Sunday Service

James Davis Poem

Spiritual Warfare

–for the Nintendo Entertainment System, by Wisdom Tree, Inc., 1991, unlicensed

Your enemies are not killed; they are converted.
Occasionally, a convert will leave behind Spirit Points,
which you can use to purchase things like fruits.

Each fruit has its own unique method of attack.
Pears, though weak, come in handy in the Slums,
since they can destroy large weeds and junk piles.

Vials of the Wrath of God: these are basically bombs,
purchased in groups of three or seven. Samson’s Jawbone
acts as a boomerang. You’ll need this to get the Raft.

To begin, enter the red door and receive an apple
from the Christian Helper. The basketball player
you come across in the Park is of no consequence.

Do not go into the Bar in the Shipyard; you will lose
the Belt of Truth and have to go to the Pawn Shop
in the Slums to retrieve it. Using the Raft, cross the lake

and search out the Grey-Haired Man in the Airport.
He is slow and weak; it takes only three Vials
to convert him. He will drop the Helmet of Salvation,

which renders you invulnerable to dynamite.
The Church is to the east. Here you can buy grapes
for 75 Spirit Points. Grapes travel through solid objects.

Once you have beaten the Man in Black Robes
and obtained the banana, pass through the Woods
and enter the Prison, under which lies the Demon Stronghold.

The demons are vulnerable only to the banana.
You will now be in a blue room (aren’t you glad
you brought that key?) with the Demon Master.

He can be defeated with persistence. You will know
you have damaged him when his color flashes from red
to a lighter red—an almost imperceptible change.

James Davis was Mr. December in American Short Fiction’s Pinup Series. His interview with Idra Novey will be up on the Subtropics website any second now. He is an MFA candidate at the University of Florida.

Sunday Service

Jeremy Schmall Poems

from Jeremy Schmall & the Cult of Comfort

Andrew Jackson
finished off the Creek Indian
civilization after fighting beside them.
Why Andrew?
& he puts his finger in my nose.
To the gods goes my excess asparagus,
linoleum tabletop & coffee-bruised newspaper.
I say the mountain’s not coming.
I say “the traffic,” and shrug.
There’s just not enough Vaseline
for the whole room.
I do apologize.
If the presentation never ends maybe
I can keep this laser pointer.
Rabbit under truck tire
by the high school
already cold.
Socks up to my teeth.
Electric drill to the avocado.
Striped wallpaper behind a plastic folding chair.

It’s certainly not always the case
that infidels will stalk the dumb hallways
rimming the family manor
but we’d like to believe
our cheap picture frames & outdated
electronics are at least worth stealing.
There is an exercise inside everyone’s skull
that forces them to stop slathering
lotion on their hands and wonder
what we can’t know until next March.
The assignment now is to ruin the face
of your opponent with a grapefruit spoon.
There’s a certain trick to remaining
calm while a grizzly claws
through the meat under your ribcage
but no one’s ever lived to tell it.

Jeremy Schmall is the founder & co-editor of Agriculture Reader, and author of “Open Correspondence from the Senator, Vol. 1: But a Paucity of His Voluminous Writings” (X-ing). His work has appeared in PEN America, The Laurel Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Juked, and Forklift Ohio. He lives in New York City.

Do you write about sports? Punt something over to Stymie.

Sunday Service

Gregory Sherl Poem

The Oregon Trail is a Chinese Restaurant on Christmas Eve

From Independence it’s a shit ton of miles
to the Kansas River crossing.

Child #1, Christopher, has a broken leg.
Christopher is sad he has a broken leg.
He’s like Shit, my leg hurts something awful.
He’s like Shit shit shit.

We ford the river but the river’s too deep.
We ford the river & you’re like Why
the fuck are we fording the river?

The oxen can’t breathe. The oxen can’t
breathe under water. They’re chewing
their tongues off trying to breathe.
Wendy, child #2, her face is a waterfall.

Christopher is vomiting from a fever.
He’s vomiting all over Wendy’s grave.

On the seventh day God rested.
Christopher has died of dysentery.

Gregory Sherl’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in New York Quarterly, Gargoyle, Columbia Poetry Review, NOÖ Journal, and PANK. He currently lives in Virginia and blogs at http://gregorysherl.blogspot.com/.

Sunday Service

Kendra Grant Malone Poem

All The Ways I Have Failed You

finding him under the piano
was not the most alarming part of
the day, that day
finding his waifish
six year old body
in my underwear and
costume jewelry was not
the most alarming part
what worried us all the most
was his inability
to pronounce the syllables
that didn’t really
exist anyways

various things are real
the cloak he wears while
walking down lake street
the antipsychotic pills
i’ve seen them,
they are pink
his inch long finger nails
humming birds that move very
fast, yes we saw that together
your arch angels
the ones that tell you
that you are beautiful
okay okay
yes I will always believe you
they are real
and that time you
stabbed me
screaming in tongues
that was real too

hey juan?
where is zack?
did you leave him
in the courthouse
but its christmas!
he needs to be here
for christmas
so we can
sit in front
of the fire
and build the alamo
together one more time

the rainbow wallpaper
was mine
but we all knew
that all the rainbows
made of light
belonged to you
everyone could see it
especially father
because the secret
was hiding in your teeth

Kendra Grant Malone lives in Brooklyn with her cat Delores Grant Malone. She has been widely published in web and print magazines and has an assortment of e-books and chapbooks including Conor Oberst Sex, Rape Children, and Love Your Friends And Not Your Lovers. You can go to her website, www.kendralovely.blogspot.com, to read more about her, her cat and her work.

Sunday Service

Joe Hall Poem


In the mother fucking sound and the mother fucking light, in

The iterations of thunder, the bass so high

It hurls you into the grass, all these bitches lying

On their beds, touching themselves, waiting for me

An algorithm of trees exploding in your face, shaved from soap

In a prison cell, in a pair of yellow finches

Alighting from the high power line, all these dudes

Lying on their beds, stroking their cocks, waiting for me

Leached from the circuits in a baroque array of evolving graphical

Representations of a black economy, a cancer, a subverting process, O Christ!

Only imminent, you cannot be found, waiting to subsume, fuck up

Them cities, bring murder into the bridal chamber

And armies copulating in the killing field mud

Delete all images of yourself, crash

This party, sink this continent

To petrify latitudes of soy and corn—

To perform plastic surgery on everyone—

Make us wear our guts like streamers

A clarity scouring the berserk horizon

Murdering the letter ‘B’ from the alphabet

No name for you ever had it

I will not break down my tent

You are a lamb

Joe Hall is the founder and co-organizer (with Wade Fletcher) of the Washington, DC area reading series Cheryl’s Gone. His first book, Pigafetta Is My Wife, will be published April 2010 by Black Ocean Press. He is also an avid collector of bloody noses.