise the children
like anthropologists ne primatologists
They will make macramé DNA
and succumb to their own lessons
in color and texture
unstitching and re-stitching
truthing and not-truthing
new faces for him
or at least new ways
to see him as somehow better
than previously understood

The larger and smaller hands eventually devise
a mask of ovals and hollows
topped with untethered hair
When the duke fits it to his face
they call him mother or darling
He collects the shifting foam
of their misplaced desire
a Morse code of hopeful fingertips
to dutifully decode
into a new set of zip ties and wrangles
He’ll place them around each wrist
in thick shining bronze
like wedding rings he says but better


Meredith McDonough lives and works in St. Louis, MO. Her poems have appeared in Arcana: The Tarot Poetry Anthology, Linebreak, RHINO, Juked, Bone Bouquet, and elsewhere. She was also a finalist for the Jane Lumley Emerging Artist Award in 2016. 

Hossein Rahmani

Execution Square

Anxious I am.
Like the rope hanging off the gallows,
I’m wrapped inside myself.
Like a dice, I'm searching for myself.
On the kerb, I’m walking with a child's foot.
With a cow's horn, I’m scaring all the world
Turning the sense of calmness inside the color blue,
I turn to turn my shadow’s face
the execution square’s hanging clock
the childish eyes of death.
Sometimes a sparrow moves the life
shakes a man’s shoulders
so the world returns to its first position
so a branch can find its own place.


A Curse in War

With no fingers to shoot
I'm a curse in war
a soldier who takes his name on shoulder;
The mortar bombs tear my daughter’s name apart
and my wife's picture
trolls hand to hand at the enemy’s camp.
I've gathered my wounds
to go back to the border line
to the raised flesh of another wound.


Behind this hill

They brought you with lips sealed
with a smile accumulated in the corners of their eyes
You could still hear the soldiers’ voice
the sound of wounds

I should have gathered your voice
shed it in your helmet
and trenched behind this hill
Many soldiers had conquered these hills before me
Lots of leaves had fallen
Nobody knew when the Fall was going to end
The war had changed the smell of gunpowder
the wind’s tone
and the pain’s shape.


Hossein Rahmani was born in Mashhad, Iran (August 9th 1992) and is studying in the field of agro-economy at University of Torbat Heydarieh. Hossein’s poems were published on Literati Quarterly (Spring 2016).

Fatemeh Akhavan

Negotiation tables

I have become like my grandmother
an old pelisse with precious stones;
Like my mother
when she was making father fall in love;
Like women with long legs
behind the negotiation tables
when they end the war.


A wider range

When I scream
it’s as if a pit in my voice descends;
But silence
has a wider range;
A dungeon where dead women sing inside me
and my husband,
a man who has been with me for years.


Time halts

Time halts
and no word is kind
I turn around, turn around
so that I leave this circuit.

Time halts
and man is more transparent in silence.
Swiss,
and clock needles, which will shatter man.
Swiss,
a grief which is stuck in snow up to its waist
a ladder that was leaning against the wall
and had great thoughts.

Trust me!
Sadness brewed in this room
will sicken man.
Where are my narcotics ?
Folded paper monies were under the rug
and the wind was just breaking the neighbor's vase.
The wind came,
turned around the house!
broke the vases
tore down the curtains and took me away.


Fatemeh Akhavan was born in Mashhad, Iran (January 25th 1982) and holds a BA in the field of Educational Science from Payam Noor University ofMashhad. Some of Fatemeh’s poems are published in Anthology Book with the name "Horses do not wear scarves" by Reza Boroosan.

Elahe Fayazi

Loneliness

Loneliness,
walks across the rooms
drawing its finger on the dust on objects,
writing your name.

I love broken mirrors
They show me as I really am

I sat down in front of myself
and as much as I wanted
I cried.


Life was us!

Death was not a bad thing
when life was swelling under our skin.

Instead of going to the moon
We should have discovered something better;
For instance life,
to be able to throw out the old clothes from time to time
and purchase new ones.

We just discovered more insects,
new diseases;
We changed the shape of death.

Life was not something to be over at the weekend
and arrive at Monday morning.

Life was us
who gambled over our skin, flesh, and bones.


Living in extra time

Living in extra time
with a mouth that tastes like death
and a thousand poems
which are withered inside your voice.
This is the sequel of being born
in the Fall.

I am walking in the street
with my left hand
every house that I open its door
is a dresser with the smell of old clothes.

