Three Rooms

1

The front room, discontented, with its discontents crudely on display, refracted a family of three. I would insert my latch key into a lock as heavy as an ocean: one turn to the left, the door would allow its own visit to any visitor. It was a front room, a living room, for the living & half/living licking their own wounds alive.

2

You hear the private conversations of people inside your own family. I hear them as echoes of echoes swallowing the texture of time — time withheld from itself. The room is the one deleted from the cerebral cortex, the one malformed in an adolescent’s brain, the one unable to see pain through an abstract apparatus.

3

The room, with its outlines keeps us. It feels malleable, as though the people in it were dropped in by a fury or an unletting storm. The dust it collects inside its corners. The three people who have always inhabited this room are the contents. They create a culture. Meaning is on a shelf next to anxiety, next to shame & next to a single dream inside a multitude. This is the last gasp of imperialism.



***



Russian-American poet Stella Hayes is the author of poetry collection One Strange Country (What Books Press 2020). She grew up in an agricultural town outside of Kiev, Ukraine and Los Angeles. She earned a creative writing degree at University of Southern California. Her work has appeared in The Lake, Prelude, The RecluseThe Indianapolis Review and Spillway, and is forthcoming from Mantis. “The Roar at Wrigley Field” is featured in Small Orange: Anthology and was nominated for Best of the Net 2020. “Ode to Strunk and White” featured in Rabid Oak, was nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize.

At The Beauty Shop With My Mother


On weekends she & I would clean for extra money a beauty shop

She washed grief out of hair before I could hold her —,

Her heart had a beat in its own chamber out of harm’s way

She practiced the knowledge of everything

On me —, eyes envisioned offenses she couldn’t perform

There’s nobody left to cover —, catastrophes are easily made

Depicted as falling in the grotto as I make happiness vanish

From a ruined ruin of memory —, I am in the steps of his valediction

Looking in trees for him in places where he wouldn’t settle down

The mist resettling mist —, if loss had a human face, it would look

Like hers, half of one, emerging from a ruin readying for a life

Juxtaposed between rocks —, I attach weights to my feet to keep

From floating up from the down world the road forking

Into continents one with & one without you —.


***


Russian-American poet Stella Hayes is the author of poetry collection One Strange Country (What Books Press 2020). She grew up in an agricultural town outside of Kiev, Ukraine and Los Angeles. She earned a creative writing degree at University of Southern California. Her work has appeared in The Lake, Prelude, The RecluseThe Indianapolis Review and Spillway, and is forthcoming from Mantis. “The Roar at Wrigley Field” is featured in Small Orange: Anthology and was nominated for Best of the Net 2020. “Ode to Strunk and White” featured in Rabid Oak, was nominated for a 2020 Pushcart Prize.

What It Means To Be Lucky

My children worked, slowly, carefully, leaning over the chocolate iridescence. They knew I knew—breakfast would be cake. He funneled his hands for the sprinkles, she poured the letters through—Mazal. There wasn’t room for Tov. They tried to fix it. Where will the Good go, they asked. In their language, Luck + Good = Congrats. They could have only half. They took it.

***

Annie Kantar’s poems and translations of poetry have appeared in The American Literary Review, Barrow Street, Bennington Review, Birmingham Review, Cincinnati Review, Entropy, Gulf Coast, Literary Imagination, Poetry Daily, Poetry International, Rattle, Smartish Pace, Tikkun, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. Her translation from the Hebrew of With This Night, the final collection of poetry that Leah Goldberg published during her lifetime, was published by University of Texas Press and  shortlisted for the ALTA Translation Prize. The recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and Fulbright Scholarship, she has recently completed a literary translation of the Book of Job, for which she was commissioned by Koren Publishers. 

2016.29

To try on a voice that risks speech because it can, must, is.’

And then the sick beats bring us one level up[1] because

it is and always has been about learning how to dance

well on the right songs, now and tomorrow. Right here.”

Still here. Check, check. In time. Feel its slow haptic surface interface

breeze lightly across our beyond ubiquitous epidermal feelpads,

brushing their synthetic neurons, the neon receptors. “‘I mean,

come on [redacted]. Rent a car. Pick up the scraps of your last

remaining archive in the desert, let your “individual voice”

run free,’” stomping into the deathscape of the present!

“‘Is he not starting to sound like some sort of nihilism junky demon,

mainlining doom horror.’” Come now. I’m not praying for tidal waves.


