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little white poetry journal

issue seven
little white poetry journal | issue seven
words © 2009 by noted poets
lwpj.henrychalise.info

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E DITOR’S N OTE

Let me just say that:


#1: I was really thrilled and honored that
Henry asked if I’d take the reins while
he was away.
#2: I was totally floored by the work that
was sent in.
#3: I had such a good time gathering and
arranging this work.
#4: I hope you really enjoy reading this
issue, and that you read it outside, or
at least near an open window.

Thanks and have fun!


Jac Jemc
Jason Bredle is the author of two
books and one chapbook of poetry.
A new chapbook, Class Project, is
forthcoming from Publishing
Genius. He lives in Chicago.
City of Ghosts

I visited the place and did the thing.


It’s something you have to do.
Afterwards I went to Jill’s.
There was a guinea pig.
I asked if I could shower?
Yes, I could shower.
The water was hot.
I almost fainted.
I lied on the shower floor.
It was my birthday.
A sailboat drifted ashore filled with grenades, a dead
captain.
My own chest was filled with black moths.
I couldn’t pronounce the name of the village.
One feeling I never want to have:
to realize I’d been going the wrong way the entire
time.
But I can so explain it all.
I visited the place and did the thing.
I counted everything I’d ever done and the answer
was 36.
I just wanted to be somebody. Making music makes
me happy,
but I’ve never known how to make music.
Rainbow

Everywhere I walk someone is selling me peanuts.


I’m told I have a gift I’m afraid to share with others.
The people here will carry anything on a bicycle:
bags of potatoes,
propane,
crates of semi-automatic weapons,
families of four on their way to a wedding.
Most of us don’t even know what a wedding is.
One day you may look back at this time
as the best or the worst
of your life.
Where will you be?
I like:
fried fish, rice and beans,
hibiscus and guayaba.
Somewhere there is always music.
Sometimes I feel like I’m drifting too much
and am amazed I’ve made it this far.
Sometimes I feel like the sea is punishing me.
I’m waiting for the sunset.
If I knew what was happening, I’d stay here forever.
Shining Path

Most will remember it as the night a man walked in and


ate 48 tacos.
The year’s murder toll had finally reached five hundred.
You know the feeling you get when you realize
we’re all about to die?
It felt like that. Everything was damp.
I touched my index finger to my ear and felt blood.
I was merging onto the east-west corridor.
But this is right,
I thought.
This is tonight.
It’s something I like better when I don’t understand if
I’m real.
I’m going to figure everything out
and after I figure everything out
I’m going to explain it all to you
and after I explain it all to you we’re going to go to sleep
and once we’ve gone to sleep
we’re going to sleep for a hundred days
and after we sleep for a hundred days
we’re going to sleep
for a hundred more and after we sleep for a hundred more
we’re going to sleep four hundred more
and it went like this,
it went like this until I promised I’d never forget you
and I walked home
and practiced a dance
for an imaginary daughter in front of the bathroom
sink. Guess what?
When we’re almost dead, I’ll tell you a secret.
I’ve never been very good at keeping promises.
A philologist with a heart of gold,
Devin King writes about pop music
for The Boston Phoenix, teaches poetry
to young adults, and probably listens
to too many showtunes and too much
bubblegum pop. His serial-opera
Dancing Young Men From High Windows
can be seen bouncing monthly from
gallery to gallery in Chicago and his
long poem, CLOPS, will be out from the
Green Lantern Press in fall 2009.
Four Sonnets / Suburban Dream

Smoking. This accurséd thing burns my hand—


Gooed lips reach into my stilted collar—
still another! Right sock sits from its stand—
Painted nails cut my leg for their dollar.
Out of this chair then! Walk through the café!
My shoes—gods stick me to the wooden floor
Decree a turn in my spine, hip bones spray
Pain to my left, but to my right a door.
I escape through a hole beneath my ribs
Up come my arms, my fingers turned to nibs.
Floating. Colors loose from out of fingers—
Hued sips of tamarind jam, a brown pot
Spilling, a bright salve on my skin lingers;
I, my love’s wrist, a hand-me-down lance-lot.
Blue percolates between the white freckles
And the heat of this hand, I am an axe.
These motley touring actors for speckles
Keep manifests for their wallpaper stacks.
Up and around I am in a béguin
Wrap me, (it’s funny) blood bleu and sanguin
Follow my oven a little longer
It is an overstock flashlight filled with
Kerosene and salt to make you stronger;
Pepper tempts the nose, use it like a scythe.
I am a table leaf unearthed for you,
I hide in the middle of furniture
Look at my utensils, a fork, a flue,
My upholstery, divine haute couture.
Sit on me, I am a cushion with needs.
Eat on me, around my neck drape green beads.
My living room drips condominium;
The white shaggy rug weds prickly beige walls.
My wife’s toes stretch out the millennium,
Painting my back the tint of Cherry Halls.
My two children are girls: thirteen, sixteen.
I wash softball and soccer uniforms
Every Thursday for a weekend sheen,
That come home to my hugs sweaty and warm.
I walk up the stairs heady, warm, well-fed.
Shivering, I change and slip into bed.
Attempt at Sneaking Up on You
For C.P.