I cannot forget my nightmares
And this herpes on the corner of my lips
will not fudge.
Nobody embraces me
I have left my red dress back at home.
When I touch my hair
no more memories are reviewed
and my hand lines
have left me no way.
From the day I was born
I had started to die.

At the farewell time
tell mothers
to come
sew sequins on my white shirt.


Elahe Fayazi was born in Mashhad, Iran (September 21st 1987). Her BA was in the field of Script Writing at Culture & Art University of Mashhad. She is fluent in the Turkish language and has translated many works of Turkish writers such as: Nazim Hikmet, Orhan Veli, Ozdemir Asaf &İlhan Berk.

Lara Hannawi

“IRAQ + CHRISTIANS”

'They are savages,' say Christians forced to flee Mosul by Isis /
Iraq's largest Christian town abandoned as Isis advance continues /
40,000 Iraqis stranded on mountain as Isis jihadists threaten death /
Who are the Yazidis and why is Isis hunting them? /
Religious leaders say Isis persecution of Iraqi Christians has become genocide /
'Isis has shattered the ancient ties that bound Iraq's minorities' /
Vatican calls on Muslim leaders to condemn Christian persecution in Iraq /
Isis destroys historic Christian and Muslim shrines in northern Iraq /
These may be the last Christians of the Middle East - unless we help /
Where in the world is the worst place to be a Christian?

These are the first ten headlines of articles that appeared when searching for ‘iraq + christians’on The Guardian newspaper homepage. The articles date from July 24 2014 to July 27th 2015. They are listed chronologically. Searched for and compiled on August 7th, 2015.

Photo of my parents, my grandmothers, and two Iraqi nuns in the early 1980s in Mosul, Iraq.

Photo of my parents, my grandmothers, and two Iraqi nuns in the early 1980s in Mosul, Iraq.

My father in a Christian service in Mosul, Iraq, early 1980s.

My father in a Christian service in Mosul, Iraq, early 1980s.


In Lara Hannawi’s work she re-purposes existing text. One recent zine of hers is "Who Will Police the Police", about the murder of Walter Scott, explained by 50 New York Times reader comments. She has sold all 300 copies and is now printing a second edition. Most copies have been sold at City Lights Booksellers in SF.

Courtney LeBlanc

Even if the Sky is Falling

I still have to get up each morning.
I still have to brush my teeth
and walk my dog and breathe
the humid summer air.
I still have to go to work
and pay my rent
and load the dishwasher.
I still have to eat
and drink and fuck.
I still have to tell people
I love them and call
my sister and weed
the garden and water the flowers.
I still have to keep
living, keep writing, keep
doing and hoping and praying.
Even if the sky is falling.
I still have to, have to, have to.


Courtney LeBlanc loves nail polish, wine, and tattoos. Her chapbook, All in the Family, is forthcoming from Bottlecap Press. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Connections, Welter, Plum Biscuit, Pudding Magazine, The Legendary, Germ Magazine, District Lines, Slab, Wicked Banshee, The Door is a Jar, and others. Read her blog at www.wordperv.com, follow her on twitter: www.twitter.com/wordperv, or find her on facebook: www.facebook.com/poetry.CourtneyLeBlanc.

Dan Bodah

Winter in the Neighborhood

The same way gauze is wrapped around a cut,
snow drifts over the black road between us.
I spied you carrying plastic bags; you
put your recycling in the public trash
on the corner. Your dog was tied nearby,
peeing on the sprawling yews, menacing
the crosswalk. Calling 911 on me
for my party wasn’t neighborly.

But outside Peppercorn Deli, the man
who sells Christmas trees by a glowing space
heater smiles. The door sign says: no dogs.
Limp December asparagus is on sale.
I buy Winter Warmer in a white six pack;
The shy old lady hands some bright coins back.


Dan Bodah's chapbook Eyes & Roots was published by Many Moons Press in 2014. His work has also appeared in The Heron's Nest, Blueline, Adirondac, The Lost and Found Times, texture, Fuel, and other magazines. Dan hosts the radio show Vocal Fry at renowned radio station WFMU (wfmu.org) and organizes the quarterly WFMU Literary Guild reading series in New York City. Originally from the Adirondacks, Dan is an attorney and doctoral student who now lives with his partner and two children in a Brooklyn home surrounded by a Norway maple, a pin oak, and an overgrown ailanthus.

