It looks around after it pokes its head out and it sees that it can still make McDonald’s breakfast if it hurries.
She goes to school, she fingerpaints the universe, she responds to stimuli, she fits her responses in her lunch box, she talks like “I am embarrassed of this lunch box,” she twinkles and thinks of what a gaping asshole the future is. She does karate on a classmate, she goes home, she does karate on the darkness.
If you really want to know someone, watch how they cut meat.
“Here is my lighter. Don’t look at me, and don’t fucking hurt yourself.”
“Here is my fucking Gmail password, don’t look at me.”
“Here is my favorite book in the world, fucking read it. Don’t fucking look at me.”
“Here is my fucking full external hard drive, don’t look at me.”
She likes chicken on her salad. She hates the impermanence of lettuce. She has thoughts like, “I can feel it moving through me. My body is a level of Donkey Kong.”
“In five years, we will have at least one,” she said. Then, five years later, we had a squirming, sloppy little child. He swam out of her backwards, which made me nervous. When he dropped into the doctor’s thinly latexed fingers, I choked on my spit and coughed, trying to struggle out that I loved him.
The doctors wiped grayness from the Tonka toy of a man. I felt, for whatever splash of seconds fucking minutes, that he would be the one thing that would not drag or be dragged through it all. I thought of my own undoing, the way I look at myself in the mirror now and consider myself as a piece of gutted history, a product, phallic, a fuck ton of haircuts.
Someone will eventually say, “I remember when this was a Denny’s,” and everyone will feel like they’ve been shoved.
Bio: Bryan Coffelt lives in Portland, OR. These pieces are from an as-of-yet-untitled book that is forthcoming from sunnyoutside press.
Her Space Circle(s)
From our brief chronology of time it appears that first
he briefed his job about the current inadequacies
of forgetful behavior & lit some marijuana as he was talking
& got fired right then for speaking what words he thought were true.
It could be said he fell terribly for the roses that fell from the balcony
of her MySpace after that call. The new look of her page was like being in her.
Her space even smelled like roses & see here he scrolled forever one night, etc.,
because she had presence. Even I used to wonder specifically about spaces
& the matter that destroyed & created. Check this out.
If you look closely enough & back your eyes away from this screen
real quick you can see the trickled space of white between these words that
would allow rose petals to slowly drop between these sentences. & symbols
are space circles that can be galaxies too. That would be
a poem. This is what he saw: the absence of this Space dissolving into a million
empty catacombs. He wished upon roses built of code
because they were the only roses he would ever receive & they were
beautiful to him. This was no game that Called to Duty
it came back with a story about infinite disappearance, it was real
& empty at the same time, the same representation of bird and bee:
is there matter in the lost message to a girl from the woods?
Somewhere in space there must be this message bouncing between stars,
& after a long time the stars return with a typed story about a boy
with the world at the tips of his fingers who had brought the rose petals
that fell from the screen of her MySpace & presented them as proof
that she existed to him
Bio: Kenny Jakubas came from the inside of a little mitten under a bridge in Michigan. He graduated with honors from Western Michigan University, where he received his BA in Creative Writing. While there, his poetry and prose appeared in the literary journal ‘The Laureate’. He currently has creative non-fiction forthcoming from ‘Niche’ lit mag. Kenny lives in Kalamazoo, MI with his son and will be attending Western Michigan University’s MFA program in the Fall of 2014.
I soak a tampon in apple cider vinegar and push it up my
lavender candle, lavender candle.
people do awful things to make money in the name of entertainment.
Sea World is a fucking horrible place.
Entertain me, entertain me,
Fuck Sea World.
Are you captive in a place just a little bit larger than your body?
I fall into a very deep thought about the conditions of vanishing
in the well-lit, but not too well-lit change room.
I buy fluoride-free toothpaste because I’m trying to
activate my pineal gland.
Some people say evil people who work for powerful people
put fluoride in the water because it dumbs you down.
I am self-medicating with pure cranberries and apple cider vinegar.
I buy chocolate eggs and tea light candles.
Everyone’s tongue is pink la-la-la.
