New poetry by Spike Daeley, Michael Estabrook, Aimee DeLong, A.J. Kaufmann, Melissa Lee-Houghton, Alvin Park, Frank Reardon, Elizabeth Kate Switaj, and A.g. Synclair.
a lone Waxwing
greets me from atop
an ageless stone wall
Early Morning Sacrifice
My thoughts are stone tablets
Leaking calligraphy chiseled
In invisible ink. They read like
“Somebody get this kid a doctor,
I think his eyes are dying.”
Torn apart by clusterfuck sidewalk traffic.
Needing new lunar batteries
Compressed into a soundwave.
Echoing when nobody’s looking.
This time last year
The rapture was happening
And everyone was on vacation
The plateau was made of open space,
But I still couldn’t find anyone
Tree houses understand this.
The stoicism of fallen empires.
Excelsior splaying it’s true meaning
Naked on the operating table.
The cardio-rhythms of confusion
Before the sacrifice. Steadily drilling
The confrontation into hollow teeth.
Right now is the wine of disarray
Shatterstorms of mannequin belligerence
Everyone is talking with bullets
Begging for prism logic
Brittle as the dust settling
I am the anemic’s anemic
icking my brain
With insomnia’s collarbone
The Moment I Decide To Hear Myself Type
I sit in strange rooms
Where the walls laugh like weak willed invalids,
Crossing at odd angles
And at night the light bulbs square away
In bright rounded light
The time that the clocks begin to forget to whisper,
Because at some point in the long strand
Of wirey night
We all forget to stop and think about it.
But, we remember too soon
And, in modern unattainable agony
We die in microseconds,
That are too efficient
To take seriously.
What I know about you is
silence is not so troubling.
Glass is a necessity, as are
daylight bulbs and objects
like taxidermy and fists
of mannequins, paperbacks.
I know that red appeals
as much as black. I know
you love the bodies of
women and the sum of
their parts indiscriminately.
Legs, for instance, are the
limbs of Eve herself, and you
like to see your girls bite
the apple. Your jaw is
straight and neat, your
drunkenness is mild,
your laughter comes with
honour, as humility comes
farther up the scale than
humour though fun is
a shot in the vein. You
say, when you’re bound
in a wheelchair, I should
read you poems. I say
I would love nothing more.
But when I think of time
and the possibility of
your passing, I want hell
to come and make my
love for you die in
a rage. Nothing should
happen to you, you should
be at the drawing board
and in the studio that’s
too bright and piled
with paint-stained clothes
and whiskey bottles;
taking your one cigarette
you allow as a treat-
you should ride trains
and eat steak, out with me,
and come with me and hold
my cold hand across roads.
Courage doesn’t carry wisdom. I’ve
found you, though you aren’t here yelping
and you aren’t there where the memories
rub my conscience. Swimmers
we were, in the reservoir, in the shallow
where drunk kids were supposed to drown,
not tread water in wet t-shirts. I am
feeling alone, in my dry clothes-
I warned you that I cannot write
without due heart. You slice the parts,
the fractions that you want, kill the open
hand that offers love, not contempt,
and not sexual synchronicity. You and I
are past that, now it’s a case of being
as real as snow on the tongue or the
cooing and trilling of mad birdsong.
We did drown. I forgot to add that part.
We drowned because of the want of
our bodies- and we were young as
recruits, touring the war-zones of our
parent’s divorces, indiscretions, deaths-
in-fighting. While you were away
a car smacked you, you were riding
a bike and it knocked into your head
and bashed in your front teeth. I admit,
when you told me this I felt it was
penance for the tooth I lost. You said
that it did hurt, well every time I cross
a road I’ll think on that. I want to know
what all manner of pains will feel like.
I want to know what dying is. The bench
in the graveyard where we sat the day
Diana died and I cried because
I was simply depressed, you thought
I was in mourning for the dear Princess.
It was nothing so cheap, I was having
an episode; I was remembering, disarmed.
I should’ve armed myself for this,
your coming back, for as much as I
wanted to know the crack to the head
and how bad; I didn’t want dried blood-
to be made cold with the thought
of it. The gas fire burns away tonight.
