Bernd Sauermann

In the Beginning

He is on his knees begging shamelessly while she whispers lies to a clock and a wedding ring gleams like a new appliance. A child is born in a lamp-lit room. Another child has vanished like a fear. All of these things are true when a blue dust settles like decades of bad headlines. Pages torn daily from a paperback Bible gather in a drawer. There is a locked door in the silence of the cellar, and there is so much power in what a man says that a boy can see what isn’t there. All boys can see what isn’t there, but no woman can make the clock stop conducting its solemn business.


The old man’s voice rumbles down a cobblestone street as the smell of diesel is married to the sharp slap of memory. A bus pulls away from a curb. A cloud of exhaust suggests a lost generation of steel, and locomotives and buses bring the old man to his knees once more at the altar of a moment. There is the sound of a hammer on an anvil. There are the ghosts of boxcars in the station. There was a time the old man believed in the power of steel, but then a national prayer was recited in a dead child’s voice.

A Prophecy

A plane hurtles me into the future where dirty water from a garden hose will not slake my thirst for a blue bike passing on the road. A prophecy is thus fulfilled and a frequent flyer is my one true friend. The farmer’s daughter whispers lusty invitations through an open window while two women comb each other’s hair at the fence. I deny a spider entrance to a keyhole as a name fades more slowly than contrails in an anxious sky. Somewhere in the house a key turns.


An unheard plea is still alive, but the key in the lock has been removed. A towel hangs wet and limp, forgotten in a cold shower. A spider finds itself alone on a white wall. These are the lies told to no one but myself: An arm is warm at night. We barely touched each other. You remember, don’t you? The silent weight of your head on my arm? The brush of legs. The light of day through a blinding keyhole?


We put dead things in boxes and bury them in the sand, and we put our wet hands on a defective fan. We hold things underwater. All of these to test our mettle, but later, all the news is bad—the curfew is broken, the typhoon is on the way, the revolution has begun, and the prophecy will be fulfilled, night after night like a recurring nightmare, like day after day of steaming rain. This is the curse. This is the revelation making its way like mad current up my arm.

Bernd Sauermann teaches writing, literature, and film at Hopkinsville Community College in Kentucky. He is also the poetry editor at Whole Beast Rag, an online (and sometimes print) journal of art, ideas, and literature. He’s had, or will have, poems, stories and photographs published in The McSweeney’s Book of Poets Picking Poets, McSweeney’s, Southern Indiana Review, New Orleans Review, Nimrod, Poet Lore, The Kansas Quarterly Review of Literature, Leveler, E·ratio, Vinyl Poetry, and many other publications. He has a chapbook entitled “Diesel Generator” out from Horse Less Press (2013), and his first full-length collection, “Seven Notes of a Dead Man’s Song,” will be published in the coming year by Mad Hat Press.

R.L. Swihart

Ari’s Daimon

The first time I decided to bowl a few games on a hot summer’s day
I saw someone I’d caddied for forty years earlier: Glinka, Gluck, Glass.
The second time I saw Ari

I hadn’t seen Ari in ten years and I never would meet Elaine

Ten years earlier I had been subbing in Math at a local high school
and filming birthdays and bar mitzvahs (as Ari once said: Blare Witch
style) to supplement. Now I was subbing in Physics

A crazy turkey was dancing on the screen when I sat down next to Ari.
We ordered drafts. The ceiling was yellow from smoke. Fans
were spinning without effect

Ari talked. I talked. We sipped our beers. Then Ari asked if I’d ever used
a stroboscopic camera. “Turns out I have,” I said. “The kids were learning

I spared, clenched a fist in excitement, then took slow strides back to the table.
“Where will I hide?” I asked. “In the closet,” he said. “And Elaine?” I asked.
“It’s for me,” he said. “She’ll never see the pictures. I’m the one who needs to
feel whole”


I Have a House

This is my house (square, rectangle, round), it was given to me. I knock
and the door opens. I don’t knock and it opens. There are flowers
outside my house. I bring them in. If I question the flowers,
I don’t question the house. I will die in this house

This is not my house (square, rectangle, round), it was given to me. I arrange
things to feel more comfortable. Sometimes I prefer the arrangements
of others. The permutations seem infinite, and yet
the house is empty

I am building my house, I am tearing it down. When I yell fire a few people
run, but there is no fire. In time my house will come to nought.
How much time, how little


Without Lifting a Finger

The gauntlet of underpasses is a humble enough birth: the palm of a hand
cradling a walnut

Between Spearmint Rhino and FORT STORAGE it multiplies: not the walnut
just the hand: the original hand being supported by another hand,
and another hand, ad infinitum

Further along the 10, the henge of skyscrapers steps out of the fog
toward K.

