Category: Issue 13

17 Sounds for Saint Cecilia

begins alone

all threadbare and song

barely mentions the figure                   which fell from the sky

and kept running

“this again”                              face visibly twisting

a leaf sinks

in a still river

a lover’s plunge               overstuffed at the throat, the family

they needed proof

small future selves                               she survived three days

mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm(in thinning music)

is it too late to pass through the walls?

who gets to decide?

 

***

 

Alexis Almeida lives in Denver. Her recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in TYPO, Vinyl Poetry, Denver Quarterly, Divine Magnet, Oversound, and elsewhere. Her translation of Florencia Castellano’s Propiedades vigiladas is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse. A finalist for the Fine Arts Work Center fellowship, she was recently awarded a Fulbright grant to Argentina and will be traveling to Buenos Aires in 2016. You can find her at alexisfalmeida.tumblr.com

 

Study of my Body the Pantomime

Stepping out of this room

*

Is one type of obedience

*

I could stand still as a soldier

*

I have never loved a soldier

*

Whatever caused you to scissor your arms

*

And remove your jacket,
And remove your shirt

*

I was a lifting rudder,
An arm

*

Alone and wild
Numerous, I am

*

Colorful against that silt

*

You should really hear my breathing

*

Granules in the landscape

*

Where I am a listing woman

*

Buttons, pregnancy, wine

*

Winter fruit, and
the weight of grassy structures

*

So quickly leaves the world

 

***

 

Alexis Almeida lives in Denver. Her recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in TYPO, Vinyl Poetry, Denver Quarterly, Divine Magnet, Oversound, and elsewhere. Her translation of Florencia Castellano’s Propiedades vigiladas is forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse. A finalist for the Fine Arts Work Center fellowship, she was recently awarded a Fulbright grant to Argentina and will be traveling to Buenos Aires in 2016. You can find her at alexisfalmeida.tumblr.com

 

Epiphalitany

for Joyelle McSweeney and everyone

 

I channeled    the angel   that thunders   your chambers   this morning   I channeled    the Heron    the hulking   behemoth    that spreads you     that taps at    your spine like     a doctor     a doctor     of poetry     splitting you     cracking you open I held you    your body    of knowledge    the contents come spilling    your perfect bound     spine with a laminate    call number stamped     like a tramp at the base     at the militant base     I practice my targetry     target my malpractice    doctorate poetry    target the Heron    the angel petroleum    soaking I channeled the tar get       it off me    spilling    your perfect     chambers   channeled     morning    I channeled    the joy    of your oil spill    cracking you open   O         pen        I held you     an offering       wash it if it must      be drowned       no more      A little    World    an offering   O   But O    But O     it must    be burnt!     Deer Godmother     Mother of God    Shaman entrusted the charge of my depths      the charge of my spiritual guidance         your duty to see that I don’t worship death      but that death is the war ship    I blow out    I channel     the sky aspiring angel     the sexually star hungry burn victim candidate     Heron     whose wingspan could blot out the heavens    whose flammable crude      oil wingspan eclipses the night      Godmother   I lift my voice like a steeple impaling the thunder with gaiety     baffling    singing my perfect bound songing    with ecstasy baffling         for Angela    copying ten codes      Julia    hands in the impotent soil    for Dustan and Betsy    Matthew and Stephanie     Sarah and Katie    Jenetta    for Peggy    for Thelma    for Frank and his blown out steel mill knees    for Sandra and her blown out social work knees    for Nick and Carly   for Gabe and Jamie    for Matt and the scars that run the arms length down Bethany             for you, my Godson       for you I channel the angel that thunders your chambers this morning        lover of beasts       who eat diesel     child who distinguishes     the front loader     from the excavator         the bulldozer   from the semi   from the pickup   from the garbage truck   for you     lover of deconstruction   I pray thee   my Master this morrow     even the Master of the spill that drowns an ocean     Master of the ocean darker than night     annointeth my head with oil    thou Barron    runneth my drilling rig over     and over and    Burn me    O Lord   that I might crackle to your pleasing     that my light might guide my charge through the darkness      that I might    be a star    the world        to love.

 

***

 

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.

