Is Sullivan

And Now to Earthworm

Me? Earthworm. I point to myself with the boneless arm that is my body.  
I am bound to silence, save my weekly weather forecast.
And now I am at work. And I straighten my tie and look.
I look into the camera just before it begins to roll. And I blink my eyes.
Now I broadcast, pink from the palm of a wrinkled hand.
It has rained. I know this because I am out of earth.
Please do not return me to soil just yet, for I am at work.

It might rain again.

And now, I have said all I can say regarding the weather.
And I return to earth in silence.

 

Is Sullivan lives in Portland, OR. They are on Twitter @phglem.

Simon Kim

MORE PANCAKES

You said my name quietly

after I kicked over a newspaper stand

the air was wet & not enough

I woke up today & the sky was gray

solid & blank like another ceiling

another poem that is & isn't about you

parents & what we must accept from them

violence the necessary unceasing present

the insistent receding of everything

bats flutter out across the evening

but we can't hear them

little fish come up for morsels

a bundle of prairie weeds

an unknown monarch on a coin

oil of oregano burning the throat

a barn collapsing over many winters

pizza boxes are not recyclable

hellhounds lurk sniffing the breeze

wet towels on the bathroom floor

in korean there is only one word

for the colors blue & green

your eyes are blue but you eat a lot of vegetables

I told the uber driver that I have so much anger

the lake was like a thoughtfully folded napkin

cranes in the sky construct condos

a friend told me when they broke up

her boyfriend said that he wanted to murder his father

I said I know exactly how he feels

after work I cried about what a terrible feeling

that is to be able to have with someone

 

Simon Kim lives in Chicago with his cat, Prince. He also tweets @walcum.

Becca Yenser

TODAY I WAS IN A MOVIE

Today I was in a movie and wasn’t properly dressed for it. It was one of those movies that’s shot in a bad neighborhood, in someone’s crappy side yard. The chair I sat on had a Band-Aid stuck to it.

But that wasn’t the bad part. It was like everything had been purposely aged or mildewed or deformed, but in actuality, that was just the natural progression of things. The dog had three legs. The piano—inside—was next to a stained futon, and the sheet music was crispy.

The bad part was that I wanted to fuck the cameraman. I was supposed to be a shoulder, but every time he talked I wanted to turn, to see the lip of his cap, his fat lips, him deaf and beyond us in another world.

He continued to shoot my shoulder, my arm, and maybe my left hand. I think the guy I was staged to interview was intimidated by my breasts. They are only 36B.

After the shoot I went home with the cameraman. We took a nap under too many blankets. He had a fever and I stroked the back of his head. I had to go, to take my dog out. On the bike ride home, a few guys whistled at me. My dress was too low and my breasts were too big. It was getting dark—I didn’t know I was gonna be in a movie.

 

Becca Yenser is the author of TOO HIGH AND TOO BLUE IN NEW MEXICO (poetry, forthcoming, Dancing Girl Press). Her prose and poems appear in: Dostoyevsky Wannabe, The Nervous Breakdown, CHEAP POP, Paper Darts, Metazen, 1001 Editors, Fanzine, Eclectica Magazine, decomP, HOOT, Entropy, and Filter Literary Journal. She is a first-year MFA candidate in Fiction at Wichita State University, where she is an editor for Mikrokosmos Journal. You can read new writing at https://www.inknode.com/beccayenser.

A.M. O'Malley

WON’T HURT TO SIT IN THE TRUCK A WHILE

I’ve been trying to pretend that the way you said, what’s up?
like a gauntlet thrown in the dirt, is just a necessary part of living.

You stood in the driveway with snow on your sleeves and you said, you’re all I’ve got,
I ground the key in the ignition and drove home on an icy road.

That was the last time you wanted me to be close.
You knew that I would have followed you into traffic like a dog.

You have become something else and now I’m all that’s left
because I’m careful I’ve always been more careful than you.

These are hard lessons like ruinous dams, contaminated rivers, blood on hot tar.

