Luke Bloomfield

The Pearl in the Pile

He sat across from the pearl in the pile.
He sat at a small distance,
the distance between two café tables
on either end of a waiting room
in a provincial train depot.
He raked his fingers through his hair.
He opened the newspaper and
folded it backward, then rolled it
into a tube and drummed it
on his knee.
The pearl in the pile agitated him,
or else he was agitated
and the pearl was there, in a pile.
It was undeniable, the thrill
of the pearl, and the pile.
A lady with a pompadour sat down at his table.
She asked him what he thought of her pearl
in the pile. He said her pearl was just right
for that pile.

Response to a Question About Getting a Task Done On Time

It’s summer and everything but the laundry is slow.
I started to cross the street yesterday
and have only now arrived in the middle.
The landlady is still washing her dog that died in 1999
The mailman just delivered a bundle of letters
to the house I was born in,
addressed to a thirty-year-old idea
that after thirty years has just begun to trickle
from the cracks and down the corrugated edges
into a puddle of potential value, I mean
a human, just another human, and the beach
did I mention the beach? teeming with humans
slick and white and wet from holiday,
confused like cuneiform at the registry
for motor vehicles or a woodcut of big game
animals grazing behind double chainlink fencing.
Look, a mineola has rolled out of the bag.
And now, as though wading through tenfold
gravity space, a tiny child in tutu
presenting a duck egg with a tone
of combined authority and bewilderment.
L’enfance, am I right?
So we’re all taking our time, without prejudice,
even the rotten moments can be gussied up
and rolled into the ontological crust of the
one and only quiche lorraine of life.
The morning didn’t so much bleed
but billow out like gelatin released from
a brawny membrane, slomo like
a flower bud opening in timelapse
like my mouth verging on yawning
a sentence the endstop of which
I’m penciling in for sometime mid November.

The Pond

I’m trying to make this pond meaningful by placing various things on the edge of it.
The owl is way out in front with its economy of surplus field mice and loneliness.
No matter how much the pond enters into our conversations
there’s no limit to the amount of praise with which one should speak of it.
I’ve entrusted myself to the pond and if necessary I’ll give to it all that remains.
This is knowledge of the pond I feel privileged to have:
You can take a pond most places.
I’m thinking if that lighthouse is empty I might take the pond there
and play some music real slow for it.
The pond instructed me how to stand by its side like this
and move around it like a bobcat looking for something to fulfill it.
Then from somewhere, let’s say out on the horizon
I hear sounds of the pond coming over the pond.
It’s trying to say hello but it cannot with its mouth so full of pond.
The pond I know is not good enough but I’m not looking for anything better.
In nearly every pond there is the possibility of a whole new universe.
I imagine there some god at the bottom looking up
and wondering how everything got so far beyond.

Cathy Linh Che

Dear Counterfeit Snow:

You can’t hurt me anymore. Your penis was long and thin. It was drawn like a magnet to my “feminine qualities”: shiny hair, palatable lips, medium waistline, the product of so much working out. If you woke up sore, I’m sorry. I was belligerent from the start. I dreamt that I was anxious, then woke up anxious. Various and multicolored forms of hurt passed through me. Here, you gesturing and speaking a foreign tongue. Here, you writing letters to keep me around. There’s an archaic need, but it’s being filled by a prescription from a generous doctor. Then the tide slips away. Then the burning of calendar pages. Then the clearing of smoke and the emergence of the horizon line. I’m dreaming of a blue moon rising, a fingernail ragged and hanging mid-sky.

He had caramel eyes, a shaved head, legs that were short and springy like a frogs, the fruit flies have come to feed, I’m taking a walk in the high grass with a companion, I’m open like a bottle, I’m careful as a sailor with red lipstick on, I move from port to port, buying glasses of sherry convincing others to love me, the funeral parlor was full of character, one roast beef sandwich, one gladiola, whatever your friend does, I want to do, I want to do him, man of steel and glass, orchid man, endive man, glacial sense of humor, arrogant in the best kind of way, I want to say yes, I’ve a renewed spirit, I’m going inside now, I’m leaving for Paris soon, will send you a baguette when I get there, tootles and kisses, yours.

The business has gone belly up, this business of waking up and being alive, the morning pistol whips me then empties its clip, I am the woman bloated in the river, I am the human engine with the gummed up gears, none of the adults in my life taught me how to cuss, we were big nerds and couldn’t stand up for ourselves, not even my father with his big gun, he bought a rifle for our safety, we had a gun in the house, I’ve been careful around that word, it has a blue and orange energy emanating from it, it doesn’t listen to the call of children’s pleas, there are sirens wailing down the hallway, there he is in active denial.