Robert Smith

Worms

Syncromatic!
I, whose bareness evades wrath, who beats the drum of culture and cataplana dinners, and rides
the marry-go-round of childhood out of pure irony, asks the question to bleeding rocks, to granite
idols, to stakes of
Foundation:
How will you scale the wall when everyone else is over?
Bleak light, Camel-smoke air, on mid-town, mid-year, midnight walk. Pounding, forced
vibrations on my feet, and fade-in and pass we hold our breaths through the smoke hour-
seconds. We.
I, whose broken apple, corporate trained, mommy get, get me, pointing at the T.V screen and
flailing’s mind, whose tree line potential root, dirt, earth achievements want, want, want. I.
I, who’s wound up energy caused the stale water, salty tears, to drip from her cheek and find the
corner of her mouth. Whose tangled toes wrapped the edge of the bed in anger when I
called for you and get a door banging in the draft of parenting.
I, who was shipped by court order to live alone, among the scholars of null. Who watched a
decade of cocaine and alcohol pass through a street of godliness. Who wiped their asses with the
stone tablets of Moses–Moses. When China manufactured our bones, but only wanted what
they could squeeze out of them. And when Chinglish men spoke through funnels, aimed at
the cement gods, hoping for some epiphany, but only got an epitaph and a two hour service.
I, who ate the ground life to impress no one, to leave an imprint, to grind the sand against my
teeth from the dirt nails of childhood. Whose rumors only mattered, and defending yourself was
cause for jump. Manifest Peabody, the end of the world, the edge of life.
CHIME! CHIME!
I, who counted the trees on a film reel drive home from the retirement, and wept when I didn’t
know what was after one thousand. I, who shook the Polaroid because I asked, not because I took
the picture. I, who posed like a trophy for what was the second raising. I who’s mind is an
archipelago of spotted memories, water, and emptiness splattered by random occurrences and
millions of years of pressure and fighting.
SAY CHEESE!
No! I, who climbed the maple, leaving the hanging foot, so you could get up as well. I, who dug,
and dug, in search of gold, real gold, no metaphor gold, and found more dirt. Childhood lies, manipulations, busy minds, busy pockets, busy wallets, busy living.
I, who studied in ivy halls, not the books, but the walls. I, who covered maggot-covered linoleum
with a bootstrap heel, and shifted eyes towards the blankness. I, with embarrassment of lineage
hid my family tree. I, who chopped down the family tree for fire wood. I who waterlogged the
firewood and left it to the wrath of god to be spoiled. I who use it as a stump to sit upon.
I, whose kindred spirits sparked with ash and bone in the emptiness of love. I, who sought youth
in you, but found I could not steal years. I, who’s bartering ways never sees the black.
Whose thumbprint felt like a whirlpool. I, who only knows the warmth of you through
cracked memories and undeleted texts. I, who destroyed my body in wake of your leaving.
I, who must put it back together.


Robert Smith was born on the west side of Buffalo and raised on the south side. His work is a reflection of the city that he was cultivated in, stream of consciousness and Frankenstein. After his first chapbook “Salt Guns & Bunkbeds” was published earlier this year, he spent a majority of the summer traveling the U.S. reading and pushing books.

Sanaa Hyder

gravitate

twenty five,
she is one quarter
of a century today.
even the word rigid
sounds rigid
what happened to adventure?
where is your joie de vivre?
you put it in a wooden box
and closed the drawer,
you willed the dust
to settle into
the recesses of your
being
orange light clickswitches on -
Welcome to the Land of Electrodynamics
the heater is warming up
the kettle is now boiling,
unpause to stream
ofpolished sepia/grayscale/nashville
lip stained laughter
filtered contagion envy.
my unread books remain
unread
five twenty,
even the word time
injects in me the sense of
I am losing
this war
so, I surrender
to the sunset prayer,
I catch it by its asphyxiated halo


avian woe

tawny pigeon
won't let you tie a message
around its foot

remember when you yelled at it?
go away go away go away
it's gone now.
the message is still in your hand
throw it away if you like
no one knew you had one anyway
underground in the dark
decades later
while you wait for eternity,
tawny pigeon returns
it finds a message
it doesn't make sense
coo coo coo
it sings and flies away


here, have a glass of water

jaw and teeth crooked but tamed
my tongue uncut
yet I taste blood in my water

iron in my mouth
I check the mirror
negligible signs of injury
yet the water tastes bloody

what does it matter?
my mouth is uncut
so I gulp down a well
of blood
stirred in with
a pinch of concern -
no more no less
a pinch is enough


Sanaa Hyder is an Indian expat that lives in the metropolitan deserts of Saudi Arabia. Academically, she graduated with a Masters in Health Psychology in 2013. She actively blogs flash fiction with an old friend at daydreamcatching.wordpress.com.

