Stu Watson

Kleptomaniac Thomas Hardy Wedding

Ypsilanti, Michigan suburb awash in ruined doors | combined apparatuses for drinking out coal tar | lung switched grey residents out with the flogged door | trick turned on a short corner wallowing besides the small ground | drumming underneath of a discontent that channeled makes the pavement | made the door, an individual never thinks it’s his | her labor alienated in amicable patriot’s cove America | Descartes’ uncertain cribbage | there’s a monkey’s gland mixed into Yeats. | Fraternal knot dry heaved out from an earth torn shake blown madrigal piping un-tourniqueted wound | wind streams, larval flaws piping hot pupa flows run off the crass horse gutted fast by wolves left dashed and bashed askance for smaller wings to pluck | we dryads in a glutted wood of luck | full migrants for the tapestries we draw | unbound wind wound earth saw | skit diamond blade shrank straight lane clutch | in trances splashed with runes and such | raiding marks as carve out best the score | and slam the shore | again again with churning beat | set to unseat | freaks bled lexical indexed dead | though likely printed, seen but never read | unwanted résumé | bobs in an unadulterated way | clenched gutter spittle-lick | crack lineated colors wick | the pages over lets that sharp cut | ululate | but | straight | away rush into inmost day | via spiral staircase, say | “It is here I will tumble down you all” | and spiritedly make your fall | performing shame before technology | lay at the altar of Farfrae | ceding the title as the law demands | accepting alms but no laying of hands | evaporated unwanted in the cruel | compressing machinery that, as a rule | cares not for you, the individual | plinthing you into a particle | of gear here near the surface. Full | fool. | Staring directly down at yourself in effigy | floating by on a river of glee | flowing freely from a guilting mob | gilting water with painted dummies to fob | off talismanic like a door | an outside that leads inside nothing more | another compartment settled and arranged | a press a grid a form a block unchanged | except by governmental shifts of grip | marked fingerprints that slip | onto a digital slide | you cannot hide | so separate that part of you that’s tried | to keep up dignity; dignity died | and went to heaven which, when spied | looks exactly like the past; I lied | the future; timeless darkness either side | of that brief bouncing bit of light wave dancing | while atoms in themselves can keep advancing | with stability | before electrons lose their viability | and gravity too dies | or other planes move in disguise | and skewer us out past | the shallow buzzing of our being here at last.

Stu Watson is a writer, musician, and artist living in Brooklyn. A founder and editor of Prelude, he teaches literature at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Maureen Seaton

Tit, with Foreplay

I too would like the leisurely mind of men.
I would hold my mind in my own two hands and pet it.
If I could be anything it would be a composer.
The one who provides the soul.
Not the body, all modulated and linguistic.
Play, they call it. Play.
Or, not the mind of men. The leisurely mind of God.
Which reminds me of the mind of music.
Which reminds me of the mind of sex.
I would write an oratorio.
Me. Your lovely mate with one fickle surviving breast.
I predict a pause in this musical composition, a shift in the direction of time.
All along, I’ve meant to hold music in my hand and give it to you.

The Integrity of Matter

There’s blood on the page before this one. See?
The dark kicks up. Air torques. Rain tasers the skin.

What did Ginsberg say? That he wrote poems to tell
his version of things in a world that only tells versions

of power? How many days do we have, after all.
A tornado touches down in the next town north.

My heart iambs to some ancient classic—maybe Jackson
Browne, maybe Stylistics. I totter at the St. Vrain Creek

where it bursts from the Rockies. Cottonwoods catch me.
When the child who lives in this house is away his toys

grieve. Thomas the Train is speechless and the mottled
ball sits still. I forget the name of the film where a woman

walks into walls in hopes of entering the womb of an atom.
The child’s atoms are here, even as he climbs into the next

plane home. What a big open space I am. The way these
electrons come together, you’d think I was real.

The Integrity of Matter (A Footnote)

Whether it be your own body’s matter
or an unanimated body’s matter
(as in stone), the integrity of all matter
is related to the fact that matter,

animated or unanimated, does matter,
which jibes with the fact that all matter,
stone, flesh, or combo, will matter
infinitely—that is, without end (a matter

of speculation), although facts of matter
existing in bodies, even stones, matter
less than the actual end of matter,
which, to a stone’s integrity, will matter

less than to yours—for you, animated matter,
care greatly about whether (or not) you matter.

Psalm 2.0

Composed entirely with iPhone’s Suggestion Bar

Dear lord I don’t know what I was
just thinking about you but I’m still
in bed with my life and death and
destruction and a few years ago
I was just in my head and shoulders.
I love it when people say they will
not let you down. I have no clue
who you are. The fact is that I
have no clue who I am. I just have
a little more time with the stars
and I don’t think you should be
able to do that to me. I’m so tired
of being the only one who can
make a difference in the morning.
I have a lot more to do with my
life and death and destruction and
a few days to get my nails done.
I can see you at the end of this
month. The only way to the gym
today is with my new phone and
it will not let me go.

