American GirlI have half your genetics.
It’s strange to think, isn’t it, that half of my DNA comes from you, and yet we could walk past each other on the street and not even recognize each other.
If we ever did meet, what would we even say to each other? I don’t speak Chinese, and you probably don’t speak English. But here’s a little about myself:
I’m probably taller than you. The nutrition in America is different than in rural China, so I’ve grown like an American girl, not a Chinese one. I’ve cut off my hair three times now, and each time it feels so different and strange, yet each time it’s grown back in. Hair tends to do that. I love to dance. I love to laugh. I’m going to college soon to study and make friends and have fun and hopefully get a job in four years. I like cooking and baking, and I like to think I’m becoming pretty good at it. I’m very good with children. I can read very fast. I know how to knit. Our hands and
Ghost ShipYou still ghost ship
I've been waiting
To drop anchor.
how you can manage to know so muchshe's barely an inch taller - but still taller -
squinting at the horizon line and heaving tobacco smoke
through resin coated lungs that should belong to a
fourty three year old smoker, not an eighteen year old
she laughs the loudest when others cast glances
and hushed whispers
and never misses the chance to tell you
she couldn't possibly give less
of a shit
she likes convenience store mints;
the round white ones you'd find
at the bottom of grandma's purse that tasted like
dust and chemically sweetened perfume,
she went to a school where "dyke"
was spat like poison at her feet
but knew exactly what to say when three girls
cornered her, knew exactly how to throw her
words like fists
she gets hives from cats and grass and
practically anything outside her door
so she spends most of her time inside,
only leaving to have another
she listens to tool and radiohead
and smokes half a joint before bed to help her sleep
but she still doesn't; not for long
and she twitc
Seeking Your StarMarch 20, 2014
Some stars burn so brightly, they burst before they see the cosmos unfold. You shared the warmth of your glow with as many as you could before you rose too high for the sky to handle and scattered sacred stardust across it. Your legacy is seen in constellations.
A few days later
Mom called me to the window today to show me a lone star in a cloudless sky. She said she thought of you.
Mother's Day, 2014
Nana told me at lunch today that she heard footsteps in the room where she keeps your urn. She went upstairs to greet Papa several times, thinking the footsteps were his, but found him sleeping. Our waitress gave each woman at our booth a carnation. Outside, sunlight adorned our skin and held us.
I could have sworn I felt you holding us, too.
June 21, 2014
I took a plane out of Chicago to get back home. The sun set mid-flight, tie-dying the sky in orange and red. As we rose over the clouds, my jetlagged eyes rested upon a lone star pinned against
Neighbors Through the Glass Revised“Do you know why you’re here?”
A menacing spotlight shone on me from the direction of the ominous voice. I shivered, looking around frantically in the darkness. Where was I and how did I get there?
A sigh emanated from the darkness, and I managed to stumble out an answer in response.
“No. I didn’t do anything wrong.”
“We know you didn’t. But you saw something didn’t you?”
I remembered waving to my neighbor from my pod after I’d gotten home from my assigned job as bookkeeper just like I did every day. He was an elderly gentlemen and he lived directly to the right side of me. Our pods were made of glass, like little glass cubicles stacked one on top of the other just like in a skyscraper office building, as the Government described when they first pitched the ideas to the Citizens. They reminded me of a display case for humans. You could see inside each pod on the right and left of your own pod as far as your eye could str
david and goliath.He passes under
the dying streetlamps'
darkening splashes on his face,
against the rooftops.
The tarmac, painted with his footsteps,
white lines of vertebrae
tickle along its back.
Lovely glass, shattered fragments
ruffle the curb of the pavement,
strands of rainwater
whisper along the gutter
in hymnal honesty; and sunlight seems swallowed
by the swollen beast of night.
prickle at the back of his memory,
a nervous pattern of speech,
syllables of iambic chattering
teeth against the cold:
the hotel window, shining with
the gaze of a thousand tourists' wonderment,
is where his own eyes rest,
as if the world is born anew
and love-songs spike the evening air
his life-tousled hair. He
walks on, passes on,
a stranger in a foreign land;
the moonlight seems
to turn about him, embrace his form,
a lonely touch, not quite animate in its caress,
but his love was the colour
of seawater on gravel,
and he would not take the taste of her brea
every chance i didn't take IIYou tell him about your cancer on a Sunday,
in the shower of all places, in between brunch plans
and speculations about whether or not the weather
will ever get any colder - hasn't it been the strangest November?
Just the strangest.
You casually mention that somewhere
deep in the secret space between your hips
your own cells are proliferating uncontrollably,
whispering treason and passing down forgeries,
teaching each other the steps of mitosis with alarming intent.
