As the winter vacation shrinks and dies, people will go back to school and still write poetry. For some reason.
By Ronald Kichurchak Jr.
Shelly cowered in the corner
while the tears rolled down her face.
There was a shiner beneath her eye
and a bruise on her left cheek.
Blood trickled out her nose
as if it was a faucet whose handle
had not been cranked tight enough.
Mark stood near.
He said that he was sorry.
and reached out his hand for her,
but Shelly refused to look at him
and instead she covered her face with her hands.
Tomorrow she will cover it with make-up.
She can forgive him then,
after the bruises are hidden
beneath a fresh coat of concealer.
It will be easier to pretend
that it did not happen.
And once she believes that,
it will be easier to pretend
that it won’t happen again.
Bio: Ronald Kichurchak Jr. lives in Brooklyn, NY. He has had poetry published in Heavy Hands Ink and The Boston Review.
We’ve All Got to Eat
“cake is endless,” she says
while sitting with me
at a cafe
chai latte on
the table &
against the glare.
at a studio
is usurping her
as the preferred
medium of artistic
“they say painting has been dead for years,” she says.
“but we’ve all got to eat!”
i pause. take another sip
“yes we do,” i say to her
as i empty the glass &
call for another
along with a large
pizza: extra cheese.
“and i’m starving.”
Bio: Writer, arts graduate in History and English, voicer of opinions both sophical AND philosophical, Ben Adams has recently worked as South Australian ambassador for National Young Writers Month and hails from the state capital of Adelaide.
By Alain Marciano
She wants to make money – big money,
Like hitting the top lotteries in the world,
Accumulate checks – pile up coins and bills
To be ready for the Day when God
Will join us and she shall have to
Drive him around the world,
Treat him with the best wines, Champaign and caviar and foie gras and silk sheets and silver cutlery and crystal glasses,
Just the best
To let him concentrate on
By Chris Crittenden
a momentum of grief broke us.
we separated into cold rooms,
each a shard from friendship lost,
and wept across great distances
on shoulders far away.
no one could remember
our squabbles before the deaths.
the past was a suave farce
alien to the mortuary
of our crude plight.
we obsessed like an abacus,
stuffing lukewarm sacks into crates–
comfortless tombs of cardboard
on forgetful, antiseptic tiles.
dusk became our eyelids
closing down on a stupor of rum.
each day was a fragile aftermath
the mucus of ague loved to rewind.
we prayed for an end yet began again,
bitten by the desperation
of ant-like tears,
until pain forced its way
into the last of our most stubborn heads.
oaken women and pock-scarred men
crumbled into tantrums of disgust.
no one knelt before the shrine of Lazarus,
or prized the glow of his reborn grace.
in all possible ways, the cauldrons
of our hearts boiled with crime.
Bio: Chris teaches philosophy for the University of Maine and does much of his writing in a spruce forest, fifty miles from the nearest traffic light.
By Andrew Lampinen
on the balcony
vodka bottles and vapid pictures
watched us kiss
as constructed waves rocked the world
and peopled mimed pleasure below
I pretended to enjoy
the romantic view of dumpsters and crushed cans
under red #40 clouds
my facades of ignorance
lengthened my contentment
but your blood was pushing you
so I caught you
as beside us someone returned
their reality through a window
you made me taste
what salty vodka meant
said you loved this moment
as I stared away
to where the vomit patiently decays
and brought up analogies
but held them in
Bio: Andrew Lampinen is a physics/mathematics double major at UC Berkeley. He likes to distract himself from the pages of equations with poetry, carillon and parkour.
By Tyler Bigney
There was nothing to eat,
not even noodles,
we blew our checks
on rum and cokes
and private dances with strippers.
You said, I know you fall
in love with everyone,
but don’t fall in love with them.
But I did.
We hauled the mattress
from the bedroom to the living room
spread out, sweating,
listening to the war
of gunfire, of Freedom screamed
in a language
I couldn’t understand.
but lonely – and lost
here and there.
Bio: Tyler Bigney was born in 1984. He lives, and writes in Nova Scotia, Canada. His writing has appeared in Pearl, Poetry New Zealand, and The Meadow, among others.
Cuba, Paris, Girl
By Deana Prock
Ceiling fans always make her think of Hemingway.
She can’t quite remember when she made the association
but thinks it has to do with a picture she saw once-
Hemingway at his desk in Cuba. There was a cat in the
picture too, begging for a stroke of attention. Cuba is all
rum and humidity, surely Hemingway wrote under the turn
of a ceiling fan, even if it wasn’t in the picture.
