10/1/11

RECENT WORK selected by Larry Fagin



Clayton Albachten
Kostas Anagnopoulos
Casey Drouin
Richard Chammings
Robert Elstein
Omar Husain
Jennifer Kietzman
Florence Kindel
Paul Maziar
Ryan Nowlin
Annalisa Pesek
Michael Roberts
Emma Rossi
Aaron Simon
Ann Stephenson
Carol Szamatowicz



A Part-Time Philosophy

Bad breath is a small part of civilization
Imagine a room
You’ve already lost interest
Time doodles
You could have put some big thoughts in there
Step outside, I’ll lock you out
Light braided with water
The edges of a tinfoil curtain
Crinkle in dead air
Pushed by a lazy fan
Passing over flyspecks
There isn’t even a surface
You’ve stopped thinking about bugs
The kind that crawl
And the kind that listen

- Ryan Nowlin



Ad Hoc Poem

Here’s an overview of their movement
if that’s possible
notice the eglantine endpapers
not the wallflowers

Don’t get on the train
let someone else take the trip
one who can afford it
she’s a queer one

Leaving little to worry about
happy as her inner idea
but it was the station
not the train that moved

- Ann Stephenson



Adagio

I want balls
To look elegant
For a space walk
When I return to Earth
Confetti
To fill the canyons
We need certainty
Bach comes slowly up the stairs
I wish I had his faith
Now that the streets are empty
I run from certainty
Bach come with me
I might get mugged
We’re buying Joy, Pounce and Brasso
Then we’ll hit up Ralph
For whiskey but first
A bit of Jauchzeit in the parlor

- Florence Kindel



Aeolian Harp

At night a bruise of a place
the sea declines certain objects
someone else’s stripped hermeneutics

There must be some spectacular
medium to make a silk purse
out of life, make you real and render

The particulars to truth, and you are
strangely free from the burden
of intelligibility

- Ryan Nowlin



After Rene Char

In the streets of the village
In the wake of the wounded city
In the copulation of the Cimex lectularius
In the morning and the evening of the season of the plague
In the holes in the skin so that nothing is lost to us
In the quake of the hand that will not break
In the quivering of endless abandon
In the rooms where the lights go on and off
In the mesh and the net
In the leaf and the wood
In the tree and the worm
In the flower and the god
There is my love

- Ryan Nowlin



Applauding the Bubbles

A silent movie about everything (except you)
plus wind (endless) leaves (atremble) laughter (machines)
and anyone who was here an hour ago
let them experience the same thing
give or take a few stray hairs
I work slow but not as slow as you think
champagne was reinvented just like that
beyond the chatter it’s raining on my blue dress
with orange trim then what happened
amazed rabbits

- Michael Roberts



Beginning to End

What will tell this tale?
The bloody voice
The one that lines the intestines 
But sticks to the face
Bringing me to tears
If it's a war you want
I'll tell my story from start to finish
I’m dead but what's more interesting
Are things I never said
No one remembers my numbers
Even I don’t
None of my vitals
I was indisposed
Sniffing around for a spectacle
And hating myself
For kissing people
For sucking Jesus’ cock
Licking Satan’s ass
And so forth & so on
And I’m a narcoleptic to boot
I can’t even move!
Yes the newspapers are full
Of what I never said or did
Of who I didn’t kiss
You had your booth
I had my window
But I couldn’t see through it
At night I was made of kisses
By day I was full of expectation
For reading I stuck to science magazines
Things I could understand
Hotel rooms were everywhere
I paced back and forth in most of them
But like I told you I died
So you can’t make me answer another question
Or sign another check
You can’t torture me
Or make me laugh
And die again
Once was enough
So I just wanted to thank you
And all the good people at Mark Enterprises, Inc

- Michael Roberts



Bombs

Bombs for complacency
bombs for protecting money in its cave
bombs for the end of trade
bombs for lost children
bombs for the Thatcherites
bombs for cost-reckoning
bombs for other worlds in the balance
bombs for both sides of the conundrum
bombs that click in a certain percentile
bombs to the very end
bombs for light

Dullness of bombs over love
insanity across classes
in defense of evening clothes
you knew this before you were an egg

Bombs away

- Carol Szamatowicz



Cold Snap

No visits from the ghosts of poetry
Past present or future
No iridescent lines
Flying over in formation

Shock of morning wind
What’s left of winter grass?
Christ the whole hemisphere is crumbling
In an ice catapult

I take the train in my poem
Freezing on the platform

Mirrors are endless
I stare in unison
My face isn’t interested

- Omar Husain



Cool It / Whoever Can

Take me out to the ballgame
Anything to calm my nerves
Talks have failed
For my final act of kindness
I’ll humanize my gravitas

I may sound despotic or desperate
But that’s not my voice at all
It’s been prerecorded
To imply precedence
The one true god

I can’t tie up the line for long
My true feelings have been sent
Under separate cover
On the condition of anonymity
The one true god

- Aaron Simon



Copy Edited

Note on legal pad, “I’m traveling toward you,” was sent.

Amtrak has extended its summer sale until the end of the year. One-way coach fares include New York to Philadelphia, $34. Reservations must be made 14 days in advance (not valid on holidays).

