Gary Beck
Drop Out

I sit at my desk
pretending to work
and ponder the passing of time,
as pompous as an ancient sage
and though in near paralytic sleep,
I see the vision of waste.
The unending hours in the office,
the terrible hunger for life,
the moments untempered by patience
that burst a myth on my frenzy,
a somnolent spider of anger
weaving no tomorrows.



God bless the unemployment service
and its kind courteous
always helpful servants,
who make you wait two hours,
then send you elsewhere,
whose charitable favors
are yours for the begging,
who scrutinize your case
like misers guarding coffers,
and finally, with a regretful sigh,
approve your claim,
as if you’re stealing from their children.
Yes, god bless the unemployment service,
and all its reluctant particles.



Abigail Beaudelle


The most miserable thing about June
are the peaches –
how the peach tree grows, untended,
sprawling across the ground
like a worn-out dog;
hardly stirred
by the wind
and flies.

Every year the peaches
get eat up by Junebugs,
worms, and squirrels –
gnawed and discarded
before any ever
get fat enough to fall.

Green peaches
rot slow,
leaving the grass pockmarked
and flecked
with bees.
Shreds of flesh still cling
to crevices in stony pits
through July.


The chokecherries are detestable.
Every year it’s the only tree
whose fruit are let to ripen.

Too little meat for birds
they fall to the insects;
hornets and yellow jackets
are the only ones that eat
the damn things.

Chokecherries scatter
like plump pomegranate seeds,
only bitter and spiteful,
and stain everything.


The blackberries
are choked by kudzu,
the Japanese weed brought here
to set the ground
and keep it from washing away.

Kudzu loves the south.
North Carolina, South Carolina,
Georgia, and Tennessee’s overrun –
old cars get turned into green phantoms,
rotted silos to pillars of leaves.

Rip it out and it comes back,
They say it grows a foot a day
in summer.
Kudzu twines the briars
like mating snakes.
Knots of hard, yellow fruit
bow the vines.


The new shoots aren’t poisonous,
but the rest of it is.
Some of the natives say
that pokeweed makes the best
greens, steamed as spinach
or chard.

Pokeweed grows tall
and droops in early fall with big
bunches of puckered fruit
bright purple and filled
with juice as red as sin.

They like backlots and wasteland,
and the edges of asphalt
behind workshops and shopping malls,
where they stand, gangly and ugly
like teenage prostitutes.

Pokeweed is summer.



Ben Stainton
Over Sandling Harbour

Ferrywise, the great white thumb
ran wild in its levering
of water from water.
Red bathers, strangled
evacuees, clawed the seafront
happy; dishcloth limp.

The wayward foam,
usurpress, malingerer,
threw milk over our kettle,
held up by sticks
like an overwatered eye.
Yellow grass, yellow heel.

Stevens raised a beaker
of stones to hope
on utopia’s tip. Saltily,
some trees nipped
our trouser-legs, downwind
from the higgledy boats

on Sandling Harbour.
Over, with roughshod paper,
we undressed the weather,
alight with chins in love;
for a trickle instant unknown
to ourselves. Unknowing.



Her Artful Escape

The clouds are heavily pregnant
with snow. A labouring quilt
of negatives, indifferent to colour.

Under, my shirts ripple and fold,
bodiless; needful like infants.
There are no flowers in the driveway.

The marriage china wettens its tissue,
one white eye manning the phone.
I boil milk for empty chairs,

love-steam wintering my lip;
and the hair, a wiry combustion,
forgoes its ivory comb.

The hall is a scentless nought.
She spelt her artful escape
in chalk on the nursery blackboard.

A tincture reddens my armour.
Coldly, like an apple’s meat,
I halve myself and take two seats.

On the meadow, wet fleeces shiver.
A floury shower dusts the black tree.
In the window’s crackling heart,

my eyes contuse. Old crockery life,
beckon back the yearning wife
with your daintiness of tongue.

The piano splits, ebony over white.
She will not come, brushing silks.
She is in motion. Purified as ash.



David LaBounty
and sometimes the lust finds a way to die

twenty years ago
I fucked
you twice,
and yesterday
I googled
you once
and I have to say
it seems as if you
no longer

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