Torrin A. Greathouse

THE AUTHOR’S BODY SPEAKS BACK

“you have any idea how hard it is to shout inside of your own mouth?”
“you know what its like to choke down the gasoline that drips
from my tongue every time someone hijacks this whole
body & names it the wrong shape?”
“i am cracking our ribs & spreading our hips like wings. when
will i find a shape that you are ready to fit yourself inside?”
“i was the first clothing you ever wore & i will always fit these
bones, no matter how much you wish they would break
& fall away.”
“some days i wonder if you are learning to love your threadbare
skin, or just searching for a hole big enough to escape through.”
“you pushed our calloused fingertips across the glittering ice
of your phone screen, typed i feel like a ghost inside of this body
& i felt myself begin to pass through everything you touch.”
“if you are a ghost, then what am i? is there nothing left of me
but chains? am i a holey sheet that you will throw away
when this cold night ends?”
“our hands have bled so many times from the way you have taught
them to ghost through walls. if i am your home, will i too learn
your knuckles’ kiss? learn what it means to be passed through?”
“i’m sorry. i cannot witch-craft this skin into woman, i can’t sew
tight all the places where it feels too large & yes, i know, woman is
not the place you intend to arrive, but it is once step closer to
the destination.”
“i’m sorry. i can’t worship these bones into water. shape-shift
at will. give you the body you dream of when i am sleeping.”
“i’m sorry, beautiful.”
“i’m sorry.”


SELF PORTRAIT AS A MONSTER MOVIE

my skin reimagines itself as silver screens more fishscale than flesh projector's light framing my
body like cross-hairs eyes torch-mob bright i am walking down the street & people are crossing it
to escape from me in a child's mind the only thing that could paint lips this shade is someone else's
blood this is not why their parents are afraid

what do they see the first time they look me in the eyes?

a) a man
b) a woman
c) something in between d) none of the above

since i was a child i have been obsessed with monsters sneaking down into the living room at night
& letting the red light of blood stained screens wash over me the volume turned so low i could
barely hear their screams there was something about the way they could paint a person into
anything the body othered from itself but the best monsters were always the ones that looked a
little too much like me

you paint your body into whichever monster you know best:

a) vampire—lips dripped in red & eyes draped in black wings
b) zombie—something less than human but made from the same parts
c) werewolf—the horror of body becoming something else
d) ghost—the way you empty yourself from this skin

i see myself sewn to the screen buried in the bodies of monsters shackled to the the dark inside of
their skin closed closet tight around them just queer enough to be hated never enough to show love
it's no wonder children are afraid of me when i walk the streets when they are taught to fear freaks
& villain is so much like me

what do they see the first time they see me without a screen between us?

a) a collection of puncture marks where skin has swallowed pitchforks & wooden stakes
b) fire blooming technicolor gold—the way that nothing’s ever left when the curtain falls
c) a chest that opens like a door & lines its frame in silver teeth
d) the hollow wind above a grave


IN WHICH MY QUEER MOUTH LEARNS TO PRAY

crooked smile / chipped teeth // standing here looking like i wasn't born /
with this grin // & maybe i wasn't / maybe i cut it in / when i first learned
the hunger of speech // & this mouth curses / profanes / & yes, i kiss
my mother with this mouth / & yes, i once kissed a pistol with this mouth /
[& no, it did not return the favor] // & i have felt my voice curl up & cower
in the closet of this throat / for so long // but this mouth can make a body remember /
every syllable in god's name / & ain't there something holy about that? //
the way i kneel / way he leans back / offers communion / no bread / just body
this time // ain't that holy? / ain't that a prayer? // the way i give up breathing /
for that moment of rapture / & haven't been to church in a long time / maybe
this is 'cause i found a prayer / that the body answers //


torrin a. greathouse is a transfeminine nonbinary, cripple-punk, queer-do from Southern California, and a Co-Founder of Black Napkin Press. Their work has been published or is upcoming in Rust + Moth, TQ Review, The Feminist Wire, Caliban Online, & Glass.

Demetrius Burns

Re-memory & Forgets

Through the peephole of my past,
colors pinwheel and drowned sounds
float to meet my ear.

There’s a small caterpillar
scar on my knee.

My mom speculates I was pushed
by a kid—my first experience of bullying.

I was a young, nerdy, not-quite-black-enough kid in Oakland, California
wearing a Seattle Supersonics shirt.

Apparently I never wore that shit again—
maybe that explains the scar.