 

A.M. O'Malley is the author of Expecting Something Else on University of Hell Press. She currently resides in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Find her at www.amomalley.com

Jessie Janeshek

Bombshell/Teensploitation

I didn’t move today                               felt the temptation
             felt movie pressure                                like I should conjure engines.
I didn’t know which candle                   pink or white bullshit
             to help the jewel thief’s daughter
solve the crime.

I needed a night book                a day book                  a maze
             my party            my problem
brass lips           black confetti                the majorette dress
              Clorox and soap and dense days anointed with flame.
I sent the past some evidence
              her curls bleached so carefully
like a Marilyn zombie.                                 I sent the past some evidence
             you said we want to see the wig
                           you burned before the murder
             we want to see the cloche hat blood soaked in your distance.
We want to conjure             your ghost sans religion
               want to truss you up                           like a dead James Dean—


I’d died before that reel my spooky action
             her confession.        She became a better actress
at a distance                   the new wave.

I could come at any time.            I could cry the dog is old.
            He lost his teeth.                          I played three women in the movie
                                              or one man on TV.
I could use the whip ride            to hook you back in time
            starlet theosophy                         shove you to your knees.
You could sit on my grave          I could stick out my hand…



Jessie Janeshek's second full-length book of poems is The Shaky Phase (Stalking Horse Press, 2017). Her chapbooks are Spanish Donkey/Pear of Anguish (Grey Book Press, 2016), Rah-Rah Nostalgia (dancing girl press, 2016), Hardscape (Reality Beach, forthcoming), Supernoir (Grey Book Press, 2017), and Auto-Harlow (Shirt Pocket Press, forthcoming). Invisible Mink (Iris Press, 2010) is her first full-length collection. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and an M.F.A. from Emerson College. You can read more of her poetry at jessiejaneshek.net.

Russell Jaffe

CIVIL COPING MECHANISM FOR WHEN YOU REALIZE

Everything is shrouded in mystery
And what happened next you would not believe.

Sometimes you
Ask for help
On Facebook.
Or want to.

Everything must be a commodity.
Feel your fingers pulling down across your face.
See the acrylic on the canvas.
Everything must be a commodity.

Like a bullet into the body, and then a cyst around the bullet,
Facebook has become a part of the consciousness. Not another world
, But an oft-untapped part actualized.
Like a finger into the pre-industrial wound to fetch that bullet

, Things really were simpler. There was a wilder time undocumented.
It was easier to be, if you were privileged. Maybe the best people can do is
The assembly line.
Convenience, the enemy of joy. Judgment, the unmoving stone peopling the flow, getting
Mossy.
Entertainment, the hamster wheel of complacency. And how we train it.

When you do things right,
Everything blows up at once
, Exactly like when everything
Goes wrong.

 

Russell Jaffe is the editor of TL;DR magazine, teaches at Loyola University in Chicago and Fusion Academy in Oak Brook, and stars in literary study guides for Course Hero. He is the author of the poetry collections This Super Doom I Aver (Poets Democracy, '12), INTROVERT//EXTROVERT (Punk Hostage Press, '14), LA CROIX WATER (Damask, '16), and Civil Coping Mechanisms (Civil Coping Mechanisms, '17). Russell Jaffe: a zone radio. 
 

Arielle Tipa

Rabbit's Foot

It's 8:59am and I stir my coffee counterclockwise for good luck. I wait until 9am to take my first sip and I finally know what sequence is. I decide to go to the DMV since I can't afford a movie ticket at the moment.

A woman at the DMV is begging Doctor Blank to motivate her relapse. The sight of her orange bonnet makes me itch and everyone smells like a federal holiday. A child stares at me while I make constellations with my mosquito bites. Everyone is waiting for their number and so it feels like a deli counter with televisions. The television programs advise us to call 1-800-???-???? in case one doesn't have their insurance card during a nationwide catastrophe. VHS footage of an American flag comforts us during this stressful time. 

I walk outside to check the contents of my purse and a woman stands next to me. She lights a cigarette and licks her lips like a file clerk and I think she knows I'm looking at her.

"Smoking is very acceptable in China", she says. Her Yorkshire terrier pops out of her straw tote bag and sneezes. I bless the dog as a courtesy and the woman rolls her eyes.

