Category: Issue 08

Parenthetical Killers

1.
There are hands attached to bodies attached to minds
spread throughout this room, gathered and pressed
together with other tangles of hands, bodies & minds.

********(Kitty Genovese was stabbed until she sputtered to death
********while thirty-eight people watched. I have never felt so alone.)

There is music, somewhat loud, somewhat catchy.
A pleasant looking boy with a wide, generous smile
is urging his way over to me.

********(The Boston Strangler was described as “nice and polite” by his teacher.
********He was the only student who would stay after class to help re-arrange the chairs.)

The boy slowly wandered over and lingered near me.
His hesitance was sort of endearing.
He was awkward in a way that seemed sweet.

********(Ted Bundy typically approached women in public places.
********They considered him to be handsome, charming, and charismatic.)

We danced together.
Talked about school.
He told me a joke, and I laughed.

********(Gary Ridgeway would show the women he picked up a picture of his son
********to gain their trust before he killed them.)

I had to leave.
“You can’t leave without giving me your number,”
he told me.

 *******(Patrick Kearney would pick up his victims at gay bars.)

I smiled during the ride home,
even after my friend vomited
all over the side of my car.

********(I cannot let the facts I’ve collected during late night google searches string along behind me. I
********cannot let fear of rape & murder dictate my life, there is no real method of prevention.)

2.
I feel safe:

********(I cannot let the facts I’ve collected during late night google searches string along behind me. I
********cannot let fear of rape & murder dictate my life, there is no real method of prevention.)

I asked him out to dinner. I chose the place.
It was filled with stacks of greasy limbs tied together to make people.
It was filled with light, and covered with windows.

********(Kitty Genovese was stabbed until she sputtered to death
********while thirty-eight people watched. I have never felt so alone.)

He told me I looked pretty.

********(Ted Bundy typically approached women in public places.
********They considered him to be handsome, charming, and quite charismatic.)

After dinner, I didn’t let him ask me over to his place.
Instead I invited myself over.

********(Patrick Kearney would pick up his victims at gay bars.)

At his apartment, he offered me water.
I accepted, thanked him, drank it, put the cup in the empty sink.
My cup was planted in the middle of it, the lonely marking on a silver surface.

********(The Boston Strangler was described as “nice and polite” by his teacher.
********He was the only student who would stay after class to help re-arrange the chairs.)

We went online
He showed me his band’s music
He turned on a movie. It was High Fidelity.

********(Gary Ridgeway would show the women he picked up a picture of his son
********to gain their trust before he killed them.)

3.
I have direct influence over my decisions.
Events, people,
nothing sways my choices.

********(Gary Ridgeway would show the women he picked up a picture of his son
********to gain their trust before he killed them.)

I made the first move.
I always make the first move, just like I always pay for dinner.
I don’t like to be romanced or charmed by hands embedded with possible violence, laced with control.

********(Ted Bundy typically approached women in public places.
********They considered him to be handsome, charming, and quite charismatic.)

His roommates were in the living room,
about seven or eight feet away from the bedroom where we were.
This was reassuring.

********(Kitty Genovese was stabbed until she sputtered to death
********while thirty-eight people watched. I have never felt so alone.)

I asked him to keep the light on,
so that I could see him.
He was flattered.

 ********(Patrick Kearney would pick up his victims at gay bars.)

I told him I like to be on top. This is a trick of mine:
I make a request or ask the boy to stop something he is doing – use less tongue or don’t use two fingers.
I know I can trust the boy when he stops & complies.

********(I cannot let the facts I’ve collected during late night google searches string along behind me. I
********cannot let fear of rape & murder dictate my life, there is no real method of prevention.)

“Sure,”
he told me,
“I don’t mind.”

********(The Boston Strangler was described as “nice and polite” by his teacher.
********He was the only student who would stay after class to help re-arrange the chairs.)

4.
********(Kitty Genovese was stabbed until she sputtered to death
********while thirty-eight people watched. I have never felt so alone.)

*

Tova Benjamin is a poet and student located in Chicago, IL. She is the co-founder and director of Napkin Poetry, a bi-monthly open mic and reading series. Her poetry has been featured on WBEZ and has or will be included in Rookie, Poetry Magazine and Puerto del Sol.

I Am Practicing Now,

turning sleeves and glands of your language
through the back of my throat and kissing black edges.

So many syllables saturated with flavors of mourning.

The sky is clear again today. Nihna Awadim: we are human.
********Long shadows fall against windows.
****************No spots, no secret intentions. Hel aan I say,

and “now” means the name of this country.
Now is where you try again, find days on either side,
straight and without betrayal.

~

When you were in the old country, in the inventory of cousins,
each cluster of hours simmered from minutes.

