Karolina Zapal

Baby Buttface

Baby short for Baby Buttface rides the cis-Siberian railway         she’s maybe twenty-two-years-old usually makes it up on the spot and often asks in a crowd so which one of you artists will be designing my next tattoo? contracting anyone who dares to pay attention
       when Baby becomes involved with a home a feeling arises         the kind of feeling that festers at a wedding         a sprig of jealousy a pinch of gratitude a handful of reserve         all dependent on who gets involved with the feeling
       when Baby returns home        home breaks
into a whisper walk faster—the nest you’re meant to occupy is forever a step ahead she joins the birding association they give her binoculars        still she cannot see
anything fly         for Baby the feeling’s mutual
her subconscious vomits         what she has is not enough and what she can have is no more         the cis-Siberian does not cross anything rather un-crosses the letters t and x which when uncrossed become 1 and /
       when home returns to Baby it’s usually in a dream a literature a childhood state no one here cooks up a decent wage         Baby feels indifferent to possession         if something is inside of her is it possessing her or does she possess it         a room licks her fingers erotically throws a BDSM-themed party for every theme
       when Baby seeks home she is reminded of a light with a cord too short to reach the plug
what will it take to lengthen her name back to Buttface         across the street is a children’s home but she cannot reach it         the home itself doesn’t feel seeked because nothing can feel seeked until it’s found         fortunately a home if it’s a house will stand still        it’s her responsibility to found it
       when home seeks Baby it must rearrange the tracks to trans-         a gut feeling is just a gut job
a home with people already inside will not find Baby
Baby needs space for her fingernails to grow without skin from a body folding into their beds
       when Baby finds herself wanted she feels like an empty red tub inside a larger white tub filled with water         everything is dirty even the claw foot went for a walk on the railroad stopped when it came to perpendicularly-set tracks         Baby and home
        when a child becomes involved with a home it’s not a matter of what comes first         it’s a matter of if eggs can fly

I Customize My Mother on the Highway

I summarize (customize) my mother on the highway.
We are tired        staring at violet barcode.
An artist doesn’t have a dressing room. Stuffy words
I plan on opening the zipper.
Amethyst hardest intercom.

An artist portrays in a way we can’t understand.
Her profile becomes the only face I want to search
on the internet. A cheek of moonlight
on the road breaks off
in my eye. Amethyst rally ukulele custard.

English is my second
excuse for not engaging with the artist
but if I bet I can understand more than the average person…


what does that say about the artist?
What does that say about understanding
an average person?

Sting fish beaconed
discourse in ten gauges wifeist
Uzbekistan horror the verge unseen…

My eyelids swallow navy
fleeting gray. She blinks it away
brave-driving. An artist is a cactus caught inside a glass
with in-grown needles
growing anywhere but up.

The glass is caught inside the artist.
It spans the entire novel. Those who understand art
understand it’s a performance.

The paramedics come.

They complain about a mother
whom they continuously have to bandage.
I agree but
know what they mean but
she always says sorry.

Because sometimes, she still buys me tampons
for the artist to take an invisible step forward.

“Sukienka” is prettier than dress. Up to the throat
where it cuts off. Then there’s a crash
hair gets caught under a heel
and her understanding pops in.

Nothing is permanent in the exit row
not even flight.

Karolina Zapal is an itinerant poet, essayist, translator, and author of Polalka (Spuyten Duyvil, 2018). Her second book, Notes for Mid-Birth, is forthcoming from Inside the Castle in late 2019. She is collaborating with the poet CA Conrad on translating their book, The Book of Frank, into Polish. Born in Poland and raised in the United States, she wonders about lost cities and impenetrable borders.

Mark Truscott

Plenum

Each time
a layer of air
peels away
to reveal another
behind it nearly
the same, a
pattern of light
and shadowed
masses silently
counts itself
right in front of me.
Its surface like
a surface of water,
vulnerable
to ripples,
real, now
momentarily
expressing its
potential for stillness.
My eye is
another liquid.
Its body glinting
in the light. My body
distributed among
the chair’s
inert and indifferent
curves. I am
inhabiting vision.
I am placing
word after word
before coating their
succession in
colours of interior
sound. Compelled
to discover
sense among these
layers, I know
I will forever fail
to complete their circuit.
I will fail
to read the poem.
But the air
is there to
breathe now.
And breath’s
final gesture is
diffusion.