Now I can say I got sun poisoning in October.

I go to the Trader Joe's next door and I taste licorice soda for the first time and I'm having a reality crisis. Someone drops a coin next to me and says I should pick it up because I'm young and they're paying with a senior discount card and non applicable coupons. I oblige and offer them a licorice soda.

A patron reads the news aloud from her phone: Mass home invasions across the state. Major accident on the expressway. Kylie's pregnant. The opioid epidemic. I leave the store and I keep teeth in my pocket for a safe drive home. 

 

Arielle Tipa is a writer and editor who lives near a haunted lake in New York. Her work has been featured in (b)OINKAlien Mouth, and thread, among others. She currently runs Occulum, a journal of the unabashed and unorthodox. 

Adam Tedesco

Headspace

Render presence to an absolute
chromatography of maps

A balanced subtraction
of signified and fire

Here’s the shape of the thing
in how what we are reappears
painting agency
thinner jar untopped
loosely held in greased hand
trembling purple
beneath the skin
the curve of earth’s depressions

The desire to remember
a name
is no less desire
than cancer
tongue
or meat sauce

A type of love that slowly
takes the breath
Leaves a body hollow
rounded, soft and burning

 

Adam Tedesco is a founding editor of REALITY BEACH, a journal of new poetics. He conducts interviews and analyzes dreams for Drunk In A Midnight Choir. His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Entropy, Gramma Daily, Funhouse, Fanzine, Fence, Cosmonauts Avenue, Hobart, Powder Keg, and elsewhere. He is the author of several chapbooks, most recently HEART SUTRA, and ABLAZA (Lithic Press).

Kirby Knowlton

millennial pink

the bay window of my lower back
keeps me diligent and afraid
i’m tired of men comparing my body
to pastries they’ve sworn off
but mostly i’m tired of crop tops
there’s a new name for an old color
and it keeps me up at night obsessive
i spend money i don’t have on pink
i’m trying to build a nest so pretty
that no one would dare disturb it
in school i learned a mother goose
is hardwired to protect her eggs
if one rolls away she makes a croquet
of her neck and brings it back home
she has no choice it’s in her blood
if you place any oblong thing near her
any soda can or hourglass or tennis shoe
she necks it back just the same
there is beauty and there is cruelty
and there’s what we leave behind
so that another might use it

 

Kirby Knowlton is from the south. You can follow her on twitter at @KirbyKnowlton.

Sara Sutter

I Tried to Make You Fall in Love with My Avatar


It's painful, how he watches

her mouth. His pineapple slice

eyes. Everyone gathers

at the stream, stars bright

against the sky. Idol, ideal, idle, so

lovely,— she needs it out 

of her, as though pushing out is 

feeling. Gray balcony

where communist Yugoslavia 

tobacco factory workers lived. 

Romantic/authoritarian

narrative—idea of lineage, but mostly

sorrow burrowed in her 

hips. Pink fish

growing fewer in the brown

river. A rosy film. Gives her 

love to the Great Internet 

Hunt, its infinite interference 

patterns and potential 

mates. Endings make

for such glorious suffering. 

So it's like that. Can't decide

when it flies or hatches, all 

dividends of a circle, #9. Theory 

that it should be 

easy, but all theories feel difficult, like

knowing someone = harder 

than kissing them. When we 

start at once, minutes fall 

into new shadows.

 

Sara Sutter is a poet and professor in Portland, Oregon.

Ben Kessler

In the Baleen

The gastropods find ways
to amuse themselves

They gather around
the table and take turns
engaging in a little Mumblety-Peg
Converse on how
they have only now
acquired a taste
for orange juice with pulp
The littlest ones play
cops and robbers

All of this is possible
until the great beast sucks them in

 

Ben Kessler lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. He is an MFA student studying fiction at Portland State University.