You don't miss a beat as you drop survival percentages
mixed in with tomorrow's rain forecast
and predictions about the game later that afternoon -
easy as breathing, even as counterfeit armies
shred through the soft tissue just below
his favorite place on your spine.
And as you stand there
calmly making conversation
and sharing the last of the soap,
he watches the water
run quiet rivers
through your hair.
drowning with himthere’s this boy i work with.
he is five.
he wears long sleeves
and shorts with holes in them
that are only kept together with
small clothespins and thin threads.
his hair is always cut close
to his skin, though his bangs are left
just long enough so it covers his eyes
and i know no one can see them.
but i always watch him.
only sometimes i will allow myself
to watch over someone else, even though i know
this boy will only continue to follow me.
he asks me to play,
he asks me to speak,
and sometimes, he even asks me
to hold his hand.
they are always cold and strong,
with calluses and chipped nails
that dig rough into my skin,
and his voice is always hard ice,
roaring like pounding hail through a storm.
but most of the time, he fights.
he hurts the other boys. they are small
and they fight over pieces of chalk,
over shovels and pales and who gets to play
on the swings, but they throw punches
like i’ve seen adults do.
sometimes i look at them
and i see the ripple of muscle,
to giovanna cenamimother goddess,
your whole deep greens
& your pale yellow slivers of sun
& then the blue sky sleeves
with your open fertile hands blossoming
out of them, small & serene.
your gaze a red innocence, heavy with curiousity
it graces your glowing forehead, forgotten entirely
after the shock of love in your glance.
you know this man's
profound black browns, his steady eye
the flickering immodest uncaring of calculation
hung over his lids, over the hazy grey
of city sky, this hard bent man stooped
with briefcase in hand, thickly
cloaked, thin lipped, top hatted.
you the warm unnamed bride & he
the sharp nosed Man
you the pleasant & powerful, indulgent
of his every little
the eternal forgiveness in the curve
of your lips, the unspoken
colour of power. you the patient
the unending source.
Nine TimesI saw him nine times.
The first time we were both sitting in the room together, getting ready to take the math test that would determine our placement. I was scatterbrained and throwing things around, trying to find the pencils that I had known I would need but had still just tossed in my purse. He was lounging backwards in his chair, looking for all the world as though he didn’t have a single care in the world, including the upcoming test. It annoyed me, that I was frantic and ready to scream, while someone else could be that relaxed.
I tested out of the class.
I don’t know if he did.
The second time I saw him, it was a few months after I arrived on campus. He was the one rushing and frantic this time, running across the square. He was probably late for class, though I had no way of knowing for sure. I was already lost in my own thoughts and ideas, deciding on my major and convincing people that yes, this is what I really want to do with my life. If they weren
SolaceShe never slept well in the dark,
not without the children of the sun and moon
to guide her weary lids home.
Guided by the aftermath, she was always two steps behind.
What did the world look like to the girl who had been through it all?
Braved the heaviest of storms,
yet skipping over cracks in the pavement.
They said her eyes were the wisps of clouds before the storm.
To him they were reflections of pages overlooked.
She said it was like she lived the life of someone she had never met.
Laid out to dry, yesterdays news.
He knew her as the girl who was built to never collapse.
He wished he was too.
He loved her more than words could say, and yet her pain was such,
that at times, he feared she wouldn’t make it.
But on nights like these, even when it threatened to consume her,
he became convinced that somehow she would.
Bo.When Lindsay was born, Bo was there. Standing beside her mother, he was the first thing she ever saw. But he was not her father; her father stood on the other side.
Bo was there until the very moment she died.
The sun shone bright through the windows of her pink-laden room. She loved pink. And black.
“Because Bo is black,” she’d told her parents.
Her imaginary friend, they soon concluded.
“Bo is all black,” she described one night as her father tucked her in, “His skin and his hair and everything. He doesn’t talk a lot.”
Her father frowned.
“He sounds scary.”
“He’s not,” she insisted.
Bo sat on the bed and said nothing.
Her father kissed her good night and turned out the light.
“Why can’t Dad see you?” she asked.
“Are you real?”
“Are you real?” he replied.
“How do you know?”
if you need help making it through the dayremember:
Mr. FiveI checked my watch as I strolled down the halls of the Midvane Asylum. My supervising officer hadn't told me what I was walking into, unfortunately for me. A male nurse met me at the building office. His scrubs were smeared with what I assume was saliva, and his glasses were uneven on his face. He had no hair on his head, but there was a black soul patch staring at me from his chin.
"Are you here about Mr. Five?" the nurse scrawled across a clipboard as he spoke.
"Yes, the patient that we called about. You were told what the situation was, weren't you?"