I’m superstitious about historical events, certain numbers have a hold over me, I can be hard on myself, she said, wiping the crust from her eye, there were moments of blackmail, there was wholesale murder, she wore red lipstick, a yellow chiffon dress, the smoke was writhing in a sexy tortured way, there was an elegance to it, it was positively feminine, the way she moved her hips from side to side, dancing or sniffling, I watched the residents grow angry, their green eyes beaming in my direction, there was the moon turning yellow, then red, the lampshade tilted forward like an officer’s hat, the lampshade revealed her puckered lips, it was time for an erection, at my desk, I lit another cigarette, her film-noir mouth was captivating, her cranberry lips said please, I knew she’d be the end of me, I knew she’d toast my death


tiny bee, potential energy, how to win a game of Russian Roulette, friend of peacekeepers, enforcement officers, thugs, the waifish girl walking home in the dark, allegory of revenge, a totem, a signal, a sign of who’s boss, shock of powder, piece of history, connotes speed: as in train, or shape: as in head, grazing my father’s scalp, embedding chunks of plastic, keeping my father in the hospital: for him, a life-saver.

Dara Cerv

Bath Exercise

Take a person into the tub

Have him or her

Hold up a small mirror

And you hold up a small mirror

So you have infinite eyes on each other

You’ll get sick of this

Quickly and if you can’t get a person

Into the tub with you build

A small sailboat with mirrors for sails

Stick to the genius of your own gaze

The face cranes endlessly into

And away from the body

Forget you dump the same face

Into the bathroom mirror

Each morning revel

In self-multiplication

The genius of my own gaze lives in

Doorways and doesn’t suffer

Fools and doesn’t weaken

And puts its pants on one leg at a time

At the edges of mirrors I can see

Blurs in room corners I can see

What I think is a blush of cremation ash

In the shape of my dead and

Gone faces

Focus on the lesson you can

Always make in the mind what does not

Form in the hands

The tinctures the herbalist

The yoga practice

The acupuncturist the energy


Each massage existence

Each are adultery against

The body

So things don’t get heavy

Masturbate in tempo

With the hand of a clock

Bath Exercise

In the bath get

Cosmic get


You are a sun with

A circling planet

A planet you keep burning

In the direction of

You rise right

Out of the tub each morning

A new reason

To stretch your skin your widening


Each morning an orange

And yawning heart

Your circling planet shrugs

And rotates its cold

Side to face you

Your circling planet darkens

Your circling planet sloughs off

Your fingerprints

You feel each flake

Of dead skin in

The atmosphere

You don’t even touch

The stars they were

Given to someone else anyway

As a gift as a manner by

Which to predict

A future nothing

Orbiting you nothing

But space to look out into

For light years you suck

In the dust the dust gets


The dust

Diamonds your eyes

Bath Exercise

Infinite possibilities exist

In the mind’s eye

Dip a miniature version of yourself into

One of many glass bathtubs

That side by side constitute

A segmented sea edge to edge

They’re like one of those

Windows in Floridian bathrooms

From either side you can’t quite organize

A clear image of what’s on

The other side

The tubs are choices some

Tubs filled with blood

Some with semen

Some with urine

Some are void of


There’s an opportunity to be

Thought dead



Cold and getting colder

You can be any one of these but if you

Choose cold and getting colder know

You are done with being things

Position yourself in a room

In which cold water rises to

The neck and to the nose

There are these same rises

In the body like in a funhouse

This dunk tank

You give yourself repeatedly to

With a wet head

You arrive for air

Go down again

Outside of it

Through the glass you perceive

The dipping of yourself the bubbling

Down in each air pocket

Another version of you splits

This is how cold it gets

Adam Clay

From the Opening Silence of Days

The sea so far from here urges us toward
an inner believing, though

to admit this intended surprise has meaning
would be to confess a role

in this jubilee of noise and sight.

Creeley might have stumbled over a line or two
from years ago, but when one stumbles
with such purpose, who are we to pause

or pass by? I don’t want to live forever
either in this world or the next,

assuming anything can be arranged before

the last conceivable moment of forgiveness.

The sky drifts into tomorrow so slowly we cease
our knowledge without any effort.

What do you prefer when the rest of the world
prefers nothing?

A leaf pressed in a book for no good reason.

What a purpose this world continues to be:

a lens for which all other days
can be held up to which can provide

an explanation for never being alone.

Not Quite Right

A woodpecker gravitates
solid staccato through the rain
gutters, the snow melting

quickly. And as for the leaves,
we wait for their arrival,
the oak bridges the sky

as we look up, waiting
for an ocean to discover
us, rocks blasted away to sand

in seconds, not eons, not
the weight of the moment
carved out of wood, laid out

in the yard for the worms without
movement, the birds with their
heads temporarily taken off.

Some Steps

A blurred stream in your vision,
though its source remains
unclear like an illusion of trees

conscious enough to abandon
emptiness with a simple willingness
within their trunks. You wish

to will words into the air.
You think of the coffee cups
of the morning, each one filled

and emptied with the wreck
of a promise, the urging of each day.
Your organs are filled with what

we would rather forget,
our steps crooked and sullen
with even their most minor derailments.

DJ Dolack

from Book of Light Book of Light


I want to tell you how much the eyes hold, and the hunger is great to know.

Has your goading seethed?
Have you had a difficult time
fearing an end?

Have you been held down by a wave,

or knocked so by a thump?

Have you held tight
the right kind
of metal in the mouth,

an eye-lock
on a pack of good Mexican boys
come thumping out

of the Queen’s Lounge,
3AM Roosevelt Avenue, Queens.