dissolve, motion
of a movie star
swinging, green
chewable pith.
Why I cannot
mention sitting between
cassette players, texting
celebratory punch here’s a ladle it is cold
moisture from your fingers

river | railroad:
1. Courage in Flyswatters
2. Squinted and thought there was a beard ( )
3. Game Hens Suspended in Aspic a vest, poofy, green
Megan Thoma won the Babbitt’s
Prize for Short Fiction and has work
published on mcsweeneys.net.  She
created the poetry-themed theatrical
production ink , and founded the
Tongue & Ink Writers’ Conference. 
Megan is the reigning Providence, RI
poetry slam grand champion and will
be representing the city at the 2009
Individual World Poetry Slam.  She
writes and teaches at Hope Arts High
School in Providence, RI.
Postcards for Meg

We feel how the air hangs heavy


Like our New England faces in winter . . .
Please
Get the fuck out of my way
We are cold . . .
—Meg Fogarty, from “in winter”

1
I am studying what it means to love.
All across the country, trying to learn
how place molds your heart, how gravel
leaves scars, how the spilled blood of loving
soaks into sand and grass and rock.
I am studying.
I am trying.

2
In the Pacific northwest, they love in layers. Always
damp and cold, they paw through clothes, clumsy,
digging and searching for flesh, for warmth, trying
to rub bones together, trying to start a fire with want.
3
In Antarctica, they fuck like rabbits, a vicious assault
on winter. It isn’t about love; it’s about survival.
16,500 condoms for 125 people for 72 dark days.
They fuck till holes form then they slide another over.
When that rubber starts to melt, they slide on another
and another, making nesting dolls of cocks and condoms.
They are brave warriors, and when they cum, a bolt
of light shoots from their chests. For a few moments,
they burn through the dark blizzard and are reminded
that they are human and alive and are filled with something
that can, in fact, lead them through the storm.

4
In Alabama, they love like long summer
days. It’s a lazy sort of love, almost dull
in its consistency. And if you asked any
teenager, they’ll tell ya Alabama love is
just plain boring—about how love just past
the border glows neon and wears sexy shoes.
But if you ask the old folks, they’ll tell ya
how nice it is to have warm bones deep
into a January winter.
5
In the heart of every city, where sidewalk, sky,
and skin are rubbed dirty, the love is just as caked
in hard filth. Nothing comes easy here, ‘specially love.
You gotta choose your weapon carefully: fists,
chisel, hammer, or stone. Love is a confrontation,
a moment of grace too good to be believed, it must be beat
into the side of your skull with a brick. And where
the streets are stained a magnificent red, that’s where
people are still trying.

6
In the depths of the Arizona desert,
they love naked. It gets really hot there.
It’s a necessity. The desert stones
leave imprints on their hearts.
7
In Iowa, they love with quilts—
under the worn history of family and felt.
They make patchworks with rows of soy and dirt—love
that can only be seen by God . . . or
people in planes. Their hearts
have seams that sometimes catch on the fingers
of cornstalks, unraveling fast, they turn into kites.
And the mothers of Iowa are surgeons
with thimbles, needles, and thread.

8
In LA, they just forgot to love today.
Not on purpose, but they got on the highway,
and they realized the love was back somewhere . . .
somewhere . . .
between the office and the car? Maybe?
And I mean . . . traffic . . .and I mean, really?
Love’s safe in an LA parking lot for a night?
Right?
9
In DC, they love deep within sealed
manila envelopes. In secret compartments.
Where the sticky, sweaty tourists
would never know to go.
There are important matters to attend to,
and love can only be fit in between meetings,
in thirty minute increments.
They are efficient.
No time for mistakes.
No time for foreplay
deep within the shadows of lust.
10
In my home, I love like a salt shaker.
Perfectly paired. Dependably there.
I love like salt.
Simple and necessary.
So much history, so much faith.
You and I.
This is worth preserving.
I love you.
Like salt.
Christopher Higgs’s chapbook Colorless
Green Ideas Sleep Furiously was just
released by Publishing Genius Press.
Other of his work appears or is
forthcoming in many places, including:
Swink, Conduit, AGNI, Quarterly
West, No Colony, Lamination Colony,
etc.  He also curates the online arts
journal Bright Stupid Confetti.
Above Below

