Christopher Mulrooney


the classified ads
are full of work you could have done with
a lifetime of sorting it out

a man of genius says Coleridge
on a country quarrel
would have settled the matter in five minutes

that's the trouble says Virginia
it is improperly taught
this language of ours

Mark Cunningham

Kirtland’s Warbler

I have a friend who says the knots and twists of Aboriginal painting fascinate him, yet he’s never gone to the Aboriginal art museum in town, the largest private collection on display in the country, if not the world. As for me, I’m basically vegetarian, but for weeks I’ve been hankering for a medium-rare hamburger. Daniil Kharms concluded that the path to immortality consists of one rule only: continually do that which you don’t feel like doing. To make it easier for beginners, this could be paraphrased as "never pursue that which actually interests you at the moment." Last week, I wanted to read Rats by Robert Sullivan, but I was half-way through James Crumley’s Last Good Kiss; after I finished Crumley, I started James Meyer’s Minimalism, and I feel fine. I’ve been drawn to such discipline naturally. Even before I learned about Kharms, I wouldn’t discuss any topic I found intriguing: by telling, I’d make that information part of history, and the moment would pass. I’ve kept on refining my practice. At night, when I want to go back to sleep, I have to go to the bathroom first, which means I have to get up. In the morning, no matter how many things I have to look forward to, my first action on waking is immediately to clinch my eyes shut again.

Jeff Crouch

The Puzzle of Suburbia

In "Understanding Epistemology, Part Three: Justify Yourself," Duncan Pritchard nicely articulates knowledge as based on a belief structure (The Philosopher’s Magazine: 28 (2004): 83-85). What I found most interesting in his presentation was that the belief structure itself seems to parallel another type of structure, namely architecture. The house most fitting this architecture is, of course, the courtroom. However, while Pritchard presents a geometry of space, he does not encounter knowledge as a build-out taking place in space and time. To do so would be to describe epistemology not as a single ground, but as a landscape, a region, a continent, a world, … .

Riding the roller coaster over and over.

The drunk uncle sure to bring financial ruin.

Gratuitous use of the topological trope: "Moebius strip."

In short, philosophy as history. That is to ask, does our knowledge ever have a single foundation, or is it as multiple as history? For such epistemology that does not make these considerations negates knowledge as a construct of history where the actual grounds of knowledge are much more like bricolage than blueprint. And beliefs too are like bricolage

Therapy for John Candy as the dweeb security guard. Jelly-of-the-month club. No bonus.

Briefly, let’s discuss knowledge outside the structure of belief, justification, and certainty. While these terms depict a particular architecture for epistemology as the grounds for knowledge, they only give us a geometry of floor and ceiling and condition us to understand knowledge as stacking, and in these terms, everything stacked needs something to be stacked upon. The ground of knowledge then becomes a question of firstness--the foundation needs a foundation. Of course, in these terms too, the foundation needs to be sturdy.

Kidnapping the boss, wrapping him in a bow, delivering him to the host.

Cornell West, he’s the best!

Perhaps the argument for knowledge here is merely analogical in the sense that it makes us at home in a physical universe where parallel conditions apply: for example, National Lampoon’s Vacation series—even if the children are not played by the same actors, and we are never really sure where the children—or the family for that matter— are in their development. On vacation, the family is, however, at the point of breakdown because it has to function as an institution and take over the role of other, time-consuming institutions. The TV turned off—the headphones on tight.

Family vacation—the anxiety, the big fun, the let-down. Vacation, I dare say, its own institution—an institution outside school or work, an institution that requires us to negotiate truth: family.

Two solid weeks of meeting the relatives.

Forgetting the dog and leaving it tied to the bumper.

Finding Aunt Edna dead.

Finding the cat in one Christmas box, jello in another.

The dog, Snots.

Sitting the corpse in a rocker on the porch and leaving a note on the corpse.


Sometimes I take a great deal of license in segues for my segues are not necessarily analogical, and analogy implies that my narrative logic is not simply associative , that it has more than a tangential structure, that the parallels I assert are somehow valid.

