Three Poems – Scherezade Siobahn


“Where can I free myself of the homeland in my body?”
– Mahmoud Darwish

i am carrying your Palestine, fecund with
its rattletrap relics; its searchlight sanctuaries

the riverbed has desiccated to a bomb shelter
& children sleep like pebbles flicked into water

i watch the man return to the threadbare coffin
of the city & smoke shisha on the bulldozed rooftop

nothing but a trophy of soot; nothing but a nomad
fading in the hashish dark of an eastern twilight

the people lie still in dusk-blue tarpaulin of plastic
skies where death demands a visible practice

my dreams haunt the penumbra – barefoot
commanders from the eclipse’s somnambule

i trap the kaput grenades and fill them up
with your silvered ink; your attar of saffron
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The Inventory – This Is Link Stole Weather

A pair of young alpacas at the pre-Inca burial site of Sillustani, Peru.

We love Scott McClanahan’s taste in books.

We love Grant Maierhofer’s take on Love.

We love these poems by Mike Young.

We love this essay by Luke B. Goebel.

We love this poem by Kelly Schirmann.

We love these poems by Anaïs Duplan.

We love this writing by Ben Fama.

We love these poems by Nate Pritts.

We love these poems by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza.

We love this poem by Mark Baumer.

We love you!

Still Life #80





Three Poems – John F. Quinonez


Full From Grace and Hungry Still

I Confess –
It Was the Ravens.
That I had Been Lunching on.
And Were to Blame.
For My Billowing Frame.

Not The Whiskey.
Nor the Bagels. The Many Cheeses.
Not the Beer.
No. Lord, No.
– The Ravens.

I had Taken to Snatch them in the Morn.’
Where they too Indulged – Greedy in the Fields.
And, Now, Rustled ‘neath the Linens.
Squirmed ‘Gainst My Belt, Reluctant.
Cawing, Humbly from
Just Past my many Buttons.

For I had Heard that they Had Been Angels. Once.
& Burst!
Into a Million small, molting Bodies.

So – I Thought to Eat Them.

Hungry for Grace Was I!
Coughing in Protest from the Ground
I Still Take to Each Heavy. Step.
In Pursuit of Flight
And Wake to Run Where Love will Find me.
/Will Hear the Flutters.
/Will Rush to Aide.
And Then One Day.
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Ten Apologies To My Body


Pablo Picasso – Woman in a Red Armachair – 1934


(with thanks to jayy dodd for the prompt)

1. To my breasts: You were the offering, the slaughtered calf, the V-neck password, the proof the world needed that I was, in fact, a girl. With my mother’s history of breast cancer, I know that one day you might be cut away from me, and maybe that’s why I never took the time to really love you, not in the dark, by heart, with only my own hands to frame you. I’m sorry.

2. To my heart: I hated how your hunger drove me off the road every time. How the worst pain I’ve ever felt was in you, the splintering core, an ache so bright I could read by its glow and see my name signed after every shatter: yes, i did this, loved the wrong person again and again, saw my own wicked shining and watched the fear tear open, a bursting cloud of spiders, a knife made of fingernails, a hand muffling your siren as i lay in bed watching the noise spill under the doorframe. I’m sorry.

3. To my brain: When you said, “everyone hates you, you’ll never be enough for them, you’ll end up alone, you should die,” I should have known what a ventriloquist depression can be. Or is, because the truth is I still think all of that, only on good days I’m able to translate it to mean, “I’m sick, please take care of me.” When the anxiety crawls up my throat and drowns my language in its own flavor, I try to taste it for what it is. It isn’t your fault for catching the virus born into this body. Every day we survive together is its own kind of miracle.

4. To my nose: Jew beak. Witch snout. My mother says it’s anti-Semitic to say that I look Jewish, but then how does everyone know by looking at me? “Jews suck,” says the girl next to me in my 6th grade social studies class. She glares at my nose and all the kids laugh. I think the teacher will correct her, but instead he says, “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion,” and slams the textbook closed.
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Still Life #79


                                “Last Week’s Flowers”



Three Poems – William Evans



Three Parts (Black)
after Lauren Bullock
My father is one half Chippewa, which means his mother was Black and his father was invisible. You can see it in the way he begins to fade from view when the dusk settles in on the boy raised hills. First the nose vanishes, then the ears and most of his torso until only the night can identify his hands. But when the sun is up, his skin is a slow cackle of flame. Snap your fingers hard enough and the cheeks of my father will appear. Black boy sunspot. Loves the dirt. Fears being lowered into it. Hated his father. Called him iridescent. Called him mean little Indian. Black boy married a woman twice as dark as him.
Bird-chest son calls himself ¼ Native. Son brag about having Indian in his blood. Puffs out his chest like he done survived somethin’. Son can’t name a tribe. Son still thinks Bugs Bunny is funny. Son is 10 years old and rises with the god-rays. Son is still ¼ on first day of class. Still don’t know what genocide means. Ain’t nobody explain erasure. Still don’t know what his grandfather’s real name was. Son stole once and felt bad. Son had something taken from him and watched the teacher not care. Son is ¼ Native. Son gets called a nigger on the playground and forgets fractions. Son is ¼ I don’t remember. Son learns to walk on his phantom limbs. Son is so Black now. Son so Black the sun shrugs. Son so Black his father can’t forget him.
The not yet naked girl stares at my naked hue and asks which one of my parents is Native American. She says she can tell by how my red skin pushes through the shadows of the room but I always thought the red came from anger. From the blood I could never get out of my skin. From the rage. Or fire I haven’t figured out how to control yet. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: “Mouthy” – Emily Rose Kahn-Sheahan (Thoughtcrime Press)

Oral History: A review of Mouthy by Emily Rose Kahn-Sheahan
Thoughtcrime Press, 2016

reviewed by Donna Vorreyer



Emily Rose Kahn-Sheahan is a force onstage and her second book Mouthy (from Thoughtcrime Press) gives the reader both that performance fire, the poems sizzling with crackling imagery and voice, and the quietly woven spell of careful craft.


