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Quiet Lightning is


a literary nonprofit with a handful of ongoing projects,
including a monthly, submission-based reading series
featuring all forms of writing without introductions or
author banter—of which sparkle + blink is a verbatim
transcript. Since December 2009 we’ve presented 1,100
readings by 800 authors in 110 shows and 90 books,
selected by 50 people through a blind selection process
and performed in 70 venues, appearing everywhere
from dive bars and art galleries to state parks and
national landmarks.

The shows are also filmed and loaded online—in text
and video—and rebroadcast on public access television.

There are only two rules to submit:
1. you have to commit to the date to submit
2. you only get up to 8 minutes


info + updates + video of every reading
sparkle + blink 97
© 2019 Quiet Lightning

cover art © Madeline Gobbo
“Black Hawk Blue” by Brian Waksmunski is from the collection
Night Audit (Pirata Lit)

set in Absara

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This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form
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Your support is crucial and appreciated.
su bmit @ qui e tl i g h tn i n g . o r g
curated by
Evan Karp + Lisa Church
featured artist
Madeline Gobbo |

Jennifer Lewis One Ton Prop, 1969 1
Meredith Heller Losing My Innocence 7
The Copper Witch 12
Katie Seifert Nothing is New & No One is Dead 15
Charles Kruger Preparing To Begin: A Memoir 17
Calder G. Lorenz Dear Lindsay: A Shorter Story 19
Siamak Vossoughi The Speaker’s Apprentice 23
Caroline Kessler TRACE 29
Chloe Wieland I Love Abortion 33
Heather Bourbeau Zoltan’s Avocados 37
The Slightly Melancholic Goat 38
Super Smalls Had It All 40
Dion O’Reilly Musth 43
Safety 45
Leaving the Burn Ward 47
Everything That’s Old 49
Abe Becker It’s Raining Cats & Cats Out There 51
Not Sleeping with My Cat... 53
Hadas Goshen Catch & Release 55
If I Could Repaint My Name... 57
Water 59
Fernando Meisenhalter Boundaries 61
Alex Simand Smells Like Holiday Spirit 65
Connie Zheng Strange Geologies 67
Brian Waksmunski Black Hawk Blue 69
g is sponsor
et Lightnin ed b
Qu i y
Quiet Lightning
A 501(c)3, the primary objective and purpose of Quiet
Lightning is to foster a community based on literary
expression and to provide an arena for said expression. QL
produces a monthly, submission-based reading series on
the first Monday of every month, of which these books
(sparkle + blink) are verbatim transcripts.

Formed as a nonprofit in July 2011, the QL board is currently:

Evan Karp executive director
Chris Cole managing director
Josey Rose Duncan public relations
Lisa Church outreach
Meghan Thornton treasurer
Kelsey Schimmelman secretary
Laura Cerón Melo art director
Christine No production

If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in
helping—on any level—please send us a line:

e v an @ qui et light nin g . o rg
- SET 1 -
nifer Lewis
One Ton Prop, 1969

The first thing she smells as she steps off the elevator
into their loft on the Lower East Side is marijuana. It
is even more potent than the burnt rubber and molten
lead. She takes off her knit poncho and slides two
thick bracelets high on her left bicep. Her tall red
boots echo down the hallway.

“Did you order Thai?” She yells.

He twists out his joint. “I thought we might go out.”

“On Fridays, it can take hours for delivery.”

He watches her strut down the hall. More equestrian
than artist. Still wearing that damn Camel cigarettes
t-shirt. He waits for her reaction like a child coming
home to a lit up Christmas tree, a train circling around
the trunk, with all the presents wrapped. She places
her forearms on the table and cocks her hip.

“So, you didn’t order anything?”

“I was busy,” he smiles, waiting.

She says nothing. He appears, as he always had, self-
satisfied with a consuming intensity in his black

eyes. He places his hands in the pockets of his hooded
sweatshirt. Then kicks his work boots together. A
clump of mud falls on the floor. There is a loud silence
between them. It’s so effing large! She walks around
the steel box: four lead plates, leaning against the
other. No top. An open container. The size of an adult
playpen. If she stood in it, it would be up to her waist.
Yet, it’s not sturdy enough to crawl over. You can see
light coming through the cracks. She wonders if she
will ever see him and not it again?

“Let me guess. Low-Rate Movers strikes again.”

“Philip, Chuck, and Spalding helped me carry it in.”

“Jesus, you guys aren’t kids anymore.” She stands far
enough away from it, in case it collapses. “I hope it
doesn’t fall through the ceiling.”

“It won’t.”

“It looks unstable.”

“It’s self-supporting.”

“It’s interdependent.”

“Do you want to guess the verb?”

“To prop,” she says, flatly.

“Nance, I’ve finally found it. What I’ve been waiting

2 Jennifer Lewis
“It’s a box, Richard!”

His eyes shift between her and the sculpture. He
wants to kick it with his steel-toe boot, just to show
her how secure it is, but what if she’s right? What if it
falls into itself like a house of cards? It’s not supposed
to have function. He’s not an architect. He’s an artist
and artists are supposed to take risks! He had to do
something. Something that held weight. That would
be a nod to his father who was a pipe fitter in a
shipyard. That brought him back to his roots, working
in a steel mill all those teenage summers. He’s a blue-
collar guy! Not like her, an heir to the Crane paper
family. He needed to stand out from his older brother,
Tony. The famous civil right’s lawyer who’s defending
Huey Newton in a murder trial. What can an artist do
that is bigger than that?

“You would see it that way,” he says, yanking the
window open. Sirens and warm-garbage-wind fills the
loft. He glares at the full moon.

“You were just throwing molten lead around like
Hephaestus. Now you are a minimalist?”

“At least it doesn’t pretend to be anything other than
it is.”

“What is that supposed to mean?” She feels heat rise
to her face. She wonders who is supporting whom in
their relationship. “Do you mean me?”

“I’m talking about the art.”

Je nni f e r Le wi s 3
“Are you saying my work pretends to be taxidermy?”

“I’m saying that I don’t want to be another rock on a
wall. I need to clear away the clutter. Become the wall.”

Become the wall?! Is she the clutter?

“I need to do something more truthful,” he said.

She wants to reply, I’m sick of all of you men who are
constantly bragging about truthfulness! How does
anyone know the truth when it’s always changing?
Wasn’t Paris the truth? Yes, their landlady threatened
to kick them out when she realized they weren’t
married, but weren’t they mad for each other when
they finally said those stupid vows? Richard had
stopped painting and started working with live and
stuffed animals. That picture of him with his shit-
eating-grin, one arm in the pig’s trough. So willing
to play. To explore. Wasn’t that true? She, already a
Fulbright, helped him with his application, and then
he became a Scholar himself. Now he resented her for
her pedigree. But weren’t they the same? Both coming
from Yale, then Paris, then Italy. Didn’t they have the
same dream—once?