Layover (with pocketknife inscription): He hunkers down out of the wind behind a wall of merry-go-round music, horses from a church bazaar, heads bobbing, nostrils flared.

The narrow space permitted by a door chain was just enough to frame her contorted face before he coaxed her back into the hallway. A strange man stood on their living room sofa.

She sorted packages on the floor of a box truck whose air conditioner had quit, using space for peculiar motifs filed in appropriate sections, door latch stuck, handle-with-care boxes stacked three high, constricted movement, stacks of padded envelopes, ads, facsimiles, found text, journal entries, no air pockets, guaranteed next day delivery expired.

Cinnamon collects under his cup. Ethyl acetate used in decaffeination also cleans circuit boards, helps perfume dry faster. He stirs nutmeg into foamy head, avoids park benches. Stir: segregated from general population, auf Wiedersehen. Stir crazy, linked to cancer in lab rats. Kestrels and ospreys veering above before the approaching storm is propelled over ridges. Subsequent events rinsed phony.

After ache subsided, she smiled on the day’s labor. Perimeter lights swooned through thick glass at a cafeteria table where she sat reading Collodi. Two cups of chai, she’d have to pee soon. Originally, Pinocchio was hung for his faults, but an editor dissuaded Collodi.

Plexiglas is a trademark name, and is often misspelled Plexiglass.

- Richard Chammings



Debonair Confession

I.
The sky unfolds
I was the same person I thought I was
There is a sky shape to my folly
Don’t argue
Diatribes lead to botheration
Your voice contains a matching chill
A tall cool glass
Offered by local witch doctors
Archaic and friendly
On the roof of the auxiliary church building
Shielded by techniques
That turns facts into life

II.
But I’ve begun to see other things
8:15 p.m. robed I approach a wide divided boulevard
Observe people littering
One turns to see if there will be witnesses
Then casually lets slip the straw wrapper
And if there were someone walking behind him?
Another inhales crumbs of Nachos
Before letting go of the red and yellow bag
And the wind picks it up

III.
Depositing it gently in the dirt
In this case it’s okay to snoop
No less amazing to see one replicate it
She’s not humiliated not in the least
Sorrowful realization of darkness
But only because there are dark clouds
She was an amazing person
Great typing skills
She made her own letterhead

IV.
It was important to own money
Or go to college and get a good job
Slipping in the rain
Rubbing piecemeal integrity
Against your pillowed head
Enter your code
It’s earlier than in my dream
Snowcapped empty tumbler
No drop to alight

V.
Food freezes each night and day
I can’t believe she cares so much
The water bill comes but once a year
It’s not a matter of cost

- Robert Elstein



Emotional Morning (Worrywart)

Everything I say sounds unrealistic
I’m alive, see?
Culled from someone’s experience of past earth
My best days are gone
Through a series of sliding panels
The things the trees come up with
Autumn squirrel empty atom
There’s no way in
“Have a good one”
The whole time they’ve been taking sugar pills
A mix-up at the factory
Babies pop up in weird places—bellies!
I managed a decent thought
Despite an overwhelming lack of emotional support
Morning full of faces I wish I was
Born yesterday—not a day later
Ah what’s the difference
They blow in and chew up the scenery
Floating on their backs down the Lethe
Here I am yoo-hoo!
Another pasty face
Packing all its natural resources
Into its pipe

I suppose I should mention waking up on the beach
Ants all over me
I was like Gulliver
And suddenly I missed my girl Sally Thatcher
Oh that’s your girl
I hurl my filthy love into space
From my place in the sun
A seagull by my side we stare out to sea you get the picture
One of us coughs up a softball
And the ants and the beach flies advance upon it
The gull and I split
It’s all over the internet

- Michael Roberts



Fleas

The day after retiring, she drove down to St. Augustine, ate at every seafood restaurant in town and returned to Brooklyn. It killed a craving. On her bed she let out a sigh so long she appeared dead. Her dog worked for nothing. His back was a beat up rug. Once she was a good dancer. Her recall of steps was cosmic. She suffered from a syndrome no one else had. Late at night she watched a voodoo program, one with complex advice. Sunset threw orange columns on the wall. The dog positioned himself as close to her as possible.

- Emma Rossi



Flutterer
 “The excavation’s unnatural,” she observed. “He’s in a place where everyone goes but it isn’t what he expected and he doesn’t want to stay there.”
   “He was a son-of-a-bitch,” I offered.
   “The way we deserved him,” she shrugged.
   I supposed so.
   His hands usually fluttered. I used to follow him around the yard to no purpose. His obituary composed by yours truly required certain damage control. I’d haul mom’s packages into the house when she got home. Irritated by how much money she spent, he often reacted by tearing up a flowerbed. The next day he’d inspect the mess, lose his temper and she’d go out shopping again.
   “He could parallel park better than anyone,” she said.
   Quel consolation.
   The appropriate drizzle fell. His portion of earth was cubed from mud.

