Jessica Wickens

Department Store Days

hey dude,
it’s me

we licked that fever into one big family, didn’t we?

wads of paper tossed into storms

summer abandoned us
the clothes made the mannequins
we devised our secret names
made stories from fragments

what are the most important
things to have in a life/boat?

drums and teacups

they always ask us if we smoke
body memory is infinite

we never do

our first public statement was: it’s been more than a year and real life is still awesome / it’s a sin not to admit it / we are totally going to make t-shirts

it’s just as well            those days are behind us

so dude, say it like you would say it, not like Betty Crocker would say it

man naps on couch at salvation army

not all rebirth is emergence from a deep well
this one could be a call to action
soldiers- brides- and children-in-waiting (upon waking) arise
in their own ways

does the suit fit? and the hat? trembling heart and hands
sidewalks darkened with rain
a future visible in the patterns

the sink runneth over / war becomes
much easier (upon waking)

how much $ does it take to become a fully realized human?
happiness as a journey not a destination / but the landscape can beat
you every time

he wakes and watches
as the parade passes and we’re revealed
riders with pelts of conquest
our old absurdities
the casualties of our superficial train
yes
America is a nonstop fucker of
prosperity and peace

Jessica Wickens is an editor of Monday Night and a member of the Bay Area Correspondence School, a project exploring experimental writing through online and offline communications. She co-authored with Della Watson a poetry collection titled Everything Reused in the Sea: The Crow & Benjamin Letters (Mission Cleaners Books). Her chapbook, Things That Trust Us, was published by Beard of Bees.

Asiya Wadud

Be the blueprint

When I was 8 I wanted to be an architecture, to imagine my gaping life at 38. To be able to deign the window, the leaden doors the front the side the rear we would use that year, the scaffolding of the garret in the window’s slope and narrowness. It was a state that we should claim. The honing state, I reckon a state of being. I defined I named I subsumed I assumed the best and most convincing state was through the storm door. When I was 8 I wanted to be an architecture. I was unsmiling feral I cried easily was missing too many teeth. Still wanted to breastfeed — the blasphemy. I badly chiseled I chipped I collaged I clawed I cleaved I hammered I honed a state of being. Though now from God’s vantage that was not altogether for naught — to wish a future so unforgiving, Brutalist, Soviet, ideology laid bare in the building, I was made to feel so small. Made to feel so justly small while built very honed. I would be a body with rooms I could easily defenestrate I could readily be. The picture windows witness a low slung sun. I would deign the window, the leaden doors the front the side the rear, the structure of the garret is in the window’s neatness. I could push back the curtain it’s didactic. It’s noted in the blueprint. The profile of our double helix. To be an architecture I mean I could I mean I didn’t know then that I meant I would be a house that I myself could inhabit.

after Hilda Hilst
after LOOK

A dog is content in centigrade
A cerulean retriever gathers a bouquet

The eyelets plead: don’t you know me
How can I be?
I have myriad ways to see

The neat straight ruffian
The guesswork
The exactness which
Takes courage

Always in the choosing
Searing in the distance
What could we name it:
Hilda
Josef
Guernica
All places festooned

The shrift unfolds
In all its whiteness
Dog eyes or you could say loosely
Tenderness prefers knowledge

Tender button I mean
The damp nose
It takes a certain courage
To fillet the softest part
To glean the glowing parts

The eyelets plead: look. you know me
you know me

chronology in prostrate/ daybook

—after Stacy Szymaszek

3:13 am          awake from a new fever dream
6:11 am          peabrain polyphonic
6:42 am          my knowledge of Swahili, diminished
6:51 am          the August water in the Baltic, on first sight silhouetted
6:52 am          subsequently it was everything
7:11 am          to avoid my polished shoe in human waste
7:11 am          and with focused pleasure, remove animal waste with a twig
8:18 am          the decay of other autumns

timelessly, the October of my mind [without reason]

8:19 am          and the indelible
9:00 am each in its given moment
each in a faultless aura
fecund
to look head on at the sun
we all crave a searing moment
though damned if we try and sequester a moment
9:00 am          elongated
9:00 am          held
9:00 am          staid
9:01 am          pastoral
3:13 am          wished not for a full silo
6:11 am          polyphony of the silence
6:11 am          submerged and braying
6:42 am          the exactitude was pretty good
6:51 am          the August water at the Baltic, on first sight silhouetted
6:52 am          subsequently it was everything