Hardly. “This is not a dialogue, really.” But questions remain. E.g.,

what happened to the starwhisp?[2] Do these other voices distract?

     Who cares.

     Break, crisis, explosion, volta. Bang.


[1] See MGMT, “Electric Feel (Justice Remix),” Pandora, July 9, 2016.

[2] It reached a point in time where the universe folded back in on itself, repeating from the beginning, over and over, until it found some way out, in a story to be told later, into this current timeline in which @realDonaldTrump has not colonized the inner planets of the solar system . . . yet.



***



Bradley J. Fest is assistant professor of English at Hartwick College. He is the author of two volumes of poetry, The Rocking Chair (Blue Sketch, 2015) and The Shape of Things (Salò, 2017), along with a number of essays on contemporary literature and culture. More information is available at bradleyjfest.com.

Glimpses of the Leader

to walk slowly beside and among

pillars or columns

yourself the pillar upholding

your own weight

caught by the cameras in a candid

moment of stately musing no

rather deliberation on matters of state

to be caught so

while meditatively pacing 

is to be truly known

as the single slowly moving but weight-

bearing column sustaining

the nation

*

recumbent pillar of the nation

naked alone and viewing

tv in a well-guarded bedroom

this evening you harvest

honey of self from the swarm

of pixels in the hive of the screen

tomorrow you will stand silent and weight-

bearing again lending

your presence to the annual roll call

and blessing of flightless birds: ostrich,

kiwi, dodo, cassowary, broad-

breasted white turkey

et al

***

Philip Fried has published eight books of poetry, most recently Among the Gliesians (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2020). Thomas Lux said about his poems, “I love Philip Fried’s elegant quarrels with the cruelty and ignorance of the world or, more precisely, its inhabitants” The Guardian twice chose his work for its “Poem of the Week” feature.

A Conspiracy in the Field

A child said, What is the grass? I answered, blades

of green, a conspiracy in the field, low-lying,

swaying and breathing together, night and day.

And what I assume you shall assume. I,

the anonymous Kosmos, incomparable insider,

revealing conspiracies in the wind’s susurrus.

AKA Q, I contain multitudes

and on social media prove an outsize presence,

each hour posting top secrets in confidence.

I instigate gossip of flames, so many uttering

tongues, echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers. A living

and buried speech is vibrating in the networks.

Consider our world wide web, filaments ceaselessly

venturing out, the unseen proved by the seen

till that becomes unseen and is proved in turn.

Words loos’d to the eddies of the winds as the supple

boughs wag with accusations and we fly,

migrating to our forum’s GreatAwakening.


Note: This poem uses language from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”

and “A Noiseless Patient Spider.”


***

Philip Fried has published eight books of poetry, most recently Among the Gliesians (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2020). Thomas Lux said about his poems, “I love Philip Fried’s elegant quarrels with the cruelty and ignorance of the world or, more precisely, its inhabitants” The Guardian twice chose his work for its “Poem of the Week” feature.

2016.30

“Let loose my weird feeling that deconstruction is coming

again, with a vengeance, you wait.”[1] Alright. Alright, alright.[2]

“‘Febreeze.’ To cover up the cigarettes.” The heteroglossia

is alarming. So is memory. We cannot let this go on much longer.

See what even just a little whiff of the enemy can let in? It can

overwhelm. But. There will be an after. He is right; we should

have a plan. We will start with ambition: how to fix everything.[3]

Nothing else will do. It is forever we are talking about.

We can court distraction, waver in deciding our demise,

or else just give in to all the spoilers. Does your affect

really matter that much? Distorting around all the creepy

surveillance and manipulation, the microphones mapping

our thoughts, hopes, fears. Your tired aesthetic minimalism.

Good grief.


[1] See “2015.13,” 39. Also see Gregory R. Jones-Katz, “Derrida at the Limit of the Historicist Chronotype: A Gumbrechtian Reading,” MS.

[2] Professor Houston.

[3] See Propagandhi, How to Clean Everything (San Francisco, CA: Fat Wreck Chords, 1993), LP.


***


Bradley J. Fest is assistant professor of English at Hartwick College. He is the author of two volumes of poetry, The Rocking Chair (Blue Sketch, 2015) and The Shape of Things (Salò, 2017), along with a number of essays on contemporary literature and culture. More information is available at bradleyjfest.com.