- Richard Chammings



Froggy Went A-Courtin’

Burned at the bake sale
A saint like Genet
It’s a small arms deal
After the rain
When the flowers come up like baby teeth
Mud flaking in the sun
Just a pinch
In the A&P
Some kind of local sublime
I’ve felt it before
Not confidence but backlight
Warm as a sobriquet
Idling in the smoke
The fireworks were better last year
On the inside looking out
More feverish than a fight
The housefly leaves for the office

- Aaron Simon



Half

I couldn’t stop cursing. He said put a lid on it. Will do. I’m used to waiting forever but I’ve never written anything true. Listen. Four-legged steps upstairs. Corners around every corner. The animals have memorized my face. They’re eating the new grass. I’m not positive about the noises inside me. Half a world I can’t handle. The old New Home sewing machine looks great next to the entryway.

- Emma Rossi




Headless

Less listening more talking
That night I went to Maine or talked about it anyway
The state berry is the blueberry
Notice the floor is tilted here the bed is sliding
All the way to Maine in my head
Sketch for Kafka is taped to the wall
We’re both naked
I turn around and around so he can get a good look
Then out the door
Oh Kafka stay hydrated!
These generations of words sour the mood
We’re all muddy and sticky it’s snowing oh Maine!
Where are your promised huckleberries?
We’re purple too
Our words are thrown they may bounce
So many of them why add more
Come back to bed Kafka
Read to me read to my head while I go on talking

- Annalisa Pesek



Helen Arms

Give a little whistle
And of course it unsettles me
I sprint to investigate but just as swiftly
Police helicopters get there
Take cover
I interpret shadow to be someone’s gloom
Not my own — mine’s candy-colored
Now there’s a situation on the sidewalk
Sunlight has somehow “printed” a gentleman’s spectacles
Steam exhaust kicked out from a few pistons I kept
In a breach of my building in Parkville
Where the garbage is taller than the residents
I have jogged past Helen Arms many times
Where they can see through to my bones
I float with ease by the gold entrance
Through which I observe
A wig passed between scalps
And hear a pleasing ring tone
Behind a false wall

- Robert Elstein



Home Schooling

Not everything you need to know is in the handbook
That’s where memory comes in
But it could be fantasy
Or reduced versions of events best forgotten
Especially in these golden days of chronic infantilism
Sometimes a new planet moves in next door
And you must revise your position on certain issues
Crack a window for christ’s sake
Go to the television
Cauliflower is in season
Eat plenty of it, steaming the heads
Have the dressing waiting
There’s more you know, dig in
Don’t let the sun catch you without your block
Work on your salutations
Memorize the flashes
Who has time for small talk?
Though we’re all small here
We’ve fallen behind the big kids
Staring blankly straight ahead
Or horsing around on the wing-back
Flocked in the usual federal yellow
If I’ve told you once. . .
But wait
I didn’t tell you
I wasn’t here
It’s all you

- Kostas Anagnopoulos



How Did It Happen?

The tree and its white blossoms
And the porters all around it
The Spanish language
The crisp air
Most of the time, time is lost
That’s not necessarily bad
The windowsill is a good place to cool
A hot cup drink it quickly
Pain in the lips vanishes
Even though what you’re saying isn’t notable
It’s good manners
But I’m not going on
And I’m not sure how I got here

- Kostas Anagnopoulos



I Know Them

Tincture of iodine for sore throat
producing an apprehensive twitch
like flywheels or risers
or gliders — do you know them?
what about stopcocks?
we must flee this world
with its skin and feathers
gas is responsible for most things
solids are jealous
liquids morose
the snake’s eyelids are transparent
who knows if it sees you?

- Florence Kindel



Interregnum

Anne said she was sitting across from John Waters on the F Train, that he was wearing a custom-made suit with “splurts” of plaid and that she’d immediately thought of me. She didn’t say why but I figured it must be my pencil mustache. Or maybe my love of plaid. Hmm. You really shouldn’t be reading this.

Outside the gallery Kate and I talked to The Me Nobody Knows (TMNK) and Leghead, whose real name, he confided, is Sidi. Leghead wanted a cigarette and was willing to dance for it, and a cute dance it was! TMNK demonstrated how to write on the sidewalk with paint pens. He schooled us on which surfaces (front doors and metal doors vs. exterior walls and sidewalks) resulted in lower fines if you get caught.

Our roommate Martin, who we rarely see, came home tipsy the other night, the winner of a trivia contest. Asked what the winning question was, he said: What is Charleston Chew made of? I guessed peanuts, caramel, maybe taffy. Wrong. Nougat, he said. Hard nougat, Jason put his two cents in. Martin glared at him. Meanwhile, pastry chefs the world over stretch and shape their nougatine, for which there is no law.

One day we will all come to the end of our choices like salad fixings. They will fizzle out just as others are launched, but that thought, which hints at a cycle of life, is of less concern to me, focused as I am on The End. Plus we’re not really a part of the cycle since we only get to experience a portion of it — once you get down to the popsicle stick. I know this interests you.

Why is being an accident (the baby was an accident) scandalous? Not really the end of the world. She’s an accident waiting to happen. Accidents will happen. We will have our accident and eat it too. Evolutionarily speaking, accidents are how we move forward. Frequently. This is called punctuated equilibrium.

My oatmeal is getting cold.

Part II

Like when a child in the grocery store has its mouth open wide as if it’s surprised to see you then you realize it’s sucking on the collar of its wool jacket and it’s not surprised to see you exceeding your capacity to understand it. Mission accomplished.