A Ripple in the God

A nothing-breath. A ripple in the god. A wind.
—Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus 3

It’s so quiet here, not a peep from the Walmart next door.
And you, following the mountains north and north.
Those Sangre de Cristos. A billion years old. Snowshod. Bloody.

Strange gods arrive from near and far and very far.
When light falls I see moon faces. (A reunion.)
What did you say—there’s nothing left to get you high?

I’ve already used the word tequila in a poem we drank years ago.
Now four and twenty blackbirds devour the pi(e).
Get here soon. The mountaintops are rippling. I can’t hold back the gods.

Immortal #9

Immortality doesn’t normally appeal to me, although magic squares seem innocent enough.

4     9     2
3     5     7
8     1     6

Of nine muses—Sally Field, Olive Oyl, the Sargasso Sea, the IRT, Stevie Wonder, Fibonacci, robots, teal, and Yoko—all but one have appeared to me in a poem uninvited.

The number nine is not a prime number, but I don’t hold that against it.

There are nine underground worlds (Aztec), nine circles of hell (Dante), and nine months of summer (Miami).

Nine o’s in the combined names of Yoko Ono Lennon and John Ono Lennon.

Ah! Böwakawa poussé, poussé. (9 syllables)

The Ennead (nine Egyptian deities) decided who could be born and who could pass on to the afterlife. See also: nine Supreme Court judges.

The Peacemaker, Enneagram Type 9, is the type of many famous people—e.g., Carl Jung, Whoopi Goldberg, Ringo.

Finally, the Norse god, Odin, hung himself on an ash tree for nine days to learn the runic alphabet and teach it to humanity. Who would care that much about language, I ask myself while singing so loud you can hear me all the way to the ninth (defunct) planet. It’s there that the peacemakers find me, there where they call my name.

Maureen Seaton has authored seventeen poetry collections, both solo and collaborative—most recently, Fibonacci Batman: New & Selected Poems (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2013); and, with Denise Duhamel, Caprice: Collaborations: Collected, Uncollected, and New (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015). Her awards include the Iowa Poetry Prize, Lambda Literary Award, the Publishing Triangle’s Audre Lorde Award, and an NEA Fellowship. Her work has been honored in both the Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Poetry. Her memoir, Sex Talks to Girls, also won a Lammy. She teaches at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida.

Lynn Schmeidler

Mnemosyne Threatens and Confesses

Sudden as your shadow, I’ll rip a pear-shaped hole in your night
(we’re past the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration)
measure what does not exist—why this
why that
because it’s still early in the world of tomorrow and each word is a new machine.
I edge your bed with passenger pigeons
fold your linens with Artemesian ache
(remember the blindfolded tour of the Parthenon
all that scrape and heat) and yet never again will you meet the new day soft-footed
(you were a funambulist you did water ballet).
Renounce the promise of doors—
the etymology of nostalgia is homecoming. Isn’t it enough that I flock the sky
with trumpeter swans
(here we enter onto rutted back roads)
haunt you with clues to your childhood—
beatitude and gingerbread—
as if you didn’t know. Do not regret not barber-poling yourself to anyone
(6am and as yet no warm whispers of everything).
Did I tell you about the woman with fatal familial insomnia
whose inability to sleep left her hallucinating and mute and finally dead?
O ghastly here ghastly now
you are so easily undone.

The Salary for This Work Is Marriage

I sleep like an old growth jack pine you sleep like a fireplace.
We invent things
like lust walls and sad bathtubs. It’s so pink this cork and sauté
I’d like to watch you swim tonight
and then open.
I’d like to settle the radio on a tiled window seat and water vacation plans
with buttered tea.
He was dress and watch
they were travel. You are wait like a ceiling
full of cracks.

Lynn Schmeidler’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in magazines including The Awl, Barrow Street, and Boston Review, as well as various anthologies including Transition: Poems in the Aftermath (Indolent Books), Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books (Minor Arcana Press), Bared (Les Femmes Folles Books), and Nasty Women’s Poetry Anthology: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse (Lost Horse Press). Her chapbooks Curiouser & Curiouser and Wrack Lines are available at Grayson Books.

Sarah Riggs

HEARD (crisis)


The vertical interior of the Americas
dreamt my spine, pulling through the eye
of each vertebra a tactile thread

—Liz Howard, “Infinite Citizen of
the Shaking Tent”


The world is in the book,
in your eyes, the rising
death toll

—Maged Zaher, “Words from
Bent Bones”


So they quipped and bickered and bit
it was like them, to bring the stars
underfoot and render the time a point
of contention rather than a beautiful
mingling of constantly translating spaces


We wished for our friends, the
circle of them, or pastry parallelogram,
only in this way, laying into the
fire, troubled or indecent, terribly our,
sickly, diseased, tremendously vulgar, in power


The flesh of the hour was red, was yellow,
was black, is red, is yellow, is black
to have to reach to the bone to
feel what we have in common—red,
yellow, black no puns, nor play, colors.


