Bourge-wise Cat

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ISSUE 39: Dedicated to the<br />

spirit of Louise <strong>Bourge</strong>ois<br />



This issue's cover features several artworks by the late great artist Louise <strong>Bourge</strong>ois.<br />

Those artworks speak to me for obvious reasons, but also, her surname just happens to<br />

echo a theme that Clock<strong>wise</strong> <strong>Cat</strong> so vociferously rebels against - the bourgeoisie.<br />

Interestingly enough, over time the word bourgeois has come to signify something rather<br />

different than what it used to indicate. It used to refer to the middle class, but has<br />

inexplicably evolved toward encompassing allusions to affluence.<br />

Clock<strong>wise</strong> <strong>Cat</strong>, of course, is a champion not just of the middle class, but of the poor and<br />

indigent. We rail rowdily against the wretched economic oppressors that would stratify<br />

society into a class crass system, leaving some so destitute they must slumber in the<br />

sewage-strewn streets, stewing in their own urine and feces.<br />

The editor may partake in bourgeois activities from time to time - gourmet dining,<br />

anyone? - but we find this modern-day tilt toward luxury everything (from condos to<br />

dental spas - I mean, what in the FUCK is that?) abhorrent in the face of so much misery.<br />

So we dedicate this issue to a wonderful stalwart woman whose art covered the gamut<br />

from sculpture and painting to printmaking, and whose themes emanated a feisty feminist<br />

flavor. But we also dedicate it to those, who, like antifa, fight against the forces of<br />

fascism that, like giant arachnids, terrorize us all, culturally, mentally, and financially<br />

bankrupting us.

VIVID<br />


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Red Riding Hood by Erica Olson<br />

Artist bio: In addition to creating photo manipulation art, Erica<br />

Olson writes poetry and prose. Her work has been featured in<br />

Failed Haiku: A Journal of English Senryu, haikuniverse, and The<br />

Voices Project (forthcoming). Erica lives in rural Montana.


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MEMORY<br />

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MEMORY<br />

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Artist bio: David writes: “My name is David Rodríguez. I am 39 years<br />

old and I am from Spain. From an early age, I have always been<br />

attracted to the art world, but my love for photography didn´t start until<br />

2013, the year I bought my first reflex camera, and I began to explore<br />

my attraction to art. Shortly afterwards, I began to train myself<br />

through several courses, and also in a self-taught way.”<br />


ART by Alexei Kalinchuk<br />

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Artist bio: AK is a personal friend of Pasquino and Marforio,<br />

although he's never been invited to Rome. He is also attracted to the<br />

combustible quality of the scrawled image sitting next to certain<br />

words.<br />

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An Oral History of Game Show<br />

Dystopias<br />

by Alexei Kalinchuk<br />

A new competitive cooking show funded by the government and a<br />

plastic food container manufacturer started after the last crisis.<br />

This crisis, at least, didn’t involve mortgage-based debt instruments.<br />

Nonetheless this one also devastated the economy and the whole culture<br />

went into freefall thereafter. Not just consumer spending, but whole<br />

bodies of ethics and theology suspended operations. Certain taboos<br />

lifted as well.<br />

I’m getting sidetracked already.<br />

The game show. Right. Cannibalism-based cooking shows lacked<br />

glamour when they first started. I thought that was a mistake. If<br />

you’re going to do this kind of show at all, don’t be coy. Can’t play<br />

virgin while punching time clocks in a brothel. Be upfront, upfront<br />

but classy.<br />

When these shows started, they all had so much do-goodery it<br />

turned the stomach. All this talk of nutrition and technique-<br />

Coloradans’ firm flesh had a velvety flavor full of vitamins while<br />

Minnesotans had to be filleted just so-but all anyone thinks is: get to<br />

it. And the hosts! No makeup up on these women with plain hairstyles,<br />

unthreatening potbellied men.<br />

They all looked like public radio personalities.<br />

All this feel-good jabber, but no one was talking about the real<br />

problem: depopulation. We were running out of defensible and delicious<br />

humans to eat. Prisoners and the mentally ill didn’t top anyone’s list<br />

of edibles, meanwhile, state constitutional amendments against<br />

cannibalism were gathering momentum at the ballot box while pro bono

litigators fought to outlaw the practice. Bless their pointed little<br />

heads.<br />

If the government would’ve put me on retainer from the start, we<br />

could’ve rolled back the Pro-People Movement in weeks. Instead, it<br />

took a year. But what a year! First we had to fire those awful public<br />

access style hosts! Then we’d feed the people so much glamour they’d<br />

shit rhinestones!<br />

What times they were...<br />

Right now you’re sitting where that government man did when he<br />

came to hire me. After we discussed the job and negotiated a fee, he<br />

asks, “Well, where do we go from here?”<br />

I remember that I leaned back and allowed myself a smile. Things<br />

were about to change. Rightly or wrongly, an era was about to begin<br />

and I would be in the thick of it. If and when the pendulum swung the<br />

other way, my reputation would suffer. And it did. I accept my fall.<br />

But don’t ever say I didn’t have progressive ideas.<br />

Author bio: Alexei Kalinchuk writes literary novels, has had fiction<br />

published in Amoskeag Journal, The Bitter Oleander, Foliate Oak. He<br />

smells like fennel, sleeps on a mattress stuffed with cilantro, and<br />

eats pomegranates alone.

Charter School Lobby Panics<br />

as NAACP Rejects For-Profit<br />

School by Steven Singer<br />

White America has a history of freaking out at perfectly<br />

reasonable suggestions by the black community.<br />

Hey, maybe black people shouldn’t be slaves.<br />


Hey, maybe black lives should matter as much as white ones.<br />


Hey, maybe we shouldn’t be making money off of children’s<br />

educations?<br />

PANIC!<br />

That’s what seems to be happening at think tanks and school<br />

privatization lobbying firms across the country after a new report by<br />

the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)<br />

this week.<br />

Some news sources are characterizing the report as “radical” or<br />


However, the report, titled “Quality Education for All: One<br />

School at a Time,” basically says nothing more revolutionary than that<br />

all public schools should be transparent and accountable. That includes<br />

charter schools.<br />

“Public schools must be public,” the report states. “They must<br />

serve all children equitably and well. To the extent that they are part<br />

of our public education system, charter schools must be designed to<br />

serve these ends.”<br />

And why shouldn’t they?<br />

More than 3 million students attend charter schools across the<br />

country. Approximately 837,000 of them are black. Don’t they deserve<br />

the same kinds of democratically controlled schools and fiscal<br />

responsibility as their counterparts in traditional public schools?<br />

Somehow your local public school is able to teach kids while<br />

still keeping a record of how it’s spending its money – your money. And<br />

if you don’t like what’s being done, you can go to a school board<br />

meeting and speak up or even run for a leadership position.<br />

How does getting rid of that help kids learn? How does operating<br />

in secret in the shadows benefit children?<br />

The report also recommends that local communities should have<br />

more control over whether to open charter schools in their districts<br />

and calls for an end to for-profit charter schools, altogether.<br />

Not exactly the musings of anarchist provocateurs.<br />

Charter school cheerleaders like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos<br />

call their movement School Choice. Shouldn’t communities get to choose<br />

whether they want them there in the first place? If the program is<br />

based on the free market, let them make their case to the community<br />

before setting up shop. They shouldn’t get to make a backroom deal with

your congressman and then start peddling their wares wherever they<br />

want.<br />

Moreover, if charter schools are, indeed, public schools, why<br />

should they be allowed to operate at a profit? They are supported by<br />

tax dollars. That money should go to educating children, not lining the<br />

pockets of venture capitalists and hedge fund managers.<br />

The authors were very specific on this point:<br />

“No federal, state, or local taxpayer dollars should be used to<br />

fund for-profit charter schools, nor should public funding be sent from<br />

nonprofit charters to for-profit charter management companies.”<br />

But that’s not all.<br />

The author’s also call out charters infamous enrollment and<br />

hiring practices. Specifically, these kinds of privatized schools are<br />

known to cherry pick the best and brightest students during admissions,<br />

and to kick out those who are difficult to teach or with learning<br />

disabilities before standardized testing season. The report called for<br />

charters to admit all students who apply and to work harder to keep<br />

difficult students – both hallmarks of traditional public schools.<br />

In addition, the report suggests charters no longer try to save<br />

money by hiring uncertified teachers. If charters are going to accept<br />

public money, they should provide the same kind of qualified educators<br />

as their traditional public school counterparts.<br />

However, even if such reforms are made, the report is doubtful<br />

that privatized education could ever be as effective and equitable as<br />

traditional public schools. In perhaps the most damning statement:<br />

“While high-quality, accountable, and accessible charters can<br />

contribute to educational opportunity, by themselves, even the best<br />

charters are not a substitute for more stable, adequate and equitable<br />

investments in public education.”

The report was written by the 12-member NAACP Task Force on<br />

Quality Education after a set of intensive hearings or “listening<br />

sessions” across the country in cities such as New Haven, Memphis,<br />

Orlando, Los Angeles, Detroit, New Orleans and New York. The final<br />

product is the result of the input they received during these meetings.<br />

This is only the latest in a growing movement of skepticism<br />

toward privatized education of all sorts – especially in relation to<br />

its impact on students of color.<br />

Less than a year ago, the NAACP, the oldest civil rights<br />

organization in the country, called for a moratorium on any new charter<br />

schools. This week’s report takes that caution to the next level.<br />

Despite a truly controversial record, over the past decade, the<br />

number of students in charter schools has nearly tripled. In terms of<br />

pure numbers, black students only make up more than a quarter of<br />

charter school enrollment. However, that’s a disproportionately high<br />

number since they make up only 15 percent of total public school<br />

enrollment. To put it another way, one in eight black students in the<br />

United States today attends a charter school.<br />

The NAACP isn’t the only civil rights organization critical of<br />

charter schools. Groups such as the Journey for Justice Alliance, a<br />

coalition of grassroots community, youth, and parent-led organizations,<br />

and the Movement for Black Lives, a conglomeration of the nation’s<br />

youngest national civil rights organizations, have also expressed<br />

concern over the uses and abuses of students of color in charter<br />

schools.<br />

However, this week’s report wasn’t focused solely on<br />

privatization. It also addressed the central issue at traditional<br />

public schools – funding disparities.

