#82

Edwin Rivera
CYANOSIS

I took an acetone and ether
bath in the dirty morning, dressed
in alloy that afternoon, drank
activated sludge during dinner.
Seismic session done, I hung mumbles
on meathooks, sang to Zoroaster,
clipped all spermatic cords and
watched the cutworm traverse the
gurry sound. Bedtime is static, a plane
scratches across the sky, and all the world
is a shave away from rhapsody.

 

Cindi Rene’ Bub
fat man in control

I guess he’s a lucky man, fat
as he is and having you to hang
onto. You define him-
he has a project now, one that makes
a strong start to a marriage-
him telling you what
and how to do it and
you doing it without asking
why. Readily enough you will
quit yourself and all those
delicious things that used
to define you. Go ahead,
climb the steps with him
breathing heavy behind, you
can create a traditional life;
fucking him sober and fixing
his meals.

 

 

Christian Ward
Translations

Warning
by Antun Branko Simic

Be careful, man,
for you are small
under the stars!

Let
the dim light of stars
pass through you!

So you won’t regret
anything when you go,
take one last look at the stars!

Instead of becoming dust
at the end,
pass over into the stars!

Original Croatian:
Opomena

Covjece pazi
da ne ides malen
ispod zvijezda!

Pusti
da cijelog tebe prodje
blaga svjetlost zvijezda!

Da ni za cim ne zalis
kad se budes zadnjim pogledima
rastajao od zvijezda!

Na svom koncu
mjesto u prah
prijeđi sav u zvijezde!

 

 

My Artificial Flowers
By Edith Södergran

I will send my artificial
flowers to your home.
I will set up my small
bronze lions by your door.
I will sit myself down
on the steps –
an oriental pearl lost
in the city’s noisy sea.

Original Swedish :

Mina konstgjorda blommor
Mina konstgjorda blommor
sänder jag hem till dig.
Mina små bronslejon
ställer jag upp vid din dörr.
Själv sitter jag nere på trappan –
en borttappad österländsk pärla
i storstadens brusande hav.

 

 

Get Drunk
By Charles Baudelaire

You must always be drunk. That’s the only question you need to know. To avoid feeling the horrible burden of Time which breaks your shoulders and makes you look towards the earth, you must always be drunk. But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, whatever you wish. But get drunk.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace, on the green grass of a ditch, in the dreary solitude of your room, you wake up, the drunkenness diminished or gone, ask the wind, wave, star, bird, clock, everything that flies, everything that groans, all that moves, all that sings, everything that speaks, ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock, will say: “It is time to get drunk! To avoid becoming Time’s sacrificial slave, get drunk, always get drunk! Wine, poetry or virtue, whatever you wish!

Original French:
Enivrez-vous

Il faut être toujours ivre. Tout est là: c’est l’unique question. Pour ne pas sentir l’horrible fardeau du Temps qui brise vos épaules et vous penche vers la terre, il faut vous enivrer sans trêve. Mais de quoi? De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise. Mais enivrez-vous.

Et si quelquefois, sur les marches d’un palais, sur l’herbe verte d’un fossé, dans la solitude morne de votre chambre, vous vous réveillez, l’ivresse déjà diminuée ou disparue, demandez au vent, à la vague, à l’étoile, à l’oiseau, à l’horloge, à tout ce qui fuit, à tout ce qui gémit, à tout ce qui roule, à tout ce qui chante, à tout ce qui parle, demandez quelle heure il est; et le vent, la vague, l’étoile, l’oiseau, l’horloge, vous répondront: «Il est l’heure de s’enivrer! Pour n’être pas les esclaves martyrisés du Temps, enivrez-vous; enivrez-vous sans cesse! De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise!

 

 

Laurie Soriano
Turtles

Like them, I am dull, a raw, soft thing
in my hard shell, paddling about the tank.

We are all slow, the turtles and I, dragging
ourselves up on the rock to bask under the bright light.

See me stretch my neck luxuriantly,
my eyes blink alert, look at all

my pretty colors gleaming in this light
of yours. I launch myself back into

the cool water and bide
my time until I’m ready for more heat.

