Category: Issue 07

Patricide

Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, a contemporary of Tubman’s and dictator of the Dominican Republic for thirty years, exercised power in a similar fashion.  During his rule, the church organized mass baptisms of Dominican children, with Trujillo standing in as godfather.  With time, he became the godfather of all his subordinates.  The CIA could find no volunteers to organize a coup against the dictator: no one wanted to raise a hand against his own godfather.
~Ryszard Kapuściński, The Shadow of the Sun

I am father to the world, husband to a million mothers, and this
is how you treat me?  You can’t cut the root of the God tree.

A red butterfly like a rose petal falls up into the sky, a stain
on a starched tablecloth, blood from a nail-less thumb.

This life you live is the dream of a man waking up
to being me.  I am ineradicable.  If I die, another will rise

who remembers your face and your family history.  Bring your heart
to my altar, my wayward child.  Blood is the means

to the end, either way.  You can kill me, but I will never stop being
your loving father.  Slit my scapegoat throat.  I’ll never be so proud.

***

Andrew Kozma’s poems have appeared in BlackbirdQualmSubtropics, and The Kenyon Review Online.  His first book of poems, City of Regret (2007), won the Zone 3 First Book Award, and he has been the recipient of a Jentel Residency, a Houston Arts Alliance Fellowship, a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship, and a D. H. Lawrence Fellowship.

from The Thread

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Paige Taggart is a Northern Californian and currently resides in Brooklyn & is the author of three chapbooks: DIGITAL MACRAMÉ, Polaroid Parade, and The Ice Poems. In 2014 her first two full-length collections will be published: Want For Lion (Trembling Pillow Press) and Or Replica (Brooklyn Arts Press). She works as a full-time jewelry production manager & additionally makes her own jewelry (mactaggartjewelry.com)

from Truck Stop Dementia (4)

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Rauan Klassnik grew up in South Africa and then Dallas, TX. He lives in Kirkland, WA with his wife Edith. He has two books of poetry through Black Ocean: Holy Land (2008) and The Moon’s Jaw (2013).

from Truck Stop Dementia (7)

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Rauan Klassnik grew up in South Africa and then Dallas, TX. He lives in Kirkland, WA with his wife Edith. He has two books of poetry through Black Ocean: Holy Land (2008) and The Moon’s Jaw (2013).

Closed Universe

Where to begin — with the taste in your mouth
of me or in my mouth? With the taste

of nothing, no sugars licked
from oozing love glands, vermillion orchardfuls
of late fruit you buy never thinking
of the trees whose sap drips into nonexistent
underworlds, of the storms — hotter and brighter
before Christmas, our minds healed
on New Years by the anticipation
of clean white snow…

You insert a little star here — *
for the time your heart splintered, how
you wanted to carry the memory like a burden
but couldn’t, complicated smokeless events
no one sees — the shape of a bird
is auspicious
but not the presence of one…
A lifetime ago, the soft fires
inside clouds meant being alive — how you
concealed your tears on the train,
scavenged for fries at work, came home
and knew someone had been there,
watched the horizon for moving stars…

Now a boat behind a blue curtain
is what you call a horizon
and mean some things you know, a feeling
you can name: you learn not to expect
silence at the end, or ask
whether you’re free
if the late embers appear to burn
for you…

You could have begun
with the slippery squid of your heart,
a star nursery, the rich iron in your veins,
tiny claw of a sail in your lung —
is it a burr? Something you can’t
cough out… Birds reappear too,
their wings slicing some clay — a depression
visible in clouds, the money
you spend on dark tea and how dark
a thought appears in natural light…

*

Justine el-Khazen teaches at Parsons School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology. She lives in Brooklyn.

Sonnet V

I have a gallon of blood where my thoughts should be
But butterflies in my midriff, more than pores
On my limbs, stir two paragraphs of dependent clauses
Sleep is a “life’s small pleasure,” except when everyone’s
Trying to kill me in my dreams.  I took six Excedrin
And ten ibuprofen, all to no avail—real-life people
Are dying anyway, despite their daily chores
One-in-ten is possessed, & one-in-ten of those possessed
See that scary pyramid—the one crowned by the floating eye
On the dollar bill—in their dreams.  If afflicted with
A third, I’d pick & rub & scratch until the nerves are exposed.
I do have an eye on a tie, both in my dreams & my closet,
But never around my neck.  I have enough trouble seeing
Colors with the two on my face

***

Bruce Covey’s sixth book of poetry, Change Machine, will be published by Noemi Books in the summer of 2014. He lives in Atlanta, GA, where he edits and publishes Coconut magazine and Coconut Books and curates the What’s New in Poetry reading series.

