Category: Issue 22

Guevarism

Your face relentlessly
blooms from cans of spray paint.
It chisels into layers of skin under

a tattoo’s needle. There are painters
who know the brush stroke of your stoicism
like muscle memory. Somewhere

in Cuba, they have your severed hands.
I wonder who cares for them, if a man
somewhere visits them, a secret

pilgrimage, if he falls to his knees
and asks for your blessing. Somehow,
ideas survive beyond the wars they lost,

even the worst of ideas attack
like a virus, and the best ideas
knock the wind out of us and demand

we pray amidst our ruins. You come to me
in my dreams sometimes, handing
me a cigar and battle fatigues

and I ask you which will kill me first:
my vices or my love for this world.
You answer, Every love is a vice,

and your hands vanish as your wrists
turn into a fistless stigmata. Mythologies
have always had the power to jolt up a spine

and split a body in half, the way theories
flash in a head like trapped fireflies
that can only glimmer in darkness

but can’t light a single room.
Che, I live in an empire
that will never repent.

I worship fire
as if only ash can purify.
Your face hangs over me, death mask

turned to emblem, doomed
prophecy of the idealist, disembodied
insignia of our paralyzed mutiny.

 

***

 

Anne Champion is the author of The Good Girl is Always a Ghost (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), Reluctant Mistress (Gold Wake Press, 2013), and The Dark Length Home (Noctuary Press, 2017).  Her poems have appeared in Verse Daily, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, Crab Orchard Review, Epiphany Magazine, The Pinch, The Greensboro Review, New South, and elsewhere.  She was an 2009 Academy of American Poet’s Prize recipient, a Barbara Deming Memorial grant recipient, a 2015 Best of the Net winner, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. She holds degrees in Behavioral Psychology and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University and an MFA in Poetry from Emerson College.  She currently teaches writing and literature at Wheelock College in Boston, MA.

How to Survive Neoliberalism

Do not pray into the ears of men
who will turn your prayers into protein

to feed the beasts that will turn you into prey.
Cower from anything that reaches for you

with only one hand, as their other hand is free
for thievery. Beware the white women

that believe that bombs are progressive
if a white woman drops them.

If a white woman says the word rescue
when referring to women of color, suspect

that she’s injecting supremacy in her veins, nodding off.
Shun the ones who pulpiteer on human rights

but never mention Gaza, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico.
Pour ink over history books written

by conquerers. Allow the enslaved to be your healing
masters. If a politician refers to a female body

as sacred because it bears male bodies
and has relationships with men, claw out

your womb until they can see you without it.
If your tongue is monitored like an immigrant

stalked by aerial drones when crossing the border,
if they keep shipping it back to the pain your voice

is attempting to liberate, if they don’t understand
that solidarity translates to compassion,

that radical is defined as sprained out of slumber,
that every empire is a soil irrigated with blood,

then take an ax to every gear you find, until
they stop churning bodies to the beat of time.

***

 

Anne Champion is the author of The Good Girl is Always a Ghost (Black Lawrence Press, 2018), Reluctant Mistress (Gold Wake Press, 2013), and The Dark Length Home (Noctuary Press, 2017).  Her poems have appeared in Verse Daily, Prairie Schooner, Salamander, Crab Orchard Review, Epiphany Magazine, The Pinch, The Greensboro Review, New South, and elsewhere.  She was an 2009 Academy of American Poet’s Prize recipient, a Barbara Deming Memorial grant recipient, a 2015 Best of the Net winner, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. She holds degrees in Behavioral Psychology and Creative Writing from Western Michigan University and an MFA in Poetry from Emerson College.  She currently teaches writing and literature at Wheelock College in Boston, MA.