He asked from across the street if he could buy a cigarette. We both fell silent as he crossed over and asked us if he looked like he was up to something. We passed on that particularly since his genie hat and the white bundle of questionable content he cradled in his arms indicated he certainly was but we gave him a cigarette. We moved right along with everyone else out to see the moon, pre-reported as full and of “rare size and beauty” — a perigee Moon — the biggest in almost 20 years. The best time to look is when it’s sitting on the horizon, that is when illusion abuts reality (a sure recipe for trouble!) to produce a major view. Don’t bother trying to reach out and touch it. Even a perigee Moon is still 356,577 km away. So there.

Jason faked an illness at work and left early. He got KFC for dinner, and wine. Wine? I got tea and coffee. Yay, he said, we have everything now! Is that so?

- Jennifer Kietzman



La Chateau des Pyrenees

and worst of all. . .work dreams
unclocked hours
unmoneyed sleep
no rotation
space is (so far) the place
another mediocre dreamscape
full of the usual subjects
your majesty
more human than possible
but they still need work
and the pyramids must be erected
who will re-up?
know any coin tricks?
tear down the cineplex and suddenly darkness
who has time for it? after all 
my work is done
yet there' s no tub in this non-castle to soak
one's time-honored bones
tourism is up, my liege
lilacs bob in the breeze
who’da thunk he bought a cheeseburger
& coffee for $3.60?
oh I've tasted exotic meat in my day
the wind at night
and the city bunched together
in a ball of trees bricks glass tires gum wrappers
is life all windows
looking only out not in?
earth mostly water
distant moon a little white lie
I misspoke
it's a dumb block of wood
it doesn't do anything
I could promise you without promising anything
each hellhole is the same but different
the storm has no gender
the money sticks to the floor
language harmless as a poem
unspoken or fit in your pocket

- Michael Roberts



Maid of the Mist

If you stumble in the dark
pick yourself up
that makes two out of three
fewer primal fears
to cope with
but you want to be left alone
in the shower
put on your cap
Niagara Falls on your head
your parents honeymooned there
while you stayed in the car
listening to Debussy
who frowned on love
but fell for you
in the back seat
you didn’t know “yes” in French
so you mumbled in Italian
sono troppo giovane
your parents came back
who’s this?! your father shouted
it’s only Debussy, Pop
he was teaching me intervals
only intervals? how about a passage from Pelleas?
he hasn’t written that yet, Pop
where’s that lousy Maeterlinck when you need him?
Pop, you’re scaring him
let him get his feet wet first
Debussy come back to the city with us
no, Florence I must stay here
& make a sound out of mist
besides you’re a minor
so put it in minor
oh Florence, do you think mist is that easy?

- Florence Kindel



Mimesis

We’ll soon be among the dead but for the time
being we should figure out who we are or were
for we have fallen. I think a century on earth
is plenty. The past that has worked itself out
now is not. Then again there are records.
The first thing I did today was mail a package
to Ulm. The second thing was smile at someone
who I will never see again. The last thing I did was
watch a sparrow die on the sidewalk like a tired mind.
The traffic light swayed in the wind, an obscenity came
from an open window. Here’s a key for a door,
helicopter pirouetting onto the lawn. Once again
I tip the bottle back. Yummy. Tell me the story
of how we met. I never get tired of listening
like a train headed into late afternoon
all the sun and shadow you could ask for.

- Ryan Nowlin



Movement

The cockatoo at the meet and greet infuriated her. Right to bear arms. The mood lifted but didn’t dissipate. She was a well-known know-it-all. She knew that certain burpee seeds would never sprout. She know that January lasted for three months. Her youth had no direction and no hesitation. In light of recent events, she recalled people. Who are they now? Next door, the dirt receded around the fence posts, making the world seem discarded.

- Emma Rossi



My Anger

They seize the day
make them stop
I'd do it myself but I’m too angry

In my rousing speech 
I bit my tongue
& somebody’s going to pay

That car that duck over there
that president that man
with the thing in his head

Suddenly it’s clear: my anger
was written for TV
to suck the life out of people

So it wasn’t really my anger
just words on paper
& that pisses me off!

Don’t look at me
you’re people
you must be pissed off too

Facing west the whole world
becomes adjusted according to
one virtue

Which is my anger
get out of the way
it’s growing

- Michael Roberts



Nature Boy

Ambulances come and go
The lights don’t stop them
I’ll return to the sound later
The list of beautiful and not so beautiful days
Beauty of grasses
With or without the dew on your feet
Not just you – everyone
I’m compelled to operate on contact
Correct me if I’m rong

- Kostas Anagnopoulos



Neat Trick

I pin the tail
on Melencolia
my prize is no consolation
futility is in my best interest
when I touch bottom
in the bottomless pit
make it tragic please
& beautiful too
to avoid the next crisis
apply electrodes to teeth and genitals

- Florence Kindel



Night Flowers

I never get tired of hearing about who’s sleeping
with whom or who’s flirting
with a bird

Sea foam made an alphabet

I was well aware of my predicament
it began with a blackened door
ending with the bird its beak wide open
waiting for a squeak of rain

I haven’t spoken all day

Redbirds hide in the jasmine vines
their wings are shiny coins

- Florence Kindel



November

He worked at a restaurant in the neighborhood. Reviews were mediocre. The patio was often
crowded so he didn’t see her when she passed. They had kissed twice six years ago. She stood
across the street and spied. She figured he would pretend to remember. In other news,
the Japanese maples were on fire, the last hold-outs before it all collapsed. The woods had
holes, the city had wind. Her eyes stung and her nose ran. He wasn’t okay then, so why okay
now? That stressed her out. How do these people happen? She popped a Lifesaver onto her
tongue. Wint-o-green.