Harry Bailey now George Bailey, father as drunk uncle, a.k.a. Clark Griswald as Jason, Jason? –chainsaws off the faulty knob on the staircase.

Fantasizing Christie Brinkley.

Fantasizing the lingerie model.

Fantasizing cabaret.

Families absent of their governors are like steering wheels spinning wildly—a 360 degree whip of the wheel just to turn right. Driving through, the city abandoned except for, from the perspective of the middle-class family, the wrong class of people. The city—an occasional public space. An occasional demonstration, an occasional riot. Mostly though, peace and quit. People going to work, people going about their business.

Is it true? They do not live here. The dangerous people are just hanging out. The dangerous people have no home—no home in the suburbs.

Married with Children as Not the Cosbys. Polyester. Closed for repairs.

We do not want to be dangerous people—is that the point of A Raisin in the Sun?

Not Kathleen Turner as a neighbor. Archie Bunker.

Trying a game show stint—a slight name change, off to Europe.

City government. A committee, a behind-the-scenes something. In the usual historical sense, the city is the polis, the body politic. But what happens when the city is but a ghost town? Everybody—meaning everybody that counts—goes home, and home is in the suburbs. When people no longer dwell in their polis? Who then governs? Even in the

suburbs, the polis once had a center called Main Street. But Main Street gave way to the intersection, the mall. Where is the place of government? Is it as invisible as home ownership? The 1950s chronicled by David Halberstam.

Winslow Homer/Homer Winslow. Mr. Winslow on Family Matters. Homer.

The Beastie Boys/Baudrillard.

What about those who have returned to the city for entertainment? Vacation—in the near vicinity, Bedford Falls. But it does not all go to pot. Yet in It’s a Wonderful Life is not the point that the city without the suburbs—i.e., home ownership—turns librarians to prostitutes?

Christie Brinkley keeps smiling, and Clark Griswald fumbles all over himself.

Beverly D’Angelo plays a Doris Day re-do. Russ with a prostitute. Divine intervention. Parents. Children.

Having held a BB gun on a Wally World security guard, Clark Griswald has an explanation for his crime. The Golden Rule—we came all the way to Wally World only to find it closed. We suffered death, threat of prosecution, near financial ruin. Mr. Wally, we are not dangerous people; we only wanted to ride your rides.

"These people are terrorists"

"Would you do what I have done, Mr. Wally?"

The answer is no.

The dinner prayer: Play ball!

Matthew Medina


Somewhere were people say
the word "macabre" when
they really mean "macaroni."

The subject not being death
but rather, whether the chips were
in fact, "Nacho Cheesier."

j. a. tyler

The Other, a Sister

He had a sister, him, this man in a bed watching the shadows blacken like catfish in jamaican sun.

And in eyesight mostly going blind, his chest unbreathing in unbreath, he watched that sister fall and trip up his stairs, stumbling in vacant unease. But here she was, the only one left, so that he felt dizzy and harsh. Her, his sister, trampling trudging through the gray outside and the wind or the lack of wind, either way in the sunset, sitting in a chair next to this Other, closer to the dusk.

This until the double of his vision was a sister covered in butterflies and an Other shaded in darkness and multitudes. Monarch skin and she sat watching him, her hands palms to knees, her mouth a thin stretch of unmoving. Unweeping. The butterfly wings flickering and stained, light wavering. And when they calmed and rested they were hands held in prayer, a vigil or a destination, for him and his unbreathing chest, a dying man and his sister’s whispery wings.

And underneath it the noise of the Other, streaming through. The quiet humming silence that the Other projected, protects, filtering it through him and his sister. Sitting near her, leaning into her, inhaling the scent of still living. This Other, wanting something else. This Other, waiting on his sister. This man in the dying bed, this man crying without tears, holding onto the disconnect, fingers on a bloodline string.

Her, his sister, moving away and back down the stairs, like a fish straightening down the river.