Running for President

It all starts with a mirror. It starts
with a gap between whatever there
is there and how that there appears
and it starts when the mirror
is everywhere and still nowhere
a there. You got a mouth on you
for a mirror. So what? I just came here
to play yacht tennis and glow orange,
and it looks like yacht tennis
has been postponed indefinitely
I don’t know why, get ready
motherfuckers! how about this glow,
right?! I just came here to remind you
I separated two brains with a knife
and I can’t believe the hailing
ever stopped reflecting off my cutlery
and now I can barely stay awake
long enough to ask where I am
but America, would it be so bad
if I came to in the highest office
in the land? I can separate all
your brains, one from another,
America. Are you even yourself
anymore, America? Who’s asking?
Shut up, you stupid blond mirror.
I still have a knife, America,
is what I’m saying. I look great in it.
I am a goober who wants to lick
your heart, your heart’s a tub
of Valentine’s Day candy, mine
mine mine mine mine, right?
This is the highest student council seat
in the world and it’s treasurer,
I get to go to the fountain any time
I want, only the fountain founts
money, mine only kind of roughage.
This is the highest student council seat
in the world and it’s secretary
who gets to tell everyone else
what to do, and I’m like
finally. I want everyone singing
Pete Seeger’s kind of rolling stone, hey
you, kids! Get on to
my lawn! especially those
who’ve never had a lawn to be on
before. I remember the last century
and I want to die punching
at its corroded, obsolete armor until
I punch light into my dying face.
Very presidential. The now guy said
he’d take a scalpel to government waste
but I will literally take a literal scalpel
to the literal brain of the literal government
as soon as a literal someone tells me
where that is. I will weaponize myself
in order to disappoint you for years
but shush, it’s the time of the day
I devote to piling brick on brick on brick
like a form of acceptable wall.
More like single prayer healthcare, right?
I say a lot of things, and after that
I say a lot more things. I think
very few things, and even fewer things
I don’t say. I don’t know, it sure sounds
like I think it’s true, doesn’t it?
In the end, doesn’t it come
to the same thing: killing those
who get between you and your mirrors
and punishing their bloodlines
for generations? You think you want me
to apologize but you really want me
to splinter this mirror into shanks
to bury in whatever you’re afraid of.
Blow really hard, bellow like a giant bellows
stoking the dumbest fire and you shall
propel me, O citizen who has been
strip-mined and waits to be sold
for scrap. You will have moments
where you gulp back what feels like a civics
textbook, but by then I’ll be smeared
across a stage, a smugness generously umbered
all over a confirmation. “Do you sweat
on the bible” the wax penguin will say
and I will say “I do, I really do, I sweat
on the swear that is the gutted swan
that is the bible. Now swing that gavel,
penguin, and let’s see
what we can get up to.”

 

  • 5.10.16

 

***

 

Marc McKee is the author of five collections of poetry: What Apocalypse? (New Michigan Press, 2008); Fuse (Black Lawrence Press, 2011); Bewilderness (Black Lawrence Press, 2014); Consolationeer (Black Lawrence Press, 2017); and Meta Meta Make-Belief, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2019. Recent poems appear in Rockhurst Review, The Laurel Review, Copper Nickel, Memorious, Southern Indiana Review, and are forthcoming from Bennington Review, Inter|rupture, Los Angeles Review, and The Offending Adam. He teaches at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he lives with his wife, Camellia Cosgray, and their son, Harold.

Available State Compensation Remedies #1: Museum

Don’t you love it when they walk toward you,
looking up into the museum’s surprises?

Don’t you love it when a flipped vehicle
is a particular cleverness suspended in a gallery

that worries over you, a tape recorder
on its inverted ceiling playing a language

you don’t know, accompanied by unfamiliar
instruments somehow still reassuring?

Your favorite pronoun walks toward you
in a fine jacket held onto with fine hands

level with a fine, nervously-protected sternum,
the glass doors poised to swing closed

behind them.  In the movie this makes
they may be a different one every time—

each exerts an awful pull.  You see the car
in their wake, it remains upside down

but seems less still, you can almost
taste smoke.  This must be

what it’s like to be a soft, wet puppet
waking into lightning.

You can tell as the glass doors fall
back towards the building

that smeared across them
are the reflections of clouds

but you cannot untaste the smoke.
And as your one, whose one you are,

sets out across the impossibly green lawn
to meet you, you cannot put your finger on

some elusive remainder, whose failure
to appear / almost gently

saps all color and light from the scene.

 

***

Marc McKee is the author of five collections of poetry: What Apocalypse? (New Michigan Press, 2008); Fuse (Black Lawrence Press, 2011); Bewilderness (Black Lawrence Press, 2014); Consolationeer (Black Lawrence Press, 2017); and Meta Meta Make-Belief, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2019. Recent poems appear in Rockhurst Review, The Laurel Review, Copper Nickel, Memorious, Southern Indiana Review, and are forthcoming from Bennington Review, Inter|rupture, Los Angeles Review, and The Offending Adam. He teaches at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he lives with his wife, Camellia Cosgray, and their son, Harold.