The nurse sighed and nodded towards the door of the office and walked out. I followed him down the hall, struggling to keep his pace. He never looked up from his clipboard on our trip through the Asylum halls, even when he had to step around gurneys and patients. I kept the brim of my hat tipped forward throughout the walk. Something about the way crazy people stare, it unsettles me. The nurse tilted his head back towa
We Hold HeartsWe Hold Hearts
Angela Malzow 2013
The water rippled, it was nearly silver as it reflected the white washed, full moon. The breeze began to die down until an eerie calm embraced the air. A collective cooing of nature whispered from the darkness within the thick forest which surrounded the mirrored pool, there in that lush vale.
“Drop it in,” came a rough and masculine voice.
Sapphire irises caught the moonlight as they fixed on the source of the voice. Smooth, rosy lips tugged as a hiss escaped from between neatly aligned, stark white teeth. “I will drop it when I'm good and ready!”
The two stood on opposite sides of the small pond and glared at one another.
He was a man of brutish quality wearing thick, battle scarred leather. His weapons defined the kind of warrior he was through axes of varying sizes and all bore the same sigil imprinted in the blades. His jet hair dusted his shoulders and f
Saku sono ki
Harukaze ni mau
This blooming tree
Dancing in the spring wind
The hand I've loosened
Ceased to embrace me
It's futile even if I search for it
What I gave youI unfairly gave you,
Many wonders this world doesn't own
Many pipe dreams I painted for you
The rainbow butterfly of my love
Gentle treasures buried in my very soul
The phial of my affection...
...That you drank in one go
Drying me to my last heartbeat.
You gave me ashes back
Sealed in a mocking funeral urn.
Even bullets couldn't wound me
As much as your sadistic smile.
Despite leaving me all alone, again
I still forgive you. I still believe in you.
On the gloomy road
And I walk, and I cry, and I feel
A chill of loneliness.
Heart Sold.i stand before you
my heart drugged
as all i want
is your ever
The Left Is Sinister I would ask a favour of you, dear reader. It’s a simple task, one that anyone can accomplish, be they young or old, man or woman, of any religion or race. I want you to think back, though not far, only to the beginning of the day, when you yawned so wide you could have swallowed a whale and stretched your arms to the stars, to the first thoughts when sleep abandoned you and consciousness returned. I want, no, I need you to tell me which side you were lying on when you first awoke.
See, I’m a good man; this isn’t some dreadful school examination. It is but one simple question with four simple answers. You were either lying on your back, fr
FACTORY DEMON FORKLIFT BATTLEIf you've ever had the wondrous experience of working in a factory, you would quickly replace "wondrous" with "tedious," and then "tedious" with "bang-head-on-wall boredom." Allow me to enlighten you on the subject.
Making vehicular sun roofs is one part automation, one part frustration. You place a metal, rectangular frame on a "nest" of suction cups right after signing it with your John Hancock and Julian date (ensuring that quality control can hunt you down). A robot that resembles a mechanized dragon neck takes a piece of glass off the conveyor belt with its suction cup head. The borders of the glass have been primed and slathered by two other robots with a smeary black goo called urethane (also known as "WHY WON'T THIS COME OFF?”). The robot then rotates the glass towards you, where it eases up to your nest and plops it on there, only to reel back and fetch another piece for the other two build-stations.
You then flip a lever to suck the glass down onto the frame, which crea
Last WordsIn the beginning you never want to let her go,
and so you don't for a long, long time.
You commit to bobby pins underfoot, mismatched
plates stacked like landmines,
long hairs that circle and clog the drain, filling the tub
with stagnant water.
You tell her something that you love about her
each night before you fall asleep,
until one day you look at her and realize that you
don't know what to say anymore.
“I am not happy.”
You whisper this to yourself once and then try to say it louder,
but the words won't cooperate.
Maybe a whisper is as loud as this thought can exist,
or maybe some words weren't meant to be spoken aloud,
but you still think them, and yes,
you whisper them to yourself
when she isn't listening.
Perhaps this is what you should have been telling her
each night as her hands searched for you in the darkness.
This isn't happening, you think,
unless it is.
You wonder if you owe her something,
like your heart, maybe, your red hooded sweatshirt,
.Red lips.I see you every night with the same lipstick.
Red lips open and close with the music.
They leave a mark on your empty glass..
The ice is melting slowly, as you wait for him..
You are looking at the crowd with restless eyes.
You don't leave hope behind.
Every night at the same table, patience.
You play nervously with your cigarettes.
I want to talk to you..
But I fear an empty smile out of politeness
Your magic would be gone just like that.
We look like now..
Every night I wait for you.
I look forward to when our eyes will finally meet.
The Heart Necklace A child sits numbly at a table
the chairs across from him are empty.
Children race about around him
and he watches as their attention dashes through him.
He wears a heart necklace the red of a summer sunrise
and plays with it idly between his fingers. It can be split in two but it stays as one.