“Is this about The Whitney? Because if it makes your
feel better The Times referred to me as Ms. Richard

“No, it’s about me wanting to be the greatest sculptor
in the world!”

She laughed in his face. “You’re going to kill someone

4 Jennifer Lewis
with that thing.”

He shoved his wallet into his pocket. “I’m heading over
to Judson’s.”

“Who’s dancing tonight?”

Everyone knew Joan Jonas was dancing, it was the talk
of Max’s all week.

“Don’t know,” he replied. “Spalding and Phillip are

“I’m starving,” she said, walking to the window. “I wish
you would’ve ordered takeout. At least I would have
had something to eat.”

As he locked the door, she studied the moon’s splotchy
face. Its rough topography, riddled with innumerable
shadows. One day, she’d paint the tiny grains of lunar
dust with acrylics on canvas. One day, those paintings
will hang in yet another museum. But tonight she will
go back to one of her camel sculptures without eating.
And when she is up to her forearms in feathers and
clay, she will think: Isn’t it funny how some people use
relationships to satisfy what’s blocked inside of them
while others use art?

Je nni f e r Le wi s 5
h Hell
redit er
L o sin g
M y Inn o c e n c e

Some people are late bloomers
some are late losers
of their innocence.

It took me 54 years to lose mine
and unlike losing my virginity,
which happened when I was 12,
in the woods
along the Potomac River,
I lost my innocence in the desert
amongst 100,000 people,
but in a sacred temple of sharing
with one.

A tall ginger boy
whose turquoise eyes
tracked my every curve
whose elven smile
and indigo voice
warmed my stone garden
whose kisses
turned my heart
into a pastel sky
whose hands touched my flesh
like I was some hot and holy creature
just being born.

Me re di t h He lle r 7
And though his body was bent
by a past of being battered by angry fists,
he had cultivated a quality of attention
that was tender
as new green shoots.

We talked in multidimensional metaphors
about art and life
we explored each other like a new continent
and when we finally came up for air
dusk had swallowed the day.
We danced and nestled through the night
until the sun rose
glowing like a white mushroom
up from the soil of our souls.

We said, I love you
as we stood in awe
in the temple of our kinship.

But soon after,
when we returned to the city,
though we gave each other no promises
and I knew he didn’t want commitment,
he went right into the arms of another woman.
And it took four conversations
before he told me,
and truthfully, I was shocked.
Shaken. Hurt.
And a bit disgusted.

I had come home a day early
from the river
feeling cleansed and shining

8 Me r e di t h H e lle r
ready to meet him in the morning
and maybe I would’ve felt differently
had he been excited to see me
had he pulled me close
and blown on the embers,
but he didn’t even reach to kiss me
when we said hello.

I was so angry with myself.
How could I be such a fool?

Couldn’t he even allow
the alchemy we created together
to echo through his being
a little longer
before diluting it with another?

Did I feel one of the richest connections
I’ve ever experienced in my life,
all by myself?
I thought he went there too.

But to go right to another woman?
No; he couldn’t have felt what I did.

That kind of connection is magic.
It is a rare gift that comes once or twice in a lifetime
and you want to hold and honor it
and each other
by allowing the seeds to root
and the vibrations to resonate
through your being
for as long as possible.

Me re di t h He lle r 9
My whole life
I’ve been tossed and tumbled
by intense tides of solitude.
When I do emerge from the depths
of my private sea,
if I meet a man I like
and there is a connection that feeds us both
like a fountain of youth,
then there are no games with me,
there is no cat and mouse,
if I let you in to my private cove,
it’s because I already love you,
and I don’t hold out
and I don’t hold back,
I bring my wild and wounded love
right to your altar
ripe as a summer peach.

I open at the soul and dive deeper.

But this summer, in the desert,
I loved a man who said he loved me too,
then he turned away
and made love with another,
and something in me has turned off
or perhaps it has finally turned on.

This part of me that for my whole life
has always been willing to love freely
and perhaps even innocently,
again and again
despite being burned to ash,
is no longer willing.

10 Me r e di t h H e lle r
Enough is enough.

A gate in me that has always swung open
is now shut
combination changed.
My heart has finally grown wise
with fierce protection
and fiercer love.


I feel bad for the next man who loves me.
He will have one hell of a time getting my attention
one hell of a time getting me to believe him
one hell of a time getting me to surrender
the hard earned love I’ve finally forged for myself,
and he’ll have to be better than I am alone,
because I am on fire!

Me re di t h He lle r 11
The Copper Witch

Bone by bone
memory by memory
she takes herself apart

scrubs her heart
in the river

grinds the knots
in her back
against a stone

oils her joints
by climbing
up and down
the boulders

until her body
becomes a creature
who moves by instinct.


guzzles spring water
until her thirst
is quenched

fills her bones
with minerals
from the jade river

drinks iron
from the stones
until her blood flows
red as rubies


bakes herself
in the sun

until the current
runs through her
as the first flutes
of morning.

Every molecule
to the music.

The choir
of the pines
a requiem.

The river

Me re di t h He lle r 13
rushing down the rocks
singing its gospel.

There are rocks
that are fists
and rocks
that are open palms

I lie in one of these
spread open
to the sun.

I feel alive,
my vulva wet.

The last wild blackberry
of summer
in my mouth.

The dragonflies
the wind.

