Nathaniel Rosenthalis

Self-Portrait as Works and Days

Kissing you
was like tending a tiny
desktop garden
of fake succulents.
I took a photo.

Self-Portrait as Prey

Wet,
you want me to
fold in half, arms
behind my back
while I act
like I like you
liking that 

Self-Portrait as Imaginary Enemy

Was or wasn’t
that not you
in a seersucker suit
with the
embarrassing
underarm stains
I saw each time
you lifted a hand
to offer me
that saltshaker? 

Self-Portrait as Shovel

Take me back.
What’d dirty you
falls through my head.
You lifted me.
Bent over
to put me in and over
the earth. The
earth.
I don’t own this yard. 

Self-Portrait in Stadium

I love sports.
One day the lead player, though, he
disappeared.
As if on my behalf.
Now I’m in this sportsy state.
I can explain:
“Sports shouldn’t be
the art of some
individuals, without
being a tacit act
-ivity and universe of
everything.” 

Self-Portrait as Little Rote Exercise

I pick a fossil up and it is
replaced by a
fossil.
Not just ice:
I run over ice
I slip
I slip to run this past
past you.
Love you.

Nathaniel Rosenthalis’s recent poems can be found in Chicago Review and Lana Turner. He is the author of the forthcoming chapbook 24 HOUR AIR (PANK, 2021). He lives and works in New York City.

Max Ridge

To the Tones of Moss

Grains green up
and the ewe doddles
probably. Upon inspection,
summer’s posture is as culpable

as the gun-runner,
who slinks between massifs and crags.
There are times fit for leisure
homespun dull and neighborly

times. Then there is the present,
where careful heroes sit waiting
for photographs to tint.
Each summer may know the other

in the way ghosts do:
few details, aside from
the bobbing knee.
Either play the old horn or sing.

That’s the shanty, and
that’s the turncoat
who made the check out
to scandal and personality,

revealing as he did,
as he funded the error,
the bloodied cuticles.
Time versus time.

Things would happen to me

and the trail would go cold
where footprints
became handprints became nothing

Wind blow thee west
the stir will slake
the hot body

Weird: the ensemble
prose, which brought
bright colors

a day
wouldn’t cut it
not ten

the windows go from
the floor to the ceiling
straight to the bookcase

to the bats of the eye
and the glint if
the rhombus was indeed your eye.

Half mettle and half
swoon, equal parts
honest and bleach

how funny
would it be
if you hustled

down deep to the center
of the condition
with the speed

of a once-sleeping valet
or a businessman
returning for

the wallet. Set
the montage
to water.

Hello, Caesura

We need not be perfect.
I, for one, gave up good
in August, when life’s rolling boil
gave way, when something scuttled
beneath the moist sand. The
leftover milt finding the lakebed,
something behind my mind pulling
grey milt to the bottom. Reproductive
movements, ancestral movements.
It was August when light occasionally designed
to frustrate the brack, when
I resigned to a desire that
wasn’t mine. That desire being
something with its own physiology
the way a welt wells up,
the way a glance whips back,
becomes a thought.
When I love someone I want to give them everything.
I give them everything in the wrong order,
or allow it all at once. That
is how I beach the thing, with provocative
passes at the truth. With
interpretation, impatient warmth.
We should talk about tomorrow.
Before bed I’ll reserve a few
moments to polish the
barrel of my fear.

Max Ridge is a writer from New York. He is currently a PhD student at Princeton University’s Politics Department. His poetry has appeared in Dovecote Magazine, Hoxie Gorge Review, and Foothill Journal. He was a 2017-2018 Fulbright Scholar to the United Kingdom.

