AJ Urquidi

convalescent stayover at the flamingo house

/ what recourse you gave was never yours to begin with // desiccate marrow, mauve mallow
cinders to lay on cherubim desks // all year their mother cries, pipewater sputters out of its
element // reset your watch, chime, chime in // watch the zookeeper’s child drain lymph from
rind // honesty fumbles in her bouts of proved worry // because she’s aware, you can’t be vilified
// in decorous time you’ll again displease the syndicate \

/ marabou stork, walk into your cage // the beach bodies winter scars // toss towels on the shower
floor with care // you are not shelter, but you bend in wind // the guest bed unwinds where it
wanders // curve gashes where onyx drags fir // donald ducks inscribe a ceiling like a pox //
whatever you find, love the anxious rest of them \

/ she retches, dangles bracelets // one’s strung limpets // then do not resuscitate, of course // not
long ago, you’d have begged to join this menagerie // tap the windshield, the capybara rolls its
eyes // keep apologizing to posterity // now you plead with the tamers: form your threnodies
hushed // overnight grit files locks, and by sunrise the rarest physician has fled \

To Dissipate the Abscess


A wind with the force of a dentist’s
drill knocks us sidewise
fleeing the firemen. To the left

the dentist reaches deep between his
laces and grabs
an angsty python from the gravel

lot. You can’t just do that sort of
grabbing around here.
Locals frown upon it, generally,

like spleens. Withhold that complaint
since he’s the burg’s
only dentist. Can you stretch

my legs for me (I’m too shy)? Jet
fuel’s made of the cure
for war, but jets hang on to it. Viselike.


You are so quiet this morning. Are you
still lard-bitter I never
gave a life for you, or even offered?

I can get you something better, perhaps
a periscope. I can sprint
on hot coals with napalm scissors in hand.

Sure, it’s no golden fleece, but my love
is in unspoken demand.
I’m negotiable. I’ve got a jet to catch.


There will be a bottle of uncapped sermons
surface-shaming you
from your dashboard as you jet across

the lake tonight. Follow abalone wires
to the cloudy back daggers
of the warehouse. Should you see

the crowded horseflies carpet-bombing
the bathtub drain, know I was
false, and am now a gentle absence.

My Apparat Liege, My Quarantine Flag

i. Formalin Years

My country, tis of the eyes skulking
beneath my couch. The horrors

of end-September rain down
from crossbeams. Goon uninvited

to the pantomime. For this was
the second strike, the world now hiding

in a gelatin helmet. One more
waits in the slow-broth. The city

bans diaries, of course, fuels bonfires
of feelings expressed not aloud. I don’t

mind the static crackle of the man
in sleep beside me, aloft on the Blue

Line, rubbing leg-to-leg. But the kids
I know want to swim in toxic waste

for DNA benefits, 21st-century spa.

ii. Malaprop Era

Mark him full of bullets for the cause
of conversation. Study pictured emotion.

It breathes, like cops with excuses. Votes
wrapped in crimped curtains. In place

of apologies, landfills sell plots
to ferment. Until they can afford the real

estate, gravediggers strike. The panting
woman fumbles black symbols. Drool

down the window to warn her. They’re her
jealous shadow, it eats her. Offers thanks.

iii. Glabella Meet

It would take a surrogate’s charm
to convince you: up for grabs is

authority, like a dry viaduct. First
to come, first served and protected.

The barber mock-trims your bald
spot but takes you down for another

appointment. Trapped in the quarry,
choose castle or cave. But once

locked in tunnels with a privateer
you seem panic-serious. In buttons

wrapped. A long dark glass of candid
nocturnals. Like camouflage, the dead

will rise with the vacant unemployed.

iv. Preparedness Kit

The red light stops you, imprisons you
for weeks on false charges. They planted

the evidence, such caustic ideas.
If you break the rules, starve for attention

or save time and die. To kowtow brings
ruddy fortune, so always remember

to offer thanks. This millennium
delivered the rules the last one follows.

v. Yellow Flag

Run parallel to society river
ducking into dumpster alcoves.

