THUGWISE CAT

clockwisecat

THUGWISE

CAT

Issue 37


Thugwise

Credits:

Alison Ross: ThugETTE-in=Chief

Chani Zwibel ;Featured FEmme

Felino Soriano: Resident Poet

CindY Hochman: RAD-ASS Reviewer

Quetzal:Thugwise Cat #1

Soleil: Thugwise Cat #2

2


EDITOR’s SCRATCHING POST:

CATATONICALLY SPEAKING-

Thugwise/Thug Life

Clockwise Cat has been denigrated once or twice for having a rough aesthetic, and for

liberally employing memes and clip art. But I’m like, fuck those mofos, cuz memes be dope!

And as far as the “look” of CC … well, we never set out to be all sophisticated and shit. We

are, first and foremost, a zine. We doctor some imagery, use clip art and memes and

uncopyrighted art from the internet and deploy funky fonts and we are PROUD to do so.

Of course, we also solicit and publish more professionally done collages, sketchings and

paintings, and we love those artists for offering us their eye-treats to adorn our journal. And

truth be told, if we had the budget, we’d totally pay a graphic artist to prettify our pages even

further and make our magazine look slightly more refined. But we don’t want to yuppify it,

and so maybe it’s a good thing we lack funds. It’s the editorial, poetic, and artistic content,

anyway, that makes the Cat so great. We believe in an authentic, organic ambiance,

something not afraid to show its ass a bit. We own our gritty look and feel and wouldn’t have

it any other way. The traditionalists aim to homogenize everything and make the journals into

cookie-cutter condos, while we want to splatter graffiti all over the place.

The traditionalists, you see, are the authoritarians. Clockwise Cat, on the other hand, is antiauthoritarian.

We live by our own code.

Clockwise Cat, in short, is an adherent of Thug Life as philosophized by the late, great

Tupac Shakur. This is why this issue is called Thugwise Cat. We’re not being ironic hipsters

here; we love the compelling contradictions that Tupac embodied; we love him for his

rhymes, and we love him for his mind.

Thug Life is often misunderstood as being a violent criminal code, when in fact it’s the

audacious antithesis. Thug Life is living by your own code, one that is anti-authoritarian but

respectful of your own community. It’s “gangsta” in the realest way possible; not nihilistic,

but uplifting, and eschewing the stifling hierarchies that oppress. It’s recognizing the tyranny

of tradition, and the forces of regressive repression, and overturning them. That’s what the

Cat does – we proudly publish the people who subtly or overtly subvert the linguistic and

artistic authoritarians.

Below, I paste part of 2pac’s Codes of Thug Life. It’s worth noting that just as the Codes of

Thug Life are inherently a sense of pride in being black, the Codes of Clockwise Cat are

innately a sense of pride in being a black sheep. We don’t want to assimilate to conformist

codes like those traditionalist journals with their gentrified aesthetics and generic poetics.

We’d rather look like a vibrantly colorful thrift store than an aloof, soulless upscale

department store – and we’d rather sell goods like raging invective, scathing satire, and

progressive verse over fashion fad poetry that merges with the masses. We’re also about

respecting humanity, and Thug Life was very much so about that too. It was about

community, not hierarchy. Clockwise Cat vigorously celebrates community.

3


Quetzal and Soleil, our resident feisty felines, would agree. Cats live the Thug Life, after all.

Tupac’s CODES OF THUG LIFE

Thug Life is an acronym for "The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everyone.” The codes were

designed to give order to the rise of gang violence and drug dealing. These codes were signed by

the Bloods and Crips at a peace treaty called the Truc Picnic, in California in 1992.

The Codes

5. Car jacking in our Hood is against the Code.

8. No slinging in schools.

11.The Boys in Blue don’t run nothing; we do. Control the Hood, and make it safe for squares.

12. No slinging to pregnant Sisters. That’s baby killing; that’s genocide!

14. Civilians are not a target and should be spared.

15. Harm to children will not be forgiven.

17. Senseless brutality and rape must stop.

18. Our old folks must not be abused.

19. Respect our Sisters. Respect our Brothers.

4


The Irrevocable Object of Desire by Greg Wallace

Artist bio: Gregory Autry Wallace is a poet, painter and collagist living in San Francisco. He

studied English, World and Comparative Literature, and Creative Writing at San Francisco State

University. His poetry and collages have appeared in Athena Incognito, Black Scat Review,

BlazeVox, Danse Macabre,Clockwise Cat and Five 2 One. He was a poetry editor for Ink

Magazine and a founding editor of Oblivion Magazine. In addition, his paintings, collages and

assemblages have appeared in juried art shows.

5


THUGWISE

InVeCtiVe

(And sAtiRiCaL SCreeDs)

6


FROM THE BOWELS OF

UNSCIENTIFIC THOUGHT:

THE COMMON CORE SIMPLIFIED

By John Alexander

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of hearing about the Common Core.

Yeah, yeah- some people are for it, some are against- and then there’s the students- “the victims”-

who have to endure it.

I mean, there was a time when going to school meant seeing your friends, memorizing a

bunch of stuff, going to gym and lunch- and being “freed” at the end of the day.

But now, the fun is all gone. Instead, the kids “search for evidence;” “piece together

arguments;” “explain calculations;” “compare similarities and differences;” “think critically”- and

that’s just the beginning.

And for what? Lift their achievement levels? Undermine local control? Overwhelm kids

with stupid word problems? Again, for what? To what end? So they can get a minimum wage

job that requires them to apply NONE of the things they’ve learned?

It does seem so, doesn’t it? So, I’ve devised a ten question “test” that will not only

eliminate the need for all that time spent in the Common Core, but will prepare those students for

the minimum wage jobs they will call a career.

And, I’ve even provided a “grading key” so that the test takers will have a good, solid

introduction by which to plan the rest of their lives (a “career planning” added bonus- for free!).

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to- “The Common Core - Simplified.”

(1) You are a cashier at Starbucks. A customer’s order rings up as $15.00.

The customer gives you two (2) five dollar bills, four (4) one dollar bills,

three (3) quarters, two (2) dimes, and five (5) pennies. How much change

should you give back to the customer?

(a) Two one dollar bills and three quarters;

(b) No change back;

(c) Two quarters and four nickels;

(d) Three dimes and two nickels;

(e) None of the above.

7


(2) Draw a line so as to match the city with the state, province or country they are in.

You must match them perfectly to get a point.

New York City

Indiana

Oklahoma City

New Jersey

Jersey City

Virginia

Indianapolis

Kansas

Iowa City

Iowa

Kansas City

Quebec

Mexico City

New York

Quebec City

Mexico

Virginia Beach

Oklahoma

(3) If you are a K-Mart employee, and you hear this message- “Attention K-Mart

Shoppers!” This message means that-

(a) The store is closing;

(b) Someone left their headlights on;

(c) There is a psychotic gunman in the store;

(d) A sale is about to begin;

(e) A child is lost;

(f) None of the above;

(g) All of the above.

(4) Fahrenheit and Celsius are-

(a) Two ships that fought each other during the Civil War;

(b) The names of Apple’s and Samsung’s new cell phones;

(c) The last names of two ten-year-olds that have been offered football

scholarships to the University of Alabama;

(d) Two different ways to determine temperature;

(e) None of the above;

(f) All of the above.

(5) “The Cloud” refers to-

(a) The first song on Prince’s “Purple Rain” album;

(b) What happens to your computer screen after years of use;

(c) A weather phenomenon;

(d) A data storage system;

(e) What happens to your eyes after 9.5 hours of starring at your screen;

(f) None of the above;

(g) All of the above.

(6) “Big Lots” is-

(a) The name of a county park in Milwaukee;

(b) An exclusive suburban development, just south of Dallas;

(c) A discount chain store;

(d) The new home of the Cleveland Cavaliers;

(e) None of the above;

(f) All of the above.

(7) Buffalo Chicken Wings were first served in-

(a) Chicago;

(b) Los Angeles;

8


(c) Buffalo;

(d) Memphis;

(e) New York;

(f) None of the above

(8) If you are driving “a mile a minute,” how far will you have driven after one hour?

(a) Thirty miles;

(b) Sixty miles;

(c) It depends on the time zone;

(d) Nobody in their right mind drives that slow;

(e) It depends on how many stops you make;

(f) None of the above;

(g) All of the above.

(9) Who is pictured on the three dollar ($3.00) bill?

(a) John Adams;

(b) Harriet Tubman;

(c) Robert E. Lee;

(d) John F. Kennedy;

(e) Ronald Reagan;

(f) All of them- it rotates;

(g) None of the above.

(10) A Broadway play is-

(a) The last play of an NFL game;

(b) Football plays run only by the New York Jets and New York Giants;

(c) A place in Times Square where children can play;

(d) What con-artists do to get you to buy knock-off goods;

(e) A show that only rich people can afford to see;

(f) None of the above;

(g) All of the above.

THE ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS

Each question- if answered correctly- is worth one (1) point. For question # 2, the cities much be

matched perfectly with their respective state, province or country in order to get a point.

The correct answers are:

# 1- b

# 2- Matching a city with its state, province or country-

New York City with New York

Oklahoma City with Oklahoma

Jersey City with New Jersey

Indianapolis with Indiana

Iowa City with Iowa

Kansas City with Kansas

Mexico City with Mexico

Quebec City with Quebec

Virginia Beach with Virginia

9


# 3- d

# 4- d

# 5- d

# 6- c

# 7- c

# 8- b

# 9- g

# 10- e

GRADING YOUR ANSWERS & CAREER PLANNING

10/10 Find something to do so that someone can nominate you for a

MacArthur “Genius Award.”

9/10 Great score, but forget about going to Harvard. Try one of

those on-line colleges.

8/10 You’re way too smart for MacDonald’s or Burger King. Think-

Olive Garden.

7/10 No local hardware store for you. Head over to Lowe’s or Home

Depot.

6/10 Pick up and cash in deposit returnable cans and bottles.

5/10 Give plasma as often as you can and make sure you get paid.

4/10 Volunteer someplace that gives you a free meal and a place to

sleep.

3/10 Find out if your old school will let you back into grade one.

2/10 Go to prison so you can learn to make something.

1/10 Commit yourself at your local psychiatric hospital.

0/10 See your doctor to make sure your brain is functioning.

Author bio: After spending years in New York City, John Alexander has temporarily

relocated to the hamlet of Getzville, New York. He lives and writes there in the company

of his two favorite pets, “Bunny” and “Roma.” Most recently, John has appeared in

Danse Macabre du Jour, Clockwise Cat (3), Straightjackets Literary Magazine,

Hackwriters: The International Writers Magazine (U.K). He also co-authored the online

novel, entitled, “A Vow of Silence.” It can be found at www.avowofsilence.net

10


Satan’s Diabolical 10-Step

Plan for President Trump

By Moira Lynch

Hello Donald,

I read with great interest your proposal to help me defeat America and destroy the world. I must

say, I admire your drive. This, combined by your bullying self-aggrandizement and total moral

decay have proven to me that you are, indeed, the right man for the job. Congratulations.

That said, we have our work cut out for us. President Obama has chosen to ignore my bidding,

bribes and threats. Despite all this (and the fact that he’s black!) he has proven to be a strong

adversary. In fact, sources tell me he will be remembered as one of the most admired presidents

in US history. But no matter, we will triumph in the end. Hope and Change are nothing compared

to our hatred and divisiveness. For while the world may love and respect Barack Obama, they

will come to fear and cower before us!—!and as you know, Donald, that is the measure true power.

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it

will be because we destroyed ourselves.

-Abraham Lincoln

Below, I have outlined a plan for our success which was inspired by good old “Honest Abe”

himself. (If I can’t make that freedom-loving bullshit artist burn in hell, he’ll at least rue his

words.) If deployed correctly, you shall soon see the evil fruits of our labor. The genius of my

plan lies in its pure audacity and irony. For we will use the most American of institutions to turn

11


America against itself. Through freedom of speech and freedom of the press we will use lies to

deceive voters and sensationalism and spectacle to keep them coming back for more. Because, as

we both know, America so loves a scandal!

Here are the initial broad strokes of my diabolical plan, but feel free to improvise with your own

special brand of magnetic megalomania.

1. Stir up fear, racism and sexism in white American men who feel their privilege and power

slipping away. Launch your entry into politics by promoting a meritless rumor about the validity

of Obama’s birth certificate. The Tea Party will love this as it gives racism an almost patriotic

patina!

2. Get the backing of Evangelical Christians. Despite their alleged allegiance to you know Who,

they are a powerful and purposeful group. Best of all, we have a tremendous opportunity to use

their beliefs for our own agenda. They believe the Second Coming is at hand and have a vested

interest in promoting the end of the world. Who better than you, Donald, in the position of the

most powerful man in the world to make that happen? You’re welcome.

3. Alienate sane, sensible and morally responsible Republican party members with divisive and

bullying rhetoric. The party can be ripped apart at its roots by appealing to its most aggrieved

party members with unabashed fear and hatred.

4. Parade your made-for-reality-TV family before the public to attest to your viability as a father,

leader and worthy human being. A note here: I encourage you to say out loud all the inappropriate

thoughts you have about your oldest daughter, Ivanka. The benefits are two-fold: 1.) It affirms

your own attractiveness (because, really, could an ugly, ogre of a man father a woman so

fuckable?) and 2.) a whiff of incest always appeals to America’s prurient nature and will get you

even more media attention. Do you see the pattern here, my friend? Moral outrage gets attention

and ultimately, votes.

5. Use “America First” as a way to allay domestic fears of globalization and sow international

fears of colonization. Employ terrorist threats to demonize and dehumanize refugees and

immigrants seeking peaceful refuge in America. Back this up with threatening and insinuating

promises to neighboring countries and allies. Oh, and I’ll give you extra credit for warming up to

Vladimir Putin. He’s already on my team and I think you’ll work well together. Terrifichuman

being.

6. On the domestic front, let’s talk about dog-whistle policies like “Law and Order” to stoke the

escalating tensions between police officers and communities of color. The greater the distrust we

can create between the people and law enforcement, the better chance we can transform civil

disobedience into civil war. Yet another example of my evil genius!—!and one I’m particularly

proud of.

7. The media will make us or break us. As luck would have it, these days most people are getting

their political information from social media platforms so we can easily create fake news,

manipulate the truth and create a more angry and confused electorate. When questioned by

detractors and/or the mainstream media, simply deny any responsibility or culpability for your

words then distract them with another shocking lie.

8. Show the world you will take shit from no one. Use Twitter to promote useful fabrications and

12


silence or shame any who would dare express distrust or disagreement with you. And on that

note: retweet the racist and xenophobic ideologies of hate groups as much as possible. You will

see they are very faithful and dedicated followers who will promote the Trump brand with gleeful

zeal.

9. Loudly label opponents, immigrants and others as criminals to gain support and distract from

the fact that you have thousands of pending lawsuits ranging from fraud to sexual assault. While I

commend you for your dirty deeds, they could be your Achilles heel. Play the offensive and you

won’t have to play the defensive.

10. Once elected, surround yourself with aids, advisors and Cabinet members as dedicated to

destruction as you. I have some people in mind already (Steve Bannon is as relentless as they

get). Oh, and if you can get a climate skeptic to head the EPA, you would be doing me a huge

favor. Fuck those tree-hugging communists. I won’t be satisfied until every polar bear has

drowned from exhaustion in tepid bathwate

That’s all for now. Once you are in office, I will be contacting you with the next steps of my

unholy plan. I look forward to your election and ascension to the highest seat of human power.

Together we will destroy the world by reminding people to Make America Hate Again.

Sincerely psyched for total destruction,

Satan

13


TWO SATIRICAL ADS

BY JON WESICK

CRITICAL THINKING PROGRAM AT LESSER FALLS BIBLE COLLEGE

Everybody’s enrolling in the critical thinking program at Lesser Falls Bible College.

Shouldn’t you too? Business leaders say the number one qualification they look for in

new hires is a degree in critical thinking, but don’t take their word for it. Take the word

of one of our graduates, Julio Maldacena, who got a twenty-percent raise after graduating

with a master’s degree in critical thinking. Lesser Falls Bible College has earned praise

from movie stars like Jim Carey and Jenny McCarthy. This isn’t your father’s critical

thinking program. Our program is the newest in the tri-state area.

The critical thinking program at Lesser Falls Bible College excels at academic rigor.

Professor Gil Borodino designed our program using the knowledge he gained from

completing his Ph.D. in critical thinking right here at Lesser Falls Bible College. With

tuition costing $50,000 a year, you know it has to be good.

Some people like the Better Business Bureau, college accreditation board, and attorney

general think you shouldn’t be allowed to learn critical thinking at Lesser Falls Bible

College, but who would believe a bunch of busybodies with halitosis, anyway? And

besides, no one has proved that a master’s degree in critical thinking from Lesser Falls

Bible College doesn’t lead to a fifty-percent salary increase.

You have two choices. Either you get a critical thinking degree from Lesser Falls Bible

College or you die broke, homeless, and alone.

14


NUKE BRIGHT TOOTHPASTE

Unlike those other radioactive toothpastes, Nuke Bright contains only the

freshest strontium-90 shipped directly from Fukushima, Japan. Strontium is

chemically similar to calcium so once inside your body it concentrates in

your tooth enamel giving you that glow-in-the-dark smile. That’s Nuke

Bright Toothpaste in drugstores everywhere.

Author bio: Author of the poetry collection Words of Power Dances of

Freedom, host of the Gelato Poetry Series, and an editor of the San Diego

Poetry Annual, Jon Wesick has published more almost a hundred short

stories in journals such as The Berkeley Fiction Review, Clockwise

Cat, Space and Time, Zahir, Tales of the Talisman. One was nominated for a

Pushcart Prize. Jon has a Ph.D. in physics and is a longtime student of

Buddhism and the martial arts.

15


SAY IT AIN’T SO, JOE!

By Virs Rana

It appears we currently live in a time of significant transition. Socio-political,

scientific, and spiritual strongholds are continuously confronted by interrogatory assaults

and disruptions. While status quo dynamics are struggling to hold their ground,

skepticism abounds: What are the facts? How are they derived? And for what purpose

are they promulgated? The first question deals with truth, the second with process, and

the third with motive. One cannot know the answer to the first, unless both process and

motive are understood.

