I knew a boy named Dove
I never touched him
The rest in the park beneath
The shining bottoms of seagulls
Came out of the gated housing estates
Where nobody ever did touch him
Still the homegrown closed in on him
Their arms always came away with nothing
Oh how he would work a crowd of war daddies
With those Dove eyes he’d give a waitress
When he’d order waffles at midnight
Coffee and pie on the house
Poor Dove couldn’t help it
He’d say goodnight to the officers
To every convict and then to me
Good night everybody Dove would say
There’s no more to what I saw
What’s more is everybody went hungry
Brooke Ellsworth is author of the chapbook, Thrown (The New Megaphone 2014). She has recent poems in gobbet, Pinwheel, and ILK. She teaches at The New School.
Foxxcan Suicide (Stylish Boys in the Riot)
La Anaconda. A hooded black teenager. Teen upskirts. Such happy spirits! Sosostris of da liver. Jaws yack beer around and around and. A 1000 little deaths over a pic of Mr. Starnbergersee. Death n’ obstruction in town. In’t town. and gown. Can’t go left! LIMBO! 3 p.m. 3.16 p.m. Sergeant Snare on Pussy Patrol. Keep da Game Genie far fence, that’s fo’ mensch. If your not rreading this. I juice wanna surf the nite away. Turn it over and watch what REALLY happens. 199*: did you choose something else? Sumfin else?
White man came. – Maiden
Apocalypse as hook. What’s your Legacy, Russell? Requiem***.
It’s so easy, but nothing seems to please me. – Axl W. Rose
The audience knows this by heart. The audience know this by heart. She got big ol’booty an’ bloodshot eyes. A black Blondie. Underage. Overage. Walking stick.
Die in your class, I’ll die inmine.
Russell Bennetts is the editor of Berfrois. He lives in Kentish Town, London.
WE DON’T HAVE ALL NIGHT
Above us is the moon. It is huge in the sky
and it is bearing down on us
there was no tomorrow
because tomorrow there will be nothing but the moon
up in the sky and looming
all ominous and heavy and bright
and that is just fine with us. Listen.
We could use a sense of menace around here.
We could use a call to action Or a house
Or a barrier. A magical barrier.
like a fence. We could use a fence.
Why a fence you ask?
Because of reasons, which are as follows:
demarcations, unwanted elements,
property values, taxes, building codes,
civic duty, creepiness, and bears. Dear bears
we built these fences for a reason. Dear reasons
we do not care. Sincerely, the bears. The bears
have learned to compose letters
and nobody cares. Dear food let us eat you
Dear ocean full of menace let us eat you
Dear terrifying ocean full of menace we mean it
Dear wolves we have already eaten you and now we sit here
by the ocean wearing your torn-off faces like masks
until the ocean full of menace gets the picture. Dear ocean
full of menace
we are right here. Under the moon. We are waiting.
My friend is 71
I’ve been working in the hotel painting
I don’t get paid
With paper and shit like that
It’s just me and a friend painting
My friend talks about dying everyday
All the time
He has a plan when he’ll do it
He doesn’t want to deal with court or rent or brain surgery or immobility
He bought and sold motels
Lost money in pyramid schemes
After work we smoke cigarettes and talk
He says he wants to drink my cum so he can take my DNA with him
My friend is 71
All this is a lie except the cum drinking DNA part
Aaron Benjamin Novy is 27 years old. He has attended five different colleges for journalism and never graduated from one. He has spent the last two years driving around the United States in his van selling paintings and meeting different characters. He currently lives in Christmas Valley, Oregon, a desert community of about 400 people, where he spends his days writing, painting, drinking, smoking and attempting to build a house of used rubber tires and found wood. Here is his Tumblr.