It disappointed her that Americans couldn’t travel in
Cuba anymore, although she had never even made
it out of Missouri. And Paris- weren’t all artists
supposed to steep their craft in Paris? Hemingway
spent years in Paris.
By the time the nurse realizes the hour and hustles
in, she can no longer lie still. Tears slide down her
cheeks, settling into the hollow of her throat. The good
stuff always burns, a snake in her veins. She closes
her eyes. She soaks it in. The nurse turns away,
the pain once again white noise- television snow,
a gentle patter of raindrops washing café windows.
Pencil shavings scatter. She orders a drink and waits
for the crow-haired girl, newly minted, shaking off the rain.
Bio: Deana Prock lives and writes in Brooklyn, NY where she just completed her Master’s Thesis in English Literature. She is obsessed with craft beers and tiny cupcakes, but not at the same time. She’s had a few poems published in a few places.
Half an Hour With Cleetus
By John Thomas Allen
Behold the man. Skin worn as burnt leather,
a rusted comb set in a balding afro, an ant farm
with a few hairs left twitching to cheer his
next step or study his underscored Bible, blood read,
feathered, bent from the sun, each dog eared
corner marked with .
“Hey, hey, you know about the Acts of the Apostles?
you know those motherfuckers walking by us
have 9millimeters, you know I got Medicaid
but I know Zionists use it so I like the local clinic,
I seen the manager in the store and he’s on
retail he don’t answer to Allah or
anything he don’t answer my questions
about a food stamp, he don’t answer me
about them things. It’s fine though cause I
got the Word and I’m gonna be fine, fine a place
of my own yo!! I used to take lithium but
it had poison and I don’t need that I need God
my mouth gets sweaty, careful, look behind you!
Those motherfuckers have 9millimeters!
Hey you know about the Acts of the Apostles?!”
I don’t blame anyone.
Bio: John Thomas Allen is a 28 year old poet living in Albany, NY. Having traveled the world’s cities extensively, his work is an attempt to blend the seamier side of life with compassionate vision. His credits to date include publications in Ygdrasil: A Journal of the Arts, Tipton Poetry Journal, Flutter Poetry Journal, Sein Und Werden, Ampersand Journal, Thunder Sandwich, dream virus, Illiterate Hooligan Press, Thick With Conviction (“Best of the Net Award” nomination for a poem entitled “The Mice” contained therein), Arsenic Lobster Journal, Zygote In My Coffee, Forever Underground Magazine, Prism Quarterly, and Deep Tissue e-zine, and has worked as an editor for Breath and Shadow Online, a Journal of Disability Culture. He currently works at an emergency aid shelter in his hometown. He has never attended an MFA program and prefers instead to go for long walks on the beach. He would like to thank poet David Shapiro for his indispensable advice and friendship.
It’s Not Insomnia
By Josh Gaines
“It’s not insomnia
That’s keeping you awake.”
Shaking his head
With two fingers
On the pulse wrist
“You’re just dead
And didn’t know it.
There’s nothing we can do”
The doctor wrote down
A time of death.
He rounded up
Like it didn’t matter.
“You’re dead,” he said
“It doesn’t matter.”
“But I just feel tired!” I said.
“Give it time,” he said
“You’ll come around.”
I walked out
With a certificate of death
And a prescription
That I couldn’t read.
I wondered what it was.
At home, my dog
And my wife were missing,
Like somehow, everyone knew
I had died.
People apologized to me
Or cried or drank to my memory,
But the bar wouldn’t serve me
“Look I can pay you in two days!” I said.
“You’re dead,” they said
“Your credit is no good here.”
I had to move some place
Where no one knew me,
Where no one could tell.
I started wearing all warm colors
Even in winter.
I started picking dead people
Out of crowds.
I found where all the dead people
Go to hang out;
I can’t tell you where it is
If you were dead
You’d just know.
I cashed in my own
Life insurance policy,
No one said a thing
Just stamped the forms
And shook their heads.
When I slept,
I dreamed of being alive.
I filled the prescription
But the pills didn’t seem to DO anything.
I called my doctor
And he refused to talk to me.
They said he’d taken it real hard,
Gave me a number to call
For an embalmer,
Who was also dead.
His office sent a refill script
To me in the mail—
The note with it said, “We’re sorry for your loss”.
Bio: Josh Gaines is an Oklahoma poet currently attending the MFA Writing program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.