@

the only thing that
upset Mr. Jain more than
the death of his dear wife
a day before, was, when he
returned home from the
funeral, to find her shadow
lingering near a cupboard
in the living room
startled, out of his mind
at first, two days past, he
grew to adjust to watching
the wraith move around the
place, get lost in dark rooms,
and against the pitch black
wall of the study, disappear

There was the loneliness I kept in the cupboard
next to the sugar & the pile of dead ants
I told you in confidence I was done with sex
You didn’t laugh but
I could tell you were laughing
Have you looked in my sock drawer lately?
I lie/I don’t have
a drawer for my socks
My room’s a mess
There’re newspapers guarding
the hardwood from black paint
In another life this is all very interesting
to you/to me
In another life my mother is a falcon
The apartment smells like eggs
Sometimes I dream I wake up
covered in blood & I’m not sure
if it’s mine

Honey hones
its honesty

right off the comb,
no distillation

needed.
What is sweet

in Athens is
sweet in Oakland,

in Ames. At the party
last night I drank

until I drowned. This morning
my body language spoke

only in spasms and whispers,
the twelve months

of my face
clouded with rain.

Puerta del Sol:

In Puerta del Sol there are living statues. An ocean away from home, she watches them and pretends she is someone else. Their eyes are eerie, barely-blinking, hovering like moons in their cracked metallic facades. They maintain impossible poses; minds are still moving, but the act itself transforms them. They don’t look her in the eye. She is drying her wounds with the saltiness of Iberian ham, chewing the fat like gum.

One blue hour simmers on the stove, steam rising
like a slow train up and over the mill line —
still-life burnt in coal, black heat, skin cold-split
in the third shift. The radiator hisses.

Flurries dance on the wind in spun madness. She
presses her hands to the hot pipes, looks out across
the Pittsburgh grey, soaking it in, spreading it like a blanket
across her memory — thick like miner’s dust, an iron door.

She wears gloves to bed, wakes to the itch of wool,
startled by how her fingers feel like someone else’s,
how rough they’ve grown — like a man’s — inside
her winter skin. She pictures the man, bright within

her childhood dream-head like the light at the end
of a shaft. He is twice her size and she can’t see
around him. Warm bourbon breath that melts the snow
before it lands. The game will be played in the big wooden house,

“Oppression makes even God smell foul.”—Felipe Luciano

Reading the newspaper I feel like an accomplice;
a voyeur is also guilty of something.
So the murders, the corruptions
and calculated larcenies against the spirit
reside in me too.
It’s easy, I suppose, to pretend
I don’t pay rent to the conspiracies.
And that the church is immune
because it’s tax exempt.
But from a landfill or cemetery
grow multi-colored flowers.
Who can say then
from what polluted soils
my blossoms will spring?

Cat Lady

By Sarah Xerta

Poem

And it wouldn’t be the strangest thing
if I never had sex again, but that’s because I’m having
sex all the time, my eyes like two clits, my ears
like two clits, my mouth. . . Today I’m drinking
coconut tea and looking at photos
of women I’ve never met, their spines like hybrids
between xylophones and violins, throats like galaxies, all the moons
sleeping in their bellies, and I wonder
why I’m not a lesbian, why
I don’t want to reach out and touch them.

  Sleep’s tentacles loose and tickling
should not be the enemy
nor the medicine. And when Day
stands in its way, it collapses under the demand.
  Parables, too, reach beyond night,
never stay taped with snapshots
on wood paneled walls and turn history
even in the present.
  Dreaming to understand them only means
understanding will never happen.
Sleep can never be the enemy; not the medicine
unless it’s supposed to last forever.

One

By Rich Ferguson

Poem

Be one with the world. One with yourself. One with the tranquility gallery behind your eyes, its humble paintings of peace & prosperity. One with how that gallery is so often under reconstruction, deconstruction. One with how everything is so impermanent, so fleeting. How your every thought breeds Frankensteins & angels. Be one with all your Frankensteins & angels.

You are the pleasing smell of Chinese grease
I am the invisible motivation to frolic in the fountain

You are a stranger’s giggle &
an invitation to dance

I am a Cabaret Voltaire 12″
& half a clove cigarette

You are the diaphanous nature
of auburn clouds at twilight

I am the woman who raised you
but never dared speak your name

You are that familiar left shoe
abandoned on the roadway
never finding its twin

I am an expectant evening
after an expectant morning
spent talking on the phone


Wildlings

By Sanchari Sur

Poem

Your feline eyes reflect the sun, heaving
as the hair on your forearms, a reminder of
sweaty backed evenings, leaning into each other,
scaffolding.

You call me a lynx, even as I claim to be
a leopard, or a panther. No,
a lynx, you insist, explaining the nuances between
my extremes, my savagery and
clemency, danger and
dalliance blended into a
molotov cocktail.

On the twisted handle-bars
of a summer more than
half-spent. On a balance

eager for wild days to last,
yearning for tedious heat to end,

he bikes randomly west to Ulrich
Center. Peregrinations of a boy
striking out arbitrarily toward
any of the four sacred serendipitous

directions. Escaping monotony,
seeking adventure. He discovers a
shopping-plaza zoo in the midst of commerce,
among parking lot Impalas, Jaguars,

Why can’t I stop reading about this crazy lady? Cultural appropriation is a contested activity in the U.S., especially in the realms of artistry, but cultural theft committed with the purpose of gaining access to positions or institutional power is more insidious. This is what Dolezal did. Currently winning the Internet: #AskRachel I totally believe in the idea of being an ally but I’m pretty certain this is not the way to go about it. I wanna talk about this game we’re about to lose but this Rachel Dolezal story is way mo better. And so so frightening. Please don’t use Rachel Dolezal as an excuse to be ignorant toward light skinned and mixed folks. It’s not cute, too expected, and just plain gross. Wow. She went to Howard University on a full scholarship! That takes some kind of gall. The right wing is running with this story. My questions is, how did she get this far without anyone finding this out? What the…? Y’all may say she’s crazy, but I think if we would use people like her like white folk have been using the Clarence Thomases, Don Lemons, Stacey Dashes & nem for centuries, we might turn the tide. I just laughed tears. “Are you African American?” “I don’t understand the question.” She was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO not ready for the last question…nor the picture of her Dad. OMG, I just can’t with this….WTF???????? She said the first African hairstyle is seen in the Venus of Willendorf…. Her family is like, “Girl, you’re from Whiteville, not Black Town.” 

Дача

By Sonya Vatomsky

Poem

I first tried to kill love back behind the woodshed, neighbor
talking over the fence and water barrels full of dead squirrels,
lilac blooming, vegetable gardens where I married myself
to myself and enough plums to make your guts ache. All the
while I wished bloodletting were still a thing — to purify, to
wave lit sage inside my old skeleton and shake the dust off
the bones, scoop bad marrow out and serve on thick bread
before the surgeon comes back with his notepad and bad
news — things I tried to forget are bloodclots on the tablecloth;
everything a dinner we never eat, just moving our lips to the
sound of the wind, turning our knuckles white with fear-grip.
A butcher’s carcass on the hook has more to cling to, if I’m
being honest: a pendulous swing, a certainty, a dripping out
and being milked into the afterlife as sous-chefs stand around,
praying
or avoiding eye contact.

I spit in the lock and the knob turns.
A wire stretches between two towers,
but is it before the walk, or just after
a person has fallen? In a painting,
a man is devoured by his own horses,
after teaching them to love the taste
of human flesh. I was once told that
being shot feels just like being slapped.
I never felt the needle going in, but now
my jaw aches at the site of the injection.