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Starry-eyed and ravenous, we wait for it
to serenade us like a bullet singing to a wound.
Is this what you meant by romance? Me, scouring the remains
of my life over a pool of ketchup, thick as the spunk of creation
while the city blooms smoke, waiting to be swallowed?

The coyotes worked in teams, taking what they needed while the subdivisions slept and the moon and stars rattled around in the sky. It took two or three of them to carry a piece of lumber; they would clamp it in their jaws, stop every so often to rest and readjust. Other items were more trouble: slippery things like jars of nails, or heavier things, like the outboard motor they abandoned on the sidewalk after their backs nearly buckled under its weight. Still, the coyotes were mostly quick and effective thieves. They fanned out through the valley, careful not to hit the same neighborhoods over and over. The humans never knew what was happening. By the time the water rose and they were drowning in their homes, it was too late to do anything but stare as the coyotes floated past on their ark, saving no one.

If you want to see something striking —
the bits flying upward, dusting
the air with cyclones, perfectly conical,
particles gaining speed and imploding
on Demerol and smudged ink
like a star’s last wheeze
you don’t wait light-years
to receive — call something dead.

Went to jail today to get a rap sheet
through metal detectors and elevators out of a ’60s police show
found the right room down a long marbled hall
of plexiglass windows
people shuttling in and out of doors with numbers on them.

Confession

By Bobbi Lurie

Poem

i have a special drawer where i hide my drugs
closer to the terrible

and inside me is an entourage of
frantic flowers waiting to be gazed at

There is a railroad. There is coming
until near the end, then arrival.

Near the end everything is built to move
away. May it return.

There is a whole heap of earth to cut across
for me to come to you

to dig into, to burn and to turn
to steam, to coal, and to iron.

When I visited my Scottish uncle in De Aar, he sat
on the back porch of his cottage with a Winchester,
polished like auburn sex, loaded. When he shook
my hand his finger pressed into my wrist and the vein
tingled while we burned through brush in the silver
Geländewagen, his jokes about taking women in the back
of Woolworths, clearance racks shaking like branches in wind.

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
blunderbuss.

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

Poem

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.