- Emma Rossi



One for My Master

But who can hear you thinking
In the car of the unknown god
A welcome reprieve
After a long day swimming
In the barely moving stream
The hills are fried by afternoon
When frustration is concrete
An impressive display from the road
Advancing on the divide
I’ll talk to anyone who’ll listen
And by anyone I mean the incurable
Those who parse their terms
Like long distance attachés
Now you find yourself in a similar jam
Flanked by quilts and handicrafts
Plausible yet fantastic
With a touch of the indiscriminate
So let’s face it
We’ve been driving in circles
Night is suddenly here
And you’ve been talking all this time
In lieu of making sense

- Aaron Simon



Paris in the Spring

Chain smokers crowded into the basement. Piano, drums and bass overflowed the small stage. In the kitchen, Dexter Gordon struggled with a squeaky reed. The lights dimmed and blue plumes of smoke filled the club. Kenny Clarke balanced his cymbals and checked the foot-pedal. Pierre Michelot did reconnaissance, taking in the single rose in a vase at each table. “Un, deux,” the club’s owner checked for sound. The young Serbian tenor player at the bar had raced over from Le Chat Qui PechĂȘ to hear Dexter and Bud Powell, who was talking to the Danish couple in the cubbyhole nearest the piano. Dexter ambled onstage, leaned down and whispered to a woman, who chuckled. Bud took a sip of something and began “Don’t Explain.” Air whistled through Dexter’s mouthpiece. The drummer brushed a cymbal. One Czech student scratched her eyebrow with a fingernail. The Danish couple was immobile. Michelot went into a 16-bar solo until Dexter grinned, stepped forward and fluttered his long, fleshy fingers.

- Richard Chammings



Partisan
It’s been a long time not coming
where to go from here is a mystery
out of the tunnel into the night
I’m a follower
in an endless sequence
a reminder that my type is cast
I’m rambling again
but I’m listening too
nothing else I can do
what with the weather warping the wood
the oven malfunctioning
I’m here for lack of a better something
looking to apply myself
to the kitchen floor
it’s cool down here
under the butcher block
with a monumental splinter
christmas disintegrates before my eyes
time for a drink of water
the seasonal cease and desist
my name is unknown in these parts
yours is carved in the block

- Aaron Simon



Pile-Up

How can you
say so much
with such
little lips?

*

I am a lover
of the monkey wrench.

*

While only 20% of us
are sentient, 100% of our
machines are.

*

She was where her fingers
were playing.

*

Even the dumbest mosaics
are versatile.

*

When will all the disingenuous books
grow legs & commune?

*

Outside a dislocation
the tribalists.

*

Here’s to making crazy
look glamorous
and to having the last job
on earth.
*

Where all is written
all is worn down.

*

If I am a sick prick
and you are a droll doll
let’s drink to it.

*

Your lateral betrayal
is my rejuvenation.

*

These souls pile up
making me fierce.

- Casey Drouin



Postcard from Eugene

Suggestive of affirmation,
fate, funny odor from the table
beside disco a woman I kissed
once, morning fog dissipates
in my mouth. It’s the last hotel
your silhouette at the window
and the crumpled ocean.
Warm white towel
stitched with “forever.”
Colors coalesced
black and maroon
inspired by Spain
the grainy porn
we looked at all night.

- Ryan Nowlin



The Past

I try to refuse it. I wrap myself in blinders but it still trudges on, bearing
gifts: a watch, a wallet, Godiva chocolates.

And it won’t stop. It wants me. It needs me, and when I try to confront
it. nothing: a smile for my acknowledgment.

Sometimes, I have to embrace it. wine and dine it, take to out to a movie
for it to just leave me alone for a day or a week. Am I the only person
who can see what is good in other people?

My entire childhood I thought there was no mystery to the rain yet,
I’ve managed all these years through stupid tricks. No man is an island,
but I have seen all your shores. When did the afternoons
become burdens? Something to discard late at night along with certain
perishables.

Under the yellowing light the pickle jar, then morning peeled peaches.
Then a still afternoon. Another unnecessary burden. We rid ourselves
of all pretense. Maybe not.

If you never say never, you can’t say nevermind. Three-thousand-some
odd days in and I think we’re even. Even if you take it back, you can’t move
forward. Fast-forward a few years and tell me again how you thought
things would change for the better.

The answer on Jeopardy is always given first and never on your death bed.
This time I let the sun touch me. Now I wait. and outside my window
a plane. Also the leaves. In another window a house whose shoulders
are half raised in apology as if to say this is how we are made.

Two dead aloe plants, tendrils, yellowed paper, cinnamon, the head
of an evening moth. Another hot day at the office. Sounds in every corner.
A person talks.