The horrendous charge of humanity
and one wished for Zeus to pull on the reigns
or back again to that hour, tripping
over the wires under the ocean—there is
a wire quand-même listening in there


If it was never for the hour
so ruthlessly prolonged, chirping there
in a sullen seat, politically electrically
charged: shapen this way and that
(hollow to the moon, you say you say)


What they wired in that space so there
a reckless freedom in the containment
gender and gender, race and gender,
all of race and race, swimming so
many dolphins (intelligent) in a sharked sea


Tore from them, making a space, making
spaces, if not for that, the serious
vote, being one point amid a tangle a
cluster a terrorized mass, and then
blinking, holding back and onto that thing


Reminds me of E, constantly making,
that place in the middle of a broach
which knows its needle, a woman in
power, just one, no not even, never
even, slipping down to a penisless space


Quand-même je voulais que tu écoutes
ton maître, maître d’E, pas pour
longtemps, mais quand-même, dans le
sacrifice de la mélancolie, les plaisirs
du langage abound (même si c’est ça)


Frustrating to encounter a hole in an
ought, when it’s really a sieve, and
J there smoking a cigarette all over
Brooklyn (not maimed, downtrodden yes, but
tending tenderly to the tinkering of the second)


The Rorsarch test (I can’t even spell it)
rocking on the balance of bedtime and life:
It was kind of precarious, the remainder
Of that hour, it’s like these words:
Hour, second, remainder &—her mountain


Theirs, theirs, she was forgetting again
and letting it sway to the side (I’m not
used to it). Night and pointing and
U girl (that was it). The freedoms
crashing together into one giant globe-wreck


Tearing at their hair, pulling at it,
by the braids, and the seams between
braids, on the scalps, in that place
carnivorous and deeply troubling.
(translated to the emergency room, said T)


How to market it, to make it, to
endure the twisting of the response into
a high end word slap. Paw upon paw
torn at the power of the weight shift.
A million women walking together out of step.


As if it were happening over there,
somewhere far away, knee deep in
water, the sickening reality of that,
however it was organized, the
grim determinant of the lesser known


Removal. And its fact so venomous
that removal of grievances was not
possible. Graves could not be dug
up and planted with clean soil, clean
earth. The world was sobbing (Is, will be)


Such the lick of time, into the textured
east, and a thousand veils falling over
a million women (not enough, not enough)
The collective scream not enough because
the screaming was at each other


A tender reserve of screams collected
in jars and presented in white galleries
and the hullabaloo of the fierce
peoples, the masks, the dresses on heads,
such material is fascinating for research


It was a wallop of fine rain
and they wintered in illusions and
polluted pelicans but the love was
it there (witness) such cantankerous
postcards and fine writing instruments
sent through the eye


Meanwhile writing and rewriting to A in prison
but could not summon the strength to send
the knowledge of not knowing the
conditions, horrifying that lack of power—
to infuse with love. Saudi Arabia here in my ear’s eye


There was the certainty T that
You are not in a safe space on the
subway, on the street, on the
telephone, anywhere even with your friends
your family even with (I am sorry)


Taking the temperature of the times
it comes out sub-degree zero
and yet the connections are very strong
very warm very trustworthy, worthy, thy
tie, in a y, or a t-shape, oh


Fermently caughtious or arraigned
the words M on your slip of an
eye which is really a paw (such is
laughter & the immensity by which
I meant that) so and so and so


On to something else, the alarm
goes off, the snooze is not infinite,
there are things to be awake to
query there and foreground the honest
(it is a zone) such that this


The remainder of what you had to say
there in the béchamel sauce in the
voting booth (so pointless if important)
they were looking at you or to you
just briefly for a second but it mattered


At that time she did ten paintings with lines
in black and purple (the sadness gaping
from the wounds) very straight
though not continuous, the lines telling
nothing, telling in a particular way


Dear M, in a meander, the threads
tangled, and you there free glimpsed in a sauna
how could it be otherwise, the smile,
and the thoughtfulness, everything vegan
the fists love and hate, and then yours, open


I heard what it was you meant, though not said
there were branches growing out of her head
and at this point, no leaves, but berries
and the occasional black squirrel pondering
there, and you asked, “how do I fly?”