For millennia past, the only one of these questions extensively solicited with answers

was the first, which was disseminated in the forms of dictates, laws, and commandments,

with little or no verification by ruling authorities. But traditions have slowly been eroded

by false gods and false prophets, posing as heads of state, religion, and science. The

masses, the rabble, the people, the common human, the collateral damage have become

too educated and too informed to continue to be sheeple. The deterioration and decay of

facades are revealing the many guises of corruption. And no matter the trappings and

glitter of image, the excrementalism of incompetence and deception are exposed not as

‘mistaken’ and ‘misspoken’, but as betrayal and lie.

Beware of words that are granted meanings to suit the situation. Legalese and doublespeak

are forms of forgery to excuse and diminish the severity and unlawfulness of

crimes. Somewhere, sometime it became unmannered to press authorities for answers.

Their position must be respected and protected at all costs, because in pressing them, we

would have to press ourselves, which would be too awkward and too painful a reckoning

for any formalized politeness. This hypocrisy is acceptable, as a buffer against truth and

duty; two words that have been given such latitudes of meaning that accountability has

been reduced to relativity in all situations, in order to dismiss those responsible for their

transgressions against the very principles they have sworn to uphold, further reducing the

word principle to quaint antiquity.

Questions are not enough. We have been taught for too many generations that we are

civilized, that we must speak and act toward one another with a modicum of respect,

which should be accorded all who participate in this perverse deception. Why? The socalled

authorities are the very corruptors of these principles of freedom. And they are

everywhere; they are pervasive. They are members of our city councils, our county

supervisors, our state representatives, our United States Congress. They are from the

executive, legislative, and judicial branches, our President of the United States. They are

our teachers, our priests, our imams, our rabbis, our pastors, our scientists. They live off

our labor, and our money, and they pass laws to prevent us from taking legal action

16


against them. They are shown favoritism and shielded against any consequences of their

illegal actions, where you, a simple member of the masses would be vilified and

incarcerated.

But the authorities are merely figureheads, privileged in name and legal tender only,

due to a diluted and polluted system. In most cases, they are less intelligent than those

whom they refer to as the masses, and the rabble. Some may be glib and ingratiating to

evoke sympathy and respect, which they often get, but, in truth, they are pawns of their

own insecurity and denial. They even betray each other to sustain their untenable status.

They make you the same promises, over and over, on the same issues, the issues that

never change, because the promises are empty; but we forget, and forgive them, because

we make empty promises to ourselves, and we will not stand and deliver.

No, questions are not enough. We must raise our standards of responsibility to

ourselves and to one another. We must cultivate our self-respect and our freedom in

relationship to principles that those before us have called virtues, not in reactions to fear

and anger, which in turn, motivate the masses toward alienation and apathy: that fear and

anger used to manipulate others by force, through the threat of war and scarcity, that fear

and anger so corrosive to community and good will, only temporarily suspended in times

of tragedy, that fear and anger that have been the dominant emotional states on this planet,

far too long, which lead many to believe it’s human nature, a bit premature, since we are

still in the process of discovering what that nature is.

But we are preoccupied. So we fail to address and to sustain community action,

relinquishing this power to the maintenance of individual image and status. What you

think of you is predicated on what others think of you, within this grand deception. Those

in true service are noted for having a special calling and a special compassion that we

would like to emulate, but just don’t have the time for. After all, who are you without

participating in those worshipped values, and achieving success against all odds? Did you

ever think why there are so many odds? Are they real? Who or what creates them?

No, questions are not enough. Answers can be projected, but never understood, until

they are first lived: A revolution within? A realization that production is not about things

or statistics, but about what we need to understand, not to live life in false comfort and

security, but in the process of seeing, beyond what we’ve allowed ourselves to become

programmed to see? Mirrors often present a shadow image. What do we see, when we are

reflected in the eyes of others?

We know, but we choose not to act on that knowledge, for it would jeopardize all that

we fought to believe in that made us a believer, a self-worshipper of gods created to be

idolized, rather than in service to the Truth we refuse to acknowledge, in the birdsong,

behind the mask of our deception…

…Must give us pause…That last phrase, although poetically fit, may sound a little too

froo-froo for the more sober and fiercely linear thinkers, because oblique metaphors have

no meaning in their reality: You’re born; you (pretend to) live; then you die. Thusly, any

patronizing concern for the welfare of others ain’t worth spit, no matter your bull-chitchat

perseverating.

Author bio: Orphaned at birth, Virs Rana was raised by Chrysalisian Monks in the

Carpathian Mountains, where he studied ancient languages. Since leaving the monastery,

he began writing a journal and decided to share his experiences in stories. He holds a

degree as a MOG (Master of Organic Geometry)

17


The Donald DOLLAR by Matt Kolbet

As you surely remember from elementary school history class, George Washington, besides

harboring a loathing for cherry trees, served as the first president of the United States, thus

securing his position on the one-dollar bill. Such staid currency remains in constant use for

mocking tips to bigoted waiters (you spent all your pennies sardonically last summer at the

neighbor’s alt. right garage sale/fruit punch stand), charity to Salvation Army bell ringers, and

desperately scribbling your phone number in lumberjack-themed strip clubs. That founding father

would be most proud when Aspen told you she’d call and sort-of meant it, though she forgot later

after someone threw up their pancakes on her. Or was it Bambi? Either way, General Washington

knows something about fallen wood.

The final president of our country, Donald Trump, deserves his own currency. The revolution he

spearheaded was less about creating a new country or good governance, and he may never have

held a blade more sizable than a knife, but he cut into bookmaker’s margins, and giving people

the axe inspired his reality show before we were forced to join in. Washington spent the

Christmas of 1776 crossing the Delaware to fight the Hessians in Trenton. When Trump went to

New Jersey in 2016 he helped defeat Chris Christie. Rather than a single (which would be

incongruous with Trump’s style in marriages or bankruptcies) the Donald Dollar will actually

represent negative money, an additional debt (more in line with the current direction of the

country). When spending it, customers will demonstrate their loyalty and willingness to sacrifice

to make American something else again—you can’t be sure what, and you’re uncertain you want

to know because it would force you to reevaluate not only your relationships, but career choices,

pets (axolotls seemed cooler when the guy on the side of the road talked about them), and even

the crush you had on your elementary school history teacher, Mrs. Forrest.

Example: The Walmart you frequent most often sells a 36 pack of Coors Banquet for 24.99. The

yellow cans have become your go-to beverage now that you can’t find Schlitz there. Not

coincidentally, you triangulated the store’s prime location based on proximity to your parole

officer, divorce lawyer and favorite strip joint. When you stop in Friday night, for every Donald

Dollar you spend, you increase tidy corporate profits, which inevitably trickle down to or from

CEOs. It also gives sufficient suds so you have a good time sitting at home watching your

aquarium.

Best of all, for a limited time the new administration is giving out Donald Dollars for free. This is

in lieu of blood offerings, and we should be grateful. Collecting them will give you something to

do while you re-read Julio Cortázar, waiting for the axolotl to trade places with you and take over

your Twitter account to call out other salamanders from Mexico. Or perhaps kill you. Though

you won’t undergo a metamorphosis, think of it as regeneration. Find Mrs. Forrest again. Ask

her if she’s ever thought of becoming somebody’s second wife.

Author bio: Matt Kolbet teaches and writes in Oregon

18


DRONE DRAMA: Music for the Dead

By Cecelia Chapman, Sean Derrick, and Jeff Crouch

Description: “Drone Drama: Music for the Dead” is a video that addresses

being human in the age of the drone. The eleven chapter, seventeen minute

video, from the album by Berlin based, American composer Sean Derrick

Cooper Marquardt was filmed in 2016, and a chapter edited and submitted to an

online site each month. Chapter 11. 'If you were born without wings, do

nothing to prevent them from growing,’ submitted to Clockwise Cat, considers

change in consciousness as the path to social and cultural change. It was filmed

at the NODAPL Berkeley Indigenous Day 2016.

FULL VIDEO: https://youtu.be/yl3_PP-hXj8

CHAPTER 11: https://youtu.be/ftUz8JimfCc

CHATPER STILLS

AND TEXT:https://www.facebook.com/ChapmanMarquardt/

“Drone Drama” was filmed on the San Francisco Peninsula, with all the

contradictions inherent in a hyper-evolving, militaristic society: income disparity,

environmental catastrophe, epic cultural upheaval. Notorious for being the evermorphing

home to military defense contracting corporations, the San Francisco

Peninsula bio-tech industry is known as Silicon Valley. Previously it was the

Vietnam War industry home base, and before that, the greatest World War II

shipbuilding industry in the world.

I used Sean’s titles and his subtle drone tracks to direct the video. Each chapter is

filmed in a specifically selected site, from orchid farm, to prison, to underneath the

dystopic San Francisco freeways, to Oracle headquarters.

Sean and I have never met in person but we collaborated on two earlier videos. I

also conferred with my ten year collaborator, Jeff Crouch in Texas, about

philosophy. I have never met Jeff in person either, so this video is very much a

collaboration across space and time. My other ten year collaborator, performer

Christa Hunter, is in Chapter 1.

“Drone Drama” just had its premiere in Cologne, Germany, and was selected for

the Italian Magmart Video Festival 10.

19


DRONE DRAMA

Artist bios: Sean Derrick Cooper Marquardt is the Berlin-based American sound artist and

composer of “Drone Drama.” Sean performs throughout Europe in risk-taking performances. He

is co-founder of Hortus Conclusus Records and can be found

at https://www.facebook.com/seandcmarquardt/. Cecelia Chapman filmed and edited “Drone

Drama” and is an American visual artist living in California. She has more than eighty short new

media videos that examine how we live and think: ceceliachapman.com Her collaborators include

performers, sound artists and artists she meets online or draws from her personal life. She has

collaborated for eleven years with Jeff Crouch, a Texas internet artist, who continues to provide

philosophic and logistic inspiration and advice on scores of projects. Google him.

20


Nineteen Ways GLOBALLY INTEGRATED

CAPITALISM HAS FATALLY FAILED America

By Edwin L. Young, PhD

1. Democracy, especially US democracy, is a sham and a criminalist, political,

governing system as, in fact, about a dozen of the earth’s richest and most

powerful humans ultimately control who runs for offices, how campaigns are

conducted, who gets elected,, and what agendas get enforced. This globally

controlling group sets the agendas for all nations while their rulership remains

hidden, undisputed, and omnipotent.

2. Massive movement of the earth’s human populations toward complete

urbanization for the sake of becoming capitalist corporation’s exploited slave class

while those who have been forced to come to live in huge urban areas find them

turning into huge crime, poverty, and disease causing ghettos, or virtual, huge

prisons of slave encampments.

3. Justice System: Corporation Illegality Is Exempt from Prosecution

4. Business ventures fail (or die) if they do not make a profit. On the other hand,

if they persist in making a profit, many other forms of life will become diseased

and die. On the whole, if most of these businesses succeed in making profits, all

life on the planet will gradually become extinct.

5. Food Production and Delivery Systems Attract Customers to Disease Inducing

Foods Worldwide while US Health Care workers prescribe unnecessary big

corporate pharmaceutical medications and treatments that prevent the body's use

of its natural ability to fight disease and to self-heal and healthy diets are not

promoted among the poor and unwary

6. Consumer Protection laws are ineffective in combating Honest Advertising

Systems that would attack the overwhelmingly effective Major TV channels that

sell the populace on health destructive foods and practices. Illnesses related to

these corporate owned TV channels’ programs are booming in the US.

7. Water Sources Are Being Polluted and Water Delivery Systems Polluted and

Are Unavailable in Remote Regions of the World

8. Natural Resources Protection Ineffective in Stopping Exploitation of Backward

Peoples and Is Not Guarding Against Their Dwindling Supply

9. Environment Protection Is Ineffective in Guarding Against Deadly Chemicals

21


Polluting Earth, Air, Water, and Large Water Bodies

10. Transportation Industries Refusing to Allow Environment Friendly Alternative

Fuels while Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal are Polluting and Despoiling and centrally

and universally causing the eventual extinction of all life on earth.

11. Animal and Plant Species Protection Agencies Are Ineffective in Preventing

Extinctions and Human Unfriendly GMOs Taking Over by Huge Food Related

Corporations Who are also Running Small Organic Farmers out of Business

12. Employment Compensation to laid off workers is now becoming unavailable

to many of them. At the same time, there is a massive increase in Part-time

Workers who receive no unemployment compensation or benefits when they are

forced out of work by modernized Automation and Mechanization.

13. Public Education is controlled by State Officials and Local Wealthy Board

Members, all of whom enforce Corporate Friendly and Populace Unfriendly

Teaching Materials and Content and construct untold numbers of Public Education

Buildings and Systems while Elitist Offspring have Elitist Controlled and Elitist

Favoring Curricula. The under classes of the populace as a whole continue with

their Preschools, First through Twelve, College, Graduate, and Professional

Schools that Corporations Tailor for Mass Teaching Systems that will result in

humanity becoming divided into one superior and several inferior dominated,

exploited, and unwitting levels of tracks of slave classes.

14. Banking and Finance Systems and Zero Interest on Loans to Huge

Corporations while huge Corporations send nontaxable trillions to overseas safehavens

15. Major TV Channels provide childish, odd, and horrific Programs to US and

World Masses that Perpetuate their Infantalization (and their ignorance of US

destructive imperialistic programs) of Adults in the US and in foreign nations as

well.

16. The Internet could and does provide alternative news and information

programs. Nevertheless, the Populace is Hooked into major TV Channels that

provide misinformation, avoid corporate unfriendly information, blackout news

about US imperialistic programs that foment civil wars in underdeveloped nations,

and independently reported stories about US arms industries selling weapons to

both sides in these fomented civil wars, US privately funds ignorant foreign troops

and US mercenary troops assassinate foreign heads of state unfriendly to or

disobedient to the US

22


17. During World War II, some major industrialist sent money and war related

machines to aid Hitler’s war efforts, Henry Ford was one of them. Toward the end

of World War II, the US brought renowned German scientists and engineers to the

US to work on the US space and missile programs- Werner Von Braun was

principal among them.

18. The many religions of the world keep the unknowing and ignorant of the world

pacified and preoccupied with their superstitious rituals and their other worldly

belief systems that are irrelevant to how they are being exploited and

enslaved. These religions keep the ignorant masses from becoming aware of the

coming crisis to the earth with its impending global life extinction. All the while

the elites of earth are designing and planning their escape to another, safe planet

somewhere else in our vast universe.

19. As all of these interconnected aspects and processes of our world silently and

irrevocably continue to succeed, that is to say make profits in a world where there

is no force capable of either stopping them altogether or of fundamentally altering

their essentially, globally, undetectably, and cumulatively eventuality of producing

an extinction of all life on our planet.

!

23


"#$!%&'(&')*$!%&+(!,$-*'&./01!2+'!34#&&5-!6)-!7/0)55.!

%&8$!7&'!2+'!9&:$'08$0*!

By Steven Singer

First they came for people of color and I said nothing. Because I am not a person of

color. Then they came for the poor and I said nothing. For I am not poor. Then they came

for our public schools and I said nothing. Because I do not send my children to public

schools. Now they’ve come for our government and who is left to speak for me?

This is a paraphrase of Martin Niemöller’s famous lines about the cowardice of German

intellectuals during Hitler’s rise to power. The fascists purged group after group while

those who could have stood against them did nothing – until it was too late.

That’s very nearly the position we find ourselves in today in relation to the Trump

administration. The neoliberal and neofascist façade has fallen away. And the naked

greed of our runaway capitalist system has been exposed for what it is.

Just this week, Trump unveiled a new government office with sweeping authority to

overhaul federal bureaucracy on the business model.

Led by the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, The White House

Office of American Innovation will be an autonomous entity enforcing the president’s

will. Described as an internal “SWAT team” of strategic consultants, and staffed with

former business executives, the office will cut down democratic rule in favor of top-down

authoritarianism.

And the excuse is the same one used to deny equity for minorities, the same one used to

dismantle protections for the poor and the same one used to unfairly label and close our

public schools – we need to run government like a business.

But government is not a business.The goal of a business is profit for the few. The goal of

government is service to the many.

24


In a private business only the owner or the board of directors reaps the benefits. But our

government is not supposed to be set up that way. It’s not supposed to benefit merely all

the president’s men. It’s supposed to benefit all of us – the citizens, the taxpayers, the

voters. This is exactly the model that has been used against our public schools.

We have shifted our concern away from students and parents to investors and

corporations. For almost two decades, our education policies have increasingly been to

reduce local control – especially at schools serving the poor and minorities – and give

that control to private charter school operators. We have removed the duly-elected school

boards and replaced them with appointed boards of directors. We have removed or

diminished democratic rule and replaced it with an autocracy. And all the while the

middle class has cheered.

It was a coup in plain site, and no one but parents, students, teachers and intellectuals

spoke up. Our voices were undercut or ignored. When we demanded equal treatment for

our children, we were labeled welfare queens wanting something for nothing. When we

demanded fair treatment, a safe work environment and resources for our students, we

were labeled union thugs standing in the way of progress. At every turn we were tone

policed into silence and passed over for the voices of self-proclaimed experts who knew

nothing but what they were paid to espouse.

We were told that the only measure of academic success was a standardized test score.

But no mention of the white, middle class standard our non-white, impoverished students

were being held to.

When our schools were increasingly segregated by race, class and income, we were told

that it was only fair. After all, it was based on choice – the choice of the invisible hand of

the free market. When our schools were starved of resources, we were told to do more

with less. And when our students struggled to survive malnutrition, increased violence

and the indentured servitude of their parents to an economic system that barely allowed

them to sustain themselves, we blamed them. And their teachers, because how dare

anyone actually try to help these untouchables!

We allowed this – all of it – perpetrated by Democrats and Republicans, Conservatives

and Liberals, because they’re all really just different dogs to the same masters. We

justified it all in the name of the market, in the name of economics, in the name of

business. Why should we care? It rarely affected us directly.

White, middle class folks could get by. It wasn’t OUR schools being given away to

private equity firms. It wasn’t OUR children being educated by temporary employees on

the model of the peace corps with little training and no experience.