- Ryan Nowlin



Rachel

Rachel isn’t interested in anything
She likes the beach
That’s it
Surely there’s something else
Maybe physical love
She’s got money
So why am I paying for dinners?
I don’t expect anything in return
No sexual favors
She asks me about my parents
What about my parents?
Do I get along with them
Sure but why do you care?
Why don’t you go to Africa with your parents?
Leave me and my parents out of this
I don’t even see my parents
I’m a loner
That disturbs her
She’s got friends
I don’t want them
Meanwhile I’m in training to be a physical therapist
That’s it
I’m going to let Rachel try to figure me out
When she’s in Africa
Maybe a wildebeest will explain
She never calls me
I always call her
Which makes me what? A social director? A numbnuts?
Probably both
Okay I’ll give her one more chance
Let me in
Take off your pantyhose
Look at yourself in the mirror
I’m right behind you

- Omar Husain



Sans-Culottes on the Radio

Ladies are you depressed by drips?
Maybe you’re overthinking it
Running it into the tar pit so to speak
I look forward to working with you
Once I get out
I promise to be patient with fermentation
Under your wing until I’m fully uninvolved
If you look down you’ll see the crown of a cabbage
(Or is that the baby’s head?)
Exhaling along with the wind
This pavement has been good to us but let’s take a moment
To ponder the other side of the street
The sunny side of stops and starts
Breathing concludes my testimony
Twisted in a mouth or throat
What a cruel place this is
I’m glad I’m not here
Pay up!
Money isn’t a friend
Personally I’d rather be under one of those open-air machines
One with drawstrings, piping and a pouffe
Outlasting the tree that’s down
You’re the one weeping in a fable
Because your ashes won’t scatter
It is told only to the feebleminded
Who stand agog
The donut peach is looking out for you
Steadying you
You keep pressing but the door won’t budge
Go out behind the garage
You’ll find a lot of ingots there

- Kostas Anagnopoulos



Silly Symphony

The smell of cut grass drifted in. Who left the patio door open? They smoked after supper. Uncertainty is natural. Hours lay upon them like carpets. Pheasants strutted on the field’s edge. Do thoughts constitute time? Green tea contains antioxidants. She preferred blue. There’s no comfort after the conflict starts. A daughter strokes her mother’s hair.

Exit ramps are linked by guardrails. Years of smoking formed a bubble in her throat. Schoolchildren understand photosynthesis. Mirrors need someone or something. His voice competed with a foghorn, shouts, loose manhole covers. Fold blankets on the bed. Parts of the speech were edited. He should not have used “elide.”

The room where occupants argued revolved. The cyan ink was low. Interest rates diminished. Greg loved a woman who hid whiskey in the pantry. Drunks sing more than a church choir. She fell twisting her ankle on her way to a dance recital. Once again the car jumped the curb. Choreography is essential. We couldn’t salvage the smart phone. Clumps of hair stuck to the brush. Don’t be such a baby. The Beatles wore turtlenecks. What if there isn’t enough for everyone? An error message was erroneous. Exactitude is impractical.

Cloudy with variable winds. They snored as they rounded the curve. His copy of Los Caprichos slid off his lap. A piggy-wig stood with a ring at the end of his nose. He said he wouldn’t watch the kids. The human voice is the perfect instrument. Their neighbor played arias at all hours. Through the curtains they watched people having sex. A metronome kept time. Gross domestic product (GDP) is economic activity adjusted for inflation.

- Richard Chammings



Social Butter

Why am I sitting in the dark
If not to conspire with my fits
Hole punch in the marginalia
Where I had my only thought
I’ll need this time to clarify
There’s something in the air tonight
Footsteps overhead
Get under the electric blanket
Fresh Widow sounds natural enough
Its day hasn’t come and gone
This is no place for counting sheep
But I feel safe in my corner

- Aaron Simon



Something of the Poet

If I don’t tell you about her she’s alive
among the few faces involved
tonight she’s asleep having the time of her life
and I’m sad and sincere and sentimental
about sickness flying in my car
thinking about her wonderfully crappy car
where no one can reach her
she may sing risking embarrassment
and dutifully I listen

- Michael Roberts



The Lonely Person

A lonely person moves to the west coast
to be with the one he loves or
he remains in the suburbs
where lack of emotional sustenance
verges on the pathalogical. He wants to get back
to himself, not this lonely person.
Still a goodbye look is what he is used to
in the subway, on the sidewalk, in an elevator
in a crowd passing through without pausing
to consider by what mechanism
his mind easily guides him
rarely touching so much
as a stranger’s sleeve. At home he listens
at the walls and learns too much.
He moves quietly through his small domain.
He knows when the people above him are gone
no shoes stomping around, no football games
turned up too high, no doors slamming
at dawn as they trudge to the morning commute
cars revving up, shouting on a cold morning
to the window above to throw down the gloves

- Ryan Nowlin


The Moon Last Night

The moon was high and red last night
a dog tracked me on a whim
jawing the length of the fence
in the time it took house names to travel
Palmetto, Hawthorn, Sweet Gum
we bolted from street urchins
politicians hung promises on bedsheets
what were you wearing?
gold? silver? nostalgia?