James Babbs

Dream Where I Was a Blackbird

before this there was fire and
something burned out of me
then rising from the ashes
my arms beating the air
I started soaring over rooftops
pulling in patterns the shingles
made with my sharpened eyes
before flying high above the trees
feeling the same way I always did
like I was inside my old body
but in my mind I knew and
when I opened my mouth
wanting to speak
the sound emerging made the people
turn their heads to look
hands help up before them
shielding their eyes from
the burning rays of the sun

Bradford Gray Telford

Marc Jacobs in Reverie on How Timing is Everything

as when he breathed in all of New York City at that very moment heroin chic billowed and lurched through all the blocks south of 14th Street--

wheeling like an errant Macy's float--

a float knocking down pregnant mothers and formerly good teens while slamming lawyers hard against lampposts--

and he and his shame would walk to the corner of Second and Fourth--

back when Second and Fourth was a real place with real desperation--

back when Second and Fourth was not the Thomas Kinkade painter of light desperation that can be bought by those mall walkers, walking all over the Mall of America--

which now walks and lurches all over Manhattan--

Jennifer Gravley

The Gospels

My mother called me up the morning after I vomited at my cousin Maggie's wedding to explain to me why I couldn't get a man: I had no compassion, never thought about anyone besides myself.

I didn't think she was using the word right and went into the living room for the dictionary, causing the phone to static and her to hang up.

The C section was missing. I went to the library, straight to the OED. I sat down back of the reference section next to a sleep-eyed boy whose blond hair swooped along his ears' tops like the splintering bristles of miniature brooms. He was reading anime porn swathed in Details.

Matt lived at home, said he was scared of the dark, scared of McDonald's and stacks of dollar bills. I spat into his sweet corn hair, called him Matty in bed like a girl. I made him sneak in his bare feet over the hard wood's creaks to show me snapshots, narrate his childhood spent tucked into the cradle of his mother's arm.

I told my mother I thought about Matt, who wasn't myself, considered myself cured. She said I wasn't thinking of Matt but the red-haired girl. Another story of the blonde girl and the red haired. I stopped the story short, supplied the moral myself: the blonde girl thought of what other people needed from her; the red haired, what she needed from them. It wasn't the same.

I'd call Matt up at his mother's at two, three, tell him I couldn't sleep for thinking about him fucking me. His mother answered two weeks in, forbade me to see him. I wouldn't even wait for him to speak—just start: You're on top of me, behind me, I'm on top of you.

I thought about Matt's mealy hands, his grainy small smiles squirreled in uneven stacks next to the TV, waited cattycorner his house for his mother to back her bright white station wagon into the cul-de-sac. I cut the lights, asked him who he was thinking about.

He wasn't listening. He was listening for the sounds of his mother's tires sliding asphalt to gravel.


My mother called me to tell me to call my aunt Maria, whose husband had left her for a petite brunette named a flower.

She called back to call me unempathetic.

I went to the ice cream parlor, feeling sorry for cows, and bought myself a sugar cone with laundry quarters. I slipped on a dripping I'd missed with my tongue, grabbed the thigh of a scrawny pale boy with a white mark under his eye on my way down.

Mark helped me off the floor, told me how his mother used to beat him, how he watched cartoons and political roundtables with the sound down, how he hadn't been touched since the car accident that killed his mother.

He'd had his own place since he was sixteen, wide blank air-conditioned rooms. Naked, I demanded he hit me. I wanted to be bruised, fucked up, but he'd just lie on his stomach on his bed and whimper. I had to do everything.

I told my mother people wouldn't show me what their lives were like. She said everyone's lives were the same: the blonde remembers her experiences and understands others feel those same emotions in similar situations; the red-haired girl doesn't think anyone has feelings like her. She's always the only one.

I asked Mark to get in his grey hatchback and drive me to his mother to see what she thought. She lived fifty freeway miles south, in the dank vermicular grub. Mark rubbed his fingers over the marble, his scooped-out last name, cried with his hands in his ears.