14 Me r e di t h H e lle r
ie Seifert

Nothing is New
& N o O n e is D e a d

we live in circles

we inherit, embody, repeat

each time with an ounce more grace

but each time still
each time we remain

it is ours to hold for those who cannot

who would not

who passed it to us and now poke holes in our
confusion when we toss our histories between us

I could ignore its darkened edges as long as my sun
blocked it whole
but something died

and now I live here
and my mother is with me
and her sister
and her mother

and my sister
and the pain is ready to be parsed through
ready for me to hear it
to know it

and now what am I supposed to do with all this
knowing huh
where do I put their stories our stories
their pain our pain

for now
it’s settled here
made a home of my belly

pronounced in my loneliness

because no one ever really dies

they just creep into the bodies of the ones they were
supposed to love

waiting in the pit of a stomach who can name it new
for all of us

16 Me r e di t h H e lle r
arles Kruger
Preparing To Begin:
A Memoir

An underground pantry, the basement of my life. Dank
and dark, I enter, in imagination, like a neo-shaman,
through an imagined hole in the ground. There are
many cabinets, labeled and stocked with dubious goods.
The labels change from visit to visit. I’ ve noticed one
door marked “vanity,” another “failures,” and one called
“God, gods, magic(k).” Once they are marked with Tarot
cards; other times there are saintly icons or personal
photos of me and mine. I’ve noted blurbs for unwritten
books, historical photos, abstract paintings, mystic
runes or unknown foreign languages. It terrifies to
find cabinet doors open and unlabeled, revealing dirty
shelves crawling with grubs and maggots. But I keep
coming back to arrange the provisions, make sense, feed
myself. I am starving for my own life, fearful it will
rot on these shelves. And so I begin to inventory and

What I Know At 7

I know I’m a whiner and a beggar.
I know I’m tossed in a storm.
I know I’m Mommy’s favorite.
I know I’m like my crazy cousin the house burner-
who stays in the mental hospital when she isn’t

staying at our house because she can’t go home.
I know I’m weird; everybody thinks so.
I know I’m ashamed but I don’t know why.
I know I’m a fat slob.
I know I’m smarter than most people.
I know I think it’d be fun to be blind.
I know I can play the piano better than my sister.
Even better than my Daddy.
I know Daddy is ashamed of me and wishes I weren’t
I know Daddy wants me dead.
I know things have got to get better.
They’ve just got to.

18 C h a r l e s K r uge r
ld er G. Loren
Ca z
Dear Lindsay
a shorter story

Dear Lindsay, I’m outside and I think that you might
be proud of me because I did what I set out to do. I
woke up and I ate breakfast and I did my pushups. I
showered and put on these clothes and I thought
about writing you a letter, an explanation, and after
some time, after walking the perimeter of my house
and watching some television and taking out the trash,
I did it. I wrote it. And now I’m taping the note I wrote
to this book I’ve been reading and then I’ll be getting
out of my truck and then I’ll be opening the tiny door
to the wooden book library that sits on your block and
then I’ll be leaving it there for you to find.

This is what the note says: When you read this book you
will begin to see why I am the way I am and why I do some
of the things I do. Why I don’t like crowds, being stuck in
traffic, or to stand in line (feeling boxed in); travel (being
away from the fort, outside the wire); keep loaded guns
in the house; stay on high alert, ready for an attack; am
suspicious of strangers, people knocking on my front door
(sometimes I take my pistol with me to the front door); need
to sit facing the entry door in a restaurant and with my
back to the wall and near an emergency exit if possible;
get angry when disrespected (someone cutting me off on
the road); often feel as if I were outside looking in, just

going through the motions. Why I have insomnia, can’t
turn my head off, relax, or have fun. I don’t expect you to
understand it because you can’t, but this book will help you
to see that I can’t help it. It’s the way I am. Once a warrior,
always a warrior. You can’t just turn it off on demand. –
March 14th, 2017. *

Now that I’ve done what I set out to do, I’m driving
back to town. I need a few things. I wonder if you
remember Bryan. He’s been calling me lately. He says
that he’s got a good gig at the stadium. You know,
doing security work. He says they pay well there. That
they treat people well. He says that they need big guys
to help keep people from hurting each other there. I
wonder what you would say about all of that. I would
have to wear black. And I’d have to do some trainings.
Bryan says that one time he had to take a guy down
and they had to put the guy in handcuffs and then the
police took him away. You always seemed to like Bryan,
so maybe this is what I should be doing with my time.
I don’t know.

I never drive near the river anymore. Driving here is
not the same as when we were younger. I wonder if
you remember running here. I do. I used to hate the
first mile or so but then after I gave up thinking about
everything else, I’d start to feel better. Maybe it was
all that oxygen in my head or maybe it was getting to
watch the water roll with us as we ran with it. I don’t
know. But I liked it. And I remember that the coaches
never yelled at us and we got to laugh and I remember
that you’d always want to stop to watch the birds that
landed near the edges. And they never questioned us
about where we’d been or what took us so long or have

20 C a l de r G . L or e nz
some opinion about what we were doing out there. I
wonder if you ever visit the river anymore.

Every once in a while I get a pair of jeans or a shirt at
that thrift shop right off of Main Street. The lady who
runs the place likes to tease me about how limited my
purchases have become. She says that I was a better
dresser when I had help. When I’d bring you along. I
wonder if you remember her. She is Jeremy’s mother.
She doesn’t ever ask me directly if I’ve seen him but I
can tell she wants to ask me. We both signed up at the
same time. Enlisted. He was good at swimming and I
was big. So we went our separate ways but I’ve heard
things about him. About where he ended up. I wonder
if you’ve heard things. The last time I talked to Bryan
he said that he thought he’d heard that Jer ended up
on the street. That he lives in one of those tent cities
in San Francisco, or Oakland, or maybe it was Seattle.
I’m sure you remember that he loved the water. And he
could swim like nothing I’ve ever seen. I think I know
what you would say about sleeping in one of those big
cities. About sleeping out in those streets. And I agree.
I know I wouldn’t last long if I left here but I could see
Jeremy doing ok out there.

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been driving by the pound.
Most days, I sit in the parking lot and eat my lunch. I
wonder if you’d think that is silly. But it helps. I listen
to the dogs barking as they get their walks. I wonder
if you remember my dog. He passed away when I was
gone. But I have this one memory. You’d probably be
annoyed that I’m still telling this story but when he
was just a pup, I would take him out in the snow. And
one day it was snowing like you wouldn’t believe. The

Ca lde r G. Lore nz 21
snow was so high that it was up to his chest. I watched
him take these big exaggerated steps in it all the way
to the top of this hill. I remember letting him off the
leash and watching as he started jumping around and
rolling in it until he slipped and went right down the
hill. What a feeling. I remember thinking that I’d lost
him. I remember running and falling down that hill. I
remember the feeling of him licking my face as we sat
in the snow.

I’m home now, Lindsay. And I should probably let
you go, but I want to be honest so I might as well tell
you everything. As you may know, a few weeks ago,
I was asked to leave the program that was supposed
to help people like me. I was eighty-sixed. Asked not
to return because of my behavior. I know some things.
I know that I scare people. That I can’t stop arguing
with myself. That I don’t like being told what to do.
And yet now, I feel like I know less than I thought I
knew. And really, I don’t know what to do with all of
this. And that feels like the worst part of all. So, I’ve
decided to go back there, to the place where at some
point I’d found myself or at least I’d found some small
piece of myself. I’ve decided to go back there and see
if they will listen to why I did what I did. To you. To
them. To this life we just can’t help. I’ve decided to go
back there, to the clinic and see what they say. I don’t
think that I can say that I am sorry. I was never good at
that. And I know that I can’t just turn it off but maybe
someone will at least listen to what I’ve got to say.

typed note that was taped inside the first page of a book (Once A Warrior,
Always A Warrior). The book was left at a lending library somewhere in San
Bruno, California.