Other than these memories, the present could
not contain us, and we were flying back
back, looking at the trauma dug into the
ground, looking at pictures of piles of
bodies (J wrote they were in the river)


Or there was a flow, and these notes
pittering in, an array of voices, some
violence, and they were at Standing Rock
(you vote with your feet) Another J
for instance was there (thank you for this)


Now there were facts (a flow of extremist
cabinet ministers) she could not pick
up that paper, even one piece of it,
without a large boulder weighing impossibly
there (and J was cutting the pieces)


If we could re-glue them together
there would be a treatise of whoever
was gluing, and that is all. Some glue,
and a subjectivity, carrying nations,
cultural belongings, not being able to untear


The flow came easily to them, bitten
out of boulders, the chewable kind
wand it was like that, hard, like
chewing on your own knuckles,
and there was blood, really, but elsewhere


What she was saying sort of made
sense, that’s what it was like,
an in and an out of a sort of,
the surest thing was to go to Vancouver
and to be charged and humbled


If it could be said if it could be written
all that thickness of research
flapped into a fold or nearly, under
that understood: all the women and
girls were saying it marching along together


Feeling along some sort of thread, a spiderwoman
of sorts, and then scrabbling back up the wing
wishing to rejoin the gutter, back and back,
Intzy intzy, wish wash up frame
no surrender, rain and sun, in a loop, crawling


Toppling into tea, a sort of 6-foot dormouse
greeting you nonsensically, though this
having the most of love, the craziness of
saying the crazy, Ethan the faun
inviting you to tea (and his house, torn)


If your friends were to freeze mid-step
their teeth bared, there wasn’t time
to pet their cool metal backs, you had
to go toward the frozen heart of things
(yes the word war is appropriate)


And not wrench it out, somehow
Love would have to win but the ending
of the story not known, and melting
ice apparently not the right metaphor
& what if there were not heart at the core


Rewriting histories very very quickly
to achieve a different ending
(such was not in the future but present
now and at this second for instance)
That’s what G was saying about love


We could have heard but for
our ears, covered in a sort of
political sauce, to be written by
distant peoples also motivated
by some basic needs (we had forgotten to ask)


Sorry, and the word not remotely enough.
Apology. Not remotely enough.
Remotely. That was the thing.
We had forgotten again. The western world
everywhere, in remote streams, the tongues of frogs


Taught at the rim of the last sought edges
into a meager determinant of beauty
wildlife caught in the mesh of goodness
(to preserve) and the words displanted
because of the rage of dreams


And this is nothing new, has been true
all along. The trick to terrorism
how it grows out of anger, and it is
that anger needing to be addressed,
not the terrorism. Not told slant


The slope of the slant very strong now
and a feeling of catapulting collectively
and being next to people very opposite
and yet not because very human
yet the mood very angry and so


The wind through the wind of it
Earth you could not touch, violence
you did not have to endure: the way
power enters the psyche and tries to
take control (the victories, victories)


And if she was held back, could they still
be friends, the woman with the beautiful
scarves, one wrapped around her head, asked
and then to clarify, explained that if
she were held back, could we still be friends


Poignant and remarked, fistfuls of rampant
lines, it was you, and it was you, down there
in a rushing, the bodies and the bones
(just words there in the schoolbooks)
How were we to mind the gap?


Etel and Babia, alive at the moment of words,
hovering in the love that inflects their
bodies, words connected to body, and we
a constellation, held in the night, even after
as the conniving ministers appointed day by day


Objects embued with a who-ness
among them a sea otter, a raven-eagle,
a wolf, a whale. The supernatural
helpers so needed “everything must change”
Already one—the better of evils (drones)


Even in the rain, they were, and how
the inversion sudden and strong, who
the giant pandas waiting there, wallowing
in an air infused with rainbows and pollution
a thing in this place, to the hour


A tossed vote (wasn’t sure who) and the
consequences oily, weighted by genocide
some victories, in North Carolina and
North Dakota, protesting helping,
necessary, and then torn, into that


The past of a paw, into that honey
a trap or an infused bill
frozen and dethawing the articles
of faith, who had heard of tie
sketched that skin so as to break


How to remainder, the cars flitting,
the planes one after another, edging
off experience, the whiteness, what
wash and tame zone, can we just
drop that word white now and let it go


Somewhere in the annals, more or less
held there, a sense of explosion
and capture, it was not possible
to render otherwise: the doors in—
the doors would have to open and let go


for some Vancouver poets I met

Sarah Riggs is a writer and artist, born in New York where she is now based, after having spent over a decade in Paris. Before directing Six Lives: A Cinepoem, she produced The Tangier 8 at the Cinémathèque de Tanger in Morocco, which was screened at the Berlin Film Festival and the Tate Modern Museum among other international venues. She is the author of five books of poetry in English: Waterwork (Chax, 2007), Chain of Minuscule Decisions in the Form of a Feeling (Reality Street, 2007), 60 Textos (Ugly Duckling, 2010), Autobiography of Envelopes (Burning Deck, 2012), and Pomme & Granite (1913 Press, 2015) which won a 1913 poetry prize. She is the director of Tamaas, and a member of bilingual poetry association Double Change. She has also translated and co-translated six books of contemporary French poetry into English, including most recently Oscarine Bosquet’s Present Participle (La Presse).