I walked into the water and started swimming
I thought I would swim forever
My wish was to swim to Japan
and eat fish that contains deadly toxins
unless it is scrupulously prepared
and then visit the Buddhist temples
to bow down at a family shrine at the side of the road
to eat rice with the family
But I felt myself sinking
I don’t know how he got there
My sister’s boyfriend threw a carry on me
His hand massaged my breast as he towed me
It was unpleasant
but it was foreplay
so it was compulsory
I knew all about compulsory
from my Olympic training
He dragged me onto the sand
Each grain of sand was a finely honed razor
I already knew that the world was made of razors
If you explored the molecular structure of anything
you discovered it was made of razors
My brain is made of a billion razors
Each neuron is a razor
Each synapse is a strop
I wanted to scream at my sister’s boyfriend:
Why are you torturing me?
but couldn’t get any words out
He gave me mouth-to-mouth
I thought that meant we were married
I sat up and vomited in the sand
My sister came over with a child’s shovel and covered it up
The shovel was bright green
It turned into a mystical frog
and squirmed in her hands
She shrieked and dropped it
The mystical frog peed in the sand
and froze everything for eternity
Mitch Grabois was born in the Bronx and now lives in Denver. His short fiction and poetry appear (or will appear) in over one-hundred literary magazines, most recently The T.J. Eckleberg Review, The Examined Life, Memoir Journal, Out of Our and The Blue Hour. His novel, Two-Headed Dog, published by Xavier Vargas E-ditions, is available for all e-readers for 99 cents through Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords (which also provides downloads to PC’s).
Your cupboard is not a ghost. Your lamp is not a
ghost. Your television is not a ghost. Your electric
toothbrush is not a ghost. The wind through the
open window is not a ghost. The reflection in the
mirror is not a ghost. The minivan in the street is
not a ghost. The doorbell is not a ghost. The man
in your closet is not a ghost. The man in your
living room is not a ghost. The man in your
bathroom is not a ghost. The man in your kitchen
is not a ghost. When this man puts his hands on
yours, they are not ghost hands but real hands.
When this man leans over in the middle of the
night and says, I love you, they are not ghost
words but real words. You are afraid.
The White Poet
The White Poet wanders through whiteness. He
considers the things that are white. The streets
are white. The hills are white. The moon is white.
The shadows are white. The vacant lot where
children are fighting in the rain is white in his
thoughts. In memory, his mother’s hands are
white and stained with white dirt. Everywhere he
turns, a policeman stands behind him, flashing
his white flashlight into his White Poet Eyes.
Matthew Fee is currently studying at the University of Utah. Recent work is published or forthcoming in journals such as The Laurel Review, Everyday Genius, Lemon Hound, Sixth Finch, Salamander, Hunger Mountain, and The Cortland Review. Find more at pointingatindigo.blogspot.com.
selvedge jean is the highest level of jean
obviously i want to sit in your tub
i want to be soaking my raw selvedge jeans in there
i want to be reading something you recommended
i want to be listening to something i recommended
i want you to be reading too
i want you to be on the toilet, sideways, leaning back on the wall
i want you to be cross-legged
i want your legs to be long in your boy shorts
i want them to exude mystery and shyness
i want your arms to be uncrossed
i want your breasts to strain against your striped cotton shirt
i want them to exude huge, disastrous power
if you are wearing glasses, i want your hair to be done
if you are licking your lips, i want it to be audible
i want to watch you in my peripheral vision, picturing pinknesses
i want you to not think of me at all
i want to get out of the tub
say ‘my denim is done’
look at you blankly
i want you to finish your passage
look at me blankly
i want to walk up to you and uncross your legs in a yank
kiss you with a dangerous force
drain my lust in you
fuck you right there on the toilet seat
denim still on
you figure out how
Follow Alex Vance on Spotify by searching “Alex Vance” and clicking “Profiles” at the top.
The mime has stigmata
and that is a problem.
He is not even Catholic
but considered converting.
The wounds first appeared
during a Thursday night show.
It was not Holy Thursday,
but it was wholly sold out.
Though no photos exist,
the memory is fixed:
his palms flat and up,
blood pinking white gloves.
Everyone knew it was not
part of the performance:
his routines include sandwich
making, window washing,
cello playing. No
violence. Afterward, he
burned the gloves, washed
his hands with such force
they were redder than blood.
Someone called the bishop.
He hadn’t worn gloves
in years, asked if he could
borrow the mime’s,
who said he’d burned all
his pairs, convinced cloth
had given him the rash.
They stood together
on the empty stage,
burning beneath the light,
concluding that pantomime
was an essential ingredient
for most professions.
Nick Ripatrazone’s most recent book is The Fine Delight: Postconciliar Catholic Literature (Cascade Books). He is also the author of two books of poetry, Oblations and This Is Not About Birds (Gold Wake Press), and two forthcoming novellas. This Darksome Burn (firthFORTH) and We Will Listen For You (CCM Press). He lives with his wife and twin daughters in New Jersey.