Someday, I'll find someone to wear this with me
He whispers, almost as if to console himself.
A teenager sits meekly at a table
the chairs across from him are empty.
Other teens text and chat with their friends
and he watches as one girl smiles at him with honey eyes.
He wears a heart necklace the red of his blushing face
and he plays with it idly between his fingers. It is split in two but both pieces are around his neck.
Someday, she may wear this with me
He whispers, almost lost in his shy giggles.
A man sits proudly at a table
the chair across from him sits a woman with honey eyes.
Anyone else w
Cyclical loveI see a beginning and an end
clasped within the lines of your palms, echoing
in the ripples of your irises;
I remember the apricot april morning
stumbling over your outstretched legs
in the park which I had never seen as
anything more than a cut-through, but
my life changed course and the park
became a destination and I still don’t know
when I noticed that I was waking up
twenty minutes earlier just to
talk to you before work, just to hear
your lilting voice flow through my ears and
fill my mouth with ideas;
And I remember the dew drops kissing my feet
when you convinced me that it was practically illegal
to wear shoes in june and I watched as
the grass pressed hatched patterns into your skin
and for a moment I wished that they were my fingers
holding you in eternal summer lawns, swan choruses,
whirring rollerskates, the smell of peach blossoms;
And I remember you blooming and shedding
the remnants of your cocoon as you pointed out
made-up constellations littering a swelling augu
Paradigm ShiftEmerging flash of starlight pap
between sunset and ocean cap
colliding spang into my eyes
for once to have me realize
not everything becomes a song,
and I shall sleep before too long.
[transmissions of a dead girl]i am the
moon: i am
the silver pill
to weigh down
into leaden eyes--
i am the
of the dark.
the stars are
all dead in their
you'll be safe, dear,
as i am the moon,
with all of your
(i am good bye and yet,
you think only of romantic
i am the moon.
i am the crescent
and dead altogether,
i still die.
Southern modernizationBlack comedy market economy, banana peel political humour, cards with the cartels, the solution free room service and credit the union. Bolivar twist, ding dong dollar under control, valley of the coin desert with no value. Gangsta paradise, the victims are the people. Big mac and cold conflict interference a part of it all. In little Mexico you’d need a high horse to jump the great border wall that boasts its peak.
Viracocha melts waters unlike those it rose from, making waves of out of metal oceans to overtake the current south, re-steel, re-take, tech-mechs the entire south into neo-Machu Picchu, cyberpunk music moulding, reshaping old society into an new age, iron dynasty, fresh coat for an old, ancient look. The coattails of Quetzalcoatl if he were a modern man pull together the merge of future and long passed past..techno temples and the like.
may as well buy another packcollapse, and breathe into the carpet:
sunday mornings are not
for falling apart, but damn
the amphorics, this
is not an atmosphere.
you fell in love like you always
wish you didn't, made all their
smiles replaceable, interchangeable,
fell asleep with shadows and kept
drinking, just letting yourself sleep
with blue pills
and tried not to scream.
(keep this image in your head:
fire and nectarines, a sudden jerk
of realization, inspiration
breaking your neck and leaving you forever
breaking bones is not so different
from breaking hearts - it's all about
the leverage, the angle, the mode
(and at least it wasn't personal;
it can color in your own guilt
for starting lines and never ending
The Coffee GodThe Coffee God behind the counter shuffles foot to foot, a dance of steam and espresso. Black painted fingernails, inch gauged ears and a gray striped sweatshirt, hood crooked on his back. There's a cigarette tucked behind one ear; it bobs and twitches with each step.
“Non-fat caramel latte,” he calls, just as he always does, part of a spell, part of a mantra, toneless (just a tuck at the end). I reach. He looks up.
The espresso maker hisses.
There's something like a grin, something like a spark, something like a shared secret linked eye to eye. When he passes over the drink (rough cardboard sleeve hot to the touch), he lingers. Our fingers brush, a shiver, a jolt, a ten-watt shock.
The Coffee God tilts his chin, shouts, “Hey, mind if I take my break now?”
and ducks around the counter without waiting for a reply.
He slips his cigarette between his lips without taking his eyes from mine. I follow him out the door.
to crumble up
the remnant pieces
of my love for you
and throw them in the trash
but I'm such a bad shot.
Senryu Series 121.
even the printer
he still wakes up
his grandmother dies
in the lemonade
I choose not to round
on the preacher's back,
a new boss, the age
of my son
the boss graduates
with my son
The InterviewAn office. Inside it is a DESK with TWO CHAIRS. All of it fancy-looking wood. Along a wall hang lots of certificates. The desk holds some photos, a toy or two, a COFFEE CUP. At the desk sits a man, RANDY, probably in his forties. He holds a few sheets of paper - some sort of RÉSUMÉ. He picks up the COFFEE, sips it. These two actions - reading and sipping - engulf him while the following takes place off-stage.