 

Meditation on the Casual Use of Hands

 for Eric Garner


7:39 A.M. – I wake in a mood, my bedroom suffused by a soft blue hue, the song of distant sunlight and low-hanging clouds. I leave my girlfriend to rest a few minutes more, her imagination plugging in the space between prayer and flesh. I throw on my bathrobe and walk downstairs. I look at myself in the mirror through lenses of dust; discard my robe, my sweatpants, my yellowed t-shirt with a hole to the right of my left nipple, eight or nine millimeters across. I gently twist the faucet handle on its neck. The water is faintly warm, like spit, and takes the smell of my body down the drain with it; my hair gets washed – adored with shea, massaged with my palms and a passing thought or two. I dry off, brush my teeth, head upstairs and toss earth tones over earth tones like a funeral. I depart for work after kissing my girlfriend, still filling my outline in the mattress with more valuable light. I catch the PATH train into Manhattan. It’s that rare day I have a seat, which is good, because I forgot my orthotics and my feet are tired from weeks of trying to take stands. I sit next to a swollen brother, but we don’t talk, choosing to listen to our headphones until we exit the train. I walk the usual seven blocks, stopping on the way to grab a low-fat cream cheese bagel, tiptoeing around suits on the sidewalk smoking cigarettes, a single at a time. After arriving at the office, I boot my laptop and grind through a long day of meetings held over thin wires. I run into college friends when I pick up a burrito for lunch; I smile at them without concern for what showing my teeth can do. After eating, it’s back to hustling. During a bathroom break, a white friend living in Atlanta, who is usually just a friend, texts me: no indictment. I text back something approximating anger, but my actual demeanor is more like word. I chat with a certain few co-workers later in the day. We’re all upset and say so in low voices so our colorful language isn’t overheard: word. When the work is no longer urgent, I go home. I get a seat on the train again, sitting next to a slender brother playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I don’t say anything; just watch his polygonal avatar tote machine guns, think to myself: word. When I get off the train in Jersey, I can hear my girlfriend’s sister’s white boyfriend playing violin on the train platform. Usually, I just think of him as my girlfriend’s sister’s boyfriend, or as himself, but there’s a thin wire in me that’s been tripped, and not in the name of classical music. When I get above ground again, my phone buzzes to life: a text telling me to make dinner tonight since she’s coming home late. I reply with something equating loosely to word, and with that same ease, my praying mind swells my gut with chicken. My hands follow its lead, casually, flouring the cold and the raw. This is how I’ve been taught to stomach death.

***

Cortney Lamar Charleston lives in Jersey City, NJ. His poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Rattle, Beloit Poetry Journal, Eleven Eleven, Crab Orchard Review, The Normal School, Folio, J Journal, CURA: A Literary Magazine of Art & Action and elsewhere. He has received nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net as well as a Cave Canem fellowship.

Squirrel

squirrel1detail

 

Kate Puxley was born in Edmonton, Alberta and has since lived in Toronto, Ottawa, Italy, and Montreal.  After completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Concordia University in 2005, she extended her practice beyond the palette, and became a certified taxidermist.  She specializes in large charcoal drawings and taxidermy, using ‘found animals,’ predominantly road kill.

Puxley was one of five Canadian artists short-listed to illustrate The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, was awarded the Editor’s Choice Award for Art Threat Magazine’s Framing Harper Competition, and was invited to create a diorama intervention at The Museum of Zoology in Rome, Italy.

She is currently an MFA candidate at Concordia University.  Her work hangs at The Brookstreet Hotel (Kanata, ON), The Almonte General Hospital (Almonte, ON), and in a number of private collections.

This Century

This century is full-on burning

the past past carrying back

lost to re-memory the year brings

millennial want: a bright new coat

red shoes an end to oil pipelines

and student loans   encase us all

in warmth not waged labor

drab curtains pulled aside

reveal window onto window

echo us many permutations

bring responses wrought

and metaled down

empty that treasury

steal back from church coffers

there is something that binds

more than moth-eaten sweaters

more than stripped-soled shoes

we wanting we to mean banks

burning profits re-distributed

we holding the soft hands of we

 

***

Megan Kaminski is the author of two books of poetry: Deep City (Noemi Press, 2015) and Desiring Map (Coconut Books, 2012). She is an assistant professor in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at the University of Kansas and the founder and curator of the Taproom Poetry Series.

Chess

Rooks attack and defend in

their square world, Bishops

diagonal, Knights in brief

 

L-shaped leaps, great Queen

free in all directions to guard

her precious limping King,

 

one step north, south, east,

west, stirring only to survive,

three times the power of his

 

expendable Pawns advancing

always to die, their one retreat

beyond the checkered board.

 

***

 

Nels Hanson’s fiction received the San Francisco Foundation’s James D. Phelan Award and Pushcart nominations in 2010, 12, and 2014. Poems appeared in Word Riot, Oklahoma Review, Pacific Review and other magazines and received a 2014 Pushcart nomination, Sharkpack Review’s 2014 Prospero Prize and a 2015 Best of the Net nomination.