I am craving sugar so much.
I do mountain pose in yoga and kill it.
I kill that pose.
I dream that I dance with Beyonce on AstroTurf.
I kill that dream.
I dance like the best I’ve danced ever.
I sip my cell phone, mistaking it for a glass of water.
I breathe out of my ears.
Bio: Ashley Opheim (Ashley Obscura) is the author of the poetry collection I Am Here. She lives in Montreal, where she is the founding editor of Metatron and co-director of the reading series This Is Happening Whether You Like It Or Not. She can be followed on Twitter @hologramrainbow.
Ballad of your Boss
Don’t hesitate to serve your boss.
Sit quietly and he will come to you.
The blessing of an employee
is in the corners of her mouth.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.
When a great boss says “I kill you”
lay your head across his laptop.
Throw your documents in the river.
This is how we measure time.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.
Do not despise small documents.
Do good for your body, but
there is no one who does not die—
Do not delay in your office.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.
Be a cat in your boss’s presence.
Do not give a wary look
towards the elevator door—
You do not know the length of your life.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.
Do not hesitate to serve your boss.
Do let linger without enquiry.
Put myrrh on your head, dress in fine linen.
Sit quietly and he will come to you.
The blessing of a plot
is in its time of being worked.
Bio: J. Hope Stein is the author of the chapbooks Talking Doll (Dancing Girl Press, 2012), Mary (Hyacinth Girl Press, 2012) and Corner Office (H_ngm_n, 2011). Her work is published or forthcoming in Verse, Tarpaulin Sky, Everyday Genius, Ping Pong, Web del Sol, movingpoems.com and Poetry International. J. Hope Stein is also the editor of poetrycrush.com and the author of the poetry/humor site eecattings.com.
(WATCH THIS FULLSCREEN THX)
bio: oscar bruno d’artois used to have a job selling meatpies. he lives in brooklyn, new york. follow him on twitter @brunoartois
haiku about the biggest question of my youth
should i masturbate
tonight? i thought as i puffed
on a black n’ mild
haiku i thought of while hooking up with my ex-girlfriend
i knew you would find
a way back into my arms
like a homing pigeon
haiku to my ex-ex girlfriend
you keep coming in
to my life and finding new
ways to hate me
haiku about being depressed and single
nobody wants to
date a depressed person
why did god do that
haiku i wrote after seeing a guy and a girl talking provocatively on a bench outside of a party
can’t deal with the
pressure of “getting a girl,”
where’s my ex-girlfriend
haiku i thought of after waking up with my ex-girlfriend after spending a night together
woke up and thought
“i finally have a real
human in my hands”
Bio: Zach Schwartz is from Cleveland, Ohio. His work has appeared in Vice Magazine, Thought Catalog, Rap Genius, and more. His website is www.zachtwotimes.com and he can be followed on Twitter @zach_two_times.
I left him unfinished. I just wanted to.
The snow outside fills the sewers
and like my drive for power will stop abruptly
and soon. Starting now, I’ll drop picture frames
down the hole. Drop food processors and Le Creusets
and my chaste little letters. It’s due to my interest
in godless practices that undoes the ritual.
I have a hole where I store my absent typographies,
I have a hole that will never move outside my body.
When he is beautiful, he adapts to a you-state,
thous his way into my pants to mortify my skins.
He draws me over in charcoal, my dull empty sternum
pinks with creation. I have a hole capable of erasure
and his jaw hangs like a mantis there, there.
Then I make him just once pierced with hundreds of holes.
I make him to preen and prick and prune his skin til he bends in his beautiful stalk.
Then I make him to crave my every sustenance as I fill him with clay and stone and ink.
Here is a mirror to wander through, a hallway to crack over his knee.
I make him to tender my strong arms as I spread him open with my knee.
I give him bloomers. I give him diamonds. I give him my desiccated brainstem
and ask if he’d like to go home now. He digs a hole in the ground and gets in and this makes him mine forever.
One definition of a hole is
When men accidentally kill endangered wildlife
they fill the beasts with holes, sew in rocks, sink them in larger holes.
