Yi Jung Chen
Daniel Flore III
Karla Linn Merrifeld
Lynda Scott Araya
with contest winners
Click on the cover image to see a flipbook layout of the issue or scroll to see individual works.
The Lawn Keeper
Early on Sunday mornings,
my neighbor is out mowing his lawn.
I’m still in bed trying to sleep,
because it is not long past dawn.
He patrols his whole lawn daily,
the grass is a thick dark green.
Automatic sprinklers run daily,
and there is not a weed to be seen.
Chemicals are often sprayed on it,
and I think ants get it the worst.
No insects at all are tolerated,
even though they lived there first.
The weed trimmer is very loud,
and the cordless blower too.
Much energy spent fighting nature,
all for one home owner’s view.
down went Mike Pence
when they came for the others
Sherry Darling’s Mother Drinks a Glass of Sun Tea on Her Front Porch While Criticizing Her Daughter’s Boyfriends
Not one of them has a name a girl’s mother could love. Weak-Kneed Willie. Chicken Man. The Magic Rat, for God’s sake. And every one pulls up to the house in a pink Cadillac that gets repossessed before the carnival gypsy can read the lovebird’s Tarot. It’s like each suitor sells his heart to a junkman before the couple reaches the Tunnel of Love. One of the Casanovas honked his arrival from behind the wheel of Frankie Roberts’ Buick, the getaway car from the time Roberts murdered that kid in a roadhouse. That handsome Dan didn’t bother to clean up the beer cans and cheeseburger wrappers the killer left on the floor. And here’s Sherry all gussied up in a summer dress for a chili dog at an all-night diner in Atlantic City. If some long-gone daddy promised to write her name in his book of dreams, she’d primp in her bedroom for weeks. Might as well believe Santa Claus is coming to town. Like the sort of woman who wears a wedding dress to an “I do” service in a J.P. office. She drew pictures of her mansion on the hill in her sketch book. I’m not saying my daughter is a supermarket queen. She ain’t a beauty, but she’s all right. Still the Magic Rat never dropped to a knee offering a wedding ring and a roll of dice on something more than the last ride on a ferris wheel in a city of ruins. I heard Spanish Johnny swore he’d prove it all night, but my baby deserves a Romeo with a hungry heart and a roadmap toward more than a leap of faith into Mr. Trouble’s glory days.
A Bench Buddy Dedication at the Donald J. Trump Primary Academy
The school custodian turned the covfefe-colored bench to face the swing sets, the one the local bully shoved fourth grade girls off of at the beginning of the year. The stench from a tomato cannery the next town over hovers over the dais; its cloud pesters the principal, the mayor and a work-release prisoner on loan from the county jail. Beyond the playground fence, a Peterbilt rig carrying Spotted boars to slaughter rumbles past an Amish gelding pulling a driverless buggy. The bench was manufactured from recycled beer can tabs in a city named for a mad general. Now it will serve as a seat for kids who want to join a dodgeball match or a game of Bang, Bang, You’re Dead. “America the Beautiful” skips and shrieks from an invisible speaker. Recorded by the wife of the sole survivor from the massacre at Bowling Green. The mayor mumbles his speech about uplifted boots and second amendment heroes into a dead mic. Then taps his watch as the principal adjusts a Save the Children scarf around her neck. She signals to the office until “You’ve Got a Friend” groans from the hidden speaker. Near the bench, the work-release prisoner burnishes a gray name plaque with the sleeve of his orange jumpsuit and pockets the off-brand screwdriver he’d used to tighten a few bolts. He’s the only one to notice a bucket of white tadpoles beneath the seat. An omen he’ll ask his wife to interpret the next time she visits.
A Millennial's Lament to Tami's Fatigue
The inundation of perfection
goads a reluctant adherence
to specious panaceas
creating an industry of placation
to the cupidity of sorrow
building a mausoleum of envy
through vapid consumerism
and perpetual qualms poised
for the tedious algorithms of
the pseudo persuasions of truth
I am a domestic neutered alpha male
I am the antithesis of patriarchy
my words seldom heard
yet the thoughts are a cumbersome weight
supine, servile, and seditious
I watch a future of futile redundancy
in the form of quasi-masculinity
normalizing the echo chambers
of its own demoralization
I paint my son’s nails, and read the first draft of a suicide note
of my deceased mother-in-law pulled from moldy box
millennial fatigue inundated with somber nostalgia
I was bastardized by a false creed
Yet, a forever latchkey kid
my anthem feels apropos to succeed
so Tami’s last days weren’t in vain.
Begging for clemency from despair
there’s a vacancy you can’t fathom
when love is arbitrarily taken
you used to speak in tandem
now people are garrulously talking you
through the grief of a lost appendage
in languages you can’t understand
because his voice no longer resonates
outside the synapses of your wearied head
across from you is an empty mattress
in a room full of melancholic reminders
that bereavement is your new roommate
I’m afraid to trivialize the existential
and there’s nothing I can do to disencumber
the sound of your mother’s pain
from the reality that you lost your little brother
I harbor no storied sage, and we’ve been dormant
But I remember when
We used to anesthetize each other
in cynical laughter about the subterfuge
of life’s most abrasive lies
holding you while you cried
felt like home in the most morbid way
you lost him at 29, and you apologized
why did it take this to pick up a phone?
