There’s More to Say on the Subject than I’ll Ever Be Able to Articulate So I Shouldn’t Even Bother
But I don’t ever do as I’m told and I keep receiving flowers
from the wrong people and I keep telling the wrong
person goodnight. What gives? Ladyfingers are a delicate
food and concept. Lady fingers are thinner than a man’s
and therefore weaker, but better. Therefore more
beautiful and breakable and inconsistent, because hormones.
I like to dress in all black and then speak in bright neon tubing.
The sign I wear as a locket says closed but all these strangers
keep knocking. Be back at 8AM, I say, Sorry for any inconvenience.
As foreign as marks of lipstick on glasses
and mascara stains on my sleeve—
young stars fly out of spiral arms and into
puddles of lace, the instruments of my alienation—
This is exactly the way I knew it would be,
so silent, so cold—surrounded by your body
of water. Wearing pastels has made me feel softer
and like the lilac bush outside my mother’s house—
that so quickly loses its decoration, I pull inward.
She’s too busy soaking in the long draw of a good
compliment to smile in every picture. It wasn’t her,
it was the idea I loved. With a watercolor face I
followed my dalmatian onto our sectional couch.
My mother met me at the bus stop to tell me
the dog had died. In times like these I sleep
in only a towel—to feel something wrapped around me.
Self Portrait - Sprawled on an Itchy Brownish Rug
I am sitting on a train, without a voice.
I am a magnolia tree resisting wind,
an Arizona blackbird’s startled heart,
the storm of cream in your morning coffee.
I am the flamboyant peacock idly marching in the zoo,
the girl at the party who asks you to refill her cup
because kegs give her anxiety.
I am the isolated hail atop a single mountain,
the bluegill who pricks your flesh, which you catch and always throw back.
I wash my face with peppermint soap and an old flannel shirt.
I am a terrible pen pal. I cannot organize my thoughts.
I am indifferent about UFOs.
I wish I had Julia Child’s gusto.
I lack peripheral vision and spatial awareness.
I often bump into strangers or accidentally brush their fingertips.
I am constantly disheveled, a car spinning on ice.
Alicia Banaszewski is a poet and playwright in Chicago, IL. Her work has appeared in The Light Ekphrastic, The Fat City Review, The Finger, and others. Her column “Michigan on My Mind” can be found on a semi-regular basis at detroitbeerpress.blogspot.com
Lily Duffy is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she also teaches creative writing. Her poems have appeared in Hot Metal Bridge, ILK journal, Cloud Rodeo, Bone Bouquet, NAP, inter|rupture, and elsewhere. With Rachel Levy, she co-edits DREGINALD. She lives in Denver.
a still point becomes a web in and out of light
this is the epiphany made of someone’s fuchsia
the entire thing forgotten and gladly
perkiness leans itself downward in some dramatic plunge
there are hooves dancing
in the yard
saying things are further
saying truth is made out of discomfort
I tie string to each expression because it disappears
our legs as ideas of being carried
as sheets and clothes in crooked branches
forgot the pots and pans behind masking-tape
names of each epiphany
leave the stomach
you watch yourself
a joy to rename
the many flowers
we were keeping our horse heads
screwed onto their sticks
these included our real hair
attached to thought
this tin a cup this carpet floral
I wasn’t dressed like myself.
I was a horse in the rain
wearing my blanket.
These things seem tediously insignificant.
Tomorrow I will be a better listener.
Everything dressed in its blue rain jacket.
CONVERSATIONS FROM A WINDOW
merriness as an ordinary object
as my plates and your silver things
we are a tiered cake
a day we can’t always have
and I wonder
of this plume
Sara Lupita Olivares is an MFA candidate at Texas State University.
