I woke up and kissed you and left the room. I woke up and you were lying in bed and I leaned over and kissed you before I left the room. Before waking up I was asleep and before I was asleep I was awake and might have been kissing you but after I was asleep I was definitely awake and definitely kissed you and left the room.

A damp stench of wildflowers. The
memory of vacant highways fixed in

her bones, a recurring memory oozing
tragic lines, cracking the marrow with

guttural airs not meant for human ears,
lies driven too deep, too hard, too often,

I find naked Jesus
in the King Cake a zombie brought
from Della Calce Street

so I have
renewed my luck
I drain a shot of absinthe

I sit dumbfounded as your
yellowed body asserts itself
into my cringing awareness.
Only yesterday you were
an old soul peering through
young eyes at a world wearing
gossamer garments to hide
black and blue secrets.

My daughter in the frantic evenings
Knits some stars and secrets,
Some pictures of our old wet pots,
Some letters loosely hanging
Over our home library attic.

He is a nerve-bound

I know this, my body
a house choking
on smoke

while his ribs and comet
legs beat as one
like the throbbing sea.

A particle, a wave. Staged, the icicles
record their length. What can happen
with dahlias, the weave of words
and common cells. Another world,
of speeding tickets, rambling songs,
young monsters. We lean against
our metaphors. These hands at work,
a bleach of cells, and semaphore. Dis
ambiguations, monitor combed rooms,
a bleeding rosebush. These hands, he
notes, do not produce an absence of
books. This is how books are made.

Mad Lib

By Virginia Bell


After Lyn Hejinian’s “I found a wing today when walking”

I found a young woman today when walking—
she was running in her bare feet on the hot sidewalk.

We chatted at the intersection’s red light—
it’s better not to run on the grass, she clarified.

The grass can hide glass, stone, or even
unevenness, surprise.

O vibration
there are two worlds
and you
a thin line between


When you were a mother for the first time,
beaten down by the first husband who could be dead now and you wouldn’t care,
(remember “walls”?)
she cried        stood right there
on bubbles
threw her words into that thick sorrow,
the kind that only knew vertical indentations       when       you
counted the rocking,
singing your new baby to sleep,
pushing brain ruckus to the back of darkness
aligning the sequence:
count, sing, push / count, sing, push / count, sing, push

The better I get at barking, the more difficult it is
to realize pitch from product. It’s not that I can’t
recognize what a thing is, it’s simply easier
to walk down dark alleys when their walls
are covered in stars. And why not. Dress
truth in feathers and rhinestones. And
while I’m at it—Unicorns. Un-
icorns who (are) like me.

Tonight, I trace figures on the frosted windowpane
like fluid lines of cursive
stenciled by the blade of a dancer’s skate.
Or like the stars outside giving shape
to the formlessness that surrounds them.
Their rhythm, shaped by darkness, patterns the sky.
For ten billion years, twisting
even as they’re held
in a single spot in the universe.

After Terrance Hayes’ “A Gram of &S”

There were never lies.
Just tiny leaps
in detail. Turned soil

dragged in on your boots. Turned your gale
of honesty (out of guilt). Turned the peal
of my alarm. Turned my drunk plea,
and then, the billowing white sail

of your chest. Now silence is an unwinding spool,
its thin wire fence stretching between our sepia

faces. Now, this lapse

of our skin, an infinite aisle.


By Chris Crittenden


the stars threw tendrils
into the squints of half-frozen eyes,
as the bay steamed from cold.

streets glinted with stark finalities,
cars more frigid than gravestones,
refrigerators within refrigerators.

So, Don dreamt he was an angel.  It’s sweet.  I’ve dreamt about motherhood.  [So what?] Now, it feels all downtrodden.  I wish I knew the crested.  I wish I knew what made the light twitch; what brings the light to the moon so I can carry it inside, and know there is glory in the in-between. That there is something here to be sought or sought-after.  Something to be stared -down-beautiful.