Category: Issue 13

Ex Ovo Omnia

In the waiting room, a photograph

on the magazine-tiled table: the skeletal remains

of a bird, delicate as needles, curled

over speckled rock. The beaked skull

scissored an angle of air, wing bones parted

in a pantomime of flight

where stubborn feathers still clung.

The obscene, bleach-white ribs

like an unhinged bracelet encircled

the pellets of plastic that had starved

the bursting animal dead.

 

After, instead of the gray-scale

ultrasound, alien as Jupiter’s striated shell,

the nurse at my side had searched, eyes pulled

edge to edge as if she were scanning a passage

for a seed-sized heart in contraction,

 

I remembered the heart-sized body rotting

in a blast pattern of feathers and bone

tracing tongue-want and stomach-need,

ardor and immolation—venom’s root

is love. A bearable hunger begins.

 

***

Maggie Queeney holds MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. Her work has appeared most recently in the Southern Poetry Review, The Southeast Review, and Handsome.

 

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Bed Intruder Song (Auto-tune Remix)

 

The best rape joke disguises that very fact—the fact that it is even a rape joke at all.  Its audience forgets, or never even realizes, that what they’re being entertained by is horrific.  It is a type of miracle, this rape joke.  Like Stockholm syndrome or sexual reorientation.

 

And I was like Man, that’s cool.  That’s fun.  We laugh at it all the time and listen to the song over and over.  A man broke into her house and tried to rape her.  A flood of agents called the next day.

 

Where does rape start?  Does it start with a lady doctor?  Does it start with some sort of lady CEO?  Does it start with a compliment–”You are so beautiful”?  A billboard or a full page glossy ad?

 

No, it doesn’t start with music videos.  It doesn’t even start with music.  It starts with the puzzles my father bought my nephewThe pieces were made to look like trucks, or animals on farms.  His motor skills still can’t quite place them rightly.

 

Have you ever met a woman who hadn’t yet been raped?  Have you ever written a poem almost guaranteed to denigrate the reputation of whomever’d be willing to publish it?  Then perhaps that’s where rape starts—with that infinitive–”to denigrate.”  Meaning “to disparage the character of.”  From “nigrare,” [Latin]: to blacken. 

 

So maybe rape starts there: with a lineage, a meme.  Or maybe it starts near 500 Webster Drive.

 

Sometimes, rape ends.  Sometimes rape ends up on the news.  Typically, however, this is where rape begins.

 

This is what is meant when we say: “He’s climbing in your windows.  Snatching your people up.”  This is what is meant when we say: “Emotions were running high.”

 

I want people to see my past.  That I’ve sexually assaulted Angela.  And, before that, classmates, strangers at concerts.                          Etcetera.

 

Most of my fans are victims of rape.  I’m a rape victim myself.  He stands to make serious money.  From T-shirt sales, commercials.

 

This is what is meant when we say: “Hide your husbands,” ultimately.  A kind of miracle.  An entirely invisible phenomenon.

 

“The rapist is probably going to get raped in the jail bunk beds.”  Anonymous commented this below the video.

 

Most women and girls live in fear of rape.  Men, in general, do not.  It says this on Marshall.edu’s page which aims to define the term rape culture.

 

What people fail to realize is they have fallen in love with their capteurs.  What people fail to realize is         You are so dumb.                       You are really dumb.                    For real.

 

Obviously, we have a rapist in Lincoln Park.

 

I love being in front of the camera.

 

Antoine, godson, rape culture starts when I address you with that epithet; a title whose inheritance is Leda and the Swan.  A title whose inheritance is Lot’s daughters.  Apollo and Daphne and our Father, who art.

 

They’re raping everybody out here.  Godson, already now you understand the awfulness of struggling to fit something into something else.  Not even knowing why, not understanding the desire…but you’re applauded when your forcings end successful.  My little theomachy—my sweet, wee theomachy—your face like an angel’s or a prophet’s, illumined  by light from a tablet.

 

I cried while writing this poem today.  Imagining I’d meet you.  When I started writing this poem, I was an atheist.               What am I now?

 

I’m tired….of the wickedness of the world.  I’m tired.  I’m tired of all the lies.

 

The news report ends with a school marching band performing a remix of a newscast. I don’t know if the story was true, but the story was powerful enough for me to listen.

 

Starfucker, where does love thy enemy end, and capture-bonding begin?

 

I will defend my oppressor.  I will hide my husbands and wives.  I will run and tell that.  Homeboy.

 

In between commercial breaks, the pixels denigrate to darkness.  For a second, it’s just me in the glassy black.

 

This is where rape begins.  This reflection I can’t look away from.  This reflection that gets consumed, again, as soon as it even appears. 

