All Posts in Poetry

December 2016 - Comments Off

Olivia Black

The Balloon Bunch

It is July and I find myself in the cluttered yellow kitchen of what is a business first and home second. I lick the ice cream from my middle finger and watch Andres eat his. These are the perks of working for Gary. He is a big man, who lives in a tiny house littered with coupon clippings and clearance granola. He is the man who will surely not recall my name, but I will fondly remember as a father figure. I know this because of the girl in the green souped up car outside. She came to say hi, she spent last summer working for Gary. They laugh about the time she tripped over the pot of boiling tea that he for some miraculous reason left sitting on the floor. He tells her he wishes he could remember, but he is sixty now and it does not ring any sort of bell. I chip away the chocolate under my fingernails like the dirty girl I am. Gary has the hands of a working man, blistered from camping and greasy from rubbing the bald spot on his grey head. Eight O’Clock sharp, it’s time to put on our money belts and fill the van with the crap Gary says he is not proud of selling. Gary reminds us that this is how he makes a living, that balloons are a serious business. My summer tan tickles as vanilla drip drops down the side of my hand. Slowly falling until the drop has spread so thin that there is only the memory of a sticky-sweet line left in its place. I think this drip drop is a little bit like Gary’s life. I wish I didn’t think that. The last bite is too big to eat in one bite but too small to eat in three bites. Andres ice cream is long gone, he is a hungry boy. But Annette’s is not… I watch her shove the last bite into her mouth and I quickly assimilate into her confident ice cream eating abilities. Annette gives me a knowing smile. Her chipped front tooth prominent in a row of otherwise neat pearly whites. We all know The Story Of The Broken Tooth. How her father left her black and blue when her sister moved out. So she moved to Spain and developed a drinking habit that everyone is too afraid to call a problem. It’s really easy, like moths to a flame. All you have to do is dress, well, you know and find children whose parents look like they have money. The shit practically sells itself, at the end of the night we meet back at the van and Gary will give you your cut of the cash. I make $600 in five hours and Gary tells eager ears of his pride. The van rattles onto the highway as he begins to tell us of the time he did cocaine at a Beanie Baby convention. But I cannot hear him, I am too busy listening to the way my heart beats in conversation with the cold hard cash in my vanilla hand.

December 2016 - Comments Off

Julia Herrera

Cactus, Piss, Dogs, Police

The motor homes are back. The motor homes are back, meaning they're behind our house, meaning behind our house people are living. Meaning there are people living in motor homes that are parked behind our house. Mom's upset because now there's piss on our plants. She says when there are people living in motor homes, they've got to piss somewhere. Their door opens right out to our small patch of plants: aloe, agave, cactus. Also weeds. They open their door at night and piss on our plants. In addition to the piss, someone's been cutting our cactus. Dad and I know why. We have a story for the person who's been cutting our cactus. Like my father, he is probably from Mexico, perhaps Guatemala, but we think Mexico. He has figured out that instead of going to the store for his nopales, he can come to our little patch behind our house. This way, he can find an ingredient reminiscent of home without having to buy it. I understand. We just want him to cut it more kindly. Dad ends up putting a sign, "¡No corta!" because the cactus is looking too sad. Now that this little patch behind our house is becoming more frequented, made into a home, our dogs have picked up their barking again. Not that it was ever subtle. Our neighbors don't like this. Mom and Dad are upset. There might be a man sleeping between our garage and the neighbor's. Actually, there's a woman living there. She's coughing. Mom's upset about the piss the most, and so is Dad. The noise isn't helpful either. The motor homes creak like sex. I later realize why. My parents do too. Dad decides to call the police. I plead with him as always, "Papá, no. Why?" He makes the call. When the police arrive, they see my father first and go for him. He explains he is a homeowner. He made the call. The motor homes are back.

Innovative Fertility

Innovative Fertility does not want my eggs.
Maybe they think I'm rotten.
They think I'm rotten and my eggs are too.

Innovative Fertility thinks my brain is scrambled,
and my eggs are rotten.
A young man walks into the clinic.
He jerks off to many blondes

smaller than Pam Anderson, Carmen Electra, Rebecca Romijn maybe a little
too young, and releases into a plastic cup.
I take my meds nightly. I've not fantasized
about the other release in years.

I may not shave my hair, but I feed
my dog and take care of my father.
I bathe just about every day.