This Is What’s Known in Fairy Tales as “A Big Fucking Deal”

after Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Some thing erupts or bucks, goes rogue, cuts
ties, ouch ouch, now may I pet you,
doomed puck cooling in the chest.  But nothing
ever ends. A little cold comes
and collects what you’ve got left,
one family or two begins to weep
or dry up drier than a piece of paper
nailed to a post in a desert, drought inside
and out—Each is hidden from the other,
plain sight is a terrible lie.  We describe a life
by its punctuation but we never know
end stop never know other side, echo fading
corroborates our suspicion re: symbol, re: metaphor,
re: hope: it must end to mean.  It’s the yoke
on the gush that gives us our excitements
plus threatens our entertainments with dissolve,
dissolve, how about that, detective?  Being ended,
does it endure? And how?  Just now
the children next door swell into
the squeaks and cries that are their music,
the lofty and awkward desires
just becoming acquainted
with all of gravity’s hair-trigger trapdoors.  Life
is not a fairy tale, the fairy tale is what’s left
after life is gone and the story’s a story
of shadows only and if you believe that
suddenly a need’s seeded in some remote earth
for the next new fairy tale.  Make the noise stop
or make the stops in the noise carry the caterwaul
into music.  Let us be big fucking deals
on this dance floor even as the men are executed
one after the other.  Today one died.
One died today in one place
and another man died in another place,
the subtraction dressed as addition
doesn’t stop, won’t stop there.  Some thing
shuts off, turns traitor, catches fire
inside this costume.  This needs more salt.
Today a man was put to death.  And another man
was put to death.  Who doesn’t want to play
poker and get buried for whole seconds
in the mists sheared off the surf. Who doesn’t
want to swaddle oneself in the soft blanket.  We are
in the business of being and the business
of ending other being.  Let’s make that latter
business a cape we sink in the wet salt of the ocean,
a ladder business carrying us up, the surfboards
of our enemies are better than business let’s
drought its as usual let’s do it now. Let’s yesterday
do that, let’s do in any case some not
gruesome like now. Right now
yesterday in the light the children
say “No, no, we are robots” and the children say
“I know we are” and the children say
“We’ve got the guns.  We kill the bad guys.
We are the robots”—that old song.
One who is shuffled off had to live with
igniting the internal combustion engine
which propels a truck which drags
a screaming man into mess, into less.  He asks
for a feast fit for seven, does not touch a bite.
Otherwise he is unrepentant.
He had no problem living with having driven
a dragged man painfully into nothing.
He had no problem living
with having driven a dragged man
painfully into nothing. And how, I ask, and how
I curse.  One other made to shuffle—I don’t know
what he ate, I don’t know that he was ever asked
what he wanted. I don’t know how to tell
your parents, and mine, about this world
they are trying to wash off their suitcases.
And now another child
in another corner says “Come down
Come down,” and nothing just collapses
and/or catches fire. Again,
the child says “Come down Come down”
and I get it, like God’s a kitten up a tree.
Who won’t come down,
or doesn’t know how,
and won’t be shown.

 

***

Marc McKee is the author of five collections of poetry: What Apocalypse? (New Michigan Press, 2008); Fuse (Black Lawrence Press, 2011); Bewilderness (Black Lawrence Press, 2014); Consolationeer (Black Lawrence Press, 2017); and Meta Meta Make-Belief, forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2019. Recent poems appear in Rockhurst Review, The Laurel Review, Copper Nickel, Memorious, Southern Indiana Review, and are forthcoming from Bennington Review, Inter|rupture, Los Angeles Review, and The Offending Adam. He teaches at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where he lives with his wife, Camellia Cosgray, and their son, Harold.

 

The Idea of North

 

After Glenn Gould

 

If you will take off your hat and stay awhile
I will explain that there is something

fundamentally satisfying about a long period
of silence, followed by the intake of breath

as if, when the soul is present at the moment
of birth, waiting to slip into the body

the possibilities branch like antlers, hands
for to be in possession of a body, if only

for a short amount of time is to be satisfied
that the barrier of skin is both an insufficient

boundary between the blood and the air
as well as an insurmountable obstacle

and for one beat the idea of heaven appeals
and the next it seems a sacrifice of vitality

which is another way of saying the left hand
doesn’t know what the right hand is up to

and looking up holds no answers but we keep
on looking as if we could divine something

from the clouds today: how like fingers pushing
down upon the sky as if searching for a pulse.

 

***

 

Emily Saland received her MFA from George Mason University, where she was the Heritage Writing Fellow and Editor of Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and Art.  Her poems have appeared in DIAGRAM, The Cincinnati Review, Smartish Pace, The Seneca Review, Radar Online, and elsewhere.  She works and teaches at Marist College, in Poughkeepsie, NY.

 

 

 

Bob Ross Paints You a Rosy Picture

Congratulations on your purchase
of the Bob Ross Joy of Painting, 

            Volume 31.  For $17.95 you’ll learn
how to fulfill your creative potential

through Bob’s patented Wet on Wet®
method, in which the world

is rewritten with a swept wrist
before it has had a chance to set.

