You are on page 1of 75

little white poetry journal

issue seven

little white poetry journal | issue seven words © 2009 by noted poets

jac jemc

guest edited by



a product of

jennifer patel

design by


set in gentium book basic


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. was sent in.

#2: I was totally floored by the work that #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.


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 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.
Dancing Young Men From High Windows

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 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”

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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: etc. He also curates the online arts journal Bright Stupid Confetti.

Swink, Conduit, AGNI, Quarterly West, No Colony, Lamination Colony,

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.


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
Bartleby Snopes, Dogzplot, DiddleDog,

Mud Luscious, Lit Chaos, Abjective, Word Riot, Paperwall, Cafe Irreal, MeadoW, Magma Poetry, Poetic Voices Press, Shelf Life Magazine, Sylvan Echo,

Without Borders 2 (anthology), Gertrude

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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, Magazine. CutBank Reviews, Moria, and The Little

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

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 Her essay collection For You, For You I Am Trilling These Songs is forthcoming from Counterpoint in 2010.
Voluptuousness (with Elisa Gabbert).


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.


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?


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.


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.


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. 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.


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.
elimae, Bookslut, The Diagram, New Pages, Open Letters Monthy, The Quarterly Conversation, 3:AM Magazine, Word Riot,

His work has appeared in

and forthcoming in

Underground Voices Magazine.

may find him at hitherandthithering waters ( and editing The Chapbook Review (www.



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.

Related Interests