EMAN BOURAS – GIRL BURNING THE WRONG WAY

Girl Burning the Wrong Way

The girl wants you, alive this time—

Which is to say, hands turned on the table
so we know you’re not moving to kill us, hands
around our neck meaning forever, meaning
right now, meaning hands
around waist pulling toward another
fire, another swallowing thing, choosing
the poison over the lips and the
wrong body in the lake, over
and over.

But you aren’t
the one dancing this time with
rolling veins, a stronger sage, spitting
holy water into the
hotel room to
remember all this for you.

When you thought, at least there
was dirty breathing on
the opposite side of
the bed, at least there
was breath, a man in a hat swearing
he loves you, swearing and
heart pounding, and
fist in wall–
why did they all feel the same to you?

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POETRY: RITA ROUSSEAU – REMEMBERING

Remembering

 

I walk in the shadow of skeletal trees,

their fearsome, naked branches reaching out

in desperation, pleading for redemption

like ghostly soldiers back from war in search

of peace, an end to dreams

of screams and shattered flesh.

Scattered underneath, concealed among

withered, blood-red remnants of last year’s

flowers, lurk spiked seed pods,

tiny, inobtrusive land mines

set to detonate at slightest touch

exploding everywhere new seeds

prepared to sprout, to conquer, and

to dominate all lesser growth

exhibiting their red magnificence.

Until, again, the glory ends

in stark, bare desolation.

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POETRY: KYLE PERDUE – “Breakfast With a Skeleton”

“Breakfast With a Skeleton”

I walked down the morning stairs

a skeleton sat at my typewriter

he was turning the wheel

trying to get the paper through

“you have to guide it through.”

I said through a yawn

he looked at me snide

his bone and marrow yellowish from decay

what are you looking at?

I thought

you’re a god damn skeleton

he took a sip of coffee

I watched it go into his jaw

through his throat

down his belly

and onto the floor

he’d gotten the paper in

and I could hear him now from the kitchen

he was typing something

“eggs?”

I called out

no response

I walked over

he was head-down, still typing

“YEAH!”

he screamed

jesus

I made the eggs— dashed with some cinnamon

I sat on one end of the table

him on the other

I watched the eggs travel through his body

and splat onto the floor where my dog ate them

“terrible.”

he said

“is that, is that cinnamon?”

what was left of his face cringed

“what were you writing?”

no response

“what were you writing?”

he took another bite of eggs and said:

“a body for myself.”

“a body for yourself?”

“a vessel for this hollow, lonely, useless, irritating,

appalling arrangement of calcium.”

“that’s what you were writing?”

“that and a love poem.”

“for Meryl”

“but how do you write a body?”

I asked him

“the same way you write a love poem,

it writes you.”

I had a sip of coffee

“I like you, skeleton, you should stick around.”

“can’t,

I’ve got to get an x-ray today.”

he showed me his broken arm

“you ever tried writing a love poem with a broken arm?”

he asked

“no, but I have with a broken heart.”

we sat in silence

just before he read me his body

and his love poem

I cried during both

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POETRY: Christine Stoddard – “Apartment Hunting”

“Apartment Hunting”

 

Theo lived with six roommates.

Half of them thought you were black;

half of them thought you were white.

In the month you found refuge on his sofa,

not one of them ever asked, but you could

read their interpretation based on

how they discussed the pricklier points of race.

None of them had been to Virginia, save for one.

He once shot past Washington, D.C. and

spent a couple of hours in Arlington

before he realized his mistake.

He said the Potomac looked ferocious,

but you were a Rappahannock River girl.

You still didn’t know the bodies of water

that threatened to swallow New York.

In Bushwick, the only drops you saw

lined the gutter and pooled on the sidewalk.

Sometimes the cry of seagulls pricked your ears.

A little lost, the birds had not steered too far off course.

But you never mentioned nature to your unwilling neighbors.

“Lavinia,” said Theo one morning, while lighting a joint,

“It’s been nice, but you have to find an apartment.

Craigslist that shit, girl. It’s not that sketch.”

You stopped chewing your grits (a remnant of home)

and nodded slower than a late-night G train.

“It’s all run together,” you say. “I forgot how long I was here.”

“This city sweeps you up, but you learn to fight it.”

He exhales and you both appreciate the clouds he fashions.

“Where do you want to live?” he finally asks.

“Somewhere where I can see the sky,” you say, surprising yourself.

“Welcome to Brooklyn. No tunnels of building shadows here.”

“As long as it’s cheap,” you say, thinking of closets and slums.

You don’t add that you have nearly run out of savings

because Theo will try to convince you to work at his office,

the call center that lets him reschedule his shifts for auditions.

You didn’t flee to New York to ooze in and out of a 9-to-5.

You didn’t move here to dread every day of your existence.

You came here to revel in textiles, to dress Broadway’s stars,

to tell stories through costumes like you dreamt in school.

“We’ll look at listings and book appointments for tomorrow,”

says Theo in a daze now that the pot has hit him.

“Sure, load me up,” you mutter and grab his joint.

It’s your moment to escape, to surrender

as a speckled seagull shrieks outside.

~

Find Christine Stoddard online.

 

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POETRY: TIM STALEY – THE MOST HONEST SYLLABLE IS SHHH

The Most Honest Syllable Is Shhh

Certainly I rinsed the vegetables.

A drummer killed himself
but I’m not even sure
he was a drummer.

The caravan abandoned the camel
in the Target parking lot.

Xanax builds the cornerstone of selfishness
on the diversion of punctuality.

A snake finds a railroad tie, hallelujah!

When working on an orgasm, distractions like the dog
scratching the french door, or the child
opening your bedroom door, or the dryer
beeping, or the washer beeping, or the timer
for the raspberries beeping, or the jazz
interrupted by the news, John Kerry broke his leg
while cycling a stretch of the Tour de France.

The ideal exists in the poems the fewest of us read.

Three people see a poem on a postcard and the national average is rattled.

Not everyone on a sofa with a bong and an acoustic guitar is cool.

I was 10 and hadn’t lost my virginity, sort of.

The Marriage Cycle:
anger proceeded by feisty dignity
followed by sacrifice.

The gangplank of adulthood is sacrifice and feisty dignity.

Children ache for actions of their own making,
not smoke machines but actual smoke.

You aren’t supposed to fast forward anyone
from The Last Waltz.

~

Visit Tim Staley online.

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