Eric Beeny

Moving On

Rain is only useful if you’re just about to
purchase an umbrella
just as a parole hearing is only handy
if you don’t own a spoon.

Concealing your mirror’s face only shows
if you wear natural-looking makeup
just as concealing ideas with words is only
practical if you’re some sort of mute.

These are things we know already.
Now what?

Marcia Arrieta

my house

tree portal sky
dialectic dream


circumference [to carry--more at BEAR]
          the external boundary

intersecting arcs

Ivy Page

Nurse Seeking

Tall blonde looking
for man with BMI of 25 or better,
IQ between 130-140,
must have a perfect PFT.
Resting blood pressure should
not exceed 120/70, head
circumference of 25"- 30"
preferred. Age negotiable.

Female Seeking

Man who knows how to dress
Like a woman, not in women's clothes.
Voicing an opinion should always
be in the form of a question, or
with a request for agreement
added at the end of the opinion.
Sense of etiquette around my girlfriends
Essential. Reply to: Status Quo

Male Seeking

Legs like beef teriyaki,
breasts that could be
compared to hard whipped
egg whites
An ass that bounces
like Jello salad
a sense of humor
that tickles the tongue
more than Pop-Rocks.
Must come standard
with ability to cook.

James Bertolino


The unutterable
of spiral snails
on the slick surface
of tide-flat mud

was like seasoning:
a side of beef on a spit
with specks of spice dotting
the flesh and fat

turning grandly
like a planet
above the fire.


The neighborhood knew
she had a furred snake,

and if you grabbed hold
and squeezed

it would utter rosehips.
No, not the word, but

those orange pods packed
with seeds. She used them

at the barbecue to spice
the beef kibble.

I ate some and it was good.

Graham Burchell

The Next State

(Arriving in New Mexico 11/27/2005)

So, there we were
in our gray seats, tiltable by degrees,
at the discretion of a uniformed lady
with pressed tight hair, common spit,
and slack lips smiling us
into another land within the same,
where the wet of the air had dried and cooled,
drawing artists to clean light
gathered in a spirit laden sky.
It was cheek cold on this winter's edge.
People crowded into sock end huddles
to brave wind that snatched golden leaves
and burnt adobe corners smooth.

The Road Beyond Roswell
(U:S:20, New Mexico - 11/30/2005)

Take a look at this madness!

It is a ballroom where the wind may vaunt,
and everything solar may pose in bright gowns?

Black pavement sliced through it, yet makes no barrier
for that high on energy, scuffing cracked grasses,

rattling the last dry seeds over scruff carpet.
It's a coyote's unwashed fleece -- ripe to be stomped.

Here is insignificance, treeless families
clinging to bleached sod. They are the masses,

cushioning players that fail to notice
the clear chill dragged behind them in winter;

a slow waltz breeze, or a tango gusting spirals,
danced in morpho blue dresses and long shadow tails.

Margarita Engle

Child of the Parrot

Three witched offered to grant one wish to each family in the neighborhood. Every family chose the same wish: safety for their sons, or, in other words, exile before the boys reached the age of military service. Each family paid a fortune to the three witches, who said they needed money to hire a sturdy boat that could carry the boys far away, to a safe, foreign harbor in a legendary land where there were never any wars.

Soon after receiving the money, the witches disappeared. Later, they sent back a portrait of themselves standing in front of an easily recognizable landmark, a statue in the foreign country where they had promised to take the boys. Naturally, the deceived parents were furious. The boys were despondent at first, but one of them noticed a serpent twined around the base of the statue in the picture. He pointed it out to the others, who took turns imagining all the ways a serpent could cause trouble for three witches.

If you look very carefully at the historic portrait, you can see the witches already beginning to shrink, grow scales, and lose their legs. It was just a matter of time until the boys sprouted wings. By then, they had formed the now-famous club, call Child of the Parrot. They knew they would be ready to migrate to a war-free zone long before the witches had a chance to float all the way back to their homeland on bits of flotsam and jetsam, in a vain attempt to reverse the magic of vivid childhood imaginations.

Los Angeles

In my hometown there are young men considered so dangerous that when they appear in juvenile court, they are caged. Shackles prevent them from rattling the bars of their cages. They refuse to speak or write any words that contain the first letter of the name of the enemy clan. In this cult of death, even the alphabet is vanishing. The judges are solemn, as mothers and sisters of the accused reach up to clasp the feathers of invisible angels.