speak + tendrils

this is what
a luster
this is what a lament
this is what
a lamentation
this is what
lacrima
this is what
sinister or you can say darkness
this is what
this is what
an aspect
a levee
a full stone
a turned stone
a dapple load
this is what
a refulgence
this is what a lament
this is what
to incant
this is what
a
sigh
into some void
a full capillary
the shame
a fulcrum
the anvil
the light
the unconvinced
the ill-conceived
note the iron-rich
note the finish
this is a levee
I’m burdened
this is a border
that we grip
this is a pine coffin
we must bury
but first
we empty
we empty
we empty
this is what
when the night
the night
same
sigh this is the night
sky with the image redacted
when the image is doubled
with the image doubled down
before we were named
though we were named long ago
this is what
this is what
this sigh
this is the
weighted blackness
this is a beat back
a canter
a
we lactate
this is a what
us simulating birth
this is a what
us memorializing the stillborn
this is a what
when we know what’s not done
this is what
a light
this is what a lament
this is what
the emptied
this is what
lacrima
this is what
sinister
this is what
this is what
a light
a levee
a full stone
for tight space
a dapple load
this is what
a groundswell
this is what
the loon
this is what
this is what
a gesticulation, little hand
a coming blade, my tenderly
a tempting bottom, the fine clarity
a crispness
the elation
a whisperer
a whisperer
a whisperer

my decent one

my decent one, this, this what we have in front of us. this complete orb, this leaden strobe, this searing, direct heat. this the weighted gold. the infinite. this glorious gaped valley? the one that yawns on both ends and reaches? the one that reconciles a lineage from a shrift. the one that seeks the mountain from this depth. this. this amalgamated steel. this generative precious stone. the Reisefeber. this what we have appraised while in deep mourning. this is, this is heavy. oh, this is heavy. this is. oh will this bear the weight. oh this is as delicate as a new quail cupped in my light. oh, this, my burden, but i chose to name it light. oh this is the century that holds my clavicle, oh this the forethought that keeps the oar oaring oh this is a green valley that also yearns for a crescent. oh this is this my god oh i ache for a gospel. my chapel. oh this is how we were yoked. something holy and contained. oh i am a quake on a tender fault line — oh i am a quake on a tender fault line. i wish to lap and i wish to go on but i hold steady and i wait for my decent one. oh this is what we have in front of us, the reaching keeps us from never nursing doom. and i love my country while i yearn for new ones, ones that hold us and name us and tell us our good worth and ones that hold us to the light on any given morning. ones that remember the magnolia from which my grandfather swung and ones that atone. ones that keep us and nurse us and know what is holy and holy. and my country is a flag from which the good earth is drawn and the language is one that all fawns duly learn. and the stone is precious as long as it turns and the earth is the ground from which the good people are wrought. oh, and the people — oh, they are wrought, merely from my wishing. they are brought through in yawning vessels but my god the gospel crests in time. my god, the tender faultlines beckon a sliver of light which we reflect back with our last slat to imprint — which we hold steady long enough to imprint.

Asiya Wadud writes about borders, limits, and the variegated truth. She teaches third grade in the daytime and English to new immigrants and refugees in the evening. Her first book, crosslight for youngbird, is forthcoming from Nightboat Books in Fall 2018. Sizable Calamities, her next project, is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse in 2019. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she loves animals.

Brad Rose

What We Can Name

I have thoughts, but I don’t write them down. Something is watching me. I wasted most of my luck in the daylight. Once, I saw a horse drown in a lake. I don’t think it was acting. A lake is a body of water, surrounded by land. Water has no color or shape, it’s true no matter what it does. They say ants speak to each other with chemicals, even when they whisper. There are 120 thousand kinds of ants, some as big as a bullet, others no larger than a secret. When I called the help line, the voice said, Please continue to hold. So, I did. I’m clean-cut, even when time isn’t on my side. When they answered, I told them I needed to speak with an experienced attorney, one who knows about the death penalty. Most nights, I pretend to sleep. That way I don’t need to wake up. They say anything that can be done to a person will be done. Go ahead, turn the lights back on. We only see what we can name. By the way, what do your enemies call you?

After Dawn

I’ll bet the people in the car ahead of us have thoughts, although there’s no such thing as a perfect translation. Once, while hiding in my basement, I drew a picture of a whisper. I used an ordinary pencil. I had no choice. It’s quiet inside a mountain—coal-dark, the aftertaste of ants. Some people see God. Thirteen feet deep, I saw a hole in the light. I’m handpicked and reliable, no stranger to the undertow of chance. I’ve learned not to bite the hook that feeds me. Becky said they discovered human remains, but in a good way. You still have to boil them before they’re sterile. I’m an e-citizen in the digital world, I lead a quiet life. You can read about it in the Great Big Picture Book of Problems, or just send up a trial balloon. It can be any color you like, as long as it isn’t black. Be sure to keep an eye out. You wouldn’t want it to get tangled in the shadow puppets’ strings. They can be real mean. Just because the puppets don’t have bodies, doesn’t mean you can’t hear them thinking. Sure, they can be hard to hunt down, even harder to erase, but they’ll circle back this way, sometime after dawn. Don’t worry. This time, we’ll get them.