K. exits the spastic carhustle, navigates along surface streets, and parks
near the Casa Vertigo

The squinting sun provides the chalk and he draws a perfect triangle connecting
TWERK MILEY, church window, and doctored knee

Doctored knee: his words (his mirage) for the complex of barriers and tape
guarding a recent archaeological dig beneath the street

Perfect triangle: an example is a right triangle with sides 6, 8, and 10. The area
is 24 and so is the perimeter

Archaeological dig: choking the ability to remember is the ability
to forget

K. steps around an obelisk. Slips under strips of white linen. Scrapes a knee
before he stands

Everything is connected. Nothing. I hold the walnut in my hand

R. L. Swihart currently lives in Long Beach, California, and teaches high school mathematics in Los Angeles. His poems have appeared in various online and print journals, including Bateau, elimae, Rhino, Right Hand Pointing, 1110, and decomP. His first collection of poems, “The Last Man,” was published in 2012 by Desperanto Press.

Rob Talbert


I have become convinced
there is no devastating train
of epiphany thundering down
in the night. But still I don’t sleep.
And the monarchs flutter in
from the south
on currents that prove
knowing one’s purpose
is not an invention of man.
I only follow the currents I do
because they’ve betrayed me
the least. The city skyline is one,
lit up like an electric birthday cake.
And the traffic, too, streaming by
the apartment and hushing with intent.
All of it is there. Watching
and trying to get its message through.
But few people remember
their pounding hearts
and even then
it’s only once in a while,
like a migration,
like riding something only felt,
going on in trust
until the world forgets to continue.

The Fields

At the ends of your life is a field.
When the office closes for the night
or the restaurant deadbolt locks,
when the shower curtain glides,
or when the light goes out:
there is a field there, waiting
and overflowing with mice.
They busily collect the fragments of you.
They build intricate nests from the grass
of how the fuck could you?
And the drugs and the jokes
and the liquor and the jobs
and the you will never find another
keep the mice warm and heavy with sleep.
It all goes there. Your anger.
Your reticent hope.
The mice may even dream in your ruins.
Every day you live is bookended
with a field like this, dividing the body
from the aftershock. The twilight hour
of washing dishes while the sun
is dragged kicking and screaming
over the hills, the way we kick and scream
when we are dragged out of love,
that heavy and uncompromising machine.
A rusted, derelict tractor
in the memory.


Are you a desert? Are you dismantled
in grains, or does your life come in waves,
rhythmic as seasons crawling over the land?

The years of my past are zoned and fenced-off
by state lines, jobs and women.
By friends and rum and long nights
that re-colored the patterns of my winter fur.

Each memory and idea has a sudden stop,
the way a bullet hits the earth.

Is your life like a bullet? Like regret?
Like an obsessed finch heading for the mountain peaks?

We were told we’d be capable of great things.
I stood in the dripping sun
and watched her pick raspberries.
The military came and she was gone.

Has her desire for red changed?
Has yours?

I crashed apartment parties. Slid against
thighs and strange walls. Enveloped the energies
that I sought and still seek.

What do you seek?
Are you the rotting couch in the adult megaplex?
Do you dance like drunks in the glow of bookstores?

Wait. Don’t leave so angrily.
There is plenty to drink. Let’s enjoy something.
Let’s talk about the river in which I had to drown
in order to become a man.

Before You Go

The world is just a place.
Then I have one mother and one father.
But they get replaced by trees and sacred
bottles of wine. By laughter and coins.
Then those things are replaced.
And replaced again.
The way friends fade in and out of your life.
How jobs come and go,
and surety about the future,
as the chambers in the heavy metallic casing
circle around.
The world is just a place that spins.
I have been replaced
as many times as you,
living in the middle of the hourglass
where nothing stays for long,
living over the continents that slip
under our feet.
The world is just a place where all things
crashed together,
and now, dazed, step away.
People who collided in the mall
and are now on to other things.
A building in Detroit.
A mind in shock
about how far back childhood swirls.
The world is just a place until you change.
we are islands.