Bryan D. Price

Self-loathing is the point

that is what I would have told him if we spoke (or were still speaking)

I don’t ask why but I know it to be true despite the need for doctors

and mystics despite the need for the power of positive thinking what

voice is that are you speaking in tongues or doing a bit or superimposing

a truer self or soul I am reminded here of epistemology—of trying to

be your beautiful actor your genuflecting pig blindfolded and staked to the

earth your self-contained vessel of putrid annoyance it has been twelve

minutes since I have thought about the future if I had a son I would

tell him that no matter what has been uttered by other witches or prelates

the self-loathing was the point

Transgression/repentance

this is not about cognitive decline or
our life together held in place with safety pins
I am driving again and reading Robert Graves
found a volume of his myths in a Santa Maria bookstore
the pages dead leaf yellow and as cold as the day
before the paroxysm—you sprayed me down
black out drunk on the fire escape my psyche
held together between your thumb and blue forefinger
and now thought of as an astral projection or
a separate piece of history: a person who could have been
a sea captain or sister to the son of his old age

To render pain in animals

use small words as bitten down as seeds
look deep into the eye past the
sockets past the realm of the immutable
it’s like vocalizing the sound of cicadas
waited for you near a fence in western PA
a deer came out of the cemetery and then
another and another the humming was like
the dead sound before a lightning storm
bathe ritualistically (only once or twice)
court suffering and death ask to be
sacrificed the wound is peace to open the
border is to open the skin the rotted peach
had becalmed my spirit do not waste the
command to go forth and reciprocate
the peach was unripe and the floors were just
old boards I took the staples out like any
other superfluity slept in strange positions
gave into breathing (not meditating) just
gesturing toward life and persisting—get
out your watercolor paper and draw a straight
edge do it over and over again in pen in pencil
in scissor and vulture feather keep doing
so until you have made sense of the brutality

From the melting permafrost

this may be a final transmission or
second-to-last gasp maybe a cry for help an
accounting of everything I’ve seen up until
yesterday there is a lot to process right now
some things are too frightening to comprehend
like a wormhole into the past
have you ever been to Wilmington to Nauvoo
or Torrington to Alton where the last printing
press was shot into the earth’s sky like a satellite
it’s part of the trash nebula now there is
nothing romantic about finding water on the moon
but it may one day queer our grip on reality
Mike Davis critiqued Brecht for having never
set foot in a Wilmington bar and yet
here we are naturalizing the specter of a melancholy
wounding the seminal slaughter of ideals
thought good enough to colonize all aspects of
our institutional memory right down to the number
of bubbles in a bar of soap there will be calls for
blood and vengeance calls to reverse being
stabbed in the back—men out here from the
panhandle using semaphores and tongue-talkers
to engineer our demise my grandfather was a
ham radio enthusiast and my other grandfather
was a horse-breaker is there no room for me
now on this eerie plane of existence
the end will be cold and nomadic…the cultists
call down (from the afterlife) to say that
sleep is better than the talking cure…
if we could behave like ghosts I’d take the beanpot
back into the field to collect pine nuts again
vanishing into the purple hands of my mother’s
mother neither wading nor not wading into the
notion of an emerging insect world

Bryan D. Price’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in DMQ Review, Rhino Poetry, Pioneertown, and elsewhere. He lives in San Diego, California with his wife, a dog, and a cat named for Pina Bausch.

Jonathan Minton

from LETTERS

I imagined that you had returned, as if from sea,
as the hippalectryon, the fire-colored horse-chanticleer.
When I stitched my mistakes into yet another monster,
you said it was fate, but you locked the tower gates.
You took my grief into a faraway kingdom, and built a room for it,
where impish creatures scratch the floors in the dark.
You placed a laboratory table, complete with straps
and elaborate equipment to measure every pulse and twitch.
You adorned the walls with your image, and routed the demons
with sunrise singing. You lined the village fountains with rare coins.
Your cults filled the temples. At home, citizens whispered
your secrets to each other. I will ask you to sing them to me
later, while my eyes are still closed.