Debasis Mukhopadhyay

Notice to rebroadcast

O Sultan mine, I just read your poem Notice to recast where looking on your flowerpot sky you feel the smudge of my absence on your skin. You hear the train behind the fence, you hear the rain in the kitchen and you are reminded of the necessity of touch. Several lines down you say, “I heard it and I heard it again. A song that stayed unopened in my throat.” Honestly, I am never very sure how your poetry works on me. You could hear everything : the rainstorms behind the kites, the pantomime in the trammels, the trampoline behind the rampages, the songbirds in the pantechnicons… everything across your roughcast of solitude. And everything reminds you of everything, from windpipe sonata to wingspan of a pansy. I wish I could understand how you napalm me while I sleep. As if just like my body my mind also can’t shake you and always awaiting you in bed unopened. True that poetry never sucks and the blancmange sloughing in the overdone ruts between my thighs. Sultan dear one, my husband, my boyfriend, my needleman of tournament, my winger right to left, my slaloming tramline behind my fertility, my panegyric of fucking superintendent, why can’t I understand your poems? Or why can’t I just write a poem that is what when my handgun trades the simile of blankness? But that won’t make it all right. No point in blitzkrieging to unbalance the brain. Let’s think about honeyed baklavas and listen to balalaikas. If you are my bloody bastard, I remain your bloodied bitch.

dictionary of polarity

… called placebos
… called clusters
… called breastbones
… called damningly
… called woolen starlets
… called cloudbursts
… called blueprints bluebells bluebirds

… called hieroglyphs & happy hours
… called cliffs & climes
… called plasticine & placenta
… called fingermarks playing the ethics of emptiness
… called lipstick shoreline & etymology as a notion
… called clavichord & voiceless liquids
… called seedcakes & secretive cherub
… called lollipops & policy
… called clown’s play & poinsettias
… called schoolgirls & dead marionettes
… called charabanc honking & nincompoops’ bolero at stop sign
… called coagulate & euphemism
… called imbroglio & heart-to-heart ventriloquism
… called boa & bole
… called schizophrenic smooches & evasion of clitoris
… called lithography & wispy bricks
… called scourge of polarity & scorpion
… called what-the-hell-do-they-all-do-here

a woodwind dampers or a sweetened slash

Loo my gazelle
my wisp lapse of where I stand
my bare hands on the whispering rivet of sweepstakes
my look-alike roan of missing you
my clump of look out for
my once straitjacket sweetheart
my lapwing across the window of mizzle
my whittled fingerprints on
my clove of geisha clue
my wodge of withdrawal
my fuchsia magellanica

this is not a witch-hunt
a witticism crossword promising you sweet gemstones
or firebombs’ tapestry across the wimp
this is not the footmarks of weaklings swelling across the gelatin slag
the yellow heartthrob of a lonesome wraith in your orange sorbet
another whizzing strait of missing you
the genealogy of dairymaid sweetmeat across the slash

just larval loll
just sycamore leaves swiveling against the backcloth of a fugue
just a whorl of bread crumbs
just a lasso
a strap sans stratagem
swirling birds finding their way in the gas tappet
just tapeworms daydreaming of wingspan on their footpath sickbed
just another dagger swaying inside a whodunit
just a minim in the data cluster

this is far from the lost cloudbursts
the fallen ramparts on the fallen leaves
the waxwork of footfalls slaloming
the whiteout of longing
the aftertaste of long gone clutter of clouts

this is just the wishbone you’d left me with

–from inside the window-dresser where you’d forgotten the clown Loofah

Debasis Mukhopadhyay’s recent poems have appeared in various journals & anthologies including The Curly Mind, Algebra of Owls, Erbacce, The Skinny Poetry Journal, Rat’s Ass Review, Words Dance, Voice of Monarch Butterflies. His work has been nominated for the Best of the Net. A chapbook of his work entitled kyrie eleison or all robins taken out of context is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in September 2017.

Rajiv Mohabir


Fossil Record
       Rhodocetus balochistanensis

We all start out as wolves
stalking what prayers we can—
whether for benefit of others
or for my own melody’s sake
after the kill I eat my tongue
wet with blood and staccato
clicks. I survive by ignoring
the fires all about telling me
a mass extinction looms
and I should drop my flowers
and run. It’s no small chance,
older than Ambulocetus,
this fanged whale’s name refers to its
arched back, perhaps in supplication
perhaps part prolepsis
for the humpback and in this very song
and at the end of this line
I am fishing for transmogrification
in which you, speaker,
hold your breath, startled
at being so addressed,
hook a flaming
building and are surprised
that in a window you see
a mirror and a face
that is your own,
prostrating before the altar
of your own desire—
let’s be honest—
once for the benefit
of all but now
actually just
for yourself.

Lost Breath

adhiraat jab saans na aaye, toke jagaawe kaun.
agar ii sab maya ho, tohar andar jhilmilawe ka.