The report identifies severe inequalities between rich vs. poor<br />

communities as the cause of so-called failing schools. The report<br />

argues that “to solve the quality education problems that are at the<br />

root of many of the issues, school finance reform is essential to<br />

ensure that resources are allocated according to student needs.”<br />

Closing the achievement gap requires specific investment in lowperforming<br />

schools, not punitive measures. There should be more<br />

federal, state, and local policies to attract and retain fully<br />

qualified educators, improve instructional quality, and provide<br />

wraparound services for young people.<br />

The report suggests states model their funding formulas on those<br />

of Massachusetts and California and that the federal government should<br />

fully enforce the funding-equity provisions in the Every Student<br />

Succeeds Act (ESSA).<br />

It would be difficult to find more rational and reasonable<br />

solutions to the education problems in today’s schools.<br />

But pay attention to the response it’s getting.<br />

Corporate reformers are running scared with their hair on fire as<br />

someone finally has the guts to point out that the emperor is walking<br />

around stark naked!<br />

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared at the blog, Gadfly on<br />

the Wall, and is used with the author’s permission. Be sure to check<br />

out Steven Singer’s book, Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher<br />

Speaks Out on Racism and Reform

How Viral Vids Challenge Reviewers<br />

By Matt<br />

Kolbet<br />

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FOR THE D.T.’s By Fred White<br />

Setting: A doctor’s Office. PATIENT is sitting on the examining table, shaking. DOCTOR,<br />

wearing a surgical mask and cap, enters.<br />

PATIENT: Please help me. I keep getting the D.T’s, and I don’t even drink—okay, maybe a few<br />

measly ounces of gin to get me through the evening news.<br />

DOCTOR: That’s horrible. But first things first: Are you an immigrant?<br />

PATIENT: Aren’t we all?<br />

DOCTOR: Don’t change the subject. Are you il-lee-gal?<br />

PATIENT: I was born out of wedlock; does that count?<br />

DOCTOR: It might; we’ll see.<br />

PATIENT: About my D.T.’s—<br />

DOCTOR: Here, swallow this; it will help you stop worrying. Did you know that NASA is<br />

spending billions to send a probe to Saturn’s moon Triton? That money could pay for a wall!<br />

PATIENT: You’re thinking of Titan. Triton is one of Neptune’s moons.<br />

DOCTOR: Whatever. Don’t believe what you read in almanacs and encyclopedias. Just so you<br />

know, the National Rifle Association is going to clean up this horrible mess, believe me.<br />

PATIENT: What mess?<br />

DOCTOR: Haven’t you been listening to me? The ill-ee-gals!<br />

PATIENT: All I want to know is how to get rid of my DT’s. It’s not like I can switch off the<br />

news, not when a new national crisis unfolds every day.<br />

DOCTOR: You should put more trust in your President. Can’t you see that the fake media wants<br />

to scare the bejeezus out of us?<br />

PATIENT: I’m afraid it’s happening to me right this minute, Doc—pink elephants are circling<br />

around me, trumpeting, dancing. The elephants are dancing!

DOCTOR: Hey, they’re my mascot. You can’t blame them for celebrating our President’s many<br />

huge victories.<br />

PATIENT: I’m not only seeing elephants, doc—I’m also seeing strange things on your wall . . .<br />

DOCTOR: What things?<br />

PATIENT: Gaudy diplomas . . . Are they all yours? What’s that red, white and blue one with a<br />

dollar sign for the S’s in USA! USA! USA!<br />

DOCTOR: Look, why don’t you lie back on the examining table and close your eyes . . .<br />

PATIENT (reluctantly complying): If I may ask, where did you do your residency?<br />

DOCTOR: My what?<br />

PATIENT: The hospital where you—Wait, let me back up: what medical school did you graduate<br />

from?<br />

DOCTOR: From the best!<br />

PATIENT: I’m . . . starting . . . to feel . . . groggy.<br />

DOCTOR: Ah, good. By the way, I’m putting you on notice.<br />

PATIENT (opening his eyes): What does that mean?<br />

DOCTOR: It means that your anxieties and your fake-news triggered D.T.’s soon will soon be<br />

like they never happened, take my word for it.<br />

(He removes his surgical cap, runs a hand through his mane of blond hair.)<br />

PATIENT: Oh no—give me another sedative, quick!<br />

Author bio: Fred White's humorous fiction and satires have appeared in Clock<strong>wise</strong> <strong>Cat</strong><br />

#s 29 and 38; also in Praxis, Every Day Fiction, Satire and More, and Pidgeonholes. He<br />

lives near Sacramento, CA.


Themselves Up In<br />

Arms By Gilbert Prowler<br />

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By Steven Singer<br />

Teaching Is Hard Enough<br />

Without the Imminent Threat of Death<br />

I am so sick of coming to school and having an impromptu meeting to discuss<br />

why my students and I might die today. Really.<br />

Every time thereʼs a major school shooting somewhere in the nation it seems a<br />

copycat makes a threat in my own backyard, and we react. The police tell us itʼs<br />

not a credible threat so school stays open. However, be vigilant. Be aware that<br />

our students know about the threat and will be talking about it. Weʼll bring in<br />

bomb-sniffing dogs…But try to maintain calm and order.<br />

There will be a lock down drill in a few days…But try to make the kids feel safe<br />

and secure. An older student violently attacked a classmate last week after<br />

threatening to go on a spree…But attempt to establish an atmosphere conducive<br />

to learning.<br />

To which, I say: are you freaking kidding me? I know Maslowʼs Hierarchy of<br />

Needs. There are certain basic necessities anyone must have in order to become<br />

a fully actualized person. After physiological necessities like food and water,<br />

safety is absolutely fundamental.<br />

Without it, you canʼt get people to focus much on anything else.You canʼt get<br />

children to pay attention to nouns and verbs, for instance, if theyʼre afraid theyʼre<br />

going to be shot and killed. You canʼt get them to care about writing a complete<br />

sentence, if they feel like they may have to duck and cover at any moment.

You canʼt get them to bother with abstract reading comprehension if theyʼre afraid<br />

of imminent death! Oh, and by the way, Iʼm not exactly at my best either! My<br />

lesson plans arenʼt going to win any awards when the best solution our<br />

legislators can come up with is giving me a loaded pistol to keep in my desk<br />

drawer!<br />

Well, Yippee Ki Yay! Iʼm a teacher! Pew! Pew!<br />

My 7 th grade students are literally frightened that going to school on any given<br />

day may lead to the end of their lives. Every couple of weeks on the news itʼs<br />

another school shooting and another body count, while lawmakers do nothing to<br />

ensure it wonʼt happen again tomorrow. Every few days, itʼs a rumor about this or<br />

that troubled kid we all know snapping and throwing a gun in his backpack. Or itʼs<br />

an anonymous threat scrawled on a wall or a social media page.<br />

Today it was teaching classes where half the kids were missing because their<br />

parents held them out of school afraid a vague rumor of imminent violence was<br />

true. And as I tried to assure those who did show up that everything was okay,<br />

law enforcement checked the lockers with K-9 police dogs looking for weapons or<br />

drugs.<br />

What the heck are we coming to?<br />

I work in a police state and my students are being asked to learn in a<br />

penitentiary. And the teachers should get guns. And the principals should get<br />

guns. And the parents should get guns.And the guns should get little tinier guns<br />

to protect themselves from even more guns!<br />

This is madness.<br />

Weʼre begging for a political solution but our political system is a shambles.<br />

Nothing puts that in starker contrast than the gun debate.The overwhelming<br />

majority of Americans want sensible gun laws – an assault weapons ban, closing<br />

the gun show loophole, mental health screenings, etc.If we lived in an authentic<br />

Democratic Republic, weʼd have them. But we donʼt, because we live in a<br />

plutocracy. One industry has enough power and influence that the only solution<br />

our policymakers can safely suggest is one that increases that same industryʼs<br />

bottom line.

Itʼs like Tony the Tiger suggesting the only cure for obesity is to eat more<br />

Frosted Flakes! Theyʼre Ggggrrrreeeaaaattt!<br />

A teacherʼs job is hard enough without society crumbling all around us. But that<br />

doesnʼt mean the children arenʼt learning.Theyʼre watching the world burn with<br />

wide eyes. Theyʼre taking in every flame, every bullet hole, every cowardly<br />

senator, representative and chief executive.<br />

Theyʼre watching and taking names.At the end of the year, policymakers will wag<br />

their fingers at the nationʼs teachers about failing standardized test scores.<br />

Theyʼll bemoan sinking academic standards, powerful labor unions and a lack of<br />

moral fiber as the cause of a generation of children who lost out on an education<br />

while cowering under bulletproof backpacks. But this generation refuses to be<br />

lost. Despite everything, theyʼve left a trail of breadcrumbs back to sanity.<br />

They are emotionally damaged by a country that no longer functions, but they<br />

know the truth.They know whoʼs responsible. And they know what to do about it.<br />

When they reject our society, weʼll know why. Because the next generation will<br />

be nothing like us.<br />

And on a day like today, thatʼs the most hopeful thought I can offer.<br />

Editorʼs Note: This article first appeared at the blog, Gadfly on the Wall, and is<br />

used with the authorʼs permission. Be sure to check out Steven Singerʼs book,<br />

Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher Speaks Out on Racism and Reform

POTENT<br />


Two POEMS<br />

By James Mirarchi<br />

freud<br />

the emotion BRAN<br />

releases ZABZA<br />

thru the dimples<br />

of the squiggly font ambassador<br />

fucky wit<br />

rains mercifully<br />

on the flirtatious graveyards<br />

dehydrated from winking<br />

all the lube psychos<br />

undress in<br />

the wind of bees<br />

(shaving their heads<br />

with tito jackson’s jagged microphone)<br />

the wind of bees<br />

stings their scalps<br />

(honey pustules<br />

turning them into psychology incarnate)<br />

an underground excavation of blips<br />

beeps with electro murder<br />

now mined<br />

by jesus’ non-fat vanilla yogurt<br />

ancient<br />

orphan planet<br />

sleeps on your chest<br />


puberty trees<br />

ooze a sentient beer<br />


your private hearse<br />

is a shiny romeo<br />


monochromatic sun<br />

colorizes just for you<br />


raw nerves win awards<br />


obese arteries squeeze into satin<br />


snap a selfie<br />

of God’s heart<br />

OPENING its pit<br />

tongue kiss<br />

its juicy roses<br />


surf your hands<br />

over nature’s erection<br />

navigate<br />

THE eggy avalanche<br />


earth and sand<br />

cake<br />

under your fingernails<br />

you can never wash THEM away<br />

Author bio: James Mirarchi grew up in Queens, New York. In addition to his poetry<br />

collections, Venison, Dervish, and Shards, he has written and directed short films which<br />

have played festivals. His poems have appeared in several independent literary journals.