14 years later, I suffered a concussion and three seizures
playing ultimate Frisbee at night.

This moment left my brain permanently fishing
for ground in the drowned sound of my past.

Some call it memory loss, I call it quintessential Blackness.


Demetrius Burns is a part-time poet, full-time liar. He believes in the simple miracles of mistakes and worships at the throne of some good gelato, r&b and baseball. As a biracial American, he square dances between Swedish and African American identity to the beat of a borrowed drum.

Aidan Ryan

Modern Love Song to the Summer of '16

I

You and me, Trayvon, just traded the Big Eyes
( you know the Big Eyes )
Over that big-racked tatted hija de Busti
Ave. sitting indifferently listening to us
Not talking about her
And right now Boniqua while Trayvon trades innuendoes
With his buddy Bucket Hat
You and me we’re both jamming to Lemonade
On iPod Classics and looking glassy at each other when
Our eyes meet in the window in the dark of the tunnel
But I am afraid of Trayvon and Bucket Hat
And they’re afraid of me
And you’re afraid of all of us
But I can hear it ( Lemonade ) from your earbuds when
I pull mine out And stand at my stop and leave
You for an escalator and hot sun and a Love Drought

And we’re all very, very afraid
Of traffic stops and holiday
Bombings, and most of all each other
Everybody’s turned up
But nobody’s dancing

II

Every open eye says ‘O’ for ‘Other’
Until it closes
And mouthless millions on subway cars shoot by blinking,
Blinking short and long
But I don’t know Morse Code
And I’m too worried about this wide-eyed kid
Jacking my iPod Classic
And jump when ‘Jesus Saves’ says
You have to look down the tunnel
To see the head lights coming .

And we’re all very afraid
Ofheadlights coming
As we walk the S curves home, drunk from Cole’s
Past fallen street lamps and memorials outside the cemetery fence
Most nights we drink Car Bombs until we wake
To headlines about car bombs
And even if we don’t drink there will still be headlines
Which is why most nights we drink.

And everybody’s turned up tone deaf and overserved
And nobody’s dancing ‘cause the jukebox’s broken but I know
Every single one of us in every bar, bus, cop cruiser and cubicle
Turns up for Modern Love

I wake up and open Google Maps and plot a course
Orlando Dallas and Nice
Cleveland toPhiladelphia
Aleppo to the 405 Freeway
And ask how to avoid tolls
And demonstrations
And state police radars
And ex-girlfriends
And future ex-girlfriends
And an early death
And conclude only that we are all very afraid.

III

Beyoncé has given a recipe for Lemonade
To all Tidal subscribers
Plus me who got a .rar file of the album from
An ex-girlfriend
It sounds like every other recipe for lemonade
And Weber’s Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism
Tells us that every American if given lemons wd. combine with
Water, sugar,
Sell for profit
& reinvest in more lemons
I see this illustrated in small town Lancaster, NY
Where six cousins set up a stand on the parade route, sell
Drinks to firemen’s wives, make
$100 on the Fourth of July in
“The Land of Unexcelled Opportunity”
But life gives nobody lemons
Or so it seems this thirsty summer of ‘16, Life:
Holds you at knifepoint in your Fargo apartment and rapes you repeatedly
Asks for proof of residence
Or else explains in detail the function of the electoral college
(In 48 of the states)

Kicks the shit out of your cousin and takes his iPod Classic
Legless and crawling up Bleecker St. hand
Over hand scraping stubble off the pavement but Life’s stiff
Lower lip keeps his cigarette lit, pointed up like a cherry-red flag
And when you hop the fence of the graveyard
Coming home drunk from Cole’s and wander
feeling up obelisks and urns sometimes
Life bumps into you and looks
with a face lit by moonlight and cell phone and says
“There’s and Alakazam by the crematorium,
you can catch it”

That’s Life. That’s what all the people
Don’t say.

IV

And it reminds me of the time we sat hunched like refugees
On the subway
Me and Trayvon eyeing up a ‘Rican girl
When the real refugees six seats down started cracking
Up over somebody’s Vine
And she ( mother, daughter? ) turned and caught my eyes in her eyes and
Slowly, held
The phone out to me.
I took
And laughed
Heartily.

And left and met friends at the bar and drank Car Bombs and walked home drunk
And woke sweaty to headlines of the next abomination of summer ‘16
And made a smoothie, thinking :

We’re still very, very afraid
And empathy won’t be enough
Protests and hugs, Chance
The Rapper, Bernie Sanders, Pokèmon Go and Bowie
Won’t be enough to save us, the cure-alls
Empathy, awareness, compassion
Spread through op-eds just like blood milk or oil
We clean up and move on.