Brad Rose was born and raised in Los Angeles, and lives in Boston. He is a sociologist, and author of a collection of poetry and flash fiction, Pink X-Ray (Big Table Publishing, 2015) His new book of poems, Momentary Turbulence is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press. Brad’s website is: www.bradrosepoetry.com. A list of publications is available here: http://bradrosepoetry.blogspot.com/. Audio recordings can be heard at: https://soundcloud.com/bradrose1.

Douglas Piccinnini

Poem with Suffering

alone, upstairs, the spirit worked
‘til extinction—the body blanking

out by its own grammar

“you”—“you teach
your hands” with your hands

by the dayskin by nightskin you are in

as something as light as eternity
smears a look on your screenlit face—

if only the “virtual”—
but the virtual—the “real”—which?

unblessed, tumid, blue year:

you become yourself in spite of yourself

Winter in Place of Spring in Place of—

lapsed passwords, sleeping pills,
warm compress to the stone whisper
cyst bulge, ache.

A house is like a house on fire.

In a dream I lose
my teeth and in a dream I piss
into the still-blazing embers of fire.

The last grape of consciousness is devoured.

The greener days among the greenest seem identical.

Outside the earth is a scorched, blackened ball.
Inside here there is no news at all.

Douglas Piccinnini is the author of Blood Oboe (Omnidawn) and Story Book: a novella (The Cultural Society). Piccinnini’s work has recently appeared in Boog City, The Brooklyn Rail, Denver Quarterly, Elderly, Fence, Lana Turner, Nat. Brut and Prelude. He lives and works in Lambertville, NJ.

Laura McCullough

Marriage (motel)

Inland, just west of Atlantic City,
old motels stand hunched
as if ashamed, people
inside propping them up. No one
told me about the architecture
of sorrow, how expensive
it is to build, how long it takes
to tear down. East as far as you
can go here in Jersey is the ocean
in which swimming
and drowning
sometimes look the same.

Marriage (intergenerational wounds)

A man is bending his wife; he is bending her
around something she has bent herself around all her life.
He learned to do it well,
but today, to his own surprise, he admits
he saw a good knife
the day before when they were at the flea market.
He says it is like one his uncle gave him as a boy,
and that, if she likes, he will get this knife—
one with a curved tip—and skin her
like she’s never been skinned.
Just keep bending me, she says.

Marriage (wood & dog)

It’s getting close to chopping time,
but neither of them want to do it anymore.
He’s tired; she doesn’t think it’s her job.
Both of them want to get lost in separate woods.
Up the hill where the dog likes to go,
there’s a wildcat bulldozer that’s been abandoned.
They have separate fantasies about starting
it up—things they are each ashamed of
and can’t imagine sharing.
They’ve begun going up there alone
to pray, kneeling in front of it like a god
they wish could speak, she to get advice, him to confess.
All around them, the woods whisper
wishing the people
would chop what needs to be chopped,
stack what they can.

Marriage (roots)

When the tree with two trunks split that spring,
the roots giving way in the overburdened earth
the upright one looked younger, more vulnerable,
and we waited to see if the other half would die.
He cut the dead branches. I packed new soil
in a mound between the trunks planting
perennials—cone flower, bee balm, verbena.
We watered and stood blinking on the street
wondering whether this was an accusation.

Laura McCullough’s most recent book of poems, The Wild Night Dress, was selected by Billy Collins as a finalist in the Miller Williams poetry contest and was published by University of Arkansas Press in 2017. She is on faculty at the Sierra Nevada low residency MFA program and teaches at Brookdale Community College in NJ. Her other books can be found at lauramccullough.org.

Andrew Levy

Summertime Blues

—to Thom Donovan

Set the seats, another heartbreaking day. Come together, play
a central role outside, from all across the country straight into a ditch
these state-of-the-art surveillance arrangements, holidaymakers
cartoon stickmen masturbating with their nose, the starving potato
peelings the haute cuisine. The good friend and loving speech
sooner or later we’ll inevitably speak. We can give our attention,
highly anticipated, to help us understand our own and others’ suffering.
Clear accounts and commentaries help remove fear, anger, and
suspicion. We can’t wait any longer. The transformation bridges cobbler
and servant, master and mistress, barricades against the reign of an
intellectual personality rendered banal, trains of thought, gravediggers
whose actions wordplay stylistic deficiencies, meaner purposes of an
intolerable culture. Pain soaked and spluttering and angry and crying
and scared. Beneath the chilly water in departments of health
clockwork communicates its clues and blind alleys, the chance
resolution the comedy a creditable dissent. This is for us to decide.
Ecstatic argue its expandable strap, plunge me down into the cold water,
drop it onto the window ledge, the horror of the established order
of things shoulders back into the bath. As a representative of the Jewish
people, His huge hands under my armpits swung me up with ease.
It’s a huge, huge blue shirt clinging to His huge form. Welcome gay
and lesbian couples, non-binary maroon paisley tie, small pleasures in the
wondersome by all this perfect smart. Read a little about it, think
on it. Decide what exile worshipped midway come to change an ancient
god locked up with iron bard flooded most moons. Let’s go back
to risk no ambush, puff of a sinister rabbinic cigar blistering a limp but
unsure how, the path of suffering the world for its very uselessness.
Correspondingly, outward bigotry transmits two separate realities
from the thing transmitted and the person to whom transmission is
made, but there is no separate existing body. The land of the free
is a tiny child trying to climb onto the rim of a well.

