Anna Cates

The Second Coming

 

Political smut overcasts the sky
the dust bowl
rushing across the plains
while the white pines
whip with the wind—
a pathetic fallacy.

Lobbyists hustle Washington,
full of passionate intensity,
tiptoeing into negative capability,
the futility quivering.

The world’s a troll that’s turned to stone.
The poem’s a lie,
a Disco Word Orgy
that moons the sky
now kingdom come.

Read me! Read me!
it cries. Stanzas
stack up pig pile
like skyscrapers
then tumble
down to dust.

Deserts fill with dragons. Witches
ride their little brooms
like Halloween in July. Oceans wail.
Tectonic plates shift. Planets
line up like skid row inmates for lunch.

The sun shies away with wounded pride,
and the gay men green cheese grin.

Crows grow old beneath their feather boas,
waiting for the beast.

Turning, turning,
the world keeps turning,
waiting for the beast,
hunched on his haunches like Pan—
hairy, breasted, phallused—
Hecate.

 

Esteban Ismael

Bird Song

 

our voices roam through walls.
the plastered leaves have made a roof
above us, moist alabaster.

in the wet space of our breaths
fluttering, the trill song we sing
while the world is falling around us
from what we can see
through the glass window.

a reckless dew, wind-rushed
melody of the heavy elm
branches, sway.

i circle you
like the beak of a crow,
the misunderstood fortune of luck

that reads like a bad omen, the feather
misplaced in a couplet of rolled twigs,
a late arrival of setting moons,
your cousin’s smile
a slant flight of stars crash-landed
in some back alley, crooked wings.

a song itself sung by the clouds, stormdrains.

your lips olives softened by rain.

 


Esteban Ismael

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Karen An-hwei Lee

On Runaway Angels in the Haight

 

Why do our tourists in San Francisco utter Ashbury with a Z,
xxxxxrhyming with raspberry, blind to Haight as a homophone
for hate, mispronounced the height. Runaways, rail-thin girls
razor crystalline rays of toxic ardor, pipes of ultraviolet haze
on North Beach, venom of urban wilderness. Desire
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxprophesies to young fugitive women –
Love yourselves. If you refuse to love
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxlabor at least love yourselves. You are
all you have in this intravenous world
xxxxxxxxxxxxxand God is more obvious than the maw
of this post-machine age
xxxxxxor a bruise-lipped tattoo on your chin
if you look.

 


Karen An-hwei Lee

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Sarah Ann Winn

Turnpike Elegy

 

Down the white mountains, headlights flash lighting fog
on back roads, I dreamed as I drove

that I picked up my sister from a rest stop somewhere
in northern New Jersey, and she made me let her out

of the car when we got to Delaware. I had three hours
to ask her anything, to find the moon in the clouds

of her hair, to laugh as she denied smoking,
flicking embers out the window. She asked me

why I couldn’t keep my eyes on the road,
why I had to scan the fields for deer, the rocks for falls,

why I drove an hour out of my way to skirt the city,
what I had done with her Garfield comics, what

ever happened to her precious things, none of which I could name.
I only had the one question, and couldn’t voice it in the end,

smoke in my eyes, pollution in the air, and anyway, I was alone.

 


Sarah Ann Winn

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Nika McKagen

Unwarranted Atmosphere

 

Downstairs via the stairs, the janitor makes a fool of his bride, the broom. For us, imagining
bondage is enough. A red shed. My abdomen hurts, my thorax. Everyone unsure for pain is not
words. A dinner party stained the shed. That’s me. Rusted, rust and I are leaving. The girl turns
to me to say, “Definitely flesh. Flesh ineffable.” Guilt is not like pain. All of us can feel her guilt.
How can one be totally stagnant? Let me show you how. Let me show you how indefinitely
stagnant us birds can be.

 


Nika McKagen

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Lorena Alvarado

mama found you in the alley

 

a baby owl
at the back entrance.
startled, she gathered stones
convinced of your foul nature,
as if someone sent you
to cast spells

your round eyes
were also terrified

father, delighted, picked you up
held you, to mama’s horror
I don’t want that thing here
And locked you in a cage
Both stared
Neither with compassion
with desire and with dread
I’m going to sell it to my compadre
How much do you think he’ll give me
for this

and so you were gone
who knows where, who knows
for how much.
did you go and meet
others. raise chicks.
Eat eyes, rodents.
Who knows if you were a woman,
a girl, and ancestor beggar, her brother
his mother, my sister
or just an owl
with perfect vision

 


Lorena Alvarado

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Ryan Hibbett

Boldly, a Dog Poem

 

My dog Curfew figured out how
to scale the fence. When our paths
crossed I turned my back, hearing
him trade growls with a mechanic.

I was ashamed. Like when
the neighborhood snuffled over
our stuff in the garage. “That’s
Hibbett’s dog,” someone blabbed,
as if shoving the most secret me
under the school’s flood lamps.

Turns out Jimmy Stewart’s poem,
warbled sweetly on Carson one night, isn’t
bad. His dog didn’t mind, wasn’t
loyal. Just that extra lump
in the bed, soughing
into the blackness.

We know what he’s talking about.
“Oh there you are. And here am I.
This could work out.”

 


Ryan Hibbett

 

 

Michael Wasson

Of Hangers & Horses

 

My brother
learns to button his shirt
by buttoning our father’s flannel
he found in the closet

He hangs it outside
from the aspen’s barest limb
He knows
when he pulls
the buttons apart

it’s just like a father’s skull
like reservation skin
breaking open the torso

a hollow person
falling to the grass


*

Mom was breaking
into something bright

her favorite color
white

favorite animal
horse she’d say

a snowy appaloosa
breathing whinnying wide
in the field

gunshy.

 


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