A person is not a bird and a bird is not an airplane


after falling off the roof in elementary school losing
teeth breaking bones alone and waiting for a nurse
to come do a stitch up leave town wake up early to the
telephone in an Irish pub broken every hidden key
under every inconspicuous doormat stolen without
apology the pilot ejects three men who look suspicious
but the flight food is delicious down to the last broken
pretzel we order another five dollar vodka watch an
old man grope a young lady and a kid pick his nose
then wipe the remains on the man sleeping beside him
not using a cell phone but an open pack of cigarettes
to feather a forearm or elbow and these static evenings
are deliberately adjacent.
Nicolette Bond is a breadbasket
poet with a nose for trouble. She is
currently working on earning her
MRS degree in the Heartland. Her
poems have appeared at the bottom
of the bottle and once came between 
a goat and its last meal. 
Stop Me

Did you hear the one about the three


construction workers
who were eating sandwiches up on a
beam? Afterwards, at
the funeral their wives wore dark
materials and sobbed into
each other’s hair. I am not telling it right.
Life List

Nicolette: Do you believe everything happens for a


reason?

Main Man: Our research led to the discovery of no less


than seven unknown bird species. This information
has been included in the book.

Nicolette: Have you heard the one about the three


falling sandwiches?

Main Man: I wanted this to be as accurate as possible.


I’m a perfectionist.

Nicolette: When we were children, we witnessed a


horrible accident. What, if anything, do you remember
about that day?

Main Man: I’m not sure any field guide is ever “finished”.

Nicolette:
What Would Really Help Me [Part 1]

Is a tool belt
filled with some stuff mentioned in Dean Young’s,
“Hammer.”

Pocket 1: Red ink and once orange peels


Pocket 2: One of my gifts
Pocket 3: god ( a claw )
Pocket 4: Notes and memos
Pocket 5: Rain
Pocket 6: Your head
Danger Music

Every 17 minutes a scaffold falls from the sky in The


City. Sometimes there is a little danger music that
plays in the minds of the Workers. Every 16 minutes
a Worker ignores a little danger music. Every second
someone gets lost in The City. Rarely will the men
that tumble from the clouds land on the lost people.
But every time they do, somewhere in the world, a
deformed baby is born.
Everything I Know

Falling is the most common cause of death for


construction workers.

In England, the construction workers are required


to wear name badges so they can be identified and
fined when they catcall to passing women.

To circumvent this law, many of the men place duct


tape over their name badges.

Did you know that Franz Kafka invented the hard


hat?

Most poems don’t contain anything you can prove


one way or the other.

This is going to be the best year of our lives.


Field Study

Urban birds have to sing louder and faster than their rural
counterparts.

Part I: Reading & Thinking


For their study of urban birds, Slabbekoorn and Peet
turned to the Great Tits, which abound in European
cities. “I’ve recorded Tits under the Eiffel Tower;
I’ve recorded Tits in Buckingham Palace,” says
Slabbekoorn.
Andrew Dhondt of Cornell University, who has spent 25
years studying Great Tits, says he’s not surprised.

Part II: Seriously Though


Is love a Question: of timing?
Just as the male Tit starts his mating call ( which sounds like
a bicycle pump ), a generator strikes up on the job site.
Answer: tee-tah, tee-tah

Part III: Conclusion


Some crucial messages are being lost

Part IV: Further Study


We will carry our parabolas & snacks into the wild
metropolis. We will set our hearts to resonate.
Workin Hard, Hardly Workin

Prolonged exposure to the vibrations can lead to


blood-circulation

failures

and turn the fingers white. White Finger!

Are you thinking about your own hands? Odds are, if you are
reading this then you’ve never operated

a jackhammer. The whale was

white. The sails looked


like white

whales. Don’t worry about anything.


Monday

When a construction worker whistles,


I give a long low whistle right back

and if he yells, “Yeah baby, shake it!


I come back, “Do curly fries come
with that ass?” Usually

that really gets him going


and we go back and forth

like that until the sun


starts to hit the lower girders.

Later, he talks to the guys about me


over a cold one.

He tells them about my voice


and how well it carried from the street below

and how he knows


that under that shirt

I’ve got a sweet little rack.


Shome Dasgupta holds an MFA
in Creative Writing from Antioch
University-Los Angeles. His fiction,
poetry, and nonfiction have appeared
in print and online journals, including
Mud Luscious, Lit Chaos, Abjective, 
Word Riot, Paperwall, Cafe Irreal,
Bartleby Snopes, Dogzplot, DiddleDog,
MeadoW, Magma Poetry, Poetic Voices
Without Borders 2 (anthology), Gertrude
Press, Shelf Life Magazine, Sylvan Echo,
and The Footnote.
The Circus Crazy

he wore no skin his skeleton drips like honeysuckles air


passes through his ribs breaking cracking calcium chips
of rust snowflakes withering under the sun turning
raisins into mold he laughs he laughs like an elephant
with asthma the tune of decay i listen and grimace i
touch my pores to make sure i’m here:
This man,
this old shack of a man,
with corroded skin and
dented bones,
with urine stained teeth
and a roofless neck,
cackling like a crow,
hissing like a volcano, with ashy breath,
with scratched eyes,
this man, he touches the back of my hand
with peeling fingers,
trying to grab my candy.
Patrick Leonard studied the methods
of lying and the manipulation of dreams
at The School of the Art Institute of
Chicago. His fictions have appeared
in New York Tyrant, Hotel St. George,
Sleepingfish, MiPOesias, and elsewhere.
Work in this issue is from his latest
manuscript, Carlyle: Histories. He lives
in Houston, TX with his one wife and
two sons.
The Chronologist