In which Ideas are Candied

—to John Shoptaw

This poem is the poem you have read, the smudge
of conjunction where the meat is then served on
some kind of road and can stumble on, or in a swamp
admitted spice to the ‘exploit’, impoverished, ‘authentically
fruitless’ the precision, the density and balance rallying
the ultimate penury, destitute virtuous back to the
mere misery short of self, short of the world, stale bread
for their starving, enlarging its repertory, the pathetic
antithesis possession-poverty perhaps estheticized
automatism expire in good particular, cooking pot on plates,
lychees with dog. Defend the rapture of hummus.
Housekeeping, drill the Arctic. Put your all into it.
Squeeze light, bend the spine, prime that atlas. Trouble
an engineer, culture then abandon Basquiat, ruin
paradise. Bandwagon lonesome peaches melt the pollution,
fillet the cognoscenti, in the Gulf apricot globular
raindrops splat the text of the day, read that and know
who you are, tour de force a Fulbright, weigh the nuclear
peril, the impenetrably complex. Read every coincidence
this salt doesn’t salt. Cherry-bomb the smart-ass
manure-smelling ‘talent’. Seed the abasement of home,
trigger loving speech. Bring the capacity to relieve.
Suffer all discrimination and fear. Reincarnate cancer.
Care rightwing minders pining moonlight love into
transcendence run riot by delusion separate from
perceiving it. Keep the Kardashians conscious. Blend the
bodhisattva when seeds are watered, when questions and
answers dismiss the idea without a second thought. Set into
a small wooden table a corner and passage to a staircase.
Errand brown trousers a swallow’s tail, no underpants,
no buttons, walk up and down the root.

Take down the Flog

—to Mark Lamoureux & to Tonya Foster

Spite the moribund obsession Death-of-the-Month-Club damnable
self-justifying claim, lies, and self-deception arranged as the steps
of a Jacob’s ladder exploited in a big way. The hot water the cold
enriched and ripe transmits an unconscious sojourn dropped in final
spasms of dislocation ‘expediting matters’ surrounded by the doomed.
In the beginning is the Word, saith the camouflage, pull down your pen
to limit the margined damage, assume gravity empties continuity, the
things on one’s table, the accomplishment cycling across particularized
floods circling the kaleidoscopic return of clarity. Circle the cryptic
breastfallen, this unprecedented competition, this respectable stadium,
the divine snakes in the grease, the grass scouring the arena a slight
weakening, slowing down of actual debit, conceivable darkness
and silent perhaps slower light. Think about water sheltered by shade,
mutation of innocence as a discontinuous disposaling propaganda,
the details ‘reasonable’ moralizing more convoluted, undeserved and
ill-gotten, syntax fucked entering death, uncountable. Hannibal
distressed for the sake of receiving a reciprocal apology short-changed
bar mitzvah to get two brains over the railing. Rust without destroying
a fixed point pitches strong a long time trust. Signatures shutdown,
bridge a miracle agent ammonia moron ‘virtual’ thought half-melted
houseflies in the hidden calcium reaching sky reactor kick your ass,
elbow rocket empties the clip, presses out the last drop, footballs no
balls. Shield the radar, warn the breach, read the eyes that see
supermarkets learn the suffering of the birds and the meditation
of the list. Train to Coney Island splurge one-hundred percent,
Charleston the conclusion, the last drop seize an unforgettable show,
validated, convulsing in this net category and sunlit systems
offline ashcan enthusiasm. Disgust that will to rehabilitate a southern
hysteria. Digest and finish the mission, ride the fall.