You watch beetles worm from the mouths of saints,
words rotting in books. Breath swims your capillaries

and exits your lips. You emerge to the asphalt
avenue; lace your shoes against the concrete web

of veins in night’s black. You hold a light to
a street sign; peel your eyes for an augury.

Tied to your throat, an amulet—its symbols
in a script you are illiterate to, a hare

ensnared by runaway thirst. Since, you’ve opened
your seven doors don’t lace holy words about

your waist, afraid of blindness on the path.
You have been doused in liquor and set ablaze.

Come midnight, if you lose your breath, who will wake you?
If this is all illusion then what sparkles inside you?

Rajiv Mohabir is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press 2017, winner of the 2015 Kundiman Prize) and The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books 2016, winner of the Four Way Books Intro to Poetry Prize). He received his MFA from Queens College and his PhD in English from the University of Hawai`i. In Fall of 2017, he will join Auburn University as an Assistant Professor of poetry. Read more about him at

Joe Milazzo

Conny Plank

I like to take myself skinny-dipping.
To liken skinny-dipping to likening,
I like parting algal runs like moiré’s
subtle purples. Bold shame free-styling
out towards air taken with itself. Air
taken for what it is underneath itself,

that splay of old toes carpeted over
by fracture’s cockeyed herringbones.
Like all the forms of self-pleasure
I like, I wriggle myself into hating myself
or at least my most vigorous strokes.
I like surviving the drummer’s night shift.

I like how molting goes, I like thinning
those crankcases until their assorted
vulnerabilities lock into their soft spill.
To rub pans already shimmering with
oily nudity, that strikes skinny-dipping’s
chords. Like 3 in the left hand and Spanish

factions of some 7 underfoot, I like them. I like
them poly-. I like them to hang back. Skinny-dipping
vanishes, like bodies into tempos, or daytime
whitening on a diver’s water. I like water
to be captured, to be basined, to be
murky and mostly quieted. To take myself

into the undifferentiated depths of fun,
I’d like that. To loosen the denser thicknesses
of higher arms, the calories of knees

and dug-up muscles. Skinny-dipping stills
likening’s lapping, like libido, whatever thrums
through me. Skinny-dipping isn’t as wide

as the sea, or green. To be as transparent as dance,
I have to be as what? A what all at once, submitting
at my elbow, submitting like a structure dropping

its couplings. To submit, what is that? Like
a belly-button unbellied? Splashing big like that,
shallow like some “ahhh”-ing never minded? A hole

whose might is anybody else’s, drowned in teases
and bubbles. And helpless, like a tickle, like far.

Palindromes Are The Fascistic Imagination’s Anagrams


patriarch of tailless jays detail
every section 8 asphalt
swooping creek-crossed
fluorescent vest choruses

(you can yes and
if you can be)

some opera of squabbles starring
police the weary won’t keep
in their pants
off the ground
on foils onward
dubbed heavy metal in the doppler of
wolfing oud
and whatever
repossessed installments rhyme
limp exercise trailing
the mad pudge of gesticulations
the glutinous curl
opening “cool”
onto neighborhoods onto


where we started

foundational unboxing
shriking at brown tape like
black bread
the bawds and cream of
hostage faces
beside the want of what you get
in how it all works
the roof over each desire
the weak ink pursuing hidden
nested puddles (I’ll leave you here) where asking is
absolved of favorites
bamboo or nursery fowl
while building
the all in what you handled was that you were handed

a frame of diaphanous
patent control
skies of clicking casements instant
reaches of irremediable culminating now truncated
blue of draping escalation adequate and clear
of any “whatever”’s point

My concern in these so called “name poems” (themselves contributing to a longer and still-evolving sequence, tentatively entitled Acrostic Aspic) is with the conditions of celebrity as they are lived by non-celebrities, i.e., “you” and “me.” Or: I suppose these poems are all about minor celebrity, as these titles borrowed from the outer limits of fame suggest. Our subjectivities so often cohere in the back and forth between narratives intensely our own and those widespread narratives with which we cannot help but make contact, or which are in constant contact with us. But the latter narratives are so much more easily represented, not to mention “relatable,” while the former remain largely untranslatable. So this self-exchange can never be equal. Still, people live as they live, and their names mean something to them.
Joe Milazzo is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie and two collections of poetry: The Habiliments and the forthcoming Of All Places In This Place Of All Places. His writings have appeared in Black Clock, Black Warrior Review, BOMB, Drunken Boat, Prelude, Tammy, and elsewhere. He co-edits the online interdisciplinary arts journal [out of nothing], is a Contributing Editor at Entropy, curates the Other People’s Poetry reading series, and is also the proprietor of Imipolex Press. Joe lives and works in Dallas, TX, and his virtual location is