Carlyle went with the first-fruit to the watchmen and


their staled families. He presented himself with a firm
grip and a generous knife. They nodded their heads
and one husband said to him such:
“Take our thanks for this harvest of plump and stem.
We do always welcome yours here, Carlyle. You must
know a man has been all through this place. He’s followed
several of the women and ignored only a few of the
poorest children. We’re unclear of his intent and when
we’ve offered bed and supper, he’s only carried on
with his markings and then off walking in another
direction.”
The man spoke with a calm pace, but Carlyle sensed
fever in his breath, as if one might anticipate an illness
two nights yet to come.
Carlyle looked to the gathered crowd and he avoided
fixing his rough-tucked coat. The women pulled their
children close to their hips and men widened their
stances in wait for Carlyle’s answer. He could only pause
as long one might before grave delivery of a testimony
that will shatter.
“You see, dear people, this false guest has but one
meaning for your quiet deeds. The obsession of this
man, while admirable in nearly every way, cannot
save him from your consequences.”
Carlyle folded over his arms and with this the men
hollered for violence. He offered a small guide on the
manipulation of painful knots and then gave each
family his height in double-braided rope.
Of Whisper and Score

A small girl found Carlyle bound and weighted down


with heavy stones in a lakeside cave. She went circles
around him twice and then once more before she spoke
to Carlyle.
“You’ve blood from your ankles to your eyes, poor man.
How’d you come to this mess? Aren’t you of thirst and
grumble?”
The cave bent over on itself and soaked up hours of the
morning light. The small girl waited on Carlyle for a
reply. She opened her pail and took a sling to fit
Carlyle’s leg. He motioned with a glance to his swollen
knee but the girl ignored him and covered over his eyes.
She told Carlyle a secret while she knotted the cloth at
his ear. Carlyle meant to protest but was taken by the
cloth’s scent to a lie he once told Millie. He remembered
the lining of a coat on a man running in an alley behind
Millie as he told her the false location of a gift hidden
in the roots of her most hated pine.
The young girl, offended by Carlyle’s ill-mannered
distraction, sliced rough at his hair and tucked it in
her shoe.
Carlyle said aloud through his darkness, “I’ve no offense
for this penalty. My sins went deep into the shore years
gone and gone. Are you one that saves?”
Lesson of Refusal and Obsession

A lieutenant delivered Carlyle his offenses, one more


erratic than the next, and then released him to another 
lieutenant with a new set of charges. The evening lieutenant,
far more concerned with performance than security,
failed to fasten all of Carlyle’s holding pins before he
launched into a well-composed but artificial tirade.
 
Carlyle escaped from the Ministry’s office through a
stone channel and then a maze of knots. On the move
for two days, Carlyle paused at a stump rooted enough to
hold his half-weight.
 
Carlyle imagined a finely penned notice he might, if
materials allowed, send off to Millie.
Dear M—
I managed a length of shipping-rope from my

captors’ holding.
Ready the trunks and tell none of our deceit.
Yrs & yrs,
C.  
 
Millie then might welcome such a note with the distinctive
hand and familiar grit of Carlyle’s temper. Millie would
sharpen the needles and number each drawer by size for
when Carlyle arrived to unbraid the shipping-rope.
If either then became so influenced, one might take each
shipping-rope strand and bind the townspeoples’ hands
to themselves. A tailor might wake in his den, thumb
tight to his palm, and after some awkward moments
at
  getting dressed, pleasantly go about his day.
Yet Carlyle had none of with which to send and Millie
could never guess at Carlyle’s wants from his spring-rotted
stump.
Cinthia Ritchie lives in Alaska, where
she works as a journalist to support
her poetry habit. She’s a Pushcart Prize
nominee and recipient of a Rasmuson
Foundation fellowship, Alaska Council
of the Arts fellowship and residencies
at Hedgebrook and Hidden River Arts.
Her poetry and prose can be found at
New York Magazine, Water-Stone Review,
Under the Sun, Rainbow Curve, Ice Floe,
Slow Trains Literary Journal, Stirrings,
Women of the Web Anthology, Gin
Bender Poetry Review, Wicked Alice, 
PMS:poemmemoirstory, iddie, Gloom
Cupboard, with upcoming work in
Memoir (and), Sugarmule, and 42opus.
Paperdolls.