Drift

What to say of
the subtle variations
of green? Their sense
serial, their impression
one. For I too
am varied colour.

What can it mean
that what is
has arisen already?
And then it will
change. A breeze
in the interval noted, now
remembered.

In our walk, the
drift. In the belief
I can plot steps
through the thicket.
In the medium that
slowly deepens as
I look the other way.

Of the Poem

And so we carve out this margin
and set our tokens down. Mine will wear
a hat (look). Strangely it will also use
these eyes. The air is already still
among the trees, which is to say it
moves imperceptibly and offers ingress
despite its vibrations. I know it there,
and yet I also keep it in mind.
We are people in the world and we are
speaking.

The edge is crisp because an edge is.
This is to say it counters our welling
and offers us a small concavity apart
from which to look. We push our
thoughts where we can see them.
We believe in a curve that flattens
the sun, that divides the scene
into colours we can describe to one another.
It too is that deceiving.

Rain

The chaos of rain
is the desperation
of a crowd hemmed in.
We can watch it
through the window.
We can see it
on the front page.
A drop on the eye
will give rise to a panic
that subsides the
instant we remember
time and space
have been hollowed out
for our shelter. An
image settled will do
this. For now
though the moment
is still music and
the world is meaningfully
peopled. And
the slow-beat ringing
continues for a time.

Mark Truscott is the author of three poetry books: Said Like Reeds or Things (Coach House, 2004), Nature (Book*hug, 2010), and Branches (Book*hug, 2018). Recent poems appear in The Walrus, Arc Poetry Magazine, and on the Cultural Society and Dusie “Tuesday poem” websites.

Barbara Tomash

Five poems from Her Scant State

—an erasure of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady
 
 

a smile of welcome        a zone of fine June weather
a territorial fact        native land        a character
a queer country across the sea        the rosebud in a buttonhole
these words of not perfect        loose thinker
fell in love with novel’s fancy phrase        in a windless place
I offer myself to you        light turned into exhalation
caught in a vast cage

————————————————————————————————
Her ambiguities composed all of the same flower. Fertile. Flourished. A fault of her own. It might feed her. Like a small hand. A kind of coercive. Not neglect. A negative, imaginatively, already existing. Her eyes prettiest. The day that I speak of. The short grass. A shorter undulation. A handful put into water—an image. “To bring you to this house.” Isabel listened to this.

 
 
 
 
 

a need        to be easily renounced
hampered at every        neither father        nor mother
poor and of a serious        not pretty        hundreds of miles of
“I’ll go home”        the masses of furniture        hid her face
in her arms        like the payment for a stamped receipt
aspiring murmur        a threat refused        three times
conceals from you        America diverted by a novel

————————————————————————————————
“A marriage,” said Isabel, “is not at all large.” In her lucidity, no light to spare.

 
 
 
 
 

a witness        not struck with       smooth woman
the fluttered flapping quality        of the sadness now settling
empty; but        no one invited her       not the least little child

————————————————————————————————
Meager synthesis, impossible dinner. Inviting “them”—as something so literal, stupid. To be honest as most people, equally honest, flattering herself. Irresistible need living in the upper air, up a steep staircase perpendicular to husband. Wishes as good as straps and buckles. Devoted evening—“I’ve never given anyone else a mistake as perfect.”

 
 
 
 
 

drifting

take care        heart        take care

do you know where you are drifting?

————————————————————————————————
Under the influence of to marry, hands laid on. “Lay them on yourself.” A woman thinks she may doubt time. It came over her in uttering. A wounded face expresses nothing. The master; the mistress.

 
 
 
 
 

ah, don’t say that
fresh        cheerful
facetious
the most charming        young
only proves        she wants
she wants        proposition
obliterated

————————————————————————————————
Her dresses, her falsehoods. “What do you mean by ‘people’?” “Servants whom you pay?” “They’re human beings.” “Are there any women?” “You can buy me off.” “Take care of me.” “I submit.” And this was the only conversation, unpleasantly perverse, like the stricken deer.