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Author bio: Tyler Sherwood Pruett is a writer and artist with a special interest in short<br />

forms of poetry, as well as creative nonfiction. His work has appeared in many<br />

prestigious journals such as Modern Haiku and Frogpond, as well as important<br />

anthologies including Haiku 21 by Modern Haiku Press, and a fear of dancing by Red<br />

Moon Press. He is the author of Blue Wolves Are Howling Grapefruit Orange, a<br />

collection of poems selected from over a decade of published work in poetry journals,<br />

and A Refutation of Exile with Red Moon Press, a themed collection of Threshold Art<br />

poems. Tyler is currently working as a professional writer, and as a graduate student at<br />

Johns Hopkins University.


By Charlotte Ozment<br />

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The Paradise Coffin By Aekta<br />

Khubchandani<br />

I will put into the paradise coffin,<br />

The relief of the first drag<br />

And the darkness of the velvet night sky.<br />

I will put into the paradise coffin,<br />

The coat of disguise<br />

With the magic coffee potion of afterlife.<br />

I will put into the paradise coffin,<br />

The acceptance of human dominant society<br />

And will not lure in material fantasy.<br />

If not hopes and prayers,<br />

Then maybe genies and angels<br />

Could work along<br />

And bring me closer<br />

To the grim reaper<br />

Where I belong.<br />

Together, though not hand in hand<br />

But side by side

We’ll escape the jailhouse of inferiority<br />

And the school of sarcasm.<br />

Set on a journey to explore Moonland,<br />

With tools of trash and teeth<br />

We’ll reach this land<br />

Where we belong.<br />

I will put into the paradise coffin,<br />

Caws of crows and ravens<br />

And black roses to crown my bed.<br />

I will put into the paradise coffin,<br />

Not just a little<br />

But all of my broken self.<br />

Author bio: The author writes: “This is Aekta Khubchandani here. I eat and breathe art<br />

and consume volumes of caffeine, every day. I wear the colour red over my head but I<br />

work in black and white. I've been in love with the world of words since old school days<br />

and I write poetry, performance poetry, short fiction and life articles. I also illustrate my<br />

words in ink on paper and digitally.”

animals: a h(a)unting!<br />

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scoutin out some holy some more attractive places<br />

triangulate destiny triage your ser-en-dipity<br />

man on the move got to quash his predestidigi-persnickety<br />

vamoose caboose goose on the loose<br />

big city strife get yrself a life yearn for<br />

a spree in the land of the free<br />

flood your sights with headlights afternoon delights<br />

on the corner on the floor more on the stairwell<br />

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[a party postscript]<br />

by Wilna Panagos<br />

Wait until you find a man with a round head so dark and smooth that it is absolution blue<br />

where the light strikes it. This is the man you want to talk to about the two rivers of<br />

entropy, archipelic thinking and geophagy. We are the ant gods, he says, to them we are<br />

all the same, all one immensity. We bring death or food and pray as they may, it makes<br />

no difference. We are too large for them to see entirely – scale is everything. To them we<br />

are inexplicable. He says: Light operates on all hierarchies of reality and when you sleep<br />

at night, all your sorrows are obliterated. Every time you wake, you have to remember<br />

everything anew. Weep as a warning to others. And he grins at his betel box with his red<br />

teeth and receives five hundred strikes of the slipper to the head. While all this is going<br />

on, Gatsby leans back and closes his eyes and says into the lethargic air, air as moist and<br />

warm as breath, air the colour of Vegas gold and old paper: The question of where is not<br />

answered on a map. Earth eating overturns the whole enchilada and every grain of dust<br />

has a marvelous soul. If you close your eyes you are alone in the world... I'm building a<br />

spite house in Ottoman Cyprus, says Aloysius-Eloise, in a landscape full of desire lines<br />

and a flea in the ear, full of hopscotch hoodoos in the dead dust. Ritualized bathing is<br />

against the law and the objectifying gaze of the colonizer a pestilence, but the trail has<br />

gone cold, it was so very long ago. The heard is hunted. Creolization as a Poetics of<br />

Culture. The ghost pretending to be a crop circle says nothing. Win a sheep! blurts Legba<br />

the translator and: I like Nascar! and he sighs. Kiradmand mutters: Victory, however,<br />

came too late, an actual infinity is impossible, one day the tiger in the woods will carry us<br />

off, and her worn deckchair creaks as she puts her hands behind her neck. I'm living on a<br />

map, thinks the ghost. Ispahan is half the world, it thinks, Ispahan, a city in Persia,<br />

macarons with raspberries in the middle or a strain of pink rose named after the city.<br />

There's a storm coming, it whispers. Gatsby lifts his glass without opening his eyes and<br />

shakes the mostly molten ice cubes and watery whiskey dregs. Can I have another one?<br />

he says to the man rinsing his raw round head in the lukewarm swimming pool.<br />

words they could have used but didn't: torpid bazar khaki ad<br />

hoc tacit bistre inertia<br />

And no one asked them, the ones with their brows wreathed in wilted poplar leaves: How<br />

many teeth have you in your mouth? or: Where are you going? What do you want?<br />

We have a winner! shouted Legba in his sleep. Jam and pepper he mumbles. The prince,<br />

according to custom, disappears.<br />

Author bio: Wilna Panagos' work has appeared in Otoliths, Museum Life, Prick of the<br />

Spindle, The Undertow Review, Ditch Poetry Altpoetics, Hobo Camp Review, and others.<br />

Long ago she wrote and illustrated a few children's books and more recently something<br />

which may be described as a nouvelle vague transmogrification of The Divine Comedy, a<br />

postmodern experimental polyphonic florilegious pastiche, a chaotic and irreverent remix<br />

of Dante’s afterlife with the gravity hidden beneath. It is still unpublished.

Pleasantly Saying Terrible Things<br />

By Alyssa Trivett<br />

I apologize for not picking you up from the airport.<br />

Flying squirrels raided my house,<br />

toilet-papering the trees,<br />

pissing on the garage door.<br />

I apologize for not picking you up from the airport.<br />

My hand was stuck in the Pringles can<br />

unable to dab soap around,<br />

my Mrs. Robocop driving hand.<br />

I am not the Chuck E. Cheese animatronic puppet<br />

chucking tokens in soul-less machines, for lifeless tickets<br />

redeemed for a deflated mini glow-in-the-dark basketball.<br />

At three thousand, it can be yours!<br />

I am the coffee cup.<br />

Quiet enough not to be noticed<br />

misunderstanding pointless math problems;<br />

Springfield train, chugging along<br />

fifty-three miles-per-hour, meeting in Dallas<br />

ten hours later, Star Wars Stormtrooper Snuggies<br />

being delivered. Due to popular demand.<br />

I am the kind friend<br />

rapid-fire texting memes<br />

to make you laugh.<br />

I am the oddly-named subdivision;<br />

Feather Creek, chicken-poxed retention pond.<br />

Mildew Villages. Snug Harbor;<br />

for the win. Not.<br />

I apologize for not picking you up from the airport.<br />

My left shoe and right shoe<br />

were on the wrong foot.<br />

Forgive me anyways.<br />

Pleasantly saying terrible things.<br />

Author bio: Alyssa Trivett is a wandering soul from the Midwest. When not<br />

working two jobs, she listens to music and scrawls lines on the back of gas<br />

station receipts. Her work has appeared in Scapegoat Review, Peeking <strong>Cat</strong>,<br />

VerseWrights, In Between Hangovers, Tuck Magazine, Communicators League,<br />

and Duane's PoeTree site.



By B. Diehl<br />

Well, I moved into the apartment.<br />

The one you picked out for us.<br />

The one I said I hated<br />

because the old man<br />

with dementia across the hall<br />

makes me too sad.<br />

Because the bathroom is straight out<br />

of a Charles Bukowski book ––<br />

rust on the sink, toilet, and tub.<br />

Because of the tiny ants in the kitchen.<br />

Because the Phillipsburg shit plant is so close by ––<br />

and on really hot days, the entire complex<br />

will definitely smell of sewage.<br />

Because the view from the balcony can’t possibly<br />

go well with morning coffee. All you can see<br />

is a junkyard and some abandoned building<br />

that used to be a daycare before it got shut down<br />

on account of the owner being a pedophile.<br />

I’m not sure why I moved into this place.<br />

Maybe I’m living out a fantasy.<br />

I look at the nicotine-stained rug<br />

next to the bed, and I can almost see<br />

your tiny size-5 sneakers<br />

waiting for your feet. I can almost see<br />

your scattered hair ties ––<br />

and your glasses on the nightstand,<br />

next to your Lorrie Moore books.<br />

But delusions are not healthy.

