Feel Better

“Look at my pussy,

it’ll make you feel better”

she said, as she stood

in the shower, one leg in

tub, the other up on

the ledge, her hand

parting her lips as she

smiled: a few moments

earlier I had noticed a text

come through her phone

from her dealer, picked it up

and scrolled through the

message history: she assured

me it was her friend who

had used her phone to text

him about fucking and what

not, and that she would

never cheat on me: later

that night I found out she

was lying: I thought of her pussy

but it didn’t make me feel better.


The Mundanity of Chronic Illness – Lindsay Ballew

The Mundanity of Chronic Illness

when i say that i don’t want to live like this, it’s not an idle suicide threat

it’s just that i’m tired of my life exploding

little explosions and big explosions

not just my life, but my brain
my kidneys are fine for now, thank you
because someone (hollywood?) must think bipolar is so exciting
not the days when you can’t string three words together but go to work anyways with the other ten stuck in the cosmos
not the evenings alone at the kitchen table because you have alienated the other three
not the tremor or dizziness or running into walls or the stupid snakes

that aren’t snakes but (my doctor says) might be a tumor but it isn’t a tumor because I’ve been dealing with this shit too long
not the fear that the only things that have worked are not working
the scars on my body are not exciting
the incompetence is not exciting
the ways i’ve let everyone down – still not exciting

yesterday the phlebotomist told me her mom is taking such a high dose she doesn’t know if it’s still her mom

i didn’t say that maybe she is more herself

i didn’t say that there are no angels

no demons

no self, just

ions, synapses, protein

codes that don’t get screwed up, just passed down

which is unbelievably pointless

i want to open my brain from the base of my skull and pull out the snakes

hollywood would love it

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Wisdom was passed on from mouth to mouth.

                                                                        —Bertolt Brecht
                                                                            New Ages

And wisdom was passed on from mouth to mouth
in soft kisses, quickly lost, like music
from her piano. Windows let notes out
last night (and it was the last night) and you ran
after them with your net. Then starry air
found its way back into your open mouth.
Your tongue brushed her wisdom as it landed
on fact. Her candle out, the smoking wick
a token of wisdom from her mouth’s lair.


For you I would be insane and lovely at the same time – ABIGAIL GEORGE

For you I would be insane and lovely at the same time
(for the Dutch poet Joop Bersee, with love)

Here’s looking at you at fifty. You’re
fifty still living in your parents’ house.
You’re not happy. You’re living in the
shade of your sister’s happiness. She
left you years ago, ventured out into
the world on her own. You still think
you’ll get better in therapy. You still
hate your own face, and sharp objects.
Steak knives with their cool, clean, pure-
serrated edges. Masters of none-and-
everything. Masters of Jericho, Ruth. Boaz.
The dreams you once had, you dream of
them still. They’re like paper flowers.
And your voice is like the agreements
between them. Full of secrets, a fading
sunlight of day paying attention to the
resonant branches and their tensing
melody. You think back to all the hurt,
despondency, useless slipping-away-
from-you-frustration, (honest), and it
moves inside of you like the first man
who molested you. You go under the sea,
and become pure again (an innocent).
Your hair dark lines, and haywire all
over your face. The road home all-pepper-
and-potholes. You’re still scared of
the dark. Yes, yes, you’re still scared of
the dark. And you’re all feminine-and-
masculine (girl with her hair cut like a boy). Still
you long for the safe truth of women.
What did you do with the angels I gave
you. I think of the coconut oil on my mother’s
hands as she combed and braided my hair
when I was a little girl. There’s a little
girl in the advertisement I’m watching
on television. It’s about hair. It’s about
hair. It’s about hair. African hair, whatever
that means. Oil, sheen, relaxer cream, and I’m looking
at the Portuguese man again who gave
me the eye in Johannesburg all those years ago.
I think about his smile that lit up my face,
his light-blue sweater as he leaned over
the counter, and I think of the hair on his
hands, his arms, the hair on his chest there
sticking out like a triangle. I think of his
European-lover-face, and how I went up in

smoke that day. How sexy he made me
feel, how beautiful, and desired, this Captain Fantastic
in the paradise that was Johannesburg then.

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2 POEMS – Jeffrey Zable

NEVER AGAIN May the burning embers twirl around your mustachio and become a river itching itself into a fit of melancholia, while the pumpkins with metal teeth snap at the Christ-like pomegranates. And when the eternal crying begins, may the faces without eyes suddenly profess, “My God, I have no idea how you found me!” […]

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A Semi-Circle of Vets, Waiting for the Counselor (Eupnea) -Ron Riekki

We breathe.

You can’t hear it.

It’s called eupnea.

The silence of breath.

The sound of lungs

at peace.

Except for Kyle.

His pleural apical scarring.

He spells it plural,

as if the scarring

couldn’t be singular,

but owns the lungs.

And he spells it as scaring

sometimes too,

filling out

the V.A. paperwork

like that,

as if there’s fear

in this eternal

sick call

and, oh, there is.

I know.

I do it too.

I know it too.

And I work

to control

my sounds,

the smoke

decades ago

that came in,

formed a semi-


in my chest

and thoughts,



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the fan sitting on

a window sill

was gently blowing

the curtains on to

a radiator heater

the phone rang and rang

water boiling in a kettle

steam whistling out as if

it were a toy locomotive

circling the red hot

coils on a portable

electric range

plugged in to a

bloodstained wall

water overflowing in

the old clawfoot bathtub

Randy Travis blaring on

a portable FM radio

from an empty living room



Drying out

An army cot

Above the Taos

Fire station

Is not an ideal spot

But the cool breeze

Coming through

The window

Sure feels



Purchase Jon Huerta’s debut collection of poetry and moonshine recipes HERE