Nothing Stays Buried, Hector Flores

By Andrew Michael Roberts

Featured Art: Daedalus and Icarus by Giulio Romano

Not your sad little sister nor the boy of your youth some doors down who shot himself twice. Not even dirt. It churns for years and surfaces as something alive. We name it old names we know by their taste on our tongues. Humus and bone, a song in the blood. Hector, we’re all descendants of conquistadors and graveyards. If you were thrown a sword, you’d know how to hold it. Know which tombstones to walk behind, whistling. Which mountain to climb and when to take flight. How heavy your tired arms. Hector, look down on us tenderly before crossing over and descending into the desert. Remember us as the sand swallows and sings you. Before the sun takes you, cast your winged shadow across it. We are the grains in your grave. We are buried there with you.

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There Was a War

By Andrew Michael Roberts

Featured Art: I Saw it, plate 44 from The Disasters of War by Francisco de Goya

and it wasn’t ours because we didn’t believe in it, but they shot at us anyway because we stood somewhere in the middle of them killing each other. What could we do but lie down and wait? We lay a long time, thinking, the grass like trees shooting into the sky. Bullets like birds shooting across it. Too many hours of sun in our eyes. We were thinking: if we had guns we’d use them to get the hell out of the middle of this war.

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Dunes

By Mark Cox

Featured Art: Sand Dunes, Harlech, North Wales by George Elbert Burr

Despite the curvatures adapted each to the other,
The slackening skin that in sleep feels lost without that other’s;
Despite the slatted fencing that marks their yard from others’,
And the offspring at play within, their testament to others;
Despite all the others they have embraced and refused;
Despite all otherness between them
They’ve acknowledged and recused;
They can no longer in mystery come to each other,
With the quickening and total surrender to another
That both empties each and fills the other.
And so they go on, because each goes on, despite the other:
To each their own wind-ironed waters,
To each their own bruised sky and horizon,
Their own shames, their own redemptions,
Awakening to each night’s newly shifted sloping,
Each day by unremitting day’s abiding,
Without need for another day or lover,
They endure side by side, in their time, no other.

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In which I first discovered

By Emily Pérez

Featured Art: Woman Writing by Zabitz

Quite suddenly, at least it seems in retrospect
Though I still seek a complete

My relationship to my past
It was as if my past had taken

Without warning, understand,
Had slipped in such a way that it uncovered

No, that’s not right, for it suggests a lack of deliberate
It wasn’t that I didn’t try

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Miss Peach Considers #8: Reproduce

By Catie Rosemurgy

Featured Art: Aurora Borealis by Frederic Edwin Church

A paperweight of sorts.
A shiny genetic clip for the stack of notes she’s become
on carbon dating, lozenges, and “getting over it.”

On a park bench she could lean over
to the other stunned, unmade-up mothers
who stare like cruelly unfinished paintings.
She could say, we are the giant price tags
that once hung off them.

A penny to toss in the well.
Mindlessness held together by bones.
Something that happened once in the distance,
like a war or an arctic expedition.

A list of ways she would try not to feel about a son or a daughter.
A list of choking hazards and a list
of times she will have peeled back the curtain
for him or her by age seven.
A list of golf courses and shades of blue.

Her penmanship begins to pile up and look like sticks,
like an attempt at a tiny fire left on a stone.

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Miss Peach Considers the Human Condition

By Catie Rosemurgy

Featured Art: A Bouquet of Flowers by Clara Peters

It’s OK to feel important.

The swelling between our legs
indicates we are the rarest of flowers.

We bloom in only the most
idiosyncratic conditions: rubber,

misery, great shoes. The other day

I realized that we can’t spit
without hitting grass or something else

that implies the necessity
of our experience, of our greatness.

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The Disappeared

By Blake Butler

Featured Art: The Sick Child I by Edvard Munch

The year they tested us for scoliosis, I took my shirt off in front of the whole gym. Even the cheerleaders saw my bruises. I’d been scratching in my sleep. There were bugs coming in through cracks we couldn’t find. There was something on the air. Noises from the attic. My skin was getting pale.

I was the first.

The several gym coaches, with their reflective scalps and high-cut shorts, crowded around me blowing whistles. They made me keep my shirt up over my head while they stood around and poked and pondered. Foul play was suspected. They sent directly for my father. They made him stand in the middle of the gym in front of everyone and shoot free-throws to prove he was a man. I didn’t have to see to know. I heard the dribble and the inhale. He couldn’t even hit the rim. The police showed up and bent him over and led him by his face out to their car. You could hear him screaming in the lobby. He sounded like a woman.

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Unearthing the Sky

By Claire Bateman

Featured Art: Masury Versus Sky by Arnold Wiltz 

It was filthy, of course,
with red clay streaks & embedded chips of loam,
as well as boulder-scored, chipped,
& even fractured in places,
a great big glorious suffering thing
further damaged
by the very means of its rescue,
the violence of pulleys & clamps.
Areas that had been dredged from under water
were warped & bowed
where detonation had been necessary
to dislodge them.