And now is piety suddenly your mighty position.

I want to tell you how much the eyes hold,

and the hunger is great
to know.


Have you
been unsaddled by fear,

locked eyes with your reflection

(for no one is more beautiful than when wearing the mask
of their reflection)?

Have you walked
with the poets in their galleries
which are mirrored halls

through which they guide each other
and squeal?

Has your goading seethed.

Have you had a difficult time
fearing an end?


Have you gone to town in obligation,
into the drought of a long, low
Sunday evening.

Dusk on you like a sandstorm. Ducking in
to the only understood light,

were you moved by the landscape of glass bottles,
the rolling hills of consequence,

or salivation on the rim
of your own iron cup.

And the detritus of consumption slung wildly into a trash can.

Small fragile blade in your palm waiting patiently
to explore the skin of the wood

but the wood
is all skin. Did you

address the Lord then in query but not in fear,
and along your stumble home call every God-made bird a finch,
even the crow.

Have you been officially welcomed
to Obfuscation, INC.

Can we show you around.

Have you
resigned yourself to the good flecks of paint
that phalanx you when you

sleep, drink, fuck, or toil.

Have you been moved by the landscape of glass bottles back there,
the detritus of consumption.


Did you get some sleep.

In the morning,

had the burdock spurs flowered in the early sun-soaked kitchen,
did they pedestal the long-sung, shelled insect corpses

hollowed through with sand and speck?

Did your drawer full of knives
spoon quietly in the dark

while some perfect glass instrument on the counter spontaneously broke into prism.

Were you not led to jealousy.
If not, why not?

Have you not yet wrapped the perfect glass instrument in your white linen bed sheet, raised it like a carnival hammer and struck it upon your city street to feel satisfaction in its conversion from one to thousands — you the creator. Have you driven it out to the edge of the canyon, unfurled it into the eastern morning sunlight and cried and cried and gone home, wrapped the sheet back around your mattress and slept and slept, rolling in the remnants.


You who does not possess

You who can give everything

You who does not possess

We who do not seek from each other

You who will one day need to be named,
to have a signal laid upon you :

This one here. Take it. This one

right here. No this one. This one here. This

very thing this one yes. This thing I am alive with.

Not that. This.

Jac Jemc


a singled-out laughter close behind
which rattles me whole
which pushes me to the edge:
the very woods of my trust

a face can open or close
an almost, an intake, a before
into the seemingly free and into the truly
this fear: it’s nothing: wind being bent by it

or course the “no” wasn’t there at all before
I hate to make a back-roar of an issue passed,
of an epilogue, a forward, golden

but my retreat has been forced from me
my “no longer” straight to the edge

of my journey: I try to hold things in:
         the love hardly caught
         whole unraveling instants of self-reliance
         the plot attached so hard to what it carries in its jaws

a singled-out laughter is gnawing off the life behind me

and I hope to find a home before the last gash of sun
         tosses itself
         as the darkness comes down

The Stand-Off of Mlle. Guilbert

How long is the slightest jitter?
Smearing gazes script my fatigued
and water-lipped ladderings of voice.

It is the critic in this dance-hall who counts
my rivering diminuendos when he should be
searching petticoats for a prize.

It is me who has had proposal after proposal
bitten off, spittle blown brightly
in my face, just as I expected the golden rufflings
of love. And what could have happened
since I last held my suitor’s pooling thirst and nakedness?
A review, writ, emptying my dappled meanings
and breaking the statements running
along the shorelines of my song.

Sometimes I sing and the flattening hisses
sentence my night-smiles to the ground.

These translucent wounds creep, up-going
from the waters of my belly,
the folding breath of my lungs,
the momentary chance of my throat
to the front-thunder of my lips.

The distance from my satin limb-ends to the mental opera of my mind,
is wider than the space between his barely uttered judgments
and the full mechanism of my vocal starlings.

The dancers flash, rise, release free
and rapid activity, wave-breaking all
over the stage.

He looks at me and sees a stubborn freight of bones
and I? I force my feathery will to fan
again and again.

Caroline Knox

Morgan le Fay

Ay, glean from
agony, Mr. Leaf.
Manage rolfy
Yale FM groan.
Ogle any farm.
Yale AM groan
gone. Flay ram!
Mangle foray.
Foamy angler,
rage of manly
moray flange!
Lo, mange fray:
my flea organ!
Many a golfer,
lame or fangy.
Ay, angel form!

Kyle McCord

[Last night I heard the yowls of the listless jaguar]

Last night I heard the yowls
of the listless jaguar.
It was like goodbye itself
expertly sighing
Adios, amores.
For five years,
I served as an artistic rendering
of a radar station.
The lagoon accompanied
my pantomime,
crashing images of clouds.
I remember another sundown
when you and I were cousins.
The moon, that luminous bear rug
looming down on our bodies.
Promise never to forget
how eagerly we paraded
among those ziggurats.
Flutter tonguing our trumpets
as though we owned the place,
as though we were not sorry
for all the noble terror
swelling inside us.