Charlie Moses

Consolation

            I laid in bed staring at the shadows on my ceiling—distorted and shifting, my arm burning and swollen with an infection, but I was feeling okay. I was thinking about how nice it would be to share my bed with another and also thinking about how nice it was to get to sprawl out alone—my arms and legs extended to the corners of the mattress. And I felt those hot waves of anxiety that make my cheeks flush and I felt there was something wrong with my body. Surely there must be something really, truly wrong. Surely I will lose this limb. Surely I will not wake up tomorrow. I wanted to come to terms with the idea of my death. I’d come to terms with it before. I was going to die, if not tonight at some point, and that was fine. Death is good. Death is not losing the fight. Living is not a fight we’re winning. These shadows on the ceiling rose and fell as my mind danced. When I was young, while running wildly through the woods, I came up on a gully and saw a stark metal structure standing five-feet tall. The ground was covered in crisp leaves and I delighted in their crunching below my feet as I walked closer. The structure was square shaped and the hollow bars that stretched from side to side were covered in rust. It looked like it once stood in a schoolyard and below the corrosion I could see its blue and yellow paint. I’d found it. It was mine. A treasure. A relic from the forest. And I rolled it through the woods and down the trail to my house. It made heavy thudding sounds against the floor as it toppled over and over again. And my legs began to hurt. Began to burn. Began to sting! An excruciating sting!! And when I looked down wasps were flying out of the ground and stinging and biting my legs. It was an entire hive of them. I didn’t scream or yell. I was in shock and I sprinted the rest of the way and I couldn’t feel anything. I don’t remember finding my mom. I remember she was there and I remember she sat me in her lap and put toothpaste on the stings and bites. I remember how wonderful it was to get to sit in my mom’s lap but I don’t remember the pain.
            My arm pulsed and burned. I took four ibuprofen and got up to make myself a pot of tea and while the electric kettle warmed up I sat down at the kitchen table and I wrote about all of the people I loved who’d gone away. I wrote to them and for them and for myself. I stared out the nighttime window at the red flashing lights of the cell towers on the west hills. I’d driven up to those before. I stared at the yellow and white flickering lights of the houses balancing on the side of the mountain’s face. What a brave place to build a home. The kettle clicked. I got up and poured the water over lose chamomile in a copper pot. The flowers swam in a circle together. Three broke loose to the center when the water stopped pouring. I put the lid on and reached up into the cupboard for my favorite mug. My left arm extended—heels coming off the ground. It’s the mug my roommate left behind when she moved out—dark teal, the same color as the keys on my typewriter. I didn’t wait for the tea to steep. I filled the mug and cupped it in my hands. I drink hot things when it’s hot outside. I run hot. I like cold showers. I produce steam. I often look like I’m wearing blush. My hands are usually shaking. I cannot wink my left eye—only my right. My left eye twitches. I put my glasses on. I don’t like to wear them, but lately I have to when I write. My right arm pulses, but does not burn. The ibuprofen is helping. My writing is helping.
            My mom held me in her lap and ran her fingers through my hair. She didn’t say anything about my crying. She wasn’t upset by it. It felt right to cry. I wasn’t embarrassed. Why can’t I cry now? Why can’t I cry for this pain? Why can’t I cry for my friend? It feels right to cry now. My body wont let me. It’s trying to protect me. I tell people I’m okay. I’m trying to protect them. Though maybe it’s true. Maybe I’m okay. I’m trying to protect myself. At some point I left my mom’s lap or she had to go. I remember my legs in an oatmeal bath—staring at my appendages. Or was that chicken pox? I remember it looked like chicken pox—fiery red dots covering my limbs. I didn’t go to the hospital then. I didn’t need to. I was going to live forever.
            I pour myself more tea. I hope the antibiotics take. I wonder if Judy’s family will have a funeral for her. Her daughters said they didn’t want to. The hospital wouldn’t take her body out of her house because it was heavier than reported six weeks ago. I sat in the house with her daughters that afternoon. They’d found another service to take her body away. Her bed was in the front room and her imprint was still there. I tried to eat lunch and have conversations. I drove home alone and cried on my floor. I begged her ghost to sit with me when I dreamed. It hasn’t yet. My right arm pulsed. My pot of tea was almost gone and I felt I could lie down again. My mind was steadier. The pain was duller. The lines in my curtains projected their shadows onto the wall—limbs reaching out together for nothing in particular. Could I still reach if I only had one arm? Maybe I don’t need to reach at all anymore. I think I can sleep now.
            Some nights my mom would work late at the church and my siblings and I would be there with her. We’d run through the pews, eat communion hosts freely, and splash each other with holy water. We’d light too many prayer candles and make up prayers for everyone we knew. My first kiss was downstairs in Tony Rinella Hall where we’d have coffee and donuts after 10:30am Mass on Sundays. All of the lights were off and his name was Brendan Hagerty and we always used first and last names then and we had no idea what we were doing and after our lips touched we ran away from each other and I hid behind the statues of saints. Saint Francis was my favorite. I dreamt of him recently—I was being chased by a horse through the woods. I could hear its hooves getting closer. My lungs tightened up and I darted between tree trunks and over logs until I fell. I expected to be trampled but it didn’t come. I rolled onto my back and saw thousands of spiders floating down from the sky. They shielded me in their webs as the horse trotted slowly past. The statue’s shadows often played tricks on my anxiety. The bathrooms had a green hue and smelled like powdered soap. For a long time I could fit between the bars of the gate that divided the classrooms from the rest of the church. I went to daycare in those classrooms when I was three and four years old. They fed us dry Cheerios for snack and I would escape before nap time and slip between the bars of the gate to hide in my mom’s office underneath her desk. It’s my first recollection of separation anxiety. I thought she wouldn’t come back for me. I thought she didn’t want to. And I always cried when she did because it was such a relief. On the days I couldn’t escape I kept myself occupied writing stories and drawing pictures. On the days I could escape I’d get in trouble but I didn’t care. The water in the church always tasted like metal but I didn’t care about that either. At the time I liked praying to God. It felt similar to making a Christmas list. Gloria Steinem says if your God looks like the ruling class you know youre fucked. I knew that was the case when I was 16. By that time I was getting paid to lead Mass in song as a cantor which made it trickier to leave the church. My mom working there and my dad playing drums in the church band also made it trickier to leave the church so I did things like staying seated instead of going up for communion and not saying the prayers with everyone else. I would sing and leave. I don’t think anyone noticed but I think I wanted them to. I still enjoy the lilies in the prayer garden during the Paschal Triduum and the candlelight Mass for Easter Vigil. They’re the sad songs of the Catholic album and I love sad songs. The candles come with a little paper donut to place above your hands so the wax doesn’t burn you. I always played with the wax and let it drip on my hands anyway. I still do.