One definition of a hole is
I used to use maxipads against my hole, and I could smell
the perfumed cotton-rot when a man slipped in through my window.
One definition of a hole is
The men have been wiped out. I’ve been given certain allowances
to provide for my species. I miss them. I am Ursula fat and witchy under the sea.
One reason I fantasize about the re-creation of men is because they always admit having loved me when they’re done with me, the heartsick goat in my stomach slaughters itself I am so grateful to fill myself with godawful certitudes as I bleed out. I don’t hear them in the vents. I don’t hear them over me in the dark, emptying. I starve my body still in case it drives them back.
I store them in the hole outside my body. This isn’t my hole but it’s a decent one, keeps them veal-dark and veal-alive. Vials and vials worth of DNA. All these sad engorged wads of dead ocean.
My poor man, so full of addendum,
driven through the asphalt to occupy the space
of a shit lake, shit river, shit rat god.
When you are mine you become animate
only capable of burning selfies in the shit lake.
I say when. I say.
And when I close the sepulcher it is done and
you are he again, the agnostic whimpering he.
I place a hole over you, under you, fill it with rock.
Can’t wait to return to my dumb bitch couch
where he is the empty border outside where he is the hole.
The dog presents her dead
to an amnesiac who claims
she was touched by a man
and the touch felt like power
Power is a couch that covers a great hole
The holes I poured you in are becoming legible,
can be read from left to right, up to down, under to over—
The beauty of holes is that I cannot enter one without ceasing to
exist in the seen world. That a body can disappear and become
subsumed by a space suggests that the body is nothing but an act
of spectral negation. My cunt is a star with its darkness pressed to the floor to temporarily light me, to lighten me.
So the channels of men close. The lines of the men close.
I have a sample of spit from the hate of my history and I hock and
I hock and I hock in the holes of my men.
To call a woman a hole is to suggest immediate use.
To call a man a hole suggests grave incivility.
Incivilities I place like a knife at the windowsill to cool.
I’ve set a wishbone in boiling water to watch its holes appear.
When I weep, my calcium brittles. My men limn in sinkholes
until they are again important, until their duress makes me faint in my delicate sovereignty.
History is a papertrail that leads to a hole.
My personal history is always such that and that which, a dreadful taxonomy of raining men.
Hallelujah I’ve dug up this adorable patriarchy and it wants to live!
The classrooms of girls offend me with their careful thinking.
Thinking is an act of dipping your hands into a hole that you hope will form a skin.
I have crowned my foreskin a philosopher its rhetoric is so dry.
When he is homely, he is a leader of men and glimmers a brawny integument of he.
He is drawn from the rocks. He rapes a hole in me to fill me with rocks.
My consent is my sinking to the seafloor. Sally sold seawhores by the seashore,
I hum and I hock to the bottom.
The hooked descending albatross is a beauty to behold and I place its carcass like a key
in his gray bloated sternum to bloom itself dry.
When he is homely, a hole forms in his throat for him to speak.
Stones fall out of his crude syntax.
I make him hundreds of times, drill holes behind his temples to make his future exterminations simple. I make his cock hundreds more times, I freeze them mid-revision.
I make him hundreds of times for he is homely and I’ve made him to desire the keen white scalpel again and again.
I make him hundreds of times, let his holes grow dusty from lack of speech.
I make him hundreds of times and he sits on a rock all bashful and glitz.
I make him hundreds of times until he is pretty and worth his weight in flesh.
And in his flesh, I see him, the delicate sovereignty of his limbs.
And when I see him, I scoop out his throat, I take it in the hole and the look in his eyes tells me he’s grateful. I thou him so hard I can feel his fingers wrapping their worth round my neck.
My love is a hole I can only make once. I make it hundreds and hundreds of times.