Susan Steinberg’s new fiction collection, SPECTACLE (Graywolf), is a series of linked and formally-inventive short stories told by female narrators who are dealing with catastrophic as well as domestic tragedies.
The narrators of a seemingly singular history convey the stories, but are not (Steinberg says) the same narrator—or at least they weren’t written, if I understand Steinberg, as a continuous narrator. So, in this book the same events in two stories can be changed depending on which unnamed narrator—of roughly the same age, build, hair color, and city of origin as Steinberg—is narrating the SPECTACLE. This structure creates a narrative that overlaps, readdresses, carries over pain and learned approaches, and anxiety—the consummate whole getting higher in fever pitch until disaster and ultimately catharsis are reached.
SPECTACLE is an apt title—because the events of the world, the spectacles, and conflicts make narrators who are strong and clever and aware, unable to escape the pressures that build around them and at times the pressures that fall from above. Steinberg’s narrators are powerful, seductive, wounded, and aware of their roles, their performance of gender, identity, and “self.” They are tough.
SPECTACLE has been praised by the New Yorker, nominated for the year’s O’Connor Prize, and reviewed at Bookslut, Publishers Weekly (starred review), SF Chronicle, and at no shortage of other places where “experimental fiction” is most often passed over, proscribed, verboten!
Why is this book getting unvarying attention? Of course it is many things, none so much I might suggest as important as voice—replete with sex, confession, revelation, and genuine risk.
While Steinberg is not telling the factual truth in these stories, she is doing something crafted with such risqué confession that readers take her stories as factual (I admit I did. Even though I knew “better.” Even though she was my first writing teacher and taught me that fiction is fiction). Readers conflate Steinberg with her narrator(s)—and reading this book you see instantly that this is a position of danger for any writer. Because maybe you can’t make this crazy up. Because there’s risk in really talking about one’s gender. Because it isn’t crazy; it’s genius. It’s truth. These speakers are so solipsistic they lose identity, become universal in their extreme isolation and anxiety—they retain awareness and becoming weaponized in awareness of gender.
This collection can be read as an experimental novel composed of many fictions forming an aggregate and rupturing whole. Here is one you cannot look away from, which implicates the minds and bodies of the readers, which reveals what has remained taboo far too long. These stories are not political, not ideological—they are honest in such a way as to make them threatening and unnerving and difficult to talk about.
LBG: Do you mind if we start with something simple, from right off the cover of your book?
S.M.S: I don’t mind.
LBG: Okay. On the back of the book is this synopsis: “SPECTACLE bears witness to alarming and strange incidents: carnival rides and plane crashes, affairs…and amateur porn, vandalism and petty theft. In these stories, wounded women stand at the edge of disaster and risk it all to speak their sharpest secrets.”
LGB: Is this how you see the book? Is that what the book bears witness to—to strange incidents and wounded women at the edge of disaster? Speaking their sharpest secrets?
S.M.S: The book does contain these specific things: affairs, amateur porn, vandalism, planes crashes, and theft. The book also contains the abstractions you mention: secrets and disaster. But had I written the copy, it likely would have mentioned more technical aspects of the book: semi-colons, fragments, one-sentence paragraphs. I tend to think more about the “how” than the “what” when asked what my work is about. But it’s the back of a book. I think readers want the what.
But I don’t think the incidents I write are strange. Do you?
Begging for It
by Alex Dimitrov
Four Way Books, April 2013
96 pages / $15.95 Order from Four Way Books
1. I think fantasy is going to kill me and that is ok.
2. I want to fuck a beautiful thing and not get attached.
3. I want to be a twink getting fucked by a twink and the twink I am getting fucked by should be me.
4. Twinks can also get attached.
5. “Before I leave here, I want / to hear my name change in the mouth / of another animal.”
6. Sometimes I wish a boy was a dog so that being in unrequited love w/ the fantasy I create around him would be spiritual and not just a voracious attempt to fill a hole, which I know better than to try and fill with flesh, or worse yet, flesh coated in a fantasy to which the flesh will not conform.