There’s still gonna be an Omar Mateen or Michah Johnson
Thinking he’s like Bateman or Bickle
Mohammed’s messenger or Michael’s flaming sword
And when I scroll up to the next news flash
While shitting on Mondays all empathy does is
Whisper in my ear
“Yeah,
I get it.”
Empathy won’t work work unless it becomes
Not a new religion
But a monasticism
A new Rule of St. Benedict
Enforced by pathocracy
And who’s gonna pay for that?

V

Oh,
wouldn’t it be nice?
What?
I don’t know.
Anything.

The fact is we are in the kind of world where we belong
Or in the house where we belong
Poured concrete fears
For foundation
Raised a wooden skeleton of hang-ups
Hung slat blinds of Venetian suspicion
Bought Verizon FiOS to connect to the world
Outside, though we suspect there isn’t one.
We’re all in here.
And the summer of ‘16
Killed the AC
And on the longest hottest dog-day of the soul
I don’t have reason to hope
In Head or Heart
(My own or anybody else’s)
But I’m betting it all
On one of the Human Housemates dusting off some anachronism like
The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds LP
And spinning it
So we can all sing and
Dance, we and Trayvon and Boniqua the ‘Rican
And Prince and the Davids (Bowie and Brown)
And Philando and Michael R. Pence
Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
Paul Ryan and the Notorious HRC
And a man I know named Starchild
And all the children of “The Land

Of Unexcelled Opportunity” as
Car bombs go off in the sky
Raining Bailey’s and body parts
And we dance to the vinyl scratch
Through the cooling mist
Of our tears
Tasting Lemonade
Oh,
wouldn’t it be nice?


Aidan Ryan resides in Buffalo, NY, where he is an adjunct professor of English at Canisius College and co-editor of Foundlings poetry magazine. His poetry, fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The Buffalo News, Slipstream, Traffic East, CNN and The Skinny, where he is a regular music critic. Find his work at www.AidanRyan.com.

Robert Beveridge

Short Lives

Only the margin left
allows play at all.
Sixteen ex-lovers
left you stranded
without even a cell phone
to call your bachelorette party
in the middle of Wal-Mart.

You felt rugs,
appliances, traced
for crinkles in a bag
of dog food.
Pure
white CD covers glared
disapproval; you wondered
if you, perhaps, had been Mormon
in a previous life.

The security camera
stared down,
you stared back
until escorted from the store
by two Chippendale dancers,
your purse devoid
of quarters with which
to share the news.


Witch’s Cradle

I fell in love with a demon with a woodwind name,*
tongue trained in Enochian embouchure, fingers
dexterous as Houdini’s. She sang Lady Day
and Angela Gossow with equal abandon
but her greatest skill, of course, was Paganini,
who she claimed her lover after his refusal
of the final sacrament.
She sings for me
with eager readiness whenever the mood strikes.
Her breath holds only the faintest trace
of brimstone; more telling the flames
of her hair, which she swears is natural.
My belief reflected in the seat
of every embrace.
Kiss me, gentle
manticore, best fiend, with your voice:
velvet temptation, concrete beneath.
Cover me in syllables whose presence
leaves the most delicious blisters. Play
the mill girl with reckless abandon.
I’ll come along for the ride every time.

* first line by Sonya Taaffe


Trinity

Desert community.
Main street. No trees.
Houses, shells.
Dummies, perhaps a father
and son, seated
at a table. Mannequins
with no face,
no expression.

No future.

The camera rolls
behind lead shields miles away
white-lab-coated Oppenheimer
taps one fingernail against
the panel, near
the red button exposed
its clear shell flipped back.
There is a countdown, a voice
sexless over an intercom.
A drone, distraction.
His eyes are focused on the screen,
the house. Bead of sweat
drips past his eye,
magnifies: he can see
the outlines of the family
dummies in the kitchen.

Jams his thumb d
own on the button
screen goes the white
of burnt plutonium
fades

Desert community.
Maim street. No tree.
No houses, shells.
No father. No son.
No holy spirit.

No future.

July 16, 1997
52 years ago today


Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry just outside Cleveland, OH. Recent/upcoming appearances in Chiron Review, Zombie Logic Review, and The Literateur, among others.