2 days ago, the old man with dementia<br />

pounded on my door and accused me<br />

of having an affair with his 87-year-old wife.<br />

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About Now By Bruce McRae<br />

Meanwhile, in the airy labyrinth,<br />

in a bathtub full of corn liquor,<br />

in the red barn on a hillside.<br />

While you were squinting intomorrow’s sun.<br />

When the lion purred deeply.<br />

While you were paring your nails<br />

and twiddling with the radio,<br />

incident brushing against incident,<br />

willpower crooking a finger,<br />

intention taking a short vacation,<br />

‘in the meantime’ on your breath,<br />

time an old fire in an older world,<br />

time a sniper, a deer in its crosshairs,<br />

an arrow coursing from one moment to the next.<br />

And meanwhile, by the river’s edge.<br />

Beside a splash of accumulated brilliance.<br />

Behind a page or leaf or pillar.<br />

Where everything is or it isn’t.<br />

Just when the robin came down<br />

from its village of mad branches.<br />

The same moment an ambulance passed.

About the time a voice explained,<br />

“Right about now.”<br />

During the storm of what and when.<br />

During the rise and fall of the executives.<br />

During a long ride into theoutlands,<br />

the race between hour and minute,<br />

a word leading, an action following along behind.<br />

Everything happening all of the time.<br />

When there is no then to go back to,<br />

lost among the smudged lettering<br />

and fudged illustrations,<br />

this now before all other nows.<br />

Here is the beginning, where it ends.<br />

The same sun as before, but a different planet.<br />

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Vegetate, v.<br />

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Under the Duvet<br />

By Rehan Qayoom'<br />

!<br />


IT HAS BEGUN by James Kowalczyk<br />

America is already great thank you president Tru…sorry, I just threw up in my mouth…<br />

When I hear “again” I think of a time when chinks build the railroad, niggers build the<br />

Whitehouse, and the queers knew their place, a time when foreigners were wops,<br />

polocks, micks, kikes, spics, and wetbacks that were not quite human and political<br />

cartoons had illustrations to match the terms…<br />

When I hear “again”, I think of a time when women knew their place and children knew<br />

their role- in the kitchen and seen but not heard…. herd mentality, that’s what I think of<br />

when I hear “again”, a time when if you said that right thing or pointed a finger maybe,<br />

just maybe, you’d be invited into the flock…led by Jesus, not some pack of animals led<br />

by a fucking sand-nigger…<br />

When I hear “again” I think of some cops doing whatever the hell they want behind<br />

closed doors…but then again, today they do whatever the hell they want in the streets…<br />

When I hear “again” I think of hominid animals preying on the other, blood dripping<br />

from a castle window where heroes of horror with twisted smirks and jaundiced eyes<br />

chew on the poor…their mouths open with carnage pate riding on galloping tongues<br />

greased with bullshit…<br />

while miss highly manipulative prances to the beat of the goose stepping alternative boys<br />

who under a dark sky spew turds of venom... but all strike out when they face Sandy<br />

Koufax, a Brooklyn Jew, known as the Left Arm of God…and<br />

they all run from Jimmy Cagney and Angels with Dirty Faces who scream in horror as<br />

Liberty levels her torch as a flamethrower aimed at the other…who, to paraphrase<br />

Shakespeare, have<br />

eyes, hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions like us…is not the “other”<br />

subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same<br />

winter and summer as everyone else? If they are cut, do they not bleed? If they are<br />

tickled, do they not laugh?

at the perverse circus of drooling monkeys surfing the minds of misbegotten mental<br />

midgets, who, like wretched worms slither through the stifling stench of slime at the<br />

bottom of the political porta potty<br />

Author bio: James Kowalczyk was born and raised in Brooklyn and now lives in<br />

Northern California with his wife, two daughters, and four cats. He teaches English at<br />

both the high school and college level. His work has been published both online and in<br />


Oz<br />

By Thomas Locicero<br />

No angst from Langston Hughes,<br />

Just the blues, just the blues.<br />

Trust the blues like no one has,<br />

incorporate a little jazz,<br />

think highly of your pain,<br />

and trust your dream<br />

like John Coltrane and a love supreme.<br />

Be your gamble and let it ride,<br />

find your reason and then abide<br />

and love to the extreme.<br />

Choose storm or road, but don’t explain,<br />

just don’t stand frozen like a cowardly<br />

Tin Man without a brain.<br />

A poet frigid?<br />

How insane!<br />

See your world in black and white,<br />

then find your colors and love tonight<br />

and love tonight<br />

and love tonight<br />

and<br />

love<br />

tonight<br />

and!<br />

Fade.<br />

Author bio: Thomas Locicero’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming<br />

in Roanoke Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Long Island Quarterly, The Good<br />

Men Project, Adelaide Literary Magazine, Jazz Cigarette, Quail Bell Magazine,<br />

Rat’s Ass Review, Antarctica Journal, Scarlet Leaf Review, Tipton Poetry<br />

Journal, Hobart, Ponder Review, vox poetica, Poetry Pacific, Brushfire Literature<br />

& Arts Journal, Indigo Lit, Saw Palm, Fine Lines, and New Thoreau Quarterly,<br />

among other journals0!He resides in Broken Arrow, OK.


By John Grey<br />

He plays some kind of<br />

distorted jazz<br />

on a saxophone<br />

dressed in a greasy gray t-shirt<br />

and baggy pants tied with string.<br />

A battered upturned cap<br />

sits on the sidewalk<br />

begging for coins.<br />

He fills the air<br />

with whatever notes<br />

his breath can blow<br />

and fingers corral<br />

as they clamp down on the buttons.<br />

Few stop to listen<br />

though an occasional passerby<br />

tosses loose change his way.<br />

On a busy shopping street,<br />

he’s the only one making art.<br />

He’s not the whole story.<br />

But he’s the only one telling it.<br />

Author bio: John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in<br />

Homestead Review, Cape Rock and Columbia Review with work upcoming in<br />

Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review.

Single Fantasy<br />

(If I Was in N.Y.C. When I Was Pushing<br />

Five)<br />

By John Doyle<br />

Uncles and aunts in hopscotch pants<br />

emerge like sunflowers - from groaning narrow staircases<br />

in New York City apartments - (and I mean apartments, not "condos").<br />

Outside are water hydrants where belly buttoned girls do the dance of the<br />

seven veils,<br />

and other little boys' uncles play mouth organs with dogs who look up in<br />

their faces<br />

like they're Saint Francis with all the animals gathered round him on that<br />

parchment<br />

in the church with the Irish priest called Fr. O'Malley, (I think), on the block<br />

where aunts<br />

carry groceries to their ballooning breasts in large paper bags normally<br />

only seen<br />

in cop shows late at night. And girls who dance the seven veils politely<br />

stop<br />

to pick-up fallen apples and run after aunts carrying large paper bags.<br />

In a cafe John and Yoko are watching and talk about using this scene for<br />

the cover of the album<br />

they will release as their follow-up to Double Fantasy<br />

Author bio: John Doyle, 42, is based in County Kildare, Ireland (when he's not<br />

travelling the cosmos in a stereotypical Volkswagen camper van), and has<br />

released two poetry collections so far A Stirring at Dusk in 2017 and Songs for<br />

Boys Called Wendell Gomez in 2018. Among his loves are the Irish language, his<br />

girlfriend, Mod culture, and obscure Corsican hideaways in June; among his<br />

hates are people who cannot go 3 seconds without using the phrase "lol", and<br />

men who don't earn their right to have a beard. There's a strong chance he will<br />

be seen tonight near Ursa Minor, chewing on a bagel and talking gibberish.

[Future Words]<br />

By Mark Cunningham<br />

Author bio: Mark Cunningham has a new chapbook, Alphabetical Basho, out on the<br />

Beard of Bees site. 71 Leaves, an e-book from BlazeVOX, is free to anyone curious<br />

enough to Google it.<br />

[future word]<br />

__________.1. a possible inconsistency in the renormalization procedure that appears at<br />

very high energies in quantum electrodynamics and other quantum field theories<br />

in which there is not asymptotic freedom. 2. to be alone while wearing an “I’m<br />

with Stupid” t-shirt.<br />

[future word]<br />

__________. 1. the second of three wishes. 2. to forget the middle name of a former<br />

boyfriend or girlfriend. 3. a gear-shifting mechanism on a bicycle that shifts the<br />

drive chain from one sprocket wheel to another. 4. Wednesday afternoon after 4<br />


Mr. Moon By Christie-Luke Jones<br />

Mr. Moon spewed codeine over the crowds below<br />

I am God!<br />

He mocked through yellowed teeth.<br />

Come and touch me if you dare<br />

Breathe my breathless air.<br />

And the ozone layer parted<br />

And the rockets took flight.<br />

And the moon waited.<br />

And behind inky craters plotted.<br />

Author bio: Christie-Luke Jones is a UK-based poet and short fiction<br />

writer of French-Italian extraction. His writing swings violently<br />

between exaltation and despair, and has been published on three<br />


Baptism By Fire<br />

By Adam Scharf!<br />

!!<br />

!!<br />

Year is 1892,!<br />

I fantasize burning alive. !<br />

Mostly at gatherings when others talk about business being good,!<br />

and how their children are smarter than others. I've had enough. !<br />

Tonight I slam the table yelling, “I’m a witch!”!<br />

Everyone stares blankly,“We hardly burn witches anymore.”!<br />

I straighten my tie adjusting my posture, “Alright, well I’m a Jew too.”!<br />

Now they’re pleased, “That we burn.”!<br />

Heading home I pack a suitcase because it felt right,!<br />

and throw away old Christmas cards just in case.!<br />

When I hear the knock I open it boasting, “Hello boys, was just lighting a few<br />

menorahs.”!<br />

They pile me into a wagon tying me up, “I’m filthy boys. I can’t be trusted.”!<br />

Nodding they tighten the ropes.!<br />

Before I know it they’re talking to themselves about sports, and everything their wives<br />

make.!<br />

To speed things along I tell them I drink blood, and the horses move faster than ever.!<br />

I’m dragged to the stake. !<br />

A priest says prayers while throwing water at me. !<br />

Once again I hear the crowd discussing plans, opinions, and inside jokes. !<br />

These people are a riot. !<br />

This crowd will always be a crowd. Even after they’ve split becoming individuals, !<br />

crowded wherever they walk discussing appliances, and how they’ve aged as their<br />

mother had. !<br />

I wiggle my lighter from back pocket, !<br />

it drops setting aflame wood gathered at my feet. !<br />

They protest loudly, “We aren’t ready yet!”!<br />

Letting out a sympathetic exhale, they’re all my children.!<br />

“That's alright boys, I’ll take it from here.”!<br />

!<br />

!"#$%&'()%*!This is Adam’s second publication with Clock<strong>wise</strong> <strong>Cat</strong>. Born<br />

in Utica NY, he now lives in Orlando writing short fiction and recently<br />

completed his first novel. His creative partner is a palomino named Karen.