A door creaks. A second's pause.
(Friendlily) Hello there! Are you here for an interview?
Yes! Hi, I'm Greg!
Well hello, Greg! Could I have your last name, please?
Hm, alright, one second... (Typing noises) Gregory Clark?
Wonderful. If you'll just give me a moment, I'll let Mr. Munroe know you're here.
Enter the WOMAN (DORIS, in case you were wondering). She's got glasses and curly hair and looks like she was born to secretaire.
Mr. Munroe? It's your two thirty.
(Like he's been doing thi
Ode to Sticky CrickIn the sticky, canoe beer paddled with me
doggedly browning, the creek groaned with
the million year magnolias. Andrew rolled
in the bottled bottom, I slipped into the mud
to push, "gumbo, gum-bo. Gum. BO." I named
the creek new, Gars slid
out of the ferns chasing after dragon flies. Andrew
added his stomach soup to our gravy boat,
drowned by birds all chuckling arrows
pointed down the middle channel, pointing to
no boats, calm watered. Green arms constricted
the world down brook we took.
"Bet Samantha is down
to her panties now son, and we ain't seein'
a bit." Andrew mutters
all apologies around his stomach. Truth is,
we had a better view than a pair of sun drenched ta-tas,
cause the world down Gumbo off the ‘sticky tasted
like I'd dreamed a woman would, smelled like
we never had dreamed up a bomb or a plane, in the million voiced
Frantic; trees crowding around the sun like it'd stay forever.
VisitorThere is a ghost doing handstands on my front lawn,
wrist-deep in fresh soil. Her hands are birds
It's late, but no one comes to take her home.
The pale moon offers a silver smile -
the clouds disapprove.
Too tired to dream, she buries her legs in sky.
Tonight she is invincible, untouchable,
this frail girl beneath the stars
this death in light.
There is a ghost doing handstands on my front lawn,
falling to her white knees. Her stare is a pane
The eyes of the living are often murky but
the eyes of the gone
KATRINALIVES A MILE
from the sea.
she is sallow as a beach.
she smells like rain,
or a wet earth,
with pale hair clipped
behind her head
she feels as though her hair
would be black. but it is
it is colorless
GIVES MY STOMACH
she doesn't speak.
she is silence.
i speak at her, mostly
and her eyes
look as though
they've been plucked
from a lynx
they are blue around the edges
the deep blue you find
at the edge of the sea,
if you've been out that far.
at the center they are green
light like a riptide.
they tug you in.
unmoving, and calculating
i said to some
gave me head.
her hands are too far dug
into the coast of spain
for her to reach me,
far too eager
for my composure.
she'd suck me dry
like her mothers did
the caspian sea,
like the fields of sahara
once lush with green.
she is a barefoot girl.
she moans like the shorefront
in the dead of night.
i've made love to
Margieoh Margie, Margie, Margie.
your name sounds like snow.
you remind me of oranges.
you're a Polack
and i call you so.
why don't you call, Margie?
where have you gone?
i tried to keep in touch
but in the end i know
you're still home.
all the kids who were our friends,
they are just your friends.
we were all in the marching band
but fuck that, Margie, you know
yes you know how i feel about that.
i miss you,
and i barely even know you!
i wanted to see you
in the summer
in your attic
where we'd wear sweaty clothes
and move boxes by droves
and find books,
that all stank of cloves,
and we'd joke,
and imitate the sweet little voice
of the lady who once lived in your house.
she left her books in your attic
and i wonder if you've gone through them,
or maybe your father burned them.
and you said
you'd be getting a job?
that was the last i'd heard from you.
if you wanted to,
i'd open a parlor for you!
a dance hall with burgers
daughtersmy 5 year old daughter only wants to run
through the park, loping beside our wolf-puppy,
both lean & fierce, joyful
as she tosses her hair back
& suddenly I see my body
in hers, tireless & certain,
despite my pounding heart
& damaged limbs, I run&run&
then she gives for a moment,
tumbled full-length in the grass,
feeding the puppy from her cupped hands,
& demanding, scratch my back too!
then down her sides & over the ripples
of her ribcage, her leaping heart
& tummy, still baby-soft,
until the shadows reach us & I
must give her back, inch by inch,
a long, twirling hug
my mother will echo with sad arms,
murmuring, you look really good,
here, now, when we stand alone,
which never means,
you lost weight or
that’s a pretty dress
only us, watching her
& suddenly glad
PalaniAt least I got the chance to smoke while I waited for the police to arrive. The tourists on the beach were ooh-ing and ah-ing over the usual night-time performances, oblivious to what had happened in the kitchens of the hotel. It was my job to keep them oblivious, to intercept the cops before any of the customers had their night ruined. They came out to resorts like these to get away from the world. They got to look up at stars they'd never see on the mainland, and feel like the only people under that big, black night, lit up with tiki torches and a dancer swirling a spiral of flame in mid-air. And Kal, my manager, was fixated on keeping them in the dark.