Charlie Moses is a writer, performer, and visual artist from Portland where she owns and operates Kenilworth Coffeehouse. She has published creative nonfiction work in Knee-Jerk Magazine and Map Literary. Her upcoming collaborative album Feels Duo will be available mid August of 2017.

Jon Boisvert

STRANGE MONKS (2)

They put four hooks in your back
& lift you
Pulleys feathers incense

Over those with smaller hearts
Clutching white tape & gauze
For the blood

But no blood ever comes
There's no blood inside you
You're not even here

You are the secret
Dispersing in the air
The wet roots tell me

Wait for her
Wait for your next body
Weird & asparagus-like

To fail again to be
Broken enough for love
As water breaks from air

I want to drink I say
But my mouth is gone
I want to see but my eyes

 

Jon Boisvert was born in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, and now lives in Oregon. He studied poetry at Oregon State University and the Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland. You can sometimes see new writing and art at www.jonboisvert.com. His first book, BORN, will be published in September.

Darla Mottram

Why Arms if Not for Reaching

Someone is barbecuing & the smell gets everywhere.
Smoke carries: we are hungry
for flesh we don’t have.
Deep in my dark it is safe to admit
I’m worth more when I’m stranded
inside myself, my own
fickle thoughts.

A self is weeping
in the tree behind the art building. Other selves
frolic in the high grass, then fuck. They spread out like butterflies,
a slow explosion of softening colors—a future
there, another, another—

the viceroy monarch painting
the field with movement.
Perched on a fence is a mother—moth-grey, anonymous.
I barely notice the frenzied beating
of the Spicebush Swallowtail, its black silk,
its turquoise tips,

until it alights atop my ankle.
Rests in plain view. I know
to reach for it is to lose it.
All around me the world hums its lush song.
It is summer. I hold still
as a blade of grass.