Those were just someone else’s children. We weren’t even sure they were human. They

certainly didn’t share the same portion of humanity as we did. They were unwashed and

unfed. Even if you washed them, many of them would still have brown skin. We were

25


happy to have them as an underclass, as a cushion to stop us from falling further down

the social ladder.

Our kids went to either well resourced public schools with fully elected school boards

and shiny new facilities or else we sent our children to pristine private schools that

offered the best of everything for a price.

But now the chickens have come home to roost. Because this same model is being

applied to our government.

Now it is we who will lose our voices. It will be our services that are stripped away as an

unnecessary cost savings. We will lose our healthcare. We will lose our environment. It

will be our democracy suspended to make way for the more efficient means of

government – fascism and autocracy.

Who has time to listen to the people? Much easier to just decide what should be done.

And we can justify it with our business model. No more voters and representatives. Now

we will be businessmen and consumers. Nothing will stand in the way of the corporate

class enriching themselves at public expense. They will be merely providing the rest of us

with the goods and services of government, the bits that trickle down on our heads like

rain or urine.

That is what Trump is attempting. He is turning the United States into a banana republic

– even installing his relatives and children in top leadership positions. Our government

now resembles the corridors of power in Baghdad under Saddam Hussein with henchmen

Uday and Qusay in tow.

The question is this: will we allow it? Will we continue to allow it?

Will we stand for it as the administration installs Trump loyalty officers in every federal

office? Will we say nothing as nepotism and greed become the most prized attributes of

governance? Will we remain silent as our public schools continue to be raided, sacked

and burned? Because the answer to those questions is the answer to so much more. Are

we on the cusp of revolution or is history merely repeating itself?

Editor’s note: This essay is reprinted with permission from gadflyonthewall.com

26


THUGWISE

VERSE

28


FEATURED FEMME:

Chani Zwibel

Author bio: Chani Zwibel is a graduate of Agnes Scott College, a poet, wife and dogmom

who was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but now dwells in Marietta,

Georgia. She enjoys writing poetry after nature walks and daydreaming. Recent

Publications include Sage Woman Worlds of Faerie Issue 91(April 2017), W.I.S.H

(Walking Is Still Honest) Press March 10, 2017, Dissident Voice Feb 12, 2017, Provoke

Journal, January 2017, Mused Bella Online Literary Review Winter 2016 Vol 10 Issue 4,

Catwise Clock (Clockwise Cat) Issue 35 Winter 2016, Sage Woman Roots and Wings

Issue 89 (April 2016)

Author’s statement: I let my imagination wander, in silence, in nature, and go wherever

it takes me. So many portals to other worlds exist. They hide in the knot-holes of old

trees and whisper from dusty shelves of old libraries. Dreaming is all-important, whether

in waking or in sleep. I keep a notebook with me at all times, because inspiration often

strikes unbidden, tiny worlds shimmer in the dew drops on moss, and beckon me with

secrets to be revealed.

Editor’s note: As we told Chani Zwibel, our Issue 37 Featured Femme, these pieces

below contain “some lovely phrasing, some edgy humor, some jolting imagery.” We

were thrilled when she submitted poems to us for consideration, and immediately seized

on the opportunity to feature her. The first few pieces we enjoy for their witty glimpse

into some sort of surrealist suburbia, while the rest of the poems summon our attention

with their nuanced commentary on this, our own sordid world, as well as with their

unusual perspective on nature and enticing elements of fantasy.

WEST

Dear Sir,

on behalf of my client, it is my sad duty to inform you:

Seeking a way out,

the wayfarer flees wedlock.

A hex strikes a blow:

wench becomes werewolf.

It’s wet on the whaleboat

and wet on the wharf.

Sinking into despair,

29


she wears welts

as small ornaments,

bits of baleen cracking

as she breaks her corset,

crazy intoxicated

by benign tumor

of glowing moon.

Respectfully,

The Law Offices of Weasele, Foxe, and Wolfe

BEST

Attention Residents of Blue-Green Streams Neighborhood:

Thank you,

Without revealing names, it should be noted

Last week during a wedding reception in the park,

The chief attendant of the groom and the chief attendant of the bride

behaved unseemly, got besotted, sullied their honor,

and were found in a bestial state of frenzy behind Beta Shelter.

They couldn’t stay modest,

but snuck berry wine

behind park benches,

wearing Bermuda shorts and giggling.

We implore the community to do better.

We cannot take a besom broom to clear away such sins.

We ask you keep your revels between yourselves

and try not to be revealed in public,

or we will have to ban beverages at all events.

Between betrothals and barbeques, beware.

Twice a year we bid goodbye to charms.

The Neighborhood Committee for Highest Quality

LEST

You libertines forget:

Leviathan seeks levitation, laurel crowns are reserved for victors, and an

offense against your sovereign burns like lesions. Learn lavender can perfume a

30


laywoman. A leak in leather leftover lends credibility to a legislature run amuck.

Do the legwork. Apply the lesson. Avoid another level of disappointment.

WEASELS

I will not write to warn you again,

A Concerned Citizen

weasels are underground, waiting.

they want skin.

weasels are snorting cocaine, underground, waiting.

they want skin; they want hair.

weasels are fucking, underground, waiting.

they want skin; they want hair; they want blood.

weasels are performing satanic initiation rites underground, waiting.

they want skin; they want hair; they want blood; they want muscle.

weasels are embezzling millions from top Fortune 500 companies, underground, waiting.

they want skin; they want hair; they want blood; they want muscle; they want bone.

weasels are keeping toddlers in cages, underground, waiting.

they want skin; they want hair; they want blood; they want muscle; they want bone; they

want marrow.

weasels are snapping babies’ spines, underground, waiting.

they want skin; they want hair; they want blood; they want muscle; they want bone; they

want marrow; they want gristle.

weasels are underground, waiting.

TUMBLED MACHINE

Mother of vultures

shrieks in my nightmares.

She’s like a machine with intentions.

Whether unusual or suspicious,

all logical connections are

behavior resolving contradictions.

Final conscience transported

is integrated with other sign systems.

Made, ruled, drilled,

maintains High Standards.

Talc can be scratched with your fingernails

as anticipated.

Even with significant success,

emergency or safety,

still too much sun,

hours of sleep,

31


dreams of that wicked man

who stole my pot of herbs.

Fine, or even too coarse-grained,

microcrystalline,

but breaks across grains,

is death of fathers,

and who still hath cried.

Must I remember pebbles

cleaved from rocks?

My Other Mother Xanax will take the edge off.

BABY

crying is mechanized.

brain cells electric pods with silver seeds.

It drinks Zinc and misses most talking and laughing

buttons when in sleep-mode.

Manufacturing me made meaner

By giving me a name

Cast in metal

Enter the cooker

1/3 of a human hair

Tricked

Art wars with business in my rubber-tube-guts,

Entertainment sold to a mass audience

A financial transaction, economic ties

The project paid-for

Sugar-plastic stream

Art cutters

Off-putting, clumsy language of theory

Illusion Pulsating light

Continuous beam Gauge

HEALTHFOOD STORE/DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME

Dark at six o’clock and the store is full

of people trying to stave off death with kale.

It won’t save them.

No organic vegetable Christ

will rise from the compost heap,

restoring animal-cruelty free peace

upon a perfect earth;

No way to bribe the reaper

with vegan cheese.

For those of us in the know:

32


Night settles

in the six pm of eternity,

no daylight savings

for the damned.

AFTER A RAIN

Tell me again

how candlelight,

dusk dark rooms,

guardian dog,

heavy door,

and brass door knob

collect the sound

and feel of

hollow wet throb

inside down spouts.

Blue shutters

cloak windows

looking out to

wet slick stone stairs,

wet pebble path,

wet water garden bridge,

bent nail submerged.

Raindrops gloss

luminescent green ivy.

In the pond

two fish

are parallel bars of gold.

Sting of thirsty mosquitoes

on my bare arm

as I walk and hear

a single bird call.

33


Artwork by Marcia Arrieta

Artist bio: Marcia Arrieta’s work appears in Fourteen Hills, Of/with, Wicked Alice, Moss

Trill, Eratio, Posit, Catch & Release, Melusine, Web Conjunctions, and Great Weather

for Media, among others. The author of two poetry books: archipelago

counterpoint (BlazeVOX 2015) and triskelion, tiger moth, tangram, thyme (Otoliths

2011), she edits and publishes Indefinite Space, a poetry/art journal.

126


The Saga of FACES and VASES

By Tracy Thomas

There’s voices in the mandolin, some sort of chatter down in the f-holes.

Now there’s a campfire and horrible mundane songs that matter to everyone

but the soup stones, the antiphonies, the pariahs outside the firelight, those

reprobates shivering in the woods with pink toadstools. Their bones have left

them. Their bones are off to see the world. Their bones are drunk in Buenos

Aires. They’re hiding in the jimson weed, crazy in the scent of moonflowers.

Their bones are playing dominoes under the ponderosas. They’re sleeping on

one leg with flamingos. The voices are telling a story they’ve chopped into

pieces. They’re rasping at the grue. There’s a trunk with my father’s broken

mandolin. I’m having a garage sale but it’s tricky getting rid of darkness. I

got this dinner triangle of bones. I got the pulcher eye. I got Latinate

adjectives, nonsensical objectives. I learned a dance in the lich gate. I’ll

bring your turtle back to life, your wishing star heartbreak turtle in the hurdy

gurdy of your head. The voices chopped the story into pieces now they’re

black dove treble clef. Now they’re Ascension Day rain. They’re the sobs of

smoldering wound. There’s voices hacked in pieces. They’re playing

mandolin.

It’s all about stories, if you can keep them from going into pieces;

keep them from seducing the neighbor’s daughter in the tree house. Then the

stories are looking for some sort of revenge for their mutilation. They want

the quemada, the conflagrande, the auto-da-fe freeway. Maybe eat some

folks, got them turning on a spit or they’ve got their heads together inventing

something like a song, a chant, a groan, whatever to give voice to the

nonsense or they’re getting on your nerves stirring up the goat herd, waking

you from your pastoral idyll, send you sprawling from your dithyramb, no

shoes, head on fire, burning fennel stalks waving at whoever’ll listen. I’m

sick with that voice. Now I’m butchering some stories, hacking them into

dusk persimmon calligraphy, flowered owls of smoke, fax machine abraxas.

See how deep they’ll sink. Maybe they’ll send signs back from the depths.

I’m going to slaughter some stories, stare into their entrails hanging from my

hands for a message. Maybe hang them from the rearview mirror like lucky

dice. The stories can be messy if they’re no more than bits of yourself, just

bits of you chopped into the language of the birds, bits of you hacked into

voces mysticae. Then you realize what you really have is potsherds and

nettles.

34


The stories are gouging a hole in your face, gouging a hole in that

place the voice comes from. The stories gnaw on my father’s mandolin;

gnaw on my finger’s searching for Fur Elise, searching for the origin of

madrigals, origin of Mardi gras, of nightingales. Now the stories want a

voice of their own, so they’re cooking up a voice, stewing up a voice in the

retort, in the crucible. But what comes out isn’t right. It’s not like other

voices. It’s bathing in tongues. It’s stealing from the dead. It’s playing

bassoon on a dark beach. It’s the homunculus. It’s always looking for what’s

behind the light, maybe for where light comes from. The homunculus voice

attempts to sing but all that comes out is apotropaica, all that comes out is

bits of maenads and Heraclitus, an orchard of blue olives, all that comes out

is the Jack the Ripper small talk, the semper vivum of breath, all that comes

out is the silence of a broken mandolin. They let Prince Albert out the can

and he can really use a smoke.

Now I’m watering the lawn. When I’m done I’ll need to build an ark

or at least a chair for deep sea fishing. Then I can play mandolin while the

trout jump just to see their own smile before flopping into the mirror of the

lake. Beautiful Apotropaica is smiling at me from the terrace above and then

I skip off into the happiness of the dream. That’s one side of the story. The

one damaged in transport, the one the ants like, the one the lunatic ate with

the secret message to the gods, the one that died from cholera, the one lazing

under the black fig tree, the one delivering the shibboleth mystery-gram.

You can open it with the decoder ring you found in the bramble hedge of

lacerating death. Alas it’s just poetry on shards of pottery about the beauty,

the truth of a piece of pottery. This mandolin will tell its story one more time

by god or I’ll never make your eyes roll back into your head to the sloppy

sounds of heaven on earth.

Author bio: Tracy Thomas has lived his entire life in the vastness of the

American West; Colorado, Wyoming, California and finally Arizona,

basically a non-stop Frederic Remington painting. His poems have appeared

in The Southern Review, The Journal and Bombay Gin. Since his plans for

graduate school have fallen through he’s currently searching for a cave in

the Sonoran Desert where he’s hoping to begin experiencing St. Anthonystyle

visions.

35


Unshed

By Sheikha A.

I have been swallowing landays,

their echoing screeching refracting

macabre. And then I chewed upon

the black waters of justice;

clandestine writings – as if it wasn’t

enough to drown under excessive

layers of humility, that the written

word needed to suffer the veil –

but the veil is no vice. Nor is it

cumbersome. Poetry has always been

the secrets of a mad mind; psychobabble

clothed in obsequiousness.

But landays do not abash. Once

the word is released, there is no fleeing –

only incarceration. But, there is glory

in the tinkering of society’s empaths –

they defend them landays with quills

made from the same trees that died

suffering their weaponry – unshed

unshelled unconfessed democracy.

Author bio: Sheikha A. is from Pakistan and United Arab Emirates. Her

work appears in over 90 literary venues, both print and online, including

several anthologies by different presses. More about her can be accessed on

her blog sheikha82.wordpress.com

36


Temple

By David Mac

this temple warm air

writing amorous words

on the back of

a fish

(swim)

writing on shadows and ghosts

(fade)

who believes in

life is a

UFO

(zoom)

but when will I be

loved?

ask that and know

that you really are

dying

37


The Life

By Ann Huang

You had a life

for bringing in the silver lake

of a forgotten way . . .

(Water

light and thinned and white

as the drain of poppy seeds . . .

castles

let alone in saffron banks . . .

sky

translucent as a gay whale . . .

and the urgent moon

splurging silver

under New Zealand, gin-pure, merging into the sea . . . )

And the night is many upside bowls

or its moon a glory of black lures

glued in acute-blue sky

when could you own your life?

Author bio: Ann Huang is a seasoned marketer with more than fifteen years

of experience working with the spoken and written word. As an MFA

recipient in Poetry from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, Huang’s poetry

has appeared online and in print extensively. Her recent poem,

“Night Lullaby,” was a Ruth Stone Poetry Prize finalist. Huang's new poetry

collection, Delicious and Alien, is due out in 2017. Her poems follow the

surrealistic gestures that weave reality into divergent realms of perspectives

and perceptions. Visit AnnHuang.com for more poems and press releases.

38


[Then of forest paths diverge

and keepdiverging]

by Aaron Bauer

Then of forest paths diverge and keep diverging.

There is a brief moment in everyone's life when he or she is free from strife.

When

there is not one word apt to describe where

these fragments dig under our skin. What

they burrow themselves into is flesh like sprouts grow out of fields. Why

they were forced to cut in we don't know, nor do we know how.

Think but this is a nothing moment, that

this beauty is a mole on your mother's breast, that

this grizzly death is the one awaiting you, that

this land is only itself when bathed in moonlight.

This man is man, and he is you.

This palpable tension . . .

This zealous lover . . .

Thou art how great . . .

Thou lucky mistresses . . .

Though a good deal warped, we will build our homes with these boards, and

through the floorboards worms will slither, and

through the house, sunlight will glimmer, and

through the walls, wind will eat your skin. It will be time

to admit the air has power over you.

Author bio: Aaron Bauer is a Pushcart-nominated poet and educator living

in Colorado. He received his MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

His work has appeared in Prism Review, Poemeleon and others. His

chapbook Colloquy of Sparrows was published Blue Lyre Press. His website

is aaronmbauer.wordpress.com.

39


Two Poems BY ALAN BRITT

DREAMING THE BRIAR PATCH

Like Seinfeld's Kramer

hugging 42 nd Street subway tiles

in my whitey tidies.

Suddenly, a vireo, of all saints,

whistles from a nearby pine.

As I plummet

onto a bed of copper

needles in my underwear,

I'm reminded

I'm allowed

to miss church

next six months

so long as I read a

healthy helping of Baudelaire.

Ah, once again,

loving the briar patch!

WALKING ACROSS THE ROOM

(For Sabine Pascarelli)

Another poem in quicksand.

But poems have magic

up their sleeves: soaking verbs

in olive oil & boiling nouns

in the pantry of a late 16th century

French cottage below the Italian border.

I'm a mouse in the pantry of that cottage.

I'm the rattle of tins

filled with local basil,

rosemary, thyme, & parsley,

Italian, of course.

40


I'm the sickening edges

of a chocolate bar

left on the counter overnight,

& despite premonitions to the contrary

I volunteered for that bivouac,

dangerous,

it seemed to me,

so, I offered a chocolate bar instead.

Good thing,

since I didn't have an edge

to give & soaking wet

from Autumn cornfields.

A detective, who looked a lot like Poe,

in fact, I'm sure it was him lurking

beneath a Charlie Chan fedora,

behind purple azaleas,

as the Queen's procession

of silver horses

decorated with saffron bells, bells,

& bells made from skulls

& crucifixes,

plus red roses

in the side yard,

bleeding, bleeding,

bleeding.

Author bio: In August 2015 Alan Britt was invited by the Ecuadorian House of Culture

Benjamín Carrión in Quito, Ecuador as part of the first cultural exchange of poets

between Ecuador and the United States. During his visit, he participated in venues all

across the country including the international literary conference sponsored by La

hermandad de las palabras 2015 in Babahoyo, Ecuador. In 2013 he served as judge for

the The Bitter Oleander Press Library of Poetry Book Award. His interview at The

Library of Congress for The Poet and the Poem aired on Pacifica Radio, January 2013.

His latest books include Violin Smoke (Translated into Hungarian by Paul Sohar and

published in Romania & Hungary (2015); Lost Among the Hours: 2015; Parabola

Dreams (with Silvia Scheibli): 2013; and Alone with the Terrible Universe: 2011. He

teaches English/Creative Writing at Towson University.