But she didn't talk, and I didn't either.


My mother called me to tell me her neighbor needed to borrow the pearls her mother had given me for a second wedding. I said I was wearing them to an international art film. She said I didn't trust anyone or anything.

I went to the bank to deposit my grandmother's weekly grocery check, left my purse on the island counter right next to the tallest boy in the room.

Luke caught up to me in line, caught my arm, pulled me halfway to his chest. The pink straw of my bag was biting into his palm.

I told him I could buy us food so he stopped by the gas station on the way back to his place. He ran in to buy us hotdogs already in the buns and milk thick with the scent of bananas. He brought back my change, pressed the cold coins into the cup of my hand hard.

His place was decorated up like he wanted to be able to call it a pad, posters under glass, twisted-up lamps, his mother's silver-framed photo on the mantle that hung from an un-fireplaced wall. As soon as I pushed him down onto his bean bag, he screamed out he loved me.

I told my mother people couldn't be trusted, that they lied to get what they wanted. She said people do what they do and believe what they believe for a reason. I told her we were agreeing with each other: the blonde and the red haired into a morally ambiguous strawberry. She disagreed.

While I was pushing down on his wrists with concentration and my whole weight, Luke announced he was looking for a plain life, the kind that came with a plain brown-haired girl and an unspecified brown-haired dog, was going to start attending non-denominational church on a semi-regular basis.

I bought a can of blue hair spray. It made my hair match the hair of his mother on the mantle.


My mother called me up just to say I didn't get it, didn't want to be happy.

I told her I didn't.

I went downstairs to gather my mail from its little tin home. A pierced boy, barely closer to six feet than five, came closer down the street, kicking the front and rear right tires of every car pulled to the curb.

He told me he never listened to his mother, never flossed or opened greeting cards. My hand slicked, the Cosmo my mother had gift-subscribed me slipping in a rush onto my bare feet. I knocked it off one foot with the other, stepped over it, and pulled John into my blue backseat.

His twin bed swam with socks and sour t-shirts, stank. When the phone rang, he didn't answer it.

I told my mother I wasn't listening to any more stories. She said the stories rang true.

John didn't vacuum either, rocks and knock-off cereal o's and origamied business cards nipping, nibbling my feet. He held my hands above my head, held my elbows, hips, knees. I held my hand over his mouth, pinched his nose when he snored. He kicked me in his sleep, oblivious to the tight meow of the phone ringing and kicking in the other room.

And this is the story I told my mother: I don't want to be happy.

Arun Gaur

Saturday Mart

This is a mart of Saturday
mart to buy roots and roots
that appear to be skinned eye-less fishes
white cold and naked.

And some betel-leaves.

And some asters.

Leg askance on leg
foot-fingers hooked to foot-fingers
toe to toe
let us eat our ice-cream

or strike a bharat-natyam pose
with knee up
and scoops of pudding in our hands.

Howard W. Robertson

The clay side by the Kalapuya

The ineffable voices,

the living and nonliving,                                        
                                                      the animate or inanimate,

the essentially spiritual,                                              
                             the utterly mysterious,
fractally fascinating sounds that linger in the shade
here at the energetic end of summer at a time when
carbon dioxide and methane levels have started to
resemble those of fifty-five million years ago after
comparable quantities of greenhouse gases entered
the atmosphere and caused a worldwide heat-wave
that lasted over 200,000 years,                                  
                                                               of the power of the
world’s continuous beginning,                                  
                                              of the ungraspable
holiest phantom calling to us from the rapids and
causing us to reflect on the life of the universe in
these secret thoughts that run over things sacred,