 
 
 
 
 

Her Scant State is a book-length erasure of Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady. Entering James’s text as source material, I have, of course, been grappling with America, my native place, as a landscape carved by floods of competing ideologies including that of a hopeful, aspiring, and often violent capitalism. My inquiry focuses on women, but my point of view must shift in this novelized America made of many erasures. Perhaps home can never be described if a personal and aesthetic dislocation is not risked. In terms of the form on the page, the first half of The Portrait of a Lady runs across the top of each page of Her Scant State and the second half of the novel runs across the bottom of each page, beneath the line.
Barbara Tomash is the author of four books of poetry, PRE- (Black Radish Books 2018), Arboreal (Apogee 2014), Flying in Water, which won the 2005 Winnow First Poetry Award, and The Secret of White (Spuyten Duyvil 2009). An earlier version of PRE- was a finalist for the Colorado Prize and the Rescue Press Black Box Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Web Conjunctions, New American Writing and numerous other journals.

Adam Tedesco

Les Blank

I said If you exist, cut from me the stone of distance
I said then cut me from this wall of my own web-work,
this feeding tube filled with sadness & seltzer, cocaethylene
dreams, sadness & Swiss omelets,
this Rickroll of numb gums & dumb love.

I stayed who I was as if I had an option.
I nursed my bag of maggots, learned to do laundry.
Forty one years bending the bar, biting the bar, my ear pressed to the bar.
Forty one years of Herzog thinking out loud
it was him that moved that ship through the mountains.
Cleared smoke & human patience reveal in my dream
commonness, a plate & glass, the tablecloth pulled.

Hot Coals

I have been awake for forty-three hours
moving from complex to strip mall
to escape the voices.

The person in front of me is shopping for a grill
to asphyxiate with. I’m looking for a photo
of my doppelganger falling down stairs.

the hot coals
the ring of snow
the sun behind a mountain

I heat the glass before I put it in my nose.
This could go one of two ways
but anything you try to understand owns you.

My father is all bound up in the haggard
Kodachrome of sleepless weeks.
People once called him fear.

The light you bend towards owns you.
Your lover’s point of view owns you.
The neighbor’s cat owns you.

the empty scale
the empty sky
the world before computers

My mother said it was a worthwhile investment,
the pills, that she didn’t teach me to live fuck to fuck.

She’s painting me a knife that never ends.

The room falls asleep and I wrap myself in a blanket.
I move to a broken chair in the courtyard.
Dawn breaks through a ring of snow around the desert.

To View the Middle as a Position of Dominance

First it is true

We more or less need others

And others, they need not us

In terms of a single pattern

The idea defined by dependency

Is how the notion of affect emerges

As a division between relations in hierarchy

Eventually in the course of accumulation

What remains of the vast spiral of nature is property

To weep is to ask what is in us

And still, it is true

Poet and video artist Adam Tedesco is a founding editor of REALITY BEACH, a journal of new poetics. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Fanzine, Fence, Gramma, jubilat, Laurel Review and elsewhere. He is the author of several chapbooks, including Misrule, published by Ursus Americanus. His full-length poetry collection, Mary Oliver, was recently published by Lithic Press.

Gary Sokolow

Sheepshead Bay Dives

It was roaming the quiet streets on
afternoons, watching the seagulls
in the bay water fight over a floating
half bagel, and passing out in a driveway
of some two family house, the
owner with his white socks off earning
a living, and it was 1987, and you
understand it was cheaper to be going
nowhere, no cell phones, no way to
bleed you dry or reach you, just you
and the streets of Brooklyn before
Brooklyn became Brooklyn again,
and yes, it was lonely. The family
already given up, hiding behind half-
lit candles and gossip, and a draft beer
was a $1.10 and the old bartender knew
you, threw you the first one free, wiped
clean the bar’s scarred old wood, told
you to stop wasting your life like the
others, for you were young, and thinking
back maybe I was simply crazy believing
I was stopping time, nursing a beer,
watching the haloes of cigarette smoke,
and there was an afternoon sun slicing
across the bar, shadows in the doorway
going about their lives, but nothing
mattered but to stand by the last
great jukebox, a quarter or two, and
Judy Garland was there singing to the
regulars, some memories, some aching,
the bartender down at the end, and the
glass, the thumb of cheap whiskey, evening.