 

 

Brett Stout
Shudder to Apocalypse

Concrete,

Leads the way to a bleak landscape
Greed and gluttony oh my capitalist beast,

Corporate isolation,

Surrounding me
Covering me
Smothering me
With their trademarked logos
Of hate and oppression,

Atom bombs,

Are released in euphoria
As the suburbs of utopia lay in rubble
Once pale men turn to charcoal colored dust,

The lab rats,

Are released from their captivity
They sit on my couch and watch cable TV
Growing disillusioned and obese
They truly are Americans now
Value sized and cheap.

 

 

Mel Bosworth
Mitchell’s Recession

Mitchell was a real go-getter, never at a loss for words. He wore a suit and tie the morning he made the call to file for unemployment benefits. He even smoothed back his thick hair when the call was answered. He believed that he’d sound better if he looked his best. But a woman’s robotic voice made his own words trip down his tongue. She asked for his social security number and he punched it in. She offered the selection of services he might be seeking and he punched it in. Then she politely told him to wait, that the call was important, that times were tight, and that the operators were very busy. Mitchell put the call on speakerphone.

He took off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves. He painted the kitchen cabinets first, fire engine red. Then he painted the ceiling, aquamarine. The speakerphone offered soothing, instrumental renditions of Richard Marx and Stevie Wonder. When it was lunchtime, Mitchell made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. He ate and listened to the music, but he missed not having anyone to talk to. So he started talking to himself.

He asked himself how he was doing and he told himself he was doing fine. He asked how the wife was doing and he answered that she had left years before, but that he was still doing fine. He asked how the children were and answered that they were grown now. He asked how the job was and he answered he was better off without it.

In the afternoon, he danced with the drapes to a new loop of Peter Cetera and Billy Joel. He used a bread knife to jab holes in the drapes. He pretended the holes were deep eyes and a soft mouth. He danced and lost himself in the folds, in the pit of those burgundy eyes, in the trench of the flapping mouth. He kissed and whispered and fondled. He blushed and felt ashamed of himself after a time, so he pulled his shirt over his head and slipped his belt from his waist. He passed the remaining hours of the afternoon crouched in a corner, weepingly flogging his back with the clasp of the belt to yet another new loop of Al Greene and Annie Lennox.

When the darkness of night came, he gouged the walls with a claw hammer to the rich melodies of Sade and Bonnie Tyler. He chatted away to himself about love and loss, faith and hopelessness, and what color he should paint the bathroom. When finally the music stopped, there was a beep boop beep bop beep boop beep followed by a scratchy voice with a Mexican inflection asking for Julia. But Mitchell, finding the puppet strings of the instrumentals that had kept him aloft for so many hours suddenly cut, flopped to the floor, speechless. Choking on the words that he couldn’t cough up, Mitchell simply whinnied like a horse.

Julia? I have one more office to clean and I’ll be home. I love you, baby.

Lara Candland

ragged phoebes tremor

fly down the aisles of winter
the green grave turns white
the icicles scimitar

***

where is the gold? the dimity, bullion,
and beryl? where the maize?

dazzled stimulants

brittle fingers divine pods and glistenings
under veils of cobweb

***

diviner intoxicant

toyed with numbness

filamental gifts

glistening       glistening

in god’s creases

 

 

John Kuligowski
Birthday Cake

To quit there comes a time
when it must be known;
likely when you placed
a slice of chocolate
cake atop the saucer’s
bucolic design.
I heard the rattle in your cough.
It collided with the auriferous day
and buttered the open window.
Like the days of easy living,
the svelte surety of your crow’s feet
were taken gasping through
the atmosphere.
What a trout you’d become!
It echoed from your toenails to
the curtains’ softly lucent sweep;
it shook you from the talons
and into a forest,
where, you well know,
the leaves every November night
are collections of fauna
that scuttle over
the spongiform lawn
and get closer to suffocating us
with each successive year,
each dive taken into
the unconscious a little closer
to what is certainly nothingness.

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