22 C a l de r G . L or e nz
m ak Vossoug
Sia hi
Th e Sp
e a k e r ’s A p p r e n t i c e
After college, Shayan Ghorbanian worked in a hotel.
He wrote letters about the place to a girl in Texas. He
hadn’t set out to write about the place. He had set out
to write love letters. But it seemed like the best way to
do it once he started was to show her the place where
he thought of her.

He wrote to her about the football fan club that had
come for a banquet and about the religious group
whose members spoke in tongues.

“There’s all kinds of people in the world, Lucy,” he
wrote. “And I like you.”

She was a friend of his cousin’s and they had kissed at
a party.

One day there was a talk in the main ballroom by a
motivational speaker. Shayan listened as he arranged
water pitchers in the back of the room. He was already
thinking of Lucy and of writing the letter in his head.

I don’t know, he thought. The people don’t look
unmotivated. They were certainly motivated
enough to come here early in the morning and
take notes and listen closely. Me, I’d like to listen
to someone who didn’t look so polished. There’s a

difference between being polished and confident. I
don’t know what it is yet. But maybe a really confident
guy would get on stage and say, ‘Beats me. What do
you guys think?’ I don’t know how well that would
go over. I’d pay to see a guy like that. That might
actually be fun. For all the different groups I’ve seen
in this place, I can’t shake the notion that there can be
something nice about a group of people together in a
big room. I haven’t seen it yet, but I think it can be. It
always looks like it can be to me, right up until the start
of the event. That’s why I like to come in and watch
everybody during the breaks. The whole thing doesn’t
look so bad then.

He was too busy writing the letter to notice the fellow
next to him saying hello.

“Hi buddy.”

Shayan looked to see that it was the speaker’s
apprentice. There were two of them. They weren’t
assistants because they did everything the speaker did,
just on a smaller scale.

“Can I ask you a question?”


“Would you like to be retired at thirty?”

“Retired at thirty?”


24 S i a m a k Vo s s oug h i
“That seems like a very young age to retire.”

The apprentice got very excited. “Why not? Why not
shoot for something like that?”

“Well, to answer your question, I don’t want to be
retired at thirty.”

“You don’t?”


The apprentice looked at Shayan as though this was
the first time somebody had ever said no.

“I’d like to be doing something,” Shayan said.

“You could do whatever you wanted if you were retired.”

“What I mean is, I don’t dream of retirement.”

Shayan thought then that the apprentice would walk
away. It seemed like non-retirement dreams were past
his apprenticeship.

“What do you dream of then?”

“Well, there’s a girl. She is in Texas though. Also I dream
of how it would be if everybody had to work in a hotel,
at least for a little while.”

He laughed. “That would never happen.”

“Aren’t you not supposed to say that?”

Si a ma k Vossou gh i 25
He smiled. “You have to be realistic.”

“Well, you wanted to know what I dream of. That’s one
thing. It’s not bad working in a hotel. I’ve seen a lot of
interesting things. I just think that if everybody had to
spend a little while in their life working in a hotel, it
would be a different thing. Everybody would come in
and say, hey hey, there’s the old lobby just like the one
I used to pass through. And of course they’d look at
the people there a lot differently. They wouldn’t just
pass by them, because they would know that that used
to be them. So they’d stop and chat for a few minutes.
And the manager wouldn’t yell at them, because they’d
be busy catching up with all the old managers passing

“Nothing would get done!” the apprentice said.

“Well I grant you that things would move more slowly.
But that would be all right. The events could overlap
anyway if everybody had something in common. The
people in the football fan club could let in the people
who speak in tongues. Maybe they could all hear some
motivational speaking too.”

“The way you’re describing it, it doesn’t sound like
they’re going to need it.”

“Well it can’t hurt. They’re all going to be there in the
room anyway.”

The speaker wrapped up, and gave a quick look to both
apprentices, on either side of the room.

26 S i a m a k Vo s s oug h i
“Good luck,” Shayan said.

“Thank you,” the apprentice said.

The next day Shayan was putting out the morning
coffee when he saw that only the speaker and the
other apprentice had come down to the ballroom.

“Where’s your buddy?” Shayan said to the other

“Mike?” the fellow said.


“He’s staying back today.”

“What happened?”

“This is a tough business. Tougher than I had thought.”

“What happened?”

“He said something he wasn’t supposed to say.”

Shayan had a sick feeling. He looked at the speaker,
arranging his notes at the podium. He looked like he
hadn’t said, ‘Beats me. What do you guys think?’ in a
very long time.

“What did he say?” Shayan said.

The fellow looked at him. He looked for an angle and
saw none.

Si a ma k Vossou gh i 27
“He said how come we don’t ever motivate people to do
anything together.”

Shayan smiled. He thought of Lucy at the party. She
had looked so beautiful. Of the three letters he had
written her, she had replied to none. He had a good
feeling about this one. Not so much that she would
write back necessarily, but that one way or another, he
would know where he stood after this one.

28 S i a m a k Vo s s oug h i
ro line Kessl
Ca er

The why dissolves into lamplight. I go to the country
she died in, spend months searching
for something she left. Climbing from floor zero
to the roof, staring out at the antennaed sky.
The astrologers say, what is wrong with being
totally happy. Nothing. So do it. I unearth
stones that look like tiger’s eyes, drill holes
into them. Threaded string, knotted,
an eye solid against my chest.


One night, a new building, a new person. I take him
to the cement roof, where power lines
fizz. Across the street, lit-up windows. We
invent lives for the man pushing
a vacuum around, a woman stepping into a pool
of silk. We dance, making it up as we go. I lift
him: swift, easy, despite his size. He maneuvers
me onto his shoulder. Arms up! he says,
so I spread them like wings.


In the country’s biggest crater, I put my face
against the earth. Craving the dirt’s
metallic nature. Eating it, I can be the magnet,
moving in a clear way towards another.

She lived in the desert and made paper. This
is what I learn about her, who I am
named after. After a life unfolded, she folded back
into herself. Airborne from a building’s edge.
Maybe there was a dusting of sand, a breeze—


Another dance, this time in a stolen studio.
I am uneasy as the night. He tries
to coax me into something other than stone.
I give in to the ground, naming
every noise I hear. A catalog of the city’s aliveness.