Now, your real language tongued by chance
********writhes and rises from you. A reliance on the throat,
****************the region wet and thick. Such wreckage.
To my ear, the rough places are beautiful, nourishing.

Say anything. Never stop saying anything.
These fugitive words are all surface and passage,
all fraction, animal-fragment and brutal.

I half expect what doesn’t come:
********assa, hozn, ghadan. Which of these is right?
You never tell me –

but when you speak it, your face lifts.

~

Nihna Awadim. Suddenly I want the bulges and bulk.
I want to eat one by one the rectangular sounds.

You taught me tamarh hinde, tamarind, my short lesson in Arabic,
********swirling the pen right to left on a napkin in a plastic booth
at McDonald’s. Anyone looking at our particular posture

that day would know the sticky brown pulp of the word
didn’t interest me. But now I believe I was waiting.

Uthraan. Uthraan. Ani ma af-hem. Ana
ma atkalam Arabee.

I’m sorry. I don’t understand. I don’t speak Arabic.

~
|
There are plenty of days I cannot undress.
And days of helicopters. And clatter, acid and tenderness.

Words don’t stick right. They emerge mournful and curled,
as if stirred in the wrong pot.

*

Lauren Camp is the author of two volumes of poetry, most recently The Dailiness, winner of the National Federation of Presswomen 2014 Poetry Book Prize and a World Literature Today “Editor’s Pick.” Her third book, One Hundred Hungers, was selected by David Wojahn for the Dorset Prize, and will be published by Tupelo Press. Her poems have appeared in Brilliant Corners, Beloit Poetry Journal, Linebreak, Nimrod, J Journal, and elsewhere. She hosts “Audio Saucepan,” a global music/poetry program on Santa Fe Public Radio, and writes the blog Which Silk Shirt. www.laurencamp.com

Please Do Not Send Peace, Please Send Peace

(responding to Ai Weiwei)

It’s great that in China they beat people up
or he wouldn’t have photographs
of uniformed men turning
their backs on his concussion and bruises.
The widest silence. In China, the characters
for sand crabs also mean something with metaphor
that troubles authorities, and it’s great that 10 thousand
can be found in an extravagant instant and served overnight
without the host in attendance,
or that 100 million
pieces of porcelain can be fired
by the same workers the U.S. employs
for pennies per hour. Made in China! So great.

This ambiguous repetition of slipping
black veins down a center,
each fake seed laughing at the gesture. It’s great
to crusade, to be restless
with shouldn’ts, to be mocking
the ruin of whatever’s been rendered,
breaking old urns, and even better
that curators find large rooms to display them;
great that he calls action a type of fragility, great
that he smiles, great with his beard. But is he a hero
if he doesn’t save lives,
if the specks on his Twitter photos
are disheveled? What is the weight of his message –

not averting our eyes?
Okay, yes, I guess, that’s enough.
The earth forms dismantling quakes that recur
with redundancy; rough anger unstitches
the globe, and this artist
peers in all the windows. In 2008, after the Sichuan 7.9,
he organized to have names called in on cell phones.
Loss billowed into an alarming index of voices and victims,
a path through a society quickly mislaid,
gone astray. The list kept continuing.

That one shook. So sorry
is never enough; is that his point?
Supreme power still reigns,
and representatives follow the law’s punctuation,
keeping to their sunglasses and boredom.
You and I couldn’t handle a camera pointed
on our front door, suspicious
and casting about
with its belligerent eye, but the trickster’s insistent,
defiant, still fresh and still smiling
under the weight of dominion. He’s unexcited,
unbridled. How great to be willing to discuss and strangle
each nerve. In China, they say the important words twice.
The copied words fuse into a fabric, compounding,
a riot — and no one can quiet
or break it to anything smaller.

*

Lauren Camp is the author of two volumes of poetry, most recently The Dailiness, winner of the National Federation of Presswomen 2014 Poetry Book Prize and a World Literature Today “Editor’s Pick.” Her third book, One Hundred Hungers, was selected by David Wojahn for the Dorset Prize, and will be published by Tupelo Press. Her poems have appeared in Brilliant Corners, Beloit Poetry Journal, Linebreak, Nimrod, J Journal, and elsewhere. She hosts “Audio Saucepan,” a global music/poetry program on Santa Fe Public Radio, and writes the blog Which Silk Shirt. www.laurencamp.com

The First Person

You became the first person.
It happened one night on a swing set.
You were a lonely first-person child.
Then you got so big. You took airplanes.

I became the first person.
It was frightening, I hid under the stairs.
Then I got so big, I turned
the stars on and off with a switch.

Under a Virgo moon, I had a baby.
He became the first person. He got so big.
He grew a pony tail, got a girlfriend.
They were both the first person.