41


The Night Sky Reminds Me of a

Chalkboard

By James Babbs

for some reason

the night sky reminds me of the old chalkboards

the teachers used when I was in school

the chalkboards were usually black

and took up most of the wall at the front of the classroom

but I do vaguely recall

seeing some green ones somewhere

anyway

the teachers wrote on the chalkboards

using pieces of chalk of course

and they used big felt erasers

to wipe away what had been written

at the end of the school day

one prized pupil got the honorable job

of cleaning the erasers

which was usually accomplished

by hitting them together

or smacking the erasers against the metal rail

which ran along the bottom of the chalkboard

where the pieces of chalk were kept

and you kept banging the erasers

until no more or most of the dust

stopped emanating from them

and it seems funny to me now

and I wonder how much chalk dust

us youngsters must have breathed into our lungs

in those lost and innocent days

all those years ago

anyway

the night sky reminds me of a chalkboard

dotted with chalk-made stars

and what about the moon

I don’t see the moon

I guess someone must have erased it

before it could be found

Author bio: James Babbs is a writer, a dreamer, a three-time loser and an all-around nice

guy who just wants to be left alone. James is the author of Disturbing The Light (2013)

& The Weight of Invisible Things (2013) and has hundreds of poems and a few short

stories scattered all over the internet.

42


43


The sound of strangers singing

By Paul Grant

Tonight

All of history

Suddenly

Bubbles up beneath me

All the long dead,

Gods

Friends

Lovers

Knock at the long hours

Demand attention

To be more than

Memory

I don't know

What to do with this

It is too big,

Comes on

Too fast

My skin feels rebel

Tingles like a fresh kill,

The blood here is not mine

It flows in new ways

Towards unexplored parts

I pace on the carpet

Try and walk it off

I want to scream

Punch holes

In the walls

Dance like silent amphetamines

But its 3am

And what would the neighbours think

44


So I pace some more

And reason

That somewhere

There must be someone else

Pacing the carpet

In the long hours

Thinking its too big

It's all too big,

The heartbeat of an ocean

Sailing upon a small ship.

45


!"#$%&#'$$

By Simon Perchik

And this stone turns its back

the way streams even in snow

crush you under the descent

smelling from moonlight

and toward each other

though there's still some rain inside

all night flowing beneath your feet

as gravel and whispers

–with one sharp stone

you open your mouth as if she

is more thirsty than the others

and every path glows with ice

is singing that old love song

carried in your arms

clearing the way to her lips

and one by one each night

heavier, reaches up

for the darkness and go.

Author bio: Simon Perchik is an attorney whose poems have appeared in Partisan

Review, Forge, Poetry, Osiris, The New Yorker and elsewhere. His most recent

collection is Almost Rain, published by River Otter Press (2013). For more

information, including free e-books, his essay titled “Magic, Illusion and Other

Realities” please visit his website at www.simonperchik.com.

46


Dark and Stormy

By Katy Lasell

Past the graveyard on my run

I visit mother just for fun

Lie down for I am ill at ease

And fall asleep beneath the trees

Awaken in the cream moonlight creatures all around me tight their eyeless wagging clean

and clacking heavy legs in dirt are dragging drinking chatting noiseless laughing help me

mother why is father here beneath the starry altar serving drinks to all the headless

armless sapped of power something’s wrong the end is near I smell it read the stones are

clear and lichen tossed the scruffy gravel sounds the pounding of the gavel tastes the

flavor of the pomegranate sweet and final earless but the tones are spinal ask me if I’d

like a sip or father if he’d like to sit and take a load off for awhile if they had mouths

they’d surely smile if they had teeth they’d surely chew awake me from this ghost-fed

stew you cannot I am all alone and you are sick suburban home and sixty and you haven’t

asked what it feels like lying in the grass, to know.

Oh Father it was terrible. But the cocktails the ghouls were serving really hit the spot. Is

it time for another Oxycontin now?

Author bio: Katy Lasell is a fiction writer and poet based in New York.

47


Kelly 2

By R. Bremner

In the psychedelic sea, Alice Long is still my favorite girlfriend, so I’m

going to wave at 200 South La Brea, where you take me for rides. The

girl with the Joey Ramone tattoo may have pretty little angel eyes, but

she dreams of dark darkness and breaks the news that is so fine to the

“in” crowd who don’t call my name when I’m feeling rubber biscuits.

When will I be your man? When you’re no good and wear swinging

blue jeans and have no action on mocking bird hill. You make me feel

like that’s not the way to Bogart me on my best days in the fraternity of

man. Mission bells rang on tomorrow’s yesterday for the wild Irish roses

who were fanatics waving their freak flag and driving Cadillacs into

Southern culture on the skids. The bullet proof lovers ate some grass

roots and bad seeds which gave them self-defeating blues and Juliette

seizures. The tremor dolls went to crown court to tell the frogman he

ain’t got no home. Vanity found that every night brings a new surprise,

so she decided that she’d better run on moving sidewalks to the

reverberations.

(Bill Kelly is a disc jockey at radio Station WFMU.)

Author bio: R. Bremner has evolved through metrical, Beat, surrealism,

universalism, and metrical again to his current obsession with

absurdism.

48


what happens follows logically

by Tara Roder

to be honest it’s the kind of place where moth wings beat fervently against your face.

where you call me sugar and i recoil.

judge judy is deus ex machina, dropping accusations of indolence like they’re going out

of style.

there are synonyms for usually. also wasps’ nests. a strange predilection for 50s

crooners.

this lady said her sister was a female doogie howser but we didn’t really believe

her. (someone somewhere is thinking about my frame, my wrists.)

by the river i contemplate water rats and solemnly summon melanie klein to interpret the

color of cars. then the florist’s nephew arrives with a delivery—a box of hilariously

unintended consequences.

Author bio: Tara Roeder is the author of two chapbooks, Maritime and (all the things

you're not). Her work has appeared in venues including The Bombay Gin, Hobart,

Otoliths, DOGZPLOT, and MonkeyBicycle. She's an Associate Professor of Writing

Studies in New York City.

49


Two Poems By George Held

Author bio: George Held keeps a low profile in NYC, though his poems, stories, and

book reviews appear fairly often in print and online.

What Difference?

(After Robert Frost)

Three roads in a wood converged

and I took the one least trod.

Now I wonder, has that

made any fucking difference?

While Waiting

In the plastic customers’ lounge

at my car dealer’s, the TV blares

The Price Is Right while the sporty

woman across from me reads

a book by Donald Trump,

Xmas lights blink “Welcome,”

and refugees wait endlessly for

permission to enter the promised land.

50


TWO POEMS by R. Riekki

Author bio: Riekki has been a finalist for several screenplay competitions; an

abbreviated list includes the Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest, Crimson Screen Horror

Film Fest, Fantasmagorical Film Festival, The International Horror Hotel Film Festival,

Marquee Lights Competition, Terror Film Festival, Cannes Screenplay Contest, and

many more.

The Pledge of Allegiant

(Starring Shailene Woodley)

I Pledge Allegiance to my rag and the Banana Republic for

which we stand, one inflation, divisible, with Liberty University

and Justice: Tween Clothing & Fashion for Girls for all.

At a signal from the Dictator, the cleaners, in odored rank, hands

on mops, deface the floor. Another signal is given: every cleaner

gives the rag a paramilitary salute of right arm straightened and

inclined upwards with the hand open and palm down. Standing

thus, all repeat together, auf Deutsch, slowly, Trumpily, “I

Pledge allegiance to my rag and the Banana Republic for which

we stand, one inflation, divisible, with Liberty University and

Justice: Tween Clothing & Fashion for Girls for all.” At the

words “to my rag,” the right hand goes to the floor, gracefully,

palm palming Palmolive with the rag and remains in this gesture

‘till the end of suffrage, whereupon all hands with Allstate

immediately drop to their suicide.

51


I Look White Even Though I’m Not White But You Will

Make Me White But I’m Not 100% White Because No One

is 100% White Around Here But We Pretend That the

Quarters in Us that are Indigenous Can Be Turned into

Dollars for Silence

ears

going blind

head like wax

kid in class saying, “if you only knew what science has done to me”

the mercy of ravens

I’ve been colonized so deeply that I can feel it in my colon

once upon a midnight false binary

I overheard the conversation where the woman was saying “the liberals made Trump by

not including poor whites, as if they’re bathed in white privilege and not bathed in

suffocation”

the hymns of shadows

the hers in shadows

the stagnant stag

I striped to get my way through the striped collage where I found out that college meant

nothing

but stripping me of any chance to be free of debt

the uber-Christian girl tells me she will always love Jesus more than me

the rent is eating my bones

the landlord knows he is Lord, knows he is Land (Land = Lord, Lord = Land)

the landlord knows he is Lord, knows he is Land (people - money, people - freedom)

52


the rent is eating my bones

the Christian pastor tells me I am a little boy

I stopped to bleed and ended up in the blood jobs with my blood wages and I’ve gotten

home several times to find blood on my clothes (non-fiction)

Nancy is pregnant—we call her preg-nancy—she says she can’t keep it—she says she

can’t lose it.

the hours of violence

the hims of violence

I underheard any conversations where in the end everything you ever owned would be

sold for the medical bills, bulls, kills

once upon a midday dreary we realized we were eating our lunch in our cubicles because

they were firing anyone who tried to breathe

I’ve been colonized so deeply that I can’t even type a ; without feeling sick to my guts

the mercy of ravens

kid in class saying “they would have killed us a hundred years ago”

heart like an ax

going deaf

eyes

53


TWO COLLAGES By BOB HEMAN

56


57


Little Desert Flower

By Michael Lee Johnson

Out of this poem

grows a little desert flower.

it is blue sorrow

it waits for your return.

You escape so you must from me

refuge, folded, wrapped in cool spring rain leavesavoiding

July, August heat.

South wind hell-fire burns memories within you,

branded I tattoo you, leave my mark,

in rose barren fields fueled with burned and desert stubble.

Yet I wait here, a loyal believer throat raw in thirst.

I wrest thunder gods gathering ritual-prayer rain.

It is lonely here grit, tears rub my eyes without relief.

Yet I catch myself loafing away in the wind waiting fate

to whisper those tiny messages

writer of this storm welded wings,

I go unnoticed but the burned eyes of red-tailed hawk

pinch of hope, sheltered by the doves.

I tip a toast to quench your thirst,

one shot of Tequila my little, purple, desert flower.

Author bio: Michael Lee Johnson lived ten years in Canada during the

Vietnam era. He is a Canadian and USA citizen. Today he is a poet, editor,

publisher, freelance writer, amateur photographer, small business owner in

Itasca, Illinois. He has been published in more than 915 small press

magazines in 27 countries, and he edits 10 poetry sites. His website is:

http://poetryman.mysite.com/. Michael is the author of The Lost

American: From Exile to Freedom, several chapbooks of poetry,

including From Which Place the Morning Rises and Challenge of Night and

Day, and Chicago Poems. He also has over 101 poetry videos on YouTube

as of 2015: https://www.youtube.com/user/poetrymanusa/videos . Michael

Lee Johnson was nominated for 2 Pushcart Prize awards for poetry 2015 &

Best of the Net 2016. He is also the editor/publisher of anthology,

Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow.

54


Went Over To Poe’s Place

By Frank Grigonis

He was tipping one back

as usual, one of his tooyoung

cousins, I mean. So

in the moment he didn’t

hear me ask if he wanted a

beer. Then this singular

squeak assailed my ears,

which turned out to be a

skinny black cat pushing

open the chamber door.

“Can’t you see that I am

presently engaged?”

implored Poe, his eyes

rolling into the black

caverns of tragical affection.

But by now the black cat

was rubbing his knobby

spine against my shivering

shin, so I didn’t say a

thing but instead watched

with horror as Poe’s

cousin transformed into a

250 pound Wal-Mart

shopper fairly covered

with raven tattoos. “What

can it mean!?” I screamed

to Edvard Munch who was

busy painting something on

the sanguine’s shopper’s

ever-widening thigh. “Never

mind that!” shrieked the cat

with eyes wide like empty

saucers, “Just get me to a

shelter before he kills me

with one of those sordid

stories!”

Author bio: Frank Grigonis writes poetry and fiction. He likes Rimbaud and cats,

not in that order. He can be reached at fehu9@netzero.net.

55


Americon!

By John Pursch

She lives in triplicate, necessitated by inculcated confessorial profession of fratricide,

flint lock philanthropy, and hyperbolic wherewithal, backed by sullied fracas paramours

in silly focus ferry flares. Sapped guys capsize clear-cut blueblood chorus lines in

limping lineage of post-Gallic searchlight comeuppance. Interrupted suppository rooks

name culled cockadoodle yank-off bleep-cheeky felt-up haddock after goopy clock-drip

bra lines. Oodles of concupiscent candy keep it up, up, and a sway bar, seeping sandy

band saw, suppurating myopian referees from scanty panty parity to soaking sigh in

vanity, a dove, a fluted pane.

“My queen, my dome, my pineal Glock, my hock in spiel in spigot Gott in bitter pull of

jerky water travesty above imputed claims! In surgery, my purging blahs, clods spat their

big fat ugly putrescent fateful eyes on fleas of measly old identity on precious little

specious me!” our Lady of Liposuction slobbers incontinent, buttocks in sawmill

hammock from Static Sighland to the Jerky Spore to Madhatter, Lung Island, Scuppered

Your Nuke, Conned Ectoplasmic Electorate, soaking handball planetoid to bugged

elusive shame.

“Americon! Americon! Cod fished out of Noflounderland and Nan Stuckitinher Sound

till the geriatric cherubim canoe wobble wiggle wigwam wax within that wirehair

wigging way-way Willhe Wonkher with a winking one-eyed Tyrannosaurus Regulated

Sextant scorecard seminarian?” she conch ludes, awning ankh and honoring some

beautifully titular honey-haired honky slunk café denizen.

Only her chair or dresser drawers on floorboard footman foppish watch fob figurine of

fulminating foxtrot folksy flip-phone clones are sure for surety forlorn forgone forsooth

forelocks foreknowledge fornicating for nothing in the shaven haven of our disheveled

craving yardarm.

Now she has resettled on ball-peen paltry pantry starch in commodious promissory

quotes, remonstrated penetration, dung a dimpled sum of addenda, pudenda, appendages,

crapped intensity, influenza, humped tea clumpy flimsy flocked flop pharmaceutical

philately, smooches swollen to dimly dozen dozer doubt, depilatory doughboy snowball

numb nuts bumblebees, brand-news futile ipso noumena.

Author bio: John Pursch lives in Tucson, Arizona. Twice nominated for Best of the Net,

his work has appeared in many literary journals. A collection of his poetry, Intunesia, is

available in paperback at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/whiteskybooks. His pi-related

experimental lit-rap video is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l33aUs7obVc. He’s

@johnpursch on Twitter and john.pursch on Facebook.

58


THE DAY DAVID BOWIE DIED

By Kurt Kline

Gone long gone

in the tall corn like a smart rooster

a visitor out of time & that’s

the name of that tune. Nobody’s

gonna make a deal up on Hippy Hill

this afternoon & the whirlwind heaves

a heavy sigh as reaching into its bag of tricks

pulls out a mask of a mask

forming SUPERCALIFRAGILISTIC

combing through yr hair

o haven’t we played this rubber before?

I saw them all assembling there

m o l e c u l a r p l a s t i c i t y

forming contiguous pocket of gravity

this feverish pituitary gland

optic nerve of the imagination

at 12:34 AM Friday the day

the oscilloscope started to writhe

wasn‘t ALL THAT EXPIALIDOCIOUS

on a Saturday night. Moonage daydream

in a parking lot. When you agreed

Christmas could’ve fallen within

any 24 hour period no calling

at %:00 AM which used to be

the valor we shared: “LOOK OUT

YOU ROCK’N’ROLLERS!”

I guess this is a different California

from the one in which Zorro flourished

lazy midsummer night fanning butterfly wings

to cool the smoke of moonrattles

intrinsic luminosity in the time it takes to blink

12:58 EVEN accounting

daylight saving’s time

international dateline

It’s still Christmas

WHERE YOU Are ISN’T’T?

1::00 AM now I guess the past never

happened.,.. & there’ll never be

Another midsummer night’s dream

Anyway anymore than can be believed!

59


Because i NEVER WRITE FROM MEMORY

But only FROM ACTUALITY

The world of hearing

sounds in one’s mind

1:34 A.M. & I love you

but you are the furthest thing from

going out of my mind. There are spots

before my eyes Time ghosts

mixed with heavier liqueur—

grillage of flame up down directionless

a future you’d rather not forget

drops you somewhere on the side

of the motorway No need for long

farewells. Meet you by the turnstyle

Jean Genie never say goodbye.

You’ll be coming back

in a little while—

or that’s not a meteorite I see tonight

zigzagging stardust across the sky.

Author bio: Kurt Cline is Associate Professor of English and World Comparative

Literature, National Taipei University of Technology. His full-length book of poetry,

Voyage to the Sun, was published by Boston Poet Press in 2008. Five 2 One Magazine

named him National Poetry Month Poet of the day, April 26, 2016. Poems and stories

have appeared in BlazeVOX; Danse Macabre; Mission at 10th; Wilderness House

Literary Review; HuesoLoco; Apocrypha and Abstractions; Black Scat; and Clockwise

Cat. Scholarly articles have appeared in Glimpse; Anthropology of Consciousness;

Concentric; Beatdom Literary Journal; and Comparative Civilizations and Cultures. Cline

is also a performance artist, theatrical magician and singer-songwriter. His album Alien

Shoe was produced by 12 Studio in 2013.

60


Two Poems

By Patrick Hurley

61


Author bio: Patrick Hurley wasted several years in grad school … now he’s a bartender.

He once wrote a book on Thomas Pynchon. For one year, he tricked a local paper into

reimbursing him for drinks by writing a cocktail column for them. Mostly he reads and

writes and tries to figure out how to survive without working a stupid job.

