By Sandy Gingras
Featured art: Position Interplay: Midnight by Samia Halaby
The building is boarded up, but we know how to get in.
It’s the end of summer and we’re seventeen. We don’t have a car
and there’s nowhere to go in this town except down
the huge hills gliding our bikes past the A&P,
the Ben Sun store where my mother buys my gym uniform, past
the funeral home and the corner bar where Eddie’s father sits
in the same chair every afternoon. The air is humid,
and the stars look stalled out in the sky. Maybe they’re waiting
for us to try something or to grow up already like my mother tells
me to do. A train goes past and faces stare out of the fluorescent lights.
My flip-flops ring on the metal stairs. Eddie puts his shoulder on
a board, and we’re through. It’s just the way it always is—
the way they left it. Eddie sweeps his flashlight across
the cables and cogs and steel beams, the stacks of papers
next to the stapler. This place is leaking
PCPs into the Hudson River, my mother says, but we don’t know
what PCPs are. All I know is, this is where my father worked
before he left my mother. Eddie and I grew up two brick houses
away from each other. Tonight we’re here to take one last look at
the muscley machines. I’m leaving for school tomorrow.
See, some things last, Eddie says to me. I don’t tell him different.
By: Jerry Williams
Featured art: Motorcycle Race (Motorradrennen) by Oskar Nerlinger
I can recall riding a Kawasaki 750
down Sunset Boulevard
on a Saturday afternoon in light traffic.
Cruising along at thirty mph in fourth gear,
I let go of the handlebars,
braced myself on the fuel tank,
and slowly rose to my feet.
Helmetless, I stood like a surfer in the wind
on the imitation leather seat,
my longish hair blown back,
sunshine bursting through my goggles.
A thin membrane of fear lined
the inside of an urn made of pure joy.
After about an eighth of a mile,
I returned to the legal sitting position
and only then did I notice my runaway pulse.
When you’re twenty-three years old
the saddle of a thousand-pound motorcycle
feels as firm as the ground you walk on.
You get full access to your inner maniac.
Nowadays, doctors and sounder reasoning
have rescued me from worldly vices
and a rapid heartbeat often provokes alarm.
But I miss the brash torque of myself,
the quality of light in that urban desert,
all the midnights and years out in front of me
like the beautiful stupid jewels of infinity.
By: Laura Paul Watson
Featured art: Glittering the Being by Roberto Matta
May he wake to an empty house.
May every pleasure
be interrupted. May every wheel squeak.
When he reaches the front of the line
may he return to the end of it
and may everyone before him
pay by personal check.
May he receive a thousand e-mails a day,
none of them personal, every one of them personal.
May he go nowhere in metaphor
but travel everywhere by bus.
May every road be under construction.
May he lose the last page of every book.
May he find no pillow in the field.
May he find no field.
When faced with stone, may he see only stone.
Because he is narrow, may he hold
no one but himself.
There is power in forgiveness.
There is power in withholding it.
May he have the life he wished for me.
May every way be the dark way home.
By: Connie Zumpf
Featured art: The House on the Edge of the Village by Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen
Today I Googlemapped your address
hoping to catch a glimpse of you.
You weren’t in the picture,
but must have been home because
your truck sat in the driveway.
It all looked calm and still—I was glad
to see the grass had been mowed
and the weeds kept at bay. I rotated
the street view to the little park
just north of your house, the one
where we walked through withered leaves
last November. You weren’t there either.
By: Connie Zumpf
Featured art: The Siesta by Paul Gauguin
A woman steps off a bus or a train,
and something about her—
the way she holds her shoulders,
that straight-on walk—
swings my head around.
I am here, not over there. But maybe
there’s an occasional breach
where the skin of time thins,
and I glimpse unlived versions
of myself on a crowded street,
or through bookshelves in a library.
By: Karin Lin-Greenberg
Featured art: Girl by Egon Schiele
Ms. Gardner had not been in support of the plan to drag Roland Raccoon to every middle school science class, but the principal said they’d paid Margery Martin a flat fee for the school visit, and it would be a waste if every student at Grisham Middle School did not have the opportunity to visit with Roland. Ms. Gardner was certain the eighth graders in her sixth period class were too old to learn life lessons about kindness and compassion and giving everyone and everything a chance from a twelve-year-old blind raccoon that was also deaf in one ear. “But he loves to be sung to,” Margery Martin had informed the class, adding, “in his good ear.” She cradled Roland in her lap as if he were a baby.Read More
By: Jacqueline Berger
Featured art: Two Human Beings. The Lovely Ones by Edvard Munch
Not the zebra but the horse;
not buffalo but cows,
who traded the wild for the stable,
a stall lined in straw,
the house with wee gables and eaves,
their name over the door—
Biscuit, Coco. Snowball, Ranger.