They escaped to the forest.
They wanted better. The forest
was in danger. Its secrets
were retreating. The couple hid

some forest secrets inside
themselves, then they came back
to visit. We all became the first person.
The whole city became the first person,

then all the cities, even the barely
imaginable cities from the National
Geographics. Our retreating secrets
got so big inside us. We closed down

the bars. We stopped the doom calendar,
and we loved ourselves. All around the globe
we loved our first-person selves. And we didn’t
die.  And we didn’t die. Then we died.

*

Paula Cisewski is the author of Ghost Fargo, selected by Franz Wright for the Nightboat Poetry Prize, Upon Arrival (Black Ocean), and three chapbooks. She lives in Minneapolis where she serves as cohost of the Maeve’s reading series, co-concoctor of JoyFace Poetry and Arts, and writer-in-residence at Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts.

Biopoiesis: Earth Before Life

Before echo ever received echo, before the earliest silver-spoken orchid, before pollen,
tonsils, ionosphere. This has never been an art. Read from the archangels’ patience
the secret of ecstasy: the first day on earth is four-thousand million years of one word

that means, in anonymity, I will. The second day is absent but for ash-clouds without
an ounce of bone. There is no art for the unseen; its tongues are the paralyzed of dark.

Imagine, carapace, the thoughtless oceans called here, from their sleeping-place, sterile,
coffin-infinite, and empty-all. Nothing that suffers naming will question the meteorite
piercing, one midnight, the surface of the sea: in its fall is the mind that thought heaven.

*

Matthew Reed Corey lives in Chicago, and recently completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he won the AWP Intro Journals Project Prize and the Paul Carroll Award in Creative Writing. His poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, Crazyhorse, DIAGRAM, Artifice Magazine, and elsewhere.

Written in Glass are Four Solutions to the Problem of Nothing

********My Dream of Grave-Robbers|Your Dream of Swimming|Juliane Koepcke Falls from the Sky|The Piano

[November the sixth: The Black Island would be, if it were, the crypt inside a zero.]

You’d like the silk of me to say: I will carry you in my mouth, Sheriff, to the mirrored
carriage I’ve polished to throw light against the grave-robbers. They dine in a fog
bank that crawls across a bluff and the beaks of its ducks. Nearby, our emerald

air-space passes its time as a respirating chandelier. Don’t tell me this isn’t
anything. I have held unequal in my lungs the copper octaves of sand,
and amber at my stair-rail, a salamander takes the place of six o’clock lace.

[October the eighteenth: The Black Island rises from the liquor of one’s retinas.]

I salivate your sleep: I’ve seen, by day, the turpentine that rings the moon, heard
in an iceberg the musculature of a diamond, and have known my face-transplant
will always be haunted. Were a locomotive driver lost today to the undertow

of coral snakes that wakes you: imagine the mansion’s crystalline birdcages,
imagine a brontosaurus asks you to prom, imagine you could walk in silence
underwater. The bees will see your toenails scrape the light of a public pool.

[June the first: The Black Island lodges a cult committed to the fragrance of asphyxia.]

Inside its aperture, a land-snail is lying to the camera lens. An aphid’s peephole
in the jungle canopy lights armfuls of luggage in the trees, the three corpses still
seated: her mother buckled in, a bodybuilder, and the atmosphere in hobnail boots

that dangle. Overhead, the window on the altimeter carries off the exact likeness
of Juliane, the only survivor of the flight from Lima. It is New Year’s Eve, when
lianas uncoil from the goat-headed moon, its flight the flock of nitrates on an eyelash.

[May the ninth: The Black Island is self-conscious; someone watches from its sleep.]

In vision hides your most brittle veins: nearest its middle nests a mummified ibis
whose flight-feathers imply the ellipsis of myrrh into myopia, and at its periphery,
a mother’s glassine thumbprint roosts at the church door. Remember her maiden

name as yellow-jackets cascade from the eaves and from the names that eaves shade,
when the bedroom is papered awake with the day passing by, her eyelids heavier
than the piano keys that wait for her in the sea-spray at the edge of the known world.

[March the third: The Black Island lies in bed awake, the waves crest, the waves fall.]

*

Matthew Reed Corey lives in Chicago, and recently completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he won the AWP Intro Journals Project Prize and the Paul Carroll Award in Creative Writing. His poems have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, Crazyhorse, DIAGRAM, Artifice Magazine, and elsewhere.

Book Control

They’re coming for your books.
They want to pass a law
limiting the type and number
of books a citizen can own—
a law-abiding citizen,
not some deviant who buys his books
off the street corner. They want
to make you register your books,
to keep track of who buys what,
and make you wait a week or more
to buy the most explosive stuff.
They want to put you on a list.
They might even let a doctor’s note
decide if you can buy a book!
Make no mistake, they’re coming
for your magazines, novellas, even
your biographies, and if you try to hide
or stash your books in backyard sheds,
they’ll send the SWAT team after you.
It’s un-American; and mark my words,
they’ll pry my books from my cold,
dead hands.