Kevin McLellan

Somewhere A Messenger

the wind / the exaggerating
trees usually

reliable / everything else

seems dishonest / your
thoughts /

your lips / these artifacts

you haul around / the look
in your eyes

not unlike the uncertainty

behind these open bulkhead
doors /

Inverses / A Pastoral

you see white caps dress
the river / the river undress

the white caps / the birds

reclaim here when it rains
/ a deranged oboe loudest /

but you’re put into motion

from falling and stilled by
the thought of crawling / you

better understand metaphor

one sentimental song at a time
/ your place in the world less

Kevin McLellan is the author of Hemispheres (Fact-Simile Editions, forthcoming), [box] (Letter [r] Press, 2016), Tributary (Barrow Street, 2015), and Round Trip (Seven Kitchens, 2010). He won the 2015 Third Coast Poetry Prize and Gival Press’ 2016 Oscar Wilde Award, and his poems have appeared in several journals including: American Letters & Commentary, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, Sonora Review, West Branch, Western Humanities Review, and Witness. Kevin lives in Cambridge MA.

Joanna Fuhrman

President’s Day

Before George, there was another
first president,

his flesh carved
from the body
of a cherry tree,
veins full of
pre-linguistic vowels,                primordial auburn sludge.

They say it was he

who divided the states               into genders:

the South, a buoyant mouse-
hearted femme fatale,
the North,

male as an oak or the word “oak”
in the crease of a dusty forestry textbook.

I am telling a lie.

The first president’s face couldn’t bear fruit.
Instead of lips, there was a branding iron.

When he kissed,                he burned
his partner’s lips (my lips?),               so they

looked like            his lips.

Not too ugly, but when I sucked on them
they tasted            like hate.

When the rivers voted for him,
the earth cratered in shame.

We made love in the mud,
but it wasn’t love, and his brain

seeped into my brain until I became
the President and he became the slave,

became the wife,      the broken broom
and the cracking sky.

I felt the power of that,
but wanted more than power,

so I said,
“let’s start over,”           but

the fires had already           started
and there was water

in my iron shoes
and in the glass archive

I thought was his (or my)
brain and in my agate-

lightning-full eyes, so all
that was left of our romance

was the skin              that created it,
was the sound of the paper skin,

creasing, and ripping, when the other
first president’s axe            finally hit.

This Tyger Burns the Bones of William Blake
(Or, Self-Portrait as Poem)

The body of the text
resembles me
before plastic surgery.

The idea of the text
resembles me

Death isn’t
just two-faced.

If you want to become
the red dress
of poetry,

you need to wear

Without those

would be
liquid wasp:

a head devoured
by milky synapses
and need.

Joanna Fuhrman is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Year of Yellow Butterflies (Hanging Loose Press 2015) and Pageant (Alice James Books 2009). She teaches poetry at Rutgers University, Sarah Lawerence Writers’ Village for teens, and in private workshops for adults.

Tongo Eisen-Martin


A tour guide through your robbery
He also is

Cigarette saying, “look what I did about your silence.”

Ransom water and box spring gold
—This decade is only for accent grooming, I guess

Ransom water and box spring gold
—The corner store must die

War games, I guess

All these tongues rummage junk

The start of mass destruction
Begins and ends
In restaurant bathrooms
That some people use
And other people clean

“you telling me there’s a rag in the sky?”
—waiting for you. yes—

we’ve written a scene
we’ve set a stage

we should have fit in. warehouse jobs are for communists. But now more corridor and hallway have walked into our lives. Now the whistling is less playful. The barbed wire is overcrowded too.

My dear, if it is not a city, it is a prison.
If it has a prison, it is a prison. Not a city.

When a courtyard talks on behalf of military issue,
all walks take place outside of the body.
Dear life to your left.
Medieval painting to your right.
None of this makes an impression.
Crop people living in thin air.
You got five minutes
to learn how to see
through this breeze.
When a mask goes sideways,
barbed wire becomes the floor.
Barbed wire becomes the roof.
Forty feet into the sky
becomes out of bounds.
When a mask breaks in half,
mind which way the eyes go.

They’ve killed the world for the sake of giving everyone the same backstory

We’re watching Gary, Indiana fight itself into the sky

Old pennies for wind. For that wind you feel before the hood goes up and over your headache. Pennies that stick to each other (mocking all aspirations). Stuck together pennies was the first newspaper I ever read. Along with the storefront dwelling army that always lets us down.

Where the holy spirit favors the backroom. Souls in a situation that offer one hundred ways to remain a loser. Souls watching the clock hoping that eyes don’t lie to sad people.

“what were we talking about again?”
the narrator asked the graveyard
—ten minutes flat—
said the graveyard
—the funeral only took ten minutes—
“never tell anyone that again,”
the narrator severely replied

“You just going to pin the 90s on me?”
—all thirty years of them—
“Then why should I know the difference between sleep and satire?”

the pyramid of corner stores fell on our heads
—we died right away

that building wants to climb up and jump off another building
—these are downtown decisions

somewhere on this planet, it is august 7th

and we’re running down the rust thinking, “one more needs to come with me”

on earth, so
that we could
be sent back

A conductor of minds
In a city-wide symphony
Waving souls to sing
He also is

Where Windows Should Be

“How did I miss that brother’s name?”
said the sorriest man in the crowd
with candle light on his face.