I
Pretend you’re living with me. We are both girls. Your
penis is gone, I don’t know where you’ve put it, maybe
it’s in your back pocket. We’re painting our toenails
Cherry Slurpee Red and eating cheese crackers. Orange
flecks our fingers. Your toes are small and dainty. I lean
down, cover them with my breath. Are they dry yet?
I curl beside you like a cat, the salt from your knees
tasting of burnt sugar. You reach for your back pocket.
Please, stay like this. A girl.

II
Imagine your sister comes back from the dead. She hasn’t
aged a day. She’s five, eleven, seventeen. Her skin is
beautiful—you can’t stop touching. Is she a ghost? She
gets out the Monopoly game, you buy all the red and
green properties. Just like Christmas, but she’s too busy
trying to land on the last railroad. You cheat, maybe
she does too. No one buys Boardwalk, the chances of
landing on it are slight and besides, it’s so expensive.
You roll, move, it’s so soothing, so familiar. When you
look up your sister is picking her nose.
III
Pretend we’re in bed. Can you remember? It wasn’t
that long ago or maybe it never happened, maybe we
never met. White sheets, sun across the ceiling. You
are wet, I am hard. I wait for the end, pillows propped,
skin damp. Our stories will outlast us, but so what.
Your cock tastes of almonds. The hangnail by your
thumb bleeds and heals, bleeds and heals. Heel, I say
to my dog and she shuffles down close to my ankle,
demure, suffering. I no longer believe in afternoons.

IV
Imagine your sister moves in with you. She’s dead but
she was always stubborn. She cleans up your messes,
cooks dinner, remembers to feed the fish. You lie naked
on the floor while she reads a Nancy Drew mystery.
Her voice is young and high. Her vowels warm you.
Imagine swallowing a paperclip, that cool metal lodged
in your throat. Maybe you’ll die this way, yes, but
not today.
V
Pretend we’ve been married for years. Our kids are
away at school, our bodies bent and ruined. Our sad
knees, our yellowing teeth. For years we struggle to
understand language, decipher pauses and shoulders.
It does us no good. Knowledge isn’t love, we learn that
too late. Curled in bed with our pajamas off. We are
no longer beautiful but still our hands clutch, our legs
tense. Oh fucking Jesus. How many years do we have
left? Passion crushes our chests, gasps our breaths.
Pretend it doesn’t matter. Just try.

VI
Imagine your sister is nursing you through a long illness.
She’s dead but so are you, almost. She feeds you chicken
soup, tells you stories, changes the TV channels. You
are afraid to sleep so she sits with you as you struggle
against the softness, the temptation of dreams. What
if you don’t wake up? Hush, it’s okay. Close your eyes.
What is the last thing you wish to see: Your children’s
faces? The mountains in the morning? Tell me. Tell
me now.
Joseph Aguilar is a Ph.D. student in
fiction at the University of Missouri.  
His most recent stories appear or will
soon appear in Quarterly West #67,
elimae, Sojourn, and other places.
Worker, Blueberry Field

The worker fell in the blueberry field. Now he is a


shoot that twitches when summer winds blow.
Tourists pick up jams and set them back. Waxworms
hum in their smallest voices. A child looks through
the fence past San Diego. Where is her uncle?
Musician, Guitar

The very old musician holds his guitar. In the Irish


pub’s windowsill, flowers emit growing sounds. My
grandfather died wearing a helmet. Now the song is
done. Now we clap and flirt and leave.
Fiancée, Blood

My fiancée mumbles and wears bad shirts. I am not


pretty. Post-ceremony, he licks my throat while
unfixing my boots. My heart makes blood. The brain
needs blood.
Laura Goldstein is a writer, sound
artist and performer living in Chicago.
She has performed her work in Chicago
at Links Hall, the Elastic Arts Foundation
and the Red Rover Reading Series, and
in New York at the Bowery Poetry Cafe.
Recent poetry, reviews and essays
can be found in How2, EAOGH, Womb,
Text/Sound, Rabbit Light Movies,
Otoliths, Stoning the Devil, PFS Post,
CutBank Reviews, Moria, and The Little
Magazine. She has three chapbooks:
Ice in Intervals from Hex Press, Day
of Answers from Tir Aux Pigeons, and
Let Her from Scantily Clad Press. She
currently teaches Writing and Literature
at the School of the Art Institute and
Loyola University.
facts of light

the dream of the garden dies:


it was a mistake, not a place

oral hygiene can be a factor in HIV detection
in Brazil, it is considered uncouth or suggestive to
show one’s tongue
during a conversation

a tuned oboe turns a tone like a tunnel
facts of death (seven facts of death)
humans and hobbits are both Homo sapiens
by his death he destroyed death