from LETTERS

You said our secrets kept us stranded. Somewhere else
there is a black box tossed in its wreckage, like a seed,
or polished stone. Somewhere else there is a sunken ship.
The wood is dissolving around the nails and rare coins.
They are like smooth, lidless eyes staring up from their depths.
On the shore there are wooden horses and hidden soldiers.
Someone has already invented this,
but they will destroy the city as if they were real.
Someone else will call your name. There is a mouth
inside this mouth that admits every mistake, but changes
the location to make it more exotic. In one version,
you are weeping beneath a yellowing cypress.
In another, a glacier is mirrored in the lake below it.
Something unspoken is also there, half-formed
between us, like a raw egg, or spring thaw.
Someone else is telling you nothing will change.
Someone else is saying goodbye.

from LETTERS

We entered a new city every summer, but we were lonely
because our maps didn’t include the historic bodies of water.
We toured the canals without a guide, and photographed the trees.
Some were arranged in grids, some in tangles, like slender masts.
One was adorned with lights that hung in its branches like gold teeth.
You described them as cruel because nobody could touch them.
In such sorrows, the worst silence is not the refusal to speak,
but the compulsion to say something, to think of a substitute for loss.

I carry this memory like a lantern or a cup into its next sentence.
Something imaginary keeps it there, as with all ships in their harbor,
or swords that carve their plunder into smaller treasure.

Jonathan Minton lives in central West Virginia, where he is a Professor of English at Glenville State College. He is the author of Technical Notes for Bird Government (Telemetry Press, 2018), In Gesture (Dyad Press, 2009), and Lost Languages (Long Leaf Press, 1999). He edits the journal Word For/Word.

Ian U Lockaby

Hand Tool

The sides of the well collapsed, vegetable and anxiety farmed all up the sides of the water source. Deep inside the well, a hand, a handing tool. A hand dig too left out in the rain will rust a while. The grin grips the pressure systems and the meteorologist moans. The meter is the motor, depending how you look at it. All utility must be watched, if it is to be utility rust. They hand you a tool. They charge you for it.

May 22

We take them down, slide the hour sharp right through the green tangle of feet, watch them after noon wilt against the dirt against the sun and against the dream of it— tidy plotted earth to harvest and harvest again. Wilting in the sun against the dream, here with my wit— I true the greening difference. I don’t understand that difference.

After lunching on the shade of the vine maple, the thought of yourself is going back to the field, leaving from leftover shade, having had your fill, but realizing you weren’t going back— it was the thought of you—you’ve ready said it I’m saying it again.

We’re going down to the beans and spinach—scuff them up. Shuffle your green and wilting feet. The work’s not over it’s under you. Rising up in to and through you. Rest your head against the dream awhile, harvest your feet.

A Demonstration

Suppose a demonstration is required of the worker. The labor being inside itself to begin with, mostly. What you will eventually eat upon is a table, which holds the leaves once held by hands, once inside themselves. Dust in the field is washed off before you table it. By who is not who you’re harboring, but who is harboring you.

To speak of the dibble is to reference an inside. When there is an inside, there is a dibble outside. Taking the weather in the weather’s times. To speak of the dibble. To nib with the dibble is to wear the long red gown of the weather. To follow the tails of the gown through the field crowded with seeded bread, and rows, is to dibble with toes, the labor of it.

Wellness

In the well we farm for the sides of it, from a depth of sides we up and up the farm, the hefty sides, the hefty farm. A depth of wellness has much to do with the green side of things. When the well collapsed we were welling with anxiety and vegetable, vegetable anxiety. An algae swelled. There’s water in the well, well, well. Water in the well and the well’s collapsed. To drill the well requires a well, on the green side of things, a gathering up the hefty sides of algae-well.

Carry one cigarette from the garden up the pass

I left because I needed to arrive. Always trying to arrive is one way to seldom do. An ever-arriving coincident with a failure to recognize it, the air of our heads conditioned to miss the particles we land on, over and over, this progress.

I left summer because fall was one way to fall away. It got cold, surfaces came unstuck. Carrying tobacco flowers in a glass jar grown from seed I’d been saving for years. I would smoke the flowers. I would save a few seeds, willing particles to land on. I would might then.