Michelle Reale is an Assistant Professor at Arcadia University in the suburbs of Philadelphia. She is the author of four collections of fiction and prose poems and has been published in a wide variety of publications both online and in print. She has been twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry collection “The Legacy of the Sidelong Glance,” will be published by Aldrich Press in the Fall. She does ethnography among African refugees in Sicily and blogs about some of her experiences at www.sempresicilia.wordpress.com
a tumor consisting of different types of tissue and capable of growing hair, teeth,
and other body parts.
Teratoma didn’t receive invite to your tea party.
Teratoma don’t like tea cakes.
Teratoma has 3 teeth, a patch of slimy hair, and baby
foot growing off to one side.
Teratoma thinks he looks fat in jeans.
Teratoma hungry for cardboard.
Teratoma has no eye but if he had eye
he’d blink twice for yes.
Teratoma eat his twin.
Teratoma don’t like mirrors.
Teratoma come from body but has no
mother to speak of.
Teratoma see the world in white.
Teratoma likes to spin.
Teratoma want to wear icicles as earrings,
but in the body, icicles melt.
Teratoma has an itch on his noggin.
Teratoma want to feel the sunlight.
Teratoma another wonder of the body,
but he knows you look away.
While waiting in line to pay for gas in an overstocked service
station, who has not been tempted to purchase one
of those one dollar grab bags bundled in brown paper
and bottom heavy like a packed lunch? What you don’t need
is another oversized I Love Florida tee shirt or a sand-filled
keychain, but the suspense is surprisingly unwholesome.
Something like the lure of online dating. You said you wouldn’t,
but you’ve thought about those deep levels of compatibility
advertised on late night infomercials. You know about
being dimensional. You’ve kissed with your eyes open.
You want what you want. Or you want to know what you want.
It’s the experience that counts, which is why, when you go pee
in the truckstop bathroom next door, you stop and study
the round hole in the wall that’s just even with your waist.
Because you have a hankering to be exposed, audacious, bad,
you place your open mouth to the wall and close your eyes.
Christie Collins lives and writes in Louisiana where she teaches at LSU while working on a PhD at the University of Louisiana Lafayette. Recently, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Cold Mountain Review, Canyon Voices, and So to Speak. Her chapbook, Along the Diminishing Stretch of Memory, is forthcoming from dancing girl press.
Route 6: Balmers Herberge
A field of forms
defined by lines
they make against
A pear picked up,
Knees settle down
in weeds while mountains
decide the stars.
And strangers talk
away their strangeness
with many kinds
of talk like touch.
and nudge the napes
of necks as if
had long been known.
the night before
its earthly end.
How could it last
in skin and fruit.
But don’t be bitter.
Abandoned, do not
deny what you met.
"The Radium Water Worked Fine Until His Jaw Came Off"
The Wall Street Journal wrote a scurrilous headline
about my boyfriend. Eben McBurney Byers
drank so much radium water, our kisses shimmered.
A robust socialite, his hair dark
with pomade. Everything was going so well
until his jaw came off. A jaw
will answer the door and let anyone in,
soaks in necrosis.
My dental hygienist asked if I worked in a match factory.
I denied my occupation until she flicked off the light switch.
My teeth: a light source, jaw bones:
phosphorous-drenched. I haven’t been flossing.
She thinks I am developing phossy jaw.
I haven’t touched white phosphorus
in months. The Salvation Army switched our factory
to red phosphorus. The hygienist should examine her own
dead finger, I suspect
her waterpik shook her nerves and vessels loose.
One can work in a matchstick factory for 5 years
One can drink radium water for 3 years.
Before Eben died, we had twins, named them
When I kissed Eben’s hands in the dark,
I saw their skeleton outline.
He took off my nightgown, traced
the branches of my lungs glowing through my chest.
Three Dangerous Men
My husband and his gang busted out of prison.
I can’t tell them apart—all wear the same curled mustaches,
dark eyebrows. Are they related?
Is prison really full of men with villain mustaches?
Just like in horror movies, my cell phone battery died
and they cut the electricity. My mom warned me
about canceling my land line telephone.
They work as a team.
They work at their full potential.
They don’t threaten and they don’t rush.