Hieroglyphics

When Atlanta’s drought reached a crisis, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue called his fellow Republicans to the capitol steps to pray for rain.

In New Haven, someone told me we were about to run out of electricity.  “It’s already coming from Canada.  They ship it down on trucks.”

The next year a tornado touched down on Whitney Avenue, pushing a piano through the window of a piano store.  It also took down all the Elms, which were crisscrossed across Whitney Avenue and in front of the Peabody Museum.

***

Bruce Covey’s sixth book of poetry, Change Machine, will be published by Noemi Books in the summer of 2014. He lives in Atlanta, GA, where he edits and publishes Coconut magazine and Coconut Books and curates the What’s New in Poetry reading series.

To Give and Be Given a Lifetime of Japanese

Every poet wants to be something else—even if she wants to be a poet. I, a detective, a spy. A decoder of mysteries. And it is with that curiosity that I first set upon Japanese (that and a love of samurai films and bright-haired anime heroines). And thinking it was simply a riddle, a riddle of language, I thought—who better to unriddle such a puzzle than someone who dissembles and reassembles fragments of language, again and again.  But, this foolish, overconfident, would-be sleuth has learned that Japanese is not a language or even a way of thinking, but it is an entire way of feeling.

In Japanese to be given a gift and to give a gift are different words for giving (let alone another word for receiving). And if one is not the giver or the getter, the first question one has to ask herself before she can even make a sentence is with whom do I sympathize? To speak, you have to choose a favorite; the language forces you. Is my heart with the giver? Or with he who receives the gift?

This is complicated.

There are other complications. How do I choose a side if Japanese won’t let me know what other people are thinking? It is grammatically impossible to speak of someone else’s thoughts in Japanese. The language has decided that your mind is yours, known only to you. As an only child, on one hand this makes sense. Of course, my thoughts are only truly heard by me. They are mine. But also, as an only child, coming from a world that is entirely of observation and making, I find it impossible that I cannot (or at least am not syntactically allowed to) imagine what you might be thinking. But damn that Japanese, it won’t let me. I can quote you. I can intuit that it seems like you are thinking or feeling such a thing, but I cannot speak with any authority. And yet, with whom do I sympathize?

All languages are obsessed with being. The first things we learn are linking verbs, the copulas. The basis of language, regardless, is the need to connect two things. That copula and copulate share the same Latin root is of course not a coincidence. The need to say—You are my love. I am your love.—is something we demand from a language if it is going to do us any good. It’s entire purpose is connection. And from there, we are only steps away from metaphor, which has its roots in transfer and bear. Your words are oceans I have to cross to know you. Once we are connected, we can transfer the weight. We both give and receive.

After we have learned to say this is that, we learn to say to eat. It is always an early lesson, but it is never first.  It is tasty, then, let’s eat. That is the order of our learning. The pyramid of needs in foreign language is first: identification, second: food.

I don’t yet dream in Japanese (though I dream of dreaming). But every thought becomes a parsing—the imperative to know what I want to say before I say it. It is more than just the fear of speaking something unfamiliar that holds my mouth still, a tongue my tongue does not yet know how to maneuver. But I am shiest in Japanese because I still don’t know how to conceive of a sentence in a language that often has sentences without subjects. The fierce grammarian in me is stupefied. What are you thinking? I sympathize with you. And then, I lose you. I might lose you to a topic. As for that—the sentences insists—you are a part of it, but I don’t need to speak of you anymore, you are already present somehow. How can this be? And there at the end, after all those things that aren’t you—topic, place, frequency, the why, the where, the object of this and that doing—and there only then, the verb. Surprise!

As for me, I collapse.

Japanese—the gift that gives and is giving. I give to it what I suspect will be a lifetime in the hopes that maybe then it will let me know what it’s thinking.

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Carrie Olivia Adams lives in Chicago, where she is a professional book publicist and the poetry editor for the small press Black Ocean. She is the author of Forty-One Jane Doe’s (a book of poems with a DVD of her poem-films), Intervening Absence, and the chapbook “A Useless Window.”