Ian U Lockaby is a poet, translator, and former farmworker. His poems have appeared/will soon appear in Denver Quarterly, Datableed, Apartment, Dialogist, and elsewhere. He is the translator of Gardens, by Chilean poet Carlos Cociña, forthcoming from Cardboard House Press, and his translations also appear in Sink Review, Anomaly, and The Canary. He currently teaches at Louisiana State University and lives in New Orleans.

Michael J. Henry

Gun and Blue

I.

Gun is painting his bedroom walls.
Blue is the color but not quite.

The paintcan label reads cornflower
and though Gun has never seen

an actual bloom, he believes in the word.
Gun is working hard to trust what he hears and sees,

speak and spell. He wants to feel good
about coining of phrase, knowing the known.

Gun and us fellas, us boys, we are all knowers,
are big talkers too,

always lecturing. We tend to shun conversation.
A one-way street, shut your hole and listen.

II.

After a violent rainstorm, Gun gathers broken
branches in his weedy back yard. With a dull saw

he trims cracked tree limbs, leaves the big stumps
by the curb. To him they look like cigar butts.

When a truck with an enormous jointed arm
takes it all away Gun feels sad,

lies down on his stained mattress,
his body far from all other bodies.

Gun whispers a word: loneliness.
We are wise to it.

Like we always say:
in words we trust.

III.

Gun sleeps. He dreams. In them, no one speaks.
Restless, he shifts, makes gentle waves

of the sheets, but he does not wake
for he is floating in the blue,

and there are no decent words
to describe the vivid hue of the ocean.

Gun Has Power of Mind

Gun thought of a hockey game—
the ice rink melted and
became a tsunami.

Gun thought of a septic system—
it softened into a giant snake that burst from the earth
and ate

all the neighborhood animals,
cats, dogs, hamsters, two
cockatoos.

Gun thought of going to medical school—
it choked his throat, having to learn the names of all those bones
and germs.

Gun thought of UPS trucks—
they all drove ramshackle into the ocean,
a million cardboard packages bobbing on salty waves.

Gun thought of money—
his eyes melted and his fingers were
crumpled newspaper pages.

Gun thought about the rainclouds in the sky—
they turned to rock and fell to earth,
smashing everything to smithereens.

Gun thought of global warming—
fat men in suits laughed themselves purple, slurping scotch
and blood on the rocks.

Gun worried about the polar ice caps—
a long icicle swelled out of his ear,
dripping clear.

Gun saw all these teens running from the high school.
He waved Hi but they didn’t seem to appreciate
the kind gesture.

Gun pondered his naked form in the mirror,
he curled up fetal on his creaky bed
and wept.

Gun Goes to See a Shrink

They sit, inert.
They don’t say anything.
Gun, it is apparent, is
well defended.

The shrink says,
Well, let’s start by you
telling me
about your day.

Gun says
I got up
used the john
went for
a walk, went off
a couple of times,
then ended up
back in the closet
in the old tin box
high on the shelf
with the Penthouses
and the paperdry
baggie of dope,
like I’m some kind
of contraband.

And how did you feel
about that?

People died
along the way
probably
but so what?
It’s not my fault.

What makes you
say that?

Say what? All of it?

The last part.

Because I didn’t do it.
Haven’t you heard?
Gun don’t kill
people, people
kill people.

Long pause.
Shrink scribbles
some notes.
He makes a cage
of his fingers,
tip to tip.
He is thinking real deep.
The moment hangs there
in the empty space
between them,
like something
might actually happen.

The shrink sucks in a deep breath.
Well, I’m sorry to say our time
is up.

Just what I was thinking, Gun says.

Michael Henry is co-founder and Executive Director of Lighthouse Writers Workshop, the largest independent literary arts center in the Rocky Mountain west. He is the author of three books of poetry and has received fellowships from the Colorado Council on the Arts and PlatteForum, and a Livingston Fellowship from the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation.