I’d like to Show You Godzilla

—to Emily Skillings

Those who are old enough to remember are able to better focus on
one aspect of reality: ‘No day shall erase you from the memory of time.’
The recurrence of certain ways in which pieces of the world relate
to other pieces, our groundlessness, is that we are unable to grasp solutions
to the enigma of existence, see the beginning or end of time, or put off
the discovery of the meaning of life; but that doesn’t go far enough. There are
more things. In the snow, in the defile, in the chosen people the private
sector inherently facilitates drastic reductions in quality. Storming the doors
of the Garden we are subdued by the mounted police. Yet, I manage to
sustain the pleasurable illusion that I find myself in a metropolis enjoyed
by a youthful gentrification keeping its financial resources secret. Much that is
admirable is fraught with background full of mystery and omissions that
leaves unsaid any detail that does not pertain to the person’s purpose.
Conversely, what is said is always loaded — the monster, ecstatic agent of the
sublime superstate, won’t compute. A nuclear plant waiting the moment
of transition it needs to be decoded as the now-all-but-unreadable DNA
of a fast reindustrializing species, clear of its wrong beginnings. The just
extinction that it travels to, not to be here, not to be anywhere but with all
the tools of irony, seems to me like a word that has been uttered too often.
To think that you and I together comprise a poem or a novel or a readily
comprehensible declaration that I for my part would never dream of presenting,
being filled with a colorful assortment of people more homely than particularly
pretty. The slightest pressure of its sharp teeth and claws on our flesh is too
much to bear. Its dialectical maneuvers become recognized as a distinct
set of puzzles thought infinite, not just an antinomy but a dilemma a plurality
believed lost. An ESP, with nonlinear narrative like “Hiroshima Mon Amour.”
A lover’s step into the abyss, children lay dying around us, and we do not see
the beginning — one can’t help it — or the end to outdated criteria,
mutation or musical deterritorializations that like all technologies are unable
to develop a theoretical self-appreciation. All its permutations are quiet
or more intense. My Godzilla places its tabernacle in the sun, the position
of a celestial body in motion it permeates every cell in our bodies.

Andrew Levy is the author of Artifice in the Calm Damages (Chax Press), Don’t Forget to Breathe (Chax Press), Nothing Is In Here (EOAGH Books), and Cracking Up (Truck Books), along with eleven other titles of poetry and prose. You can read his essay “TALKING PAUSE – Reflections on Basil” at Talismanmag.net.

Denise Leto

Mythical Map of the Sea

She had no practice outside air.

In a sleepless reach birds no longer

knew whether the tide was in or out.

The radical gloss of radiation.

The scar became a claw against her cheek.

It scraped and whistled.

Witnessing drowned her autopsy.

Disintegration wore the cosmos from her glands.

Washing and washing and watching.

Genealogy was once pretty: standing near

an asterisk of sand in her eyes for years.

Death is her healer because she is

no longer in pain they tell me.

Wading in muddy birthmarks.

The landward limit of debris.

In which a person of no consequence.

But how she loved the feel of it once.

Washing and washing and wanting.

Her face scattering the shorebirds.

Among the things that could not save her.

An indecorous battery of conversation.

The bait of rescue emerging.

Her lips surfaced a sea of commas.

Let her float at the mouth

Let her mouth part flesh.

Postcard Divinations

1.   The Archaic Frame of Body

Bone as an exhalation of form

glass stained by glass

Time as a mirror of negation

no help in the heap of surrender

Home as a parlor of fish

the yard in your world in duress

Words are unfavorable to infinity

we could not have known what leaving would mean.

 

2.   A Charge of Wildness Crashing into a Paper Tree

She became a teller of screams.

Fell away into a halo of keys.

A nest can be a shallow depression in sand, a burrow in the ground, a chamber
in a tree, an enormous pile of seaweed, a mud dome with an entrance tunnel.

 

3.   The Shell of a Shadow in an Egg

St. Ann is the patron saint of horseback riders and doors.
She asked, “Please, tell me what this means?”

 

4.   ci vediamo

From different parts of the world. As to what they are called.
Her three-dimensional bay of altars made language stampede.

The absence of message-space on the address side of early
postcards became known as the Undivided Back Period.

“I am an old woman,” she said, “you must come back soon.”
The dark purple octopus: its pride of tentacles on my tongue.

Our Sicilian fishing port no longer maps.
Her quadrant of arms is my new nautilus.

The cloud was a fin or a brain therefore I returned.
The seam of not touching.

I often wanted

to lift her in the air,

lift and lift.

 

5.   Mask, Pause, Mask
—Violet Juno

To be always where you started.

Unselfed by beauty.

 

6.   The First Visitation

A poet’s mouth in the statue’s mouth.

You cannot go back to a point of origin

placing elegant patterns in cadaverous replica.

Nostalgia looping around her voluptuary:

talismanic, skeletal.

The marble forceps pulling.

But when I saw her molecules cascade—

I wanted—it didn’t matter how near or far—

to touch them like skin.

Mystic with a Dishtowel

—for Linda

Eating is a womb, she finds, of those who are under.
The church can’t think—it is more like a spoon.

The more I am in the sea, the more I believe in ghosts.
She ate part of the shore. It ran into her mouth the moment she meant to flee.