Bio: Natalie Eilbert’s work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Tin House, Handsome, Guernica, West Branch, Spinning Jenny, Sixth Finch, STOKED, and many others. Her chapbook, Conversation with the Stone Wife, is forthcoming from Bloof Books. She lives and writes in Greenpoint, where she is the founding editor of The Atlas Review.
high profile search and seizure: a compendium of bizarre hazing rituals the fbi never wanted you to know existed
i am currently a very different type of heartbroken and alone
compared to when i was heartbroken and alone in the jungle
or heartbroken and alone drunk in the mouth of a volcano
or heartbroken and alone in a city i’d lived almost a year in
or heartbroken and alone on drugs in some field in a storm
or heartbroken and alone on a street with a high murder rate
or heartbroken and alone in bed with someone in a mansion
or heartbroken and alone with no smartphone, different mansion
or heartbroken and alone with no money in a desert
or heartbroken and alone in an empty high school skipping lunch
or heartbroken and alone in bed, two weeks pneumonia
or heartbroken and alone at night in the catacombs of a church
or heartbroken and alone playing sega in a basement
or heartbroken and alone being forced out of a womb
i am a very different type of heartbroken and alone
heartbroken and alone on the internet with you
Editor’s note: This poem initially ran as an FB post, so it is technically a ‘reprint’, but it is so fucking good that who cares?
I Don’t Get Home Much Anymore
Cancer stink on interstates through Missouri and Illinois
No dreams induce sleep
what’s closer to grass and trees
a mind away from smoke
The home I lived in
all the streets coordinate
paralysis in a shot of strychnine
Now I prefer stoned mountain roads
I live in a box in the mountains, yes
but my parents don’t cry in
their words there
I broke their mouths against my door
I locked myself inside with my daughter and her laughter
the shotgun I hold to my head
My light-crazed head
grins in the trees
shining through the window
I’ve been told to stop talking about light
To think money language
To think military-industrial complex squid children shudders
To drop drones everywhere
But light, friends, enters through the windows without breaking anything
Light makes the trees and light makes my daughter laugh
Not a weapon
when the world is made of light
guns and money made of light, too
and everything made of light dissolves in light
salt in salt water
glows a thick light
Mind glows its own solution
Mind not like moon, not reflecting
But origin, a child
laughing when her daddy laughs
one bird laughing after another
I don’t go home
What fire alights has burnt out
What has resolved in its ash foundations hardly holds anything
A house will not stand after emptying
Places away from the disasters
let me breathe out
I open the door and let my daughter
run down sidewalks full of commerce
bio: Matthew Henriksen is the author of Ordinary Sun (Black Ocean, 2011) and a few chapbooks, most recently “Latch Down the Dark Helmet” (Wildlife Poetry, 2013). Recent poems appear in Toad Suck Review, N/A, Apartment, and Yalobusha Review. For Fulcrum #7 he edited “Another Part of the Flood: Poems, Stories, and Correspondence of Frank Stanford.” Since 2003 he has with Adam Clay co-edited Typo, an online poetry journal. He runs The Burning Chair Readings and works at the Dickson Street Bookshop in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
You were at my wedding. You stood
in a doorway and smiled at me. Music
was playing in another room, and a
huge white cake, the size of a fat little
man, awaited us on the table. The phone
rang and you answered it. It was
the priest looking for money. We
tried to get him drunk. Night fell
inside while day raged outside.
We noticed how ridiculously long
your sideburns are. There are
no photographs to prove any
of this. There is no way to know
what really happened. We drank,
we ate, we danced a waltz. We
fell asleep in the hotel, and when
we woke up thirty years later
our friends were old people,
with, like, white hair and health
problems, and the entire country
had fallen into ruination.
bio: Terence Winch, originally from the Bronx, has lived in the DC area for many years. His recent books include This Way Out (2014, Hanging Loose Press), Lit from Below (2013, Salmon Poetry [Ireland]), and Falling out of Bed in a Room with No Floor (Hanging Loose, 2011). He also plays traditional Irish music.
In the panopticon we lived in tunnels, and the smell of petrol was pervasive. Food consisted of small hard rolls flavored with onions and potatoes. There were beets that smelled of tragedy and scraps of fatty meat that was hard to identify. We had not known seasons for years. All the papers were forged. All the fingers were blackened by ink and smelled of something pungent that may once have been alive. Alcohol was plentiful mixed with slices of lemon and lime. Everything was delayed. Cells were alienated and wouldn’t knit. We didn’t know the rules for touching.
