William Doreski( New Hampshire )Stephen BettBeheading MyselfStainless and gleaming I swing an axe and behead the space where I stood a moment ago. The lawn looks shocked, but alone with criminal silence I regret nothing but my failure to draw blood. The neighborís dogs bark because they detect bad intentions. A police car noses past; a sneer of garble spits from its radio. I swung that axe in self-betrayal, but if certain friends or colleagues had intercepted the act Iíd sigh with pleasure and mop up the mess while humming a favorite aria from those famous Italian operas that inspire such wanton acts. Maybe if the dogs keep barking Iíll visit them with the axe, although my appearance will wag their tails and cure their loneliness so I wonít have to use the weapon. But for now I replace the tool in the woodshed and return to bed to sleep off a dream of beheading myself to honor an intellect once capable of devouring Kant, Sartre, and Kierkegaard in one sitting. Birdsong shimmers through eloquent but old-fashioned trees. The bedroom sighs and receives me like a lost child. Later Iíll rise in self-conscious glory and sharpen the axe and split some cordwood just for the joy of perfecting a violent but reflexive mood.( Vancouver )Pris CampbellThe Whole ThingWe are a coastal people, there is nothing
but ocean beyond us
Ė Jack SpicerI wait for you under a tree in the park write this little thing will steal up to me around its uneven length The other side lies the ocean we both need beyond us frames us holds us makes a whole each, & together like that it likes that( West Palm Beach, Florida )Rebecca Lu KiernanMagicI have lived with magic, worn gowns stitched from moonlight, heard trees speak to the sky. You sang lovesongs in braille with your fingertips, my body, your tapestry. Those times still come back to haunt when light drains the day, when trees fold their branches in silence, and sweet arms embrace me no more.( on the Gulf Coast )#1000 Billy Bob Thornton's Crashed JaguarWithout gentleness, mercy or permission, I ravish the slightly injured Billy Bob Thornton In the red leather back seat of his crashed Purple Jaguar. The confusion of his concussion makes him sexier than usual. He says he thinks he broke a rib. I tell him to stop his whining. He is imagining I am Helen Keller Feeling my way over his defenseless frame. I am pretending he is a contract killer. I demand he spank my bare behind. With every blow he grimaces in pain, And moves me closer to the gun under the seat. An avalanche traps us there for hours. He kisses me in a manner that reminds me I have always had the power to kill with a smile. We will never speak again. Six months later he steals all the orchids from my hot house, Press them in books until they turn black, He gets trashed on raspberry vodka, New Year's Eve, I am another tattoo on his back.
La Femme by Leslie Marcus
( California )Jill Chan( Auckland, New Zealand )Howie GoodThe Naked PartWe canít wait to be alone with You, to be born with the naked part of ourselves, hot with Your desires tearing home and hurrying none, not the crowd outside with eyes that cover us with their shame, while You bare all intentions in every next moment that reveals, however far You may be.( New York )Dustin BrookshireSuicide Beach1 A woman shouting over the black static of the waves asks what I lost. I straighten up. Nothing. The man with her stares angrily out at the water. Iíd been searching through rooms of seaweed and broken sea shells for mirrors of sea glass. I open my palm. Itís something I used to know, dying stars burn the brightest. 2 With my hair and beard, I look like a mug shot of Karl Marx after a three-day binge. Every object is a history of its function. For example, guns. Born in one century, Iíll die in another, waiting for the rain to move off. 3 She built a nest inside of me. Other women also floated by the upper windows. She wasnít the prettiest, but she was the most beautiful. 4 My heart felt as it often feels, like a deserted warehouse on an abandoned stretch of track. What will you do all morning by yourself? she asked. She already had the door half-open. Search for words that love one another.( Atlanta, Georgia )Greg WeissThief in the NightHe didnít come like a thief in the night; he came like a man determined, obsessed, who needed to mark his spoils Ė like my childhood neighbor's Doberman. Both on quests for territory. They came to lay claim. I could have ended up mauled Ė mother sobbing, shaking, hyperventilating, cursing the Doberman. Instead, with my air riffle a few BBs changed a growling dog to a whelping mutt in route home. There was no BB gun when he came inside me. I could have screamed like I was told to as a child inappropriately. Instead Ė I asked him, politely, not to. Then I told him no. Then lay paralyzed, hands pressed to the bed like Jesus's hands to the cross.( Hattiesburg, Mississippi )Fire SaleGreat birds, take my eyes. Great birds, take my eyes, my aliatory lemon pudding. Rats, tartly relish my heliostory, my luscious thighs, my amphoric swing. Rats, tartly relish. Great birds, take my eyes to Siberia, I donít mind. I wish great birds take my eyes and rats tartly relish my emancipatory hacksaw tandoori, my aliatory lemon pudding.
I - Out-of-body
III - Elegy for the Hidden
Featured Poet - Matthew Hittinger
Current Issue - Winter 2010