The golden rule is to eat the least
runoff. In the civilization game

creamier pieces win by default. It seems
of length but can’t go on forever.

Whatever is the doctor of penalties.
Solo rider on Ferris wheel, all the way

around, sir. This is his life in a rusted
circle. Watch the city shrink, then how

it zooms in to prey.

At times representing Monterey, Los Angeles, and NYC, AJ Urquidi is a heterogeneous poet and editor. His writing has appeared in various journals, including Faultline, Verdad, Chiron Review, RipRap, and DUM DUM Zine. A Gerald Locklin Writing Prize recipient, AJ co-founded online journal indicia and has led workshops at Cal State Long Beach and Beyond Baroque.

Stephanie Strickland

from School

Stephanie Strickland has published 8 books of poetry and 11 digital poems, most recently the Vniverse app for iPad and Hours of the Night, an MP4 PowerPoint poem. Two books are forthcoming in 2019: Ringing the Changes, a code-generated project for print based on the ancient art of bell-ringing, from Counterpath Press, and How the Universe Is Made: Poems New & Selected from Ahsahta Press.

Jessica Lee Richardson

Guillotine, 2017

A corded lift and low born stretch for queens brocaded in resplendent swallow is
decaying. Pink hidden skins pucker their squint. The floor flowers, pinched with
knives of velour. The screws designed to bind the softest thing are made of gold.

You are skeletal in your blossoming. In your bundled white wreck you are cities.

Who chose the thread that shines for such a pastel unbecoming? How to tell
unfurl from furl, was it worth? How pale flaps that velvet.

Outside yellow plastic cones designate, designate. Align crosses red with upright
shame, sure, but surround them with thin exacto slivered arteries at least. Let
them dangle, let them see heights once earmarked for a giantess.

We see the worm eyes in their pockets, the clasp of god they think is on their
cheek. The smallest knot ties the whole sky fitted charade to the beam.

Stuck in fetid air, frothing in cloth I statue a salute to the ground. Like so many.

Bent heads pillow forth with their sincerest apology but the petals still deign
to lick a stenciled foot. The one that kicks us all but some harder. Guns were
pointing from every corner but from my position I got to never notice it.

Those hooded monks are not just bowing. They may not even be monks.

The fox snout the cannon presupposes is dreaming of a hole the shape of an egg
yolk. Its shadow on the wall looks like light a lighter shade of blue than a puppet
print on its way from strung and up. Or when violence shakes like a windsock
revealed for the children’s game it is. No mine. Mine.

Have you heard? The tale of the very last artist? It will never exist.

They lie about like slacks hung like the room, vivid rose, and on the brink, the sun
coppered cuts of their eyes coil up and because they cannot trace the outline they
pencil only this: that thousands of fabric flames were once scissored from felt just
to frame the wonder of falling.

Art Hat

I was fourth and wove for years as fate
the prize returned myself. I spent days
learning (the tango), playing a soft farmer.
I saw half-formed time an absence. Yes,
I knew blisters. Young feet. The ground.
But what? I would ask family, and then
what? New shoes? I spent years
a name. We described. Finally I traveled
riddled roads the average color of navy.
Live and learn. Trust me soon. Dusty
I stuffed the goods we charge. One Saturday,
possessed by brunch, a slew of makers
like madmen knuckled and spread. We
ended up a fact I wasn’t at all certain
rejoined the community. Our arrival
a sketch of a cardboard box. We were
ready to ramp up the air. The quest widened
the terms. We’ve found because we have.

Here’s a story: the dirtiest puzzle made them
wonder whether cleansers were kind. The fat
of a cow softened their collars. Not only that,
parables open doors. A key forges an era
such as the most refreshing soft drink,
a concrete survey unknown to students.
One dollar bill and two letters studded with
rainfall gave a third group a dollar less.
The story matters. This lesson was a product.
I noticed red interns came alive watching
the ticketing and I was embarrassed.
Did the magic do the math? I crisscrossed
the relationship feet first. Taxi cab riders
happened to film a commercial. The consumer
is also a means of making you more attractive.
Here are some tips: there’s a new vodka. Talk
up favorite places, ski lifts, trade shows. Run wild.
Try to scrub clean your presence.