Lizzy Golda

Stone House

A gnarly thorn bush,
like a giant yarn ball filled
up the breakfast nook,
and there was no roof,
no roof at all, covering
any of the rooms.
An abandoned place.
That’s technically what this was.
No one likes to be
abandoned but we enjoy
escaping problems.
Happy as I am,
when adrenaline touches
me between the eyes,
I’m riding a horse
so giddy she thrills to throw
me like winds throw rain.

Xochiquetzal

Come to me wearing
indigo with redwood seeds
tucked inside your hair.

My double the storm
approaches you with violets
and flooded houses.

Your double the drought
is ecstatic, electric
on the laguna.

A man strips himself
down in your outdoor shower,
just to be near you.

All the little seeds
of every fruit and flower
are inside of us.

When you rise, your hips
are golden and substantial
like the headland slopes.
When you touch my heart,
I am a tomato plant.
Your hands are the earth.

We won’t ever die,
I laugh with you, with my tongue
curled around a star.

My Face’s Real Shapes

Velvet, lavender
with gemstones, purple, plastic,
sprinkled on top and
pink freesias preserved
in hour glass shaped vases
and magenta lights.
An r&b song,
wistful and graceful repeats
in the other room.

I want the angel to get
close and kiss me,
when the earth’s fuming,
a calendula orange
like skies after fire.
A best friend touches my hair,
a keyhole between
my breasts in a night dress is
my world in order.

I just want my friends to see
my face’s real shapes.
Watching a movie about
a house from heaven,
with a chartreuse four poster
that needs repairing.
When the woman wipes away
the dust of years past,
the faces of goddesses
appear, like our mom,
exactly when we need her.
My eyelids rest: hammocks
between two small apple trees.
Vineyards like a mote.

The Dybbuk

I’m a Yiddish play
full of music no one knows
in a dead language.

Our language – it died.
They thought we were so ugly.
They still think we’re rich.

Pomegranate seeds
fall out of black gauche handbags,
into shallow graves.

Now I’m just flopping
around on top of your grave
because I’m earthquakes.

Silver candlesticks:
two double souls on Shabbat.
That was you and me.

My body shimmered
like heat on a summer road.
Then I was thin air.

Lizzy Golda has published poems in Prelude, No, Dear, Luna Luna and elsewhere. She was a graduate teaching fellow at CUNY Queens College. She lives in Brooklyn and teaches at a high school and a synagogue.

Rose Auslander

It

better keep its hands
to itself, better not
slit your wrists &
say you did—no,

it won’t admit
trouble
sleeping, won’t look
in the mirror,
will hold
no dew, no
slow afternoons,
or home or tide
swirling or otherwise,
would rather explode—oh it
refuses to feel
the wind on its cheek,
mouth
hanging open
crying out, it
denies pain, my dear,
it will watch you
eat your heart
as if anyone
would know,
don’t say I love you,
pant at its feet,
call it sweetheart
call it what you want,
its teeth
will etch
its face
in your body,
look
its seeds float
in the air
you breathe,
root in your hair,
it is twilight
sleep, the coyote
ripping your neck,
your eye
watching—please

may it sweat
from you, may it
sweat
from your pores.

no telling

it vibrates

flat then sharp
pain

in my own flat-
chested voice

& carrion flower says

ssssshhh
lie still
smell hot dirt let yourself
root down below
low enough
to warm you who cares
how deep it might reach up
in you don’t
picture horror show
tentacles let it
feed you earth water
swallow your toes rooting
into it like this taste it
let it hold your arms

&
plumped up

yeasty baked golden       steamy

in hunger for red

of berry, blood of lamb

it seasons me

in weeds & mud

until

softened, seeping  

 

I
become
frankincense,

almost. like
forgiveness
invisible, pure
sure
it
will be different
until
limp
I float
praying to god
to let me sink

& indifferent
slithering down

feeling        up
groping crudely inside

it rises
uproots

me       some tree       whatever       takes
what it will

bark       skin       hair       dirt       leaves

the floating thing

waking

its ashes inside me

lord knows why

maybe a breeze
from an open window

maybe I wake singing
just a note       maybe two &

it steps on my throat.
says smile.