 

Darla Mottram breathes & writes poems (not necessarily in that order) in Portland, Oregon. She has an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University. Her poems have appeared elsewhere, & are forthcoming. 

Matthew Rowe

Untitled

You are who trilogies are written about
Blue hour
Madrone tree
One day cheek kisses in public
We are topless on the roof
The dirt under my fingernails
says I’ve been doing something
We loved so hard a top row
of mason jars shattered
I still think about trying to despise
cheese anything
We are in Costa Rica
Doing what people do there
I dig with my pocketknife
You rehearse ways to escape
The heat
Some tourists consider snorkeling
The small pool of sweat
Collecting in the small of your back

 

Matthew Rowe is a poet/farmer currently living in Brooklyn, New York. He grew up in the desert and keeps a lot of his heart in the Redwoods. Previous work has appeared in Funeral Parade, Sunset Magazine, and on street corners spanning the Pacific Northwest. 

Emily Kendal Frey

CONCERNING LONELINESS: I AM WEARING YOUR UNDERWEAR

Eye contact with very old

people fills me with a power

I try to smile back

into them

 

It's similar to sex in that you feel

unable to close

for a moment 

 

The world is still

filling with garbage 

 

At the doorway to the island church

I cried

Wept, really, it came down

over me not through

 

You will not ever I don't think

understand my position 

As I am a yellow raft in a green pond

and you are a word

asking itself for definition 

 

Perhaps the lamp and other gifts are ripped

When I think about love

a glass of glass 

 

One person's advice was to make the rain      

sounds a part of you

I have not yet achieved feeling

safe in anything not my body 

 

I try to rise above

My pain before I enter it

 

Who would we be

without a very dark yard

 

Language and water do not understand

Each other 

 

You don't have to believe

In what makes you happy

 

Emily Kendal Frey is the author of several chapbooks and chapbook collaborations, including FrancesAirport, Baguette, and The New Planet. The Grief Performance, her first full-length collection, won the Norma Farber First Book Award from The Poetry Society of America in 2012. Her second collection, Sorrow Arrow, won the Oregon Book Award in 2015.

Nooks Krannie

sad insults

cashmere and sad insults is the theme of our ikea bed sheets
i single handedly destroyed my mustache with ur grandmother’s razor.
i say, “oh fuck, the hamster’s ded”
u say, “exercise is a form of mind control”
government fucks us because we’re addicted to sex and
fantasize
about our assholes riding tin cans, cutting assholes
on tin cans, mermaids fucking
under the sea.
it’s disturbing how ariel is lacking an ass and still
desired by porn addicts worldwide.

i want to seem cool and fit in with millennials cuz u say they’re just like
me i think that’s an oxymoron.
my mustache is shaved so i guess i’m not trending.

after i say oh fuck, u take the dead hamster in ur hands, limp
body and clogged arteries protruding in ur face. i never experienced a lack of sexual organs
before it makes my stomach flatter and my boobs feel like a set of
disappointed paragliders. i’m gonna have cake.

i think about ur grandmother and how her barn cat
showed u his penis once and i secretly wonder if it turned u on.
ur grandmother insists u eat ur broccoli fried in tubs of lard.
i think she worries about ur sexuality in terms of feline desire.

i think i’m less sexual than ur grandmother’s barn cat.

i think i’m sexual only in my chromebook in a .docx  doc cuz
holding in pee
and releasing after a long time gives me an orgasm i think
millennials judge and question my millenniality i fucked up
and shaved ur dead hamster so u stop asking me to
shave my pussy.

we bury ur dead hamster in ur grandmother’s backyard
death makes me horny i feel ikea could
replace god this millennia
i say, “oh fuck”.

 

Nooks Krannie is a girl and poet. She is half Persian/half Palestinian and full human. Her first chapbook I have hard feelings & I wish I could quit chocolate was published by Moloko House Press in 2016 and her second chapbook candied pussy is forthcoming from Thistlemilk Press. She tumbls at http://nkrannie.tumblr.com/  and instagrams @nookskrannie.