December 2016 - Comments Off

Jacquelyn Alpine

Time is a Woman

time is a woman who will love you and leave you     asking
where exactly do you not want me      forget that    look i am
building us a new nest              why don't you crawl inside it
look i am running     i am running so quickly       you won’t
believe it        i am making all kinds of appointments     i am
regarding the calendar & buying pillowcases at walmart look
i am an earthworm who will   not take for granted the strange
looks the ripening peppers have been giving me      look i am
thinking figuratively       i have forgotten how worms breathe
i know i can be so forgetful    sometimes    i feel like a mother
who velcros her pills to the wall    look i am practicing holding
this bag of cereal just like a real baby     look i am treating my
ailments like guests     you are a guest    in my nest
why won’t you live in it

December 2016 - Comments Off

Nathan Copperwheat

Classic Argentina Adventure 2000

I would like to               I must
admit, Nathan, the rows
of tapping fingers
and hissing faces         the whole

casual wardrobe
of being and coping
with being        it        it

Not that I could             This
fluorescent blood
could not lacquer a liferaft
should not be consumed by children
or even snakes

My Gloves

II.

my gloves got
wet rubbing ice and sooty
butter from the tiles under
one thousand unlit brass lamps

in the wood shrine                       and here they lie
limp on the
sill taking what
they can get
from the cloud
cut sunlight
and before

I can stop myself I find myself
God                  damning them

I.

who will you tell             you are
dying, Nathan? who will owe you
             the time it will take
             to be your last distraction?

December 2016 - Comments Off

Elizabeth Causey

ELEGANT ORIGAMI ELEPHANT

baby i think I'm going crazy
this summer wine really got me electrified
ate too many sweet strawberries
now I'm shaking my ass while tickling the ivories

i'm the best damn dancer in this ding dang place
i'm simply strictly the most flim-flam joke man
might as well just lock yourself in a tower
see how long it takes me to rescue you

in 5 4 3 2

just walk yourself to the nearest vacant restroom
and lick my shoes
is that really what you want me to do?
would I have said it if it wasn't true?

you are so elegant
you are so intelligent
i am the luckiest boy in the room

every shee in scotland
wants to kiss my tits
cause I've been playing hard to get
while sweating in this red velvet

you're the best damn elephant in this three ring circus
you keep me doing backflips all the time
spent so long just trying to ignore you

baby can i ask a tiny favor
can you get down to the sound of my personal procession
all these trumpets always follow me
freaking out on this funky chessboard, they just want a piece

you should let me wrap you up in silk
and put you in a match box
i just wanna give you your first haircut
i just wanna transform you into a pool cue
and rub blue chalk all over you

you are so elegant
you are so intelligent
i am the luckiest boy in the room

I'm so grateful to you
for swooping up and putting me back on my pedestal
took a horrible tumble
and wound up in the depths of distant desolee

its getting too hot in here to pretend we aren't turned on
everybody else is absolutely coco loco
everybody else is just rolling their eyeballs
and kissing their best friend's enemy

that's why you're my favorite piece of paper
that's why i keep you in my chest of drawers
understand the essence of what it means to be
a pretty piece of something insignificant

this whole affair has really twisted my sense of what's acceptable
my own body's the only thing i find desirable
it would be cool to get ground up into fine powder
and sold as medicine

but you can have me in crystal form

December 2016 - Comments Off

Cole Sherlock Hersey

Obelisk

For Ali 

 

Drinking white wine
in a water bottle
beside the sandstone
Obelisk of Ramses
smiling at the clouds
in the sun
as home beside the river.

Cardinal

Red flight. Oceans in its body, coaxing
its current past our car.
a tide to move
evanesce
in and out of sight.
It goes. Like any other.

Nebraska Corn

No terrain. Straight roads at a speed limit of eighty miles an hour. The telephone cables follow us through the farmland. Through the corn. The corn, a blanket of green that doesn’t stop rolling. It passes through each town and road, covering what once was open grassland. And through Nebraska, the corn goes. America’s best idea. Nebraska, onenote sustained for four-hundred and thirty miles of the 80. When we get out of the car, it’s quiet, except for the highway in the distance. No one talks. The corn is still now, like one piece of plywood, resting on the ground. Not able to see the next town, or even the road, through the fields. There is a bull wandering in the grass and trees, unchanged, grazing, carrying the blades slowly into its mouth. A small gust of wind comes, cooling. The bull flicks his tale. It’s just us, the car and the bull at the gas station. We drive. Meet Iowa. It’s note is the same as Nebraska. The sun fades. We listen to the radio. Des Moines lets us sleep near its river of the same name. It’s getting cold.

December 2016 - Comments Off

Layne Eckensberger

Divorce Speech

Forgiveness, I daresay
it would have come
if instead of the party flowers
or the lifetime supply of Forever
stamps you apologized with,
you gave me the thing I really
want, what I always wanted,
and never truly got, a field
of the delightful cross
of the Cortland and the ‘Lord
Lambourne,’ the Brigit Bonnier.
Of pleasant taste, the only
apple for those who don’t deal
in apple scab or mildew.
You would never understand,
you yourself scabrous and dewy,
this simple request, a request
which betrays a grateful spirit.
And you who would never attend
to my apple trees, given the opportunity,
you who would neglect them
until I was left without choice
and had to hack my dear field
down, then burn the field
until the forgotten seeds crackled.
You would make me do this
I have left you before you could.

Episode No. 1539, Season No. 7 

To David Bowie, in 1974, another word
for stolen is nicked. In the same year
he played 74 shows and did not want
to talk to Dick Cavett about his nerves.
 