Rob Talbert has worked in jails, bars, bookstores, and on cruise ships. He received his MFA from Virginia Tech University and his first book of poems, “Jagged Tune,” is forthcoming from Mad Hat Press. He spends a lot of time in Texas nightclubs.

Brad Vogler

Six Poems from my radius, a small stone


here device wants for sure(ness)




this                                                       leads                                                       there

a line

where want want(s) goes/                                         to go
go to

this broken rush
          I broken
                  this rushed

some called way



this learning/re

an otter came before others (hedgehog)
                                                                in your liking/looking

an order of sorts

other of place today


mudded boots
                           the earth does/holds

boot direction
       and desire

depth of such words



too much to hold/

a want for telling
some uncontained way/s

saying dear is not enough

dear become [ ] (not erasure)

mapped and

too afraid of/
                                 too quiet of


a vocabulary
                [ ]



 re              ing

urge              shore      ward

shore/coast          shift

                                                                           /coast     ing
                                                                           re          worded

                                                                           [ ]
                                                                           intricate ship
                                                                           thing well
                                                                           in my heart



an unsteady mapping
           the inevitable surrounds

it’s easy to consider destination
           a desired pointplace

but [ ]
                      unsteady as water/
                            an endless movement of record


[ ]       outlined/
                     not empty

name of all the words I’d write



sounds a closeness/

there are problems

a spelling implies stasis

a voicing fluidity

[ ] name/s/d
    one spells stillness

                surprised each after and other


[ ]


Author’s note:

The poems here are from a project called my radius, a small stone. The [ ] appears in Kate Greenstreet’s “case sensitive,” and as she notes is from the correspondence between Zukofsky and Niedecker and indicates “…a signal of deep caring for which words dare not and need not be found.” The italicized “intricate ship / thing well / in my heart,” is from Alice Notley’s “Alice Ordered Me to be Made.”

Brad Vogler’s poems have appeared in places which include: Free Verse, Versal, Barzakh, and Word for/Word, and he has work forthcoming in Volt, Jacket2, Dear Sir, and Bestoned. He builds and maintains the website for Delete Press, and is the editor/web designer of Opon. His first chapbook, “Fascicle 30,” was recently released from Little Red Leaves Textile Series.

Mark Young

The Avid Trainer

A man walks past dolls for sale near the French Quarter.

He is shaped like a stress ball & has a large area set aside for the printing of a logo.

He feels it is important to focus his shoulder workout mainly around the side deltoid if he wants to maintain width. Eventually, he uses low-contrast grayscale stimuli.

By adding free form amino acids, cardio will actually put finishing touches on his every body part.

The dolling term for this is Frakendolling

This animation is copyrighted.

The early

sonnets of Michelangelo,
those composed whilst
on a limited folic acid
intake, are so twisted
in upon themselves
they have become
both water-resistant
& washable. Even so,

that insane artistry,
the multiple narrative
perspectives, the forward-
thinking use of glass—
all still tempt like fresh
raspberries at the local store.

Turncoat Harmony

Last month, at the
Harmony Palace
restaurant, banquet

politics was ditched
in favor of com-
promise. With history

constantly zigzagging
around, the single
track has become a

bottleneck & linear
teleology dropped
in favor of a tribal

circling which appears
to completely contradict
our ideas of a usable

piece of furniture. I am
broke as hell. I take
the witness stand for

a second day. Someone
is manipulating me
using mind magic.

A line from C. P. Cavafy

The theater is dark.
I have a season
ticket. I will only get
to use it if the sun

arrives dressed in
a vintage blazer &
skinny military
cargos. I keep the

windows open. I
experience fragrance
burnout. I place it
gently in the cupboard.

Mark Young’s most recent books are the downloadable “Asemic Colon,” from The Red Ceilings Press, & a 600-page selection of work written during the past four years, “The Codicils,” from Otoliths.