                                       or grave,
                                                                         and each
without all shame or blame;                                          
                                            the ineffable voices

of the living river,

of the ceaselessly flowing entropy reduction that
generally and joyfully characterizes all forms of
       of the primal attraction to watery edges we
inherit from our origins 150,000 brief years ago
back in Africa’s Rift Valley where our ancestors
foraged along the shore for fish,                              
and mammals,        
                                             of this coming from
melted snow and ice and this flashing past dark
boulders or shadowy trout as the stream acts out
what has happened to it and what it will do in its
randomly sensitive dependence on so many initial
                   of the perpetual peace inspiriting this
ancient tumult of pristine flux;                           
                                                  of the living river

declaim so purely,

stand so phenomenally beyond,                           
                                                                and within
the passing of immediate things,                           
                                                        infuse us now so
unconsciously with inspiring bagatelles of transient
                 suggest so melodiously the immanence
that is real yet forever to be realized,                        
                                                            is the remotest
possibility and the most immediate fact,                    
                                                                that gives
meaning to everything transitory but still defies our
                         the mystical transcendence whose
conceptual expression remains our hopeless quest,

expound so profoundly on the soul’s poise,          
                                                                    on its
its sureness,                    
                   its sweetness,
                                                                its cunning
as the black river pours over the split rocks making
savage rainbows of spray,                                            
                                          remind us so reverently
of Hildegard of Bingen and of the divine sparkling
of waters,                                                                    
so magnanimously,                   
                                          so independently,
simply of the process of optimal harmonization with
the Ki of the universe and with the kami of the high
O yes!,                                            
                         extemporize so urgently of life as
it becomes in the intricate invasions of as,            
                                                                    in things
from fecund Nil created;            
                                                          declaim so purely

through ouranic forest,

through maples and ash and nitrogen-fixing alders,

through firs and hemlocks and cedars,                     
                                                              through the
miraculously improbable distribution of molecules
that connects these heliotropic woods to the entire
terrestrial biosphere or to the Sun and the River of
Stars by day or by night,                                             
                                        this analogy between the
biochemical and the astrophysical that proves to be
mathematically feasible after all,                           
                                                through all these
spirelike dendrozoic structures based on the carbon
made in stars and spread in dust and gas throughout
the interstellar medium or the whorling arms of our
own and countless other galaxies,                           
                                                        the same carbon
that provides our planetary life-forms the means to
encode and transmit our genetic instructions to our
own cells and to our varied offspring whether we be
                     or archaea by domain,
these thriving descendants of ancestors who started
three eons ago to practice photosynthesis,           
solar energy to take carbon from atmospheric CO2
and synthesize storage sugars,                             
                                                and who began 400
million years back to cooperate symbiotically on
dry land with underground mycorrhizal fungi for
nitrogen and for precious water during droughts,

through this holy and enchanted landscape where
hydrogen from the original cosmogenic explosion
rushes molecularly bonded to its derivative oxygen,

evoking Presence in Absence,                                        
                                              Essence in the Void,

the subtlest ecstasis and the memorably fugace,      
common and inseparable life of the earthly and the
          or more precisely yet vaguely something
more basic than biota,                                                
                           something beyond life and
        a universal harmony heard beside a river in
the mountains through trees;                                          
                                              through ouranic forest

and chthonic chasm,

the cleft in the Earth whose verticality now aims us
down the tilth toward the subterranean embodiment
and enactment of the vastly greater portion of the
biosphere here at this place a couple hundred yards
northwest of the junction of Oxbow Road and Three
Kings Road off of Highway 139 just past Pioneer
          this local landscape set into motion in the
invisible past when a massive clay slide slipped off
Tumtum Ridge down to where the Kalapuya River
still sluices through the volcanic mountains,        
spectacular pair of vertiginous cliffs whose steep
potential points our mindfulness down toward the
googolplexes of creatures underneath this elegant
A-frame cabin and the expansive deck upon which
Hope and I luxuriate,                                                  
                                      the endless miles of coiled-up
gossamer threads of fungal hyphae or root-hugging
mycorrhizal arbuscula,                                                
                         and all the nematodes,
the water bears,                   
                    the mites,
                                                                the countless
other arthropods,                                                            
the bacteria,    
                                            the methanogens,
the tough,                                        
                                            so adaptable microbes
          the libidinous earthworms whose cosmic
inching works and reshapes this clay soil that slid so
far so fast so very long ago,                                            
                                            clay being the aperiodic
crystal that is able to mutate and self-replicate like
double-helix DNA,                                                          
                        that is chemically reactive with
adenosine triphosphate molecules for storing vital
energy in living organisms,                                         
                                              that was formed within
the mantle at high temperature and pressure and
brought to the surface by the same churning plate
tectonics pushing the continental crusts,          
                                                                                 that during
the meteor bombardment,                                          
                                          the volcanic degassing,