Halfway through my cigarette I found myself watching the fire dance that had them enthralled, when I heard the police cruiser pulling into the hotel driveway. I gave a wave to the driver and took one last drag before putting out my cigarette against the lava rock wall of the building. I knew that would drive Kal nuts, but after what h
Parental GuidanceWe sit at the table, all four of us. My brother is across from me. My parents sit on either side.
“Go on. Eat it,” says my father.
Across from him, my mother snickers. She can barely hide her excitement. This game is one of her favorites.
I look down at my plate. Chicken, or something. I don’t know because I haven’t gotten to taste it. I’ve been at dinner for about fifteen minutes.
I stab my fork into a small piece. My parents follow the motion eagerly. I bring the fork to my mouth, and then try to jam it in as quickly as possible.
My six-year-old reflexes aren’t fast enough. My father has smacked the fork down.
My mother and father burst into laughter. My brother, across from me, is bored with the game already. He is watching expressionlessly, shoveling mouthfuls in as quickly as any toddler. I watch hungrily.
“Finish your dinner,” my father sneers, barely able to contain a belt of laughter.
I look down at my plate. Pick up the fork. Try
MaaheWhen the Maaheseum wore off, Onteia knew she was close to death. Her hair had gone white, her eyes were sunken and glassy, her flesh had receded. Those in her pod were the same: decrepit old men and women, none of them older than twenty-five. Outside, the blueshift had pushed every black hole, every brown dwarf, every burst of cosmic radiation from every pulsar in the Galactic Center into visibility. In hyperspace, even someone who never saw the shining beauty brought out by Maaheseum could see what lay beyond the cursory glance that was their lifelong perspective.
The pod was nearing its final destination--the spectacular, unmatched glory of a collapsing star. This was what all Travelers longed to see before their inevitable early death from the drug. Onteia reached into the small container at the center of their pod, where there were enough green-tinted black shards to last a hundred Travelers a decade. She took a piece just over an inch long, and set it on her decaying molars, and b
Dead ZoneWe met on an art website—you, me, and the Sprout.
Thing is, the Sprout and I didn't really care about art. Only you did. But when I looked online for a school art project and found you two bickering about something pointless in the comments of a picture that had nothing to do with any of us, I signed up for the site solely for the purpose of telling you two to shut up and take it to someone who cares.
So you sent me your Skype contact.
I expected you to start the conversation with arguments or even flirtation, but instead you just asked me how my day had been, as if we'd always been friends and you were just greeting me on a lonely Tuesday night. When the Sprout joined us a few minutes later, haven taken a bit more time to accept contact with the guy who he had been arguing with earlier, his first words consisted of telling you that you typed slower than his three-year-old niece and brought the conversation to the comfortable squabbling that had taken up most of our relationship.
A Bloody, Stupid Miracle The day we’d cured the human condition was the day I put a bullet through my head and didn’t die. It was also the day I realized how scared I actually was of death, and after hours of muscle ache from holding that gauze against my open skull, after the wound closed and everything went back to normal, I had myself a good old-fashioned brainstorm. How ironic.
But when summer came, everything had fallen to shit. The air scorched my skin and parched my tongue every time I took a breath. The sun glared down on a rapidly-collapsing world, full of the undying bastard children of cruelty and misfortune. What was one to do when their cells regenerated faster than they decomposed?
My feet hit the pavement, now littered with jagged bits of glass to snap at my toes, thoroughly baked by the blazing ball of bitter disdain high overhead. Today was worse than yesterday. Though I’d often wondered the purpose of it anymore, I
Goggles in MireviewNico swept out of the open manhole. She was grinning like a schoolgirl. It wasn't until I had made this mental comparison that I realised that, in all honesty, she was probably young enough to be a schoolgirl.
“Why aren't you in school?” There was no drive in my words. I was thinking out loud.
She gave me a confused look, a curious smile emerging after a disarmed moment. The grime on her face, fresh and dark from the underground that she had just emerged from, had an element of Victorian orphan about it, especially when combined with her mucky, plain clothes. This is of course excepting the night vision goggles which were resting on her forehead. Out of place? Perhaps. But it was a sign to me of what she was: a poor child with deft hands.
I didn't know much about her. Well, I still don't. But she was young. And she hadn't known any other life than the one she had: drifting through the streets of Mireview, biding her time between voracious thefts and excursions to the roofto
A Turning Point in the Clockwork WarA war of attrition
depends on supply and drawdown,
how much you have and how much you use up.