Tina and I debate
the red-headed, brown-bodied cardinal
adolescent female ripe in love?
I look it up in Peterson

A great belching undertow in February
what’s empty about it?
winter’s lingering whipped up
head forward, body flat on a board
fish chopping block
in willful surf (oxygen first)
come in, left and right
with your long tongues
red at night
a round sky
a pumpkin vestibule

The weeping man (not rabbit) in the moon
diverts the tides for turtles
the minute we sense danger
we volunteer rats for back-up

Give up your eclipse, you gourd!

Wings, ears, breasts
take what you will
death has no bath ticket for me
they call him Speedo
but his real name is Mr. Earl
volcanic ash, bones, wood
shells, cartilage

Ink is best for this
when I was young I thought
it wasn’t right to string
our rackets with cat gut
tall people walk short dogs
blonde thinking people
with shiny contractor bags
squirrels remove the tissues from their homes
mohawk man in color spectrum shirt
jumps a fence to see them
blue bowling ball bag over a shoulder
girls say “be nice” to dogs and guys
my glasses are too tight
I dreamed I raised a found baby
I feel like a refugee in my job

The wind wrestles in the cracks
I’ve taught children about salt, blood, ganglia and bone
I only know what I read in bed
my first reading chair was blue
it surrounded me like an eggshell
domed my brain, funneled me
made twigs of my eyes
my assistant squirts agarikon, red reishi
and birch polypore down my sore throat
that’s that
Sadie doesn’t like the way celery squeaks
most of her pranks are pretty smart
she broke a paint jar and sidestepped it like a fiddler crab

Jams I’ve gotten into
and out of with luck
always with men
Dennis almost lost his leg
on a Southside drag strip
nothing to do with me
the story I’m reading by Thornton Burgess
has a lark named Carol
a draft horse named Sydney
a trolley with a bug face
take a leap of faith, cash it in, miss
the equity on your good looks
cheap thrills at the drive-in
I put down my bottle of meat sauce
balloon over where? there?

we differ actively and passively
at all points, you crank
my innocence your unhappiness
I let you spelunk me

Start over
loathing is vanity
manikin in a window
imaginary national anthem
cherry tree planted for Barbara
when the vision is gone
I’ll only have my version

We construct a couch out of soccer balls
or make dice rosaries
never mind your next calling
this one serves you right

Those souls floating through airports
cool glass on a hot day
monk eating a short stack
he’s in some kind of pain

In Culebra raindrops bounce off one leaf
onto corrugated metal sheet
Leda says pit-pit-pit
to the chicks in the yard
little hands clapping
the rooster fans his tail out, up, out more
the port whittled down to its frigate birds
wind and water flat-out
don’t lose heart!
don’t lose sight, this way!
catbirds twitter and clouds shift
lizards scribble in the dirt
mimosas are shy
frigates fly, bringing rain
save face, look away
and away we go
can you be too inert
to climb a mountain
or eat someone up?

First to see the female night heron
diaphanous orange bark peel

rubbed red leaves hold fast
true green palmetto
those pure thoughts are things
pull over for a second
the dock is too short to reach

I’m here without an interval
speaking finch-speak
the impatiens are around back
the wild cotton never took off
sails come in with their shadows from Vieques

The man eats his cupcake slowly, with curiosity
he’s not from here
nor is the woman with banana bread

How old is young?
frightened forward
freefall as a child
adopting an orbit
in each garden a leech
did you like that verse?
unassailable as trees
the cat asks what kind of trees are unassailable
the cat says there’s no cross to bear

How much for a cook and a maid?
stranger things have happened
who passes, who raises?
so much is hidden
climbing the drainpipe
hollyhocks, dahlias, gill-over-the-ground
lilac, mustard, dandelion
cinque foil, yarrow in Long Eddy
the eyes in your ears
hives fenced electrically
against bears

Where was I?
what did I decide?
Hayden says Carol be careful
if you tell me who I am
I’ll tell you who you are!
What else was there?
moose caught on camera

moon gone
heading out to Mercury
friends on our tail in case we overheat
see the eye’s horizon
eye witness is legally blind
she left her baby on the beach
and took off for the mountains

Sadie asked me what jealous means
we’re saying goodbye now
I don’t know jealous
Olivia in a sundress
lives on corn, carrots and chocolate
what did the mountain name his son?
Cliff, that’s my dad, Sadie says
I’m the fall guy
Hayden punches me in the arm
to remind me
I tell Clara you look like a deer today
she says I’m a deer every day

Serenity fucked
I’m an unfriendly mother
butchering the simplest responsibilities
over and over again
half self-loathing
half strange loving

Come spring you leave things out
drawings, haircuts, musical instruments
Camilla works on her experiment
at the sink for days
mixing every single liquid known to man
it’s black as railroad coal Oscar says
it smells like coal
learn to let things go
catch up with you later

The big Caterpillar flattening banana peels
into goo on the driveway
running with horses in Whitmore’s meadow
blackberries and blueberries
it’s summer!
we eat berries and bring out the Ouija board

fairies appear
where do you leap in your dream?

I’ll bring my ukulele and sing
“Where Do You Leap, My Flea?”
all around the barns and chimneys
who do all those unbaptized babies
apologize to in Purgatory?

