RYAN QUINN – NITROUS

Nitrous

Can of nitrous, what is so funny?
Laying on the floor on your side
like a toppled statue.
Beside all your friends.
Yes, I have socks on my feet,
they are wool because it is cold.
Why are you laughing, can of nitrous?
The furniture may all be second hand,
but it’s paid for.
There is food in the fridge, and therefore
a lot less to worry about.
My father said I could be anything
I wanted to be, but he was an accountant.
Do you think he always wanted to
be an accountant?
Me neither.
I really have to clean these windows,
you can barely see out of them.
I think I will paint a picture of a bowl of fruit.
Why are you laughing?

 

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JERI THOMPSON – HOPING MAYBE

Hoping Maybe

They always said “Maybe” when they didn’t want to
take my brother and me to Knott’s Berry Farm,
Ringling Brother’s Circus, Disneyland, Marineland.

Then there was Mackinac Island in Michigan.
Our visit, full of grandmothers, grandfathers, uncles and aunts.
They had all been to Mackinac Island.
We asked if we could go this visit, this trip, this time, this place

Mackinac Island. My mother would talk of going there as a girl
where she saw a Pyranha fish in a tank, ate
cotton candy then puked on the next
directionally confused roller coaster going just the right speed.
I got to watch the Banana Split’s Show while pouting
when “Maybe” waved as it passed us on the calendar, as
days fell away too quickly in Michigan. My heart was broken
many times by disappointments from maybes.

My mother didn’t want to say “No,” yet wanted
us to “shut the hell up.” Everyone’s parents mess their kids up
and even as a kid I knew “I’m sorry, no” is easier than another “Maybe.”
“Maybe” taught us hope is a four letter word.
“Hope” taught us not to count on her because she lies.

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JACK FREEMAN – IBRAHIM

Ibrahim

 

Go past the doorway—

past the knitter’s frame,

and the farmer’s wife,

naked in the sod

as if draped in linen—

walk on, into

the dunes, into out-

croppings cut by

ice, into a basin

of dark knots and

ribbons— an oasis

without water (palm

trunks flaking, scalped

dates scattered, half-

buried like scarabs)—

return to the port,

to the foreign stores

peddling screens,

scraps of lithium,

and plastic zip-ties—

place your prayer

rug under your bed,

your prayer book

under your pillow—

on your side, trace

the minaret with

your thumb.

 

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JOAN MCNERNEY – THE SEARCH

The Search

 

We are the lost who have

climbed hillsides…gathering

innumerable and unnamed

stumbling over sharp rocks

searching for our long shadows.

 

Tracing darkness with

vagrant fingertips

tasting the disdain of dust

we are long shadows

moaning with open mouths.

 

 

Eating bitter food grown

on the wrong side of this moon

our hearts caged in fear

fearing we have been cast off

fearing we have no destination.

 

 

Sands burning our feet

whipping our unnamed faces

we are long shadows crossing

this desert longing for

an end to our thirst.

 

 

We are losing our shadows

entering empty caves

now listening for echoes

now finding wells of memories

innumerable and unnamed.

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JD DEHART – FASHION SENSE

Fashion Sense

 

Coming to terms
with the fact that a loop
of metal will probably
never grace my ear
or nose –

 

Despite the way some people
absorb neon, fashion themselves
with tattoos, swim in their own
soup of counterculture,
figures out of a science fiction
self-made landscape, who
make rips and scraps converge

 

I am much more likely to be
found in a soft T-shirt, or couched
in corduroy, nursing a tattered
book as if it might solve my universe.
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