Poem Generating Machine<br />

By Andrew Nye<br />

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Keepsake<br />

By Gale Acuff<br />

I'm ten years old and I'm going to die<br />

one day so I'd better get ready now<br />

because it could happen at any time,<br />

even if I don't die by accident<br />

--run over catching the school bus or shot<br />

by a burglar or pushed out a window<br />

or choked by a hamburger pickle or<br />

struck by lightning or brained by a baseball.<br />

You never know. And then gone, I'll come to,<br />

and look back on my life and what happened<br />

in it to end it, and shake my head<br />

if I still have one, one that's blood and meat<br />

and bone, and think what a shame I lost it,<br />

my life. I'll be a ghost or an angel,<br />

maybe, done with doom for keeps. And then I'll<br />

pick myself up and dust myself off and<br />

get on with it, my life of being dead<br />

forever. Which is what forever is.<br />

Author bio: Gale writes: “I have had poetry published<br />

in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Poem, Adirondack Review, Coe<br />

Review, Worcester Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Arkansas<br />

Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, South<br />

Dakota Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other<br />

journals. I have authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse<br />

Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of<br />

My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008). I have taught university English in the<br />

US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.<br />

!<br />

!<br />


Time was<br />

By Richard Weaver<br />

there was a time when hour glasses drank pure sunlight like ouzo<br />

before there was a happy hour, and grandfather clocks could remember<br />

how to tie their shoes using both hands, (grandmother, being shorter,<br />

had no need to bend as low, and preferred house shoes anyway),<br />

when pocket watches absorbed the body’s radiant heat and kept pace<br />

as if waltzing with or without Matilda. And water-based escarpments<br />

emptied or filled the seconds each day, each tick one drop, each tock one drip.<br />

Together a drop drip. Now days a strontium lattice clock surpasses<br />

the cesium standard by 50%, give or take a %, a blue laser accurate<br />

for give or take the next 15 billion years (14 billion years after the sun<br />

dances its last fandango) and the earth, a preadolescent<br />

planet, a mere 5.5 ± 0.05 billion years young, dies. So does it matter,<br />

Father Time, that this new timepiece can detect the dead Einstein in action<br />

and Stephen Hawkings’s next sneeze? Reality in action has no relevance<br />

in such time. Blue lasers. Reds lasers. Ultramarine. Set our waves free.<br />

Author bio: Richard Weaver resides in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor where he<br />

volunteers with the Maryland Book Bank, acts as the Archivist-at-large for a<br />

Jesuit college, and is a seasonal snowflake counter (unofficially). Recent poems<br />

have appeared in OxMag, Red Eft Review, Crack the Spine, Juxtaprose, Misfit,<br />

and Conjunctions. Forthcoming work will appear in Clade Song, Dead Mule, &<br />

Magnolia Review.

Making the beast sing to<br />

the birds BY PAUL GRANT<br />

Deep blue<br />

Night<br />

Of girl eyed<br />

Sadness,<br />

A sweet little<br />

End of the world<br />

But its not fondness<br />

That I find her with,<br />

The angels of my better nature<br />

Lay long dead in the corners<br />

A bottle<br />

Could untangle<br />

The fist from my heart,<br />

Bust the prowling night open<br />

Like a lovers lip<br />

So<br />

I will let<br />

The blue deepen<br />

Through all its cool shades<br />

Let the smoke<br />

Crawl low<br />

Along the ceiling<br />

Let the bruise<br />

Swell into view<br />

Until somebody<br />

Notices<br />

Kisses the colour<br />

Of my distance<br />

Says<br />

It's alright now<br />

I am here<br />

With you.<br />

Author bio: Paul writes: “My name is Paul Grant, and I live and work in Milton<br />

Keynes, England. I have a new book out with Writing Knights called A Feast of<br />


TWO Poems<br />

By Michelle Nickol<br />

Author bio: By Michelle Nickol is currently self-employed and lovin’ it. Her nonfiction and<br />

poetry has been published in Clock<strong>wise</strong> <strong>Cat</strong>, Pilgrimage, Bacon Review, Prairie Schooner,<br />

Black Warrior Review, Alligator Juniper, Lilliput Review, several anthologies, etc. A threeyear-old<br />

feral cat named Hillary has recently muscled in on her hard-earned solitude and<br />

appears to have adopted her.<br />

Anted Infernos<br />

Ant I<br />

fleshed<br />

into lotus root<br />

Our forest lost,<br />

the deb-loon struts and slurs<br />

now refuels<br />

honoring tots<br />

who fettle<br />

Ant II<br />

How hard to say this<br />

Awash doth history hoard<br />

its shitty ways, its<br />

shadowy hit stories<br />

Ant III<br />

I cannot repeat the true mountain<br />

…the moan unit<br />

…the tin om<br />

…the main omit<br />

Ant IV<br />

That point pierced my heart<br />

Sea-trope echo: cede, oh coed, cede<br />

pic reed<br />

pic deer<br />

heart/earth equals greater than heart/break<br />

Ant V<br />

Lies toyed up<br />

Yelp is out<br />

Every little lake passed<br />


My Urban Knot Breaks Your Pattern<br />

Night makes an illegal left in this<br />

petroleum-based dream. Whose idea<br />

was it to opt for an open-air market?<br />

When did you lose the remote control?<br />

Boston’s the last time you’ll set my hair on fire.<br />

Night flaming Lucifer, my opposite times 7,<br />

your heartless sciences and useless sacrificial<br />

parades leave me nothing but an emptyshelled<br />

Brazil nut. Give me back my credit<br />

cards or I’ll sue you this time—I swear it.<br />

Boston’s the last time you’ll set my hair on fire.<br />

My animal heart hums in its sky cup. The stars<br />

siphon glitter into the cup. Planets fill the cup with<br />

planets. Tambourine shaker on this karmic goaround,<br />

I’ll stalk you crazy until I get my juicer back.<br />

Boston’s the last time you’ll set my hair on fire.<br />

My floating junkie in outer space is now<br />

my former floating junkie from a constellation<br />

I’ll tear into seven irregular pieces. Strange<br />

chamber of memories now, I’ll never dust<br />

that chamber of horrors you call an apartment<br />

again. Ever.<br />

Boston’s the last time you’ll set my hair on fire.<br />

Now my days are drunk in the kernel of the twelve<br />

dreams. My night’s a free-falling wand, a basin of<br />

velvet, a kleptomaniac’s dream flavor. The<br />

scar over my left eye is healing nicely, but<br />

you still owe me for the emergency room.<br />

Boston’s the last time you’ll set my hair on fire.<br />




Battery Acid<br />

Battery acid comes in a box. Weak sulfuric solution, bitter on the tongue but<br />

other<strong>wise</strong> palatable enough. I titer a quart into the punch. The wedding guests<br />

smile when they taste it. Mixes well with the liquor, lemons, grapefruit, and lime. I<br />

learned to swim in an acidic little pond on the Canadian border. Water so clear it<br />

made air look like porridge. Sizzling as I swam, I lost most of my flesh and<br />

learned to take pride in my bones. Exposed to the air after a mile or two in the<br />

harsh clean atmosphere, I re-fleshed myself as if donning ordinary clothes. That<br />

was the life. Now having slightly poisoned a hundred cheerful guests, I speechify<br />

and confess. Their applause seems more sincere than ever. For anyone who<br />

doubts, first aid remains an option. The bride kisses me in rainbow hues. The<br />

groom also kisses me, his lips as tough as condoms. The ugly smell of acid<br />

hovers, but like a bird of prey disdains to alight. I’ll take the rest of the punch<br />

home and use it to activate a battery left unused in a cupboard for many years.<br />

When it’s charged, I’ll shock myself as frankly as I dare, and that will be adequate<br />

apology.<br />

An Opera About Orpheus<br />

The creep and crawl of whispers on the breezeway. Opera on the radio.<br />

Something about “crown and charcoal burner,” but perhaps that’s a bad<br />

translation of the Italian. Or is it German? As I attempt to make out the words,<br />

the propane heater utters gusts of carbon dioxide. Time for my volunteer work at<br />

the hospital. Every evening I wheel patients up to the roof to enjoy the stars.<br />

Soon I have a dozen stargazers chatting about their favorite surgeries. They<br />

know all the medical terms, and relish pronouncing them with edged consonants<br />

and greasy vowels. From here the snow atop neighboring mountains seems<br />

illuminated or even illuminating. When you arrive at the hospital to help with<br />

these astronomically inclined patients you wheel them off the roof to crash in the<br />

parking lot three floors below. The bent and broken wheelchairs glitter in the<br />

lamplight. No one hurt, at least not hurt as much as our local surgical team has<br />

hurt them. Let’s go home and listen to more opera. I hope there’s one about<br />

Orpheus. I feel like a detached head still singing. I don’t miss my body at all.

Author bio: William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire, in a small<br />

house in the woods. He taught at Keene State College for many years, but has<br />

now retired to feed the deer and wild turkeys. He has published three critical<br />

studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and<br />

reviews have appeared in many journals and several small-press books. His<br />

forthcoming book of poetry is The Last Concert (Salmon Press).