The Darkness, the Knocking

Carlos Jobim’s water running
over pebbles rhythm streaming
over radio airways soothing
the pain that comes through
the words soothing the anger
that rises like inside a man
who’d rob a bank to get away
from his wife, and he was
married 50 years, lived on
Florida’s gulf coast, and
how crazy things always
seem to happen in Florida.
How as a kid it was Kissimmee,
the darkest clouds I’d ever
seen, rain drowning everything,
and the ground bone dry an
hour later, water like a memory
fading, yet how the shadows
stay, like the outline of
the names of the builders
on the ovens of Auschwitz,
or the footprints of the
Chinese poet banished for
the truths about businessmen,
and here we are again, this
collective failing, a planet
boiling, how frighteningly
beautiful those words
about the slouching and
the beast, another matter
when it is at the door.

Hope as a Form of Time

Was her singing like a bird or
was it she squat, chanting like
in prayer that shakes a memory.
The ghosts know better, and
still you’re the one who needs
the reminding, bracelet tight
around your ankle, a door
that shuts, and that’s the way,
two pills, a soft tethering of a
nurse, a want there is to make
it kinder, the thirteen billion
light years that would take.

Gary Sokolow received his MFA in Poetry from Brooklyn College. Recently, his poems have appeared in Salamander, Third Wednesday, Nixes Mate Review, and Hollow Tongue Review, and are forthcoming in 2Bridges Review.

F. Daniel Rzicznek

from Leafmold

Sweeping the boards again and again. The transition from sunburn to windburn to chill is openly flawed, twelve hours of shift and phase, rattle and quake. A bird in the distance makes a sound like flint being sparked. A part of home: freezer full of future bones. Scott arrives with a care package from the mainland: fresh ice, hard cider, venison sausage. More than anything you learn that gratitude must be endless if you want to survive. A discussion of streams and lakes, bloodtrails, near misses, wolf tracks overwhelming the deeryards, interrupted every so often by the stout tug of a lake trout on a downrigged line. Get that fucker, Scott says, every single time. Later: trouble with the bugs, trouble with thirst, trouble with desire. Cloudy. No moon or stars. No recourse but to sleep in, late and long, without guilt or need for pardon. Every hour seems to move more swiftly than the last, the whole year accelerating as a form of reversed atrophy. Bloom is not the word. Alone with too many thoughts, the brain finds an exterior narrative to bathe in. Red cliffs. No whitecaps. Henrik Ibsen rolls up his sleeves and does the dishes. Dusk falls through his vision for a final time. Accidentally, like a leper. The season puts white on the pines but inside them: always green, always green.

from Leafmold

Wet garlic: five heads set out to dry on a stone in the sun. Learning and relearning how to do just one task at a time, the brain breaks apart, reconfigures and appears the same but what it does is different. Sweeping the boards for the first time. Ants, periodically. Two towels, rust-orange and aquamarine, flap on the clothesline: capes worn by invisible spirits, maybe your guardians, your watchers. Left it on the mainland. That certain noise: noise of certainty. Have to do this again and again to find that. How many more ways to say it. No one knows who you are. But here you are, trying to imagine every fly of morning settling on the self before moving. Easy to mistake the hard croaks of red-breasted mergansers for faraway hammering. A childhood of death: in your dream you rip the bully’s eyes right out and eat them. No trusting the scared-shitless face inside the self after all. Brackets indicate static. Windfall as artifact of storm. Once accustomed, you don’t even look up. But you must. Trouble with the stove, trouble with the kettle. No trouble with the full moon. Just questions about that expression it’s worn for billions of years.

from Leafmold

The self was careful today not to spook the big gull standing over last night’s fish carcass. Interruption as desecration—for no reason at all, the obnoxious Van Halen song in your head all morning. And suddenly it’s afternoon. After a good nap you find the carcass not gone but moved, dragged lower between the boulders, hidden for later. A white tug with red letters you can’t read pumps by trailing a pack of gulls. The clouds track northeast as you boil water to wash towels. There was a planet you once lived on and its pieces and names stick like wet leaves to your hours and days: an arm broken in two places when you were five and how you thought the doctor was laughing as he reset it; even younger, you imagined God as a man in a dark hat snapping his fingers; before that, unshakeable distrusts of bees and balloons. And the names: Normandy, Brunswick, Evamere, Mosquito, Killbuck, Limestone, Silver Meadows, Herrick, Geauga, Captiva, Merry, Pickerel Creek, Wallace. Always some faceless anxiety cruising through memory. Always the self moving out of sight at the sound of its approach.