I have left the narrow place but not yet made it
to the expansive one. Bus after bus
arrives but none of them are going in a direction
I recognize. They sneeze with exhaust.
I am a horizon-less kind of tired. What is the voice
you most need to hear?


No one ever speaks of her, except she comes through
each time my name is spoken. Said aloud.
Except we never say anything of substance.


30 C a r ol i n e K e s s l e r
I go north to a house, to try to be alone. To listen
to what hovers below the surface. A person
warns me—you’ll hear the children, music, car races.
It’s nothing. I burrow towards my mossy


Once, an angel bent over a blade of grass
and whispered grow, grow.

That wind, though—

was it actually go, go?

Ca roli ne Ke ssle r 31
- SET 2 -
loe Wieland
I L o v e A b o r ti o n

I love abortion. I’ve had two, and I don’t think I’ll have
a chance for another, but god am I glad for the two I’ve
had. Just think, if it wasn’t for abortion, I would have
an 11 year old child with me right now. I wouldn’t
have spent the past decade exploring the infinite
options available to me. More troubling, I would have
had to figure out who the father was. Dan? The sweet
blonde man I’d slept with around Thanksgiving? I
don’t even remember how I ended up at his house. All
I remember is a twin bed in a dark room and walking
to my car in Birkenstock clogs in the snow, crunchy
ice crystals getting in my shoes and melting into my
sock as I drove home.

It was probably Dan, but I told everyone it was Charlie,
my college boyfriend who I’d seen one last time that
winter before leaving for Europe. Our habit was to
not use condoms, so how could he know I wasn’t using
the pill anymore, unless I told him, which I didn’t.
Everyone knew I was obsessed with him, how I’d hang
around his favorite bar, waiting for him to show up,
trying (and failing) to be indifferent. Then seeing him,
laughing and drinking together, forgetting other plans,
other friends. No, I have no idea where I’m staying
tonight. Sure, I’d love to come home with you. I was
charming and fun, but he really should have known

I’d met Charlie at 17. He was 20 and seemed different
from the other frat guys, the same way I thought I was
different from the private school girls I lived with.
We both had to work during school, we had that in
common. He’d crawl into my bed after delivering
pitas by bicycle, his body ice-cold. Mostly though, we
went to parties and drank alcohol and had sex, same as
everyone around us. Alcohol ended whatever it was—
an argument, while drunk, about whether I’d told
someone something, which I may have done, also while
drunk. The following two years of occasional sex and
pretending not to care wasn’t exactly satisfying, but I
just couldn’t let go. He was a really great guy.

So the first abortion was the best. Instead of having to
look up Dan No Last Name, or to tell Charlie that we
were forever inextricably tied together in the creation
of this child, I could give a dramatic ending to our story,
fly to Germany, and move on. That abortion saved me
from having to admit to anyone how reckless I was
being with my body. I would have had to stop drinking,
maybe get a job with health care. I definitely would
have lost any superiority I felt over my non-elite
college graduate siblings.

The second one was good too though. I still entertained
the paternity question. Was it the strange renaissance
man who kept inviting me to do things—come over,
have a drink, come upstairs, climb on top, that I didn’t
know how to politely decline? Or the notorious local
man, recently kicked out of his home, named after a
piece of meat, who worshiped my body? I didn’t know
how to say no to that either, though I tried.

34 C h l oe W i e l an d
If the first abortion was full of youthful drama, the
second one felt like I had become an adult. Instead
of calling my mother in tears and exaggerating the
turmoil of my decision, I knew exactly what to do.
As soon as the familiar alcohol induced nausea hit, I
called PP and booked an appointment, which turned
out to be on the first day of class for graduate school.
I managed to get to both, coming home to rest alone
in my studio apartment, reading or smoking a bowl
and quietly celebrating another near miss, another
successful detour from facing the consequences of my

Props to Virginia and Vermont, both of whom provided
fast and friendly abortion services, although the clinic
in Vermont was a much gentler experience. Virginia,
pre-Obama in 2006, still thought of itself as a red-state,
offering abortion but no perks! The Virginia clinic felt
like a laboratory where everyone in the waiting room
had a chronic condition for which they were seeking
low-budget experimental treatment. It was loud and
sterile in the same way as a high school cafeteria.
Vermont was lovely, a bright and cheerful clinic full of
smiling women, everyone with infinite patience and

I love my first abortion for giving me a memory of
my sweet younger brother, who attended to me when
I came home that day. I gave him a list of things I
needed—cheese and crackers, strawberry sour straws,
sanitary napkins. He and his new driver’s license
found almost everything on the list, and happily went
back out when I told him Blockbuster had the sour
straws. No questions, just somehow knew I needed

Ch loe Wi e land 35
attention and kindness, which younger brothers can
be really good at giving.

I loved having a secret at my going away parties, taking
shots of water when the alcohol just wouldn’t stay
down. Or later, whispering to a dear friend, I just had
an abortion, and feeling her sympathy, sympathy and
awe that I was alert and hanging out.

I love abortions. I love that I didn’t have to think about
taking care of a child alone while I was in graduate
school or moving to a new city. I love not being forced
to make decisions based on financial comfort and
security for the past 12 years. I love telling friends,
or friend of friends, it’s okay, you can talk about it.
Abortions are okay, they’re actually really good. They
mean you can keep trying.

36 C h l oe W i e l an d
at her Bourbea
He u
Zoltan’s Avocados

He thought flirt and money were enough to woo me,
as if I had not tasted the sickly sweet of other men’s
charms equally void of substance or interest in me, as
if I should be grateful, as if I had not treated myself to
the best restaurants or been flown across the world by
much better men.

He gave me a bag of avocados from his family farm,
half of them rotten. He presented these as a present
just for me, though with one look, it was clear I was
doing him the favor, as if I would not see the mold or
know his negligence, his lack of respect even in this.

When I returned home, I threw the rotten into the
compost and took the rest—their ripeness on the
verge of garish, still lush, soft, bursting. I opened the
fruit, gently pushed the pit, and spread the meat onto
my bread. I added salt to season his falsehoods with
grounding and to please my tongue in a way he will
never know.

The Slightly Melancholic Goat
The girl loved her goat, let him clamber
on top of her bicycle as she rode around town,
gave it all her sprouts and corned beef, groomed its
And when he was very good, she would feed him
poison oak that she kept in the greenhouse
away from her brothers and their sensitive skin.