Allen Forrest

Allen Forrest is a writer who has created cover art and illustrations for literary publications and books, the winner of the Leslie Jacoby Honor for Art at San Jose State University's Reed Magazine and his Bel Red painting series is part of the Bellevue College Foundation's permanent art collection. Forrest's expressive drawing and painting style is a mix of avant-garde expressionism and post-Impressionist elements, creating emotion on canvas. 

Grant Gerald Miller

ELEMENTAL


The sun is filled with gas and carries an axe.

I am the wound I inflict on others
during Saturday morning cartoons.

The sun is a feral cat.

I am asleep and not responding to your text.

The sun is a way out of night.

I get excited about everything from stardust
to a wet burning mouth.

The sun is also a hot mess.

I am weary of men who call out nature.   

The sun is a slit throat.

I am often asked to make something
better than it previously was.

The sun is brokenhearted in the comments section
but confident in the sky.

I am a weeping tree, and the rain
is torturing someone outside the window.

The sun is a glowing screen of scrolled feeds
intended to make us lonely.

I am the billboard that faded after the new highway
rerouted traffic and turned us on ourselves.

The sun is to blame for growing things
in the depths of its darkness.

Like the sun, I wooed the sea.

I am at fault for wooing the sea.   

 

Grant Gerald Miller was born in Memphis, Tennessee. He is currently an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama and an assistant editor at Black Warrior Review. His work has appeared or is set to appear in various journals including Hobart, Qu MagazineBartleby SnopesNecessary Fiction, and Nimrod. This poem is part of a larger work co-written with A.M. O’Malley entitled Duel or Duet.

Thalia Doukas

SEMI-AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL

I.
Once, a girl who was green was lost in thought.
She did not willingly emerge from scribbling or sketching.
Her grades were OK. She played parts in school plays and she liked singing.
She didn’t drive but she was driven to pin down and tend lengthy reveries regarding highs and lows of her existence. She was simply a green shoot, aiming to connect with Real meaning and Good directions.

II.
Once, a young wife who was blue was drowning, as if she wore cement boots, she was sinking.
Married to a commitment that reminded of roiling, debris-littered ocean deeps, she did slowly
             Shake off cement impediments and nakedly paddle to the surface.
She paddled until she could see a glimmer on the horizon – although a seaweed veil fell into her eyes
Blurring the view, and scarves and ribbons of seaweed snaked around her extremities.
She pressed on, in many obscure years of paddling.

III.
Once, a single mom who was the color of ashes and bark struggled.
Often she toiled, pulling twigs from her hair in an effort to be presentable.
She was a merry-go-round, wrapped in careening daybreaks and dusks, in showers of rain or snow.
At the end of every day, she trudged a solitary path through golden grasses up to her chin.
And this gold surrounded her and waved to her from remote margins of the marsh.

She held down jobs, repaired her cars, hugged her son and prayed for his safety and well-being
             Until soon he was taller than she was – from very young he beat her at Go Fish.
His wins lightened her up and she might grin about them, washing clothes or digging for papers
             In a metal filing cabinet, at work.

IV.
Once, a bobble-head crone, who did not call herself a crone, because it wasn’t That Bad –
             Was mostly transparent, although she had a pink tinge,
Despite her stiff parts and tremors, she scribbled and sketched, but not daily – on lined paper or
             Napkins or fluorescent post-its or her laptop.
Because Trying barged in on Living, she simply hugged the world, prayed for its safety and sanity,
She was a slowly spinning, bobbing cork, beyond her time of keeping cats or dogs now.
She composted and mulched devoutly, paid bills, observed headlines and holidays.

And this is her narrative and it is largely true.
She makes, unmakes, re-makes. She smooths and wrinkles.
Now, to this day, she is not alone or lonely or lost.  

 

Thalia Doukas is a writer and visual artist in 2D and 3D. Long ago, her poetry was included in One Foot On the Mountain, a British anthology of feminist writers. Since then, she has earned a living as a print and online writer/editor/designer in a variety of settings. Her blog address is http://thaliadoukas.blogspot.com/. Her website is at http://tdoukas.zenfolio.com/