Their bags overflow with lock picks, files. Useful
for breaking out of prison, useful
for breaking into my house.They are prepared.
Not like me. Are kitchen knives the best I can do?
Every window shattered, but the bars keep them out (mostly).
Black leather gloves help speed filing.
A brown boot tried to climb down my chimney while I fumbled
with newspaper shreds and matches.
After I lit the fire, he sent birds (Chimney Swifts?).
They ignored me, just flew out the holes in the windows.
He collected a bucket of water to bring up to the roof.
Another works with a lockpick: a mouse scratches
inside my deadbolt.
Is a wedged chair beneath a doorknob a proven technique?
A man digs in the crawspace under the porch,
then the basement.
A man pries off roof tiles. They shatter like flowerpots
on the driveway.
I hear everything through my empty windows.
Should I start setting traps a la Kevin McAllister?
I must have counted wrong—a man files at every window.
Scratching from inside the walls.
I crouch in the closet with the flimsy unlockable door. It is dark
behind the coats, but I close my eyes.
The Poem(’s Assistant) is Present
My poem has been naked since 1973. My poem tied herself to another poem for a year. My poem masturbates under the
floorboards of the museum, her voice miked, makes comments about the patrons walking above her.
My poem sits at a table and stares into the eyes of anyone sitting opposite her, for as long as they want to stay. There are
some questions about how my poem holds her pee for 8-10 hours straight during the performance. Her seat has a hole in it
just in case, but she promises that she won’t use it. My poem’s assistant (me) swears she never used the hole in the seat.
My poem’s assistant helps her in and out of her performance gown. During the performance, my poem’s assistant paces
back and forth looking at the line of suspicious people waiting to sit with my poem. She guesses which museum patron will
try to distract my poem, to attack, to upstage.
My poem’s ex boyfriend said: “Recently I decided that whenever I meet someone, I should introduce myself as ‘Water.’
Think of it: our brains are about 90 percent water, our bodies about 68 percent. Not even Waterman, simply Water: it
makes people curious, they say, ‘pardon?’ and I say again ‘Water.’” My poem’s assistant and my poem’s ex’s assistant both
roll their eyes.
My poem’s assistant (me) holds her own phone and my poem’s phone at the same time, and seems to text on them
My poem is passive to an audience that has access to 68 items, a gun a bullet. My poem’s assistant bought the peanut
butter when my poem ate exclusively peanut butter for 86 days.
James Franco goes to my poem’s exhibit and talks to other patrons about acting. One of the patrons asks James Franco:
“Are you an actor?” James Franco can’t believe he wasn’t recognized.
David Blane made the mistake of calling himself an illusionist so everyone thinks he is cheating during his endurance feats.
Everyone made fun of him when he passed out while trying to hold his breath for 8 minutes. My poem doesn’t make this
There is an online support group for people who sat at the table across from my poem.
My poem’s assistant sewed a curtain that my poem could wear over her bare breasts. She invited people to put their hands
inside the curtain.
My poem’s assistant (me) shot my poem in her left arm.
My poem’s assistant tracked down a person who was qualified to plant grass into my poem’s back. My poem’s assistant
found someone to hammer nails into her hands and crucify her to a Volkswagen Beetle.
My poem wears crotch-less pants at the movie theater. My poem dresses as a museum tour guide and leads people around
on a fake tour of the museum. My poem drives a Citroen van around in a circle for 16 hours. My poem lived in that van for 5
years. She stenciled the front window: “Art is Easy.”
Radiation is invisible, but you can feel it,
eventually. The air in the house
Someone died. Not me—I don’t remember killing myself
but I felt like a ghost.
My female friends in college promised ourselves,
of course we wouldn’t fall for a Ted Hughes. Beware
of large handsome men.
My Ted Hughes detector is faulty—my ex
was the Ted Hughesisest of all. He sockets Ted’s feral eyes.
A smirk is a type of muzzle.