 

 

Notes:

 

This poem is composed largely of quotes from interviews with, and articles about, Antoine Dodson.  All phrases in italics are quotes.  There are, however, quotes lifted from others with italicized words and, in those cases, I added the italics myself.  Dobson, when he came into mainstream awareness, was a charismatic, 24 year old, gay, black man who became an internet sensation after he was interviewed by local news reporters about his sister, Kelly Dodson, who was the victim of a rape attempt.  The family lived at the 500 block of Webster Drive, at the time, in Huntsville’s Lincoln Park housing projects, Alabama. Many of the quotes used were Antoine Dodson’s own words.  Others are mined from the commentaries of journalists and reporters.

 

The original interview footage from the local news source was put to music by an auto-tune duo called The Gregory Brothers.  The remix became very popular and successful, to the financial benefit of both The Gregory Brothers and the Dodsons.  Us Weekly reported that Dodson had made enough money from the song to move his family out of the projects to a better house (according to Wikipedia 1.6.14).

 

Three years after becoming an internet sensation, Antoine turned from his identity as a gay man, in large part due to becoming a Hebrew Israelite.  In the fall of 2013, he announced that he and his “Queen” would be having a baby.

 

My nephew, Dean, is also my godson.  He’s now 4 and a half years old and his motor skills are progressing nicely.

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antoine_Dodson

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Antoine-Dodson/102461723145137

http://www.npr.org/blogs/therecord/2010/08/13/129178815/bed-intruder-song-climbs-the-charts

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/antoine-dodson-renounces-homosexuality-to-become-a-hebrew-israelite/5182bb0dfe3444064200027e

http://www.metroweekly.com/news/last_word/2013/05/youtuber-antoine-dodson-looking-for-wife-still-att.html

 

 

When I wrote the first draft of this poem, it was dramatically different.  It was difficult for me to write, I read it only once at a reading where I was feeling particularly safe to make myself vulnerable and open, and, ultimately, Ihad to put the poem away for a few years before I felt comfortable revisitng it.  It was finished in early 2014.

 

Because of the years-long-editing process, I unfortunately forgot the sources where some of these quotes (for instance, Antoine (I think) saying “What people fail to realize is…”) originated from.  The following, however, is a list of some of the resources used in preparation for this poem.

 

 

 

 

 

***

 

Nick Demske lives in Racine Wisconsin and is a children’s librarian at the Racine Public Library.  He is the author of a self-titled book which was chosen by Joyelle McSweeney for the 2010 Fence Modern Poets Series prize.  He is also the author of a chapbook called “Skeetly Deetly Deet” (Strange Cage Press).  He wants to start a group of hands-on faith healers called “The Doctors.”  So we’ll see what goes down with that.

 

 

 

Home Economics

-after Kara Candito

 

I.

Consequences are lifeless until people
make them breathe.

 

II.

Landlords often die of heart attacks
and in the confusion the rent check they lost
will be deposited and, logically,
overdraw your account.

 

III.

You must understand, a bank is a business and they cannot
give away things for free. They know your card was declined
at the grocery store. It is due to four overdraft fees
totaling $140.

 

IV.

For Purposes of subparagraph (A), the term “actual direct compensatory damages” does not include—
(i) punitive or exemplary damages;
(ii) damages for lost profits or opportunity; or
(iii) damages for pain and suffering.

 

V.

Make sure you keep an accurate check book register. It will be essential
for the teller to point out why the bank is not responsible
for your overdraft.

 

VI.

Empathy has no place in banking. Salaries
are paid with their bad math—do your part.

 

VII.

Henceforth, “You” shall refer to each person who is a signer of the document as well as those legally connected to and/or responsible for the signer.

 

VIII.

The fourth of five landlords we paid to live
on E. Shore Drive told us we could stay until spring
or when my father died
(whichever comes first).

 

IX.

You see, he wasn’t interested in being
a landlord in the first place—just needs a place
for his boat to winter in safety; have you seen the cost
of dry boat storage?

 

X.

In February he’ll say, “you know, this is working out
after all. I see your dad has died but you can keep paying
rent here if you want.”

 

XI.

I don’t.

 

XII.

When you are 22 and each home
you’ve lived in has been forcibly taken away
from you, the only logical choice is to buy
the house your new landlord put up for sale.

 

XIII.

In the current market a home is a good investment;
The Fed has lowered interest rates to historic levels

 

XIV.

in an attempt to stave off economic collapse.

 

XV.

Buy now, add a patio, and you’ll make ten grand in 5 years.

 

XVI.

Don’t worry about your credit card debt
or that you only work part-time. Lenders don’t look
too closely at DTI ratios these days.

 

XVII.

Closing Costs, which shall include, but not be limited to: origination fee, discount points fee, appraisal fee, credit report fee, EPA endorsement fee, home inspection fee, legal fees, documentation preparation/compliance fees, escrow fee, recording fee, survey fee;

 

XVIII.