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Intellectual Property

By Claire Bateman

Featured Art: Rank Badge with Peacock by unknown

The day the trucks began arriving
with the materials for my Big Idea,
it’s not that I wasn’t delighted,
rare as it is to behold your very own
Big Idea beginning to take shape
in your back yard—
& it’s not that I wasn’t grateful
for that segment on “All Things Considered,”
for the honorary doctorate from Stanford,
& for the offers from think tanks
both progressive & neocon—
but all the same,
I couldn’t help feeling uneasy;
I couldn’t stop wondering
where everything was coming from:
the bricks, the stones, the mortar,
the patio, the entertainment systems, the linoleum,
the polished oak banisters, the cupolas, the flying buttresses,
the peacocks, the gargoyles, the moat,
the sheet lightning, ball lightning, forked lightning,
the sunken grottos, the rainforest, the cascades,
the mezzo-sopranos, the Visigoths, & the parking garage.

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April 1: Dropping & Carrying

By Claire Bateman

Featured Art: Spring Blossoms by Winslow Homer 

The second-graders just don’t get it,
those 10s diving invisibly
into the blank space between
the columns, only to bob up
at the very top, one line over,
displacing each other
westwardly in wave reaction,
but on the children’s smudged pages,
disappearing altogether, or showing up
in the wrong place.
One child has found his way
to the wrong conference room,
& sits there alone;
I send a child to find him,
who also doesn’t return.
This morning, my grocery bag ripped
bottom to side, eggs cracked
& oozing in their styrofoam nests,
apples careening around the parking lot
like gleeful winos.
In spring, you can’t hold on
to anything.
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He and I

By Natania Rosenfeld

Featured Art: The Couple by Charles-Edouard de Beaumont

He: patient, methodical, can spend hours at the computer figuring something out.

I: Impatient, messy, shout, “It’s broken! I broke it! Come fix it!”

“Hang on, Griselda!” he says to me. Or: “Keep your hair on!”

/

I say, “You have no sense of time. You’re always running late.” It isn’t true.

He says, when I really overdo it, “You stupid woman!” I start laughing, admiring him for saying it just like that.

I’m a curser, full of epithets when angry. Cruel, even abusive. I hate this about myself.

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Hampstead Heath: A Sketch

By Natania Rosenfeld

Featured Art: Hampstead Heath, London by Bertha E. Jaques

Recovering from a stomach flu like a hurricane, I board a double-decker bus for Hampstead Heath. I want fresh air, and to see other people enjoying themselves. My man and I hold hands, and I sit very still.

On a twisting street somewhere between Bloomsbury and Hampstead, I look out and see a woman leaning from an upstairs window, slightly above my eye level. A girl, really, in bright pink pjamas, the top a camisole edged in black lace. A cross hangs from her neck. Shall I add a cigarette to the description? There might well have been one.

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Election Day

By David Gullette

Featured Art: An Election Ball by George Cruikshank

What dragged me out of sleep was a nightmare about chaos:
I was trapped in rising water, and some idiot had lost the key
that would free the hatch or gridwork, the woven net of chains
in which I roared like a beached sea creature, but

I groped in the ship’s belly only to find
mis-mitred joints, screws without threads, seams oozing caulk,
and behind the last partition a cabal of mutinous carpenters
pissed at me for discovering flaws that were after all

clearly within the province of their fallen craft,
spelled out in terms precise on a typed bid
I somehow couldn’t find, rummage as I might
in Silver’s seachest, and even in the light of the real day,

the crows scattered off-key-cawing as I pushed out the door:
they knew my mind was unforgiving hornets,
they could smell a man disorder had enraged
to a cluster of snarling buckshot,

and the people of the city shrank back
as I strode toward the Capitol, chanting
a mantra vengeful and Sicilian, sixguns and grenades
clanking against my polished chainmail vest.

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What It Feels Like to Be This Tall

By Dobby Gibson

Featured Art: Giraffe by Max Rosenthal 

Not one of my costumes is believable.
I’m constantly away on business.
The morning, chiropractic, saddles me
beneath its colossal gravity.
In search of a breath, kneeling at the shallows,
the minnows scatter.
Wind farms hum atop the prairie.
Wilt Chamberlain’s bones groan from their earthen locker.
In my most private thoughts,
radio signals from distant lands
argue invisibly over static,
and like an ice-cream headache,
the only thing worse than feeling this way
is not having a reason to feel this way,
hoping against hope, against nature,
versus self—I miss you all so much. Send money!
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Why I’m Afraid of Heaven

By Dobby Gibson

Featured Art: (Illustration for Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám) The Throne of Saturn by Elihu Vedder 