In a room we could not see into, a woman looked down at us. She had trained the world to regard her with importance, and the world had changed. People pushed back at her after a point, but the point kept shifting. She resembled a cat with thin lips and a nose flattened to a button. Her hair twitched nervously as she hopped from foot to foot, her dead eyes waiting for a moment to pounce. It was surprising how compliant we were. In the dim light, we heard dripping.
I remembered a man on a train who was standing against a pole with his large suitcase and a smaller bag stacked on top. His hair waved off his forehead, framing intense eyes that were also kind and lost in thought. The seat beside me became vacant, and he sat, and I had a chance to study his long fingers with their wide nails. His skin was a little rough from long-ago acne. It heightened his beauty, allowing a space to enter. My life was like Chernobyl in that I could see but not touch the ordinary objects left behind. Flowers were growing up around abandoned things. Nature was coming back. It was coming back different.
In the house that traveled you woke up each day in a familiar place. In the house that traveled you could not be exact about appointments and the truth was harder to turn into a weapon. In the house that traveled your old life looked like girls getting dressed to go out. In order to be heard, you went deaf. In order to study at a university, your body ceased to produce insulin. There were people on the train and people who let the train pass. A woman wrote that people, naturally, consider suicide, finding the world too cruel. It was never going to stop, so why not step away? You heard something. You heard scraping.
As we approached the origin of our fears, we lived in several time periods at once. People of the future could watch their earlier selves in movies, and the various selves could communicate through a scrim that felt like foreboding or déjà vu. When we didn’t have language for something, the feeling was a shudder or a smell. It was what we did, bringing back the dead.
Bio: Laurie Stone is author of several fiction and nonfiction books. Her shorter work has appeared in such publications as Open City, Anderbo, Joyland, Nanofiction, Creative Nonfiction, St Petersburg Review, and Four Way Review. In 2005, she participated in “Novel: An Installation,” writing a book and living in a house designed by architects Salazar/Davis in Flux Factory’s gallery space. She is currently at work on The Love of Strangers, Micro, Flash, and Short Fiction by Laurie Stone.
when I burnt my fingertip
it was because I wanted to turn the candle
into a tiny trashcan. because I don’t know
how to make people pay attention to me
without acting like a wastebin set on fire
outside the park
like people need something
for people to swerve around
and then video with their phone
like there is a voice inside you
that you actually can’t turn off
by arching your feet
the lamp I ordered from eBay
turned out to be a dollhouse lamp.
you have to order a tiny adaptor
to make it plug to a usual outlet. it sucks.
I still want to be a doll though
birds in the engine
I don’t feel that hopeless
Dropping my luggage
with reckless abandon
Isn’t it funny that there is a monk in the airport?
Everyone is quietly trying to take his picture
without giving themselves up
bio: Lucy Tiven is an MFA student at San Francisco State University and a contributing writer for The Fanzine. She is currently working on a chapbook about Mark Rothko for Plain Wrap and trying to get hired as a sales associate at Pet Food Express.
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.
NOTE: Canadian poetry! For no particular reason, I am taking over Melissa Broder’s column for the month of the October to spotlight poems by contemporary Canadian writers. Today’s poet is Sara Peters, whose (beautiful, delicate, lucid) debut collection, 1996, was published last Spring by House of Anansi (see The Rumpus’ review).
She was thirty-four,
.. . .. . she’d recently chopped off her right index finger
and she came to my high school for recess and lunch.
.. . .. . I felt her before I saw her:
she ran her hand down my spine
.. . .. . It happened so fast I had no time to pose.
Nothing felt better to me
.. . .. . than being touched possessively,
without having to touch someone back.
.. . .. . She’d pull my braid, pick lint off my sweater,
smooth my eyebrows, all while explaining
.. . .. . saffron and fisting and France.
Once, she tightened my scarf
.. . .. . and we drove to her rented cabin, until the road stopped
and we were walking through snow
.. . .. . falling at inaudible frequencies.