“The neighborhood is borderline. See.
No gang tags. And there,
just on the other side of that razor-wire
fence is the very desirable
Westnedge Hill Neighborhood. See how close?”

 

XIX.

You ask, “will my son go to that elementary
when he is old enough?”

 

XX.

“No,” you hear. “Wrong
tax base,” he says.

 

XXI.

You won’t worry. This is only a starter home;

 

XXII.

we’ll move out of here before long.

 

XXIII.

Your mortgage lender will miscalculate the numbers
a little to get you to $600 a month. They can’t afford to lose
the sale due to something as silly

 

XXIV.

as a $1,000 annual error. You’ll be able
to pay that with a 30 day notice at the end of the year.

 

XXV.

The proper identification of new account holders is essential not only for the safety
of other customers and the reputation of the bank but is fundamental to preventing
the spread of terrorism. Obtain new account holder permission

 

XXVI.

to pull credit so that additional loans can be put through in the process.

 

XXVII.

You will learn the meaning of 2008.

 

XXVIII.

Gunshots or fireworks is a fun summertime game
in this neighborhood. If only you can ignore the dead
13 year old draining into his sheets at 11am on a Sunday.

 

XXIX.

You’ll ask for help to get out.

 

XXX.

“There’s nothing we can do,” the realtor will say. “Real Estate is a gamble
and a lot of people have lost. Take me, for instance. I had to sell
two of my rentals since 2008. Took a loss on them
both. Thank goodness my home is paid off.
Anyway, yes, your home

 

XXXI.

is underwater now. Almost 50k. Sorry for your luck.

 

XXXII.

Optimistic reports show that housing prices are on the rise in states other than Michigan.

 

XXXIII.

“You see,” the realtor will say, “if I were to sell this house
for you, here, today, I would put it on the market for fifty
and be happy to get forty. That’s on the high end
of the comps I’ve pulled in the area.”

 

XXXIV

At some point, you will realize the correlation between
the phrase “your mortgage is underwater,” and the undertow
of the neighborhood.

 

XXXV.

This realization will make you stop paying your mortgage.

 

XXXVI.

In general.— No provision of this paragraph shall be construed as limiting the right
of the corporation as receiver to assign the contract described in subparagraph (A)
and sell the property.

 

XXXVII.

You will receive letters that explain
how to remain in your home if you are having trouble
paying your mortgage. The letters cannot help
if you want to move out.

 

XXXVIII.

When your son sees your foreclosed home
he will shout, “my home!”

 

XXXIX.

Try to find a way to explain the concept of foreclosure
to a two year old.

 

XL.

See: IV; subparagraph (A), section (i)

 

XLI.

Ignore phone calls from the following states: Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Florida. If they leave a message,

 

XLII.

delete it after they say the bank’s name. You will become
very well practiced at this.

 

XLIII.

Give up the glitter of fresh snow
for the sun bathed pale tan of Kansas.

 

XLIV.

Signers agree that by applying for a loan with the lender, signers accept as “satisfactory”
the lender, lender’s loan terms, interest rate, discount points and conditions,
and that the financing contingency shall be utilized only if the lender disapproves
the loan due to financial circumstances.

 

XLV.

Your foreclosure will be published
in industry magazines so expect to receive
letters which attempt to talk you into bankruptcy.
They cannot help you if you want to get out.

 

XLVI.

Try your best to explain the concept of distance to your son.

 

XLVII.

He will say, “Where Miss-cha-shin?” You reply, “far away.”
“Oh. Where Boppa? With Gamma?” Don’t let him see you answer,

 

XLVIII.

“far away.”

 

XLIX.

See: IV; subparagraph (A), section (iii)

 

L.

If collections agencies cannot contact you, they will call
your parents, neighbors, and old friends. Their propaganda
campaign starts early in the foreclosure process.

 

LI.

If the property is considered vacant the lender may take action
to take possession of and sell the home 30 days.

 

LII.

See: IV; subparagraph (A), section (i)

 

LIII

Think about the slide you built
in your front yard for your son.
You had to leave it behind. It won’t fit
in an apartment.

 

LIV.

Once the bank takes your home they will sell
it at sheriff’s auction.

 

LV.

A collections agent
will be in contact so you can
pay the balance unpaid
by the final auction price.

 

LVI.

Your son will try to find the courage
to go down City Park’s covered slide—its darkness
only broken by the sun-glow of your ankles.

 

LVII.

As you wait for him you feel your phone hum
with collection agents. It tries to tell you that
only credit scores die during foreclosure.

 

***

 

Robert J. Sanders is a father, a second generation biker, and a known perpetrator of acts of attempted poetry. Born in Alaska, he has spent most of his life in and around Kalamazoo, Michigan, and is currently studying creative writing in the graduate program at Kansas State University.