The twinning stained glass covets their molten hands folded in the kitchen.
She watches, “Love is Colder than Death” and walks in rings trying to be breath.

And what is dangerous becomes her.
“You are like the composer,” she said, “ you must always be in love.”

Her islands archive: urban hills, pots, thighs, shoes, music, glasses.
She paints daughters, swans, promises. They said, “Bring us a plate of food.”

She split the geography of gardens from cutting board to radio to where they cannot be.
The more I am in your architecture, the more I mitochondria.

A hole in the air that empties air: this is what it is not to be able to read poems.
Muse with a knife in her boot. A lamb in her land.

Denise Leto is a poet, artist, and performance experimenter. She wrote the poetry for the collaborative multi-genre performance Your Body is Not a Shark (North Beach Press). She and Amber DiPietra wrote the chapbook Waveform (Kenning Editions). A limited edition broadside is out from Gazing Grain Press. She received the Orlando Prize in Poetry and her fellowships include the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, the Breadloaf Residency in Sicily, and the inaugural Sugarloaf Queer Art Residency.

MC Hyland

The End

I get a haircut to mark my dissent. Made a white room breathe audibly. A white phone in my white hand camera rolling at the first sign of trouble. Floor pieced together from large slabs of plywood. Like stepping right from the stairs to the train. Little snows accumulate. Because you were given a set of choices. A room filled with boredom and chill air. Buoyed by tiny lucks. Who came back bearing greenery. Who made it out in the brief ceasefire. To build a face from the materials of history. I wrote in the hope that the bitterness of the final years could be allayed or staved. Because now our job is to protect each other. Not to lean against the decorative features. Smell of pine expands through the apartment. Waiting for the first explosion. If you don’t receive money you may call your labor unalienated. Little ice shattered by the curb. Sent the students out into the city. Piled into a taxi in a luxurious afternoon. What conditions end quickly like a curtain dropping. I urgently needed not to pass. Or a hobby like skiing. Before I came here poetry was a thinly dispersed ecosystem of friends. Living in and for meatspace. Resting the heavy bag for just a moment on the stair.

The End

A man sleeps on the station floor in loving embrace with a pit bull. Tree lights fade brighten and blink. I wanted you to channel some sobriety through our held hands. We called this going home. Unmade by uncertainty and the theatrical rollout of the new order. I consider a muskrat skull as a gift to my love. On the screen the beautiful suit of the assassin. Capital sleeps like a shark. A boy swinging in the aisle like a trapeze artist. Who lit a candle for the electors. White walls. Circulating all night through our bodies. Honey-light on evening faces. All the cars along the avenue gritted in winter silt. How to unmake the singularities of our personal narratives so biography better resembles weather. Pleasure becomes a responsibility. New survival techniques fly south. The way each tree branch swings and invisibly tugs its fellows. The year slipping along its rails. Who found a space in the mouth for a new kind of laughter. Breaths. Swedish pancakes and Amish commemorative trivets. Endless western sky remade my face. I believed I could lie curled inside the giant disco ball. Simply waiting for the idea to appear. How to love you without fulfilling your desires. We did not file a police report because we do not trust the police. This was an affective prehistory of the crisis. Make it a trespass artist. To lie down inside the rhythm of your sleeping breath.

The End

Prepare another pot of tea and look up medical gifs on your phone. Little glints of light from LA MEXICANA GROCERY. Sadness registers as a lag in the machinery. Some blackened leaves just hang there. How does sound echo through your interior spaces. My life of waterways. Sang I Know Where I’m Going into the empty train station. Jerky motion of time within the institution. Morning milks over into a colorless sky. Hello to the handsome young man in his blue apron. Blue light over the PIONEERS AND SOLDIERS CEMETERY. One dress immune to the power of the tumble dryer. Advanced into every day. Into the room filled with her curiously inflected speech. I too dislike these coastal elites. A dense gray cloud hovers on the mountain. To maintain belief in the face of Texas. To date a city through its real estate page. The sky turns briefly and improbably blue. I meant we were a kind of weather or a kind of time. You asked for a bathrobe and were given the bathrobe of your dead father. Black spines of books build a black block in vision. Fibers buried in the nail polish. Each node in the system to generate and pass through a series of emails. Sweat it out on the couch. All the moving prospect of the city lined up for you in the waning light.