She sang something under her breath
.. . .. . (she said it was nothing I knew),
striding ahead in unlaced boots, her jacket flapping open.
.. . .. . She wore so many layers, I’d never been able to tell
the actual size of her body, beyond the occasional ankle or wrist
.. . .. . breaking the surface. Around her the stars spun like tops:
tops I knew she could pause with her fingertip.
.. . .. . When we arrived,
she lit twenty tea lights and vanished.
.. . .. . Then animals began to emerge.
Two patchy dogs from the couch,
.. . .. . while in one corner, something nursed on something else.
There was a mirror
.. . .. . the size of a record jacket, and in it I saw her
walking out of the bathroom toward me,
.. . .. . her bandage half unrolled: the wound was startling.
I opened my beer and watched
.. . .. . as the foam ran down my hand and wrist
and she flew—it seemed—to my side,
.. . .. . knelt, took the bottle, and said
Put your mouth on it
.. . .. . and when I bent she laughed
as a cat dropped down near her knee,
.. . .. . from what seemed a great height, though it couldn’t be.
Sara Peters was born in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. She completed an MFA at Boston University, and was a Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University from 2010 to 2012. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Daily, The Threepenny Review, and The Walrus. She lives in Toronto.
“Winter Jewelry” from 1996 by Sara Peters, copyright 2013. Reproduced with permission from House of Anansi Press, Toronto. www.houseofanansi.com.
NOTE: Canadian poetry! For no particular reason, I am taking over Melissa Broder’s column for the month of the October to spotlight poems by contemporary Canadian writers. Today’s poet is Andrew Faulkner, whose (rad) debut collection, Need Machine, was published last Spring by Coach House.
Acknowledge Your Sources
It was a sky-draped year. We collected data like habits,
stockpiled information to have something to look into.
We were all about identity. Our primary theme was abstraction –
I know, right? With small words we touched it, and with big words
we brought it home. At a right-wing party’s office, a bomb explodes.
At a leftist rally, something something. It was the year Heidegger
walked among us and seemed especially deep. Like, at the bottom.
A little red light signalled some really important shit.
As a gift to individualism, I eschewed the individual.
As a gift to myself, I learned to hail a cab like a flower
bending towards the newly departed. We kissed strangers,
stayed up late, depended on discipline to save the day.
That summer Justin Bieber insinuated himself into your heart
like an undercover agent. The Insurgencies of Love topped all
the charts. It was a good year for wanting and my stocks did well.
But you thought I’d gone all art deco in the mind
and the four-roomed apartment we’d claimed as ours
was a little too …something for you.
You were raging for pastels. You wanted to move. So we spent
those eighteen months in a mid-sized European city whose transit
map, when crumpled, resembled a once-popular cognitive theory.
We tried to avoid cancer like the plague.
We wanted a sky the colour of a painting,
any painting, just something you don’t have to think about.
One Saturday God went out, left us $20 for pizza
and said He’d be back in the morning.
The point was that we could have done anything.
Friends stood before us like a porchlight that night
and we fought over who would ring the doorbell.
You began writing letters to Jennifer Aniston
but in a really, like, political way.
As in, between two people.
Dear, no one’s mind is right.
But then you left exactly how all the sad songs said you would
and I moved into a hotel the way a fastball chooses the mitt
it’s tossed to: the glove’s there and there’s throwing to be done.
For a while, the world was everything in my suitcase.
The morning rose up like a Parisian mob, made unreasonable
demands, then settled in for an afternoon coffee. Or café, as they say.
In terms of currently accepted physics I was pretty fucking sad.
There were birds. I made my heart into the shape of the moon,
or perhaps it was the other way around,
but you must have seen my longing in the sky
because you came back. God helps those He really likes,
as Benjamin Franklin used to say.
I was coming down with something.
Beset with symptoms, I gave up style with panache.
That is: with panache, I gave up style. I tied my tie up tight.
Is there a doctor in the house? Drumroll, punchline, drumfill.
But, seriously, is there?
Because I’m finding it hard to breathe.