Meghan Milsted

anxiety playlist

sex “shoulda felt good,
but i can hear the Jaws theme song on repeat
in the back of my head.”
i used tinder for its intended purpose:
havent slept for three nights since, ive
been on the verge of panic attacks and vomit.

my therapist needs to know that i
am a feminist, that i’m a modern girl
but i fold in half. meaning
i should buy
something to overcompensate
like a convertible with leather seats,
with cupholders for my tears and sparkling wine.
hotels with bathtubs full of sparkling wine
and girls with glitter tits in string bikinis.

my therapist needs to know im not a ghost,
i am not a sheet filled with crumbs and condoms.
everyone needs to know ive gotten too candid.


Dear Mom

dear mom,
im not a good judge
of how this is going.
im teliing myself everyday not to be
overzealous about men or the weather.
ive been looking at pictures of jay-z
holding beyonces leg at basketball games
and i think i need that because
ive also been googling restless leg syndrome.
keith buckley last night said something about
hiding what he doesnt want to talk about in books
and i hide my secrets in my poems but not well.
dear keith buckley,
i need your advice on something.
dear amber tamblyn,
im writing a selfish poem like yours.
dear keith buckley
dear keith buckley
dear keith buckley
i dont know when to stop


for s

The only guacamole i can make
Is just salsa mashed with avocado.
We had a picnic of salsa,
Avocado, lemon juice and cigarette butts.
The first time sam taught me how to hold a cigarette
(There were many times)
We ate lasagna and sat on the swings behind my parents house.
It was before i left for milan or
Before she left for eastern europe.

Before i spilled everything
All the time
Sam spilled her signature Nalgene full of Franzia on me
While i drove Nana Grizol to the Green Door. I was a straight edge
baby playing Deer Hunter with a punk band at a bar with dirt floors.
Six years later sam tells me
It doesnt matter the circumstance;
the feelings are always the same.

Whats his name said
“I carry your heart with mine”
Or something and that fall i was
Working at a suburban mall
Smoking gauloises blondes for you
And could hear your combat boots on the European clobblestone streets.
When i was gone i felt you in the soles of mine
Reaching out like two strings held together
With push pins on a map.


goddess domesticity

dear mom,
i spend my food stamps at the fancy co-op.
everything is more $$$ there but everyone is
like that brittany weeks poem “everyone at whole foods
is good at sex.”
i touch their tvp and feel weird.

i debated telling you that my thighs were growing further apart,
that my new patronus is the lactic acid building up in my shins.
we both know i dont care and u send me black leather pants
that dont fit in my mailslot.

the pages of my used cookbooks are still,
dogeared, while my friends instruct me to smash garlic.
i havent seen the bottom of my sink in a month.
my hair clogged your old vacuum cleaner.

ill walk naked in front of my uncurtained window.
ill drink
anything
five nights out of the week.
i went on a blind date with a boy who told me i was just like my mother.
how did he know?


meghan milsted is from Buffalo, NY by way of Washington, DC. She is published in Everyday Genius and other compilations.

Benjamin Nardolilli

High Reserve

I wish you had come
With fine print

I could at least blame
Myself for what happened

Not reading the writing
Tucked under you

Instead, we collided
One day by accident

Talked it over
Until we fell in love

Neither of us giving off
Symptoms to dismiss

You did not even come
With a warning

Nothing peer reviewed
To save me

Or at least give me
Reason to kick myself

As part of the process
Of licking my wounds


Cruise Terminal

For anything else, shrug,
on anything else? Go,
these are some Chthonic hijinks,
I was tempted too,
America is a vast sharps container

To make money in costume,
I needed to get through human relations,
I promised to do the better job:“everyone
and everything will be in love here”

None of the something
everyone wants fell to my needs,
noted once, given a seat
not yet seated since, and they ask me
“what you are supposed to be?”

“Missing flesh,” just as good then,
whenever it was,
they did not see me in the present,
because I was tempted
up on the hill not to disturb


Mesa Down

We play bingo at the edge of the gas station,
unsure who won the last round of checkers.
The gas is out, and the prices
of what others could buy from us keep on rising.

The bathroom still works. We joke:
the rust is a partner, a lazy boyfriend hiding
under the sink and too shy
to commit to a full breakdown of the plumbing.

Travelers make use of a highway, not our road
bristling with weeds. Once,
we were able to entice with cheeseburgers,
now the empty grill hisses and we call it music.


Ben Nardolilli currently lives in New York City. His work has appeared in Perigee Magazine, Red Fez, Danse Macabre, The 22 Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Elimae, fwriction, Inwood Indiana, Pear Noir, The Minetta Review, and Yes Poetry. He blogs at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com and is looking to publish a novel.