Deceased: TTZARA 4 14 1896 12<br />

25 1963<br />

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By Dr. Mel Waldman<br />

(on reading Henri Cole’s poem-The Paranoid Forest)<br />

Apocalyptic Man<br />

anointed with metaphysical mist<br />

&<br />

shrouded in bestial silence & isolation,<br />

sweat<br />

pouring from his brow,<br />

remains<br />

in the vastness the desolation the death that surrounds swallows & engulfs him.<br />

He<br />

carries the harrowing secret in a crimson bag of sorcery,<br />

caresses<br />

it with prestidigitation<br />

&<br />

staggers into the kaleidoscopic desert of irreality,<br />

rushing slowly<br />

into eerie evanescence-otherworldly vanishing<br />

&<br />

eats the swirling sand a fantastic dessert in Kafka’s opalescent hallucination<br />

&<br />

vomits a monstrous creation-the Chimera-in the kingdom of the damned<br />

&<br />

the fire-breathing beast ferocious vision of grotesquerie burns his olive flesh<br />

&<br />

vanishes in the sprawling prison of The Apocalypse,<br />

sinking<br />

in the faraway glitter of preternatural quicksand

&<br />

Apocalyptic Man holds the haunting secret in a sacred place<br />

&<br />

drinks the flood of anguish overflowing & shooting out of the sultry sun<br />

&<br />

bites the obscenity of obliteration<br />

as<br />

he plummets into the chasm of chaos<br />

colliding<br />

with nonbeing where unholy atavism devours him<br />

&<br />

the beast awakens, rises, & emerges<br />

leaps<br />

out of a crimson bag of sorcery<br />

lands<br />

on the seething sand, boiling illusion,<br />

bares<br />

its teeth & screams eerily at Apocalyptic Man.<br />

Looking up<br />

at its Master & Slave, the Tasmanian devil, demonic alter ego,<br />

sees<br />

the possessed & possessor of a terrible secret of grotesquerie,<br />

observes<br />

a veil of evil swirling in the Shadows-<br />

ominous shroud<br />

concealing a glimmer of unbearable light-<br />

a vanishing sphere of celestial beauty-unfathomable divinity<br />

sailing out<br />

of<br />

the beast

as<br />

it lunges at the otherworldly stranger,<br />

Apocalyptic Man,<br />

keeper<br />

of<br />

the secret

I Married a Sling Blade<br />

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By Felino Soriano<br />

from This is How My Speaking Moves<br />

Conjuring Rain<br />

Of when heat is<br />

the penetrating hybrid of hate and humid<br />

alterations<br />

my dispositional qualities lessen into breath-on glare<br />

until<br />

angular<br />

syllables<br />

rearrange focus into deluge or fractioned melodies of developed<br />

moisture, unobstructed need for me to bookmark this moment<br />

return to it<br />

return to scan each paragraph of elated change to the physiological<br />

components of these hours’ mistreated mobilities<br />

Softened this Flute Interprets Me<br />

What comes through the<br />

home in me, seen through<br />

windowed orphans<br />

left<br />

to divide existence with<br />

breathing mutated exhalations<br />

and<br />

autonomy within freed forays<br />

found amid the eyes<br />

loaded with intent and articulated curiosity--

_________<br />

numerals limit age to agree with time’s fascination<br />

with mirage--<br />

during my needed rest I’ve a<br />

desire to sing and sit into a leaning approval<br />

of architectural clarity--<br />

__________<br />

everything placed in its softened state<br />

all plurals gathering cymbal mimesis! wave ornaments softened<br />

against untouched sand<br />

near what resembles divided<br />

marbles separated theories of<br />

prayers<br />

gathering found symbols and undated miracles<br />

Within your Language I Cultivate my Listening<br />

Bridge of where our meeting<br />

met us of how the bodies<br />

bend and skeletons endured<br />

a wind stronger than the bridge<br />

could coordinate outlasting.<br />

Somewhere, or precise<br />

in the here rendition of place and rhythm<br />

--for Gabriela

we’ve a homemade handmade<br />

direction toward<br />

family and the sway of unexpected<br />

additions. Amid devoted sound<br />

you’ve heard my healing ache<br />

into plurals of allegorical friction.<br />

Within<br />

the voice you’ve had since<br />

inception my hearing of it<br />

renames each moment<br />

many times in momentum:<br />

how this life continues will resemble an aggregate of seasonal<br />

surprise, a flourish of piano<br />

and soloing into a specific language of deliberate articulation<br />

Author bio: Felino A. Soriano was awarded the 2017 erbacce-prize<br />

for poetry. His writings appear in CHURN, BlazeVOX, 3:AM<br />

Magazine, The National Poetry Review, Small Po[r]tions, and<br />

elsewhere. His books of poetry include A Searching for Full Body<br />

Syllables: fragmented olio (2017), Aging within these<br />

syllables (2017), Acclimated Recollections (2017), and Vocal<br />

Apparitions: New & Selected Poems: 2012 – 2016 (2016). Visit Of the<br />

poetry this jazz portends for more information.


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Bob writes, "Cindy and I have been close friends for years.<br />

We are familiar with each other's writing, and have<br />

published each other in our respective publications. It was<br />

Cindy who first suggested that we try our hand at some<br />

collaborations. We decided that each piece would be 14<br />

lines, and that we would alternate first lines, as well as the<br />

subsequent lines in each piece. And that's what we did,<br />

except for a few prose poems in which we instead<br />

alternated sentences. All the pieces were written by e-mail.<br />

We started our first piece in late June 2017, and completed<br />

75 pieces during the next eight months. While our<br />

approaches were a bit different, we ended up working quite<br />

well together. We are currently taking a break from the<br />

collaborations to work on our own creative projects. This<br />

was not my first experience with collaborations, having<br />

previously worked in 2008 with R. Nemo Hill, Jane<br />

Ormerod, and Thomas Fucaloro (and later, several<br />

others) in a series of intense collaborative writing sessions<br />

which used a very different process."<br />

Cindy adds, "The 75 poems I wrote with Bob represent my<br />

first foray into collaboration. The most satisfying and<br />

gratifying part for me was that, as a rather non-prolific poet<br />

who struggles with writer's block, it jump-started me into<br />

poetic mode every day and forced me to take risks in an<br />

attempt to reach a new level of creativity. And I was<br />

delighted with all the little surprises that materialized along<br />

the way."

The Jazzman’s Magnanimous<br />

Words<br />

(for Felino A.<br />

Soriano4!<br />

By Heath Brougher<br />

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FEMME:<br />



“Dark and dangerous content wrapped in pink taffeta and topped with a<br />

tiara…”<br />

Susan Cossette’s sparse, wry poetry examines the struggle to preserve<br />

personal identity and integrity under the constraints of suburbia and massproduced<br />

culture. Her work also explores the contemporary political<br />

landscape while striving to give voice to those who have been victimized.<br />

She earned her B.A. and M.A. in English from the University of

Connecticut, where she studied with poets James Scully and Marilyn Nelson<br />

and was a two-time recipient of the Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. The<br />

author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, her work has appeared in Rust and Moth,<br />

Anti-Heroin Chic, Clock<strong>wise</strong> <strong>Cat</strong>, The Scarecrow Journal, and the Adelaide<br />

Literary Magazine (short-listed for Pushcart nomination), among others. A<br />

2017 transplant to the Twin Cities, Susan’s readings include Barnes and<br />

Noble (Stamford, CT), The Hudson Valley Writers’ Center (NY), Curley’s<br />

Poets (Stamford, CT) Writers Resist (Norwalk Community College),<br />

Confluencia (Palace Theater, Danbury CT), and most recently The Day of<br />

the Dead Poets Slam in Rochester, MN. To pay the bills, Susan is Annual<br />

Fund and Communications Manager for Way to Grow in Minneapolis, a<br />

nonprofit organization committed to closing the educational gap among the<br />

Twin Cities’ most isolated families. More of her work may be found at<br />

www.musepalace.wordpress.com. Her video readings may be seen at:<br />

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDZupms9agckaMAUGe5B7yA?view<br />

_as=subscriber!<br />

Enola Gay<br />

Put the dark goggles on.<br />

If we fail, there is a pill to take.<br />

Six minutes, and you will be gone.<br />

You won’t know anything.<br />

You won’t talk to the enemy.<br />

The sun’s red hull invades the horizon.<br />

It is time to deliver the physicist’s nightmare—<br />

The brightest and hottest thing since creation.<br />

Do not look at the source of fierce light.<br />

Cold math is our new co-pilot.<br />

Then, a lead taste in the mouth,<br />

A crackling of the jaw—<br />

Quantum artifacts embed in my fillings,<br />

Pass through flesh.<br />

They could be seen, felt, tasted.<br />

Micro-clots of seared blood in my veins.<br />

My god, look at that son of a bitch go.

A thousand suns bleaching the sky, the earth white,<br />

The sun coming from the earth to explode.<br />

Our legacy is history, but we never learn from our mistakes.<br />

Do we regret the taking of life, or the change we brought<br />

From that fierce atomic beauty in the warm August sun?<br />

An American Poem<br />

A nuclear pompadour<br />

Releases<br />

Buried collective anger.<br />

Integrity and humanity cease.<br />

The world becomes much stranger.<br />

Incandescent lies,<br />

Breach of the fragile peace,<br />

Fear the money changer.<br />

What his billions buy,<br />

The mouthpiece,<br />

Of the clear and present danger.<br />


Dismembered, one stroke of the pen,<br />

One dollar at a time—<br />

The arsonists are in charge of the fire station.<br />

Destruction plumes, forcing fumes<br />

To an indifferent, hazy sky.<br />

Books and art in the sulphur flames<br />

Crackle and snap alongside<br />

Food scraps for the aged and<br />

Melting plastic eyes of children’s puppets—<br />

The radio hisses its last static,<br />

Then silence.