With personnel, the balance concerns
the influx of recruitment versus
the outflow of casualties, deserters, invalids.
There is only so much loss
that a fighting force can sustain
and still fight.
Pilot Claude Archer was the first
to challenge his invalid discharge.
"I don't need legs to fly," he said,
patting the healed stumps of his thighs.
"My Osprey runs on elbow grease."
The members of the discharge board
paused and looked at each other.
What he said was true.
The Osprey-class fighter jets
relied on hand controls,
and a sharp eye and iron nerve.
Fingers flicked through the stack
of discharge papers -- so many, many pages.
So many soldiers lost, never to fight again.
They could not afford to let slip even one
who might be retained, somehow,
to face the front line once more.
Far less could the war effort spare
one of its best pilots.
So they put Pilot Archer back on the roster,
And Here Is JohnParis, 1917
Here is John, beside me again. Sometimes when we meet he is courtly and charming. Other times he’s tired and he can only muster up a smile as the words “Bonjour, ma belle,” fall out of his mouth. Sometimes his eyes burn feverishly, sometimes they’re dull, sometimes he’s drunk. It depends on where he’s been that day. There are only two things constant about my John: he always manages to smile, and I can always see the fear deep in every line on his face.
Paris is grim; the front is moving closer to the city, and we’re losing more battles than we’re winning. John spends his time here waiting, and afraid. He lost in these brown streets among these brown buildings, as are all the uniformed boys playing soldier.
Only they are not playing, really. Not anymore. Time is short for him, and the front lines rise up and loom in the darkness. He will meet them again soon. He is like a starving man, needing a good meal and a kind wor
Teenage TaoismGiving birth is the closest I’d ever felt to dying.
Before that, my near death experiences had consisted only of my silent announcement of pregnancy—silent, being that my social media accounts were all deleted almost simultaneously and I never returned to school in the fall, saying without really saying that I had caught the malicious disease of “teenage pregnancy”. I’m sure the whisper spread in the hallways like the Bubonic Plague. That September, sitting at home on what would have been the first day of my senior year, I imagined friends I’d never talk to again saying “she was only seventeen, and so full of life!” at my absence in the cafeteria tables, as if they were attending my funeral instead of talking about me behind my back.
"Full of life," I had snorted then, folding a never ending stream of what had once been my own baby clothes. "Literally."
I walked around like a zombie for the months of my pregnancy, deciding t
Heat AdvisoryWe are an air-mass thunderstorm at the height
of an Indian summer -- a cloudburst colliding
into a cyclone, raising the temperature of any
who wander through our sweaty inversion.
I soar above the earth buoyed on your thermals,
straight into a clap of thunder conceived by
lightning fever. A roiling heatwave travels
across our connection, evaporating the atmosphere
surrounding the eye of our storm. Your humid
breath wisps over the thermodynamics of my skin,
pushing cumulonimbus up the drought in my spine.
Muggy kisses trail down my body like volcanic ash,
a haze blurring the lines between our hurricanes.
And as the barometer spikes, my heartbeat quickens;
I am sucked into the vortex of your tropical storm.
Stories about our fatherOur father is fourteen in this story
so we must imagine him young and slim
bobbing on his toes, the quiver
of his racquet like the quiver
of a cat’s tail.
We’ve seen our father play before,
sitting courtside with our action figures
and paper dolls,
deadened to the minor explosions
of balls striking asphalt.
But we are surprised now by the
in his face, his eyes moving the tight loop
from court to net to opponent
and back again.
And it occurs to us
that we haven’t occurred to him.
Our father is pre-marital,
his world blazes between these
But soon we look where our father won’t:
To the stands where
our boy-faced uncles jeer
beside our grandmother, thin and erect
where we know her
soft and stooped.
She raises a hand to the metallic crest of
her hair and calls out,
David! What’s the score!
And it is understandable to us
that he pretends not hear.
That his shoulders twitc
Beautiful MiseryFrom the first moment
I laid eyes on you
you were beautiful.
And misery knows misery
and I knew that too.
I stayed away.
Because believe it or not
I don’t try to fuck up,
it just comes naturally to me.
a timeless ringshe wears me upon
her withered hand:
an angel's halo
with no beginning or
she didn't like
but he brushed away the
drops of jupiter
twinkling on her
return but it was
just a fool's
and now i am
a memoir of
because he is
dead but he is
not, he is
gone but he is
here, he is
a memory preserved;
she wears me upon
her withered hand:
the crown of a
king lost in battle
grazes me with her
because soon i
will be a
she will be the
Graffiti Dreams in Black and White The strokes are dreamt permanent,
the only lasting demarcations of claiming existence,
and the collective artists who painted them majored in Biology,
or Accounting, or English and Professional Writing, or dropped out
as so many do when they wake up.