But sometimes, more often lately, the goat felt
constrained by the girl’s attentions. He wanted to
leave her yard, climb a mountain, eat some garbage
and drink sour creek water with the Pupukea
they told the most outlandish stories
once they had some creek water in them.

He didn’t know how to ask for this. She would talk
and talk,
tell him her secrets—dark thoughts about girls at
school, simple

38 H e at h e r B our b e au
longing for crushes that seemed destined to fail as
even he could see
those boys preferred broader shoulders and deeper
than she would ever have, even with the inevitable
whiskey and gin.
She would share so much of herself, he felt selfish.

He loved her, welcomed her treats, brushes, and the
wind in his hair
as she glided down hills. He looked forward to their
quiet nuzzling
when she would read. But he felt like half a goat. No,
that wasn’t it.
(He could rut with the best of them, but didn’t want
to anymore.)
He wanted a way out of this Townes van Zandt mel-
ancholy. A way toward
his friends, his thoughts, his instincts. A way back to

He at h e r Bou rbe au 39
Super Smalls Had It All

There was a time when the rat was ashamed of his
stature, when he longed for the long limbs of goats or
the exotic necks of giraffes. He saw how the young girl
rats would lick their paws, smooth their hair and run
up drainpipes simply to watch these creatures walk by.

That was before college.

Here in the men’s room at the dorm, he was king—
able to get pot and snacks without being caught. He
was, as a result, well-liked and for those who cared
to step on his turf, question the quality of his stash
or sneak a look at his rotating groupie girlfriends, he
would defecate in their food without a trace or bite
them and apologize later for the rabies—though he
had been clean of all diseases for years now.

He reveled in his smallness, encouraged young rats
to keep themselves at pre-pubescent statures, told
them to stop eating meat scraps and dairy, insisted
on raw and vegan diets and workout schedules that
were merciless—running and weightlifting until
rat jockeys, had they existed, would have envied his
minions. “Super smalls has it all” was his motto and he
changed his name to “SS” for his burgeoning rap career
and “SS” was the logo for his inevitable fashion line.

40 H e at h e r B our b e au
But he could not stop.

Drunk with power and ambition and yes, talent, he
worked and worked, trained and mentored, forgetting
to pause, to eat, to love until he shrunk so small we
could not hear his voice, and then, smaller still until
he could not be seen and finally, until we forgot he
was there.

He at h e r Bou rbe au 41
n O’Reilly

M u st h
The word for when bull elephants are straight-up
to smash, fuck and kill, their penises longer
than yardsticks, erect for months at a time,
a stream of urine dribbling a trail of stench, sludge of
leaking from their temples and running into their

They tell the truth with trumpet, stomp, and stink.
No veneer
in the few wild islands of green that remain.
While in zoos and the streets of Burma, the spell
lasts only days because they’re chained, starved, held
in solitary. Weakening the body weakens the frenzy.

What else can be done? There’s no realm
vast enough for such delirium. I think of the rough
boys I grew up with, the ones who hunted
and ate squirrels, the flesh gamy and smelling of

bay trees.
The barefoot trails my friends walked to the creek
are gone,
and so are the steelhead, snagged on wormy hooks,
cooked in a blaze on the rocky floodplain.

Teddy Roosevelt said War is imperative upon honorable
hoping his sons returned with missing limbs.
Mohammed Ali, what would he have done
without his elegant power? Arjuna even.
How to spread the holy Word whispered to him by
if not by rendering it in blood.
How can the male sex give it up?

Their smooth ivory flashing in the savannah sun,
the gore and puncture,
the strong semen sending exactly who they are
into this diminishing world.

44 D i on O ’ R e i lly

No bone snapped clean,
no bare-chested bully,
no bell calling you in.
No blaring heat. Safe,
your blood warm, abandoned
dog at your feet.
A husband who loves you
like a bird’s nest of careful eggs.
You can stand, blank, letting light
beam over the battered face
of everything, the barbed
nettles, tarred leaves
of the bay tree, the pitter
of river birches
raining their catkins.
You can feel how broken you are.
You can’t be happy
in all this quiet. It frightens you,
knowing salvation
is a point of light
the eye follows downstream.
Not God, not the angry men
you fell in with, not the mother
who silenced you
with backhands and bruises,
not the bile-green bitterness

Di on O’ Re i lly 45
you learned to carry
close like your own beloved.
How can you forget
the look of the sky
as they beat you?
Telling you nothing
of the beauty in your flesh.
You’ve heard it takes one person
loving a child
for a child to survive,
and you say, Even if it’s just a dog.
It might be enough—
this wind you listen to, the thin limbs.
Whatever it was
that was given you
that you don’t know you have.

46 D i on O ’ R e i lly
Leaving the Burn Ward

It’s strenuous to be vertical, to be outside
again in the glare of the parking lot reaching
for my mother’s elbow.

The seats of the Lincoln Continental
are warm from the sun,
but I forget how to climb in,

so she bends my body to fit,
and I touch the blue leather,
aware that it’s skin.

My tightly-wrapped forearms stretch on the rests,
while my legs, bound in pressure
garments, reach across the carpeted floor.

Highway 17 terrifies me, twisting
through the coastal range,
the maples molting their yellow leaves.

Steep above the road, nets of heavy chain
constrain the crumbling cliffs, and as I pass,
the trees lean over and tremble.

The words I speak
are nearly lost in the hum of the V8:

Di on O’ Re i lly 47
Slow down, I say. Turn off the radio.

My mother complies, silent.
What can you say to a person
shocked by being alive?

48 D i on O ’ R e i lly
Everything That’s Old

Jets are the new motorhomes
chemtrails are the new clouds
the unknown dead on an island
are the calm before a storm
robots are the new immigrants
Round up is the new hoe
Colbert is the new Cronkite
smoke is the new sky
drought is the new summer
cars are heart disease
dust is lawn
downtown is the new homeless
Amazon, the new mall
retired is the new nomad
needles are the new rusty nail
plastic, the new lead
viral, the new headline
posting is the new protest
the horizon of the western ocean
is the new ghost of Godzilla
the Cold War is the new Cold War
fire heading down a suburban street
is wind
anxiety is the new air
the Earth’s crust is the weak eggshell
of a songbird.

