Poetry by Michael Ceralo, SJ Fowler, Ananya S. Guha, John Grey, Shannon Peil, Heather Reddy, Isaac Seal, Spiel, Tim Tomlinson, and Kanev Peycho
Ananya S. Guha
on scripted passage
the night like
an ominous ghoul
Write in time’s spent
Write of coquettish
in dalliance of
Write, when strangers
part as unloved guests
in rancid odour
of hawk like tenements.
With weary eyes, she reads the instruction on the packet:
to flower, the magnolia must have half a day of sunshine.
She wishes skin would come with such directives.
Plant the body here, by the window, in light
the color of golden bell (when planted away from shade.)
Escallonia’s not so temperamental, she reads.
It prefers the direct rays but it can live, even bloom,
when it senses they’re close by.
Maybe that’s more in keeping with her own
hungry petals, the fluted edges, wavering stems.
Her children say, “How pretty the heliotrope,
how divine the honeysuckle, how clever the hands
that convinced the stubborn pieris to grow.”
Her ex-husband sighs, “I can’t decide between
watsonia and zephyr lily,” leaves choosing none.
By October, beauty’s mostly dead in its tracks.
The sun’s at such an obdurate angle, frost is
an irresolute killing machine, but human life
for all its wrinkles, liver spots, still makes a kind of garden,
directions writ by time and surely followed.
when the fighting began
I managed a streetcafe
belonging to the riverrose
coloured and flooded
the initial problem the loosed animals
the leashes had melted in the heat
wax and fur
a smell one grows used to
talking of war in decades
making an admission to Israel
an appeal to the young women
about to begin their national service
i am the only man in the room with foreskin
‘see it before you die
how it is before tampering’
wonder how they let themselves get a taste
Laszlo, Moishe, Itzhak
I speak for the vines, the greek grapes
toned thighs, core strength
I love another, a sister and a mother
the August heat sets concrete
Signs of Being an Endangered Species
I mean, I haven’t heard
the word “unnatural”
Raccoons saunter onto the porch
in the mornings, daring me to tell
them they’re nocturnal, refusing to
even squint as they stare
directly into the gray dawn. .
And 2 death-moths that look like
baby vultures, circle above my bed. I will
dream of a swarm of them nights later in some one else’s bed.
They are powder wings and buzzard head on my logic
textbook, bolting awake to pretend I’m not trembling.
I keep saying, I’ve got to get out
of this city. My teaching visa
came pasted in an alphabet
of blood-smelling glue and royal
blue ink. I won’t use it. See, this is
already my second language, I am
saying to myself: barely clever, lying.
Cleveland Cinquain #71
the two talk of
the relative merits
of the various jails they have
Fresh Air Good
My father wrote his last words with a green
flair pen on ruled yellow paper while his
older sister from Louisiana
wept at the dark window overlooking
the parking lot of the hospital on
the hill – the hill I climbed many times years
earlier for the three weeks I lasted
in JV wrestling. I remember the match
that ended my career against some
Mastic-Shirley monster of an 8th grader
with body hair like a Greek and the strength
of a god. How he shot for a double-
leg takedown that turned into a body
slam I can still feel as the blood bubbling
from my father’s nostrils deflates and crusts
over. How I hit the mat flat and how he
fell like a slab of concrete over my
torso and pressed me beyond submission
into some state of humiliation
I feel shame over still. How I got pinned
one-two-three, the ref’s palm slapping the mat
and the whistle’s screech and the hairy Greek
god bounding up lightly dancing tiptoed
with one arm raised by the ref, my teammates
peeling me up off the mat saying you’ll
get him next time but knowing already
what I knew on my way to the lockers
crying: This defeat was a terminal
event. Bloodless, but irrevocable.
I’d quit before I’d changed into my civvies.
What would have happened if I’d toughed it out?
More of the same, over and over. Who
needed it? Not the team, and certainly
not the coach, who never even bothered
to ask why I didn’t turn up at practice.
He saw me on the school drive one morning
not long after, my nose and mouth buried
in a brown paper bag, and he shook his head
as if he knew my future, which he did.
So did my father, who failed to ask, too.
And now his note rests on his breathless chest,
and I think, this ought to be good. This could
be the stuff they make TV movies out
of – a coming clean, a reasons-why kind
of thing that would explain items one through
nine-hundred ninety-nine in the complaint
drawn against him in the sky, or maybe
in his own heart. A what-I-have-learned life
summary, an I-bequeath-to-you farewell
forgive-me-my-failures (which I might have
been prepared to do). His sister closes
his eyes, and I retrieve the yellow sheet
flecked with blood from his bubbled breathing.