Someone who looks just like you
came through earlier
and said he was the devil.
We stopped him before
he could crack his first joke.

“I can’t wait to fall out the sky
on these suckers again,”
he mumbled walking away

“I guess greetings end
when the knife gets dull,”
he also mumbled

every once in a while
blood jumps back into the body
and the cosmos go home
(easy going art)

a woman stops to steady herself,
but her shoulder keeps walking
a man stops to tie his shoes,
but his tongue keeps walking
an infamous child
meets an infamous street
and pulls off an infamous miracle

a gambler came through earlier
looking just like you

we put his head on a paint brush
and got back to work

arguing with each other:

“what do you mean puddles don’t smile?”

“and why can’t jail bars un-bloom?”

“we call them crumbs! You call them crumbs!”

arm in arm
back alleys walk
after becoming people

rights, baby! Even we get rights too!

A man plays the trumpet next door
Then never no more

I whispered once
It didn’t go well
Wine in my cup
They called it a yell

Don’t make a scene
All friendships have dead people in them

“you are the one folding up bottles like paper
and putting them under windshields!”

“it’s only weird
when no one else plays along!”

Candle light on faces
The riot keeps walking

Channels to fall asleep to

While shoe box to shoe box travels my childhood

Professionals roll garbage cans around a conference room
Half the size of a holding tank
Half the hope of a holding tank
Full of third world retail flattery
“nothing wrong with the blind leading the blind,”
we think they just said

porcelain epoch
succeeding for the most part
dying for the most part
married for the most part to its death

when a hostage has a hostage
that is u.s. education

stores detach their heads
and expect you to do the same when you enter

God says, “do not trust me in this room”

Two fascists walk into a bar
One says, “let’s make a baby.”
The other says, “let’s make three… and let the first one eat the other two.”

your sky or mine
read from
the book of pool room enemies

“I’m the best kind of square. Poor and in love with the 1960s. The first picture I ever
saw in my life faded from my storytelling a long time ago.”

Not even ten years old
And most of you are on my shoulders

The store’s detached head smiled

casually be poor
teach yourself
how to get out of this room
and we’ll leave you enough blood
to turn off the lights
on your way out

casually be poor…
they are all cops when you are poor

may we all refuse to die at the same time

“I believe I wasn’t born yet, when a young woman put her first gun under a car seat,”
The painter explained
in front of his work
with a .38 in his back pocket

Combination of conversations you may call it:
The day all the saints clocked in late
mixed with the first serious talk
seven-year-old best friends have about war.

What war stories taught me I now teach you

“the world is just a constellation of walls.
Twitch a little less than everyone else.
That’s the key.”

I miss her
Or is the static of a westbound interstate bus ride beautiful when all but three
people are asleep

I’m writing poems for the rest of my life again

Taught by the greats:
“friends make friends. You just be a good liar.”
“you would not believe the grains of blue I found after I was laid to ground.”
“fit in, youngster/fit in, trigger man.”
“watch your nickname mean something to more than five people.”

Conversations about how a white giant
born without a third dimension
Is wandering under county jail slippers
and people who smoke by themselves in old city parks

and how

Electric chairs are not complicated:
Have a drink. Go to work.

“They lynched his car too. Strung it up right next to him… A smart man
makes up his own set of holidays… A smart man occasionally switches the dates
around of his holidays too. Because enemies have a sense of humor.”

Mind. I had a mind once. Served my immediate family well. But that’s all over now.

Now I live in america

A most impressive reimagining of a painter

Up here
Where the tenth floor
Might as well be a cloud of dust
Or a version of myself that
I can point your attention to
While I count my money and curse mankind

The best way to pay me
Is in my left hand
While my right is juggling
A cigarette
A steering wheel
And a negotiation with the ruling class

Maybe you are not a sleepy employee in a project lobby
Maybe you are blood on a fiber
Maybe you are my friend

I have ruled the world.
Let me sleep this off.
Is that your tongue in the sky?
That’s the only weather I need.

Lazy conversation
—the only way physics advances

my right hand jogs away from the band

this getaway is live

this instrument
is not yet invented

Coming down
With the rest of the sound
—the young woman and me about to be born

“And there. There is you. Dancing with someone’s daughter in front of the precinct”

Originally from San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a poet, movement worker and educator. His curriculum on extra-judicial killing of Black people, titled “We Charge Genocide Again” has been used as an organizing tool throughout the country. His latest book of poems, Someone’s Dead Already, was nominated for a California Book Award. His next book of poems, Heaven Is All Goodbyes, will be published in Fall 2017 by the City Lights Pocket Poets Series.