Jessica Lee Richardson’s first book, It Had Been Planned and There Were Guides, won FC2’s Ronald Sukenick Prize and was longlisted for a PEN/Robert W. Bingham award in 2016. Some of this work responds to the artist Liz Miller’s installation “Requisite Beguilement.” More of her stories and poems can be found at jessicaleerichardson.com.

Jennifer Pilch


Of first period rooftops
and first travels since

you learned from angles
natives round what wind

and divide what rain

of snow sliding off




It captured the eye’s
meaning heaven
less than ground

meaning parsnip, jonquil, codman claret, emily, picholine, meetinghouse blue
the landscape
to threaten

what keeps darkness whole
dictates growing patterns

a reverse burial,
the roof ensures
existence, permanence.



“There must be eight trees about sixteen inches square”

You were an owl erect on the side of the road

gist for joist, sur pièce

You were glacier sleep in 90 degree weather

loft feather-edged, well drawn

You were a gravestone buried so deep it resembled a baby tooth

end sides for plank frame

All you needed was a square, a saw, a hammer, a



When trees are bare (I mean populus, madder, pinus, and hackberry),
you see the roof for the house

you are in a solid climate

when the trees are full, clouds threaten

the ground would be paved.



Long faces on opposite sides of a curtain

wallpaper peeling like waiting onions

Do not think “love missed you like a city bus”
it will make you sick

You can not think
wrought from avoidance

Stares, —I could not
be fixated
or be plunged into strong



I saw these things and you knew these things

Glass clean between us,
I drank in every possibility

to make it straight, make the arrow strange

So much so the rooftops
begged composure.



Jennifer Pilch is the author of Deus Ex Machina, winner of Kelsey Street Press’s 2015 FIRSTS! contest judged by Myung Mi Kim, and recent chapbook Sequoia Graffiti (Projective Industries). Her poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Berkeley Poetry Review, Denver Quarterly, Drunken Boat, The Elephants, Fence, The Iowa Review, New American Writing, Summer Stock, and Tarpaulin Sky Press, among others. She edits/curates La Vague Journal.

Kwame Opoku-Duku


bought status in the land
of the incorruptible/ & a
backscratcher with gail

devers’ fingernails/ as you
close your eyes & push the
button/ take off your veil &

get that look up off your face/
be cooler than duke ellington
on a swedish night/ take mdma

& see the prison camps for your-
self/ be cooler than duke ellington
on a swedish night/ satisfy that

man in uniform fantasy/ lest we
forget the names of our most
masculine brothers/ lest we

succumb to the devils in the
dim fluorescence of a parking
garage/ if you want this

work my nigga i’ll give
it to you/ just take off that
veil & get that look up off

your face/ be cooler than duke
ellington on a swedish night/
as close your eyes & push the

button/ i’ll scratch your back
with lee press on nails/ bought
status in the land of authenticity

the old head verses (ecclesiastes) 1 – 20

1 an old head once broke it down to me like this:
2 life ain’t shit
3 wisdom ain’t shit
4 pleasure ain’t shit
5 suffering ain’t shit
6 work ain’t shit
7 money ain’t shit
8 power ain’t shit
9 justice ain’t shit
10 promises ain’t shit
11 your hood ain’t shit
12 your city ain’t shit
13 your country ain’t shit
14 tv ain’t shit
15 the internet ain’t shit
16 music ain’t shit
17 drugs ain’t shit
18 progress ain’t shit
19 no one knows what is coming
20 time & chance happen to us all

Kwame Opoku-Duku’s debut chapbook, The Unbnd Verses, Vol. 1, is forthcoming from Glass Poetry Press, and his poetry, fiction, and interviews are featured or forthcoming in BOMB, Massachusetts Review, Booth, The Adroit Journal, Gigantic Sequins, and elsewhere. Kwame has been nominated for Best New Poets 2018 and The Pushcart Prize. Along with Karisma Price, he is a founding member of the Unbnd Collective. Kwame lives in New York City and serves as a 2018 Adroit Journal Summer Mentor.

