ROBERT OKAJI – I DANCED WITH A PLATYPUS TWENTY YEARS BACK

Which is of course a metaphor pointing out

disparities in function and form, and the dangers

inherent in assumption: despite its cute appearance,

the male platypus delivers venom through an ankle

spur on a hind limb; samba with one at your own

peril. My friend wanted to build a catapult, but I

convinced him that trebuchets more efficiently

demolish walls. Instead, he experimented with atlatls,

before reverting to his favorite compound bow. The

fly swatter remains my weapon of choice, followed

closely by steel toe boots. I have yet to meet a scorpion

whose armor could withstand them, but I would never

stomp a platypus without first determining its intentions

and seeking mediation, perhaps through handwritten

correspondence. Pencils owe their origin to the lead

stylus, which eventually morphed into the wood-cased

graphite tool we now use. In his day, Thoreau was better

known for pencil-making than cabin-building. Arthritic

joints prevent me from writing by hand, but I saw lumber

when necessary. According to Ovid, Talos, nephew of

Daedalus, invented the saw, using either a fish jaw or spine

as the model. I look at my food before eating, but the

platypus dives with closed eyes, and locates meals by

detecting electric currents through its bill. In considering

form, I assume function. But we know what that means.

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JOHN GRAY – I KNEW A WOMAN

I knew a woman in a wheelchair,

lived in a clapboard house,

with a lawn she somehow trimmed.

and a garden she kept well-tended.

And another had breast cancer.

She wrote letters to all her friends

in the brief nauseous pauses

between radiation treatments.

Another had five kids

and a husband who walked out

but somehow put food on their table

and a roof over their head.

Another got a degree in some branch of science

and the consensus of her male friends was that

“I didn’t know women went in for

 that sort of thing.”

Of course, there was the one

who was forever trying to hide

the bruises on her face with makeup,

stayed with her abuser.

And another who hated herself so much

she sat around the house all day,

getting fatter and fatter

so she could hate herself the more.

From the start, there was need for women.

And a physiology to go with it.

Life was incomplete. There was a vacuum.

And then all kinds started filling it.

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THE EXPERIMENT – John Kaniecki

The Experiment

Follow all rules
Exit through the entrance
No hesitation
Killing is natural according to evolution
Soul sucking bloody Social Darwinism
Killing is a sin
Speaks the great I Am
We are not going in circles
Observe the three dimensional spiral
DNA helix
What have you gone Felix?
G.I. Joe
Ivanhoe
A bullet is a door
Goodbye
Bury me in my wife’s garden
A final pardon
Fertilizer
Rhymes with it
Snare drum raps
Bugler taps
Don’t remember me by this lament
It’s an experiment
Electrocuting rats
Wearing schizophrenic hats
An everlasting buy
Try not to cry
Says I
Now repeat the entire process

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FALLING ASLEEP – DS Maolalai

Falling asleep.

love;

lethal as any fire. burning

quietly to smolder

and the flashpoint

which happens when, feeling safe,

you open something up. then

explosions. kids

screaming somewhere. people outside. property

gone. handfuls of ash

clasped afterwards

in a display of some sort

of significance. collapsed up lungs

from falling asleep

too relaxed with a cigarette.

or lighting a candle, even. they’re deadly,

too. electric wires – a slight sign

of comfort.

a spark

which lights fires

and kills her

and kills you

and kills you

and goes out.

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3 POEMS – SIMON PERCHIK

*

Even the night was made from wood

has sheets, a gown, the kind

brides wear only once

though you pace in front the bed

the way mathematicians mull over chalk

scraping it against something black

that could be pulling the room apart

with the faint sound from dust

coming by for what’s left

and the corners –vaguely you can hear

her lips breathing into yours

setting on fire the stars

that would sweeten your mouth

with the never ending hum

emptied from wells and springs

for smoke, no longer knows how to talk

how to glow when side by side

as planks and weeds and this pillow.

*

And though this door is locked

it leans into the evenings

that hollowed out the place

for its marble and grass

where you still hide, afraid

make the dead go first

–they already know what to do

when the corners are no longer enough

and with your finger become

the sudden breeze filled with moonlight

and distances opening the sea

holding it over the fires –pilings

are useless here, these great walls

cringe from the cries rain gives off

where a morning used to be

and you are following it alone

as if there was a light in the window

waiting for you to come by.

*

This fish is still gathering the smoke

left over from when the sea went back

to face some crackling beach grass

–side by side you too are warmed

by salt and standing naked

you can see a woman is striking a match

though when you are dead

the glaze on this dinner plate

will afterward heat your eyes

–they will never close, this fish

is looking for tears to fit in its mouth

tell you eat! bite into its eyes

though nothing will cool or be at home

where you keep the ashes warm

by collecting the bones and sand.

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