Sam Ferrante

A Terrible Photographer

He buys the ring.
She hesitates;
the camera misses it.
She breaks into a grin
and wraps a yes around his shoulders
punctuated by too many elbows at strange angles.

She buys the veil.
She hesitates;
the camera misses it.
He breaks into a grin
and wraps an I do around her hands
punctuated by too many grains of rice at strange angles.

She buys the pregnancy test.
He hesitates;
the camera misses it.
She breaks into a grin
and wraps a you name him around his ears
punctuated by too many half-smiles at strange angles.

He buys two teddy bears.
She hesitates;
the camera misses it.
She breaks into chagrin
and wraps an arm around the baby,
and wraps an arm around one teddy,
punctuated by too many memories of
not-quite-hidden needle marks at strange angles.

He rents a small flat.
Buys a child’s first plastic baseball bat.

The camera misses it.
He breaks into a grim grin
and wraps an arm in a tourniquet,
punctuated by too many non-memories
of days with his son, lit by sun at strange angles.

She buys her own home.
She hesitates;
the camera misses it.
She breaks into a grim grin,
punctuated by too many dotted i’s and crossed t’s
at strange angles.

He buys two school pictures.
He hesitates;
the camera misses it.
He breaks into a watery grin,
punctuated by a photographer’s quick hands
adjusting his small shoulders at strange angles.

She buys a casket.
She hesitates;
the camera misses it.
He breaks into a stoic smile,
punctuated by his mother’s hands on those small shoulders,
and drops his second photo next to a wreath of flowers at strange angles.


To Be a Whale

On my bad days,
I wrap myself in 3 blankets
and curl on my side
around a globe.

I squeeze my eyes
from brown eyelids
to black
to spots
to headache.

And then I will the
headache from toenails
and the scratchy edges of eyelashes
and the inside of elbows
and the base of my spine
to my fingertip.

Because my therapist
told me to.

Then my index finger
presses the curve
of the world
and just keeps going.

This is not plastic, but
a jello mold Penseive.
My finger gets stuck,
up to the second knuckle,
2.1 centimeters west of Hawaii,
and all of me,
except my overwhelming
body,
siphons itself
into the blowhole of a whale
like whistling water
from a kettle into a teacup.

Only this teacup
is the size of a school bus
and weighs
nothing.

Whales weigh nothing
and take up no space.

They float
in the jello mold
3-miles of ocean
above them
and
below them.

And with each monumental
heave
of my brand new
tiny little whale arms
I shift the entire ocean.

BOW BEFORE ME,
OCEAN.

I AM BIG,
BECAUSE I AM SMALL.

And the headache
sprays out of the top
of my head,
as I grin,
with 8000 brill bristles
and move the entire ocean
as the entire ocean moves me.

On my good days,
I pass eerily glowing plankton,
fish with an alarming scale:teeth ratio,
fierce merpeople bartering scallop shells
who are utterly disinterested
in my presence.

On my bad days,
I just float,
2.1 centimeters west of Hawaii,
until the headache goes away
and I'm not hungry
anymore.


20,000 Leagues Across the Sea

I was not going to write about you today -
- not when there are all of these heroes to meet -
not when there are all of these reasons to stay.

There are dragons to slay.
There are wild, scaled stanzas to greet.
I was not going to write about you today.

There are gold coin verses to be found, still tucked away.
More rhymes to unravel; I can’t yet retreat -
- not when there are all of these reasons to stay.

I’ve so much story to learn and space for (s)wordplay.
There’s a bard, a noble, a pleb on Swanston Street.
I was not going to write about you today.

My ears are wide open, my head’s just gotten in the way.
This helmet is stifling. I can’t keep dragging my feet -
- not when there are all of these reasons to stay.

For now, I’ll walk your night during my day
and you’ll walk your day between my twin mattress and sheet.
I was not going to write about you today -
- not when there are all of these reasons to stay.


Sam Ferrante is a poet, editor, facilitator, and writer born on Long Island, college-fed in Western New York and Paris, and then poetically raised in Buffalo, NY, Ireland, and Australia. A former member of the Pure Ink Poetry team in Buffalo and a regular competitor in Dublin's Slam Sunday, Sam is now a Co-Creative Producer at Melbourne-based Slamalamadingdong. She is also Editor-in- Chief for online magazine,CrowdInk, and a regular attendee of as many poetry events as she can cram into a week. Her debut book of poetry, Pick Me Up got rave reviews from her Mom.