Ryan Nowlin

Winter Light

The clouds have their old soft boiled egg look back,
drifting over promiscuous buildings anyone can have
their way with. Grammar, we’ve lost grammar. It fell
away. To reconstitute add water. Or the unspeakable
mystery when our mothers met for the first time the men
who would be their lovers. What failed to be conjured,
reality delivered with a shrug, murmuring bingo. This is how
we are made. I would be caught up in planning a future
but then get excited about something provincial, a new car.
The slow asphyxiation of light in November. I was experimenting
with things. They were fine, though I couldn’t keep track of them.
A tray of books was placed next to me. I read them all
though I owed nothing to the present moment.

Countenance of the Sky

The kids are gone and all their sweets are gone!
Avenue A is O.K. so near to me, quick. Jack Robinson.
My work on keyboard and harmonium.
Sad Eyed Lady.

More urgently, what are you eating? Gilded croissants.
I woke up late. A galaxy of junk, far corner of the room.
Bottles I drank from back then. I lost an old friend.
Here she is again, in the margin of a dream. Sudden newness

of skin, otherwise ordinary blue streaming above, beyond
fiction. The reading eyes cross the black river
where the young congregate among resounding thuds
of balls. The moon adores the courtyard. What a comic

hornet flashing forth at the right moment.
Rapping at the gate goes unnoticed
but the beleaguered vines finally
catch a break.



Laura would often say
“LOL my apartment
is an enlightenment club”

Heat filled the foyer
and the toaster
shot bread at the ceiling

But those happiness drops
were not
had never been—
ours to sample

Complicated strata of meanings
were compiled, from plastic tooth mug
to sudden breath of clouds

The stillness between trees
hoping to find a minute
to think


Certain sorceries
to be disposed of

The earth was unmoved
the sky continued
do not repent

No revival of intimacy
since we were never


The merry-go-round
with Rhinemaidens
was angry

A dream of being and becoming—
the unity of the two—
the dialectic


Dichondra surrenders
to rain. Spectacle of tower
indicative of a show

Suddenly I’m exhausted
listening for somewhere
to go

Hang a left, sidewalk ends
a voice said stop — evidence
of an axis of X-es


Years later you blinked
a single blink — Laura
her fishlike iridescence

A past visitation
the flies have nibbled
and moved on


Tomorrow on the planet Amor
the sun slunk back
in its socket

Book within reach but six words
are too many. A noted precipice fell
away. I wasn’t sorry.


Silhouettes speckled with growths
of calcite or cave popcorn
teardrops attenuated

This palimpsest of emptiness
troubling your theory
of flowering

Did you mean once
as in upon a time
or one time only?

My too short sabbatical
was made even less remarkable
by glimpses of obscure forms


Yellowing paper on my desk
two aloe plants, head
of an evening moth

When did the cul-de-sac
become something to cross
at night along with other

streets? The week
should have a buffer day
for an unbalanced tea


Improbable face of
a moving point then
mid-day stillness

I wonder why my eyes
have opened
in this particular place

I wait for developments
whether to count my blessings
or heap up batteries


Should the love object
be as patient
as sand?

She kept you up all night
with the false rebuff
of her painted frown


I can’t give you the exact address
of my building but it’s under a dome
enclosing the entire state

Not funny. Transients broadcast
endless apologies for life. A bug
walked across a wrinkled magazine

Ryan Nowlin received his MA in creative writing from Temple University in 2004 and his MLIS from Rutgers in 2011. His concentration was in post-modern American poetry and 20th century Modernisms. For the past few years he has been an active participant in the Poetry Project at St. Marks in the Bowery. He currently lives in NJ and teaches as an English Adjunct at Hudson County Community College in JC. Recently poems of his have appeared in Sal Mimeo, The Delineator, Periodic Postcard and the online publications, Boog City and Across the Margins as well as the anthology/photography book, Like Musical Instruments: 83 Contemporary American Poets (Ed. Larry Fagin & John Sarsgard). He has published two chapbooks, entitled Banquet Settings and Not Far From Here. Kugel is his first full length collection of poetry.

