Alexus Erin – MAKING SANDWICHES

Making Sandwiches

Me & my brain are making sandwiches for the first time in years
& I remember
I like sourdough. I wonder
whose hands made the bread & if this cooking,

this creation, is a kind of holiness. My brain laughs.
We’re having a sleepover on a school night
& I wonder
whose mother authorized it

By the grace of God
I am with my brain
& by the grace of God,
this brain’s a scrappy one

Which is to say, she is still sprinting: I’m impressed-
she did a lot of math this month. I joke that
she looks like she’s here
to eff the party up.

Brain tells Body (my body’s here too)
The first rule
of any effective love practice
is to synthesize its thoughtwork

with its bodywork: “Classic
substance-presence query, honeybee,” she sighs
& I know
that sigh was for me

I tell them, “First rule
of the big city
is to mind ya own damn business.” My body sets up
a cot at the foot of my bed

Gingerly removes her stockings, that they won’t rip
& I know
mishandling must be a violence
in which the body keeps score. She, of all people,

must be keeping score- I could stand
to learn a thing or two from this inclination
of tenderness, alone
My mouth, every morning,

famously reaching,
rooting ‘round any regional iteration of the daylight
To inhale a verbose evidence
& then exhale, like

my photosynthesis must be scheduled
to kick in any day now
As though this were the only thing
I knew how to do

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Latha Kottapalli – An Ode to Black Gold

An Ode to Black Gold

Roots pulled from hiding

Soothe my soul like soup.

Into you, I empty their skins.

Crucifers crisped to crunch,

Laced with lemon, linger on my tongue.

Into you, I empty their stalks.

Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks

Greet my lips with kisses of meringue.

Into you, I empty their shells.

Coffee beans roasted to an aroma

Titillate my nose to chase the whiff.

Into you, I empty their grounds.

Drupes drooping from stems

Satiate my sweet tooth.

Into you, I empty their stones.

Autumn’s burst of hues,

A muse for my eyes.

Into you, I empty its leaf litter.

Into you, I empty all the refuse.

Off you stir and cook them to a new birth.

Lo and behold, Black Gold tumbles out.

Gold that crumbles to the touch.

Smells like the parched earth

When kissed by the first rain spells.

Gold that soaks up like a sponge, springs up

As the roots, stone fruits, and all that nourishes.

O Earth, your kindness knows no bounds.

 

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John Dorroh – “It’s Probably More Than Colitis”

It’s Probably More Than Colitis”

I like a woman with a clean colon,

the way she starts telling stories

at the end

and works back toward the beginning,

expecting me to connect all the dots.

She takes her temperature every hour,

tells me the results, wants for me

to tie a knot with my swollen tongue

in her cherry

stem. The french kiss should have been

the second best clue

that we wouldn’t click, at least not like that.

I can cuddle like a fish with the best of them,

but sometimes we have to be satisfied

with a flag at half mast. You can always

use tulips to brighten the

room. We fidget in the clinic for an hour

before they call her name.

She refuses my hand, gives me an orange-lipped

piranha smile, and disappears into the

blue-white light.

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INSIDE MY HOUSE ~ BY 100 SENIORS IN SOUTHERN NEW MEXICO (class of 2020)

INSIDE – A Found Poem

 

This couch has a permanent ass print on it.

A doorway that goes to a magical place 

called the bathroom. 

My mom’s vacuum 

that has been sitting since after we used it 

to clean the confetti embedded in the carpet after Easter.

All the toys around the room are scattered like flailing fish.

Wow, look! It’s my cap and gown! 

My head twisting three sixty

just saw my snapchat 

someone’s selling weed for sixty.

A lavender plant is high on vinegar. 

The next living room is occupied by my grandmother 

watching her favorite christmas movies over and over.

My grandmother’s ashes sitting alone.

Mother’s religious crosses, big as the wall.

As I turn to my left, I’m greeted by my PS4, 

my only form of social contact. 