the cataclysmic rainstorms and intense ultraviolet
irradiation of our globe’s raw first eon utilized the
potent thermal energy from the radioactive magma
of the deep subsurface to provide the basic stardust
components of our planet the means to re-organize
themselves against the threat of the thermodynamic
disorder and evolve into a complex design of living
           that served as a crystalline template for the
sequencing of simple proteins and genes,            
pairs of amino acids or nucleotides into the proper
orientation for the biosynthesis of macromolecules,

that can incorporate nucleic and amino acids into its
own structure to initiate the replication or synthesis
functions of those earliest living microbial obligate
anaerobes from which we all descend,                       
                                                                that provided
capacious electrostatically charged surfaces to serve
as primitive enzymes,                                                  
                                        that likely became embedded
by RNA-like single-stranded nucleotide chains,      
eventually taken over by them and finally replaced
altogether for biocatalytic purposes,                       
                                                                that formed the
scaffolding with which the bridge of life was built,

and that swarms with miracles ultra vires scientiae
in its electrochemical interiors;                             
                                                  and chthonic chasm

whatever Gaia feels,

metaphorically speaking of course,                         
                                                            using an ancient
anthropomorphic eidolon for our little locus of the
Illimitable that novelist William Golding suggested
to his neighbor the chemist James Lovelock in the
early 1970’s in their quiet Wiltshire village where
the country folk found it obvious that the biosphere
was a self-regulating system keeping all conditions
favorable for life over improbable periods of time,

the scientist and the literatus thereby collaborating
to resurrect an ancient goddess also known as GA,

an irresistible divinity personifying the biosphere
with its strange property of keeping itself always a
fit and comfortable place for living things to affect
and inhabit,                                                                
                   with its stable recycling of energy and
materials among its components at rates controlled
by feedback systems,                                                  
                             with its Gestalt greater than
the sum that we question while it works,            
                                                                with its
elemental composition similar to the universe as a
whole in which hydrogen,                                          
carbon are by far the primary ingredients,            
                                                                               with its
eight levels of intricate self-organization from the
organelles to biotic entirety,                                        
                                              with its abundant flow
of energy characterized by a tendency to form itself
as it consumes,                                                              
                       with its extremely exotic subsurface
ecosystems of vast microbial metabolisms powered
by the Earth’s inner heat independently of the aging
      with its visceral biological forces in an intimate
union with the many fluxes and pools of the global
exchange of water,                                                  
                                              and nutrients between
the sunlit surface and the depths,                         
                                                           with its Paleozoic
stromatolite fossils over three billion years old that
were left by the archaic photosynthesizers,            
                                                                             with its
fossilized arbuscular mycorrhizae from 400 million
years ago that resemble miniature etched trees,      
its green chloroplast organelles that originated in a
primordial symbiosis between the cyanobacteria
and the eukaryotic organisms,                             
                                                with its microbial
majority of life that would and will survive if and
when all of us large creatures became or become
extinct but not vice-versa sadly,                         
                                                        and with its truly
awe-inducing effect on this couple of us vociferous
advocates and voracious consumers who have been
inspired to love and respect the Earth because we
are part of it and cannot survive without a healthy
planet as our home,                                                  
                           who have dedicated ourselves
to replacing that destructive reductionist thinking
with this holistic compassion,                             
                                             to integrating our
socio-economic well-being with environmental
                 to changing specifically to accredited
green power options for household electricity,   
installing solar panels on the roof and a solar hot
water system,                                                              
                    to using energy-efficient appliances
and light bulbs,                                                            
      a triple-A showerhead,
                                                                  and a tiny
fuel-efficient car,                                                          
to walking,  
                                                                             or taking
public transportation,                                              
                                         to calculating our own carbon
            to conducting a workplace sustainability
          and to writing to our politicians about climate
change and the right response,                             
                                                 we two who lounge
on this raft-like deck temporally afloat and marvel
at the hummingbird-sized sphinx moth flitting from
blossom to bloom while chipmunks snatch roasted
unsalted peanuts from Hope’s lap and vine maples
so imperceptibly continue to turn red at this twist in
the scenery that civilized people admire where birds
and small animals withdraw and return to observe
    perhaps knowing in their bones that eternity is
beautifully pointless and that the brute facts are
more than truth enough;                                        
                                        whatever Gaia feels.