Rusty Morrison

“as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real” (1)

on the blameless cutting board with my blameless knife
I slice my thumb by accident

accident is mythic instruction
submerged beneath its bandage

throbbing in an idiom of flow
through the verb-form of pain

memory arrives
by accident

encouraging seepage
over a period of days

bones dried for divination
can be ground to a fine powder and swallowed

only after they are unearthed
I’ve left my best red sable brush

thick with oil paint on its wooden palette
at an angle of unfinished conversation

as to whether the face I’ve composed
is finished or not

“as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real” (2)

I’ve lost my best shirt in the dark that should be a closet
built for safekeeping

my best shirt hangs in the distance that my reach to find it will miss
worse each time I try

my body wears a rippling skin that I’d like covered up
each ripple further eroding my body’s shape

at a speed I believe would rival the 1,669-kilometer per hour spinning
of the earth

my best shirt has a finely-detailed repeating lithograph of a fish
on a shirt the lack of change in a pattern is not denial

no fish attempts to swim away from background’s blue-green taunting
resemblance to ocean’s fluid element

“as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real” (3)

blood from a fresh wound is so loudly incognito
opening its storefront

in its window an enticing tableau of red hues
eye-catching anti-narratives

of inner body’s fluidity exposed
arranged to seem devoid of implication or cause

no mother in blood’s display of nothing

across the street from its storefront the cemetery
has discounted angel sculptures

next door there are patient mothers in line at the butcher shop
ready to argue the price of fresh meat

the main street pretends three-point perspective’s endlessness
but its vanishing point is closer than it seems

in a town more real than any feeling I’ve told myself I have
for a mother

for a color I say violet if I’m asked which
I prefer

I don’t believe anyone has a favorite to begin with
or a memory to trust

“as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real” (4)

I go back to bed with my collection of feathers
found unexpectedly which is the way luck finds someone

a slight shift in existence at eye’s corner
gives desire a hue and shape

so easily missed in the concrete sameness
of sidewalk’s pavement

a throat can be brushed gently dialectic
with a feather

found outside
all the beginnings and ends as I’ve written them

“as if imagining her thinking about me makes me real” (5)

cut with a haphazard scissor-stroke
my braid falls aimless to the floor

but aim isn’t necessarily visible
as it allies with gravity

watch long enough to find
that each thing lands

on the ground that sustains
the myth I’ve made of it

flicked off this keyboard with my fingernail
the body of an ant flies into the air

then another but not the third
that one I let travel the screen of my laptop

and disappear from sight
I must be mother even to my violence

as gravity bides its time
a wound closes itself from the inside out

proving that it too
is moving in the direction of escape

Note: the title of each of these poems
is a quote from Mei-mei Berssenbrugge (Nest, p 53)
Rusty Morrison‘s poems recently appeared in Colorado Review, Fence, Iowa Review; creative nonfiction at Entropy, Harriet. Her five books include After Urgency (Tupelo’s Dorset Prize) and the true keeps calm biding its story (Ahsahta’s Sawtooth Prize, Academy of American Poet’s James Laughlin, Northern California Book Award, & PSA’s DiCastagnola Award). Her recent Beyond the Chainlink (Ahsahta) was finalist for NCIB Award & NCB Award in Poetry). She’s been co-publisher of Omnidawn since 2001.

Ravitte Kentwortz

Vulnerability Study

A girl on a street.
The wind rolling her faster.

Each foot stops a fall.
Never a second wind twice.

A girl before the bear.
The bear rises, and falls.

A plastic bag in the snow.
Skid marks hold it faster.

The girl’s skin as it is skinned.
The bear’s head in a bag.

A shopping bag on a street.
A sail on the subject of change.

A squirrel skids off the mark.
A full bag fills with wind.

Downhill the street rolls.
A wind rolling it faster.