*

Joshua Daniel Edwin‘s poetry appears in a variety of publications in print and online. His translations of Dagmara Kraus’ poetry were awarded a 2012 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and appear in a chapbook from Argos Books. He lives in Brooklyn and is a member of the editorial board for the magazine Circumference: Poetry in Translation.

Retirement

My inlaws have lost their health insurance, and now they are losing their minds. She says, “I’m so sorry we’re such fuckups.” She has that fist in her gut feeling. I want to say back that if she buys us anything for Christmas, I’ll return it without even opening it.

I listen to her talk about the grow lights she’s just bought for the kitchen, so that the potted begonias will thrive this winter in the low New England light, but I want to shout over and over, Why are you buying stuff?! You are living on a social security check, you are living below the poverty line, I’m going to start sounding like Ronald Reagan galloping over the Hollywood hills, warning you not to buy lobsters with your food stamps. I’m going to call the cable company to cancel your Food Network crack.

Her stained shirts, according to him, are not even fit for Goodwill. His torn sneakers, according to her, make him look like a bum. He leans in close to me and says, “The real truth is, she’s convinced I don’t love her.”

I turn my palms up to the ceiling fan.

She shouts over him, “You don’t even hear what I’m saying.”

*

Josette Akresh-Gonzales lives in the Boston area with her husband and two boys, and she is a production editor at  NEJM Knowledge+. She has had poems published in The Charles River Journal, Clarion, Epicenter, Two Hawks Quarterly, and most recently, Black Heart Magazine. While she was a student at Boston University (1997–2001), she co-founded the BU Literary Society and the journal Clarion and was its editor for two years. Twitter: @Vivakresh.

Reversal

There are walkers
at right angles
to their shadows,

soundless, moving
along. And then
they aren’t moving

anymore. I
guess I wouldn’t
know. I haven’t

stopped walking this
winter. Internally
or otherwise—

the mind that breaks
across like half
a snow drift—moisture

from the Gulf, they
say, while steely-
eyed, face-front against

the cold for now,
I stomp: no Gulf
but our own damn

lake effect and
space for wind to
get a running

start. I might be
the predicate
to lake and wind

as I feel I’m in
its grip; I’m in
its grip, it leads . . .

*

David Dodd Lee published six previous full-length books of poems, including Orphan, Indiana (Akron, 2010), The Nervous Filaments (Four Way Books, 2010), Abrupt Rural (New Issues, 2004) and Arrow Pointing North (Four Way, 2002). Sky Booths in the Breath Somewhere, The Ashbery Erasure Poems (BlazeVox) appeared as well in 2010. His new book, a selected of work previously unpublished in book form, The Coldest Winter On Earth, Poems 1998-2011, is just out from Marick Press.

Andy Warhol

Even though the pine tree branches sweep us on home—there’s
Also Not Thinking. A diagram suits a raft of green
Dollars that bleed downriver . . . that’s all we can remember
Anymore. A coke really is a coke, and “no amount of money can get you
A better” one . . . I mean I slept under the trailing
Reputations of loft designers posing as painters
And East Coast naturalists . . . The air currents came and
Drew down the apertures—we opened them back up . . .
I suppose we can go now, have brunch, walk away
Lighthearted, kiss our models, paint the landscape with
Lots of champagne. It may be time, you know, to fade
Inside a book or three, scruffily bearded, or with many liver spots.
I press this button and a happiness balloon envelops
The ghost shields of my present/past speculations—staring
Out through the greenhouse door at the gravestones.
Hot as a jungle, my thought of each dollar becomes
Like the light of my toys once abandoned on the beach—the color saturation’s
So exceptional. Then it all sinks into the sand (along
With my orange dump truck), a gull nearby pensively
Watching. I sold a dollar once to a kid for six quarters
(“Any of this paper’s better than that crappy metal”). There’s a lot of time for this kind of
Accumulation of the finer things when you’re one of the grownups. You might
Even believe you’re living real hard, making a difference (but you’d probably
Be wrong). Ah, perspective . . . And then that breeze returns (but where
***was it yesterday?).

*

David Dodd Lee published six previous full-length books of poems, including Orphan, Indiana (Akron, 2010), The Nervous Filaments (Four Way Books, 2010), Abrupt Rural (New Issues, 2004) and Arrow Pointing North (Four Way, 2002). Sky Booths in the Breath Somewhere, The Ashbery Erasure Poems (BlazeVox) appeared as well in 2010. His new book, a selected of work previously unpublished in book form, The Coldest Winter On Earth, Poems 1998-2011, is just out from Marick Press.