Vol. 2: Spring 2008
by Jan Beatty
the bag boy at Albertson’s
stared, said, You like Eminem?
Knew he meant my shaved blond head,
I said, Yeah, I like him, do you?
Oh yeah, &
dropped his head/
to some cracked
hip/hop in his head,
the middle-aged cashier
in the 70’s smock confused.
It was a burning question, he said.
Then you have to ask it, I said,
& he spun & dipped/
the air from the bag’s body,
his green watery
eyes our new dangerous sea.
He said, I get off at 9—
Remembering 18 & dangerous I wanted
to, but said see ya later/
& he popped
up beside me
so I could hear him breathe:
you don’t know what you’re missing
I kept walking,
yeah I do, and it’s good.
by Peter Funk
The magnetic poles have stopped pulling,
true north flipped and swatted,
its looming sway over other choices gone.
The tides slow to a near imperceptible rocking.
Oceans pool at the edges of beach towns and harbors.
Gravity becomes unfixed,
trees uproot to drink
moisture from clouds.
An enormous fragility,
lurking but never considered,
knocks at the door
of a new address
and wants to come in for coffee.
This is your life now.
This is the unhinged beauty
that trails sadness like an eager sibling.
There is nothing to do but grind the beans,
boil the water,
and make a place
at the small white table
for one more.
by Ross Gay
Because I must not get up to throw down in a café in the mid-west, I hold something like a
clownfaced herd of bareback and winged elephants stomping in my chest, I hold a thousand
kites in a field loosed from their tethers at once, I feel my skeleton losing track somewhat of
the science I’ve made of tamp, feel it rising up shriek and groove, rising up a river guzzling
a monsoon, not to mention the butterflies of the loins, the hummingbirds of the loins, the
thousand dromedaries of the loins, oh body of sunburst, body of larkspur and honeysuckle
and honeysuccour bloom, body of treetop holler, oh lightspeed body of gasp and systole, the
mandible’s ramble, the clavicle swoon, the spine’s trillion teeth oh, drift of hip oh, trill of
ribs, oh synaptic clamor and juggernaut swell oh gutracket blastoff and sugartongued syntax
oh throb and pulse and rivulet swing and glottal thing and kick-start heart and heel-
toe heart ooh ooh ooh a bullfight where the bull might take flight and win!
by Max King
Thin light from the corridor
seeps through the doorway, across the linoleum
to the tray table at the foot
of my white-sheeted bed. A voice up the hall
murmurs, stops, is answered by another nurse.
Shifting about to take weight
off the intravenous line, I keep
my eyes fixed on the green-lighted pulse
of the monitor at the head of the bed.
Your PVCs, she says
(premature ventricular contractions, the hiccups
of an aberrant heart that just might
attack again with sudden ferocity).
She takes my arm, fingers around the wrist.
They’re speeding up, she says,
wrinkling her brow.
Outside the high, brick facade of the music hall,
curtains of blowing snow billow and curl
around the corners of the building; cars slowing
to a crawl of headlights.
Heavy wool hats, overcoated shoulders
dusted with snow, shuffling slowly
into the hall, black shoes glistening with meltwater,
heels whitened with salt.
The chandeliers high above go dim
and the waves of his music–delicate,
fanciful almost to frivolity, then rising,
thrusting, demanding–sweep the players
and the listeners into one rounding rhythm.
Second-row violinist, young and dark,
her cheeks red,
leans forward from her chair,
mouth open, bow held straight out, captured
by the chords of the pianist–his grey hair
waving and bobbing over the keyboard.
The pulse of the music takes the hall,
pulling through the seats from proscenium arch
to the back of the balcony.
Sitting front-left box
on the dark red brocade
of my straight-backed chair, a thumb on my wrist,
I feel the mighty current of Beethoven’s river
flow to the steady, delicate
music of my heart.
by Carole Oles
Snowmelt, then phoebe, nuthatch, cardinal, yellow finch,
and two deep cuts on bark that claws had etched.
While she sat musing, something hungry watched
like a roving bandit or fairytale witch
brewing the spell her betrayal would catch:
a sleep of a hundred years, a mind without stretch.
When her bones sparked like grindstones, she flinched.
Something dextrous was lifting the latch.
by David Rivard
So maybe it is all for the best.
Maybe it would be good if she could take your place.
And she could, right?
this impossibly pleasant drunk advancing with sticky lips—
one of your wayfaring daughters—
her postcards slipping from her hand,
but well-shaken ass for the time being still
located on this earth—
it would be good if she took your place.
Because when I stand where I tend to on my back porch
studying the bees clumped atop a fallen oak leaf at the beginning of October
I know it’s a kindness you no longer appear.
And when I first heard that lightning had struck your home,
I felt happy then—
I thought about your staggering self-confidence,
and your cheekbones, & all the Dutch-
like superstitions you possess.
Your absence is a good thing.
Your answer would have been quick—
had you been asked about the man in the photograph,
you would have said the beheaded is only the beheaded now
not the civilian subcontractor he was.
You would have claimed your love for the abducted was real,
you might have added that you loved the machete,
& even the hand that holds it too.
Whereas she will be silent—
your daughter, & everyone else not having a clue.
So it’s all for the best you’re not here.
You in your heaven blameless for lice in pelts
and hardship backstage in the eyes of children.
by Lori Romero
We drove past the old train tracks,
slated to become a walking mall with tagged trees,
coffee kiosks, and cement right-of-ways.
The wooden ties that staple
a neighborhood in place, the unnamed
sadness in a whistle’s wail
will soon be gone –
as will the oxeye daisies brooding
like hobos alongside the rails.
by Martin Willitts, Jr.
We emerge from steam,
step down metal stairs
onto the platform
a porter carries our suitcases
wait for someone they know
we are not recognized,
the gates of the familiar are barred,
the train heaves a whoosh of urgency,
of Scarlet Mormon butterflies
into moss above the gate.
by Tim Hunt
In this piece Tatum doesn’t show off.
The right hand skips up the stairs
while the left shifts from foot to foot,
calling out as if unsure whether to follow
or turn back. The dialogue is as improbable
and baroque as a Hollywood romance
between a street kid and sophisticate.
We know it won’t work. It is only
in the script, but somehow they have found
each other, and we do see
the angle of the cheekbone
and the way the eyes do hurt.
It doesn’t matter it didn’t happen. They
are on the steps. They have reached
the landing, an almost alcove.
They are beyond the camera.
His hands rest on the keys.