The water leeches its lead,<br />

Flowing down the strip mine scar.<br />

A fiery freight car carries the lost<br />

To the pyre on the River of the Dead.<br />

In this deconstruction of the administrative state,<br />

We’re all going to be deconstructed, destructed and<br />

Tossed into the mass grave of alternative facts.<br />

What did you expect?<br />


I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed on the internet.<br />

Branded crazy, dumb as stumps, goaded, extorted.<br />

Bullied and sullied in an abject abuse of power,<br />

Fruit flies, dissected on a slide.<br />

I heard your lies—<br />

You, insatiate demon,<br />

You will not take my voice,<br />

Your tiny talons may claw my eyes<br />

But I will not sign your parchment.<br />

I heard the river Lethe—<br />

Its black murmur grows to a rush,<br />

Ferrying me on foam rapids<br />

To some crazed misogynistic alternative reality.<br />

The tabloids become real news—<br />

That reveal all,<br />

While the rest is fake.<br />

Narcissistic hypocrisy blackens the sky.<br />

Go on, grab my pussy.<br />

I can take it.<br />

Rant on my bloody facelift,<br />

My menstrual cycle.<br />

The moon, the moon holds my power.<br />

We are more than body parts and functions.

The sea, it will rise into truth—<br />

Churning black, around the water spout,<br />

Sucking words, images, half-truths, hatred<br />

Into a vast explosion of indignation and rebellion.<br />

Which way do the stone-faced blue blazers point us tonight?<br />

Where have you brought us, America?<br />


“Women, you have to treat ’em like shit.”<br />

—Donald Trump, New York magazine, November 9, 1992<br />

I don’t have a tidy soundbite for you.<br />

I wish I did,<br />

But I am not a hero.<br />

I am not a child.<br />

I have learned to regret words spoken in anger.<br />

But we are seething,<br />

Beneath the surface.<br />

How long we’ve been ignored,<br />

Seething for those brave enough to tell the truth—<br />

Seething for those punished for doing so.<br />

Seething for being told we have no right to seethe at all.<br />

You too?<br />

Me too.<br />

Centuries of indifference,<br />

Tacit (and sometimes open) sanctioning of sexual harassment, abuse, assault,<br />

We are suddenly in the midst of a cock conflagration.<br />

Powerful men swallowed in the bonfire,<br />

Banned from the primordial, privileged Garden of Dicks.<br />

In the Garden of Dicks, it’s always about the dick.

You are a man, you have urges.<br />

Oh yeah, you?<br />

Well, me too.<br />

In the Garden of Dicks,<br />

Women come and go, working, serving, servicing—<br />

Trying to earn a living wage,<br />

Searching for a husband, a job,<br />

Looking for venture capital or just a good time,<br />

Seeking an advanced degree, a part in a movie.<br />

Don’t you know who I am?<br />

Often, we have no choice.<br />

We enter a room and instantly know.<br />

Oh, it’s that place.<br />

There’s always something sweaty and unnerving in the air,<br />

Like the men there<br />

Have just laughed at a joke we aren’t supposed to hear.<br />

And, eyes averted, we carry on.<br />

In the Garden of Dicks,<br />

There is one peculiar fear—<br />

Loss of power, castration by other means.<br />

Take my humiliation, please.<br />

In the room, the women come and go,<br />

Talking of sexual harassment.<br />

It took me four decades,<br />

Wandering alone and muted<br />

To finally be brave enough to be angry.<br />

You too?<br />

Me too.<br />

We arise en masse, our words jagged glass.

About Leaving Darien<br />

I was anonymous and ignored in the supermarket—<br />

Until now.<br />

Socially, economically insignificant,<br />

Until I messed up.<br />

In that perfect town—<br />

Its stiff plasticity,<br />

Among the smiling dowagers<br />

And self-absorbed hedge fund wives.<br />

Oh yes, they have something to talk about now.<br />

Whisper to one, and tell all.<br />

Good God, everyone gnashes on a good scandal,<br />

Something to clench their bleached white teeth on.<br />

I am suddenly choice conversation at the club Sunday brunch,<br />

Chewed up and spit out,<br />

Sinewy flesh on the steak, rejected.<br />

I no longer care.<br />

My good ladies, remember.<br />

It could be you, if you dared.<br />

You didn’t dare,<br />

But you wanted to.<br />

Oh, you want to.<br />

Admit it.<br />

Dancing with my Mutant Genes<br />

and the Voodoo Priestess<br />

This blonde baseball bat,<br />

It crashed a hole in the glass wall—<br />

Smashed the plaster.

I surprised myself.<br />

It is the truth you don’t want—<br />

When I finally crawl<br />

Out through the shatters and splinters,<br />

Onto the steep and thorny path.<br />

I am a curious specimen,<br />

Pinned and stuck, fruit fly on a glass slide.<br />

I have been called crazy, or other<strong>wise</strong>.<br />

The guilty chromosome shows itself,<br />

Peeking from the protein threads<br />

A stranger among the ordered helix,<br />

Revealing herself, at last.<br />

I am what makes you yourself.<br />

I wish I could tell you it will be easy.<br />

It won’t.<br />

The weird birthmark I tried to hide—<br />

To wash away with pink soap bubbles,<br />

Cover with cosmetics.<br />

She is my talisman, my voodoo priestess<br />

I hand her yarn, and a candle,<br />

We chant and dance,<br />

Spin wild in ecstasy, then she tells me—<br />

Climb out.<br />

You’ve been asleep too long.<br />

Voodoo princess, curious genome, wide-eyed strange child . . .<br />

Pack the past and curl it in thread,<br />

Tuck it under your pink pillow.<br />

Chant and dance.<br />

Burn it,<br />

Burn it.<br />


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!!!!!!!!!!!! !<br />

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!""#$%&'($)*+<br />




By Alison Ross<br />

!!<br />

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Ursula E. Smith:<br />

Lamenting Legends<br />

(Book and Music Review) !<br />

Within one day of each other, two legendarily unorthodox voices met their demise. Neither are household<br />

names, though one probably has more renown than the other, and yet her name - Ursula K. LeGuin - is<br />

more exotic than the rather pedestrian name of Mark E. Smith. Mark E. Smith's demeanor, of course, was<br />

anything but pedestrian, and both artists were known for their approaches that daringly defied convention.<br />

Their subject matter, of course, was different - author LeGuin speculatively explored anarchic alternaverses<br />

(mingling utopian and dystopian elements in seemingly equal measure), inspired by her mystical<br />

surroundings in Oregon, while The Fall's singer Mark E. Smith delved into topics related to working class<br />

England.<br />

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!<br />

But where they intersected was with their voices. While Mark E. Smith's persona inhabited a perfect<br />

paradox of unhinged stoicism, his voice was delectably deadpan. LeGuin narrated her tales in a matter-offact<br />

way, preferring not to draw attention to the flamboyantly fantastical elements of the tales she was<br />

spinning, but rather intending to proffer them as practical alternatives to our mundane mundo. Too, Mark E<br />

Smith presented his sometimes absurd worldview in a way that normalized such an approach, with his<br />

aforementioned deadpan delivery bolstered by the Fall's pristine art punk. Both were ultimately anarchists,<br />

following their own internal dictates, urging us to consider a world far beyond our own conformist cosmos<br />

with its straitjacket ideologies and deadend dogmas.<br />

It may seem out of left field to link these two artists, but the world is more impoverished without their vital<br />

voices. Thankfully, both Ursula K. LeGuin and Mark E. Smith made an indelible impact on our cultures<br />

and in society, so we will always have their words - both sung and written - to cherish.

Linklater Rarely Does Lackluster (Movie<br />

Review) by Alison Ross<br />

Richard Linklater's movies are first and foremost in-depth character studies. Each<br />

of his flicks - from his foray into film, Slacker, through his lesser-known narratives like<br />

Tape or more celebrated film fare like the Before series and Boyhood, to his latter-day<br />

cinematic features like Everybody Wants Some and Last Flag Flying - all flaunt fleshedout<br />

characterization as the driving force. A film with narrowly-drawn characters does not<br />

exist in the Linklater movie-verse. Too, the characters in the Linklater cosmos are usually<br />

fraught with maddening ambiguities in the director's divine quest to achieve as much<br />

verisimilitude as possible. Linklater revels in tracing the soaring highs and plumbing the<br />

dark depths of his film personae as a way, perhaps, to explore his own polarized persona,<br />

and as a way to comment on the ubiquitous dichotomy of human nature.<br />

What sets Last Flag Flying apart, perhaps, is how the characters go on a literal trip<br />

to self-actualization as opposed to the metaphorical ones in most of his other movies.<br />

Sure, there is traveling in the Before series movies, but it exists almost as a backdrop to<br />

the showcased story, whereas in Last Flag Flying, the excursion is the point, the raison<br />

d'etre, of the narrative. The trio of protagonists, just as they were transformed by trauma<br />

in their shared Vietnam experience, are once again metamorphosed during their joint<br />

journey up the east coast to bury one of the men's soldier sons who died in Iraq.<br />

Each character is a study of archetypes whose complexities run deep: Carrell's<br />

character, a shy solemn wallflower with bursts of soulful vigor; Cranston's paragon of<br />

frat-boy bravado whose rebel streak betrays a golden heart, and Laurence's preacher,<br />

a former ne'er do well who over-corrected his wayward past by becoming a holy man.<br />

Add to that endearing mix of men a heavy dose of anti-war sentiment that nonetheless<br />

refuses to disrespect the actual men forced into battle, and you have a concoction of pure<br />

conviction. Linklater rarely does lackluster, after all.

