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Remember when your eyes were the sky and the sea
blanketed in foam. We ask the clouds to remember.
My turned back is blind.

I sought my reflection in the cracked mountains, where faces appear in slated rock formations. I am wiped clean of wisdom. The land still believes. The rivers’ uneven tones and the brooks murmur, syncopate.

Remember the boats thirsty for the open sea, lamenting in fresh water. I remember
a time when my feet were on solid ground, arms lifted into the sky, trying
to take flight. Failing to remember, I am wingless.

some big thunder is stomping through the river
and i am listening
nobody else is listening the way i do
i drop you out of this house
drop you out the floor like a cartoon
i can be the man now and the woman
i can be the enemy to whom you say
don’t you know proper how to feel
i write all day and i say everything
i listen to the sky
and i say
everything
and nobody says much
i move real slow

This morning, a list of wounds to commit
to memory: contusion, abrasion, compound fracture.
There’s no irony in the lecturer’s voice, in her floral dress.

She says Let’s cut to the chase and shows a wrist
flayed open to bone. She doesn’t spare the shiny ligament
ribbons under the skin, the marble eyes of a lynched

clambake

By Christopher Mulrooney

Poem

all the little clams you dig there
dancing on the edge of the pit fall in then
pudding and pie the candlestick from the Met
while you turn up the great big underground switch
am I right over copy that because the whole muse thing
interests you as a rather lowdown carpet-seller’s commentary
on his wares from a legendary source in proverbial hills
you flog the stuff like any
there is all your art

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.