Standing alone in the black, a blank
canvas before him, Bob conjures

for you a mountain first, then
mist and moss beneath the cliffs.

Watch as Bob indicates the sky.  The sky
could only ever be represented

with Prussian Blue, the color-fast,
non-toxic pigment used extensively

in the dyeing of uniforms pressed
to the bodies of young European

men marching side by side to war.
The sky will appear less militant

when mixed with a bit of white.  Where
did Bob learn to paint such skies?

Ten years in Alaska.  My favorite
Uncle asked me if I wanted to go there –

Uncle Sam, croons Bob.  He said if you
********don’t go you’re going to jail.

 That is how Uncle Sam asks you.
Ask Bob to show you that bit with

the fan brush again, how an entire lake –
the depth of which suggested

by shadow – can be achieved
by applying the hand’s tremor to paint.

There could be some fish down there,
or else a body swallowed up as if

it never existed and no one missed it.
The surface of the lake is just that calm.

Bob likes to finish off with some Titanium
White where the sun glints

off the surface.  Encouraged by Bob’s smile,
certain you’ve impressed him with your application

of his favorite pigments, you step
back to admire the brilliance of the white

against the blue.  This is the white
released by an Atom Bomb; Bob will

attest to that.  It eclipses the trees,
but no matter.  There are no mistakes, only

 happy accidents.  You’ll add another tree, then
another to fill in the blown-out center.

You won’t stop painting until you have an army of trees.

 

***

 

Emily Saland received her MFA from George Mason University, where she was the Heritage Writing Fellow and Editor of Phoebe: A Journal of Literature and Art.  Her poems have appeared in DIAGRAM, The Cincinnati Review, Smartish Pace, The Seneca Review, Radar Online, and elsewhere.  She works and teaches at Marist College, in Poughkeepsie, NY.

 

Thoughts & Prayers

We got this.  We got you.  And US and A,
as in OK, as in alright.  Today
is a tragic day.  We get that.  We woke
to suffering, keen to liberty.  We hope
for a convo…eventually.  We feel,
by God, it’d be wrong to comment.  We still
reeling.  Give us time to grieve!  Thoughts & Prayers.
We swear, we pledge to map the dots and squares
in Vegas, VA Tech, Sandy, Pulse.  Lonely
is the bullet in the gun.  If only
there was something to be done.  Wait, you’ll see:
we have the right (answer), rhymes with “please us.”
Thoughts & Prayers for a place near you, for you—
now, more than ever.  The least we can do.

 

***

 

Michael Marberry‘s poetry has appeared in The New RepublicWest Branch, and Waxwing and has been anthologized in The Pushcart Prize AnthologyBest of the NetThe Southern Poetry Anthology, and New Poetry from the Midwest.  Currently, he’s the Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry at Emory University.  More of his work can be found at www.michaelmarberry.com.

Xenomelia    

Is one of me too many for the earth?

The way that one of you’s not near-enough?

The way the fenceposts are positioned just

so far apart my hands can never touch

your hands?  The way a hand can break a hand?

The way my hands are less like mine the more

I look at them?  (The palms are pink and square

like chicken breasts, lined with blue nostalgias,

and in dreams the fingers shrinking, slowly.)

The way your hands retain significance:

your gestures, your short ironic dances?

How your hands behave in mourning?  The way

I—still having much to accomplish—was,

nonetheless, unable to accomplish?

 

***

 

Michael Marberry‘s poetry has appeared in The New RepublicWest Branch, and Waxwing and has been anthologized in The Pushcart Prize AnthologyBest of the NetThe Southern Poetry Anthology, and New Poetry from the Midwest.  Currently, he’s the Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry at Emory University.  More of his work can be found at www.michaelmarberry.com.

Ethics

The truth is we die dishonorable death:
I know the odds to say that.  One minute
today had me thinking I was something
(had something) once, but I wasn’t (didn’t).

The words won’t make it better, not my words
—which, as I write this, conspire to shame me.
We’re weighing options in four dimensions.
We’re listing pros and cons like a numbskull.

The world is too big.  There are too many
boring, lonely people—who I can’t help
but hear.  (They are always, always singing.)
When they look at me, I feel bone lousy;

my cells show their weakness like a jenga.
To leave, the heart needs its reason to stay.

 

***

 

Michael Marberry‘s poetry has appeared in The New RepublicWest Branch, and Waxwing and has been anthologized in The Pushcart Prize AnthologyBest of the NetThe Southern Poetry Anthology, and New Poetry from the Midwest.  Currently, he’s the Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry at Emory University.  More of his work can be found at www.michaelmarberry.com.