—A lot of the glitter is gone that we associate
with you and you have got an entirely new person now…     
—No you haven’t

He has shrugged off his glitter, and later
he will shrug off even his jacket. We will
go on applauding. In 1974 he sung 1984
and would not remember the days in between

—Like a glass if an opera singer hits
a particular note the vibrations of that
hit the metabolism of the glass and crack it…
 
He would go on to explain black noise,
how for three or four dollars one could
purchase the patent in France. One
would simply need to be in France, with

three or four dollars. And, nervous,
Cavett wants to stop talking about this.
Can You Hear Me? was taped for the show
and the powers that were decided not to use it

December 2016 - Comments Off

Chloe Engel

show & tell

Fearless milk maker, in the sheer
blouse, you show me the way to woman

around town. You charge my tongue
a penny per like,
a dime per gotta,
a dollar per sorry. I forgot my lunch

today. During circle you deliver angel
innards, sweating mass of cream,
for the whole class to see.

My buddies call this sweet,
I call this thanks
for the cold slop in a bag.

I sit still, pillow perfect, a buttoned
up baby, brooding mercy mercy:
words that squirm like hymns in my hands.

I am told I will know
when I am older but
I know linen cabinets
smell like family,
and the will it takes to
get ready for bed
when I am tired.

Clasp my hands and call them holy
truck there is no fire
burning yellow on momma’s
chicken skin bosom.

December 2016 - Comments Off

Kameryn Carter

Unraveling

1

I leaned into crazy
as any Protestant
would: shamefully,
slowly, lips pressed
in a line. I count
the nights like this,
sweat-stuck to the
floor, silent and supine.

I’m so undone I sob
into latte I peel denim
from my skin I lay still
on linoleum I feel so cool.

Outside wind licks at the lake
and I imagine myself stomping
rocks into smoke. Understand,
once I was so light

2

In therapy, seven Kleenex
boxes offer their bodies—
eager as any man.
I decline.

3

This body betray this body self
destruct this body reflex this body
sick this body this body bloodthirst

4

I say I am fine and the lie
falls to my lips and lay there.
I forget where I am. My doctor
has a silly name. I think myself
a feral thing licking its wounds
in the dark until it is no longer thirsty.

Letter Home

Football season
and everything
prepares its body
for unthinkable
chill, everything
making mulled wine
in the upstairs shower

How goes dad
how go you

The wind ices your lips
and calls your maiden name

Mother: there are
so many things
to take and be
taken by
(a floorboard
for example)

Sometimes I am eating
a salad and nearly die
over the quality of its
lettuce O Mother,
it throws me
truly, I am always
being thrown

About Nothing

I’ve been pruning in a shallow
bath for days, slicking sardines
with flesh black pepper down
my throat, chasing them
with bathwater, soapsweet.

When I was young, I drew scribbles
on the wall and named them Woman
or Fruitfly or Sugargrain and things
were what they were because I named
them. Now, I call the sickle scar on my
thigh moon and it is still a scar.

How many names has this body
been given? Beastgirl, Firstborn,
Brainsick, Black

Sunlight flits atop the sardine can
and settles in the fold of my stomach,
on the ledge of my clavicle. The drain
sucks at water between my feet. Even
nothing has a name.

December 2016 - Comments Off

Carlota Gamboa

Platos rosos

¡Carne cruda que me duele; sueños rotos de azahar!

Limosnas blancas que ocultan

raíz pura

llanto verde que oprime el altamar;

hablo de los mares que me diste

antes de verlo qué

te llegó

yo, llena

de besos sangrientos que me dirigiste, ahora veo vidrio roto.

¡Ni sal lo arreglaría;!

¡ni perlas plumas versos o el sol-

¡ni manos de chamanes, ni hilo suave y algodón,

ni mis cuentos de princesas, ni mi reino de mármol!

Ni mi viento lo arreglaría…

ni el estaño del amor.

December 2016 - Comments Off

Ada Guzman

photos I took last winter

That Thursday she sat in that café. That café near that stormdrain spilling into the sidewalk cracks where passersby strut stucco. That orange rind missed the trash bin. She turns to look at you and now you are thinking there is nothing interesting I can say to her about orange rinds except their mild association with short-lived disappointment. Now you are lead-footed and too aware of your own sudoriferous glands. Unfortunate. She says hi my name is June. Her name is June because you sweat too much in front of her. Even your private thoughts are embarrassing. Now June is staring intently at your throat. She says there’s some snow on your adam’s apple is that cold? You say haha it’s sure snowing early this year. You say sorry I immediately am talking about the weather like doesn’t it always seem to happen like this. She smiles and turns to get her coffee. This is like high school except you’ve spent so much time trying to forget so much of your time in high school so maybe it isn’t. Maybe it’s just like that Thursday. Maybe it’s just about 6pm and outside the window the scenery keeps snowing.