F. Daniel Rzicznek’s books of poetry are Settlers (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press), Divination Machine (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press) and Neck of the World (Utah State University Press), and he is coeditor of The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: Contemporary Poets in Discussion and Practice (Rose Metal Press). His recent poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, West Branch, Blackbird, and Colorado Review. He teaches at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Peter Leight

Hunt

Hunting for what we need, we work back from what we don’t have, as if the desire is a searchlight looking for something to shine on. Or is it the kind of sensitive light that only shines when there’s something to see? Is this what you mean by a “difference of opinion?” Desire is often mine or yours, not ours—not everybody has the same desires, not all the time, it’s practically the essence of shopping. It is usually better to say “I think so.” When we’re young we hunt to feel older, then we hunt because everybody does. Then we hunt because we need to. We’re keeping our eyes open—it is often the case that you don’t notice something until you point it out to yourself. The light is restless, as if it has its own desire. Or is it desire that suppresses the light, disappearing in the order in which it appears desirable in the first place? Is this what you mean by “making up your mind?” Sometimes I think we give too much weight to our desires, and we don’t even know where the resistance is going to come from—it takes all our strength just to give in to the weakness.

Close-Up

At times I’m closer,

then you are,

as if we’re taking turns,

right now we’re close enough to stop paying attention.

When you turn

I turn the same way,

I’m going to start carrying around one of those cool telescopes that opens up by pulling out of itself,

because it lets you see how far away you are

from what you’re close to.

Right now I think you’re not as close as I am,

not as close as I am to you,

it isn’t the same distance on both sides, as if it’s a talk show or other show we’re watching together

but not in the same room.

Sometimes it’s better to wait for somebody else to go first—

I often wait for you

while you’re waiting for me,

do you think it’s normal?

Of course, there are times when you’re close to something you don’t even notice,

it depends on what you need

or what you like:

what you need to like—

I don’t want you to feel distant, like a person in the rear of a large auditorium.

We often place our hands on top of each other like a layer cake

with nothing between the layers,

as if we’re closer than we think,

when you ask for something I’m going to hand it over right away,

without even thinking,

I’m going to tell you to take what you want,

is there anything else you want me to admit?

I’m showing you the undersides of my wrists

so you’ll see I’m serious,

you often feel closer than something that is actually close to me,

closer and closer,

like a close up:

it brings to mind the sostenuto pedal that keeps one part where it is while the other moves on.

I’m not ignoring the erosion of trust that isn’t meant to last,

not at all,

when you stick in your earrings I feel the posts,

sometimes I think we’re close enough to see our own reflections on the curved screens of our eyeballs,

close enough to move away from each other.

If you come any closer I’m going to ask you to leave.

After the War

After the war winds up After the war’s wrapped up After the war is done with it nobody else is going to want it After the war chews it up nobody knows what to do with it After the war movie opens up After the war pops up on the screen there isn’t anything else to look for After the war it’s the burial business the business of shadows After you recover After the parades After the war parties After the war is over nobody knows what happened to it After the war packs it up nobody bothers to take it out After you never recover After the war wraps it up nobody knows where to look for it It’s the same after the war winds up
Peter Leight lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. He has previously published poems in Paris Review, AGNI, Antioch Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, FIELD, and other magazines.

Susan Leary

‘Complications’

My mother explains the babies have a designated space in the cemetery & I think, only death would disguise in such beautifully-cut grass a field of complex abductions. There should be an ancient remedy for this kind of grief since babies are phantasmal things, but no. Women gather like clover at graves & still, starshine seals the mysteries of a body’s ‘complications.’ As a girl, how I ever thought babies were mixed in ceramic bowls from a fizzing, plum-colored paste? That at night they wakened from the centers of hand-carved soaps sold in some seaside shop in Maine. A baby, literally made gift. This is what we mean when we say ‘an active imagination.’ Active because it lacks any desire to will or change. Strange, flitting things should matter now. Every bird, a carrier of consciousness. Every skull, an oxygenated heart. Yet, as the metaphors edge off sadness, they demonstrate a thievery of love. See? Even the sunlight escaping a tangle of branches in three evenly-spaced segments of earth. How much of this living, then, requires us, still, to be born? When staying is the only currency & wisdom, but the cruelty of bargaining with one’s imagination. I falter in such contests & self-persuasions,

& if I had a daughter, I would name her Mary.