Lily Ladewig

from A History of Beauty

If something were very wrong, it would hurt,
right? We played Would You Rather.

Die a slow painful death. Die unexpectedly
in an accident. That point in your range

where your voice breaks. Something very wrong
with my body. My handwriting unreadable.


Coconut shampoo smells like
me wearing my most

beautiful bra. The day of
the biopsy. Remember

the summertime saxophone
player at the corner of the park.

Rain or shine. I wake up
every morning. I kiss his crows.


The French have invaded the city.
This winter I hear them everywhere.

There was a time I used to send poems
to my boyfriend and he would read them.

Tomorrow I’ve decided to put on my Prada shoes
and put something in a stroller and parade around

outside. The way tour guides lead tourists
up and down my street. I talk about the stars

as though they are things that shine.

When I walk through a tourist’s photo,
I tactfully hide my face, like a celebrity.


He can always guess the exact time.
Never kept a clock in his bedroom.

In the Middle Ages people told time
by the way a candle burns.

From town to town, the hours
were uneven. Last night I got excited

and confused. I asked why don’t you
keep a crow in your bedroom?

Why did you call the car service
to take me home so fast?

Joseph Mains

Kaibab Plateau, 1992

Until the pile slid through my legs
into snow. I pinned down the legs
with my legs
—little streams of inky blood
carving lines in snow.
Spreading open its ribcage
with my forearms and held
it open. I pinched bits and cut them out.
The body smelled like earth and fog
and cedar and wet hair. Small pieces of
hide and intestine clung
to my glasses. Every sound I made
or my knife made
buried itself in snow.
The snow accepted
                                   almost welcomed
the ink and sound.
This is how to become a man.

Mummy Mountain

Listos : monsoon lightening pillar not
cool but the
hint of cool
salt pool small the back
mold of sluice into a fold the color of smoke
our secret necessities as real as money
slipping till you burn
your stomach and sandstone and your stomach
-sweat cement you to the physical world.


Back straightened in windowshadow in rain
and back poised as a fishhook attend to limbs
when in the country the bus or country.
Hours here nearly crossed. I could taste graphite
and recyclables pressed with glue hooked until
my gums or music said or I don’t or a tear

in something I thought;—a me—or my—torn
into thought and action. I remember once rain
on dad’s windshield Charlie Pride driving until
the tape hissed clicked over a meadow limbs
of cattle straight in the air full stop. Graphite
-tipped full metal jacket, I can’t believe this country

he said would kill animals like a like a—country
music again. Fog meadow chrysanthemums. Tears
welled within them. Ten years. Sky-colored graphite
sky we touched they and their holes their skin rain
softly shook dried blood to motion their limbs
twined with bailing wire kindling tepees until

the satiated eye and fire. Night: awake until
I eyed day creep. Delirious. Mogollon country
made me a cityluster: apartments, busses, limbs
to halo you and your haloing of them and torn
off clothes. Every pleasure-shudder-canyon raining
far-off body parts. One got me graphite

blue, and held me. Against the dark the graphite
the wall the men away from home. Until
bodies filled cities. Eastersmoke quelled with rain.
America? A voice the size of the country,
almost. First breath after a coma, torn
between thought and action. Fingers end limbs

Plato or love ends thought. There are dark limbs
that want both. Woman I knew: sunglasses & graphite
eyes. She lives here now. Wolfy parts of home torn
then thrust here teeth&all. She’s at the party till
late at the co-op grocer always country
-torn: local or euro. (Buys both & can.) Reign

of the purse string. In Portland, it’s raining.
I haven’t left the body of the city its limbs
no nothing in one year since we drove the country
roads here singing Charlie Feathers your graphite
voice & truckstop highlife clawed backseat till
photolight said go & go & go. Torn

between thought & action, clothes piled torn
shrouded in wine darkness dripping from rain
from eros, that old-book smell it has. Until
I knew I was poor: et cetera: apex of limbs
therethere: yes. Grit and snappy like graphite
you tasted like Tom Paine’s ideal country.

So free—where of it now? Bobblehead’d country
—that of Pat Tillman. Of Emmett Till torn
lux interior. Nighttime: you wrote my name in graphite
and eraser-smeared. Dream-dark Detroit rain
echo of a superpower. My limbs
on yours giving them their—; . And until

touching the bulletholes, wetting until
dry lavablood animates meadow country
skin. My father, electrician. His limbs
tangled my body. His, a butcher, tore
flesh from body. His, a butcher, a reign
of Mexican ghosts said carbon graphite

the molt and slaw turned to death is graphite
gets us every one without love until
you’re a poor man’s memory. Then the rain
washes away that memory, and your country
forgets, and to live you’re torn
up over actions you want and thoughts your limbs

have and the shower scene with our limbs
tangled in the hotel room. Digital photos graphite
black and gray I in memory scattered torn
all over the Columbia gorge last night until
I eyed day creep. And then you’re gone. Rain country
fingerhooked shoes cigarettes shared through the rain

torn from you our limbs at dusk
and rain the desert in Bisbee the graphite
color of eyes snapping a wishbone the cigarettes
we shared over the American century.