The End

All bodies leak. Planes arc overhead while history seems to plunge. As though easy journey from his deathbed were possible. Meanwhile the rain picks up. The canal turns left near a circular structure and carries you along the path. A lack of physical discipline means suffering continues mostly unameliorated. What next generation. On the wall a woman holds a large white lotus and a machine gun. Blood in the nose persists. The shape of each finger describable as a tightly packed spiral. Mostly I have become a series of gestures. The studio disarticulated and moved a hundred feet north. Three steps to the right as you turn the crank. I begin to understand the early decades of adulthood as a time of relative continence. Leaving a small pen mark on the microfiber of the couch. One physiotherapist is a dancer while the other lifts weights. The way a body might sex or become sexed. The weight of a body tending towards the earth. In Becca’s apartment I pick up a sponge and begin to wash the cabinets. Slowly rising and falling with a wobbling motion within a landscape of barges and cargo trains. Up the elevator and down the stairs. Imagined a film of dead cells clinging to the bedsheets. Not to seek for conditions. The step between providing a body to swell the march and arming for revolution. Sore blocked pore in the spot where the glasses rest. If the production of expression is a simply economic imperative. Still I assumed no postures before sunrise.

The End

We learn from Congress that the revolution begins after midnight. See something and keep your fool mouth shut. Like desire for a sea. A couple embraces at the crosswalk’s verge. Against sunset. What I mean is uninterrupted. Let us say that we live in bodies and that these bodies live in time. On the bridge a blue and a red light blink and blink. Imagine a room that has perfect scale. Institutions you believe in or simply believe. Marvelous birds. Because joy arrives with a political undertow. Call it an outskirt. Glitter nail polish peeling up in a sheet. How music builds a continuous present into which a thought might drop. Wifed down in sorrow. Having become a granulation in distant weathers. The present a tense before it was a time. Let us take this sentence’s rhythm as prophylactic. Here in the future texting back to a world that came before.

The End

What does love have to do with nations. We walk to the platform’s other end for something to do. Drops on a window. Wrote WITHHOLD CONSENT on corrugated cardboard. Made a notch with a fingernail for each protection. To keep refusing the seat. Whistles from the school same as always. Where contingency appears. A stranger pulled me close while protest filled the laundromat screen. Some people live like pharaohs in their country. What the Coalition called MONOLINGUAL BITCHES. What does love have to do with partnership. A brass band at the park’s edge. Worker slowdown forms a little cloud of hope. Empty vodka bottle. Drunken kisses linger in the coat. A new round of alternative twitter accounts. Count down blocks to the place we once lived. Every day opens into logical fallacy. Same tile in the foyer. Single albino pigeon in the flock. The administrators commit to waiting out dissent. This is the loneliness of syntax. What does love have to do with history. Mail your mind two years into the future. Black heart emoji. Composed a slate of new national holidays. Looking down on bare trees. I gently put my finger in a hole worn through the wrist.

MC Hyland is a PhD candidate in English Literature at New York University, and holds MFAs in Poetry and Book Arts from the University of Alabama. From her research, she produces scholarly and poetic texts, artists’ books, and public art projects. She is the founding editor of DoubleCross Press, a poetry micropress, as well as the author of several poetry chapbooks and the poetry collection Neveragainland (Lowbrow Press, 2010).

Paul Hoover

Chinese Figures

let me say the song
that will sing it well

song’s long sound:
cries along the hall

hare in the moon
man on the ground

the doors are wide open
all is context now

no thatched cottage
but a beach house on the hill

the rain is heavy
mist all over the roads

cars driving
and in the wrong direction

no footsteps on the landing
none in the house

a show place for the sun
everywhere it goes

hot on the water
caught among the rocks

shining up the stairs
the wrong way now

gods on the ground
are changed by our desires

sounds like something real
but no one spends attention

we’re overloaded now
every surface known

indecently as well
a culture numbed and stung

by the image it’s become
work it hasn’t done

everything’s forever
no changes in the sun

what feels old is triumph
silence begs a hearing

something like a pause
every note is yes

there’s no such thing as none
until you add it up

hold me in your hearts
fold me on your tongues

fire’s song, tree’s gone
now the lights are on

silly yet indecent
innocent as well

syllables are able
it’s a tribal day

nature makes mistakes
all of them ours

it knows what we have done
before we have conceived it

dust falling modern
on all the neighborhoods

time’s up but keeps on raving
as they drag it from the stage

here we are, the world
what is and what has been

how much dark is needed
before we know it well

let me keep this keeping
mu is wood, quang enclosed

enclose them with a bell
soften it with snow

sleeping on the run
dreaming of extinction

everyone sleeps alone
on the ice of his choosing

we open the forest door
and the light brims over

all dreamed things are open
no knowledge of the closed

the swallows dart quickly
but the owl is heavy

people leave their porches
to watch television

history will remember
eternity came early

blue light in the windows
as far as you can see

you don’t feel much
don’t think much either

the little dog hates you
even when it smiles

something in the language
doesn’t know us well

ten kinds of typeface
and not one style

not exactly poignant
the price of merchandise

guess we’ll have to find
another culture later

space is too exacting
and time wears plaid

we have lived our lives
according to its plan

Easy

Easy light in the room,
easy chairs, some of them lazy,
and her easy way of walking

like she owes the world nothing.
Some easy music is playing
on the tough side of town,

and that easy way of dancing
could lead to something great,
if for once in your life

you decided to take it easy.
No zig-zag parade,
no puritans walking and stalking.