Di on O’ Re i lly 49
Abe Becker

It’s Raining Cats
& Cats Out There

cool cats
hep cats
the Cat in the Hat cat calling Catzilla
MROW! If you catwalk like you fall mmmm…
leered the Cat in the Hat at poor Catzilla
who self-consciously hairballed
a hundred pound loogie
on Old Deuteronomy the stray
aristocat mewing on about the weather
a.k.a. himself Amaright? Amaright?
Isn’t my tux nice or Amaright? (splat)
as a kitten in boots took it all in as
just a pelt in the downpour whereas
jolly old Catty Claws knew
what he was falling for
guffawing Meow! Meow! Meow!
Merry Whiskers! checking his list twice: cat-
apulting mice cat’s eyes in marbles
cat’s eyes in celestial alleyways
where calicos caterwaul
ferals caterwaul
all cats caterwaul for
cat’s eye ice cream that tastes
a lot like cat-cowing urban yogi sweat
cascading like infinite felines slip
’n sliding down God’s spine wow
that Cat O’ Nine Tails can’t not sass
it’s so cute how she pirouettes through
the Milky Way laps & laps the sky
while aliens sip sip sip Cat® a tonic
named after this uncategorizably adorable
breed that has only been cute on that planet
until now as it hails from our sky along with
Garfield yep it’s really Garfield & that cat’s meow
wow recall the safety you’d feel reading
funnies in your dad’s Sunday paper safety
of a future when you wouldn’t get as
lonely & socially awkward as you still are stop
pretending you’re an indoors in the midst
of this miraculous downpour Halleluiah!
it’s raining cats & cats out there
allergic? grab your N95 mask & don’t come back in
until the adorable storm passes

52 Abe B e cke r
Not Sleeping with My Cat
on My Bed Is How
I Learned to Meditate

when you’re small
it helps to have big big friends
who might entirely conceal
your quivering heart
from all that is looking & lurking around
to enfold you in endless folds
of a belly like a sleeping ocean that waves you
up & down through the night
the arms of a friend that great in
you melt & reconfigure
as grenades splatter like paintballs
every pristine piece of your perfect world
appears colorful not terrible
safe in the arms of someone
big big

what feels even better small
is when you play protector
to someone even smaller
then you remember you’re the same
giving as receiving
then your whole life is a breath you are
breathing big big
& releasing
like belly-laugh at the safe-word
after tumultuous

Abe Be ck e r 53

my cat
made me feel the size of hurricanes in my chest
I might stay up half the night
trying not to wake her sleeping on my belly
not sleeping with my cat on my bed is how I learned
to meditate
whenever things got so bad
every time I brushed my teeth
I wanted a divorce from my face
I could always turn from the mirror & look at her
to the sound of my toothbrush slathering my teeth
she’d be cleaning her entire hind leg
from tail to paw & I thought
I am that cute & simple & she knew
I was a giant

54 Abe B e cke r
as Goshen

Catch & Release
It is my brother Avi who teaches me how to fish
His cheeks pink and raw in the San Francisco wind

We stand at the tip of the city, slicing frozen
Shrimp on the concrete pier with a pocket knife

This is the reel, he says, pointing, This is the sinker
An energy pulses through him, more than

Cold city air fills his jacket, widening shoulders
Into this broader image of himself.

Did you know there is an eye in a fish hook?
Did you know, we unthread its mouth

And it’s no big deal, really, it’s just
Catch and release of city fish, too small

To eat, too dirty to fry. It has been
A year of catch and release. I won’t

Say land or sea. To our left there is a man
And woman, young and blonde

Casting a single straight line down Aquatic Park’s
Bridge. They stroll, exchange small bits

Of shrimplike conversation
Slippery and without smell. A first

Date I ask, leaning toward Avi, a swell
Building in my chest, threatening to break

The pier before me shaking
From cold and pleasure to be

In company without want I tell him
Next time we’ll try a more pungent bait—squid or

The wind lifts his glove gingerly
Out across the bay

And he doesn’t anger. We watch the sunset
Stitch the water. Vast, navigable.

56 H a das G o s h e n
If I Could Repaint
my name American

I tug on my braid once more
And it becomes a brilliant
Blond crescent on my shoulder
I introduce myself to the man
At the ticket counter and he offers my
Name back to me a ripened
Apple Stephanie has
Cinnamon eyes and Gingham
Hands holding every American
River at its source two great wet
Lakes on my face, two wet
Swimmers with strange names
Shulamit and Shmuel still can-
Not pronounce certain
Bodies of water in this
Land I am lunchbox shiny
Cartoon plastic smiling outside
Fixed hard grin at the man
At the party the office the
Ballgame unclasp me
Inside the pita hardens the
Hummus caked curdles
Ketchup hunger so I tug my
Hair tug my hands Gingham is
White and some other color my
Aunties wear henna on their
Palms, cluck in adulation
But Stephanie has never heard

Ha das Gosh e n 57
This sound she does not
Unhook side-doors to the yard
And find brilliant blond
Swastikas sprayed on her wall
The skin of her home
Is bare and clean and
Pure I tug open the can
And help my dad repaint.

58 H a das G o s h e n
after Elizabeth Acevedo

You may call me the poet, but not the torrent.
I am not the downpour which may cleanse you.
I am not the ocean who laps the edges

Of dissolving coasts. Who moves the sailor
From one mercurial foothold to the next. There is no
anchor that will sit quiet in my chest.

I am not a lake complacent, rippling when
The unfamiliar body comes against it.
Although I too enjoy moving

Fluid through his hands; enjoy when he cups but
Cannot contain.
I have submerged this man deep within my dark,

Held him under the swell until he gasped,
Rushing for the surface of my neck.
Why should I hold an ebbing tide, turn

Waning smile to simile? The poet
Heaves adjectives off a ledge, relishing the sound.
Call me poet, if you must, but not the pool,

Nor thickened pond. Not thawing snow, nor

Ha das Gosh e n 59
Glass pitcher, sweating clean in June’s dull heat.
I am neither, nor blinded by the fevered green of

Or an orange desert orb.
My hands are not kettles, but look as they boil,
Look as I place them tenderly upon his back, unzip
him from the slick

Black compression of a wetsuit. But still he is dizzy
Complains of unyielding pressure, still I can’t seem
To let him breathe.

60 H a das G o s h e n
n do Meisenha
r na lt
B o u n d a ri e s
Her name is Kristy or Kristal or Kelly, I’m not sure
which, so I just call her sweetheart and babe and she
never seems to mind. She’s too busy talking about her
ex-boyfriend anyway, a guy who’s still her boss at work.

“In bed he wanted me to call him ‘master,’ as in: master,
you want me to wear my nurse uniform tonight? I was so
sick of it.”

She tells me she always set strict boundaries with him.

“He wanted me to lick whipped cream off of his body
one time. But I was on a diet, so I made him use non-fat
yogurt instead.”