Joseph Massey


The draft that lifts the page

slips through
solid wall, evades

an origin.


It isn’t like anything else—
this monochrome expanse

at the edge of March. Cloud
frozen above a public works lot.

How far now below zero.


Monday’s bottom-upped sun
scumbles over new snow

and your face, leaving
only eyes at the center.


All the ghosts out
in the open.


The other brain
sleep becomes

to reclaim
a vacancy

and yet wakes
to words

on the verge
of speech

to pronounce

but morning’s

What the dark sifts
into light, out of

The room

Jennifer Moore

Use Cabbage to Heal the Bruise

Use cabbage to heal the bruise; use the bruise
to remember damage and the place of damage.
Use a cherry as a way of hiding the stone,
the stone as a method to measure the river.

The river can be used. How you use it is up to you.
Use the cat’s purr to patch the ear that hears heartbeat,
the field to rid yourself of sound. The minute is a mode
of recovery. Use its length to count your breath,

then use your breath to remember the window.
A window’s memory is weak. Use the sparrow’s beak
to peck into a house’s past. At night, use shards of glass
to remember the wine, the wine to ignore the breaking.

Use the mind to read the mind, the skin to locate the bone.
Use a bee as a way to retrace the honey, honey
as a way to discover the bee. Use the iris as an eye,
the lash as a door to close against, the dandelion

to map grass and its movements. Use the wind as a wing,
then the staircase to get down to the sea. Use the sea
to forget the staircase, forget the eye, to forget the sparrow
and bruise and the bee. Use the sea to forget the sea.

Sierra Nelson

Forgiveness Tour

Forgive me I was drinking with my grandfather in the cemetery
Forgive me I was writing a 5-page introduction for a bag of wind
Forgive me I was reading the unpublished manuscript of the autumn leaves
Forgive me I wanted a tiny monkey to beat a tiny drum for my parade
Forgive me I was crying in sympathy with the weatherman
Forgive me I was taking lessons from the lampshade
Forgive me I was embroidering winter on my pillow
Forgive me I was giving flowers to robots
Forgive me I was “burgeoning” and “assuaging”
Forgive me I was picking out the seeds of hurt with a sterilized pin
Forgive me I was “keeping traditions alive”
Forgive me I was making the first time “special”
Forgive me I stopped for a whiskey and felt I’d fallen in love
            just as the jukebox kicked in
Forgive me that boy’s afro astounded in beauty
Forgive me I was wrapping a hardcover of early lesbian fiction
            in a scarf of green silk
Forgive me I can’t sleep although I am sleepy
Forgive me the teacup just fit my hand perfectly
Forgive me I was temping as a mattress factory affiliate
Forgive me I thought life could be a silent movie and the words
            would appear several frames from now of their own accord
Forgive me that almost ruined my life also
Forgive me I can’t come to the phone right now but if you’d like to leave
            a message please do so after the tone
Forgive me I have not seen you in over a year
Forgive me I was singing Blue Jay, Blue Jay
Forgive me there is no reflection on the lake
Forgive me they were never married although they talked about it
Forgive me the ash in the air has swallowed the shadows
Forgive me we were made of wood when we made our wedding bed
Forgive me I stopped speaking because I was afraid
Forgive me the train at Montparnasse slid through the 2nd floor window
            and crashed on the Paris street
Forgive me I was swindled by a coward with a villain’s moustache
Forgive me I sit alone at Table 13
Forgive me the ground began to snow back up to the sky
Forgive me there was blood on the floor but I didn’t know it
Forgive me sometimes I doubt spring really will come
Forgive me I stopped dead in my tracks and the stars were cold and sharp
Forgive me I heart Harpo Marx
Forgive me I believed all the untrue things you believed about me
Forgive me I hope you never take back your green couch I really like it
Forgive me I did see a U.F.O. when I was 7
Forgive me a cosmonaut and a bathosphere go dancing
Forgive me I sometimes apologize when I myself have been hurt
Forgive me in 1997 I was sick on the future when I should have been
            laughing with glee
Forgive me that gentle breeze is swaying its antlers
Forgive me I think it will get better
Forgive me I am tap dancing for peanuts
Forgive me we are experiencing turbulence and I have returned to my seat
            and kept my seatbelt safely fastened
Forgive me a small kindness can sometimes break me
Forgive me that elephant is my daughter
Forgive me I can’t take her back.
Forgive me we can’t take me back.
Forgive me forward was back.
Forgive me the long way back.


A person in a red coat (me) picks up the detectaphone
and listens in on the winter morning. Sounds like
air turning into snow but not landing.
A brilliant strategist,
the sun takes a worm’s-eye view
of the pine needles,
gets down on their level.
So much importance placed on how
things fall, this one against that,
and call it love, or fate, or
The sunlight falls, but everywhere at once.
I fell in my family’s foyer,
my wine and a potted plant down with me,
everywhere at once.
The sun holds the hand of a pine needle.
“You’re fine, you’re fine, we’ve
called an ambulance.”
I quietly replace the receiver.