in dreams sweating       poison down
my legs          kicking               talons
ripping, paunch bloating
pregnant with flesh it
licks. lips me. like
ice cream
says cream
on it. submit. let it rain in-
fection. be sticky, shiny. see-
through

if feverish remain
unspoken. curdling inside let it
slide in. & moan. the way
a woman moans pretend to sleep

let it

write my name       in stairwells & bathroom stalls
my holy unholy broken city / voice / song
beyond mending even with the finest gold       oh beautiful beautiful lucilla made money
from her body       so say the cloth launderers says the owl on the old urinal wall       so
broken beautiful I bend       I open

my skin still soft

don’t look

like I’m not

here, I can hear
myself singing

across the room—
come on now, watch:

men wade in,
breath seeping

through my floor—
see

look
the bonfire

in their eyes
no please don’t

mind the char.

rendered

its bony knees still
piercing

the soft spot
where my wings

would shiver if
I’d had strength

to push
it off,

oh

it loves
a good piggy—

Rose Auslander’s book Wild Water Child won the 2016 Bass River Press Poetry Contest; her chapbooks include Folding Water, Hints, and The Dolphin in the Gowanus and look for her poems in the Berkeley Poetry Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Tinderbox, Rumble Fish, RHINO, Carve Magazine, the Main Street Rag, and A & U: America’s AIDS Magazine. @rausland; facebook.com/rausland

Kirstin Allio

Adaptation II.

If passwords
were business
models angels

like locusts would
venture down.
Only old crack

pots like me
use old addresses,
as if to capitalize

or cannibalize
my own secrets. Every
one was a special

character back in the day.
Or phone numbers
still waiting for that weeping

girl to vacate
the booth fogged
with the primitive

bond of jargon,
supply-side’s
lopsided cycle.

I miss the taste
and touch of things.
Atrophied capacities

revisioned as means
of being on
line, production

of the wrong magic,
the thinning of time.
I use old

addresses in order
to remember how
I got here.

Adaptation III.

The phone is now never
not modified
by a progressive pronoun.
Both modest males
and self-possessed
females have spiral horns.

That coy is in coyote,
pausing unhidden
in a winter field.

Adaptation IV.

Fear of death is a strange virtue
To cultivate to deal with living under the owning
Sun and stars coined to describe the view
From the butt end of the earth,
The small-talk of birds like table salt.

What I mean by fear of death is Enlightenment
Thinking. The Euro-I, the aphoristic:
I have the same taste in masks
As I do in underwear. I’m always
Suspicious of people who have
Two cars the same color.
And it would be really exciting,

If somewhat discordant,
Were someone else to clear my bowl
And spoon, meaning men
Have hogged all the wars, leaving women
Shorthanded when it comes to the dishes.

Demeter

There was no one she could call
For help for days
Were long lite
Nights

And winter had synchronized
Its commercial breaks
To prevent the permeation of song.

No canary
No hack
Mule decked out
With headlamp could retrieve
Her daughter’s cellular
Chaff for the rape

Kit. No way out
But to wait.
Pain was being
One with pain.
Spring her station
Of the cross—mother

As original
Insomniac. Hard to imagine

The seed of a common land
Scaping bush traveling
In birdshit like a wild
Flower seed.

Dreams encoded
Out of fear of exposure
To a bright bland
Reason a stagnant
Season an anti-love—
Despair was no refuge and
It was easier to imagine
Snow in a street
Light on
Screen than
To really look
Through the dark.

Icarus

Wax-wings, thanks
For the prototype
Upright positions & lavatories
Like caskets:

Try stretching
The sentence in there
Don’t even try smoking
Carries a sentence

A genuine masterpiece:
Self-discover that genius
Baby in the aisle
The air as stale

As drinking your own palm
Wine, pee, ancient acuity tea:
In opening shot
After opening

Shot, the sentence
Of technology foretold
By the incubation temp
Of Mt. Rainier’s first

Name, Tacoma, tool
Of record, rising as if
From another earth, wholly
Unimpressed by human flight.

