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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Laura Da’

 “The Haskell Marching Band” & “Passive Voice”

 

The Haskell Marching Band

 

In the basement of Haskell Indian School,
she was one of the girls standing assembly style
pressing flour into pie tins.

Long hours at the school’s foundry made him crepuscular.
Accustomed to seeing his shadow in waxy pre-dawn light,
he would pause near the basement bakery’s vent,
warmth blossoming around his ankles as he placed his boots in the slush
and stomped out a tune that she’d recognize
from the last night’s band rehearsal.

After graduation, they married:
the band had to find
another trumpeter—
the quartet a new flutist.

Thirteen summers of work release—
eighteen-hour days and humid hayloft nights
allowed him to buy his trumpet from the music instructor.
The flute stayed behind.

 


 

Passive Voice

 

I use a trick to teach students
how to avoid passive voice.
Circle the verbs.
Imagine inserting “by zombies”
after each one.
Have the words been claimed
by the flesh-hungry undead?
If so, passive voice.
I wonder if these
sixth graders will recollect,
on summer vacation,
as they stretch their legs
on the way home
from Yellowstone or Yosemite
and the byway’s historical marker
beckons them to the
site of an Indian village— 

Where trouble was brewing.
Where, after further hostilities, the army was directed to enter.
Where the village was razed after the skirmish occurred.
Where most were women and children.

Riveted bramble of passive verbs
etched in wood—
stripped hands
breaking up from the dry ground
to pinch the meat
of their young red tongues.

 


Laura Da’

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Tiffany Midge

 A Love Story

 

The blood stain on the towel.

After making love left.

The impression.

Of a perfectly shaped pair of cartoon lips.

The cartoon kiss a shock of crimson.

I took a photo.

It reminded you of your first time.

With Midori, your then-wife.

In a love hotel rented by the hour.

Which virtually populates every corner.

Of Tokyo.

Your imprint on the sheet celebrated.

The Japanese flag.

It was a thing of beauty, you said.

Our love inspiring flawlessness, you said.

Round orb of brightness.

Or panic.

Your then-wife rushed to the bath to scrub it out.

 


 

Distress

 

The waiter refills my glass
then a crash
almost collapses the awning.
Rain staccatos the roof,
and bullets come to mind
because earlier on the phone
inviting me to dinner,
telling of the details,
I imagined a murder
to rival Capote’s opus, but it wasn’t,
rather your brother-in-law who owned too many books
took his old mother with him,
natural causes, the police
told you, heart panics, heat strokes,
or loneliness and your husband’s
away, so here we are.
                                    In Kosovo, little boys
ran after your interpreter’s
VW Rabbit begging for cigarettes. What is a Newark
house with too many books?
What is a torn country? They love Americans!
Because we bombed the Kurds.

                                    In Newark, a double death.
It pours outside.
The sky’s a fist of tobacco,
and the night smells like pennies and blood,
our first rain in months.
From my current read, The Bookseller of Kabul,
I tell you that the Taliban outlawed

kite flying but not polygamy.
                                    My windshield wiper breaks.
I drive home with your bath towel
in my lap, Scotch tape holding
the blade together. You fly to Newark
to see to burials and a labyrinth of books,
unforeseen rain that surrenders
to gravity, a luminous source of light
trailing from war-torn cities.

 


Tiffany Midge

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Kelly McQuain

Biography

Kelly McQuain is the author of Velvet Rodeo, the winner of  Bloom Magazine‘s annual poetry chapbook. His writing has appeared recently in The Pinch, Redivider, Weave, Chelsea Station, Assaracus, Kestrel, Mead and Chelsea Station, among other journals. His work has been collected in such anthologies as Men on Men, Best American Erotica, Skin & Ink, The Queer South, and Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books. McQuain’s occasional columns on city life appear in The Philadelphia Inquirer. He teaches at Community College of Philadelphia.

Kim Shuck

Purisima Conception

 

Carved wooden bell, mute in the campanario, the 
Bell, even then, 
Made the mission 

No mention of the uprising, occupation
Only gentle nods that the
First building was hauled up with Chumash help 

I surprise a lizard
Near the rebuilt kitchen
He hides under the Rosemary 

They are careful to hang the mirrors high 
Here by the old 
Schoolroom

 


 

Dolores

 

Unconsciously
I have stood in my window
Pitching curses down at
Mission Dolores 

Not my right to forgive
Mass graves
Forced labor camps- neither group
My ancestors 

Instead I
Withdraw my anger
Visit each and
Return that energy to myself 

Invent songs of de-cursing for these
Relics
Most going to dust as
Mud will without its water

 


Kim Shuck

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