123+0456738+49+!7:4;+?@3;+"A;?+<br />


I suppose it's redundant to reiterate how ingenious it was for director Peele to select the<br />

vehicle of a horror/thriller to transport racially existential themes. In hindsight, it's an<br />

obvious, intuitive genre to use. But it turns out that Peele had the foresight to pinpoint the<br />

horrors of white supremacy and elaborate on them in a stylized cinematic way.<br />

Genre gimmicks abound in “Get Out” - zombified characters, caricatured archetypes,<br />

suspenseful plot points, carefully calculated missteps, violent crescendo, trick ending.<br />

There is a Hitchcockian sense of suspense and tension throughout the movie, but also<br />

nods and allusions to B movies, slasher films, 80s teen horror flicks – and yet the movie<br />

never seems cheap or derivative. Rather, it’s an elevated and cerebral psychological<br />

horror on par with Poe. It takes the thriller genre to a new zenith by infusing a plausible<br />

plot and refusing to showcase gratuitous gore. Rather, aggressive actions arise<br />

organically and are legitimized by context. All elements germane to the genre work in<br />

service to propel the plot of “Get Out” in an imaginative, if terrifying way.<br />

For what we are dealing with in "Get Out" is an evocation of modern-day slavery via<br />

hypnosis and a vicious eugenics. Peele is urging us to see how all we are all subtly but<br />

forcefully mesmerized by white supremacy and its myriad connotations and<br />

reverberations. He is laying bare all of our preposterous "post-racial" claims and turning<br />

them inside out to reveal a seedy, sleazy underside.<br />

I have long wrangled with the dilemma of how American society can disentangle itself<br />

from the dastardly web it's spun itself into regarding racial relations. And Jordan Peele's<br />

movie seems to reinforce my fears - that we are so deeply enmeshed in the maze of racial<br />

dysfunctions that we're better off just cutting loose from the labyrinth and starting over<br />

completely.<br />

But how do we dismantle white supremacy? By eradicating Caucasians? Obviously that's<br />

not possible or desirable. By further segregating the races? That’s already happening.<br />

We’ve been regressing for quite some time, as neighborhoods and schools self-segregate<br />

along racial lines. It would almost be justifiable if the situation did not always result in<br />

further suffering by people of color.<br />

The situation is urgent. Jordan Peele's movie is a clarion call (a cacophonous clarion call)<br />

to action. His movie suggests that we should be more aware of our own deep-seeded<br />

prejudices and the actions we and others take that might be loaded with sinister intention,<br />

even if superficially we think we are acting from an impetus of self-awareness and<br />

benevolence.<br />

For example, we might think that the justice system will ultimately "rehabilitate" the<br />

staggering number of black men caught up in it, without realizing that it's the system<br />

itself that caters to a white supremacist philosophy that deliberately thwarts black<br />

ascendancy.<br />

Lynching is no longer necessary when you have prison cages that will stifle the soul. The<br />

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<br />

in lawns, setting fire to churches, devising nooses, using whips and chains - these tools of<br />

repression have been replaced by laws that perpetuate poverty and injustice. A society<br />

hypnotized by the system that stymies are the unwitting servants of such putrid policies.<br />

American society needs to "get out" of its lethal Euro-centric ideology and fight the<br />

zombies of hateful hegemony.<br />

Editor’s Note: This review first appeared in a previous issue of Clock<strong>wise</strong><br />

<strong>Cat</strong>; we are reprinting it because the movie should have won the Oscar - but<br />

Oscar be DUMB.<br />


REVIEW)<br />

By Alison Ross<br />

(BOOK<br />

I first discovered the genius of Sheila Murphy when I was<br />

perusing tomes at an excellent indie bookstore in Austin called<br />

Malvern Books. The title of her book, "Letters to an Unfinished J"<br />

leaped out at me. I read her verse on the plane back to Atlanta, and<br />

became entranced with Murphy's ability to forge a sinuous syntax.<br />

She manipulates language to further stretch its malleability, but<br />

also personalizes it, creating an introverted world whirling with<br />

intricate imagery and intense emotion, that also manages to be<br />

accessible to an audience attuned to literary innovation and yet<br />

wary of the alienating pretension that plagues certain poetry<br />

scenes.<br />

I first discovered the late and much-bereaved Michelle<br />

Greenblatt when she submitted poetry to Clock<strong>wise</strong> <strong>Cat</strong>. However,<br />

unlike with Sheila Murphy, her work did not immediately and<br />

urgently snag my attention. Her impact on me was more slowgrowing;<br />

her words simmered in the subterranean corners of my

mind for a very long time until they exploded to the forefront of<br />

my consciousness upon reading her book, Ashes and Seeds, and I<br />

became beatifically aware that her linguistic gifts were in the<br />

lineage of Rimbaud and Borges. Her poetry jolts the imagination<br />

for its deployment of complex symbols infused with cryptic<br />

personal references.<br />

So it makes sense that these two titans of talent collaborated<br />

on a tome of verse. Their approaches diverge and converge in<br />

fascinating ways.<br />

The poems that inaugurate the collection are not ghazals -<br />

they are the "other" referred to in the title. These first few poems,<br />

in a word, are stunning, and a nice way to ease into the intensity of<br />

the ghazals. These poems are their own version of intense,<br />

however, as they create startling sensory and synaesthetic<br />

impressions and the words and images veer toward unexpected<br />

intersections, where there are collisions and clashes that become<br />

glorious idiomatic idiosyncrasies.<br />

The ability to commandeer language for their own linguistic<br />

agendas is where Murphy and Greenblatt excel.<br />

From “A Tone Endures”:<br />

"One washes young trees<br />

as though a blossom would be truer<br />

than root structures, thinking<br />

how not to admire the violent craft<br />

of spiderwebs<br />

thinking, work is a series of self<br />

interruptions and perverse<br />

tunings, yet here is another new year, earth tipsy with<br />

the pointblank light of the raw sun.”<br />

These lines almost read as aphorisms, through which we can<br />

glimpse a world harbored in the shadows, or one that has been

otated in a way that reflects the authors' distinct perception of<br />

things.<br />

Elsewhere, from “Tracery”:<br />

“The clockwork/train runs/on a circular track, between/nowhere<br />

and nowhere else,” and "Doors with no apparent<br />

connection/between rooms dominate/the homes in the city<br />

perched/on a cliff/overlooking the sea” invite us into a desolate<br />

cosmos where nature can be either a friend or foe - or even an<br />

indifferent force: "rain, no rain, it's all the same"<br />

Now onto the ghazals. Ghazals originated in Arabic poetry, and<br />

can be thought of as akin to sonnets in the sense that the form<br />

dictates a certain structure, and even meter. In the case of the<br />

ghazal, usually the structure consists of couplets, around five or<br />

seven, but sometimes as many as fifteen. A repeated word or<br />

phrase appears and the end of both lines of the first couplet and at<br />

the end of the second line in each subsequent couplet. Rhymes or<br />

near-rhymes are also present.<br />

Michelle and Sheila took a more elastic approach to ghazals,<br />

however - they took a stringent, some would even say stifling,<br />

structure and broke it apart to mold a new form, one that breathes a<br />

bit more but maintains the integrity of the original form.<br />

We will start with Ghazal Four, which was the first one I<br />

earmarked in the book when I initially read it. The poem itself is a<br />

dense thicket of abstract imagery alternating with tangible<br />

impressions, layered with fevered philosophizing akin to a<br />

Nietschze or Hiedegger. In this poem, I get a sense of weariness<br />

and wariness about one's own identity, and accumulating<br />

sensations of self-doubt ("To all my half selves below the deck/Are<br />

mirrors of inadmissible distance."). This is further reflected in the<br />

"pulsating mirror" that "sputtered questions to oneself." That said,

"parity co-exists with butterflies," possibly pointing to identity<br />

feeling assured by doubt, paradoxically.<br />

With Ghazal Sixteen, the identity crisis persists, but with a twist. It<br />

seems now that the poetic persona is almost becoming aggressive<br />

toward the emptiness imposed by existence: "Master of thorns and<br />

inscrutable enigmas/Pounce on psyche's own distorted<br />

cinemascope." After all, the authors insistently intone, "We're<br />

running toward extinction with scissors clenched/In a death grip<br />

leveraging the high points." This is not to say that existence is<br />

entirely meaningless: "The austere stars spread across the<br />

skylight./Majesty can never quite be contained," signaling that<br />

identity is subsumed by something more boundless than ourselves.<br />

Again, though, the looking glass motif features: "My appetite<br />

appears in the hungry mirror/Streaked with pretense, texture,<br />

overthought, and informal grace." Now identity seems to have<br />

veered toward an overconfidence, or self-loathing, even.<br />

In a departure from the identity musings, Ghazal Forty-two is a<br />

tense meditation on nature's sometimes tenuous relationship to<br />

humans and the surroundings constructed by humans:<br />

"As the furniture collapsed, we made bowlfuls of<br />

Summer in a retrofit, just right for pinlight." (lines 5-6)<br />

"Coins wrinkle water when interrupting the smooth face<br />

Of laketop burning at the parting of waters scarce." (lines 15-16)<br />

And yet, as always, nature subverts human ego:<br />

"Caresses occur when souls leave keening to<br />

The crowns of the trees, nestling atop leaves" (lines 23-24)<br />

"Amended sacrifice litters the daylight;<br />

Nighttime stages her name in front of a crowd." (lines 27-28)<br />

And then there is reconciliation, with a humorous bite:

"Transatlantic puffs known as clouds<br />

Hold moisture before letting go to rinse us clean." (lines 31-32)<br />

Greenblatt's and Murphy's processes, as Murphy explains in<br />

her forward, naturally dovetailed. Both have a highly intuitive,<br />

free-flowing approach that filters out only what is most<br />

superfluous. And yet it's their styles that while markedly different<br />

on their own, somehow interlock in an organic way that is not<br />

jarring as one would expect.<br />

I'm familiar enough with both poets' work to be able to<br />

discern who likely<br />

wrote which lines or phrases. Greenblatt infuses fantastical<br />

elements into her work and smashes together aspects of nature to<br />

create a new diction. Murphy, conversely, has a more rigid logical<br />

lexicon that manages to evoke a sense of warmth and wonder. Both<br />

poets impose invigorating innovation in syntax, imagery, and<br />

vocabulary in order to deepen the dimensions of our understanding<br />

of how language shapes our world. With these ghazals, they further<br />

their linguistic mission in dizzying ways, contorting our way of<br />

seeing and being: "Skinfuls of spine spin the vertebrae/Mindward<br />

in the hope of reaching home."<br />

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SOLEIL<br />









*PHIL NELSON is a 55 year old amateur cartoonist who began<br />

drawing a comic strip called Coconuts around 50 years ago. It went<br />

nowhere until he made it onto Madhattersreview where he<br />

collaborated with Carol Novack on several cartoon projects and<br />

shared cartoon editor duties with fellow cartoonist and flasher Marja<br />

Hagborg. He currently resides with his wife, daughter, and a feral<br />

kitten named Michonne in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

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