Moonlit dirt bumps
the road walks up to you
“going somewhere?”
to help the eyes make bigger circles
one year I lived without water electricity
toilet sink tub dresser shelf mirror bicycle
it was the best
nothing to lose
or put anywhere

I cut heavy scrub oak in Quogue
and fed white rats to the great horned owl
Dennis tried to enter his sister’s house
as a ghost
our closets met in Mississippi
where I got stuck to flypaper
working on civil rights

Does the fig tree summon the wasp?

I had a gentleman caller
who spoke in machine gun bursts
then fell silent
words are not a science
what am I doing without words?
they don’t match up, not with him, not with me

Did you find my socks at the bottom of your bag?

You remind me of Francis Patrick Butler
the wiry little Irishman
I didn’t lend my money to
or have a child with
I carried food and water
up and down the mountain in August
explaining teaching to myself

dressing Alex in my mind
tying her plaid shawl
over her green jacket
under her red hat
she talked a blue streak
while getting dressed
she wrote dear mom
I love you and I love to talk

The kitchen sink drain comes out
many times a day
so immature things won’t grow down there
I retrieve them and now and then
toss them in the salad bowl

- Carol Szamatowicz



The Wimp

This is your chocolate this is
Your Benedictine, your bed is
Starlit stop laughing
Just kidding don’t stop
This is a favorite season
For better lack of explosiveness
Why am I not more worried?
You ask. Just think of improving
Everybody think of the fate of a lost bullet
Not a stray bullet, you say
Here are your shoes
This is why I never go to parades
Why only my dad played football
All this seriousness about the room
Here are your glasses
For lighting flowers out of season
I’ll put them on your chair
So you can sit on them
I am how remote? You, me
Calico, the ivy

- Paul Maziar



Theatrical

History bubbles up to the surface. Where did I land after such a long fall? Nobody gets away but everyone gets it. Find somewhere to put them. Short declarative bursts are no company. You might have haunted many houses had you been a good ghost. These mini-houses form one room. The leaves that blew down the street are here in this sack, waiting for distribution. The cover has cockled and the pages are foxed. Who in the audience would you like to watch think? Head poking out of the door, eyeglasses hooked over her little ears.

- Clayton Albachten



Tragedy

So sad to have two heads. There just isn’t a bright side. Change the channel. How was
Fiddler on the Roof? Lately I’m into canning, mainly just the idea. I’ll wait until summer.
They’ve found another skeleton, you know, bones with jars and things. Who can keep up?
Lights are dim now, softening things. We do it to ourselves. Don’t try to love me.

- Emma Rossi



Western

It’s like August is like May
Mosquitoes of “Indian Heaven"
Appear locked in a tenth of a second
To see what they thought was there
All become death and its cozy sluiceways
We leave when we’re alive
At daybreak, eggshells on the horse trail
And once in a while say a few things
More than the dream
Hung in a tree not for birds

- Paul Maziar



When

Happy Birthday to me. Waves crashed, the markets too. Here’s J. I’ve tried to like her or kill her, it’s too much work. We put up the walls between us together. No more nude hose, I muttered. It’s time to blow but I’ll be here tomorrow. Time is strange, unromantic. On my own I can harmonize with whatever’s on. But a crowd unravels me. One moment a placeholder for all the others. It’s a new year. I am the luckiest.

- Emma Rossi



Winterlude

Fire escape dripped snow
Sugar dissolved in tea
Boredom took too long
To get where it was going
Sleep is reliable
You know that
I know nothing
Think of anything but snow
No snow
It’s August

- Omar Husain



You Can’t Fake It

Since you've been gone
I climbed a tree
got all scraped up
sat on a stump
frowned
and read a poem
I was proud of the guy
who wrote that poem
I got it
it was profound
full of citations
re our situation
it handled time and space pretty well
acknowledged summer
spring and so on 
and yet
its sole purpose was to spread money around
like infinity 
there's no french equivalent
i want to kiss you
but that's it 
we move on
the waves are cranky enough as is
we aren't exactly native to them
autumn had something to say in gold
god slowed down
dropped dead
the flowers showed up for work early
I'm sick of writing it
let’s look at something else
put a tail on it
let it wiggle awhile
love it a little longer
or other sediment

- Michael Roberts



You're My Opponent

I was lost in a strange driveway
sniffing around for mustard, dandelion, heal-all
& lost track of time
didn’t I see you on the road to Kent?
a red-wing blackbird?

At a party with parents of my students
a drunk parent with her mini skirt hiked up
above her underwear
like upside-down four year olds
should I punch her out?
a fiddler’s hymn steadied my nerves
but I like that woman anyway

I regret not retaliating for sisters
who were threatened, mauled, raped
and controlled like dummies
what should they wear?
gabardine, flax, wool, flannel, linen
loose around the waist
able to work lightweight machinery
a lever, a level, a saw
my grandfather shooed them away
from his coffee pot
let the tough ones risk their money on cards

The ceiling fan closes in on the moth with a dejected air
my timid vision of a flame
& a moon high enough to encourage a soft spot
I’m able to lower my head and listen
having a moderately hard time
it’s difficult to be civil

The sun sets on willow, rose, tulips, leeks
I cut through to a new path
smelling the foxes before I see them
I am goddamned Kit Carson!

- Carol Szamatowicz