“hopeless end versus endless hope”


heroes are made, not born,
tonight “Titan” was typed clearly for the first time on
Earth to Saturn teletype

facts of space travel (three facts of space travel)


true fanaticism will take us far
you can be human, but in an entirely different way
steps at night towards the day
giving way to the new Adam
“I have seen the death angel”
a fascinating skeleton has been found

we walked through joy and peril hand in hand


isolated, they evolved uniquely
the rings of the planet indicate ice
Saturn’s largest moon looms tonight
we give birth to the new insect here: let us let loose the
satellite

when it happened we hope that she did not have time to


look up,

during the day, we will not see clearly


facts of drunk driving
(eight drunk driving statistics)
we can step lightly through space

“skelescope”
is this perhaps death?
although the instrument is not perfect:
the new space, the new room is larger and more
beautiful

Eve prepares to take a dive

every piece of puzzle is key,


deeply appreciative audience
I recognized him, he encouraged me to go beyond myself
to Venus, either by radio or ethernet
facts of evolution (nine elements of the theory of
evolution)

ride the radio waves


two cherubs with flaming swords set at the gate of Eden

a regular rate roundtrip for the first time


POEMS syndrome is characterized by peripheral,
perpetual noisiness
clearing your throat may improve the quality
of your voice
facts of the Bible (five stories from the Bible)

it rained all week as the earth itself mourned

one may play a piano and one may also play poker:
all humans are also related
the cello sells its own overture,
one might develop thrush in the mouth in conjunction
with a fever
facts of dying
(two recorded instances of dying persons who speak
of light and music)
looking around, holding my bow
I hold it like a new planet
no, one of its moons
lightly I speak,

a flourish:
a fevered rush, a resonant string
spun off to a new resettlement

a small flute
a sincere apology, with my sincerest apologies:
she was a painter and an organ donor and her eyes were
given to a blind man
play, turn pages, practice past tense? no.
facts of an opera (six criteria of operatic construction)
most infected newborns have no symptoms at birth,
however with no treatment some
develop eye damage owned by the Philadelphia
Orchestra, this magnificent
19th century opera house was the oldest venue in the
United States still used for
its original purpose converted rocket ships slip
into the night sky
and beyond

chimes
the conductor sleeps in the cockpit
we have one year to complete our journey

souls hallucinate behind the veil


facts of radio waves :
(four ways to transmit data using various frequencies
of radio waves)

the new garden is waiting


the new moon is in shadow

a bassoon sits lightly between the lips

there is no such thing as a “new” species


fever is the body’s normal and healthy reaction to infection
fact about moons (one fact about the nature of moons)

the political tide is turning in Brazil,


percussion is the oldest instrumental family in existence
palpitations are unpleasant sensations of irregular and/
or forceful beating of the heart
Adam and Jesus might meet somewhere
the curtain holds its breath, the whoosh waits:
a mass of land surrounded by water is an island
symbols of or souvenirs purchased on the planet are
Saturnalia the new insect crawls out
from between our legs
only a dog can hear its cries
the notes will be lost if the lip muscles tremble or
become tired
it is not uncommon for a product to be faulty
the new garden dies
the moon emerges from shadow
the rocket is empty except for a monkey,
Eve readies herself to sing
artificial light garnishes the night
a sweat breaks out
aware of the door:
facts of light (ten ways to perceive the same image)
Kathleen Rooney is an editor of
Rose Metal Press and the author of
the nonfiction books Reading with
Oprah and Live Nude Girl, as well as
the poetry collections Oneiromance
(an epithalamion) and That Tiny Insane
Voluptuousness (with Elisa Gabbert).
Her essay collection For You, For You
I Am Trilling These Songs is forthcoming
from Counterpoint in 2010.
ROBINSON SENDS A LETTER TO SOMEONE

Cento VI
Midafternoon:
I come away
from the window & the rooftops
& turn the knob on the radio—
a thin line cutting
across rows of numbers.
I would like to hear, say,
Jelly Roll playing “The Crave,”
but will settle
for a Lee Wiley record.
Except
for a station on which a voice
not easily distinguishable
from Miss Margaret Truman’s
is singing “At Dawning”
& another on which “light classics”
by a feeble string group emerge
oppressively distinct,
all the others are playing
record after record
by big dance bands:
Claude Thornhill,
Kay Kyser,
Tex Beneke,
Charlie Spivak
Vaughn Monroe.
Corruption & decay.
I switch off the radio,
go
into the other room,
pour myself
a drink.
ROBINSON SENDS A LETTER TO SOMEONE

Cento II
Sorry to be a bit slow in responding
to yr. good communication.
The period during which one waits
for the Army to gobble one up
seems to divide itself neatly
between the terrifying & the full.

It’s a changed world: the Albert Hotel


has been taken over by the Army;
the Brevoort is crammed with refugees.
Getty is somewhere in the South Pacific.
Last week I had my blood test
& am wondering what will happen next?

We went to a party. Light


refreshments (liquid) were served.
Everyone said that if you told the draft
board you were a bedwetter
you were a cinch for Class 3D.
We got up with slight hangovers.
I have been looking around
for some sort of job to tide me over
until the Army communicates,
& have discovered what I should have known:
that 3A men are about as popular as lepers.
One is looked at as already in khaki.