7. At least then I would be feeding a dog.
8. Feeding a dog is spiritual.
9. Getting fucked in the heart is spiritual.
10. It is dangerous to get fucked in the heart, especially if you don’t let the fucker know he is fucking your heart.
11. This kind of omission serves to trick a fucker, who doesn’t want any hearts involved, into fucking your heart and/or tricks you into believing that your heart won’t get fucked.
12. Sometimes you genuinely don’t know you are getting fucked in the heart til it’s over.
13. Another thing that is spiritual is when a poet doesn’t try to bullshit you with language.
14. Alex Dimitrov doesn’t try to bullshit you with language.
15. Alex Dimitrov meets a conceptual poem in the street, takes it home, impales it on a cross covered in Sylvia Plath’s Daddy’s chest hair and says: Let me introduce you to your heart.
16. This review is not about Alex Dimitrov.
April 15th, 2013 / 12:33 pm
Stephanie Barber’s new book, NIGHT MOVES (Publishing Genius), is an exquisite corpse-style collection of YouTube comments on the Bob Seger classic. It is one long epistolary poem comprised of many short poems.
The text at once contains lost youth, a melancholic longing for past loves, as well as the potential for chaos, connection, vitriol and fun within the realm of internet anonymity. NIGHT MOVES also depicts the range of responses that one piece of art can elicit, from fierce loyalty to disdain, deeply personal symbolism to some shit that somebody found by way of 30 Rock. The question of what defines poetry — found, conceptual, or otherwise — and of who can be called a “poet” is never far from the surface. Here are a few excerpts:
To Julie… where ever you are. I STILL remember the first time I saw you in psychology class, 10th grade, spring of “76″. You made the nights move for me 77-78. I will carry those memories in my heart forever, and only stop, with the last beat of my heart….
points all her own sittin way up high… << what does that mean?
I can really relate to this song as I have a daughter that is a product of the “Night Moves” and you can bet that she knows it. She is still working on the “Night Moves” what a Gal!!
NYE – OH NO WERE NOT FAR FROM IT AND AUTUM CAN’T CLOSE IN BEFORE I HAVE U TO LOVE FOREVER!! NO BACK ALLEY TRUSTED WOODS FOR MY BABYGIRL ANY MORE, BECAUSE WE DO HAVE TOO MUCH TO LOSE!! I LOVE YOU !!DADDY!! I’m coming for you soon!! OUR LOVE WILL NEVER END! REMEMBER WHEN WE WERE LIKE THIS SONG ? IM SO GLAD WE WEVE FOUND EACH OTHER ONCE MORE. IM IN LOVE WITH YOU MORE N MORE EACH DAY! (PURE) DADDY
88 people didn’t get any in high school…
Gina will never know the truth
The 60,s from Nam to Woodstock you had to experience it.God Bless America
u gotta loveee bob segar u fag, it seems like you have devoted ur fag life into talkin about bob segar
hell, i’m 81 and i love this song. anyone who was ever young has to choke a little when you hear it. it’s the best anthem of youth ever written
got me knocked up in 84
wtf is a pie in the sky summit?
this song makes me so nostalgic it actually hurts
Me too man, me too
NIGHT MOVES is a strange combination of dusty Polaroid-old and lol-contemporary. It also presents an intersection between universality and pop, and the ways that pop culture can summon universal emotions or be, in itself, a shared experience. I don’t think this book would have worked so well had it centered around Rhiannon, Dream On, Show Me the Way, Slow Ride, Dream Weaver, Carry On Wayward Son, or any other classic from the same year. There is an inherent nostalgia in the song Night Moves, an awareness of itself aging, of “autumn closing in,” which makes it a catalyst for worshipful confessions from the lovers and hilarious takedowns from the haters. I asked Barber, a Baltimore filmmaker whose work has been screened at MOMA and The Tate Modern, some questions:
Young ones, can you tell me when pizza came to be emblematic of all that is free & joyous & alive in American (and perhaps Canadian) culture? I mean, ppl always loved pizza. Pizza was v big in my day too. But there is such a proliferation of pizzapoems & pizzatweets & pizzaposts & pizzamemes & pizzagifs & cyber pizza rolls, that this momentum: 1. Eclipses the potential for any other food (say, Oreos) to gain any footing (which is fine) (but interesting). 2. Leaves me to wonder if everyone who claims to be obsessed w pizza is truly obsessed w pizza or if they are obsessed w the idea of pizza/the pizza movement/pizza as symbolic of something higher, a utopian ideal, anarchy, an eternal youthful freedom. I feel abt the pizza insurgency the way I did when I had to google the word “trill.” Same with the whole “Dad” thing. Help me.
should they may
be could you would
she called me up in
may and thought
she should but I would
not. can I may
could you might
then we fight —
he said should she
would she could but
which they might
and she could see there
only what she looked at
which was not there.