Danniel Schoonebeek

When a Thief Dies

At last the young
face away from the capitol


Now out
hiss the gaslamps

like a young
girl’s spit

on the grill


I’m a young whore I put out my eyes
the better

to interrogate the rich


And shingles of cries 
and yips

they fly from the roofs


Now laugh with me fools


It’s the titans who turn their backs on your paychecks


Saw the Nobel prize a big chunk
little Debbie of gold

was stuck in its face the Empire
State building a man 

name’s Enrique he showed me
’97 Deborah Jean’s
when they gave it away a man
I lost his name

but they promise me his heart
mother be proud

they promise me like a handful 
of dimes his heart

was crisp as the nickels I earned
you today well look

at me with shine in my feathers 
your youngest finch

Debs & sucking down worms
with the fat cluckers

His Escape

The toughs shot the streetlight outside the clink with a pellet gun

They watched us go missing 

Your blood hounds

Your blood hounds we watched them go blind


Nobody saw her


With keys in her hair unrest me


The rich lay like knuckles of flint corn asleep in their husks

Mike Soto

Laundry Across Balconies or, Deciding to Fold

The jellyfish tethered mid-air this morning,
floating in the noised vaults between buildings,
sent out sleeping across balconies, were proof

that day had arrived under a table of water
to show me its cards. With a high inhuman kindness,
in the wired space where cloth meant to dry, a voice

began but only its solitude could be made out.
Above the snare of sparked gardens, stray cats
sipping a birdbath, a ceremony of drowned kites

hovered, trying to age backwards to the invention
of flight. My mind made up by the birds
that flickered away from the wire while shirts

reeled in the clockwork of the voice’s hands–
the first few squeezed at their heart decides
that nothing is ready to come in.

The Invention, or Consuelo’s Explanation of The Third Eye

            A man swallows a mirror & thinks death is certain, but it isn’t. The mirror goes
on reflecting, until it becomes a satellite of sorts, relaying images to a screen sitting
secretly in the caves of his mind: internal organs blowing like pipes in mud, the curtains
of his blood, flowing– even the tremors of his hunger are visible.

            He imagines a life tormented by insight, the mirror’s edges sharp against his
bowels, but the pain shrinks to a mere discomfort, & after years he even grows creative
with the mirror, & learns to see a furniture of disharmony thought to have no apparent
form: a pendulum knotted against its own gravity, a tennis match at the heart of a maze
generating its branches.

            Once in a while, the mirror is stunned into brightness, but he never recovers in
time to find the initial light. He thinks telling this story will make him famous, but not
even his closest friends are impressed.

            Finally, he gives up the idea of ever getting it out, & thinks: maybe I can use the
mirror to some unseen advantage. Maybe I’ve swallowed a system for catching the
stupidities of my heart.

Ryan Ridge

Beyond the Barricades

BEYOND THE BARRICADES, there is a world I long to see. My understanding is that taste is affected more by the sense of smell than by the actual taste on the tongue. I am a simulacrum of so many material entities. I spend all my time avoiding water. I am the way I am. In order to maintain air-speed velocity, a swallow needs to beat its wings forty-three times every second. I doubt there is anything I might do today that would distinguish me from being a vessel of consumption. It just occurred to me that I haven’t spent time in the house of a recently deceased old woman for many months now. I’m sick of being single. I’ve never even been to New Orleans. Sometimes I don’t think that I’m a person, I think I’m a virus, a bug. I play pinball all day. I want to be a macho man. I haven’t seen eye to eye with owls in ages. I am the walrus. I even own a boat. Actors act out of spite. They should make more houses out of horses. I should smile more. Nothing shocks me. Most movies are dull movies. I’ve suffered many head injuries. I haven’t been injured badly enough to where my clothes were cut off with those offset blunt scissors for a long time. I collect world records. The Dallas Cowboys invented a game called Space Invaders. If I could immigrate to any country in the world and support myself there, I’d go to my grandma’s. Nothing is nothing. Nothing is all. The word “world” is only one letter away from being a four-letter word. The 1940s keep happening again and again. Horses smell like trails. My father is my father. From the moment you’re born you’re working. I do what I can. If you see something on the horizon, say something now. There’s something about chemicals. I might have started a grass fire––I don’t remember. I’m against blue jays. I’m not a genius. I’ve never used a hammer. My only friend is a Jewish carpenter. I’d spend my soul on an awesome afterlife. I don’t understand jobs. I’m not sure there is anything anyone can do about it all anymore. Every day is a crucifixion. A wise man sees exactly who profits from the use of credit cards and how. I answer my phone without knowing who is calling. A world without ornamentation falls apart. Hemorrhoid-cream jingles are the only songs I like. Whenever I have a second I sit down and watch a soap opera. Plants are animals to me. I’m not a fan of clouds. I hope to someday communicate on the level of time and perhaps be a father to many young planets. I don’t believe in justice but I do believe in Jesus. I enjoy giving people props. Any wood is good wood. Some people like to smell flowers and some people smell like flowers. I live in the future. Little hint: Indoor plumbing. It’s going to be big. I love true love. I believe in science. Life ends in a question mark. Yesterday is my birthday. I would rather have animals than shoes. I believe animals are an order of consciousness below the mortal, but still embraced by the Sentient Divine. I’ll have you know my IQ is about 130. I will conquer the 11th dimension! I suppose I might regard myself a responsible person. A tree falling is still a tree falling, regardless if someone is right beside it or nobody is in range. My soul is on fire, and I can only feel the charred blackness of my scorched heart. I can’t find any girls on the Internet. I don’t drink coffee. I must have Asperger’s. I’ve never seen a large game animal up close in the wild. I’m not too fond of any particular breed of horse. A long long time ago, I can still remember, how that music used to make me smile. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try again! There are no limits, only rules. Non sequitur. Non sequitur. Non sequitur. Beyond the barricades, the twig blight. Memphis, Tennessee. A green pine needle, a yellow pine needle, and a brown pine needle. I am at one talking on my mobile phone. When this happens, there is clarity and a sudden understanding of beauty. I am happy. I no longer want to take over the world. I feel like I belong to a health club. To paraphrase Ecclesiastes. It’s fun. Let it be. Ponder the path of life. Interims of cloudy judgment, barriers to accurate communication, and pitfalls of the ego. I’ve got some nerve. I have straight hair. I’m trying to learn Mandarin. I fight like a dairy farmer! I can’t stand polyester. I’m done here. I’ve accepted it. I don’t have a mouth.