Wild

If I were that Rohingya woman who had to choose
which child, if the lovely
orthodontist pictured in the New York
Times, in dark
green (silk
slissing through seagrass),
had to deliver her still
born, hallucinating
drugstore balloons,

if I were the doctor with hairless hands
would I have paused

before the red rose on her door?

I borrow tragedy that trades
as knowledge. Yet
on a basic level, I’m groomed
for the drug of not knowing
why the grassy bank across the hard
working river remains wild.

(A crab with a side
arm side-walks
across asteroids.) No spinal,
I thought I screamed, no longer
sure which body
was mine, was my neck
in stirrups, my feet
on their backs under the doctor’s nose?

Some days, all
I see in the cemetery
are wives who out
lived their husbands
by hundreds of lives.

Kirstin Allio’s novels are Buddhism for Western Children (University of Iowa) and Garner (Coffee House), and the story collection Clothed, Female Figure (Dzanc). Recent work is out or forthcoming in AGNI, American Short Fiction, Bennington Review, Conjunctions, Fence, New England Review, Plume, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, Subtropics, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from Brown University’s Howard Foundation and MacDowell. kirstinallio.com

Edwin Torres

CELESTIAL SUITE: if I’m talking to you it’s because you can hear me

: : : NORTHERN STAR : : :

 

look at how I listen
to the wrong thing again
— disturbing a sky again
solstice calls
for more than feel-stice
action winter tea cup spiral
are you still with your love
who painted mine — what we say
to hear what we hear
— poetry can anything
if you let it —
wanna try to shadow twitch with tradition
look at how I listen
— to the wrong thing again

: : : EASTERN HIGHWAY : : :

               — Sueñosima — when you see me — let me join this waking world —
driving for how long … and still no sun between these lines … for how many hours on the coast … with Spotify numbing … no singer’s lyric … no someone else … no summer sung at 4am … on a lonely highway … turn off and wait by the road … shuteye for a few winks
               — I’m all about the luminal
said the liminal … flatness is a virtue … for a dispossessed globe … let me close my eyes … and see if something else … comes to me … wants to enter … this prime season … of endless white lines … on a black year … past horizon … that gesture of … your turn now … to reach through what I’m given … not an ending … but a sequence

 

: : : WESTERN HORIZON : : :

I liked living in the not-knowing
I liked the fog I was in
when I didn’t have a clue about you

there are fewer chances for mystery
as I move forward in my not-knowing
fewer moments of genuine void

that freefall is exhilarating
I wonder if that momentary arrival
in lack of ground

is made present
by the clearing
or by the letting

 

: : : SOUTHERN CROSS : : :

to be animal at the crossroads
to pack knowingly spare
to step inside the crevices by avoiding them
to reciprocate knowingly spare
to elevate ephemeral half-truths
scars of semiconscious attenuation

I had you in mind
the week is beginning or ending tonight, so I thought of you

the scent of your outline
mirror to mine, reach back
through a poem’s longest line, made longer to prove a point
honor the lost image
the forgotten form
once fleshed in spirit

we invent realities to explain our wants
the connective tissue of missing imperfections aligned
by the edges of our flight
if we were to scrape the burn impaled by our aim
by the faceless overture of awakening to creatures
we’ve never been

a crossing I visit
often, too many times, in midstride, I’m there
head turned, in each direction
crescent observers
me and my crossing, both of us, wondering
who moves who

Edwin Torres has taught and performed his multi-disciplinary bodylingo poetics for many years. He is editor of the inter-genre anthology, The Body In Language: An Anthology (Counterpath Press), and author of ten books of poetry including The Animal’s Perception of Earth (Doublecross Press), Xoeteox: the infinite word object (Wave Books), and Ameriscopia (University of Arizona Press). His work appears in Manifold Criticism, American Poets in The 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement, and Kindergarde: Avant Garde Poems for Children, among others.