You avoid the actual problems. 

That is if you can count 10 year olds 

screaming into their mic because they lost a game.

I yell every time a motherfucker kills me in Call of Duty. 

Seasons pass like menstrual cycles 

with a staircase leading nowhere stuck in between. 

TV overheating having seen thousands of movies 

and wayyyyy more youtube videos 

because after i fall asleep 

it just cranks those things out 

like the engine cranks the pistons. 

A messy bed i lay in for 20 hours a day.

 I see a backpack hanged. 

A closet that looks like a faucet. 

It feels as if i’m a rock that has been tossed into the ocean 

of my own house.

A man in torn clothing 

stumbled out of one of the facility’s testing rooms, screaming. 

My intention is to stop being a slave for this house. 

I stay secluded with my own actions. Let’s move on.

Doors everywhere, Specifically two.

One leads you to the outside world,

And the other leads to a smaller one. 

I’m brave enough to open them

There’s white butterflies all around

Flying in a green meadow 

cast over by an endless blue sky 

at the end of the coffee table. 

I open the red door,

It’s my mom’s room again, but this time more familiar

With red curtains,

The curtains—

I say my goodbyes to the lion, robot, and vacuum.

I step through the door-

hear fingers hitting keys—

Light and dark piano with its black and white keys—

Shoes hitting the floor in a slow rhythm

You start to feel the cool breeze 

coming from the blades on the ceiling. 

All these Christmas lights, still shining.

Puzzle pieces scattered everywhere. 

Parents walk in then leave. 

It feels like I’m alone and no one’s ever not busy. 

A signed jersey by Jj Watt in a frame. Dusty cords on the floor.

A strong loving feeling with a newborn boy sleeping next to me.

Then back to the TV with Johnny, Moira, David, 

and Alexis Rose, and Back to Computer Screen One.

Two. Then Three On top of a foldable Table.

 

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EMILY HOOPER – 2 POEMS

nightmarish

how does the girl

with the loudest voice

disappear into

the background

how does she disguise

her crowd drawing smile

with the tired faces

around her

how does she

slip away

why is she forced into

the abstraction of

happiness

how does she explain

to her loved ones

she doesn’t want to be here

how does she hide her tear stained cheeks

from those who expect

her to move mountains

 

~

 

5 quiet roses

above my bed sitting deliciously

each a gift

withered from many beatings

by the pillows, stray hands, possibly

a cat that has snuck into my room

however they remain pinned

by their sturdy stem

whose struggles remain unknown

each rose is me

stripped of their thorns

because women are prettier when they

don’t speak

and remain pinned to the wall

petals weep

on their journey to the ground

each petal a word

i chose to bite into

and slide down the back of my throat

like a jagged, salted syllable

an unpleasant experience if i’m being honest

so why do i continue

to prick my throat with thorns

that i strip from the roses

rather then using the vocabulary

i was gifted with

easy

i want you to think i’m beautiful

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JOHN GREY – 2 POEMS

THE TRUNK

I nudge aside some old poems

to get at the real poetry:

love letters from a former flame.

I’ve no idea why I’ve kept them

only that I’m a hoarder,

even of affection.

 

There’s something of nostalgia

to them,

like the Marvel comics

in very good condition,

or the copy of Sports Illustrated

with Larry Bird on the cover,

celebrating a championship.

 

The writing is neat,

the passion likewise,

nothing, I’m sure,

like the long-trashed missives

I sent in response.

Reading between lines is called for.

But, to be honest,

I find more neatness,

only it’s invisible.

 

From memory,

there was no great passion

between the two of us.

It’s what comes of listening to Yes together.

And decking ourselves out

in bell-bottoms.

But they’re part of history.

And, to my mind,

must be preserved.

 

But I throw in a few

more useless items,

bury those letters deeper

going forward.

It’s enough to know they’re there.

No place else would have them.

 

~

 

THE CIGARETTE LONG AFTER

A double downer:

I feel dirty as soot,

sheets smell like dumpster fires.