NOTE: This piece was generated by posing the questions from Padgett Powell’s Interrogative Mood to a trio of internet chatbots: Cleverbot, Brother Jerome, and Sensation Bot respectively. 

An Out There Out There

PEOPLE KNOW OF ME! When I move around the world I move around the world. There is no original source. Parades are mostly moving objects. My mother is a Methodist church. I don’t gamble. Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth. I’m overwhelmed by crowds. Candy is a reality. The opposite of down. I might wear a pearl choker in the right circumstances. Happiness is not sitting in a psychologist’s office. I like men. I like women. The Big Bang Theory is my favorite song. I am not that bold. I can speak very little Spanish. Life is almost tangible. A guy on a bike is America. There has to be an out there out there somewhere. Baseball is a drug. People stink. Other planets are too far away. Pies are referred to as funny when they are thrown at people’s faces. My favorite thing about women is when they ride horses but I don’t like horses. There are interstates in my mind. I meet demands with demands. I detest badminton. I tried cannibalism once, but it gave me heartburn. Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker. So I’m told. My brother is my mother tongue. Ghosts are dead people that are alive that haunt people. When I am angry I don’t like to talk to people and I am mean. I don’t follow the news. I know nothing about the Illuminati. If I was thirteen again I’d make the world a more peaceful place. I don’t own any Allen wrenches. I don’t believe in Magic Johnson but the magic of two people in love. What I think about is as much religious as existential. 10 horses in harnesses running dead. I don’t like war. Silence of the Lambs. Layers of skin. I feel like an ancient geek. A conflict between two magnets. A conversation. I don’t pass judgment on anything. Animal husbandry. My lovers don’t have names. Carcasses rot because some things have to rot. I don’t understand polymers. My relatives are far away. Their names are Josh, Whitney, and Sarah. I still use the word retarded. I’m touched by the images of burning homes in Detroit. No man is a video game. A German word for war. The diversity of life. I’d like to sit in a sauna and sweat. My favorite crackers are animal crackers. I love wolves. They’re cute and fierce. I am free like software. It is too hot here for December. I can fix any appliance. I preach the universal salvation of all sentient beings. I can fix any appliance. The smell of cedar smells like a man. I’m an anti-intellectual. All power is subject to theft. All the towns in Europe. I’d like to drill a hole through the whole world. Pardon me this isn’t my real face dear. Hockey’s a funny game. I have five horses which means I ran away from home as a child. Home is where the bath is. My father’s shadow. Personal space invaders. A private person on a public computer. Killing cows is not fun, but killing snakes is amusing. I eat snakes. They are delicious. I have come here to grieve and pay my respects. No coffee for me. Innocuous as it’s often regarded, I do not partake of stimulants of that nature. A girl should stuff her bra with love letters. You can put gravy on anything. Blood is in people. History is a history of abstraction. I’m allergic to allergy shots. A powerful cabal of dentists. Myths about myths. There has to be an out there out there. Beyond the emergency room. Do not question me. I am injured.    

NOTE: This piece was generated by posing the questions from Padgett Powell’s Interrogative Mood to a trio of internet chatbots: Cleverbot, Brother Jerome, and Sensation Bot respectively. 

Christie Ann Reynolds

from Halo in Retrograde

Eventually you are naked

in front of every one.

The doctor, dream, death.

The shadow of your bones is you.


Goodness can make you sick.

Lukewarm goodness,

a crowd.

The subway is the best place to feel it.

To remember the people

you’ll never know again.


When I walk the bridge I want to know what I’m crossing.

I eagle-eye each beam, rivet.

If I do not approve I do not cross:

:This is advice for a relationship:

Never get in step with a stranger on the sidewalk:

:It is dangerous to accept someone else’s gait

as your own.


