Two women, worlds apart. Lena Vanelslander, writing from Ghent, Belgium and Marilyn Campiz, a writer from the United States and teaching in South Korea, come together in a fury of words spanning a whole of three weeks and birthing 139 pages of wonder titled “Quills of Fire.” (more…)
Archive for February, 2010
Our Valentine’s Day issue is themed “Strange Love”. What does love mean to you? To some, it means being with a person who makes you feel normal. To others, it’s about feeling freaky. Put away your chocolate hearts and nibble on the hearty words of Jason McCormick, Joseph Gant, and Len Kuntz as they show you what love can be.
Jason Henry McCormick
I fell in love with a criminal at a bus stop on a summery afternoon in May. (more…)
I’ve done this once before when I needed extra cash; sold my dead mother’s jewelry. I harbor no sentimental attachment to any of it or to any that was given to me when I was a child. Horses are what I value— endearing chestnuts, somber browns, and a couple of scrappy gray ponies. They own my soul. (more…)
Growing up, I never imagined that one day I would write about the odd way my life intersected with my father’s in the early predawn hours of our family living room. As I would stretch out on the short pile rug in the darkness for a daily long-distance run, he’d already be sunk deep into his barco-lounger underneath a brass lamp reading novels in Spanish. It’s funny now that I think about it: 4:15 in the morning, and he’d have his book up in one hand and his dictionary in the other. He was an anal compulsive college professor, incapable of passing up on a word that he didn’t know. I remember the pungent smell of his coffee and that frayed robe that must have been older than I was. The only thing he showed me was the bottom of his socks, crossed up at an incline on the vinyl. I could have been invisible. Man, I couldn’t wait to get out the door. (more…)
“Wouldn’t it be like so funny if my penis could talk?” Henri says.
He is three years old, I am twenty years older than that and I am babysitting him. We are cousins. I am secretly pretending he is my little brother. He is openly pretending I am Ariel from The Little Mermaid. Except he pronounces it “Hariel.” When I don’t use my “Hariel” voice, (high-pitched and sing-song sweet) he gets a bit huffy and says, “But remember? You’re being Hariel.” (more…)
New poetry by Michael Ceraolo, Mike Finely, Joseph M. Gant, Ananya S. Guha, Laura McKee, satnrose, Almond Sylem, and Justin Wade Thompson
where the snow lay dinted
In the meantime
I try to remember the blush of things.
Before the cold slub
woven bluish lines
of love evolving.
So now I tread water
And in this snow
angels and footprints still hold your warmth.
It’s shameful seeing fields I can’t identify.
It’s ice, or something,
a tangle that affects me.
I see zinnias and fall flowers with chew-marks
of frost on them,
a white mat of fur that I lay on
and chisel with my nails.
I noticed it first on a window frosted over,
and later a figure on a patch of linoleum,
and later out of a hatch in my eye
where a while ago a painting had been.
There were haystacks and sheep in it,
and the stubble figures of men
caught in the motion
of hoisting something overhead.
I can tell by the quiet it must be winter.
And how it affects me, I want
to write everyone I know,
or have them come visit me.
Joseph M. Gant
It’s Wal-Mart— 3am;
I stagger inside,
I bought on e-Bay—
breath heavy with Kentucky bourbon
and I refuse to
in plain, drunken protest
until they sell me
at the fair and considerable
rate of exchange.
CAT CAT HAIKU
crows attack a cat
the cat jumps under a bush
the crows caw “cat! cat! cat!”
Justin Wade Thompson
putting a black tie
on the dead
watching my wife and thai mother
weeping thru the ashes of the buddha
minutes passing like tears
tearing thru the sky
from the eyelids of the sun
while alligators bathe
while murder sleeps
while children bury guns
in the guts of their mothers
flattening the hearts
of their fathers
and sinking into the sea
that happy ship that
brought us here as slaves
in black chains
and blood clotted passages
thru the airways
to the center of the brain
the preachers preach
and the madmen rape each other
in the streets
damn our mothers for telling us
that we may someday walk on water
damn the heroes
and the bed-wetters
and the jewel-skinned dinosaurs
we thought we’d ride
all i can fancy is my own death
stepping over books
turned to vipers
like some superstition
that leaves me cold and toothless
as they’ve pulled all life
out of my mouth
and laid me still
on the bed
with no covers
just pillow-feathers in my mouth
and a flat slit of eyes
as neat as black lines typed
on black paper.