 

And here,

on a motel side table,

one cigarette burns a long, neglected ash.

No need to smoke it.

 

This room’s like a cigarette

with me cocooned inside it.

You and I shared this roadside hideaway.

Years ago.

Before there were flat-screen TV’s.

Before there was flat anything.

 

Now I lie on a lumpy mattress.

staring up at the nicotine-stained ceiling.

 

My teeth grind the grit

of what was once desire.

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HOLLY DAY – BLUE CAR

Blue Car

The car appeared outside the house, as if by magic

dropped from the sky into a pile of snow, tire tracks obliterated by fresh snow.

A sleeping bag blocked the back window completely, candy wrappers

could be seen on the front seat.

After a couple of days, my neighbor came over and asked me if it was my car

if I wouldn’t mind moving it so that her nephew could park there. I told her

how the car had just appeared in that spot, and that I didn’t think anyone

had come back for it since its arrival, although

I thought I saw a couple of people sitting in the front seat very late the night before

hands frantically moving in the dim overhead light

but it may have been a dream.

A week or so later, a tow truck came and got the car, probably called by my neighbor

the one who came over or perhaps a different one entirely

the spot where the car had been parked was black and green with oil and antifreeze

dirty snow and a couple of smashed beer cans. I watched the car get pulled

backwards down the street, waited for a door to fling open angrily

in the car or in a neighboring house, but no one came out after the car

no one chased the truck frantically down the street.

 

 

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Michael Lee Johnson – OPEN EYES LAID BACK

Open Eyes Laid Back

 

Open eyes, black-eyed peas,

laid back busy lives,

consuming our hours,

handheld devices

grocery store

“which can Jolly Green Giant peas,

alternatives,

darling, to bring home tonight-

these aisles of decisions.”

Mind gap:

“Before long apps

will be wiping our butts

and we, others, our children

will not notice.”

No worries, outer space,

an app for horoscope, astrology

a co-pilot to keep our cold feet

tucked in.

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Heather Sager – 2 POEMS

The Smokestacks of the Country

And my aunt, a farmer’s daughter,
did not live past 64.
And neither did her brother,
cancer-ridden also.
My farmer grandfather died, heartbroken,
a wheezing lung-diseased hunchback,
before aunt and uncle hit 40.

And the smokestacks of the country
still descend from below the clouds
to settle on the green hills
of the valley.
They puff invisibly, raining destructive chemicals
over the farms and people.
Puffing as they’ve always been
with the newest developments.

People in the neighboring valley,
too, have died.
From cancer of the brain
that afflicts dairy farmers
as well as the diseases
of the pancreas and lung
that affect them.

I lived on that farm.
After Grandpa lost it, Mom and Dad moved in.
A lynx once bit my brother
and the snows were wild
as the old farmhouse cellar was menacing.
Full of potatoes and the odd spiders, blasé-beige,
ball-shaped.
I thought the valleys so green
where I hiked for days and days
as clouds passed from one aisle of the sky
to another.
Little did I know
about the smokestack chemicals
hidden in the sky.
That truth
came out with the bodies, the funerals,
that sudden dismay.

I remember, too, the bees—
giant ones, with Homeric stingers—
and the nests, basketball sized,
humming in the idyllic trees
near the clear stream
where crayfish, perhaps,
still swim.

No, I am incorrect.
The chemical chimeras puff no more.
All the farms are dead.
The suburbs have expanded
and there is hardly any green left
to wander in. The chemicals have moved elsewhere,
into a craftier form.
The stream is paved over,
the field of mustard grass
blazed for new developments.

Was the wild ever really there,
or only in our hammering,
kept, dreaming hearts?

 

~

 

The Way

I neared bliss the way
coins
drop skyward from an open hand
I neared bliss
the way a gambler
lassos
his bartered pride
I neared bliss the way
airborne geese
circled your land
I neared bliss the way
your lips
touched mine

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