Easy come, easy go,
the world is easy living.
You read the book in an hour,

and don’t look up a word.
She kisses you easy,
on the lips and heart, too.

Let the easy movement of water
take you under the bridge,
around the next bend,

and all the way out to sea.
The rain falls so easily,
as if it had nothing to lose.

Write what is easy,
sings the novelist in the choir,
the cellist in the zoo,

and old men at the bar.
Easy does it every time,
thinks the lady in her bed,

the bird in its nest—
all the world easy,
and you will be at rest.

I Write Myself

I find myself
by letting go
what I was,

to find a self
not I myself
but the one

passing by.
Writing is
a letting go,

thereby to
read the reader
and be read

in return
by the ones I
soon will be,

surrendering,
being rended by
the mess I make

being born again,
beyond fences,
down wells.

To grow in love
by writing then.
What isn’t is

what could be,
possibility and
murder when

just breathing
would do. I
unknow myself,

become space
and then time.
To write is

to wrong then,
be the cellar
and the star.

The mess is
our precision,
its hunger

the only goal.
To right myself,
I erase myself,

beginning with
my hand. You there
are here then,

the one who’s
always with me,
all the way in.

Paul Hoover will have three books published in 2018: The Book of Unnamed Things (Plume Editions / Madhat Press), an Italian edition of his novel Saigon, Illinois (Carbonio Editores, Milan), and his translation with Maria Baranda of The Complete Poems of San Juan de la Cruz (Milkweed Editions). Editor of New American Writing and Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology, he is Acting Chair of Creative Writing at San Francisco State University.

Patricia Hartnett

Complicit

Plea for another violent embrace

catch up my arm, I catch up yours — I pull you to me like a giantess.

Everyone is wealthy now.

Out along the various roads, empty and pitted with shell pocks,

craters and not a whisper of remorse: regret.

Maligned and suppressed like bad fashion, old bell bottoms,

embarrassing former lovers. She then stalks out: old gray care, reticent,

the shuffle of conscience sporting a new accent,

inside human whispers blown to dust.

She says: It is on your head,

it is in your hands, and, by the way, no one is a spectator.

Hazard

Playful and even invitational: the dice.

There was an old woman’s admonish: put yourself in harm’s way.

An imperative, referring to reticence, chiding a reluctant girl.

She was staving off spinsterhood: harm and charm and hazard

sounded down the body like an alarm but then looked like brilliant kites.

Kicking and curtsying above a beach in summer.

Each and every day begins with: stranded in deserts, lost in woods, stalled at sea.

Some say this is a chart/map/plan: exigency.

There are no mistakes, maybe failures of will or crises of confidence

or worst of all: lack of preparation.

So cheer the rhythm, the clock — the heart, and don’t count on the weather.

Residue

I see that cone barrel blistering the building

scouring searchlight on the standard, furling and flapping

a long taffeta reminder eerily enduring.

And now issuing from the seer, the Rsi, looking cool, hip, bogus.

The malevolent substitute for justice when it’s too late.

What happened to the nervous boy anxious to please —

excellent scholar, music mad.

His residue in gold dust; it’s him I want to read.

Not the stymied set of rules begun in vengeance.

Sneers as critique forced down swan throats.

Invite me to the twinness and difference

and the pulsing “nothing else like it” in between.

Silos

Sack of blown parts, beginning and insurgent, anarchists so close to good.

So close to antichrist it’s no wonder you are misunderstood — so where is the crime.

Well, here is another morning under the newly revealed metal fist of the grin.

So utterly blue out there, so utterly clear up there, so pleasant here in California.

Strategies proliferate, a wilderness of animal tackle and dog runs,

sixteen to some power of plans.

A burning woman talks to herself of dilemma: stranded out here in America

with everyone else equal parts greed and fable.

Desire blew out to possession, to the thing and finally only to the means to the thing.

Reified and just what the malevolent germ planned at the start.

Fortunately, not having taken into account the unruly, lacking a plan

for that constituency, underestimating the underestimated

we find the odds are with the illegitimate.

Patricia Hartnett completed an MFA at San Francisco State University. Her poems have appeared in VOLT, The Journal, and American Poet, among other journals. A manuscript, Geis, was a semifinalist for the Sawtooth prize. Originally from Ireland, an area of particular study and interest for her is Contemporary Irish Writing, especially Irish women poets. She taught writing at Dominican University and at City College of San Francisco. She lives in Sonoma County, California.