“Boundaries,” she says. “They’re indispensable.”

“He also tried to stick it up my rear end one time, like
it was an accident. But I wouldn’t have it, and didn’t
budge until he admitted it hadn’t been an accident.”

“I didn’t think you’d notice, was his only defense.”

“It’s all about boundaries,” she says.

I like her assertive, driven style. She’s intense,
talkative, and French-Canadian, perfect for an
insecure guy like me.
But my brain tells me to stay away from her, “she’s a
rebound,” it says, “obsessed with her ex, no good for

But I’m a guy, always ignoring warnings, especially if
they come from the brain.

She says her ex-boyfriend cheated on her once with a
coworker who gave him a blow job in the copy room.

But she immediately recognized his gasping.

“Unmistakable,” she says, “a dead giveaway.”

“Did you quit that job?” I ask.

“No. There’s nothing out there for me. Just part-time
nonsense; sneeze-and-you’re-fired crap; at-will con-
tracts not worth the paper they’re written on.”

So she’s stuck in job-Hell like the rest of us, waiting
for the next recession to wipe everything out.

“At least he can’t fire me,” she says. “I’d sue him for
sexual harassment, the only form of job security we
have left.”

Tort laws. God bless them.

She thought of seeing a shrink.

“But they just pill you up,” she says. “And I need answers,
not ways to postpone the inevitable.”

62 F e r n an do Me i s e nh a lt e r
I agree, and I nod to everything, and she looks at me
with curiosity, perhaps even with interest, probably
wondering: “who’s this guy who keeps nodding at
everything I say?”

“I sense a void in you,” she says, “like an emptiness or

“I didn’t eat breakfast.”

“No, no, I mean, it’s like you’ve lost something. Maybe
back in Mexico. Don’t you miss Mexico?”

“Absolutely not.”

“Don’t you miss your family?”

“Did Hamlet miss his relatives?”

“What about friends?”

“I don’t have friends. I just attend support groups.”

Maybe she gets me. She too is friendless, Facebook-
dependent, an Internet-American seeking meaning in
a cybervoid of undersocialized strangers.

She goes to my boombox, puts a Celine Dion CD
inside, very French-Canadian I suppose, and presses
play, and The Horror begins. It’s Celine’s voice. It’s
awful. It’s killing me.

But she loves it.

Fe rnando Me i se nh a lt e r 63
“You know Celine sang for Pope John Paul II when he
visited Montreal?”

So the Holy Father had to endure this, too? That poor
man. No wonder they want to canonize him.

She keeps on chatting, but now I’m only half listening.
I’m mostly thinking of the Pope, a real-life saint, giving
hope to the rest of us.

She only cries once.

“I miss him,” she says. “I really do.”

“I know.”

“He’s my master,” she says.

And I try hugging her, but she pushes me away.

“Boundaries,” she says. “Remember?”

“Of course.”

And she says she’s okay, and we keep chatting.

I still can’t remember her name, Kristy or Kristal or
Kelly, but that’s alright. I just call her sweetheart and
babe, and it’s no biggie, no sweat at all, and she never
once seems to mind.

64 F e r n an do Me i s e nh a lt e r
Sm e ll
s Like Holiday Spirit
at your christmas party, a man with pomp spilling from
his suit said, yes every flavor of nonsense, and a whiff
of rotting whale wafted across the room. it’s been a big
year for me, the Freudian refrain that impales itself
upon you, every Black Friday irony that pitches a tent
in a city of homeless. you can’t turn a cockroach into a
prince, no matter the amount of lip service you give,
no matter the here: let me play doctor and you play the
sultry nurse with the ice pick. the man with the suit
proclaims himself the greatest depression, upturns his
pockets and scatters gold to the floor. watch your
coworkers turn tricks for scraps, shedding masks like
vacuum packed skirt steaks. I have to leave, you say.
salvage the bones and get the stew going. one day the
pig will fly and we’ll all be on the dance floor
pretending this is all the DJ’s fault.

nnie Zheng
St r a n g e G e o l o gies

My lungs open to receive the smoke
of benzoin resin and agarwood,
sandalwood, cinnamomum cassia,
star anise crushed into dalmations of ash.
Muddled veil a witching color.
Light of a skidded road, dusty rain.

It is afternoon, the sun low, a tepid yellow—
stilled like ants in a palm of amber.
Quadrangles of shadow purpling, iron bars of a crypt.
Good evening, grandmother.
I can’t think over the thickness in my brain.
Some passages open only when others close.

You kept your old photographs in a biscuit tin.
I used to be the best doctor in the army, you said.
I saw a thousand patients a day even when I was sixty
years old.
I would never know how to respond.
What do we say in the face of death?
When we see it carved in the folds of our paling eyes?

My hands were so slender, you said,
turning the knobbed roots of your fingers
around and around, the barreling tail of a bird.
Now your fingernails are ash,
Gold from the alchemy of cancer.

Pitch of summer, green marrow of sky.
You played the piano despite being half-deaf,
Whispering into the winter wind.

68 Connie Zheng
ia n Waksmuns
Br ki
Black Hawk Blue

Hyde & Turk
clipped pigeons strain their ears
trespassing padlocked parking lot
brown paper bags of pounder beers
riffraff crowd of busted cars
lame ponies without owners
praying for piano bars
from long gone jazz ghost donors
and I’m vibing kind of blue
kind of a greenish hue of blue
as we wait here for Bill Evans
full moon & cigarette lit seance
waxing once upon a neon
once upon a scene
waiting for Bill Evans
and his ivory boned machine

sidewalk plaque X marks the spot
monument for moment lost at sea
flotsam legends scattered to four corners
jetsam jams adrift amid the ‘loin antiquity
notes which soared like cannonballs
from horns that wailed and whined
intoxicating eardrums
as they downtown hip defined
devil-tailed tunes out backdoor slipped
to vice mischief incite
in alleyways they rollick yet
soundtrack of San Franciscan night
sign on chain link claims “lot full”
sold out show this evening
but I see only we
in the bulldozed Black Hawk’s shadow
waiting here to hear Bill Evans
to assure us that tomorrow
when we’re all a flat grazed parking lot
tour posters faded faces forgot
erased from lit marquees with
the same effortless ease
that Bill Evans rolled a riff with
those key-tickling fingers

70 B r i an Wa k s m un ski
the song we sounded in our prime
after our time still lingers
when our Steinways sell for firewood
and snares for credit pawned
our legacies will keep the beat
like encores from beyond

Bri an Wa ksmu nski 71
- january 7, 2019 -

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