Catch & Release

What a beautiful thing to see the ache of first light & not know how easy for it to kill you. To believe its steady sprawl into sun & the sun’s miraculous descent into water—all of nature: a kindness. So that anything else, a fish can only do to himself. Can only bite down & swallow the hook of human hands & once in those hands, learn the lesson of barely breathing. This may happen once, twice. Or not at all. Though each time, at ourselves, we will marvel proudly. Look at the budding mouth, we will say. The tiny gills gusted into wings. The eyes brimming with dayshine the color of lilacs. This is how it begins. How a fish becomes a body & through this, how a body becomes a boy that survives. Knowing only to flail & calm. Flail & calm. How easy, then, to gift a thing back to the world & watch it swim off. To wash our hands clean with the ocean’s impossible refusal. Oblivious the fish might asphyxiate, or bleed out, or feed until the last horizon on the invisible blade of a ghost. As if we all believed the fish were to remain unchanged. That it were lucky to return to water.

X-Ray Impression #2: Self-Study

If science is the body’s ability to know something the world cannot, what then of the world? How should it come to recognize itself if all but gloaming & accidental recklessness? In the doctor’s office, my husband holds images of himself in his hands & he is pleased he proves transparent. I, however, would rather cry at the fact of such hidden severity. Blame God for the insufficiency of origins. I do this because I am too uncreative. Too lacking in faith. As if every intimacy were born from the misperception of an invasion. Imagine, my husband says, the shared pulse of a river & a ravine. That between them I might accept a principled violence. I take this to mean my husband is too optimistic. Too smart for his own good. He takes this to mean that within the cavernous dens of our bodies, we make effective use of the shadows. Invent from them the flimsy beasts we know our bones too precocious to ever need to outrun. The curve of my husband’s spine thus nothing but the body taken by a rigorous self-intrigue. By a desire to never cease bending into the prospect of its own humanity. Within every vertebra, the briefest eternity. That at each turn, might open the crimped wings of a thousand paper birds crawling from the space of their births & feeling for their hearts. The world consumed by the vast invisibility of its histories, where inch by inch by inch, everything beats, purposefully, from without.

X-Ray Impression #4: Wife’s Tale

In the non-dream, tissue will come to out-torture the blade.
Will deny itself the privilege of rupture & instead swallow itself whole.

I know because a seahorse is born without ribs.
That it hooks its spine to the ocean floor because it believes water a hungry lung.

What this suggests about surviving, I am loath to say. Though did you hear?
A seahorse once lived to be a hundred years old despite an inability to swim.

Susan Leary‘s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in such places as Into the Void, Arcturus (Chicago Review of Books), Heavy Feather Review, and Gone Lawn. She has been nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and her chapbook, This Girl, Your Disciple is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in August 2019. She teaches English Composition at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, FL.

Janis Butler Holm

Sound Poems

from Rabelaisian Play Station

 

I

 
Imitation huckleberries hope to slander pilliwinks, lying consequentially to vibrant fish and fowl.
Much as specious water heaters dandle foreign underbrush, cracked and sullied databases target
kitchenettes. “That’s rubbish,” said the needle nozzle, fending off jujitsu moves. In effect, this ancient
humbug smacks of rock ‘n’ roll. And what of doctored leg extensions, wily, grouped, and nettlesome?
Even ersatz fuddy-duddies tamper with purée.

II

 
Micronizing eyelash curlers fabricate their voltage drops.

Bowdlerizing car mechanics fabricate their pseudocones.

Customizing willow beetles fabricate their railway yards.

Gourmandizing traffic tickets fabricate their linking verbs.

Sympathizing chaos junkies fabricate their stubble geese.

Traumatizing butterscotches fabricate their flexure tests.

Neutralizing protest slogans fabricate their whiskey jugs.