Who Licked

Who licked a spoon and put it back?
Consider the sun
erupting and angry at its core.

A summer tanager. A red dust. Unplugged
like river slantingly

as if the water will drain,
but bushes, like pubic hair        hold up every drop.

Canadian thistles erupt
in the American lawn

all year long, sweetie,
sweetie, the chickadees, like a wall
facing an exit door. Your life

One Andromeda galaxy        red
backed. Put in plagues and war —

ways to reduce
our white pages. To empty the human.
Are notes not

the spoon?
Every erection is diffident. What sings
goes out with the tide.

the unbearable bearably
tomb like for things we forget.

What?              One salamander
ever deeply
put back in the canoe

with one paddle downstream
navigates a licking waters. How the fishes
acknowledged by bubbles

are bubbling —

On Notes on Wall

Numerous sheets of paper on the wall.
Numerous white papers.
Numerous papers each a visual closed door.

The story is not there. The story is
not a paper. In between
things, the story, an act
of fissure.

The wall is brown with carpenter stain.
The wall is brown with years.
The wall presses numerous closed doors.

The story is
another form of time,
a second time dimension

connected like a note
to the first. The story is

not a wall. The story is between
an anima and an other. The story
is a state. A war.

Each paper keeps a scribbled name.
Each square signed its name in ink.
Names voiceless in white vacuum.

The story is
not a word. The story is not
a dimension with lines. Between
a paper curd and an
other. Curd, curd. The river

and the tongue. Subway hole
and root. Paper, paper,

American Poison

In the distance a tractor
and its rider. The sky, hard and sanctioned,
piled in particles of grain.

A contraption behind the tractor
spreads seeds into open trenches,
opened and soaked.

The American landscape. Corn,
pigs and sweetened. It responds
to us. Pet corn,

glyphosated, yellow off the pot —
its teeth with our teeth.
We dump the emptied cobs.

A growing hump of cobs
dusts a landscape. Its color — fuel,
its smell — distended.

with its sisters in a drying pile —
we lie with it.

Corn teeth in our gut
calling all gut bacteria. Give us
your breath. While we lie.

We climb to the top and kick. Lucy
spreads her toes. Then, we bury Hugh Grant.
Up his neck, a deep laugh. Grant

amplified active ingredients
dusts our hands and knees.
An amplified time to be in agriculture, I say.

The corn hump damps the voice. You can
take this stance when you’re standing
at the top of the pile.

Daughter of WWII partisans and Siberian exiles, Ravitte Kentwortz was born into a socialist community, where she was raised on the dogma of equality. Denied a student visa, due to insufficient financial assets, she entered the US illegally, but gradually arrived at citizenship. She studies philosophy in Colorado. Her poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The Minnesota Review, Portland Review, MARY, Caliban, and others.

Shira Dentz

is beauty jumping a Bay

meringue evening-sky
nowhere as much beauty as on the Gulf,
but reminds in a soft-spoken way—
trees laden with dark green toss gently
though nowhere as dramatic as palm trees,
all different kinds.
no Bay.
no mullet fish jumping,

though upstairs a neighbor’s legs lunge on creaking floorboards
“moody,” says the now-starched evening sky
leaves on different branches
kiss and nestle
again and again
bird sounds flicker
rushing cars could be waves humping shore
I don’t mean to write a celebration,
not even in hindsight (nostalgia)
sky a tunnel now
tonight nowhere is dashing

night tree

squirrels of time
petit fours; birds landing, pecking, dithering, somnabulist tree spider in the
neighborhood why o why might I ask the stars the sky marbled with fat the trees
satin with delight arm-wrestling for sure don’t be picky for when the snarls come
o to see exposed roots—

on its word? mother
bark so-help
zero in the nearing; the inevitable night, zero afterwards.

a/my/the race—

time for a “connected” mother
“connected”? in this mother, in nearing death, there’s: word?
it’s for the given, given, mother, I race this maternal instinct night tree

veins, membranes, shine. light left stranded.
—texture-wise, fragile veins of luminosity. light, of of fragile flicker light

sun on a mantle

still lines
waiting to converge
characters       tiny hearts

air made of statues,
ghosts of the living, in my case,
and case is a home
for many things.