New York based Sophia Le Fraga holds a B.A. in Linguistics and Poetry from New York University. Her poetry has appeared in Lambda Literary Review’s Poetry Spotlight, The Broome Street Review, and Lemon Hound, among other publications. It has been exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, the Corcoran Gallery, and in 2011, throughout Berlin. Her chapbook I DON’T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE INTERNET is out now, and her book of Whitman erasures, Song of Me and Myself is forthcoming.
This poem was inspired by The Hanged Man card of the tarot deck.
from Fugitives of Speech
the trees fanned out around Mallender
as Sheer had described them
during his concussion-induced study session
in the woods behind his house
here too the branches wavered without the weight
of their leaves Mallender couldn’t focus
his eyes upon them maybe they weren’t entirely trees
too ephemeral milky black a few shades thick enough
not to be pure apparitions more like a neuron
diluted in the foggy ocean of the sky
the base of the tree
unconnected to the very earth
flickered in tune to the wind
which drew Mallender
plodding in one direction
a feint blue light
pulsed through the persuasively permanent
when Mallender came to a circular clearing
he arrived also with the knowledge that his journey
had been long and full of peril
though he hadn’t experienced that interim
must have been a leap in time
as a jellyfish’s body fluctuates in the sea
translucent blue vespers shimmered in the area
cleared of trees
metal appendages detached from a body
that remained connected by the pale blue aura
it all floated in the shape of a body making an X
a body mid jumping jack not unlike Davinci’s
Virtuvian man that Mallender’s mother had on bookplates
in her Audubon books from the 70′s
the entire body spun making the blue fan out
into a sphere perfect except
for slight delineations call them borderlines
between each spinning section of the body
The legs separated from the sphere
and came at Mallender like a sliced blue tomato
the blue disappeared into the legs and immediately
the metal could take any shape it wished
not as fluid as T-1000 but more imaginative
and without the one-track-violent mind
the living metal sliced itself into silver byzantine halos
hovering slowly and developing wings
the accoutrements of angels without bodies
filling but not overwhelming the grey sky
the arms next detached themselves
from the still spinning
but increasingly piecemeal sphere
in front of Mallender they became a lathe and spun
and carved themselves into an obelisk bearing the hexagram
Mallender had cast for himself so recently
not just an obelisk but a sort of chimney shrouding the sky
with another sky from grey to green to hazel
next the head lowered itself to Mallender
the hair spread out as it had before at Whitney Park
rivers untangling from each other below
the half angels and golden brown sky
not simply rivers arbitrarily distributed
they spelled out words in luscious cursive
which Mallender could not read
though he knew the message vital to him
riverwriting show me the riverwriting he yelled
in response the final segment the torso approached him
the metal condensed itself into a chrome pomegranate
the seeds floating in air sprouting into
those wilting as fast as they bloomed
into blue herons that paced
and trumpeted silently into the air
the vision for all its chaotic happenings
maintained an un-earthly rhythm
the herons’ awkward steps always in line with one another
the halos spun around Mallender with the rhythm
of a torsion pendulum on an anniversary clock
the rivers sang
and in a flash without thunder
Diana stood before Mallender
just her the hazel sky and the trees
she was looking at him with respect but not love
as she had at Havland pond
from the trees still inky black
came a single note an ah
voices of the young and old male and female
it helped release Diana’s nature from this machine
Diana dispersed as the sky had from the obelisk
the trees turned green the chrome steel body
stood at attention with a blank stare on its flawless featureless face
but still Mallender’s affections for this husk of metal and energy
did not change
Ben Pease is a poet and visual artist with degrees from Emerson College and Columbia University. He hails from Ludlow, MA, the setting for his next book, Fugitives of Speech. He is an assistant professor at ASA College in New York City.
This poem was inspired by The Chariot card of the tarot deck.