Back to Haikus
we’re back to haikus
across the united states
with a black man in the trunk
tied with silver tape
or so i imagine it.
it’s just cold winter
in the east side trailer park
RVs and terrys and coaches
with gray linings and
across the chain-link fence
where the old Mexican
families live their
and wait for feliz navidad
with children singing
and wildflower honey
dripping on buttered bread
and little cookies shaped
like camels and stars.
we’re back to postcard
shrines with dried flowers
and red statue-frogs with coins
in their mouths
theravada books and blue butterflies
dead and dried up in black
boxes and needles
through there backs
and i can’t help but look at the
word needles and think
how it looks like needless
like death mounted on the wall
above an unused fireplace
while a friend offers
to cook my wife and i steaks
and all i’m looking forward to
is a day cool enough
to ride down to the grocery store
and not have to worry about
using up all the propane.
last time we both left
town and when we came back
the food had all gone to rot
and it took me a week
to get the mold smell out
i’m not kidding.
i have books on everything and have been almost everywhere
but i’ve nothing to show for it
no pictures no wisdom
beyond what one could learn in the streets
i’m not rhyming i’m not rambling i’m not raking in profits
just counting syllables on my right hand with all five fingers
like the 31 and 30 days between my knuckles
or multiplications of 9s
but i was never very good at mathematics
i was never very good with form and structure
and on top of that i’ve a slight lisp
since they pulled out my
two front teeth and replaced them
with fine china
(like glass eyes)
the walls shake when i walk
across the room and the door-jam
is wet with condensation
and there’s not enough paper towels left
to soak up the grief
collected on the living room
I Am Not Certain
I flung a coin into the bowl the beggar kept beside him
while he raised both hands to explain they once had fingers.
I am not certain in whose name I had done it.
I pretended I did not hear the doorbell a man with matted hair
and drums slung on shoulders rung for I knew he wanted a rupee
or two. I am not certain how I felt when I saw him walk away
to open my neighbor’s gate.
I sing and offer spiritual advice to calloused men and women
who live and die by a river that dispenses sand and stone
and dismal hope every week outside a city that has decided
to leave the poor behind. I am not certain
how much I really love them.
I watch structures rise in gardens where the outcasts once collected
tealeaves before they sent the police to chase them away. The city is changing,
suburbs metamorphosing, but love, I am not certain I want to dine
in that restaurant serving global cuisine there.
I watch two madwomen strolling daily on highway of jerks
and bus drivers ignorant of mercy, one lost in an alternative world
and ropes she had tied around her shoulders, the other with eyes
I could not interpret and tattered blouse that could not contain
a perfect breast below a neck ravaged by a disease I knew nothing about.
I searched my heart and I am not certain whether I found compassion
or coldness there.
Gaudy eunuchs slap my face inside trains and threaten to lift their saris
if I refuse to give in to their extortion. I rush to hide for centuries
in reeking toilets and emerge to find shelter in the wings of a prayer
my love prays for me. She holds me in her arms, my strong lover, while
disembarking passengers pull their bags to the door of the slowing train.
It happened sometime in spring this year, before the Indian sun began
its ritual of anger, before floodwaters of dirt and disease overran huts
in low lying plains. Last week, the eunuchs returned to a train
that was bringing me home, yanking bed sheet, clapping hands,
thickly made-up, stubble showing. The nausea returns and I am not certain
I want to forgive them.
I heard a wise man say he’s made a declaration of dependence on God.
I flirt with darkness and drink turncoat wine, dragging a string of tears
along the way. After all these years of knowing you, I am not certain
I know what dependence really is.
Cleveland Cinquain #20
a bank vault still standing,
the rest of the shopping center
Ananya S. Guha
This is the turn around
this screeching winter abyss
the empty faces, speak
of empty things, and
lostness, only the damp cold
reminds of a cycle, an orbit
past, present, future…
this turn around bespeaks
of what is not, this winter
is a scythe to cut that bitterness,
pain or anguish
This is the turn around we are
talking of, earthquakes, disaster
God’s forbidding finger
in tremulous anger
This turn around
is emptied in smelling
pots of tea
As we do a catwalk
Or a somersault.
Issue 115 brings you into dreamland. Dreams of youth, innocence, and the loss of both. Kick up your feet and enjoy the magical stories of Joseph Gant, Roger Drouin, and the editor’s pick for “must read twice” by Brad Rose.
The Night a Boy Forgot to Dream
The first time Superman yawned as he flew over Metropolis, he knew the last of the best had been spent. Red capes can’t make the sun rise fresh again, however long you wear them. They just turn blue as the Earth below.
And saving the day was a punch card job.