Shira Dentz is the author of five full-length books, black seeds on a white dish (Shearsman), door of thin skins (CavanKerry), how do i net thee (Salmon Poetry), the sun a blazing zero (Lavender Ink/Diálogos, forthcoming), and Sisyphusina (PANK, forthcoming), and two chapbooks, Leaf Weather (Shearsman), and FLOUNDERS (Essay Press). Her writing appears widely in journals including Poetry and The American Poetry Review, and she is the recipient of awards including Poetry Society of America’s Lyric Poem Award.

Laynie Browne


Vice is in— advice. Inside thread is— tread, and red. Also, dear—

A mind made of drills, a tentacle audience, personal scarlet, potions of temporality

Do you squint as she approaches, toward large glass walls, carrying needle and broom, carrying music tied soundly to lack?

Will you revolve acres on paper, paste onto envelopes? Invite beams of light to kneel?

Have you ever written instructions to yourself, bereft of apprentices?

Do you remember how to singe fine power, how to turn twinge— to dawn?

How to rise up and twist threads together until they learn to cling— until— like letters you find your strand


from Indivisible

A narrative of the short-sleeper contains a swinging bed, at least one ghost pillow, loons and wind through fir. The weight of one-hundred blankets covers eyes. To reunite the bereft with sleep— goggles inset with blue light, sleep fairs, banquets and pantomimes. How to make a bed. How to speak to your internal alarm. How to address sleep theaters. Sleep as weapon. Start by turning off the light and saying your prayers. Taking off the custom of cloth and replacing it with flight. Cover your body with moths. I don’t know where this is leading.

A Dress is Never Sex

Going to get the mail         at 5028 sort of             but no gate         a dirt road and slightly pastoral
        and saw across the street             an envelope slightly buried in dirt.

I brushed it off and saw it was a letter           to me         And continued brushing off dirt         with
my cold hands become something else         determined, cold, red
sifters with their own intent        to find an entire stack of letters        buried in the dirt
          across the road.

A letter from you         one that said everything         you had not said in our last
        incarnation         and letters with foreign script         hands I did not recognize        
but half remembered       a promise with a seamed back         is how we knew
        she may have seemed alive         but couldn’t possibly have been

But not the letter from you         which wasn’t anywhere         didn’t exist      except as
        something buried         bluntly seamed      unopened         so what did it matter?

And how had these letters gotten across the street?

     The mailman apparently had placed letters on the ground instead      of in the other pretend
metal box      It had been windy      I discussed this with others having similar problems
     Mail was      decomposing as      an absent      anachronistic sacrament

Since your letters      had stopped I started ordering      things to arrive in the mail
to mollify my disappointment          I was ashamed        but still looked
     forward to parcels      mostly books of momentum    lossless dresses
also vacation and trees

I ordered some trees which never came      but a fox arrived      And reams of edible
paper      When I ordered the ancient shoes      I had seen in a museum case
     I knew I had gone too far      Still I kept the shoes      a museum
     a case of          unkempt myself in glass          velvet with
                                  glitter heels

The Last Time I Wore That Subject You Were Alive

I didn’t want to stop         I never wanted to stop           and if I read the words          you        wrote
when       you never wanted to stop          then you’d written “you’d”         when I should have written
“eye”        or, ore never wanted       to stop         what was written was a         written form, an
orientation          until the gaze runs out          so that you can’t watch

a video of interactions        your gaze is that painfully present       it’s so obvious that
        nobody sees it

But if you ever want to write again         from that period of false purity          you’d better       get

Why if it is falseness       so many ways to cover a body          alluring the dark sentences
        is nothing         really I can do it         even without any words

Laynie Browne has three new books: poetry, You Envelop Me (Omnidawn 2017), a novel, Periodic Companions (Tinderbox 2018), and short fiction, The Book of Moments (Presses universitaires de rouen et du havre 2018).