And his account of himself reads in full:
“Fresh Air Good.” In block letters with a dot
on the “i.” And I think: right, I mean who
besides a Republican could argue
with that? And doesn’t it all go back to
basics in the end, the Burgundy drinkers
returning to the Bordeaux of their youth
and the wounded soldier shouting “mommy”?
But “Fresh Air Good” – that’s a new one, a good
one. Not “I love you,” or “take care of your
mother,” or “I’m more sorry than words can
say.” I fold up the sheet and stick it in
my pocket. “He loved you,” his big sister
assures me, and she rings the nurse. When will
the tears come, I wonder, but they come each
time I call someone with the news. “What did
he say at the end?” they ask me. I tell them
he said, “There is no truth in death but death.”
And they say, “If that don’t sound just like him.”
the ghost of tomorrow casts
hot water spells from the spigot
when you wash
you can see how the bead
of water is not the same from this sink
as other sinks
the rust is unique
and this porcelain, this rust under ceramic
is an architectural blood trace
a look down the mouth
and deep into the guts
it reminds me that
a cat licking egg yolk off of a plate
paws curled and
face screwed up tight
knows little of events today
or of the reservoir, or of the flood
of those expressive faces
it hurts you to make but
it knows the tone of your voice
that trembling measure in which you
maybe were you, maybe the same you who was
acting at plays in school,
remembering the words to someone else’s life
to forget your own
and that this is only one day
and that this is just a sink. now
that is a sad fuckin’ song.
she cleared off my bed
asked me why it was covered in books
how do i sleep when my bed is covered
books don’t give a shit
about my low self esteem
performance or social anxiety
so I’d rather sleep with them
Killing the time
After one bottle of wine
you feel glorious than most
of the human race, you watch
the white tablecloth with the
red stains, thinking: this is so
beautiful! But it isn’t! You want
to write about it, but is there any use?
One fly buzz, circling upon your
head – angry bit of life, entering
the empty bottle, you put the cork.
At night, in your nightmares, your
feet reach China, and even that is
The way it happens
To feel it,
to grasp your heart
and to die while you write
is not so regally like let’s say
kissing untouched beauties
between the sheets.
to listen to Mahler
and after that to throw away
all the symphonies like
I kiss the hog
good night, darling, good night
Gracious Little Ones
No one knew Lyle Hathaway was allergic to penicillin
til he received an injection and his entire body
reacted and became covered with deep permanent pockmarks.
He’d been such a nice kid, but after the injection
he turned mean and carried a knife.
Wacky Buchanon was born deaf.
When she was three her parents raised money
for ear surgery and a hearing aid
so she could hear words and learn to speak.
But her words came out garbled and she was difficult to understand.
Rosalie Archuleta’s family belonged to a religion
that believed parents should not talk to children
about anything related to sex.
Each month when Rosalie walked to the front of the class
to deliver her reports, she dripped a trail of blood.
Mike Mortenson was sloppy and stupid
but the cool guys sucked up to him
because his dad owned the floral shop.
When it came time to buy their girlfriends a corsage,
they could hustle a bargain because they knew Mike.
Sally Krueger was the most beautiful girl in the class.
She was an honor student and athletic as well
but she had neck spasms when she talked to boys.
She tried out for cheerleader three years in a row
but never made the team.
Anyone who took the time to know Marvin Metz
would find he had a deep and generous heart
but everyone knew his family lived in a car
so the kids shied away from him.
(Until his memorial service from what we all called accidental suicide.)
Richard Thorsen’s testicles never dropped,
so around the locker room, behind his back,
most of the guys referred to him as The Eunuch.
And then one of the jocks, Bob Patterson, had a bicycle accident.
He got the tip of his pecker lobbed off and for a week the guys stopped
In sixth grade, Audrey Haas’ left breast started lactating
for no known reason and there was nothing she could do about it.
She had to wrap her arms around her schoolbooks
and carry them in front of her breasts to hide the milk
that leaked through her blouse.
The whole football team discovered Charlie Field was a great kid to know
even though he was an artist and an bookhead.
They spread the word around fast
when they discovered he would drop to his knees in the wink of an eye
to deliver them the goods.
When I was six
my Aunt Nanny called a special meeting for me and all my cousins.
She served popcorn and caramel-coated apples.
She told us God gave every child on earth something special
so He could always recognize one from the other.