Yet there is a possibility that I may


get a job on Time—less exacting
on the draft status matter than most.
I’ll probably know definitely this week?
No sacrifice is too great? What do you
think the post-war world will be like?
ROBINSON SENDS A LETTER TO SOMEONE

Cento IV
Everyone I know who has been called up
by the draft lately has been rejected—

I went up to Grand Central Palace


& was lovingly placed in classification 4F.

It is difficult to figure out why big


organizations do anything they do.

The people at the top are as bewildered


as the people at the bottom.

(What is psychological classification


72B?; that’s what I’m in.)
Did I mention to you that Time & I
came to a parting of the ways? The arteries

are hardening; there is much worry.


We were ostensibly working a five-day

week; I was always working seven,


& always going to screenings on what

were hopefully referred to as “weekends.”


At the sound of the question (from one

of the Senior Editors): “Are you happy


here?” you know your goose is cooked.

I’m going to try to stay away


from a regular job as long as I can, unless

something so tempting that I can’t resist


it comes along. Nearing the end. Write.
ROBINSON SENDS A LETTER TO SOMEONE

Cento X
California seems to debase itself
less frenetically than the East Coast.
At least my central nervous system
has responded to it rather nicely.

We were sort of at loose ends for a time:


waiting around for an apartment
at the above address to become available.
It was to have been ready for us around the 1st,
but a strike of tile-layers screwed things up
but good. Perhaps a little detail would not be
out of order: a large L-shaped living room,
a bedroom, kitchen, bath & a room I can use
as a studio, a few steps from a beach
on the bay, surrounded by eucalyptus trees,
& a half-hour drive from downtown SF.
—Then our furniture came, intact,
scarcely anything broken, & that meant
a couple of days off for arranging,
cleaning, wood-creaming, sandpapering.

Never once have I caught myself


humming “Give My Regards to Broadway,”
& it is an unconfined joy not to walk
ankle-deep in NY’s minglement of snow,
slush, banana skins, burned newspapers
& carbon bi-products of the Mssrs. Edison,
not to experience that city’s capacity
for Angst,
not to mention
not to mention
not to mention
not to mention…
Diego Báez prefers guillemets to
emoticons and vacations along Lake
Michigan.  He lives and teaches in
Newark, New Jersey.
The skin

of a peach
is no longer

Flesh colored, Indian


Red is now

crayon called Chestnut.


Prussia lost her

blue to midnight
but this is 1972

and Chartreuse
has not yet been

christened Atomic
Tangerine &

the promise of
a primrose is

still canary-colored.
Holophrasis

The evening ends with emphasis


and omits the ever-after:

interpuncts in alphabet blocks,


a hyphen in the name of God.

Like limbs awaking after dawn,


she suspects there’s more to this than

eggs and inquest at breakfast and


the lingering interrobang.
Erin Teegarden is a poet and community
arts organizer based in Chicago. She
teaches Literature at Columbia College 
Chicago and at American Intercontinental
University Online. She also works for
the nonprofit Snow City Arts, teaching 
creative writing to patients at Children’s
Memorial Hospital. She received an
MFA from the University of Pittsburgh
in 2003, and a BA from Indiana University
in 2000. She is the founder and former
managing editor of the University of
Pittsburgh’s first online literary journal,
and is the co-founder and current
organizer of the reconstruction room,
an innovative reading and performance
series in Chicago (website: www.
recroomers.com).  Her poems have
appeared or are forthcoming in
Another Chicago Magazine, eye-rhyme,
Sunspinner, pms (poemmemoirstory),
the Bellingham Review, Conte Online,
nanomajority, preling, Liberty Hill
Poetry Review, and Pittsburgh’s City
Paper, among others.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Buds on the trees die again, and the slim pigeons


stab at the ground with conviction, fly away
in the shape of arrows, in the shape of answers. (There’s
nothing left to uncover.) You mistake your
visible breath for cigarette smoke, for a memory
of London, of dry ice steam on the dancefloor
at Club Heaven. Overseas, it’s glamorous
to kick away the pigeons when they cross
your path. But here, you don’t disturb the living.
Here, there’s no question about it— the snow
covers the earth like correction tape, while your girl
surveys her soup spoon collection. You find
her in the bathroom, carving miniature x’s across
her arm, after snapping her needles in half.
In quarters. And the neighbors leave nasty notes:
Please move your car to the back. Please pick up your trash.
You could cast a spell, sprinkle hot peppers
from a four-cornered kerchief across the front path,
under the cover of night. Or bury potent herbs
in a remote location, chant a prayer and discard
the negative energies. But it’s too much work to try.
To hope. The bill collectors call, assuming
you’re the wife. But you’re nobody’s business.
The powerless witch, the half- decapitated queen.
Your Move World

When I lost you I found myself


in power glasses, found myself
asking police for directions
to the limestone library books.
I lost myself in handwriting
analysis and horoscopes,
in cigarette smoke and t-shirts.
What a little worm I became.
After you, I grew so old and drunk
on my awareness —red carpet
memory, postmodern so-what sex.