62


Two Poems

By Marie C Lecrivain

Author bio: Marie C Lecrivain is the executive editor/publisher of poeticdiversity: the

litzine of Los Angeles, a photographer, and a writer-in-residence at her apartment. Her

prose and poetry have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including:

Edgar Allen Poetry Journal, The Los Angeles Review, Nonbinary Review, The Poetry

Salzburg Review, Red Fez, Spillway, Orbis, A New Ulster, and others. She's the author of

several volumes of poetry and fiction, including Philemon's Gambit (© 2016

International Word Bank Press), which is available on Amazon.com.

Nigredo 2017-2020

Go, into the shadow. We’re all headed

down the dark path now, with eyes wide open

and hands emptied of promise. The dreaded

monsters may - or may not - deem to drop in

on your dreams, the last glimmers of a time

when all was possible, and arrogance

wore a sneering smile. In the black grime

is where we will claim the inheritance

of our true selves, through battle and harsh

truths we must embrace, along with the fact

that each of us is mired in the marsh

of shame for eschewing our kin. To act

otherwise brings about insanity.

Use this time to unite humanity.

To the Women of America

I.

I would love to say

when the smoke has cleared

and the tears have washed

the ashes from my eyes

that it will be okay.

We can begin again

and the reward is worth

the commitment to the long game.

63


But I have to look at the corpse

of my ego, dashed upon the rocks

of what is now life as we know it.

I have to ask, “Where the fuck was I

and why didn't I listen

to the voice in the silence

that whispered the warning,

‘Change is the landlord

of this corner you occupy

in the universe.

Payment is due -

and you’re arrears’.”

Where do I go

when I have nothing left

when my hopes and dreams

were undercut by my hubris?

And who the fuck

am I now?

!!.

This morning, I spoke to a young woman

who’s first words were. “I feel sad…”

And with a response caught

in my throat, and with management

listening in for quality assurance

I laughed and said

“I put on my big girl pants,

so I know how you feel, “

and turned the conversation

to other matters, knowing now,

for the first time ever

I have an inkling of how she feels;

a muslim woman,

and

a gnostic woman,

64


two second class citizens

not part of the inner circle.

But I can’t let her know that

as I’m on the clock

and I’ve got to keep going.

III

Every woman I talk to

has the same tense tone

engendered by vocal cords

paralysed by that atavistic fear

of knowing that something

or someone is after you,

that someone might grab you

and give you a beatdown

like a cow getting poleaxed

before the slaughter.

And none of us will commit;

to congregate is unseemly,

to mention empowerment

a crime. My despair grows

by the hour, as words I used

to take pride in are now

crushed in the silence.

By 3 pm I wish - O..

I wish, for a brief second,

I’d been born a man.

IV

What does it mean

to be a woman in America?

What has it ever meant

to try to be equal

In the land of opportunity

and greed, oppression

65


and pain, distraction

and commerce?

What does it mean

to be a young girl

watching a sea of red hats

on television, while her

mother cries for her future?

What does it mean

to be a woman

who knows nothing

except to be defined

by her ties to a man,

and who is afraid of women

who don’t willingly wear

the shackles she’s embraced?

What does it mean

for the helpers, and the doers,

the CEOS and CNAs?

What will we do

now that a long shadow

has been cast over our light?

V.

I wish I could say

everything will be okay,

but I don’t have a line

on the future.

I no longer believe

in tomorrow…

at least,

not yet.

66


King of Batons

By Adam Scharf

Fireworks are office buildings exploding before male clerk gets to first desk.

Burning alive, save the Picasso over the child.

You are an animal playing a role.

You don’t know when the ending is, or how cold you are,

who gave the first horse to man.

They have removed seats from airplanes, replaced them with department stores.

We shop while complaining about children who cry,

relieved because it's easier having sex in fitting rooms.

Who tamed the first horse?

Sold the first ticket.

Piled everyone into theme parks convincing us we prefer to be entertained by mice.

Pilgrims arrived from foreign countries, even from Greece where there have always been

ugly gods.

Towers crashed by planes, tragedy on commemorative plates, we know how to make a

fortune.

Before she opened the box Pandora was created to punish man, men were happy before

women.

America was happy before Bikini Atoll, before Eve ate a fucking apple.

The ending is when she no longer needs to be kissed on the cheek,

when the doctor steals your organs out right, when you aren't given a receipt.

Women end up being what saves us.

Eve is a hero who justified America for you to sleep at night.

I can hardly wait to watch children grow up and get divorced and watch game shows,

to delegate killing so they can eat a hamburger, to wear clothes made by poor people.

Being sick is profitable because someone needs a yacht from Grandpa’s disease, this rain.

All this rain.

The flood that is happening we only buy bigger boats.

No one swimming downward searching for a drain.

Most drown, float on debris, the lifeboats are taken. Hard to build in all this water.

We hear you from the crow's nest yelling, “Drowning people are lazy!”

Aren’t they? Swimming to your boat as we speak, calling for shipwreck.

You are expecting us to tear holes at the bottom, only we’ve set fire at the top. Trickles

down.

This flood is what saves you from burning, makes you a swimmer, come up for air.

You save the Picasso as a flotation device, I call you lazy.

You yell for drain to be pulled, an orchestra playing in rain. We’d rather drown.

Author bio: Adam Scharf was born and raised in utica NY. He now lives in orlando

Florida as a writer and professional improviser. He's at work on his first novel.

67


69


Tripsis By Timothy Adams

Fire lame like tirerubber that yearns for the moon to fall and the darkness of the night to

cover with cotton warmth the empty street patterns – pristine diodes that breath are

behind the bricks, and sculptures turn on circles beside them as he appeared

-

i collect wicks,

moments of wicking my hair

with sticky lemon balms,

‘mildew’ and ‘Methuselah’,

confused ancient writings,

like Cicero ingesting magic mushrooms and watching the surf off of Thessaloniki,

or early recorded masonic rites, these thousand-year ceremonies on a fuzzy metal plate,

spinning and spinning in my closet –

like the old tire marks on my walls,

and beer cans stuck to the ceilings,

every year of u.s. army playing cards in crooked stacks,

existential philosophy books partially burned in a haphazard lawn fire


crazed madcap, a diamond in the rough rust ring ringing, wrung and scraped tongue

rashly raw against muscly asphalt, the sanguine carpet of flesh looked a ghostly shell of

itself, so rouge and pastel-vibrant but no whole

with simultaneous scripts reading out themselves, out the scenes beams ballet-dance,

conquerer of limb, he ballet-flexes his way through the structures, until the wind soaks

his hair, and the waves go to cloud-dust

Author bio: Timothy is a playwright, poet & performer living and working in New

Orleans. He is interested in what can be gleamed from many different objects their

patterns - patterns but also discord and chaos and how all those concepts intersect. He

wonders sometimes if flying is pleasant birds and other winged creatures or is it

considered a chore? Investigations of this and other varieties can be found on

Nationtimesyndrome.com.

68


Heart Architecture

By Jordan A. Y. Smith

this is heart architecture

lines suggesting gestures

of dyspeptic jesters

[Chorus of heartitects]

this is heart architecture


heart architecture


heart architecture


defective perfection


[shinz" no k"ji = heart construction]

[bimb" no M"shi = impov’rished Mencius]

[jink" no r"shi = artificial old priest]

[minp" no d"ki = civil code palpitation]

[verse of conception through dance commands]

since the moment conceived

I was raised to believe

that peace meant keeping nothing

up your sleeve but the breeze

indebted to the ease with which

I waltz through the world

pausing between dips

and serendipitous twirls

Entered the world Eurocentric

cause what else could I be?

blind to some destiny

of ph.d. degree

but by the Mirror Stage

a new me had spawned

without me cracking any covers

of Ponty or Lacan

like a bomb, I rocked on

just as calm as the king

don’t give a damn if Fanon

bangs Manon of the Spring

so I’m not going to walk

70


down the streets and preach

about migrants like a

national security breach

about priests or police

as the scapegoat sorority

about the ceding of hegemony

to citizen minorities

more to me than meets the eye

I’m robots in the sky

and when Run says “dance”

I. do. not. die.

[Chorus of heartitects]

this is heart architecture


heart architecture


heart architecture


defective perfection


[shinz" no k"ji = heart construction]

[bimb" no M"shi = impov’rished Mencius]

[jink" no r"shi = artificial old priest]

[minp" no d"ki = civil code palpitation]

[verse of ignorance through hellfire]

with astounding powers of ignorance

stay blind to the metaphysics

exquisite exchanges

amorous little visits

is it a need for apology

that keeps me in line at this clinic?

or craftsman finish in the

Foucauldian molding of limits?

(anyway) I crave these little runarounds,

keep a notebook on hand

so while you’re wasting my life

I stay in tune with the plan

What plan??

the plan man follows best in the sun

to divest us of the impetus

for the vest and the gun

soon as vespers is done

then the matins begins with

that fat I spat in Latin

71


lapsed back into English






but I mean that’s just my opinion

a handful of dust

with fairy godfather blessings

shavings of rust

been saving this crush

for just such a flood

gate eruption gush suction

out corruption via the bucking

buckaroo booyeah

kama sutra hoopla

holy trinity whistling

some trippy zippity doodah

alluded to caskets

baskets full of fire

and pitchforks

for my cherubic little choir

[Chorus of heartitects]

this is heart architecture


heart architecture


heart architecture


defective perfection


[shinz" no k"ji = heart construction]

[bimb" no M"shi = impov’rished Mencius]

[jink" no r"shi = artificial old priest]

[minp" no d"ki = civil code palpitation]

[verse of corpus through cosmos]

body hermeneutics:

verbs curve, eyes fail

but fingers trace trails

across corporeal braille

not sorry, your grail

so holy I’m guacamole

your hips can play ships

I’m a boy with toys only

no land lubbers, rubbers

72


of the rabbit foot charms

a feminine so enveloping

I have to put arms

round your skeleton dressing

it’s a labor of love

for the Gods up above

when the push is for shove

governor, ditchdigger,

thinker, teacher between

lady earth spinning and

we’re keeping her green

with an octave coupler

favelas on Babylon

beach blanket bingo

a la Funicello and Avalon

Gravitron, smashed

great excuse to get close

On a subatomic comet

overdosing with hope

[Chorus of Heartitects]

this is heart architecture


heart architecture


heart architecture


defective perfection


[shinz" no k"ji = heart construction]

[bimb" no M"shi = impov’rished Mencius]

[jink" no r"shi = artificial old priest]

[minp" no d"ki = civil code palpitation]

With the Credits:

Why should I let these people into my heart,

And take ‘em around for a tour?

So they can sit around sipping their syrupy gossip

And bitch about the décor?

Sure!

Author bio: Jordan A. Y. Smith is a poet/translator/professor resident in Tokyo. His

poetic works have been published in Tokyo Poetry Journal, Genre, Random Agenda, and

elsewhere, and his translations of Japanese poetry have appeared in Poetry Review,

Connotations Press, Poetry Kanto, Tokyo Poetry Journal, etc., and in anthologies

published by New Directions and Josai University Press.

73


A Prayer in Jocularities

by A.S. Coomer

Hiccup, tick tock, lip locked, zipper’s stuck.

Best get the matches, the fuse’s busted.

Quick fix, get blitzed, common sense.

Ain’t a candle left in this rattrap sloth track.

Turned milk, guilt trip, auto-drip, medicinal spit cherry pits.

Flashlight’s cracked, batteries corroded decades ago.

Dust mounds, loud mouths, storm clouds.

It ain’t been this dark in years.

Foregone, bygone, rust-dusted, trash-crusted forgotten lawn,

without the slightest sight of an end to the goddamn dawn.

Fuck it, kick the bucket, lose the locket, quit the sprocket,

let’s go on to bed.

Author bio: A.S. Coomer is a native Kentuckian serving out a

purgatorial existence somewhere in the Midwest. His work has

appeared in over thirty publications. He’s got a handful of novels

that need good homes. You can find him at

www.ascoomer.wordpress.com. He also runs a “record label” for

poetry: www.lostlonggoneforgottenrecords.wordpress.com.

74


Cheshire

By Zara Hanif

I would like a boyfriend

I’m not sure where you find one

Can I go to a superstore? You know, the ones

Where you can get cheap clothes and everyday groceries

I’ll go up to the customer service clerk and ask

“I’d like a boyfriend please; can you tell me which aisle?”

The clerk will wrinkle her tiny nose and say

“You need to be more specific.”

I will purse my lips and tap my cheek

Let me think, what kind, it’s so hard

Like picking the right ice cream

Too many good flavors

I’ll say, “Well,

I’d like someone who is proficiently sane,

You see, I found most of my marbles, I swear, I’m just

Missing maybe three, four, sixteen,” I’ll smile at my joke, and

Her eyes will narrow with impatience, while she gestures for me to hurry.

“Basically, he needs to carry the sanity of our relationship.”

She’ll stare at me for a bit, then say

“You need to be specific, like what will he look like?”

Looks, ah yes, society sanctioned, superficial judging and degradation

I’d like Jeff Goldblum, Daniel Radcliff, and Alan Rickman all chopped up,

And served to me in a frappe with a cherry on top, but I can’t say that ‘cause

I have no idea what that would look like, and I don’t want my decision based on

looks

So I say

“A tall/short, thin/fat, male, oh but if it turns out to be a girl,

And if I’ve already fallen in love, I’ll probably keep her. Oh and fill-

-In-the-blank race, and bright/dark eyes, oh he must, has got to be,

Semi attractive.”

She’ll stare again, and frown,

“I need something to go on here.”

I’ll smile wide, my best Cheshire cat imitation (my stripes are on the inside),

“The thing that is of the upmost importance is most certainly,

His personality.”

75


“Which is?” She’ll sound impatient, but I’ll

Know that she is really enjoying my eccentricity

“He needs half of my mine, you see, he cannot be

Too much like me, if I had too much of me I’d kill myself

But he can’t be too different, I’d lose interest immediately.

He needs the good half, the part of me I love, and I will

Have the parts of him he loves, so that together we are,

Something never lonely, but instead content.”

For the first the time in our conversation

The clerk has warm, Mediterranean blue eyes

She begins pressing buttons, and the register gets

Smokey, I hear static, and see electrical sparks flash and surge

Finally, though, the receipt shoots high into the air, and flutters

Into my hands, and the magical wisdom of the universe reads

“There’s an animal shelter down the road, so go get a cat. Get two.”

I tip my imaginary hat

To the shocked clerk trying to fix

The unraveling machine, as I stroll out

Deciding to name them ‘Cheshire’ and ‘Jeff Goldblum.’

Author bio: Zara Hanif is an Engish/Creative Writing major at Rhode Island College.

She has been published in her College's lit mag Shoreline this year as well. She is

currently dating a short/tall, thin/fat male, with dark/light skin, and is very content.

76


The Ghost of Plato By Greg Wallace

Artist bio: Gregory Autry Wallace is a poet, painter and collagist living in San Francisco. He

studied English, World and Comparative Literature, and Creative Writing at San Francisco State

University. His poetry and collages have appeared in Athena Incognito, Black Scat Review,

BlazeVox, Danse Macabre,Clockwise Cat and Five 2 One. His paintings, collages and

assemblages have appeared in juried art shows.

27


The Party

By Thom Young

the party

started with guns in their

mouths

and a nice baby's breath

arrangement

that seemed to play off her

dress

the vows said

heard by those with knives

in their eyes and a one way

ticket

when the part came to kiss

the bride

the Mothership

arrived with a light

they'd never known or seen

there's no love in Roswell

there's no love

in her eyes anymore.

Author bio: Thom Young is a writer from Texas. His last poetry

collection A Little Black Dress Called Madness hit #1 Poetry in

Germany. He is a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee and his work

appears in over a hundred literary journals.

77


Two POEMS

By Marcia Arrieta

hardly

it was the day she decided to sleep in (9 am ) & crashed into the dictionary

instead

where other people’s lives became fractions she needed to assemble into a

whole

but the rain came & the boxes almost emptied needed to be broken down

while others still needed to be filled

arc light synchronicity

hat pins & fishing poles a pink star insulate isolate the book has gotten lost

dreams

of houses with many rooms shape shift eagles bears we board the train outer

hebrides inner stoic salvage renovation revelation the angel’s wings the

bullet holes on main street we seek shelter

Author bio: Marcia Arrieta work appears in Fourteen

Hills, Of/with, Wicked Alice, Moss Trill, Eratio, Posit, Catch & Release,

Melusine, Web Conjunctions, and Great Weather for Media, among

others. The author of two poetry books: archipelago

counterpoint (BlazeVOX 2015) and triskelion, tiger moth, tangram,

thyme (Otoliths 2011), she edits and publishes Indefinite Space, a poetry/art

journal.

78


jesus love me

by Jenean Gilstrap

wednesday’s child

is full of woe

or so it’s said

‘n that’s been

my cross to bear

but sometimes it seem

like i got me a twin

jesus loves me

you know them twins

the ones what live inside

the you of you

‘n this’un live

deep down inside

the me of me

like she even wear my own skin

this i know

‘n she do all them

terrible thangs

goin’ to them bars

for a dance ‘n a drink

then i git the blame

‘n that’s a downright dirty shame

cause i ain’t neva’ even had no sloe gin

for the bible

‘n she go outside ‘n play

in the back seat’a them cadillacs

but she ain’t doin’ nothin’

them men ain’t doin’

havin’ a little fun

lookin’ for love

in all them wrong places

tells me so

sometime i can’t even tell

where she begin ‘n i end

79


or i end ‘n she begin

this twin’a mine

but come daylight

it come to be crystal clear

i be her and she be me

little ones to him belong

now i’ll tell you ‘bout me

i been scooped up

throwed down

rolled over

‘n started all over agin

can’t keep up for keepin’ down

in the devil’s den

they are weak

so i’m tryin’ to rid myself

of all them sins ‘n my evil twin

‘n i went on down

to the first baptist church

holy bible in my hand

but they told me go

‘n be born agin

but he is strong

now i didn’t wanna be borned

another single time

cause they ain’t no tellin’

what i might find

deep down inside

the me of me this time

why they might be two more twins

yes jesus loves me

so i set myself down

‘n had a little talk

just me ‘n my evil twin

‘n it seem that ole

path of the straight ‘n narrow

just ain’t our cuppa tea

so we gonna’ party till i don’t know when

80


yes jesus loves me

gonna go on down to the corner bar

have a little drink ‘n a dance or two

then a little backseat romance

‘n when i git done

jest like always

jesus’ll be right there

cause he love us

no matter what we done

or where we done been

the bible tells me so

jesus?

jesus?

jesus! jesus!

where you at?

just come on back

‘n i’ll be born agin

jesus jesus

you know what i done

‘n you know where i done been

don’t leave me now

in this devil’s den

jesus?

jesus!

where you at?