In the opening title poem, the speaker asserts:

“(you) want the pretty to lay quiet, stop
causing all this fuss , but I got
firecracker teeth popping.
They get me into the good
trouble worth all this voice.”

And a section called The Trouble is what we are led to. The book is organized in sections, and The Trouble is full of the body’s salt and sweat. This is a body that is in control of its desire even when it abandons itself to pleasure, and it does. This is a body that knows how to love itself, even though sometimes it forgets, as in “The Trouble With Resisting Temptation is It May Never Come Again: Fortune Cookie”

How dare I be this body
and forget how beautiful it ripples,
the art in bountiful meat, milk skin.
Curve drunk on my own hips,
I let him deserve me.

And what a treat to read poems about sex that aren’t apologetic or shaming or romanticized – these poems are carnal and funny and poignant and real. The repeated diction of words like hum and shiver buzzes through the book like a current, a live wire that, if touched, will both thrill and hurt us.
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THE LIGHT LET IN – On Being Sweet & Earnest: A Correspondence With Kelly Sundberg (Part 3)

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Stanley Kubrick – 1946


[Click the following links for parts 1 and 2 of the correspondence.]

“What makes a man, Mr. Lebowski?
Uh… I don’t know…sir.
Is it being prepared to do the right thing, whatever the cost? Isn’t that what makes a man?
Sure, that and a pair of testicles.
You’re joking, but perhaps you’re right.
Mind if I do a jay?
Scuse me?
Bunny Lebowski, she is the light of my life. Are you surprised at my tears, sir?
[inhaling the jay] Fuckin’ A.
Strong men also cry… Strong men also cry.”

-The Big Lebowski


Dear Kelly,

I’ve long had (ever since I stumbled across an exposé in a 1995 Esquire) what is likely an abnormal fascination with prison. It’s not quite an obsession, but at times it has been pretty close to one. What draws me to it is the unfathomable horror of it all — the misery, the boredom, the myriad indignities, the violence. Particularly in that final year or two of my drinking freefall, I read and watched everything I could find about prison— movies, tv shows, articles, documentaries, books. I didn’t consciously think about why beyond a general curiosity, but in hindsight, I think there were a few reasons fueling it. One, I was giving myself some perspective on my own misery, delving into a far worse situation to remind myself of how good I had it compared to how much further down I could go. It wasn’t the first time I had tried this. Years before, during a time of awful, sickening heartbreak, mixed with being hospitalized (yet again!) for Crohn’s disease, I had read and watched anything I could about the Vietnam War. I guess I was trying to figure out how to grit my teeth and bear it — to “Shut up and take the pain!” as Sgt. Barnes yells at the screaming wounded soldier in Platoon — partly so that he won’t betray their position to the enemy, but also out of the cold cruelty of a man whose soul had shriveled and hardened under the relentless brutality of war.

I think the other unconscious reason for my prison fixation back then was that I was preparing myself for the (highly unlikely) possibility that I might end up there. It was an absurd fear, as I wasn’t doing close to anything that would put me there. I never sold drugs, never carried more than a few grams of weed, never stole anything worthy of a felony, never forged any prescriptions, or any of that. At the very most I was perpetrating very low-level crimes, stealing a few dollars or a few pills here and there, whatever could get me through a few hours or days. (For the record, I have since made full amends for these acts.) I didn’t have a car, so I rarely drove, but I suppose under certain circumstances I could have driven drunk and killed someone, which certainly would have earned me a stint behind bars. Fortunately, gratitude to all the celestial powers that be or may be, I am terribly, terribly lucky that that never happened. But mine was the irrational fear of a man not in control of his life, a man so full of chaos and self-loathing that he believed his fate could easily be, for no realistic reason at all, to live out his days in the worst place imaginable.
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Two Poems – Emily Griffin


Instantly cold was the way for the wall all cracked and creased. And when the time arrives the time the time wrapped up. Wraps up like wasps do all covered in skeleton flowers. The king saunters the way a king saunters moves slow for the time and the when. With no bed frame just mattress on wool floor cold seeps night of soured lips.

The snow wasn’t clean but still fit for a grin on a daybreak. Hands so cold when a heart so warm so beating so bleating in a field like a virus. What does the chewed up nickel taste of, the brain tastes of metal and the saliva pools on the pillow. When the virus runs cold what then.

Pining after plums sweet summertime plums the bottles he sways mostly empty hold careful to the rail with my muddy nails. Hold careful careful of the teeth waiting around the corners. The teeth waiting. The teeth. Waiting for the sun, when the glasses might shimmer. But the sun cracked up. Watch for it. Watch for the change. Watch for the cracks in skin, in the whole hurt skin. The whole everyone, running. The chalk outlines aren’t up for the taking, the drafting the moving.
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