Andrew Faulkner co-curates The Emergency Response Unit, a chapbook press. He is the author of two chapbooks, including Useful Knots and How To Tie Them, which was shortlisted for the bpNichol Chapbook Award. Need Machine (Coach House Books, 2013) is his first full-length collection. He lives in Marmora, Ontario.
NOTE: Canadian poetry! For no particular reason, I am taking over Melissa Broder’s column for the month of the October to spotlight poems by contemporary Canadian writers. Today’s poet is Laura Broadbent, whose (sharp, funny, underated) debut collection, Oh There You I Can’t See You Is It Raining?, was published late last year by Invisible Publishing.
Oh There You Are I Can’t See You Is It Raining?
Supple with incoherence, I have not
learned how to people myself.
Lose any hope. Above all, lose any hope.
I’ve never enjoyed a party in my life.
The meaning of this hits a little too deep.
The only women for me live a tonal complexity.
The biggest fact about anyone is their mother.
I know this is getting a little complicated.
Art school students love art school students.
There is something unutterably terrible
About art school students.
He likes it when my nails are short and clean.
Since it’s love there’s nothing easy about it
so I threw my wine glass at him.
Old wounds and their flatulence.
No one told me it was problematic to be a woman
until I started getting treated like one.
I Googled ‘Why are all Aquarius men jerks?’
I wasn’t the first.
When I try to describe you
my mouth gets an E for Effort.
I invite you for a dip and you think
its an invitation to drowning.
Find some bearings
then ostensibly learn to keep them.
Obligatory fun is ostensibly fun.
The project of the intellectuals.
Don’t open an intellectual
unless you want to be killed.
To lose those I love most.
What other lessons are there –
how to make a perfect gazpacho?
I still believe in forces.
Anger is one of my charming knacks.
Also panic for no discernable reason.
I remember things with my whole body.
Men like it when I ostensibly behave.
Supple with incoherence
Art school students are
at making the perfect
Obligatory fun gets an E
for Effort. When you’ve lost
those you love most,
your only hope is in
The biggest fact is a little complicated.
So throw your wine glass at it
then clean your nails and Google
I invited you for a dip
then you treat me like a woman.
Google: ‘old wounds
AND tonal complexity.’
Getting killed: obligatory fun.
No need to get all emotional
and intellectual about it.
The project of the intellectuals:
the terrible fact of
women and flatulence.
Everyone’s mother is problematic
trying to do something about
Art school students’ projects are parties.
Be on guard for the projects of art students
Men like when my whole body
is an invitation to drowning.
Laura Broadbent was raised in Stratford, Ontario and has resided in Montreal since 2005. Her first book of poetry Oh There You Are I Can’t See You Is It Raining? (Invisible Publishing, 2012) won the 2012 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry.
NOTE: Canadian poetry! For no particular reason, I will be taking over Melissa Broder’s column for the month of the October to spotlight poems by contemporary Canadian writers. Today’s poet is Jon Paul Fiorentino, whose latest (and also, I feel, career-best) collection, Needs Improvement, was just published by Coach House.
It still means fuck all to me
Write of the solitary fence post
of the day you heard the incantatory wisdom of birds of Alberta
and how the peculiar birdsong of the tundra swan once set your
Write of the struggles of your fathers
of the linguistic imperatives that shackle you and keep you from
articulating the particularities of non-heteronormative and
Write of the land and how it’s shaped you
of the small things like the footsteps you hear when you wish
to hear nothing and the incomprehensible strangeness of being
and exactly what you have gleaned
Write of the day that you lost her
of the day that you lost him and everything collapsed into
emblems and metaphors and similes and other tropes blending
into the cruellest and sharpest unit of metonomy
Write of the city that you left there
of the Winnipeg half-jokes, the myth-making memos, the spray
paint and solvents, the cult of new money, the rebuild and letdown,
the angst of personae, the collective of lonely
Jon Paul Fiorentino is the author of the novel Stripmalling, which was shortlisted for the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction, and several poetry collections, including Indexical Elegies, which won the 2010 CBC Book Club “Bookie” Award for Best Book of Poetry. He lives in Montreal, where he teaches writing at Concordia University and edits Matrix magazine.
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.