Claire Askew
Coming in to land.

You know when you’ve begun
to fall, sometimes, from the strange static –
the second when your head
feels wholly invisible;
elegant glass tank
for the fat, ugly fish
of your brain.

Somewhere behind you, a baby
whimpers, and then they’re on the tannoy
to tell you you’re going
down. You count the final minutes
on shaking fingers, chewing –
as a cow chews, on nothing –
ears popping over and over
like bubblegum.

Afterwards – sometimes for hours –
old airline air howls in your head
like a train. You yell
at the bus-driver, breathe hard, hear
the white noise buzz
of your own brain,
interrupting everything.

And then suddenly,
perhaps as you stand
stirring tea – the sound
of the spoon in the mug
muted and flat – you really
arrive. Stunned, you speak
into the sudden silence,
a word of the language
you’ve landed in – alien,
and eerily loud.



Jane Crown
Timbering Jimmy

I was six, maybe seven then, you had lively crayons
And a basement full of moldy treasures

You had a charming West Virginia mother
Who cooked us ham with ketchup and sometimes squirrel

Your whole house was a tornado of activity
a palace of hiding places and bb guns

Your father worked at the local rubber factory
Drank black coffee and had dirty playing cards

I was serious even then and used to pretend to pose
For album covers in your broken down garage

We sniggered at Earnest Angely as he banished the devil
From sinners on TV, smacking them in the head as they swooned

You were the only boy that chased me from your yard
With wild bees in your softened hair of straw

And I was certain you’d learned
How to charm the Ohio river into submission too

I was terrified that you’d stop liking me,
I remember writing your name and mine in block letters

We had a fine time, you and I, making trips often
To your great grandmother’s home, where we ran amok

Singing Carpenter songs like buzzed out city kids
In her rusted out, but immaculate chicken coop

You were poor and I was healthy, and I was devastatingly lonely
Of course, West Virginia seemed exotic and friendly enough

You smuggled me into closets and tented my belief in you under
Plaid greasy blankets, I admired your hands then

Puzzled, I still played house, and doctor and young lover
Sheepish girl and tree climber extraordinaire, smiling even though

When I was 29, my mother said in passing, you had died in a car crash
I remember thinking to myself, did he remember me in that dreadful moment?

We were gone from impishness forever then, I could not
Think awful things of you, but still, I came back

Down to the Midwestern ground of memory and recalled how
Once I had shyly loved you.



Paul Tristram
You Cannot Possibly Be A Hermit Nowadays

He turned his back upon the morning,
shuffled into the living room,
crawled behind the settee
and waited until he felt better.
Two days passed by slowly
and the hunger pains started breeding,
he ventured out into the living room
realising survival mattered most
he armed himself with wallet and keys
and unbolted the door.
Taking a deep breath
he entered the battlefield once more
hoping for avoidance
rather than victory.



Dave Oprava
Ginny, Bobby, the Baby and the John

Pick-up truck door slams. Bobby stomps on steps. Screen door smacks. Baby screams in truck. Ginny grins on couch. Lopsided smile droops. Big hand slams fridge. Beer foams. Screen door slams. Pick-up truck door creaks. Baby cries in back of truck. Rusty truck starts. Gear shifter grinds. Rear wheels spin. Radio turns on. Bobby gulps beer. Baby burps. Junk in back clatters. Washboard road rattles. Muffler belches. Brakes screech. Railroad-crossing squeals. Long train passes. Truck stalls. Truck starts. Truck moves forward. Truck stalls. Truck stuck on tracks. Bobby falls asleep. Ginny rolls. Falls on floor. Drool puddles. Television blaring. Man in shower. Man lathering. Man rubbing. Man is clean. Man dresses. Throws twenty on Ginny. Screen door slams. Mercedes cheep-cheeps. Soft idle idles. Tires crunch away. Ginny throws up. Breathing stops.
The weather today will be mild and sunny with a chance for late afternoon sprinkles. The humidity will be high due to a slow moving front that is picking up moisture off the lowlands and settling late fog and mist in the higher elevations. For those near the coast there is a chance for scattered thundershowers and squalls intermittently between noon and dusk and whilst everything seems moderately under control, there is the ever-present underlying sense of foreboding and doom that accompanies any strand of individual existence when it comes into contact with the ferocious bitch that is our undeniable need for self-destruction, a.k.a. human nature as it tries to fuck fate.
Bobby wakes up. Baby sleeping. Honking car horn. Mercedes honking. Truck blocking. Ignition turns. Truck starts. Truck moves. Does u-turn. Heads home. Radio playing. Crooning old songs. Beers are flat. Thrown out window. Land in the ditch. Collected by tramp. Tramp hobbling. Hobbling from trailer. Holding cold beer. Fridge door is open. Screen door is open. Bobby pulls in. Baby asleep. Clomps on steps. Goes through door. Ginny is blue. Bobby goes to truck. Starts the truck. Puts it in gear. Stops the truck. Takes baby out. Leaves baby in trailer. Goes to look for more beer. Says, wait here.
This evening we can expect an increasingly unstable weather situation as a fast moving low front comes into contact with an extremely powerful high. The result will be severe turbulence and possibly even damage to persons and property. It is advised that everyone stay at home or in shelter until this potentially cataclysmic storm passes. That includes you Bobby. Fuck the beer. It’s not going to help you now.



Brittony Johnson
God is Dead

Nietzsche once said,
“God is dead.”

Who am I?
Not of league or calibre to argue.
I am a humble poet
who wears not the mask of civility.

Americans quote Freud
as if he were some psychoanalytical genius.
All he really was
was a crack headed mommas boy.

Jerry Garcia was a god.
He died.
At least I can prove his existence.

How does one who’s never lived…



Travis Blair
Dog Days of August

dog days of august
105 degrees
in this warehouse
and hotter yet
inside trailers
I unload
with 2-wheel dollies
and forklifts

I strain to lift
the weight
of boxes and crates
heat drips
from my skin
burns my eyes
fumes rise
and I taste
and grit

my mind takes me
to a faraway
place where I’m
to my shoulders
in cool river waters
and you
are laughing
splashing me
in your eyes

I reach out
grip your wrists
pull you
to me naked
and wet we kiss
tongues tasting
each other’s

my arousal rises
against your belly
your hands
around my neck
I lift you
by your hips
and suddenly

I jerk forward
on this forklift
into the abyss
of this 53-foot
trailer waiting
to be emptied of
its cargo like I
of emptying
into you

but its all
from the heat
the way
I pass the day
inside my imagination
until the five
o’clock whistle
releases me
at last

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