A Smack of Jellyfish

In the children’s zoo: an orb

xxxxxxxoccupied by jellyfish, glass

at child’s height, a light

xxxxxxxchanging color perpetually,

the not-really-fish (medusae) themselves

xxxxxxxjust transparent tissue

taking on the tangerine and lime hues.

xxxxxxxOne floats more idly than

the rest, drawn by a facsimile of

xxxxxxxcurrent—artificially generated

or the others’ wakes—mostly

xxxxxxxresting on the bottom, clearly

dead. Like the lattice of a pie-topper

xxxxxxxrolled out from dough and lifted over

apples or berries. When triggered, the tentacles’

xxxxxxxnematocysts pierce the skin

with venom, the plaque says,

xxxxxxxcan bring on anaphylaxis.

When we saw a rash on our son’s lip

xxxxxxxafter peanut puffs, I held

his arms down while they scratched

xxxxxxxhis back with allergens,

when they drew his blood into a

xxxxxxxsyringe. If need be, I would

stab him with a needle to kick-start

xxxxxxxhis heart, relax constricted

airways. To be fair, these bell-shaped

xxxxxxxgelatinous invertebrates

produce a collagen that might suppress

xxxxxxxarthritis. You can scrape the stingers

off with a credit card, apply hydrocortisone,

xxxxxxxbe fine. They “use a form of

jet propulsion to move,” together can be

xxxxxxxcalled a bloom or smack or swarm.

Mostly water, when they wash up on shore,

xxxxxxxthey start to evaporate. Soft fossils

in sediment, they’re preserved in Utah’s

xxxxxxxancient seabeds. A swarm at a nuclear

power plant’s water intake shut it down.

xxxxxxxThey’ll likely outlive us as a species.

***

Lisa Ampleman is the author of two books of poetry, Romances (LSU Press, 2020), and Full Cry (NFSPS Press, 2013), and a chapbook, I’ve Been Collecting This to Tell You (Kent State UP, 2012). Her poems have appeared in journals such as Poetry, Image, Kenyon Review Online, 32 Poems, Poetry Daily, and Verse Daily. She lives in Cincinnati, where she is the managing editor of The Cincinnati Review and poetry series editor at Acre Books.

Domestic Concerns


One man wrests a flag 

from another, the two-ply 

polyester whipping violently, 

just one more splotch

in a riot of color—matched

hats, posters in every hue,

kinetic mosaic. They chant,

agitate. I cannot stand with them.

The work of civilization

is also laundry. Someone 

has to sort clean socks

into pairs, fold them into

a symbol of union. Perhaps

she can read about the rallies while 

she waits for the dryer to sing 

its little hymn of conclusion.

***

Lisa Ampleman is the author of two books of poetry, Romances (LSU Press, 2020), and Full Cry (NFSPS Press, 2013), and a chapbook, I’ve Been Collecting This to Tell You (Kent State UP, 2012). Her poems have appeared in journals such as Poetry, Image, Kenyon Review Online, 32 Poems, Poetry Daily, and Verse Daily. She lives in Cincinnati, where she is the managing editor of The Cincinnati Review and poetry series editor at Acre Books.

Be vague tomorrow—

a wisp, sliver,
not royal like a mushroom cap.

Prepare your curry dish to be neither glutenous nor gluttonous

Let your tremors squint like a violet’s eye.

To-be or not-to-be compromised
isn’t today’s question
nor a paper-thin flamingo claw,
but your personal-size compass,
albeit an octopus.

“Here’s the thing,” says a conglomerate’s personal-voice.
“Unpeel for us” an offer like Liberty’s Siren on Ellis.

Listen here to your childhood murmurings,
alone and craving answer.

Cashmere hangs in the distance,
somewhere to rub against, like a pocket
trickled with tiny mirrors.

***

Shira Dentz is the author of five books including SISYPHUSINA (PANK, 2020)—winner of the Eugene Paul Nassar Post-Publication Book Prize 2021—and two chapbooks. Her writing appears widely in venues such as Poetry, American Poetry Review, Cincinnati Review, Iowa Review, New American Writing, Gulf Coast, Love’s Executive Order, Lana Turner, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series (Poets.org), and NPR. She’s a recipient of awards including an Academy of American Poets’ Prize, Poetry Society of America’s Lyric Poem Award, and Poetry Society of America’s Cecil Hemley Memorial Award. Currently, she’s Special Features Editor at Tarpaulin Sky and lives in upstate NY. More about her can be found at www.shiradentz.com