Collective memory is not the same as a collective heir.

Think about a skeleton dancing across a table.

The skeleton is not the memory of the person who owned it but now think

of a person who died.

Remember they owned a skeleton.


Close your eyes.

There is a very specific feeling when an animal, a sheep for example, takes food from
your palm.

Close your

eyes. Think—

about a woman feeding an animal by hand. What is beautiful about a woman feeding an animal
by hand?

Think about her hand. Think about the muzzle. Wrapped around

bone inside a bodyframe.

Open your eyes.

Keep thinking about her hand.


Crowds do not care about each other unless one person threatens

the entire crowd.

If one person threatens one person in a crowd,

usually the crowd does not respond out of fear for their personal safety.

This is not surprising nor is it unwarranted if violence over love

is the method of attack.

All for one and one for one?

Katy Lederer

Mutations I

We had been organisms mostly, as we slung our legs across the plain.
Observed, were observable. Before we saw, we closed our eyes.
Before we could become ourselves, we had to name the animals:
successive in our shortening, unable to extend our lives.

Observed, we were observable. Before we mauled, we closed our eyes.
Late acting, deleterious, we saw by death we would be had.
Successful in our shortening, unable to extend our lives.
Contemplative without our tails, we knew we’d say what could be said.

Lactating, deleterious, we saw by death we would be had.
What seeking unobtainable, pursuing prey, we closed right in.
Contemplative without our tales, we knew we’d say what could be said.
What knowing was unknowable, without our eyes we might have seen.

What seeking inexplicable, pursuing prey, we closed right in.
Before we could control ourselves, we had to name the animals.
What showing was unshowable, without our eyes we might have seen.
As organisms mostly, we would sling our lives across the pain.

Mutations II

We had been organisms mostly, as we slung our legs across the plain.
Not missing in the opening.
Or laughing.
We had lost our tongues.

Not missing in the opening,
we wanted to believe.
But with our tongues
we could not speak.

We had been captured then released.
We had once lived in the high foliage—sky a terminating crèche.
We had not spoken.
You had wanted to believe us.

In the fuselage we lived, the sky a crash.
We would not laugh.
But you believed us.
We were organisms mostly.


We had been organisms mostly, as we slung our legs across the plain.
Not missing opportunity,
we had lost our way.

Not missing in monotony,
we knew we could not sing.
Within our mouths,
we could not sing.

We had been captured in the breach,
we had to settle. We were prone to search.
Unable to be saved,
we had no church.

Before the search,
We knew we had no church,
but prone to searching, we were organisms mostly.


Organisms mostly.
We were open in the closest sense.
Once keepers,
we were prone to loss.

That open,
in our opulence, we had to prove the rule,
which had been loss.
We put him on the cross.

We had to prove the rule
that truly we were family.
As we put him on the cross,
the mother howled.

As we put him on the cross,
we had been keepers in the loosest sense.
Thus hallowed,
we were organisms mostly.


We had been organisms mostly,
had been banished from the task.
But with our intellects
we learned to ask.

We had been banished from the task,
but we could ask.
We had to think
outside of instinct.

We had to ask,
though first we had to crutch.
We lurched
to get to church.

We were on crutches
in the church.
We used our intellects.
We slung our legs.


We had been organisms mostly.
We were lying, but no longer lame.
With motive,
we became the same.

Some had to crawl,
some had to push.
A range of new emotions
made us renovate and rush.

But we had changed.
We roamed a wider range.
Now rushing
we would learn to rage.

We had to roam a wider range,
array our motivations,
walk the solitary stage.
Our legs were slung. Still organisms mostly.


We had been organisms mostly, as we slung our legs across the plain.
Not slouching in the opening.
Or arching.
We would use our thumbs.
Not slouching in the opening,
we wanted to believe.
And with our brains
we could believe.

We hadn’t mattered in the trees.
We had once lived in the high foliage—sky a blue and baffling reach.
We had not spoken.
Tongue intolerant.

In the futile age we lived, the sky was cash.
We studied math.
Now we were organisms mostly.
We believed us.

Mutations III

We had been organisms talking.
What to say. What not to say.
The world a roiling, rolling day.
We did not know what we could say.

We could not hate
without our faith.
We killed our meat and made our tools.
We swam around in chlorinated pools.

We learned to think and talk.
We became cruel and very frightened.
We knew that one day we would die.
No one knew why.


Organism     Enzyme    Myeloid

Oncogene     Centromere     Toxic

Xylem      Extrinsic      Pleiotropic

Organism      Zygote      Gonad

Origin      Osmotic      Tracheids

Axis      Mitotic    Mutagenic

Organism      Diploid     Soma

Blastula      Fibroblast      Basal

Taxa     Radical      Meiosis

Organism     Proxy    Lifespan

Optimum      Stilbenoid      Spindle

Neuron     Surgeon      Lymphoma

Organism    Golgi   Lethal

Depleted     Replicative      Healthspan

Histone    Hapten    Stochastic

Fou is:

Brad Soucy, Cate Peebles, and David Sewell.

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Art © Brad Soucy

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