The poet paints them into existence with his words:
“ideas are illusions, and all words are untrue.”
And we nod our heads and sip our coffees, indeed,
put a price to labors and words and even to thoughts
because we no longer want freedom if it costs us the freedom
of saving face and keeping pace with the ebb and flow
Red DirtRed Dirt
I eat only because my body demands it.
In the South pregnant mothers eat red dirt
because it gives them what they crave. Their bellies are full moons,
their eyes constellations of what their baby will be.
Forget tossed stones or chicken entrails,
the lines of a palm already scarred
by machinery bits, a barbed wire chicken fence.
I already know what my future will be.
I was given paradise but it did not want me.
They told me if you are not strong enough this paradise will scar you
and it has. I was meant to be pregnant at the age of 16
and believe this child will be different from me.
But I escaped, relentless, demanding. "Do not give into it."
But paradise rejected me.
I am now too slovenly, scared and desperate.
I want to bite myself, taste red blood,
red clay until it consumes me. I belong to it.
I want the red clay until it exhausts me and whatever I may give birth to.
My scars like constellations have told me we are not worthy.
All Here For A ReasonI turned onto a shady, well-manicured driveway that, for all intents and purposes, looked harmless enough. Maple trees lined both sides of the street, and a parade of Canadian geese marched across the road to a wide duck pond with a flamboyant fountain. There were blooming crepe myrtles and rose-of-sharons, and as I grew closer to my destination, neatly trimmed gardens with neatly trimmed bushes.
I stopped to let the geese pass. They looked at me; one hissed. I honked my horn and moved around them.
At the end of the road sat a collection of grayish buildings and a number of signs directing me to the appropriate parking lot. "Welcome to Ten Creeks Hospital," said one of them. "Please enjoy your stay." I parked in the visitor's lot. Surely I wouldn't be staying.
I was shaking when I got out of my car. I had spent the morning getting high. One foot in front of the other, flip-flop noises, hot sidewalk. Mulberry and magnolia trees, freshly shaved grass. A bench and pan for smokers. A set o
Autumn Is In My EyesYou can clearly watch the leaves of my youth
Shedding against the breasts of a world otherwise occupied
I'll not shy from this idea
I'll take my place in the circus and ride the merry-go-round
We somehow lost our way
Drifting against the currents day by day
There are tastes on the air that belie unbridled need
A need to be seen
A need to feed
A need to keen at a moon long since uncaring and ignoring us
Be still, my love
The winter calls us
Our hearts are surrounded in cool warning
Our souls are getting colder
I'll shelter you
My hands are more stubborn than the tides of time
I can hold back the worst of the coming winter storms
Trust in that
As I trust in you
We are but leaves, shedding in the twilight before the freeze
Volpi.You will find that the story you tell
is very rarely your own. In Lucca,
even the smallest pebbles
breathe in the warm sunlight.
Knotted stones and cobbled roads
beat out a paper-dry heartbeat heat
my city breathes in and out,
inhales sparrow air.
It's writing a story.
You are the pen.
You will find that in Lucca
the daisy chains forge fire
in side streets and back alleys.
Teenagers intertwine. Tell me,
odd flower, are you still closed?
Here we are colored wax;
the heat of the city melts us.
We run into each other, rhapsody
of pigments. Operas are our specialties.
Open up; feel the reds.
If not, try and see them. There is a place
of deep knife marks, a street
long as midnight
you may learn something there.
Valentina's voice glimmers like red wine.
You may enjoy intoxications. Still,
know alcohol has no story
and will swallow your own.
Find the sign with the wolf on it.
You'll know the place. Epiphanies ring true as church-bells.
Lucca still guides the wanderers
to well sp
ViolinI remember the day
you told me violins
were strung with cat gut
and that is why
you hated music
(who says that to a child?)
I followed you
all that summer.
I watched you
grow away from mother -
your whiskey held better conversations
and all she did was cry.
We'd sit cross-legged on the porch
and count the horseflies
settling on our lunch.
You would drown tadpoles
in a bucket
surprised they could not swim
and I would dream
of cherry popsicles.
And when night would gather
on the sidewalk
I'd hold my breath
until a star appeared.
Don't bother making wishes
you'd tell me -
stars are dead weight in heaven
and God has cloth ears.
skinny loveI was 17 and
she pointed out that
I wasn't eating much
with an approving smile
and that made my
heart jump into my throat,
so I pulled it out
through my mouth
and presented my organs to her
with my full plate,
which she shakily accepted,
that I was almost
I was 17 and
I was finally acceptable enough
for her to bear
touching my body
for a hug.
and as I held her bent and
with collapsed conscience
I couldn’t say thank-you
since my throat was still raw