Members of the Empire

 

And after hearing their stories, I felt

somehow they were mine to consider, though

the next step was not clear.  Not until later

when I realized others felt the same way,

at the same time.  Eventually we

wore our nerves wrapped around our forearms like

snakes or one of those slave bracelets, a

chain attaching finger to wrist.  Each

his own method of ornamentation.

When we recognized each other, we did

apologize for our omission, the

making of an error we knew was a

mistake in advance, being unable

to help ourselves, fastening our restraints

in the morning as easily as we

slipped on our glasses, slid our feet into

old slippers before remembering once

again the morning paper had become

antiquated and would not be lying

on the side walk or front porch, reason to

stand in the front yard calling out “Neighbor!

Neighbor!” as if the surrounding houses

and yards had suddenly become empty.

 

***

Nearly 150 of Sandra Kolankiewicz’s poems and stories have appeared in journals over the past thirty-five years and in the anthologies Sudden FictionFour Minute Fiction, and Joy: Interrupted. Her chapbook Turning Inside Out won the Black River Chapbook Competition at Black Lawrence Press. Blue Eyes Don’t Cry won the Hackney Award for the Novel. She currently lives with her family in Marietta, Ohio, and teaches at a community college in West Virginia.

 

 

WHO ARE WE AND WHY ARE WE HERE

 

I’m here to witness beautiful things.  Brighter colors, possibly, or sweetness.  A banana split with a cherry and whipped cream.  Hot fudge and caramel.  Food and sex and bright colors.  It’s an advertising default position.  I’ll have a coke and a smile because of how well a coke bottle fits in your hand, surrounded by babies and puppies.  OK to the short deer.  Off to the left off the deck the sound of a jet ski.  Yes to the jet ski and parasail and how music follows us wherever we go.

 

The mail’s here as you have to be all right also with the mail arriving and the sun bleaching everything white, with friends, too, and when you forget what you’re doing.

 

***

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of over twenty books of poetry. Her awards include fellowships from Yaddo, the Ucross Foundation, the Wurlitzer Foundation, and the American Academy in Rome, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund, the Rockefeller Archive Center, the Lerman Trust, and the Elizabeth George Foundation.

 

John Gallaher’s most recent book of poetry is In a Landscape (BOA 2014). His poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry, Poetry, Boston Review, Chicago Review, and elsewhere. He lives in rural Missouri and co-edits The Laurel Review.

 

properties of x

 

what could be believed

at the beginning of the 21st century     history,

told with man-made stones     we hoped for prophecy

the signature of the illiterate

held true: the mark of death and birth

daily with vigor, we cut our tongues     the voiceless

given infinite joy by virtue of a hypothetical

 

to protect the unknown

from the unknown, Xs were strategically placed     we were assured cross-

hairs guaranteed success     “convenience is our number one concern”

always regrettable, mistakes were made     taken away from the world

you promised     to ward off evil, bones

cut and crossed, bundled and rubbed ochre (it’s hard to believe)

blood red

 

answers were given

in the language of cryptology      to honor the discovery of a comet,

orbit unknown      how she wept

when they told her     (the long stream of blood)     tether-bound,

unable to fly, she pruned herself featherless     on Vatican steps

tears formed wetlands     the whole damn situation

FUBAR     you know

 

how it is

we followed the rules of subtraction     the supreme,

singular guiding principle     cut through nonsense wounds, only to find

elimination, erasure     the inverse of matter

some were repaired with stitches and staples     lacerations,

impossibly prayed for     “ex-

sanguination is the leading cause of death”

 

how immortality pulled us

toward the unknown

 

***

Kate Ingold is a visual artist and poet working in a variety of media, from stitched and etched drawings on digital photographs to new and recycled textiles, sculptural and video installation, and image/text collage. Her chapbook, Dream of Water, was published by the Poetry Society of America in 2008.

 

 

principle of decay

 

pressure exceeds all meaning  and all that is down there

throughout the celestial empire, plans are never made, only

executed          “if it was your life you’d care”          faith

felled by death sounds echoes through man-

made caverns  overhead, carnivorous birds circle           I held

 

hands soiled by the erroneous belief in resurrection

or at least rest      belies the concrete truth spelled out in shattered

craters made with bullets                    spent casings spread beneath

weave a heavy, unstable blanket, held together only by principle:

rapid decline, short lifetime     properties of the radioactive     I see

 

the truth:     she was born of decay     she came to a place not free

of blemish or flaw, naturally made by water      nonsense

wounds heal when brushed with Chimayo dirt, not

spittle from a broken mouth    and all that is down there

pressures meaning to reveal itself           “I am

 

now a sojourner          born of the reactive

violent by process and principle”

***

Kate Ingold is a visual artist and poet working in a variety of media, from stitched and etched drawings on digital photographs to new and recycled textiles, sculptural and video installation, and image/text collage. Her chapbook, Dream of Water, was published by the Poetry Society of America in 2008.