Category: Issue 01

How My Existentially Problematic Novel Unfolds

Out on the lawn, you spear the steak.
You show its black flank to the sun
like a bear examining a bit of gypsum.
Only he would not conceive
of it as gypsum, honestly, only
not-fish.  Not-berry.
The first negative theologian
may have been a bear.
Your heart may be many bears
beating their bike chains
and tire irons together.
I can’t prove otherwise.
This is a democracy,
so it’s your word against
my science.  My science
against this feeling that we are
often not alone when we are
often alone, I fear.
We are taking out the garbage
into the desolation
of some suburb,
but we don’t want this
in particular.
I ruin everything with my wanting.
You just go on spearing
in the dimming afternoon.
Spear the rib-eye,
spear the uncomfortable neighborly feeling,
and then really glare it down
like it deserves.
Your terrible bear heart
humbling me
with its solemn growls.
How it got in there,
I can’t testify.
I think I know what
is happening at this barbeque,
when I don’t.
All around me
teen melodrama unfolds.
Someone else’s terrible adventure
is just beginning.

*

Kyle McCord is the author of three books of poetry including Sympathy from the Devil (Gold Wake Press 2013).  He has work featured in Boston ReviewDenver QuarterlyGulf Coast, TriQuarterly, Third Coast and elsewhere.  He’s received grants or awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Baltic Writing Residency.  Along with Wendy Xu, he co-edits iO: A Journal of New American Poetry, and he is lead content editor for LitBridge.  He teaches at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX.

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The Poem of Sentence Nine with No End

Dear anchorwoman, we have made a pile of our an and nightly sing to the sky with our ammo
Dear bones, we have made a pile of our booboo and nightly sing to the sky with our
Dear come, we have made a pile of our communists and nightly sing to the sky with
Dear ditty, we have made a pile of our dividend and nightly sing to the sky
Dear empty, we have made a pile of our enamel and nightly sing to the
Dear floodwaters, we have made a pile of our flotilla and nightly sing to
Dear gods, we have made a pile of our gold fillings and nightly sing
Dear over the hill, we have made a pile of our hisses and nightly
Dear innocent, we have made a pile of our ins and outs and
Dear jewels, we have made a pile of our jiggle
Dear kismet, we have made a pile of our
Dear lingo, we have made a pile of
Dear messiah, we have made a pile
Dear nickname, we have made a
Dear on second thought, we have made
Dear place, we have
Dear quibble, we
Dear rehearse,
Dear
Dear tidbits, we have made a pile of our tilted in and nightly sing to the sky with our timberline
Dear undulation, we have made a pile of our unending and nightly sing to the sky with our
Dear vice squad, we have made a pile of our victim and nightly sing to the sky with
Dear went, we have made a pile of our wetness and nightly sing to the sky
Dear xeroderma, we have made a pile of our xerodermia and nightly sing to the
Dear yeses, we have made a pile of our yes-men and nightly sing to
Dear zigzaggery, we have made a pile of our zilch and nightly sing

*

Gene Tanta is a poet, visual artist, and translator of contemporary Romanian poetry. His first poetry book is called Unusual Woods (BlazeVOX, 2010). His second poetry book is called Pastoral Emergency.  Tanta completed his MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2000 and his PhD in English from the University of Wisconsin in 2009 with literary specialization in twentieth-century American poetry, first-generation American poets, and the European Avant-garde. His journal publications include: Ploughshares, EPOCH, Circumference Magazine, Exquisite Corpse, Watchword, Columbia Poetry Review, The Laurel Review, and Drunken Boat. Currently, he is editing two anthologies of poetry while teaching literature in the American Studies Program at the University of Bucharest in Romania as a Fulbright Scholar.

Turquoise Series, Stacks

Stacks, from the Highway

Robin Dluzen was born and raised in Southeast Michigan. In 2008, the artist received a BFA in Fine Arts and Literature from Adrian College in Adrian, MI, and in 2010, Dluzen received an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Currently the artist maintains a studio practice in the city of Chicago, and Dluzen’s work has been featured in such venues as the Union League Club of Chicago, Ugly Step Sister Gallery, Chapel Projects at the Charnel House, Chicago Artists’ Coalition and 22 in Berwyn, IL. Formerly the Editor-in-Chief and Senior Art Critic at Chicago Art Magazine, Dluzen is currently an art critic contributing to Art Ltd. Magazine, Visual Art Source, New American Paintings blog and Art F City.

