#78

Constance Stadler
Sulfur

Sensual glossolalia
Barstool mandrake

Turning bulbous tip stick
Into blazing aureola

Soft lemon brimstone
Daunting would-be suitors
With malodorous pungency

Existential requisite
Industrial necessity
Blinder of women
Vitriol.

A cadenza of images…

…as I casually note…

Your Daily
Cataract
Of
Fulminate
Blasphemy.

 

Meg Pokrass
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, 2003

A physical therapist says
I have the feet
of ancient royalty.
He smiles at the hammered toes,
tendons on top of my injured foot
like raised roots.

An orthopedic surgeon says
my foot skin itself
has reacted abnormally.
When he touches it,
I shriek.
All the foot nerves, he explains,
are desperately confused,
feel they are in constant danger.
His wife, he confides,
has a similar problem
with her hands.

An acupuncturist tells me I have
toxic fear, taking
my pulse in his moldy office.
He directs me to take off
my clothes and sit quietly
in the chair.
He has written a book
devoted entirely to
extremities.
Lining the shelves
of his waiting area
are hundreds of paperback
science fiction novels.

The podiatrist
is young,
has a shaved head
a small eye patch,
shakes my hand
strongly as though I’d
just climbed Mount Everest.
My God, he says,
look at you walk down this hall!
Listen, he says,
I’m blind
in one eye from ocular herpes,
I’m worried about the other eye too.

The podiatrist
who replaces the one before
lurches in and smiles.
I’d already heard through
friends that he’d hurt his back
a way that nobody understood.
His entire leg had stopped working
for a year-
now he is back.
He doesn’t want to see
my foot.
We don’t make small talk,
or get to know each other.
He says good luck,
good luck,
there’s nothing
a doctor can do

 

 

Chris Major

 

 

Justin Hyde
some sort of trap

this tv controller
in my right hand
is nicer
than anything i own:

nicer than my car.
nicer than my apartment.
more elegantly designed
than my hands.

it belongs
to the woman
i took home from frogs
last night.

i’m sitting on her couch
in one of her
pink robes.

she brings me
a tray:
toast
orange juice
oatmeal.

then she
sits on the floor
and starts
rubbing my feet.

you don’t need
to do that,
i say.

nonsense
i want my man
comfortable,
she says.

i’ve heard about
women like this

pliable

like a
hunk of clay.

used to think
i’d like one
myself.

but it doesn’t
feel good.

feels like
some sort of
trap.

she sits next to me
on the couch
and starts
combing out her
long black hair.

then she asks
why i
picked her.

serendipitous
juxtaposition
of variables,
i say
turning the tv controller
over in my hand.

it weighs at least
a pound and a half.

tell me
i’m special,
she says
and puts her head
on my shoulder

and the walls
close in
like a vice

and my asshole
gets the chills

and i drop the controller
and start
planning
my escape

 

 

Malcolm Saunders
Redundant

Tear stained,
mould grained
grey, green walls.
Too small for one,
but foetid cage
for three.
Cloud high flat
a piss stink lift
from ground.

Back soon

Fifty yards of
fresh clean air,
fags or maybe bread.
Past the shabby,
shuttered shop
the city centre calls.

Not long

Cash for one pint,
a walk and think..
Hitched rides then
shivered, shelter sleeps.
Growling guts
from bin grabbed
food. Stinking,
sweat soaked skin,
no walls.

Just a break

Green fields,
gold beach
and soul,
sought sea.
Beauty more than
can be said,
Beachy Head.

 

 

Jeff Crouch
corpse

 

 

Brian Le Lay
On the Sabbath

I render colorless —
One-dimensional
and vapid only on Sundays —

when the shepherd
sends his sheep
into the chapels
for brain surgery

in the town of Fairview,
lawn-mowing on the sabbath
is punishable by fine

Let your grass grow
or you’re going off to Hell

Adolf did yard work on Sundays
and Saddam
and Napoleon, too . . .
ripping the weeds
from the hallowed
grounds of tyranny

When I interrupt
Bible study
with a weed wacker’s
buzzing engine
the mayor
. . . the Reaper . . .
. . . Death . . .
will race up to the curb
in his Hearse and fancy
grim cloak

and church organ music,
tape recorded, or from vessels
in the sky

and I’ll be an example
for all the heathens
who mow their lawns
during brunch

 

 

David Erlewine
Golden State

I spoon yogurt into my son’s mouth as SpongeBob yells. My son laughs. Then he accepts another spoonful of yogurt and blurts out “Lucas”. Imagine that. His first word after the brain surgery is his name, uttered perfectly. Not a pause, not a repetition, nothing to reveal how he struggled for years saying it, veins bulging, eyes closing. For a minute I don’t even notice that sprayed yogurt is soaking into the grout. A hot rag gets most of it out, but there will be a stain.

I call the lab with the good news. A lab technician named Ray says a doctor will call back for a full debriefing. Ray’s voice sounds flat. I don’t ask how many have called before me.

While we wait, I put more yogurt into his mouth, trying to tune out SpongeBob.

The documents he signed made clear the risks. If the two worst – total speech and memory loss – have proven untrue, soon he might be taking care of himself. Potty training him nearly twenty years ago was quite enough.

If he is one of the study’s successes, I’ll take him to see Gail. I bet she’s still in California, near her sister. I can already see her face answering the door.

We’ll have plenty of time to rehearse his lines. I can already hear one. “Gail, now that I’m cured, may I call you mom?”

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