Plasticizing stretcher cases fabricate their gamma waves.

III

 
Snooker black-eyed peas, my pet, and garble lithogenesis. Manipulate gorilla suits with fiddlesticks
and chyme. Some wonky kleptoparasites have deconstructed volleyball. Accordingly, fallacious
brickwork organizes snuff. Yada, yada, yada–having counterfeited onion rings, artificial letter writers
tussle with croquet. Your bogus metacriticism roller-skates with laundry chutes, and inauthentic
gyromancy fires a grassy knoll.

IV

 
Obfuscating hunger artists falsify their chimney pots.

Percolating anthrax hoaxes falsify their logic games.

Carbonating input methods falsify their hydrophiles.

Imprecating mountain faces falsify their dealerships.

Estimating coffee grinders falsify their stable hands.

Lubricating science studies falsify their pleasantries.

Gravitating ketchup bottles falsify their tummy tucks.

Subjugating baseball clinics falsify their woolly bears.

V

 
Peevishly adulterated, crackerjacks rigidify, leaving phony knickerbockers wretched and alone. At
what price do sandwich cookies libel pomp and circumstance? Misreported fallen arches spurn the
day-to-day. Camouflage or improvise or weave together onion smut. Undeterred by trickish poplin,
nappies shoot the breeze. Never has deceptive yoga cozened rubbing alcohol. Double-dealing
slumber parties oxidize fake news.

Artist’s Statement

Influenced by Yoko Ono’s performance pieces, these sound poems are selections from a book of experimental work to be titled Rabelaisian Play Station. While drawing from Dadaist (Hugo Ball) and Surrealist (Kurt Schwitters) traditions, my work differs from earlier sound experiments by using real words instead of non-word phonetic sequences, engaging the reader by the possibilities of interpretation even as the word combinations refuse to transmit meaning in conventional ways. Yet here at the border between sense and nonsense, a reader can construct meaning—in this instance, for example, the absurdity of declaring everything one doesn’t like as fake.

Janis Butler Holm has served as Associate Editor for Wide Angle, the film journal. Her prose, poems, and performance pieces have appeared in small-press, national, and international magazines. Her plays have been produced in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.

Thomas Cook

Skinny Dudes

The taffy comes hard when you are too handsome for words. Luckily, I also can’t face the fact of my insincere stance toward mental health with anything more exacting than “bisexual playboy” at the fore of my thinking. It keeps the free library free. A big for instance being Austin, or Colonus, wherever buying a good pillar is still a fair way to settle a dispute over land with the hassle of obfuscating talk. I once ate shrimp in the loneliest strip mall, the vans arriving only every three weeks with new products, and this was not a popular dish. There was always the hotel microwave, which universities buy secondhand.

Hallucinating Cheeks

The data, unchecked, can make the day merely tabular in the workbox of the mind. There is also trappedness, a hearthrug of what’s wound around the coated greetings of the best and most lasting people in the building. Best has less to do with extraction than survival, of course, these days, and I was after all able to find one of those little paper cups with pop-out mug handles into which I can mete out the contents of my thermos. Do I pivot, or remain facing the questions I pose to myself, diffusely but persistently, questions embedded in the lines of every notebook page I see? Rain calms overnight and leads to the bright day. Machinery is small, humming in corners of the earth.

Decent Orange

The international success of Daft Punk’s song “Around the World” will warrant more attention in the future, wherever that may be, just saying, considering all dimensions and dimensionality of the entire thing, that thing being the subject of the song or the existence of electronic music in general, depending on how you peanut butter wolfed the backstage passes to harp molasses turn out to be. I was there. I was there, and I could do the damage, or I could reproduce amalgamations, but who has that interest? I could eat beef, or I could escape on cool cheese. How am I meant to dance in the hall of the finest high school (be waxed) before the axe came down? Origin stories are difficult, especially in the case of cortexes, though I exhale, imagining what I could have done with momentum ten minutes past the buzzer; if you don’t believe me, continue to lie to yourself, a poem for the millennium in which you were found.

Thomas Cook lives in Los Angeles, CA and Galesburg, IL. He is an editor and publisher of Tammy and Tammy Chapbooks. A special feature of his recent poetry is forthcoming in Quarterly West.