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Laura Goldstein’s poetry and essays have been published in American Letters and Commentary, MAKE, kill author, jacket2, EAOGH, Requited, Everyday Genius, Little Red Leaves, and How2. She has published several chapbooks including Inventory (Sona Books 2012), Let Her (Dancing Girl Press 2012), Facts of Light (Plumberries Press 2011) and Ice in Intervals (Hex Presse 2008). Her chapbook phylum is forthcoming from Horse Less Press this spring and her first full-length collection of poetry, Loaded Arc, will be released by Trembling Pillow Press this summer. She co-curates the Red Rover Series with Jennifer Karmin and teaches Writing and Literature at Loyola University.

Comrade District Attorney

What else would you like us to
do? Comrade District Attorney,
you take them. Even in that suit, er
firing-squad you’re wearing
I can almost see your conscience.
Comrade District Attorney,
save us. The engines no longer
run on mud and the headlines bray that
this fight is in the last round.
As for the other he’s a fake.
You’ll see, it’s what makes
our reenactment believable.
Comrade District Attorney,
stretch out in the palm of my hand
where a nail sprouts upward
like a flower to the believers.

 

*

Larry Sawyer has curated the Myopic Books Poetry Series in Chicago since 2005. He is the co-director of The Chicago School of Poetics and also edits milkmag.org. Look for poetry in Boston Review, Forklift Ohio, Esque, and Court Green. He recently wrote about Chicago literature for Ploughshares (http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/literary-boroughs-32-chicago/) His latest book is titled Vertigo Diary.

When I Was a Child, I Lived as a Child, I Said to My Dad

Saint Paul was a jackass, my father muttered,
keystroking his tank into position in “The Mother

Of All Tank Battles.”  I turned back to the screen,
maneuvering pixilated tanks.  Each arrow key

altered trajectory, each cursor tap a tank blast.  Fast-
forward two decades: in a cubicle outside Vegas,

Jonah joysticks his Predator above Afghanistan,
drone jockey hovering above a house on computer screen.

He knows someone’s inside.  Is it his target?  Who else
inside—cooking, crawling—will not outrun his digital will?

He is cross-hairs and shaking frame.  Stone implosion.
He watches the collapse replay onscreen, then

heads home.  Pizza.  Diaper rash.  Removes a thumb
from his toddler’s sleeping mouth.  Again, no sleep….
                                                                                          Our game’s

quaintly obsolete.  On mailboxes around our neighborhood,
our beagle would sign his line of piss, which said: it’s good

to be alive and eating meat.  He was adding to the map
that we can’t see, liquid notations on our suburban escape.

At Great Lakes Naval Base, my father imagined permutations
of disaster.  We were Region Five.  Coordinates run,

scenarios conceived, New Madrid fault lines, the possible
flood of Des Plaines, a tornado’s blinding spiral

rolling its dozer across the plain.  No preparing for it,
just to pick up what remained.  If a nuclear bomb hit

Chicago, the epicenter here, he’d draw concentric circles
radiating, a pebble disturbing the mirror of a lake.  Each circle

meant a slower death.  Between us and them, the Wall
was a mirror reflecting us and nothing beyond.  The whole

world was what the mirror hung upon.  He showed me how
to hold a blade, how to watch my reflection for every nick, how

to cut my face without bleeding.  I bled.  I hooked my glasses
over teenaged ears.  Outside, the blur of lawn became grass,

each blade stabbing upward to light.  I thought I knew
we see as through a glass, darkly….   My frames have narrowed

to lenses eye-sized.  My myopia grows.  To see
what’s happening, I open a laptop, lean into the screen:

*

Philip Metres has written a number of books and chapbooks, most recently A Concordance of Leaves (Diode 2013), abu ghraib arias (Flying Guillotine 2011), winner of the 2012 Arab American Book Award in poetry, To See the Earth (Cleveland State 2008), and Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront since 1941 (University of Iowa 2007).   His work has appeared in Best American Poetry, and Inclined to Speak: Contemporary Arab American Poetry, and has garnered two NEA fellowships, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, four Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Anne Halley Prize, the Arab American Book Award, and the Cleveland Arts Prize.  He teaches literature and creative writing at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.  See http://www.philipmetres.com and http://behindthelinespoetry.blogspot.com for more information.

Bindweed

Faced with a scene of cloud white flowers
Job asks the crow, What do you see?
Sheep spreading, replies the crow,
across the earth’s surface.
Convolvulus arvensis, answers Job,
common to Kansas.
Twenty feet, he says with a shrug,
is where the roots sleep.

They try to gauge how much it would take
to rip it out. Think of it, says the crow, its shocked
roots rising, its jagged strings of plant.
It’d look like sheets of ice, says Job, cracking.
Sheep God loves, says the crow, beaming.
They are silent. They breathe.

Anyway it’s just clouds, they say.
It’s just white flowers, they say

 

Jesse Nathan’s poems have appeared in the Nation, jubilat, the American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. He’s working on a PhD in English Literature at Stanford and he’s a founding editor of the McSweeney’s Poetry Series. He lives in California.