POETRY: MARLENA CHERTOCK – CEMETARIO GENERAL

Cemetario General

Cemetario General is one of the largest cemeteries in Santiago, Chile. Patio 29 is a plot used to bury the disappeared, the homeless, the unidentified, and victims of the Augusto Pinochet military dictatorship.

 

What’s left of them is arranged in boxes,
fifty or so line a wall.
He turns off the leaf blower,
passes a woman kneeling, her head lowered.

Even in death there are mansions.
Glass criptas encasing tías.
He coaxes leaves away
from the marble structures.

In a narrower section
ice cream and chip vendors push their carts.
Crowded together are plots of dirt, maybe some hierba,
a Nescafé bottle filled with wilted hydrangea.

He asks families to give more.
Sometimes there’s no response. So he digs up the land
and transfers what endured to a mass plot, Patio 29.
He’s so close to the body then, touching its bones.

At home he holds his esposa’s hips
as she cooks dinner, the smell of her sweat and the humitas
mixing in the kitchen air,
holds her as she undresses and they lie down together.

Find her at marlenachertock.com or @mchertock.

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poetry: Joseph Somoza – Hasta La Vista

Hasta La Vista

Here I find myself again,
in the company of
trees and sunshine,
a quiet workday morning.
It’s like emerging from a tunnel
where my mind was cloyed
with mundane matters such as
providing food, doing dishes,
and having to
respond to others—

who are my family,
who have gone back now
to being themselves
in the far distance where I can
make out the details better,
hear their words more clearly
in the sparse air between
here and there, as if minds can’t
co-exist in close proximity
and must always be
sent on their way.

Order Joseph Somoza’s new volume of poems As Far as I know (Cinco Puntos Press, 2015).

 

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WES HOUP – 3 POEMS

Watch Out For Aardvarks

The high council of pissants
carefully reviewed your application
for permanent inclusion and finds that
you lack any clear sense of order;
you remain stubbornly and selfishly
anchored to ephemera
and take on balance
more than you generate and provide.
We acknowledge your curious disposition,
and your genuine affinity for activities
that promise no monetary gain
and thus no clear class mobility.
But this is just a footnote
in a much larger negative report.
We will not, in the end, recommend you
for tenure in our pismire.
Also we are unwilling to discuss
our recommendation
via chem-trail or antennae.
We wish you the best of luck elsewhere,
and watch out for aardvarks.

~

DIGESTATION

a.
Cool spring water shimmers
a narrow dissolution channel
between my legs.
Nearby a raccoon has passed
the entire exoskeleton
of a crayfish,
most likely Cambarus
(given the lack of suitable habitat
for Orconectes),
pincers folded up
in prayer, like Jonah.
Sun-bleached, it looks like
an obtuse piece of diggery,
equipment found in a junkyard
or moldering behind
the dead farmer’s barn.

b.
Where the spring’s flow disappears,
a great horned owl
has eaten a crow,
and from the crow’s feathers
sweet Betsy grows.
Crows die, crows grow,
I know, but woe is he
and she who doubt
the kind of hunger
that forces dominance in the wood,
to eat crow every night
and remain wise,
or the crow, for god’s sake,
the crow, to sacrifice itself
to fertilize trillium.
Pandemonium.
Harmonium.
Ad infinitum.

~

Custodial Testimonial

4:15am, Sunday,
the only other soul
on the road to Damascus
is a young preacher
in a Corolla
headed to the church office
for final revisions.
He’s worried about messaging,
and his left headlight is blank.
God-only-knows-what
he’ll fashion: surely love, hate,
forgiveness, avarice, charity,
or some other heavy cudgel
based on a verse from Acts
magically supported
by a verse from Isaiah.
See? Continuity.
Poof! Even vengeful gods
Change their minds.