Author bio: Jenean Gilstrap is the author of two books of poetry, Gypsy Woman Words

[2014] and Words Unspoken [2013], and is a featured poet/artist at Yareah Magazine and

at Plum Tree Books. Her poetry has been widely published in numerous literary journals

and she has been invited to read her work at several international poetry festivals. A

number of her poems have been narrated, as well as lyrically arranged and recorded by

the accomplished Aindre’ Reece-Sheerin, vocalist/musician. She resides in Shreveport,

Louisiana, but divides her time between there and the East coast as she completes her

third book of poetry, Willful Word She and her work may be found at:

https://www.facebook.com/jenean.gilstrap, http://www.yareah.com/author/jenean-cgilstrap/,https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC9WQqmfDDKNkAR5A8nt9_ZA,

https://www.linkedin.com/profile/edit?trk=nav_responsive_sub_nav_edit_profile,

http://thegypsyonwordsunspoken.blogspot.com/.

81


Rummult Stars

By Jay Jurisich

typhoid anemia jaundice carpel tunnels

busted vacant bronze busts rusted tunics

gold endive lost greek diving box

relics in satchels delivered by dogs

a fresh piece of cod

dragged over coals of lonely grease

tansy asphodel sounds good what is it

ricochet off the fortunate floor

the general indigestion of harsh stoppages

whistling freefaith lost times etcetera

rains grace our old tunnels of grease

but dont give a fig to the pineknob

smallish things smelt and smited

ribald color in all its raving gravity

a fine local analgesic your sagebrush halls

little or no chance or minimal chances of

a dog or a bird or a birddog

just sayin'

the hostess' handyman

went to town but there is no town

the captain sent a belated postcard to the world

humu post hamu bossd rimu poxo rummult

waded in jeans and tossed to the sea

she peeled her parsnip with care

hot coals darkness knifeminds

a bright lake of voices

appropriately exhausted I dropped into floppery

underjoyed nightshade mythdusted stars

I thought they fought well their causes losing

suburban american family room 1975

all that remains of the remains

up into skirts among boxes of old loneliness

he denies all suspicions to the contrary

sugarbelly in clown formation whispering

but I can't make out the words being made

Author bio: Jay Jurisich is a Berkeley, California based artist whose artwork and poetry explores

the visual identity and conceptual nature of language. He is interested in whether language can be

"used" in a way that is not conventionally communication, poetry, or logical, but inhabits or

inspires a physical presence. W: http://www.jurisich.com/

82


Ginsberg

By Amelia Leff

Ginsberg I’ve given you nothing and now I’m all.

Ginsberg one thousand two hundred and fifty dollar credit line February 27, 2016.

I can’t lie to my own mind.

Ginsberg when will you let your hair down?

Go fuck yourself with your bald spot.

I do feel good though don’t worry.

I’ll write this poem till I’m in my wrong mind.

Ginsberg when will you be demonic?

When will you put on your pilfered halo?

When will you break through the cold soil?

When will you be worth the price of admission?

Ginsberg why is your bank empty of eggs?

Ginsberg when will you send Krishna to the Bronx?

I’m salved by your reasoned reassurances.

When can I go into the bookstore and take what I want with my B.A.?

Ginsberg it’s you and I who are filled with tectonic faults not the next guy over.

Your sutras are too little for me.

You made me want to be a tax attorney.

There must be some audit that can settle this arbitration.

Everyone’s in Bushwick I don’t think they’ll leave it’s gentrifying.

Are you being funny or is this some form of serious demonstration?

I’m trying to jump off the cliff.

I refuse to give up flying.

Ginsberg stop smoking I don’t know what I’m doing.

Ginsberg the oil barrels are falling.

I haven’t touched a screen for seconds, everyday somebody fails to go on trial for murder.

Ginsberg my loins buzz whenever I dream about the NRA.

Ginsberg I used to be a shotgun son when I was an adult and I’m sorry.

I smoke Bubba Kush every chance I get.

I pace in my room for evenings to no end and search for the caves of the unknown.

When I go to Times Square I get picked but never get pocked.

My mind is scattered there’s going to be peace.

You should have seen me shooting the breeze.

My cat thinks I’m on the brink of self-discovery.

I won’t read the Federalist Papers.

I have personal dignitaries and blasé regrets.

Ginsberg I still haven’t told you what you did to Reagan after he blew up that Russian in

the closet.

I’m addressing your third eye.

Are you going to let your sexual life be run by The New Yorker?

I masturbate to The New Yorker.

83


I do it every week.

Its cover scoffs at me every time I take back my tortoise-shelled sexuality.

I masturbate to it in the attic of Robert F. Wagner Middle School.

It’s always telling me about Syria and 8-bit steakhouses. Politicians are jokes. Painters

are jokes. Everybody’s a joke

but me.

It occurs to me that I am Ginsberg.

I'm gazing in the mirror again.

America is falling from me.

I haven’t got a turban’s chance.

I’d better consider my identity politics.

My identity politics consist of two left feet millions of take-backs an inexhaustible

social network that goes 1400

miles an hour and twenty-five-thousand charitable foundations.

I say everything about my neo-Fate and the trillions of iotas living in my proposed

policies that stop one stamp short

of the front door.

I have raised the desperate institution of overpriced education, pop political collectives

are next to come.

My ambition is to be President despite the fact that I’m a straight rich white male.

Ginsberg how can I sow the seeds in your infertile fields?

I will continue like the Clintons my pantsuits are as fitting as Hillary’s more so they’re all

different colors.

Ginsberg I will buy your saxophones 10 pantsuits apiece a blue dress down on your

rusted instrument.

Ginsberg free Marshall Applewhite.

Ginsberg save The Branch Davidians.

Ginsberg Simon & Garfunkel must not die.

Ginsberg I am the Anita Hill girl.

Ginsberg when I was seven momma dragged me to the island paradise of Key Largo they

sold us parrots an

armful per feather a feather costs a seashell and the red tide was free everyone was sandstrewn

and Buffett-ed about the whole experience it was all so privileged you have no

idea how familial the vacation was in 1999 Humphrey Bogart was a real unashamed

Democrat a grand lib-hard Lauren Bacall made me hard I once saw Bertie Higgins

naked.

Everybody must have been a high-profile lawyer.

Ginsberg you don’t really want to help out.

Ginsberg it’s them bad Blacks.

Them Blacks them Blacks and them Muslims. And them Blacks.

The Black wants to eat us alive. The Black’s power mad. He wants to take our women

from out our kitchens.

84


His wants to grab Manhattan. His needs a White Washington Post. His wants our Apple

factories in China.

His grassroots movements running our conscience.

That too bad. Ugh. She makes Mexicans learn speak. She need cheap work Cholos. Hah.

His make us feel

like second-class natives. Help.

Ginsberg this is such a joke.

Ginsberg this is the impression I get from looking at the internet.

Ginsberg isn’t this wrong?

I just want to be myself.

It’s true we say they have value yet treat them like Jim Crow Negros, I’m white and

dissatisfied and want to

do something about it.

Ginsberg I’m putting my pale pen to the court house steps.

Author bio: Amelia Leff has work published in Sediments Literary-Arts Journal and The

Birch Gang Review. She graduated from Ohio Northern University in 2016 with a B.A. in

creative writing.

85


Three Photomanipulations

By Erica Olson

Artist bio: In addition to creating photo manipulation art, Erica Olson writes poetry and

prose. Her work has been featured in Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu,

haikuniverse, and The Voices Project (forthcoming). Erica lives in rural Montana.

86


87


Ants

By Judith Huang

The first thing you notice about this place is the ants. Ants on the walls. Ants on the floor.

Ants on the ceiling, between the crack between the lights. Ants in the kitchen, ants in the

living room, ants in the bedroom. Ants on the flowers you pick. Ants on the cup you put

down. Ants on the soles of your slippers. Ants, reddish brown, tiny as a fullstop with

tinier feelers. Ants, in a line, bringing reinforcements. Ants. Ants. Ants. Ants. The everpresent

soldiers of rot, of decay, of furor, of the ever-looming ever-present near-ubiquity

of death.

The death of an evening, the death of a week, the death of a year of Mondays through

Sundays. The death of you, the death of me, the death of the forest, the death of the city.

Ants, hailing the fact that everything’s rotting, quickly so quickly, in the fulsome decay

of the tropical sun.

Bury your grandma, and within a minute she’s a feast, of her eyes, her ears, her nose, her

hair. Ants at her neck, ants at her throat, ants on her tongue, ants in her vagina, ants

knocking at the unlockable door of her teeth.

Ants move in and build a nest. They knock down and they build up. They are building

museums one day, and catacombs the next. They are building MRT lines, they are

building library skyscrapers, they are building roads that lead nowhere and everywhere at

once. They are building shopping mall after shopping mall after shopping mall. They are

building hipster coffee shops, they are building sky gardens, they are building infinity

pools, they are building simulated high-tech break-neck metropolises, they are building

luxury villas for the billionaires of the world to unite in the carefully constructed tax

havens of the cove. Nothing stays, not the condos, not the semi-Ds, not the bungalows,

not the HDBs, everything is one fecund, rotting, shifting, collapsing thing.

Ants, everywhere ants, they are knocking down schools, they are tunneling through

libraries, they are demolishing skyscrapers to make room for even higher towers of glass

bridged by bridges of glass, they are unearthing your ancestors to build high-rises on the

wounded exhumed lands of the dead. Oh restless land, heaving with the absolute biomass

of ants, building your carefully commissioned babies new cribs in the sky, building a sky

high fantasy eye to eye your sky wheeling by.

Ants, putting together the labels on museums, the programs for concert pianists, legato in

this era and staccato the next, determining which species of trees we will grow on the

sides of the roads in robust and cacophonous harmony.

Ants - laboring to the rhythm of the silent obese queen, issuing orders through pneumatic

pipelines. Ants on my bed, feeding the gifted with royal jelly, keeping the drones in their

amniotic sacs even as poets emerge in full chorus, on cue, in your third generation.

Ah, ants, you have crawled over my crevices, you have exhumed my graves, you have

stalked up my banana ghosts, wafting like frangipani hosts in the middle of a wet petal.

Ah, ants, what have

88


you done with my grandma, all you’ve left of her sweet old face is the brittle bone, the

hole

where her nose used to be, the hole where her lips used to be, the hole where the head of

my father first emerged into this world, obliterating all love of and knowledge of history

with the hard forgetting light of life.

Ah yes, ants, tap dancing on the way to infinity on a closed loop with no possible

feedback, ants, in the musical of the life of our founder, the founder of the colony, the

founder of the party, the founder of every last drip and drop of our nether end, ants,

saying nothing original, only a soup of letters to feed as pap to the embryos that hatch

every year into batches of prepaid preconceived dots joined to dots joined to dots that are

our offspring, that are our past and our present and our future, ants after ants after ants.

Ah yes, we are ants, flying in pairs on the wings of love to an inevitable descent by the

moon of the fluorescent light, waiting for our chance to replenish the genetic stock of the

colony. We are ants, sniffing out the trail of opportunity, the chemical trail left by ants of

yore. We are ants, never resting, questing continually on our equatorial island, stretching

its form to the limits, building to the very edge of space. And when we have flown

beyond even that, a satellite fixing its gaze upon the pinpoint of our origin, may we look

back and gasp, and see on the swarming dot of our land the heaving mass of ants, ants,

ants.

Author bio: Judith Huang is a Singaporean writer, translator and editor currently living

in China. A recipient of the Foyle Young Poet of the Year Award in 2001, 2003 and 2004,

her writing has been published in journals and anthologies at home and abroad, including

Prairie Schooner, Asia Literary Review, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Loreli

China, Ceriph, LONTAR, Spittoon Magazine, Stylus and the Harvard Advocate. She

graduated from Harvard University in 2010, and is a member of the Signet Society of

Arts and Letters. Her online portfolio can be found at www.judithhuang.com.

89


Two Poems

By Bob Heman

from THE SERPENT VARIATIONS:

WHEN THE CARETAKER told them a joke they didn’t laugh. It was a

side of her they had never seen before. When they first saw the serpent

they thought it was just another one of her jests. They smiled when they

took the fruit. It wasn’t until after a bite or two that they understood the

joke was on them.

IN THE GARDEN ALL THE ANIMALS wore the same face. In the

garden the trees were all the same height. Each step they took left them in

the same place. The word they spoke was the same word, over and over

again. When the serpent arrived it had no head. Each of their heads in

turn became the serpent’s head. None of them fit correctly until he wore

the head of the woman. It was then she offered the other the fruit.

Author bio: Bob Heman’s collages, cut-outs and drawings have been shown in a

small two-man show at The Brooklyn Museum, in a one-man retrospective of his cutouts

[participatory cut-out multiples on paper] at BACA’s Downtown Cultural

Center, and in group shows in Toronto, Los Angeles and New York. His poems and

prose poems have appeared in such diverse publications as Sentence, The Prose

Poem, Caliban, Otoliths, Kayak, Hanging Loose, Center, and Artful Dodge, and are

upcoming in New American Writing and Reaedr.

90


Two Poems

by Susan Cossette

When Men Got Their Period

When the male race awoke

From unsettling testosterone dreams

They all were menstruating,

In confused unison.

An army of hulking, hairy, clueless

Menstruating men,

Lacking hitherto unknown feminine supplies.

Suddenly, that pronoun no longer applies—

Tampons and sanitary pads

Became valued commodities

Traded on the free market.

Midol exchanges sprang up

On street corners, under scarlet tents.

Riots and stampedes ensued.

Male bodies consumed with cramps

They founded foundations—

To fund the latest scientific discoveries

To stop the pain, the clotting, and the bloating.

There were galas and telethons.

They found empathy,

In the hot pains of childbirth—

Large feet suspended in cold stirrups,

Naked, vulnerable from the waist down—

Fish on a sterile butcher blocks,

No longer thinking with their cocks.

A new world order of clarity emerged

Uncharted and myriad—

And it all began when men got their period.

91


Postmodern Times Square

Lurking behind black tempered glass

And cold steel beams that force their way,

To an indifferent metallic sky—

The faceless plead for their humanity,

Not the execution of their dreams

Or the strangling of fragile individuality.

Trespassing the collective bond,

The circuitry and computer screens

Hijack their will.

Binary code is the lexicon.

No language,

Just a forced, lethal stream

Of zeroes and ones

And hollow screams.

The grey robot princess

Waltzes numbly

On the cracked, steaming asphault—

Electrodes still affixed to her temples,

Gossamer gown undone.

Do not judge her.

She is you.

She is all of us.

Editor’s Note: This poem originally appeared in Peggy Sue Messed Up . . . and

other poems

Author bio: Susan Cossette is the author of Peggy Sue Messed Up. . . and other

poems. By day, she is Communications Director for Voices of September 11 th , a

nonprofit that provides social work support services and programming for those

impacted by terrorism and mass violence. By night, she prowls in search of the

perfect open mic and cold glass of pinot grigio while wearing a tiara. More of her

work may be found on her website: musepalace.wordpress.com.

92


omgommgg omgg love

by Anna Keeler

When I talk about her my psychedelic vocabulary shrinks into minimalism,

and I find that my tongue forgets its want for warp. It tumbles and savors

those gasps between a mis-step and free fall.

I take that time to find my footing in coherence.

Because she is healthy and alive but with a polychromatic mind, the home of

harvest moons and a heart full as starfruit skin.

I sit by as she finds the hidden lupine of a jaded rainbow quartz and she

holds onto each synonym I toss her way. Threading my words onto a soft

string, she turns the most gargantuan terms into the most pure, unvarnished

lotus.

And I see that she’s as holographic as she is lovely, fighting through my

polarity to keep a smile on her face.

She’s a good person. And she’s teaching me how to do that.

I let her bury my thesaurus in her back pocket.

93


Looking toward the continuation of breath:

X confrontations of what prophecy

comprehends

By Felino A. Soriano

!if I choose to align my thinking with statistical data, and even with the language of my

physicians’ overwhelming prognosis, I will not be alive within five years

my choice is to alter the future of what grim expectations represent!

breathe is

what we do

as in the ambulation coming

later within a life of varied

shades of vernacular’s

unlimited interpretations

Obstacles are meant to instill fear/

combinations of needing ongoing

embraces from those that

breathe warmth into our

interaction.

Numbers numb. South of

devotion exists plans to

persuade the mind

to undergo physiological

alterations.

teaching isn’t necessary

anxiety

I’ve been here now for several days.

Here

as in a promise to die. Death is to Cancer’s hands as

the pastel exterior to my fading home’s

calefacient disposition. I breathe to survive near my

daughter’s

profound daddy, I want you to stay here forever. How/why, then, and thus, would

I lie down

near where the coldest section of my personal earth

spins toward an anti-sun: unknowing what is needed to

remain retain life in the language of fatherly

devotion and

articulation of

my life’s enigmatic purpose?

94


Purpose cannot be planned

or renamed into

a symptom of an event’s processed

When death

is a memory

I now stack its syllables

into

a variant of totality’s

configuration to predict

what is already

approaching.

I know now what matters:

seeing the age of my daughter multiply!

forthcoming.

approaching annual reminders of my marriage’s

celebratory season!

I will engage with elation

whenever the body begins to continue,

uninterrupted

I remove myself

now

from a

possible

future. Self. Self

disease meant to multiply

and

/or

the bad

into a suffocating

role of making memory

move toward

a regretful insinuation.

This is not a role I’ve

fully shown my reflection!

instead the rule of

fractions finding

peace within knowing solace

in partial indication

95


applies.

To the song hearing me!

thank you. For the piano that

solos in the name of

my own

I will devote these

words

to parallel the spatial

monologue

maneuvering from the

devoted and

sacred identity attaching all art, and hands!

all meaning of

internal infatuation

Hear me

whomever allows

language of grief

to unravel into

sounds of eventual

healing, !I will

become what my daughter

needs: her accompaniment

among the aisle awaiting

the moment her name

and attachment to my

hand will change

a form of a

futurity self

I!

will not attempt to

acclimate to the function my

illness

represents.