Lisa Nickerson

Tom said "Frank O'Hara will plant a poem in your head"

The gnats plastered to the purple, slanted ceiling
in the upstairs bathroom
remind me
it is summer, Frank O'Hara.

Tom said you'd plant a poem inside my head
Tom said, yes he did.

The toilet paper is run out on the roll hanging
the windows are open to their bones
though you, Frank O'Hara
wrote of Cohasset and Provincetown
and well heeled Boston summering
in plaid pants on the croquet courts
all wrapped in green and blue whale belts

or wait
that might be me
you forgot the lace-top hydrangeas Tom spotted
on the road
to the beach where we had a picnic and the battery in the camera died just
before sundown but the children didn't
die. They ran like sandfleas licking
at cold Cape Cod bay
dart dart go their toes like baby flea tongues.

Tom didn't take any pictures and the chicken was honeyed
I sliced the the jalapeno flecked cheese with a plastic knife
and we brought the peach tartlet and lemon squares home.

Matt Dennison

Naked in the Wrong City

Can I ever be clean again, he wondered.

Young and free and all that.

Can I shake off these rags.
Can I ever again.

Naked in the wrong city he waved his hand,

naked and wrong.

I Say, Darling

I say, darling, this is quite a fine
bag of garbage that you have
here and it certainly

is ripe.

I’m sure the shy

eating machine will

find it most

Let’s put it out tonight

for you know how they
like to eat in the morning

when no one is there.

Jed Myers

At the Cupid Club

One heart’s wires light white neon—
the thorax cabaret
night begins, a one-act play
scored for cigarettes, gin,
accordion (no piano
fits between the ribs).

One heart’s fibers hum by starlight
inhaled through translucent skin,
a blue tint bathes a shadow
swinging from a high trapeze
by bent knees, singing
minor key to accordion’s wheeze.

A pulsing fist against
its hardened chest plots reddened
lips the next act. The pulp
of jealousy contracts to black
behind thick velvet. Each squeeze
a more contorted chord.

The music shifts, a march-like
major drift—hypnosis
spreads like wisps of some white film
out from the sound-box. The keys
depress themselves, as a ghost
of love passes—one heart sees.

Smoke and moonlight meet inside
the foggy window. Cupid leans
against the glass, sips Bourbon neat,
tips his Fedora with one finger
to the dancer, singer, madman,
memory, the accordion player…

Shane Jones

The Water Troth Horses

After the third day of dumping hot water by single buckets, the muscles in our forearms became stretched bruises, barely able to handle the turning of a doorknob. Caldor Clemens was the one who came up with the hot water troth system which would change the course of the war forever. Clemens spent two days building a long wooden troth from thick trees he chopped down by hand and carried on his shoulder from the woods. When he was finished, the wooden troth was three times longer than the house. Then Clemens instructed us to stick pieces of glass to the bottom of the troth with the sap he had collected from the trees. This way the troth itself won’t catch fire, he said, testing a small fire beneath the troth. On the morning Clemens wanted to test the troth system, he walked up the hill towards the house with six horses who he then harnessed to the troth which was bubbling with hot water. On his command, the horses tipped the troth, sending a massive wave of hot water rushing towards the town, melting snow until it became slush. We continued this attack until the falling snow melted on the warm soil like a tongue. The sky became a rippling sail. The holes in the sky went black. The war effort pointed to the sky shouting for the death of February.