I’m headed to work, too,
and I’m also worried.
A wedding party drank and feasted
all yesterday and now
the Forest Lodge sewer line is clogged.
A rough calculation suggests
each person must have defecated
2.3 times to impound (TVA-style)
an 8” pipe. Damn.
That’s a proverbial shitload.
Sadly, there was no child present
able to turn a shitload into wine.
But it’s Sunday morning—
time for forgiveness.
I am here to ease things
to the underworld,
and while I cannot perform miracles,
I know a snake who can.

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Karen Mandell – YARD SALE

Yard Sale

Useless, I could tell instantly.

Baby toys in plastic orange and red, grimy fry pans,

bent hollowware burning in the sun.

I walk in past the woman and the baby sitting on the concrete stoop.

I’m on my way out before I see the books piled on the grass,

their pages soft with age, the damp dried out of them.

The Sun Also Rises, the striped Scribner edition.

Do I have this one at home?

I crouch down and turn limp pages, not reading, brushing off dust,

unwinding a tendril of cobwebs from my finger.

The odor of paper stored in boxes too long.

This one’s not worth it, broken spine, even for a quarter.

I put fusty Hemingway down.

The baby cries, his voice quavering and scratchy.

The woman picks him up and says it’s time for a nap,

you’re ready aren’t you, you’ll lie down for a little while.

I stand up, the sun hot on my hair.

I want to lie down, a baby, in a darkened room with only a thin cover.

An opened window with a fan going somewhere.

I’d close my eyes even if I didn’t really want to

because there’s not much fight left in me right now.

The baby whimpers.

I forget what city I’m in,

whether it’s Minneapolis or Boston before that or

Chicago back even further.

I’m a burnished nub, everything rubbed out of me,

clarified. Even so, I have to get back to the car,

do the things that make it go,

add on to myself the crumbled pieces

that fell off and lie there, in the grass.

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Robert Allen Beckvall – MAYBE IT’S FREEDOM

Maybe It’s Freedom

 

Maybe we got souls that crave

The dream of the wild west

With saddlebags and campfires

Teepees and wigwams

Some say we are living a national nightmare

Maybe, just maybe the crazies and druggies and alkies,

Tent dwellers and unbathed, unloved, unlucky,

And the squeezed by technology/big brother/international conglomerates

Want to have fights in saloons

Want a girl from a brothel

Want to ride the plains after the Great White Buffalo

Maybe they want pistol packin’

Vest wearin’, neckerchief tyin’ sheriffs and outlaws

Maybe they want to tan hides and touch their enemies

Or, make love under the stars

While the spirits of the ancestors circle the night sky

Maybe that gal diggin’ bottles and cans from a trash can

Wants to ride with Wild Bill like Calamity Jane

Maybe the guy with oozing diabetes legs

Wants to catch and tame a wild mustang

Maybe they like to dream

That their stolen Safeway cart is a covered wagon

And you’re either driven’ it or attackin’ it

On the wide open plains

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STEPHEN MEAD – CORNERS

Corners

I like to imagine not having them,
maybe finding myself in the country,
a ranch hand’s kid who really believes.
I saw it all once on film:
up at dawn tossing hay, carrying pails,
riding flats toward hills wide as far
can exist without sirens,
those usual howling squares.

Yea, that’s the picture I used to hold
while under some strange man, waiting out
the performance in a farm large as Coney
before the hurting would begin & I learned
to coat it, changing my face
to a new line:
“Hey, got the time Mister?”

Sooner than forever it was all over.
I kept eyes on the bed stand’s lamp
& bolted another drink, chinks
of what was happening only a numbing
kind of rush
no match for the stallion-carousel
bright & far away…

Then it turned into a turnpike,
this corner, that,
picking up streams of green paper, cash, fast hands,
ragged breath & more & more concrete.
Now I make sure to only do it in the dark,
keeping my gaze off headlights, off neon,
& I’m afraid to have dreams,
for what if the stables are just a different district
with the stalls all ready &, even there,

this will still be my life?

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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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