Each clock shows their histories,

their

accurate

futures needn’t unwind yet or

in a

time worth

less when sleep is inattentive!

In place

I am the, or,

I plan to listen

or invent a jazz of breathing

96


CUT-OUT

By Nelly Sanchez

Artist bio: For around ten years, Nelly Sanchez has been making cut-outs. She has been

published in journals such as Sonic Boom, Sein und Werden, Le Pan des Muses. She has also

participed in exhibitions : in 2012, at Paris -"Femmes/Hommes. Stéréotypes à l'oeuvre", galerie

ABB (Belleville, Paris)-, in 2014 at Mestre (Italia) - "Quand saro più grande", La Casa della

Renna- and Dieppe (Seine-Maritime, France) and in 2016 at Paris "Notre part de rêve". She

also illustrated writings like La Falaise était nue (Bernard Baritaud), Venus in fur (Sader-

Masoch). Her artwork: www.nellysanchez.fr/

EN ATTENDANT MIEUX

127


a rhythm of healing conversations

Demonstrations outside

with

wind

waiting

within cracks of sound

and any surface needing to

release what the eye

cannot notice until a phase

or object identifies its

particular presence.

Here, I am healing.

Here is what

breathing is and

what it

does is

more so a reflection

of my hand’s

moving forward

Crows, I

cry their

songs,

songs ignite purpose within what my body

is no longer steering toward

the way each

trumpet is a soul

working within contextual affirmation

each breath from which direction takes conception,

my motive is to engulf each moment with

a dialogical performance to intrigue each

shadow or smile awaiting the presence

of how beginning will never cease to discover

I wander

back

from what has occurred,

back

beyond youth and the expatriation toward my current motivation.

What’s

noticed amid these daily fears I’ve

97


grown from hand and cellular expansion

!movement from what is weak

loses its focus now

as I attempt to dislocate the present from what tomorrow is supposed to portend

Movement misleads me

or

within a certain light its

angular

language mirrors

each of my tongues’ versions of speaking into an open mouth of screaming

disillusion

Sedentary Fathoms

|section forty-five|

Eyes of my child#

their

softened

shapes

shape what shares my

devotion to her building language

into

each symmetry of

onward living.

When meeting (formal, familial introduction)

my eyes

dove toward a meaning

I did

not

know or interpret

with breathing#

each subsequent meander of

hold speak understand

always leads to

the connection of father/daughter

devotion and

reflexive

protection#

Sedentary Fathoms

|section forty-six|

98


My mood is

more of itself each

morning

when

a

conference of crows

collaborate on

awakening

in the flesh

tone

of each

moment’s

allegorical becoming#

music I silence

when the piano solos without intent

as with an

indecisive

not

contour of

stone

ending whole

in the shallow portion

of Monday’s early

morning

Sedentary Fathoms

|section forty-seven|

Violin me.

Eviscerate the nausea

water

99


from each vein#

proclaim dissipation in reverberating praise.

Hiding

isn’t the

option

I can hold within my

colder hands.

Night is chills

is vomiting

the airway is too stubborn and

breath

broken

comprehend. My pulse

to

taps tabletops

in rhythm-breaths mirroring

light speaking

of dialogical broken

onto layers

glass

Sedentary Fathoms

|section forty-eight|

This daytime light

is more so a focus

on finding dead

voices than hearing

the dragonfly draw

its alphabet of

escape underneath

the virtue of

combined silence

and introspective

miracles

Sedentary Fathoms

|section forty-nine|

Elongate in the

name of

100


paradigm

elation.

Music is a

now

one of

momentary

proof

prose

when the tongue is of

works

pure

confession

momentum of

toward

the sacred

architectural

communication#

Author bio: Felino A. Soriano’s poetry appears in CHURN, BlazeVOX, 3:AM Magazine,

The National Poetry Review, Small Po[r]tions, and elsewhere. His books of poetry

include Between these Rhythms: Bone & Ash (2016), Vocal Apparitions: New & Selected

Poems: 2012 – 2016 (2016), sparse anatomies of single antecedents (2015), Of isolated

limning (2014), Pathos|particular invocation (2013), Of language|s| the rain

speaks (2012), Intentions of Aligned Demarcations (2011), In Praise of Absolute

Interpretation (2010), Construed Implications (2009), and Among the

Interrogated (2008). His collaborative collection Quintet Dialogues: translating

introspection, which features visual art from David Allen Reed is forthcoming from

Howling Dog Press. Visit Of the poetry this jazz portends for more information.

101


Two Poems

By Sheila Murphy

Country Western Fest

Gravity was shatterproof

until I memorized my fate,

a mirror image of your roan,

rumored to comprise the perfect ride.

Someone was giving out passes

for hydration at seventy a pop,

to ready for continuance

the morning after.

I pocketed the viola clef

then joined the middle tier

here in the outdoor butterscotch

of caucuses where recitation vetoes

handbills, handouts, hand cut handsome

in favor of a finishing school

of nimbledons that just swam past

like rough riders for keeps.

UNTITLED

Pixels are my lean-to in the feather morning

Commas outlast sleep

Our weather simplifies anticipated steps to tea

Olfactory cues revive the sage perimeter of earth

Author bio: Sheila E. Murphy composes poetry both in tranquility and fever with equal

fervor. She resides in the desert Southwest, where she writes, draws, crafts keynote

addresses about doing business with power and grace for conferences and conventions.

She is a business author and teacher, as well. She blogs at blog.worktransformed.com

Her literary and artistic information can be found at

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheila_Murphy

102


Photos by David J. Thompson

103


THUGWISE

REVIEWS

104


The Zombies of Bigotry: "Get Out" Slashes

Through White Supremacy (Film Review)

By Alison Ross

There are no good white people in director Jordan Peele's social thriller "Get Out."

And that's just the way it should be.

Of course, there will be the legions of deep-in-denial detractors, those who brand the movie as

benightedly bigoted against Caucasian culture. But I ask: Is it bigoted to portray reality? I think

not.

Sure, the white people in the movie are sinister. Does this mean that the aim of the movie is to

suggest that all white people are sinister?

Or could it be that the movie is a take-down of white supremacist culture?

That, I believe, is a distinction that should be heavily mused upon. After all, white supremacy can

be reinforced by anyone of any racial or ethnic group (Ben Carson, anyone?). Not all white

people are evil, to be sure, but the white supremacist ethos that guides political policy and societal

behavior is malevolent to the core.

"Get Out" is a devastating and savvy satirical indictment of the prevailing pathological white

supremacy that pervades all corners of society. The movie's bold metaphorical mockery of white

appropriation of black culture is so painfully pointed as to be brutally depressing. I barely found

any entertainment value in the movie, even as I could recognize objectively that it has

entertaining elements. What the movie did exceptionally well is dredge up my not-so-latent white

guilt complex and bring it to the forefront. I suspect it did this with many conscientious

Caucasians.

I suppose it's redundant to reiterate how ingenious it was for director Peele to select the vehicle of

a horror/thriller to transport racially existential themes. In hindsight, it's an obvious, intuitive

105


genre to use. But it turns out that Peele had the foresight to pinpoint the horrors of white

supremacy and elaborate on them in a stylized cinematic way.

Genre gimmicks abound in “Get Out” - zombified characters, caricatured archetypes, suspenseful

plot points, carefully calculated missteps, violent crescendo, trick ending. There is a Hitchcockian

sense of suspense and tension throughout the movie, but also nods and allusions to B movies,

slasher films, 80s teen horror flicks – and yet the movie never seems cheap or derivative. Rather,

it’s an elevated and cerebral psychological horror on par with Poe. It takes the thriller genre to a

new zenith by infusing a plausible plot and refusing to showcase gratuitous gore. Rather,

aggressive actions arise organically and are legitimized by context.

All elements germane to the genre work in service to propel the plot of “Get Out” in an

imaginative, if terrifying way.

For what we are dealing with in "Get Out" is an evocation of modern-day slavery via hypnosis

and a vicious eugenics. Peele is urging us to see how all we are all subtly but forcefully

mesmerized by white supremacy and its myriad connotations and reverberations. He is laying

bare all of our preposterous "post-racial" claims and turning them inside out to reveal a seedy,

sleazy underside.

I have long wrangled with the dilemma of how American society can disentangle itself from the

dastardly web it's spun itself into regarding racial relations. And Jordan Peele's movie seems to

reinforce my fears - that we are so deeply enmeshed in the maze of racial dysfunctions that we're

better off just cutting loose from the labyrinth and starting over completely.

But how do we dismantle white supremacy? By eradicating Caucasians? Obviously that's not

possible or desirable. By further segregating the races? That’s already happening. We’ve been

regressing for quite some time, as neighborhoods and schools self-segregate along racial lines. It

would almost be justifiable if the situation did not always result in further suffering by people of

color.

The situation is urgent. Jordan Peele's movie is a clarion call (a cacophonous clarion call, at that)

to action. His movie suggests that we should be more aware of our own deep-seeded prejudices

and the actions we and others take that might be loaded with sinister intention, even if

superficially we think we are acting from an impetus of self-awareness and benevolence.

For example, we might think that the justice system will ultimately "rehabilitate" the staggering

number of black men caught up in it, without realizing that it's the system itself that caters to a

white supremacist philosophy that deliberately thwarts black ascendancy.

Lynching is no longer necessary when you have prison cages that will stifle the soul. The KKK’s

fashion apparel is rendered anachronistic because the enforcers of Anglo authoritarianism now

wear plain clothes and operate in the light of day. Burning crosses in lawns, setting fire to

churches, devising nooses, using whips and chains– these tools of repression have been replaced

by laws that perpetuate poverty and injustice. And a society hypnotized by the system that

stymies are the unwitting servants of such putrid policies.

American society needs to "get out" of its lethal Euro-centric ideology and fight the zombies of

hateful hegemony.

106


107


TENEBRAED TO HELLER: MR. LEVINSON’S HINGE

THEORY

EXPANDS AND COMPLEXIFIES

Book Review By Alison Ross

Heller Levinson's philosophy of poetics is something that can only be described as

"accessibly elusive." Or is that "elusively accessible"? Either way, this paradox

encapsulates Heller's approach, which on the surface seems overly cerebral but in

actuality is intuitively ascertainable. His is a paragon of experimental verse, aloof and

excessively premised on the tenets of logos ... and yet, at its core, his Hinge Theory and

the execution thereof (via his verse) have a playful pathos. Heller may or may not agree

with this interpretation, but the way I read his poetry, there is a palpable sense of fierce

ebullience, of good old fashioned frenzied FUN.

Heller's Hinge Theory is both rigid and unhinged. Words "hinge" on other words, but

then the associations they spawn lead to an unhinged spewing of ideas, that nonetheless

circle back to the original idea. Sometimes the associations are overtly obvious ("bellyfull.

belly-ache") and sometimes they are much less explicit. As I said, you can intuitively

grasp his process, but try to lucidly explicate it - good luck.

In his latest collection, Tenebraed, Heller takes the Latin word, "tenebrae," signifying

darkness, and mutates it into a verb, then welds it to a noun or concept in order to invert

that idea's connotations and turn the entire enterprise inside out. Or something like that.

(As I said, his poetry and philosophy are accessible yet elusive, meaning that I get it, but

then I don't. As soon as I think I have it, I have to backtrack. For in order to truly know

something, you have to be able to capably explain it. In this case, it remains to be seen

whether I have done so.)

108


Tenebrae, in Heller's poetic universe, is the opposite of darkness, despite its original

meaning. Or, rather, it is a probing of the facets of darkness in order to irradiate:

"...exploring underbellies, hidden contours, liberating the undisclosed..." (page 13).

In Heller's conception of the world, what merits illumination most are the obscure, the

arcane, the veiled, the shadow-dwelling...

How this latest articulation of Hinge Theory works goes something like this: Words are

"imported" from other contexts, where they have already established their own legitimacy,

and they serve to embellish their new contexts. The words themselves are infused with

novel dimensions (they "Bloom from their Immersions in Additional Communities"

(page 15) ), and the new context benefits and thrives, as well. Exports, too, exist - those

are the words that "vault" from one territory to another, and become the "Subject

Scrutinized" (page 16). Mining is the final component of this multi-tiered theory, and

yet...shouldn't it be the first? Mining is what occurs when one context/application is

"consulted to enrich" the context "currently being investigated." (page 16).

This whole theory is an exercise in slyly subverting linguistic stagnation: "The

lexiconically Static is a Logos Abuser," Heller proclaims. Lexicons are intrinsically

dynamic, and lexiconic vigor relies on savvy manipulation of diction and syntax, which

in turn affects semantics. Hence, Hinge Theory.

(Honestly, I find the whole theory adorably brilliant - somewhat Dickinsonian in its

quaint but stern intellectuality, and somewhat Seussian in its whimsical erudition. It may

be a reflection of my own poetic ethos that I locate a tenor of humor in it, but I do think

deep down, Heller is also an astute scholar of the absurd.)

The poems themselves can be overwhelming for a first-time reader, situated as they are at

the far end of the experimental spectrum, with all the implications thereof of coldly cubist,

robustly rational but soullessly mechanical. But, as I have already made clear, a patient

reader will see beyond that deceptive surface, and come to bask in the wonderful

wilderness of the Levinson Vernacular. These are not mere modern hieroglyphics. This is

language re-imagined - deconstructed, re-constructed, re-deconstructed, and so forth.

But now, alas, the poems. How does one even choose which poems to zoom in on? From

one perspective, they are a big beautiful tangled mass, in need of careful unraveling. But

that's for mathematical minds. My mind is fueled more by intuition and instinct, so I will

focus on five poems that I believe are emblematic of my own (dubious?) discernment of

Hinge Theory's logos-pathos dichotomy. I won't exactly explicate them, because that's a

daunting exercise if there ever was one - and finally, an unnecessary one, a violation of

their integrity.

We start on page 20: "tenebraed to a Faded Aristocracy." The first part of the poem is a

paragraph that stutters in succinct spurts : "louche carom. souse soliloquy. gongs. curtains.

109


unravel ... blanche. bastion. bulldog." The second part of the poem, however, begins to

flow down the page, though it keeps true to its laconic core:

"fraught

fought

smatter

the finger

smithereens"

The humor harbored within this poem occurs in the way the lines in the first part are

minimalistic and sharply punctuated, and how they contrast on the page with the free

falling words that are also jolting for their terseness. The vacillation between abstract

language and more concrete imagery, too, creates a tense tango between the

reason/emotion polarities.

Moving right along to page 27, we encounter "tenebraed to an Enameled Latency," in

which we have a compact capture of Hinge Theory in action. Here, "collapsed

vernaculars" exist in hives, and are recklessly "wracked." Indeed, one could say that this

piece of verse is Hinge Theory in poetic code. The "mantis of jeopardy," upon kissing an

oblong (of course), "trawls pearls of

dismissal across confiscated skies." Perhaps these pearls are the fruits of the

mining/importing/exporting process, and the skies are the origins - the territories mined -

of the pearls? The mind giddily celebrates the possible permutations and infinite

interpretations offered up in a Heller omni-verse.

"tenebraed to black," on page 38, is the ying to the previous poem's yang. Not only is it

four and a half pages long, but it furiously hurls forth, paying homage to the color black

('black is color's barometer"), with manic meditations on this misunderstood hue,

interspersing quotations from Rimbaud, Wittgenstein, Klee, wildly weaving in italicized

quasi-narratives, and splattering a stream of subconscious associations across the page

like Pollack paint, becoming just as layered and dense: "mournful melancholic cape

swaggering juju broth admissible annihilative churly warren-breasted perfume..." Black

is "infinity's gangplank," it turns out, whose "smoke cinder ash" lead to "geometric

meltdown."

After recovering from this frenzied romp, we retreat to the poem on page 44, which, it

must be said, offers only slight respite from the madman rantings on page 38. Here,

"tenebraed to nothing" is a trippy tribute to emptiness, "to the not that is not." It is

110


"cancellation's triumph," and, sadly, "it was being void of wind to wind up with." Of

course, "being and nothingness" is referenced, as it features the "ineptitude of

exactitude." Heller wonders: "does nothing have color," as if to allude back to the

previous poem scrutinized. The rest of the poem seems to ponder the substance of

nothing, oxymoronically.

(This poem was perhaps my favorite to scrutinize, as I literally laughed out loud during

certain moments, solidifying my suspicion that Heller is an astute student of the seriously

silly and the sillily serious)

Finally, we arrive toward the end of the collection, where we happen upon "Tenebraed to

encroach," which honors the variegated ways of trespassing ("succor seduce invoke

inroad penetrate insert"), ending up, ironically, in an area of "dialectic omission."

In this collection, where contexts are mined for import material which, as it become

exported, enriches new contexts, Heller Levinson has managed to embed pathos inside of

logos, twining concepts considered by dulled minds to be dualistic in nature, when in fact,

they are clearly like Russian dolls, situated inside of each other.

Someone once called Heller's verse "post poetry." I am not sure I agree with this

assessment, but I am not sure I disagree with it either. Is Heller's Hinge Theory one that

advances modern poetics, or is it a tool in transcending it? Time will tell, but one thing is

for sure right now: Heller Levinson writes compelling pieces - that is, they are tenebraed

to compel.

111


Guarding the Small Light

Collage by Bob Heman

128


I'm Not A Plastic Bag

by Rachel Hope Allison

Hardcover $19.95

Archaia Entertainment 2016

ISBN: 978-1-936393-54-1

Reviewed by John Yohe

In I'm Not A Plastic Bag, Rachel Hope Allison imagines the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,

“an accumulated concentration of floating trash between Hawaii and the California

coastline,” (!) as a living thing, a monster, hungry for more garbage, and birds, seals and

turtles. This makes for a somewhat sublime book, since the monster (and the actual

Garbage Patch) is horrifying, yet the artwork is beautiful, including pencil sketches with

watercolors.