I was oblivious,
but I kept writing funny poems
about cheating husbands. Ted Hughes never jokes.
I emphatically told my friends he wasn’t like Ted Hughes at all.
My friend said the secret is to find a man
no other women will attempt to steal.
My friends’ argument evidence: every Ted grows sideburns
that grizzle and grey.
A Ted Hughes always hates another Ted Hughes. Despises the smirk
he also displays. My Ted Hughes said Ted Hughes was responsible
for his wives’ deaths. Sneered at his interest in the occult. (I once caught him
looking up how to bring someone back from the dead.)
My Ted can ask a photo of Ted Hughes the hard question
but he can’t ask a mirror of Ted Hughes.
Why am I standing next to Ted Hughes in my wedding portrait?
Is he still poet laureate if he died of cancer but is still also alive?
My teeth hurt,
but there’s no mark
on his pristine cheek.
My family tree
a sewed mouth, a miniature lip.
An un-blindfolded eye.
Why don’t they include people’s hobbies
in the census? Why don’t they include the color
of a woman’s favorite dress?
What happened what happened what happened what happened what happened what happened what happened to Silence
I want a different timeline—one where she is in the center.
I want a marriage certificate.
I want to measure the size of her vocal cords.
I’m from the future. Who is Us?
Who is Loveland? Who is Silence House?
The line I’ve been waiting in is 300 years old.
The rumor is Silence House opened Silence House:
similar to our modern day “Quiet Cars.” Outside it is
the usual puritan: nefarious brick. It is a scifi house on the inside.
A bonnet is a kind of muffler,
a styled hairbun another soft layer.
My current family’s version of Silence House
still includes no talking. It is rude to interrupt
the television when it is talking. I don’t care
about the Captain, I don’t care
about the doctor, the motorcycle stuntman.
I only care about Silence House.
I need to know if a name can influence
a woman’s demeanor.
Every parent has a naming agenda.
A mute little girl?
A joke of a name?
A mostly shut door—just open a crack.
Valerie Loveland is the author of Reanimated, Somehow (Scrambler Books). Her poetry has been featured in Dzanc Books
Best of the Web and the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. She enjoys running, audio poetry, and open courseware.
If There Were Dragonflies
I know I said stop talking
about the moon, but really I meant
if there were ten dragon flies in a box and I asked
you your name would you tell me nothing
but ocean. Listen, I know it’s odd
but your hands have always been
the color of paper. I’d spend years tearing you
into a snowflake. I want you to summer,
to ocean, to dragonfly. I want you to winter,
to snowflake, to cut out
everything else but 3am to 9am, everything
but table top, coffee pot, letterbox,
I want you to become the underside
of postage stamp, I want you to faucet.
Kallie Falandays has poems published in, or forthcoming from, PANK, Paper Darts, ILK, Black Warrior Review, The Dirty Napkin, Skydeer Helpking, Deluge, Zymbol, and Tupelo Quarterly.
Ann Cefola is the author of St. Agnes, Pink-Slipped (Kattywompus Press, 2011), Sugaring (Dancing Girl Press, 2007) and translator of Hélène Sanguinetti’s Hence this cradle (Seismicity Editions, 2007). AW itter Bynner Poetry Translation Residency recipient at the Santa Fe Art Institute, she also received the Robert Penn Warren Award judged by John Ashbery. Ann lives in the New York suburbs with her husband Michael and their shelter-rescued dog.
You are a better lover when you are broke and make a study of brokenness
(The stars are stars to you
Nothing more than a star
Is a star
Is a star
Be more radical, star, you will say
Don’t stand there burning)
Vanessa received her MFA at CUNY Brooklyn. Her most recent work has appeared or will appear in Word Riot, The Atlas Review, Similar:Peaks:: and Smoking Glue Gun. Her chap Weekend Poems is forthcoming from dancing girl press and her chap Red Poems is forthcoming from Similar:Peaks:: Poetry and Press. She co-parents fivequarterly.org.