George Fortier


Poppies I gave called lilac
your thigh’s bruise called persistent you said
wait until the shower nothing washed
your eyes still called blue lips
called red here your lips called base rosette
called triangle under
your brunette nails called plum called mint
chintz on the tips of fingers we licked
meat called blackened silver
wine called Dolcetta over flameprince peaches
seed called pit inside salt and alkaline
called sweet soil
we bolted back to front again called saddle
called thus spread called gloss
called your skin shown through
cups called my hands held
to the waved loss and gain called angle
called bronze time
stung called ash pushed to the dusk’s sheet’s
dark across poppies that were never lilac.

Brad Hatfield

The Comfort of Your Emails

Resigned to the island,
His universe in hand --
Economies settled --
Crusoe checked daily

The curve of the ocean
For the tip of a mast --
A puff of color --
In the static white sky.

Sarah Seybold


My mother knelt, coatless in the snow, trying to suck gas from the broken-down Chevy’s tank and siphon it to the Dodge, while I found a five in my jacket pocket, magic I didn’t know I had, and we coasted on fumes down icy roads to Jiffy Mart. “Let’s use a couple bucks and get some McDonald’s to celebrate our luck,” she said, finally taking a breath.

Hari Bhajan Khalsa

Eros with Pistol

The sight the squeeze the crack the
wrack the smack kickback the lick
of it the spit of it split of it the track
contact to impact to shatter to scatter
to scraps to bits that skitter that litter to
splinter rend bend strip rip apart part
the heart the heart
beats back beats back

J Michael Wahlgren



The cycle spins,

like a windmill,

generating energy.


And once,

when the dew must,

arches outwardly.

Jazz Umbrella


the trumpet squeals as if exhaling my nom de plume;

we mend the holes in the O.


The magic pose--electrifying ways of a woman

tied to verse; tied to verse; tied to verse.


Circles bend their diameters for a taste of candy.

Unleashing yourself in the rain.

Mark Cunningham

Unseen Bird of the Inner Eye
When I was seven, my body rolled out of bed, turned left at the hallway, and walked out the front door. My father shepherded me back after a neighbor called. When we visited Chicago, our ex-policeman host showed up naked in the door to the guest room, .45 in hand, to warn my parents there was a prowler downstairs. I'm not sure how they got me back to bed unshot. I'm not counting the time I woke up in the front yard (that's only half), or dreams, which is the mind playing solitaire, sometimes winning, sometimes losing. Maybe even sleepwalking doesn't count: my subconscious mind must have been guiding me. Still, the body wants to do something on its own. And it can outlast you. On her first night as a mortician's assistant, Judy turned away from a body stretched flat, eyes closed. When she turned back, the body was sitting upright, eyes open. With only a little resistance, it let itself be laid out again.

Northern Mockingbird
I was the perfect viewer of "That Obscure Object of Desire": I didn't notice the lead female character is played by two women. I still can't distinguish between the eleven or so narrators of "For All Mankind". It's not that I have ADD—just the opposite. I've heard that one way to reach wisdom is to view the world as a dream or a movie, my dream or movie. It takes concentration. I made it through the rainiest spring on record in Virginia by imaging I was in England investigating crop circles and chasing those little UFOs that look like interstellar bowling balls that have rolled into the gutter but are smart enough to fly back out. The perma-drizzle was almost bearable. One February, I kept thinking I was in Finland, near the Arctic Circle, long nights with a few hours of twilight between. The land was scoured flat or buckled into glacial warp; I ate the same fish stew for dinner; I introduced the local punk band to the Misfits. When I remember that winter, I think of how the low sun could get right in my eyes when I was trying to find my car keys or rinse a glass, and I'd have to stop what I was doing and close my eyes until it was dark enough to see.