Traded the hunt for the daily bowl and dish,
predators for owners, collar and leash;
agreed to be a tool—plow or cart
or confidant—to breed in captivity.
By: Lara Egger
Featured art: Form No. 5: Affection for Shapeless Things by Onchi Koshiro
My affection is a tabloid on sale at register three.
Citing moral reservations, the produce section
prefers not to get involved. Even the usually forgiving
cauliflower thinks my choices are questionable.
Have you noticed how some days the rush-hour light
makes the world look as if it’s snorkeling?
Stalled in the desperation of the strip-mall parking lot,
I tally my indiscretions, dog-eared romances
steadily expiring like glove-compartment coupons.
What would have been saved had I not agreed to love them?
By: Wes Civilz
Featured art: Murol in the Snow by Victor Charreton
« For three days, no coffee;
there were headaches »
« On the fourth day, I have coffee again »
« My frozen intelligence melts open,
sizzling with otherworldly light,
but two hours later a slight sadness
and a fading of the perfect coffee feeling »
« Then comes a desire for beer »
« Then a quick feeling that now
is a moment I could be bored,
if I was a person who got bored,
but I am not »
« It is, however, too early in the day for beer
so I do the dishes, and observe that soap bubbles
are sly jokes told by the goddess of spheres »
By: Patrick Mainelli
Featured art: Committed to Tradition (Uberlieferung verpflichtet) by Monika Baer
I’m not drinking anymore. It’s not a court-ordered thing or medical imperative. I didn’t crash a car or assault a neighbor or luridly graze my cousin’s leg at the reception of her wedding. No one has ever even told me to “take it easy there” as I poured three, four, five fingers of scotch over ice. As a drunk, I’m purely congenial. Maybe I’ve tipped over a plate of food here and there, fallen asleep on the toilet once or twice, sung in competing volume with the Midnight Mass choir, but who hasn’t? After a nightful of drinks I am more inclined to turn embarrassingly casual with my affections than to become anything close to mean or combative.
So this is a self-imposed drought. Denial might be the word.
The shit thing is it’s July. Beer’s favorite month. Because after mowing a lawn or trimming a tree there is no reward like the reward of beer, and because to swim in the lake, to rest tired and near-naked on the shore, and to not drink a beer feels an affront to God’s finer generosities—July demands a beer.Read More
By: Danusha Laméris
Featured art: Blue-tipped Dragonfly illustration from The Naturalist’s Miscellany by George Shaw
I wish you could see them: two thin blue needles
hovering above a bed of loosestrife and clover,
slivers of electricity, humming, almost invisible—
a glimmer of azure against the hillside. How
do their bodies hold the requisite organs?
Never mind the pull that makes them want
to wend their forms together this way. A tangle
of wires working themselves into union
this Sunday afternoon. Which, come to think of it,
By: Grant Clauser
Featured art: Sketch for Beach Scene by Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida
The town decided
that blowing up the body
was the best way to move it,
but the only explosives expert
was a groundskeeper
who’d planted mines in the war.
Still, people set up beach chairs
and umbrellas on the dune
to watch. When it blew,
slabs the size of picnic tables
crushed cars a quarter mile away.
By: Patrick Meeds
—For Amy Dickinson
Featured art: Jacques and Berthe Lipchitz by Amedeo Modigliani
You be a rubber bullet, and I’ll be fireworks
on TV. You dismantle your prejudices, and I’ll acquaint myself
with all the latest fads. You drag the river, I’ll manage expectations.
You shake your head and say yes, I’ll nod my head and say no.
I’ll call you Texas, and you can call me Nancy.
Practical and precise, we
will compile a list of things we will need. Warm clothes
and synchronized watches. Miniature technology and hand-drawn
maps. Invisible ink and antique stationery. The music of Django
Reinhardt and a list of all the patron saints.
By: Kerry James Evans
Featured art: Dryland Farming #24, Monegros County, Aragon, Spain by Edward Burtynsky
I spin like an adolescent bottle
pointing in empty directions,
the colors of the divided gym
spiraling like one of Mrs. Peters’
chemistry experiments, the blurry
girls staring, the boys huddled together
like cows in a thunderstorm.
A minute ago, I’d sensed the movement,
two Samanthas on their way to our side
with their rare request.