I'm Not A Plastic Bag rides the line between graphic novel and children's book (the

biggest difference, I sometimes feel, being that the former uses word balloons and the

latter doesn't). I think the audience for this book is all ages—certainly the message is for

everybody—though there's a cuteness factor that makes me think it's more geared to

children. Or anyway, I'm going to give this book to my nieces. There is almost no text, no

dialogue, except for the creepy advertising excerpts that appear in the mouth of the

Garbage Patch monster, with which is tries to lure in seagulls.

I'm not really clear what happens after that, and I still don't understand the title. Like,

who is the 'I'? The monster? Meaning it's not 'just' a bag, but a whole bunch of bags? And

the story, as if it wasn't already surreal, gets more so, with (spoiler alert) a flock of

seagulls (not the band) somehow lifting the (apparently grateful?) Garbage Patch monster

up and sending it into space. So, happy ending, I guess.

Unfortunately, in the Real World, the real Garbage Patch still exists, and at the end of the

book we are offered some text, and info, about the North Pacific Garbage Patch, or The

North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, as I learned it's also called, along with other

Gyres/Garbage Patches in other oceans (again: !) Also, for example, the Top Ten Items

Found in Ocean Debris:

112


1. Cigarettes 32%

2. Food Wrappers/Containers 9%

3. Caps, Lids 8%

4. Cups, Plates, Forks, Knives, Spoons 6%

5. Beverage Bottles (plastic) 6%

6. Bags (plastic) 5%

7. Beverage Bottles (glass) 4%

8. Beverage Cans 4%

9. Straws/Stirrers 4%

10.Rope 2%

Who'd've thought cigarettes would be up there? How do they get way in the ocean? And

fish and turtles and whales are eating all this stuff. And dying.

I Am Not A Plastic Bag also offers a 'Things You Can Do' section after the bag news, the

contents of which most of us could probably guess. Yet do we do them? Nah. But if you

did want to do something, consider volunteering for the International Coastal Cleanup

organized by the Ocean Conservancy.

Hard not to be cynically sarcastic, to create an ironic distance so as not to be too

horrified. Hard for people to care about something going on out in the ocean when we've

got plenty o' things on land to worry about, like fracking, and lead-infested city water

supplies, and a two-party system that hampers democracy, I know, but that's why a book

like this is good, is needed. All these problems are systemic, but a dead ocean means a

dead humankind, eventually.

I'm Not A Plastic Bag was created with help from the Ocean Conservancy and

JeffCorwinConnect, the company of Jeff Corwin, host of the tv show Ocean Mysteries on

ABC, and it's good to see a concerted effort, in all types of medias, to get the word out

about the ravaging of the oceans (btw: I volunteered for the Sea Shepard Conservation

Society for a while, so I'm not just writing this from the safety of a non-involved life)

Editor’s Note: For more info, especially about the International Coastal Cleanup, check

out the Ocean Conservancy website: www.keepthecoastclear.org. Rachel Hope Allison's

website: www.rachelhopeallison.com And if you're new to the Great Pacific Garbage

Patch, check out the Wikipedia page.

Author bio: Born in Puerto Rico, John Yohe grew up in Michigan and lives in Oregon.

He has worked as a wildland firefighter, deckhand/oiler, runner/busboy, bike messenger,

wilderness ranger, fire lookout, as well as a teacher of writing. www.johnyohe.com

113


Paterson in Paterson

(Film Review) By Alison Ross

I am ashamed to admit that up until recently, I have had scant contact with

the poetry of Williams Carlos Williams. Other than the famous "plum

poem," as I call it (whose real title is "This is Just to Say"), I have barely

known Williams' verse. But since seeing the movie "Paterson," that has

changed. I have become enamored of his imagistic, plain-spoken style. Just

as Williams' poetry focuses on common people and quotidian activities, and

is rife with imagery that soulfully saturates the senses, so too does

"Paterson" celebrate the mundane elements of the average person's life, and

revels in landscapes, colors and textures to provide sensory stimulation. And,

of course, "Paterson" equally commemorates the written word, with its

protagonist, also bearing the name Paterson, driving buses to make a living

but writing poetry to live passionately.

The poems, naturally, are in the vein of Williams' verse: Suffused with

imagery and laced with colloquial language. Given that Paterson, NJ was the

homebase of Williams, and given that Paterson lives in Paterson and writes

poetry about his everyday existence as a blue collar worker, and given that

the movie looks and feels like a Williams poem rendered cinematically ...

well, you see the concentric layers of coincidence here. And naturally it's not

coincidence at all, but a deliberate stab at verisimilitude by veteran director

Jim Jarmusch, whose "Paterson" is perhaps the most refreshing film he's

ever done.

114


Music Mini-Reviews By Alison Ross

Let's face it: The Shins are the second coming of The Cure wrapped in

The Beach Boy's sandy towel. This is not contradictory at all, either, for

while The Cure is primarily known for its schizophrenic sonic template

featuring solemn anthems and buoyant rhythms, the merrier elements of The

Cure collage recall the falsetto giddiness of a Beach Boys song. So too, do

the Shins mine their dark-happy dichotomy, reveling in sunny pop but also

stewing in more brooding climates. On their latest, The Shins are positively

peppy and New Wavey, and the result is a far more engaging effort than the

previous album, "Port of Morrow," which in my view symbolized stagnation.

"Heartworms" in many ways mimics early-era Shins while simultaneously

propelling the band toward new heights.

A Tribe Called Quest was at the forefront of hip hop's Golden Era in the

1990s, eschewing the crude codes of gangsta rap yet still managing to steep

their albums in blunt eros and savvy social consciousness, all while crafting

115


astute sounds and rad rhymes. On its latest effort, billed as their last and as

an homage to the late Phife Dawg, and arriving on the cosmic doorstep a

mere 20 years after the previous release, Tribe sounds as fresh as ever.

Highlights on "We Got it From Here" include "Space Program" and "Ego,"

not to mention a wickedly whimsical duet with Andre 3000 on "Kids" (one

of many collaborations). But perhaps the standout song is one that

incorporates an actual hook, a rare occurrence in purely hip hop songs: "We

The People" features a catchy chorus that is also devastatingly relevant: “All

you Black folks, you must go/All you Mexicans, you must go/And all you

poor folks, you must go/Muslims and gays, boy we hate your ways/So all

you bad folk, you must go”

The members of British band The xx make very sexxy music. Even

though with each release the band palpably strays further from their postpunk

roots, they still manage to maintain a mentality grounded in the ideals

of post-punk: Spacious soundscapes that rely on spare instrumentation. But

there have always been two distinct elements to The xx, which they swirl

seamlessly like a yin/yang symbol. This means that on The xx's recent

release, the Rhythm and Beyonce persona that they embody is played up

much more than ever, while the post-punk is more nuanced. This makes for

an album that is sonically somewhat cluttered and a bit less idiosyncratically

intriguing than previous efforts, especially the debut album. That said, the

sexxy side of The xx is not only intact, but this latest album is downright

slithering with sensuality. Oliver's and Romy's whisper-croons are sleek with

eros, and Jamie xx's club dub effects throb with booty-shaking verve.

116


Atlanta's own outsider artist Lonnie Holley may be pure enigma, but then he is

also enigmatically pure. By that I mean that his purity of being is so striking that it

defies fathom by mere mortals who must exist in his towering shadow. He is

complicated, to be sure, but also authentic at the most basic level. He embodies

what all great artists do: A contradiction of clean and complex. It's this duality that

compels. His sculptures, comprised of organic and synthetic items culled from the

environment, are tangled totems of primitive ideals and modern mythologies,

political manifestos that stun for their simplicity and astound for their astute

intuitive arrangement. Lonnie's music reflects his improvisational artistic approach:

Heartfelt and grounded in this world, and yet existing beyond this plane, an

otherworldly opera summoning aliens and angels. On this album, he is joined by

Atlanta indie rockers Deerhunter as well as Animal Collective, both of whose own

cosmic compositions complement Lonnie Holley's gorgeous anti-aesthetic.

117


The Zen of

Innocence (Book Review)

By Alison Ross

In her quietly fierce poetry collection, Innocence, Patricia Carragon has mastered the art

of eviscerating withering emotions with creative defiance. Or maybe she is simply a

master of manipulating moods so that the reader is always waiting for the trick ending,

the twist that packs a punchline that socks you in the gut. Of course, these poems are

confessional musings and rantings, with the author's soul laid bare for the vultures to pick

at if they wish.

As such, her verse provides wrenching glimpses into a once-stifled life, one that has

bravely blasted through the barriers constructed by lesser minds. But the poems’

symbolic import is what softens the hard edges with magical hues. Take, for example,

"The Green Crayon," where a girl's coloring tool ignites her imagination, and becomes an

emblem of artistic anarchy: "Her imagination immediately left the classroom." Or "Small

Dreams," which is layered in nautical metaphor about the menace of time, which cruelly

devours dreams: "Fog plays tag with hindsight, clouds part for reality to settle in."

Other poems are existential riddles, such as "When I Die," which extols the virtues of

oblivion ("will the truth vaporize when oxygen leaves my brain?"), and the exceptional

"The Room," wherein the titular protagonist is personified as speaking an arcane idiom

and where silence is translator. Even though Patricia Carragon is certain she is no

"Dickinson, Keruoac, Basho" ("Mr. Lipson"), by the end we can discern the influence of

these authors who have steadily guided her to prize strong symbolism and a feisty Zenlike

approach to the travails of life.

118


Three IMAGES By Daniel Y. Harris

Artist bio: Daniel Y. Harris is the author of 11 collections of poetry and collaborative

writing including The Rapture of Eddy Daemon (BlazeVOX, 2016), heshe egregore (with

Irene Koronas, Éditions du Cygne, 2016), The Underworld of Lesser Degrees (NYQ

Books, 2015), Esophagus Writ (with Rupert M. Loydell, The Knives Forks and Spoons

Press, 2014), Hyperlinks of Anxiety ($ervená Barva Press, 2013) and The New Arcana

(with John Amen, NYQ Books, 2012). Some of his poetry, experimental writing, art, and

essays have been published in BlazeVOX, The Café Irreal, E·ratio, Exquisite Corpse, The

New York Quarterly, Notre Dame Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Poetry Magazine,

Ygdrasil and Zeek. He is the Editor-in-Chief of X-Peri, http://x-peri.blogspot.com/.

She Faces of Lair

119


Homage to Kurt Schwitters

120


!"#$%&'()%'*+,(-.&'

121


Imagine Not Drowning

by Kelli Allen

C&R Press

Reviewed by Jeff Santosuosso

From its first piece to its last, Kelli Allen’s second and newest full-length collection,

Imagine Not Drowning, takes flight through love and sex, death and life, through things

neatly paired via juxtapositions that create wide-open spaces. She collects images

simultaneously and parses linearity from space and dispersion.

The beauty of the work is that there’s ample room for free association, inference, spiritual

roaming. Allen embraces, rather than resists the whirl. These are rich, dense, complex

poems filled with shades of words, connotations, innuendoes which venture quite far to

the edges of meaning. Imagine Not Drowning is not for the casual reader or the casual

read.

Allen presents a mystical excerpt from Machado describing the incongruity yet final

redemption of man’s unpreparedness for the awesome power of the sea. Reader

precaution: You have tools, finally insufficient, inappropriate, or useless to quell your

sense of awe in the natural world. Yet like the quotation, the poems, motifs, and

undercurrents exalt the striving, extol the humanity. It’s worth the physical and spiritual

effort, nearly self-redemptive, like the verses and observations.

These are poems of implication, sometimes of induction. We’re liberated to wander along,

taking things as they come, sometimes with attribution, correlation, even cause and effect.

But alongside familiar and linear narrative, Allen weaves the perceptual fabric with the

cryptic, the near-non sequitur. The effect is of duality and relationships, tangible and

122


intangible, physical and metaphysical. This is a collection of environment and response

with plenty of choice and alternative.

We enter and exit on the wings of a bird, starting with Slavic mythology and ending with

a heron “nodding past the bay,” an oblique reference to take us over the horizon, on a lilt

of pleasure as the speaker feels her partner’s “teeth scrape my back.”

The rhythms and cadences are non-linear, full of pauses, pivot, and redirection. Early on,

Allen tweaks the edges of association with “Feeding Birds, or, rather, Some Magic.”

Untethered title. Staccato, full-stop title. Then she ushers in love and eroticism:

“Yours/is the association of warm under the down.” This structure compels a slowing,

aligning nicely with Allen’s deftness at subtlety. Likewise, the images sometimes appear

out of thin air, with little setting. “Eventually, we go inside” describes the sadness and

regret of missed opportunity, of unrequited desire. Somehow, a man and a woman appear

in a building. How did they get there? What type of building is it? Why were they

together? Literally, unanswered, but alongside implication, with plenty of room for

inference.

The path is byzantine, full of sleight of language and imagery. That the opening poem is

entitled “Becoming a Woman of the Brook, Shade, and Moss” is no accident. Much of

the poetry revolves around the speaker’s identity as a woman, both female in many forms,

companion, lover, wife, and adult many forms, daughter, mother, teacher, spiritual guide.

She opens mixing the physical moment and fantasy, of losing oneself and yielding, wish

and promise, love and trust. And onward for over 70 turns of the kaleidoscope. “Edging

Our Wall, Untying,” another syntactical pregnant pause, presents twists in speech that

form new connections from an unfamiliar, yet pleasing assembly.

Even the titles caution, beware those who enter. Not for menace, but for disorientation

and reorientation. Before crossing the threshold into the poems themselves, the titles

create darkness and light, obscurity and revelation. “How Much Tenderness, When We

Consider How to Leave” gives us 2 shining examples. Allen offers,

I say between us, but there was only me, if we count

presence as more than breath and completely still hands in a lap.

A rich opportunity for pondering, for the speaker, her companion and ourselves. She adds,

“We can never blanket enough dirt/to hide what is missing.” Presence by absence, the

mind awhirl in puzzles, delicate, evocative, and revelatory ones.

As the speaker settles on the death of her father, touching poems such as “Aphasia” and

“When He Leaves” agonize:

The stamp on the back of her hand has faded

the same way a favorite tree stump stays

against some remembrance of childhood

we no longer attempt to name.

123


The last line is the collection’s poster child: meaning via absence and disappearance.

Allen dwells on the transient, that which is without mass. In some pieces, death and loss

face us directly, while in others, the fragility of relationships brushes us more softly. In

“When We Argue About Unraveling Glass,” she juxtaposes the tardigrade, nature’s

ultimate survivor, with implications of an argument threatening peace.

“North Fork” alerts us that “the sign warns of undercurrent.” Flush with visible and

invisible forces and a sweeping away, rife with stilting syntax, stops and starts, nested

logic and circles of continuity, the poem tells of a day’s journey, past and present, danger

and innocence, all in familiar images that are freshly voiced. Allen loves these dualities,

these yin-yang associations and adjacencies that inhabit the natural world and the mind of

the poet.

Allen intertwines the real with the imaginary, often within poems, sometimes within

images or lines. “We, As Other People,” urges us onto the path of make-believe: “We’ve

been very happy in the small open area/we named alter.” In fact, the words “let’s pretend”

appear five times, all in the latter half of the work.

“You Say Disappear And I Say Not Yet,” brings it all together. The pair is playing a

game, teasing, challenging, among totems, ready to “pretend we are just/ wrong enough,”

recognizing that “This is the closest thing we get/to surrender,” Allen’s riff on desire and

the natural world.

Allen prefers open air and empty spaces, which fill her work with possibility. Churches,

rivers, meadows and fields, and plenty of birds populate the imagery. Motifs relate to

sleeping, waking, changes in consciousness.

These are poems a woman would share with a companion, often a lover. (In fact, nearly

every poem includes at least 2 people.) “What Can We Do to Be Away from the World?”

“Riding the Borrowed Car Back Home,” and “When this is not about sentiment” depict

love and erotica. She verges on the surreal at times:

to see if the other

is awake, is still a shining fish,

in a dream where scales

leave darks pits in the mud

“This Is How You Ask Me to Pray,” a reverence and small miracles, followed by

“Invitations Toward Autumn,” depicting transition, anticipation, expectation. Allen

muses about, “letting the first storms come in, rounding/our shoulders, this suddenness.”

In the title poem, Allen’s overriding affirmation rises clear. “Kiss/your own fingers,” she

congratulates. “…you have carried yourself home.” Speaking to companions of all types,

Allen opens the myriad experiences and sensations that each of us is capable of feeling,

sharing, interpreting, all the while leaving plenty of space for those companions and the

124


eader to discover his or her own wonder, to feel the subtleties and nuances of this human

experience.

She sees and expresses her role as poet most clearly and directly in the joyful “There Are

Ships Closer If You Let Them,” as she resolves, “one morning, soon, I will take/ you to

the lighthouse you have painted” then reaches higher, “upward where light rotates

between fog/and whatever is left to love, to promise.”

Author bios:

Kelli Allen’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies in the US and

internationally. She is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee and has won awards for her

poetry, prose, and scholarly work. She served as Managing Editor of Natural Bridge, is

the current Poetry Editor for The Lindenwood Review, and holds an MFA from the

University of Missouri St. Louis. She is the director of the River Styx Hungry Young

Poets Series and founded the Graduate Writers Reading Series for UMSL. She is

currently a Professor of Humanities and Creative Writing at Lindenwood University and

teaches for The Pierre Laclede Honors College at UMSL. Her chapbook, Some Animals,

won the 2016 Etchings Press Prize. Her chapbook, How We Disappear, won the 2016

Damfino Press chapbook award. Her newest full-length, Imagine Not Drowning, will be

released from C&R Press January, 2017. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise,

Soft White Ash, arrived from John Gosslee Books in 2012 and was nominated for the

Pulitzer Prize. /react-text www.kelli-allen.com

Jeff Santosuosso is a business consultant and poet living in Pensacola, FL. A member of

the Florida State Poets Society, he is Editor-in-Chief of panoplyzine.com, an online

journal dedicated to poetry and short prose. His work has been nominated for the

Pushcart Prize and has appeared in San Pedro River Review, The Lake Poetry (UK), Red

Fez, Illya’s Honey, Red River Review, Texas Poetry Calendar (2012, 2014), Avocet,

Alalit, First Literary Review – East, and other online and print publications. He writes

book reviews on request.

'

'

'

'

125


129


130

More magazines by this user
Similar magazines