No one is dreaming. The young men in the cages are real. The wings and hands are alive. The souls of unspoken words float away, musical hearts vanishing through bulletproof windows.


Cliffs of cinnabar sunset rise beyond the manmade lake, with its earthen dam, hidden tunnels, and a cluster of cabin-tents inhabited by adventurers who pause to swim and rest during their atavistic journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. They travel on foot, lugging backpacks, and leading llamas. They sit on tree stumps around a fire pit, speaking of music and nightmares. "Funny nightmares," one explains, "the kind where you don't know why you were afraid."

The next morning, their journey resumes. The llamas' posture is swanlike. The hikers' beards and backpacks are once again coated with dust. They take a water taxi to the far shore of the lake. Returning to the wilderness, they vanish, as if the High Sierras were a foreign country in a distant time zone, far beyond the sun, as it rises above crumbling vermilion cliffs.

Jason Fraley

Letter to Distance

You give me little reason to open the doors, to reconnect
the telephone. Wire have not brought the world
closer. My voice always returns hollow.
I slit the blinds -- fissures of light remind me
of the woman who raised her hair in red chopsticks.
We will not meet until every city is renamed
Alexandria. You are a body refusing burial.
I will attempt to circumvent you by finding
the unnamed routes furthest north, those beneath ice.

Chloe Garcia Roberts

The Aborted

Transparent in the day, at night like glass I become a mirror.
And she my opposite maintains the imperviousness of a lake,
which regardless of time, never lets you see beneath the surface.

My mother told me she thought of her as me who had to wait
until another time to be born. I feel her like I feel the future,
through the covering of darkness, invisible as a new moon.

There is none of the prodigal here, none of the known and lost.
Just a silver stitch in death, between the walked and the walking,
someplace I am and everyplace I was.

Even when joy opens me apart, her language rises
inside like something dreamed. A tree is equal mass
above and underneath:

she burns below me, silent as an anchor.

Damian Dressick

Fable of the Deconstruction #473:
Jameson on Polish Hill

During a 1978 research trip to Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill to interview working class males between the ages of twenty and forty-five about transitioning to service sector jobs, renowned cultural theorist Fredric Jameson finds himself in no small amount of trouble. Strolling the network of sidewalks off Carnegie Avenue, their macadam splintering like ice, Jameson has gotten himself involved in a heated discussion with Bruiser Stopko.

With twenty-one years in as a catcher in the wire mill at the Edgar Thomson Works—a well paying, dangerous job performed in 130 degree heat and which, because of the sparks that light from the glowing ingots like bubbles from shaken champagne, demands a wool jump suit and padded gloves thick as law books—Bruiser has taken significant umbrage at Jameson’s suggesting that sometime over the next five to ten years he will most likely be employed at minimum wage assembling gourmet sandwiches slathered with exotic mustard or spraying lawn chemicals on emerald green acre plots in front of oversized tract homes in the burgeoning Fox Chapel suburbs.

His Midwestern features ginning themselves into an excited frown, Jameson—grievously failing to anticipate the consequences of his assertion—throws perhaps too much in Bruiser’s face his slackjaw academic’s puzzlement at the millworker’s inability to see the inevitable tumult and shift of the fast-coming future.

In the ensuing imbroglio, Bruiser—down in the shadow of the crumbling frame houses that sprout from the hillside like weeds—gets off a quick combination of jabs and uppercuts which he caps with a tremendous roundhouse right that knocks loose several of the cultural theorist’s teeth. As Bruiser puts the finishing touches on his argument, twice bouncing Jameson’s head off the roof of a nearby Buick, he finds it remarkable that the academic, for all his erudition, was unable to anticipate what he felt to be an embarrassingly well-telegraphed punch and failed to try to sidestep it or even to duck.

Moral: No matter one’s station, confronting unmanageable challenges as a matter of course in the rough and tumble present thrusts keeping a weather eye to the foul blossoming future into the stark realm of the near impossible.

Mary Crockett Hill


I went there seeking something to pour water into
and found that I was something to pour water into.

I went there seeking tiny grains and seed.
Blackbirds were summering in my head
and I had to feed them.

We only need one cupboard, don't we?
We could keep it empty and closed most of the time.

It is white of course and if there were a war
we could unhinge its door and carry it into the fields
as a kind of shield.

In times of peace, we would open and close it,
whispering new words inside.

Then even the word itself
might find a way
to protect us.