I have duly wrapped myself in love
as a remedy, though nobody else
feels its authenticity. I have wrapped myself
in warm clothes, because the night
will cool now, will come down alright.
pushed through an embarrassed soft steel head
from cold cent houses
nervous leaden mornings
comfortable dream chairs
time rises loose
moving lowest minutes
fanatical gifts of space
lectures by the window
uncertain broken intruders
mournfully echoing canvas
mumbles of a disembodied pump
mild country on the glowing green radio
open to life
windows of white figures trembling
southern winds crawling
nagging his skies
pushing the cross
thrilling her sheep-skin
fuel and the village fool
under rebel flag
returning in silks
of summer architecture
sunk on her knees
doing her job
on the porch
THE LONELY ATOM BOMBS (FOR APRIL BRATTEN)
In those things that transcend a single thought,
phrase, or a cold and fierce word, the touch flutters
as if those things that have become rock bottom
begin to dance with the purity of drunk lightning
A moment’s need that crosses the water (in a hurry)
with the magic touch of those things considered
cult, it is in the suffocation of many believers that
one or two can be found, transcending chaos in
triumphant shapes of the metaphysical..
And what have I become so eagerly to love, in pure
folds of the immense astonished, the lyrical taste of
heated bellies that spew how I felt in another voice.
Forever it has been you in the candor of blazing speech.
There are senses that fall apart when intensity takes
control. Faces hide in the folds of personal shadows.
They don’t want to show, they want to run with the
legs of a rabbit. Nevertheless, the tones of flesh will
tighten as if a door was locked on earlier forms of the
final. The cloud bears fruit.
Soon. In all the powers that corrupt, the mirrors will
fall in on each other, break and create one side that
sees the other, but both personalities blended, four in
total, creating passions in one, extraordinary among
And I breathe with the mouth of a heathen (ready to burn
for those things touched by personal religion,) and not for
flesh, but for a unique transcending point into the wilderness
of your pain, to find a skilled love that sings with electric
The heart is sheeted with sophistication, a soft twitch, a
recorded voice in an ear that only destroys what is thought
of as power.
And then there is me, tortured in a love that shows risk in
things that read the beast…
To love her, to rage against the hate matched earlier, to sense
things in daring words of pathology, a bulk of matter and fat
ripping at the abstract theories of myself, a full sigh, a kiss given
to my heart’s mind.
To you, it is written softly, moaning so deeply. I watch the soul
shift daily, exploding with the lonely atom bombs, but you are
the brightest mushroom cloud, coiling into the atmosphere, erasing
what was there, before, and in the future.
To you, I give the madness a boost…
If you ask me
My wife’s in the supermarket,
inadvertently touches her cellphone
and calls me – “Hello, hello!”
Garbled noises and scraping sounds
like some monster stuck in the bottom
of a well, a moment or two
of real talking, some beeping
as she checks out.
After 5 minutes I hang up.
When she gets home I tell her about it.
“Good thing you weren’t
having a clandestine meeting with
that tall suave debonair guy
you like to dance with
and called me by accident,” I quip.
“Yes, that would have been
an interesting phone call for you,”
she responds, not even looking up,
rather too nonchalantly
if you ask me.
I can’t help but
listen to the night.
The wallpaper pressed
flat against wood and age
Like a hand against the
loose, wrinkled skin of
and imperfect palm tree.
The abnormal wall flowers
sing their spring songs
without consulting a calendar.
I whisper to No
right handed birthmarks
and small-footed shoes,
especially with the holes
ice cream and root beer
but not together
secret plans for Guam
running through sprinklers
sitting in grass
waiting in bed
words that always meant something
awkward hands on my part
a hug that turned into two,
that felt like hours,
that still failed
to keep pieces of heart
you can stay
Elizabeth Kate Switaj
Two Visions of the Finite in Seattle
(In response to “Two Versions of the Infinite in Seattle” by Curt Hopkins, published in Gloom Cupboard #104.)
I. Beside Ivar’s
there is no one acre of clams
nor even one plural
but here are the benches
to feed the seagulls as the old theosophist commands
the beauty of their flight
wasted on tourists
who throw them strips and squeal
and take a sheltered harbor for the ocean
you’re right by the firehouse–Seattle
won’t let you drown here
it wouldn’t be as peaceful
as the train would break your bones
II. Under the Alaskan Way Viaduct
it will have to come down
by dynamite or quick clay
to be replaced
with a tunnel
or with commuters
crying for god to lift the weight
on their backs or legs
but the days when putti
cd Magnify the Glory
& carry the whole oily world
have given way
and these erstwhile drivers
who go silent into death