If you stand on Venus,
where the atmospheric haze
is so thick that it bends light,
it theoretically would be possible
to stare at the back of your own head.
Which would mean you’d never
again have the pleasure
of helping a beautiful woman
fasten the clasp on her necklace.
On Jupiter, a beautiful woman
would weigh 400 pounds,
but you would, too,
and you’d be far more worried
about suffocating to death
on poisonous gas.
We’ve all desired what we can’t find here.
We’ve all left our gum beneath the seat.
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Wrong Time for Caution

By Eric Freeze

Featured Art: (Autumn Mountain Landscape) by unknown

The gas station where I work is a 7-11 that sells Slurpees even in the middle of January, which, if you don’t know Crowsnest, can be cold, sixty below Celsius with a wind chill. We have customers all day, and we’re open twenty-four hours, and the night till carries only fifty dollars as a policy, although I’ve never had occasion to suspect we needed caution much. Past midnight, the only people passing through are truckers and skiers, and sometimes Benny the Indian comes in for a plug of Chattanooga Chew. Benny goes to the Mormon church in town because they will pay his rent if he says he’ll stop smoking. He hangs around the pop machine and fills a small Gulp with ice that he sucks on with his mouth open until we tell him to find some money or get out.

Put Crowsnest Pass anywhere urban, Vancouver or Toronto, or even Calgary, for that matter, and what you have is a four-lane road, a freeway, but without the traffic. Here it’s just a road for hikers or skiers or loggers to make their way up into the mountains. My station is past Frank Slide, near Blairmore, just after the limestone boulders that cover the valley, at the mouth of the Pass. I work regular hours during the winter and then take off time during the summer to volunteer at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, where I tell folks, kids or senior citizens mostly, about when Turtle Mountain shed its limestone face and crushed the min- ing community of Frank below. In the winter, the centre is closed, and the boulders are covered with snow, and the valley looks like a huge, lumpy blanket. Only on the side of the road where the plow trucks spray salt as they pass can you see the boulders underneath.

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104

By Rodney Jones

Featured Art: White Lines by Irene Rice Pereira 

I studied philosophy at the dream university.
Nietzsche, Kant, the less algebraic Whitehead.
Honors the first year, but the second began badly.
The room was missing when I went to the first class.
Each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,
I would go and find 103 and then 105.
When I asked, advisement insisted the room was there.
When I phoned the professor’s house,
she was on sabbatical in another country.
This is how I learned it was an independent study.
I read Tolstoy’s Christian writing and Bertrand Russell.
After that, both church and philosophy went to hell.
Just as well, I thought finally, to think without direction—
Better than the class before, when I was the only one naked.

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Feelings, by Ashley Higgins

By Rodney Jones

Featured Art: Still Life with Peaches and Grapes by Auguste Renoir

For every true emotion there is an objective
correlative; a rainy day, for instance,
might mean a person feels a little gloomy.
Or the convertible that carries the Peach Queen
from the parking lot of Kroger West
to the front lawn of the junior high school
could suggest a person’s innermost feelings
about how the war goes on right in front of her
every night on CNN and all the other channels
and no one says what a dumb war it is,
the way no one comes right out and says
that the convertible girl became the peach queen
because she slept with one of the judges, Roy,
who maybe happens to be the ex-boyfriend
of the person writing the poem. I mean
many poems do not come right out and say
the feeling. They just give you the things.
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Truce

By Jerry Williams

Featured Art: Rocky Seashore by Louis M. Eilshemius

On Thanksgiving morning, I gulp down triplicate
diet pills so I don’t have to eat.
Unafflicted with an invitation anywhere, the gym closed,
I sit on a bench facing Bristol Harbor.
This is Rhode Island and that’s ocean water.
Maybe I should drive up to the State House
with the Quakers and act useful,
but I stick to this cracked white bench and think of women
in coffee shops writing in leather-bound journals,
cups of adult herbal tea at the ready,
their calm separateness foreboding as boiling oil.
I’m over-and-done-with, a set of monkey bones in outer space.
I can’t even take pleasure
in the perpetuity of shimmering marina,
bright orange buoys, and the eccentricity of sailboats
still anchored out of season, naked masts too proud to move.
I look straight through the occasional jogger or cyclist
preemptively working off an engorgement.
Mute seagulls plunge along the jagged shore,
gloating on the wing and hunting for scraps, ancillary to nothing.

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Postcards

By Kelly Luce

Featured art by Joanna Kosinska

The in-flight magazine said Bucharest was notable for graffiti. I suppose they had to pick something. And guess what, today I passed a brick wall that says “I FUCKED YOUR GIRLFRIEND.”

The city is un-beautiful, so I picked a postcard of a place I’ll never go that’s prettier. It’s still in Romania, though, so it counts.

/

This is the orchestra building. Looks like a prison, doesn’t it? At the show last night they did one called “Scherzo Fantastique,by a composer named Suk. Poor guy. He’s actually pretty good!

Wisdom: no matter who they are or where they come from, people love a good house of mirrors.

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