Hunters

 

 

We, the shotgun trigger cast

from the colossal, kindred vat,

 

without aiming eye or contracting hand,

still as fish under the ice ceiling

 

of a lake, wait and watch

the surrounding charged and frozen

 

for the impressed print warmer

than the air around, streamer

 

of scent tethering snout to tongue,

mouth to gut for the chase and bolt,

 

the familiar arc rushing a frantic

weave crosshatching, the capture

 

bleeding, the reach and seize

and glancing tears, hide splitting

 

into red, into the exhausted warm,

wet limb-by-limb

 

collapse, the blood and the shrieks

or the blood and the silence,

 

and we, less different, less individual

than same as the flight fades

 

into tattered flags of rough breath, rough

heart and torso beating the body

 

stilled, emptied, abandoned—a vessel

to be remade into the sizes and shapes

 

of the bodies describing the earth we ran

to ground, bloodied and spent.

 

 

 

***

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.

& Gatherers

 

The combing is constant—even dreaming

our eyes sift scythe-like

 

the pink-black back of the socket. Paths

break in the wake. We curry. We scan.

 

We ran at the minute cracks

sounding the carpet of twigs or the sudden

 

lift and swish of a leaf-hushed branch.

We read. We waited, tensed to recognize

 

the familiar shape, old patterns locking

the keening stomach driving forward

 

the pilot body, receptor of symbols and signs,

like the flagellant that bows

 

her matted, dulled crown

to sky, the curving domain of the whip

 

that snakes and raises red routes

over her back, scribbling the skin

 

into a map that signals the territory

we move to, through, inside

 

the next clearing, to the far screen of trees,

thrumming possibility.

 

Shoots unscroll from the dirt, unfurl

leaves broad and flat as the sun overhead

 

where fruit swells and softens, liquefies

inside skins under the nesting eggs

 

hardening on the branch. Fledglings

abandon. Dearths and lessens, thins

 

and winters. In the hard wither and black

we bend to the track, casting eyes side

 

to side, searching with no end not

our own for the flesh of our backs.

 

***

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.

High-Definition Refrain

The post-apocalyptic father attaches another rooftop
To the farmhouse. The soup’s on, and its hot.
The crows eye it from the crooked birch.
Envisioning a fire, the post-identity family stitches their buttons to their noses.
It’s a tribal thing. Without history. As if an unlicensed mirror
Were running the Office of Light Projection
But no one walks through the blood stained territories
Where the post-chemical thugs siphon great subsidies
For longer mandated testing. And the post-monetary bankers
Keep erasing the contents of their thought bubbles.
They know the rules:
****************************** There can be no evidence,
No record of an internal monologue or other outmoded humanist tropes.
They know the biggest swindle is the imagination,
An excruciating and invisible nest
That, like a minute infection, opens doorways
And archways and walkways into the sun—ghoulish sun
Breeding gnats and worms on our post-burial corpses—
Ghoulish sun showing an animated spider that walks across the water,
While my family coughs out their neon-flavored soup
In the post-clinical emergency room.
Would you let me hiccup in that polyester pillow?
Can we spit our imagination into this box of rubber gloves?
Can I dump our diarrhea in this overpopulated fish tank?
I clutch the scalpel while the post-dogmatic terrorist
Apologizes for poisoning the syrup in the Pepsi factory.
I’ll dice these green onions—they wither so quickly.
They’re not cut out for the twenty-four second news cycle.
I’ll fold them in quarters and drop them in the soup.
Mysterious bells are ringing. My ears have indigestion.
They form a nest covered in lichen.
Lightning overtakes the picture window.
Even the sky spews out its post-nasal drip.
The post-corporeal human analyzes the email’s transnational diction.
Even in high-definition the post-mechanized execution is uncertifiable.
The childless fish swim in the pattern of bricks.
I learned all this in Cambridge talking to a cabbie.
I learned all that in Omaha reading a book without an author.
I gleaned everything in December sealing our windows with chewed gum and candy wrappers.
The earrings glisten but don’t touch.
They poke into the ether, charmingly luminous carrions on post-human dairy farms.
They can’t restore life to the dead yearnings we harbor in the post-industrial sludge.
The best we can do is smuggle them overseas.
Patiently we pull our rollaboards up the gangway
But the overhead storage is already full.
Even the post-orchestral violinist must leave her carryon
For the flight attendant to wrap in plastic bubbles.
As it flies into the colorless storm cloud,
The entire aircraft will be blanched in an electric flash.

 

***

 

Nathan Hoks’ books include Reveilles (Salt, 2010) and The Narrow Circle (Penguin, 2013), which Dean Young selected for the 2012 National Poetry Series.  He currently teaches poetry writing as a lecturer at the University of Chicago, and runs Convulsive Editions, a micro-press that produces handmade editions of chapbooks and broadsides.