But when I loved you it was warm.


I ate lemon pound cake; your lips
bled for me. The small things seemed big:
my fingerbones swelled in my skin,
your shadow, tall as the ceiling.
I began to understand it—
the train and tunnel metaphor,
the ways to navigate my youth
and one way streets; the ways to eat
a lover, lobster, what will break
under how much pressure and why.
Patience, it will hurt you, I say
to our unborn children; I tell
them about the snow in streetlamps
how it is not a past life clue,
about how the page we now turn
to is not predestined; I talk
of dead butterflies, the sealed jar
of the heart that strength can’t open.
That’s just the way it goes, I shrug,
and live; (let go, move on, hang up—
delete) it’s all been done before.
Brave New Girl

baby bird for me and mouth a universe


body the bee sting, lean back and give me
a big old axis to turn on—
or come to bare the tree and blanket,
stay to shift bricks below the bed, stay
to watch the comets, to spread your coat
across the puddles, to drop your leaves
and let me be the bulb that survives
your freeze out, the sun who beats
the baby worm right from you.
love let me do what dew does—
shine and slick you hair to shoe;
here is my heart for you, obvious
as water.
and here is my Midwestern depression
here is my blue expectation, speaking:
god don’t let this wait sink me in the mud
god don’t let these soft steps ruin the sod
god: I want to achieve a new season—
to be the woman of parted cloud,
the woman of welcome horizon
Everything in my Mother’s 5-year Diary

Went into town.


Saw Jailhouse Rock in Linton.
We beat Dugger by 5.
We beat Dugger.
Went to the canteen. Butch walked me home.
Went into town.
Went to the canteen. Eddie walked me home.
It rained.
Went to the canteen.
Eddie walked me home.
I kissed Eddie.
(no I didn’t
this is not true.)
John Madera lives in New York City.
His work has appeared in elimae,
Bookslut, The Diagram, New Pages,
Open Letters Monthy, The Quarterly
Conversation, 3:AM Magazine, Word
Riot, and forthcoming in The
Underground Voices Magazine. You
may find him at hitherandthithering
waters (www.johnmadera.com) and
editing The Chapbook Review (www.
thechapbookreview.com).
How Do You Scratch a Phantom Limb?

I hope that by telling you what I have seen you’ll have


seen what I have said. But I doubt it. It’s just a plastered
ranting, you’ll say, from a cooped up bottom-dweller
rapping against the ceiling. But there’s a chance that
I may rouse you to feel the feeling of the wanting or
at least of the waiting. I remember every crenulated
facet of his mollusk-spiraled ears, the lobes like
sucked lozenges, silver calligraphy hanging from
them, his pinky scooping out wax like dried bits of
yolk. I remember showering water falling down from
his head, spilling through his arched shoulder
blades, down his spine, its dentritic fall a contrast
to the tooth-like tiles’ crevices, and the hair nests
in the bathtub strainer, soap bits stuck to it like tiny
eggs. I remember the bedsheets, thick red (call it
carnelian or sard as long as you too see its thickness),
frayed seams, body-stained: a cartography of
movement, of desire, of time. I remember the
poetics of his yawn, a tenor in mourning, something
so warm and so sad. Is that you pulling from my
push, or you pushing from my pull? How things
flicker into view: random incoming, sudden
surrounding. It’s a lousy, passing salvation, I know,
futile like grasping at a dream you never dreamed. But
perhaps by telling you what I remember of what I’ve
seen, you’ll see what I remember, and then there’ll be
one less person who’ll forget. I remember him picking
at a scab as if shelling a boiled egg. I remember falling
into the hammock of his arms. And breath, breath often
decides, as do muddled puzzles. I know I sound like
a curator of his own mania, but so many things
were decided by a breath. And the eye is a lusting,
greedy thing. I remember standing with him before
the Taj Mahal and feeling that, though yellowed like
nicotine-stained teeth, the mausoleum still
shimmered, its regal stillness undimmed. Yes, the
magic always crashes, but does this empty the museum
of memory? I remember his unclipped toenails tearing
holes in my socks. I remember resting my ears on
his beer belly and saying how happy I was we were
pregnant, and him grabbing hold of my fat hips saying,
I can handle that. I remember how we’d watch people
working on a word search, waiting until their eyes
lit up. I remember how we kept our own eyes open
believing that the world would be that much brighter.
I remember all the pulses, all the soundtracks, all the
jokes, all the alls, and every thing and everything.
And you wonder why I think skin talks? I hope that,
as I remember these things for you, something
unshrinks and parades inside of you, that you
may see how it is possible to be strong-armed by a
phantom limb.