I assured you that the operator should work both ways
I cannot say I’m sorry enough
I don’t want you to go through this alone
Yi Jung Chen
The cardinal reminds me to take three steps back,
struggling with angers and building fences against each other,
the proof of love,
from stitches looping to floral design,
hand embroidery too difficult for clumsy fingers,
seams torn open wide,
takes time to repair.
Extending an olive branch,
your way of making compromises,
quarrels ripping our hearts apart,
niggling over details,
dark thoughts gnawing at my minds,
creating hidden breach in our relationship.
Pulling the thread to one side or the other,
giving a nice press with the iron,
try to make it flat and wrinkles,
two detached souls,
reunite us again for the old time’s sake.
Stumbling over words to fix the face,
filling our rooms with the aroma of citrus bergamia
letting the magic formula comfort mood swings
holding you back in my arms,
felt into gentle slumbers,
as we once did.
I raised a toast with smiles on our faces
And I haven't even met yet
How do I know what needs to be done
When do I still scratch our noses?
I steal God’s days and catch the Sun with our hands
I cut our veins for bastards
How is it possible that I still love those people
Who can't love us sincerely?
The firmness of it all is that I look boldly forward
Bastards need nothing but a wink
I caress their hearts and sew their wounds
When they see how insignificant the variety is
I are still patiently waiting for fate
I are kicking, and I haven't even drunk brandy yet
The lifestyle is fast, brisk and purposeful
Some new happenings that happen every day
Idiots need nothing more than applause
It goes without saying that the Moon caresses our hands
It eats our brains juicy and drinks our veins
He gallantly and optimistically crosses the field of the wicked!
Butterfly Named Sue
No one else in the kitchen at Chianti wanted to go with Jamie to the Bad Behavior tattoo parlor, so it fell to me, like any other prep task. After, I led him with my hand around his elbow to the Green Top for a beer, his left eye covered by a gauze bandage to give the new tatt time to settle. He leered at the other folks on the sidewalk, daring someone to ask what happened to his eye, but no one took the bait. The leather-backed chairs cracked when he sat, stuffing peeking out. Buy yourself a man’s drink, Jamie said and handed me a twenty. I’m not going to fight you, I said, but took the money and stood at the rail. An old horse in a Megadeath t-shirt drew two dollar drafts. I made him give me some quarters and dropped them into the jukebox, pressed the buttons to bring Johnny Cash into the bar. You should listen to this, I said to Jamie when Johnny started telling the story of the boy named Sue. He sipped his beer and listened, but got up after a couple minutes. It’s so long, he said, and I want to see what it looks like. I followed him to the bathroom. I stood in his light when he peeled back the tape that covered the butterfly he had tattooed over his eye. It was still a swirl of color and irritated skin; to me it looked like a bruise. He started to cry. It’s so beautiful, he said. I wanted him to punch me so he would stop crying. Come on, I said, you’ll ruin your make-up.
Daniel Flore III
A Response to Poolside Gawking
at the pool
I really want her
squirts white sunblock
on her legs
looks at me
as she applies it
and is really rubbing it in
When I got home from Desert Storm
the crazy terror hit me like a bomb.
My stress was caused by nothing--
all the nothing here back home--
smiles and laughter, calm drove me
to drink. Then County Chairman Johnson
hoisted a few with me, we talked,
he said he had a job he thought
might fit me to a T, to tie some
loose ends up. He chuckled, then
called my job Euthanatologist,
and said I'd have a truck, new
Remington, free cartridges, good pay.
He said just be available each day--
Sunday too, to make "house calls"
to where a deer's been hit, stray
dogs after a calf, maybe wild hogs.
It calms me down to see them die,
I don't know why. Guess red's
my favorite color. Even after all
these years my aim's as steady
as it was when I cleared out those
black-haired fellows on the other side.
My heart's a happy hammer when I kill.
Hey, you got a mess to fix, I will.
Catcher in the Wry
Way back, got jerked from second base to catcher
because of little rich boy's shitty arm.
First day a foul tip hit me in the balls,
so rich boy's dad bought me a cup,
which rubbed a weeping blister on both legs.
Squat down, stand up, squat down, stand up,
so I ditched the cup and took my chances.
It's then I learned loving taking chances
to see those cocky fucks swing hard as hell
and still strike out. Up close and personal revenge
was always sweet, foul tips be damned.
Third strikes are what I lived for way back then.
I'd stick that last strike in their faces.
Like pissing in those rich boys' Cheerios.
Just like these hard years now, all up the ass
of a rich man's house, spraying Acme's poison
on the termites. I take my chances there, too,
sucking the fumes a poor man has to bear.
But sweet as the chance of a clean-up hitter's flop
is the soft underbelly of a rich man's house.
I'll risk cancer, rats, a copperhead's bite,
even that rabid coon that bit my throwing hand
and blessed me with twenty injections in the belly
for a few good shots at the privileged SOBs
who've had me my whole life squat or crawl.
All folks are full of darkness-- so am I,
so before I leave, sometimes I crack a pipe--
just a little hammer-tap here and there,
to leave a little gift for my superiors.
The sound at night my mind dreams up at dozing
is big man's golden toilet's flushing, and knowing
the filth that fills even the richest, luckiest man,
his trophy wife and spoiled and rotten kids,
swirls down and around, by God, but not away
into the sewer, least not until a plumber visits.
I'm always with my hammer and pipe wrench.
Sometimes for weeks they can't locate the stench.
Their crawl space is proof the rich are full of shit.
Forever a Dreamer
I really wish she could have seen me in action that day. It was the second basketball session, a warm Friday afternoon. I purposely distracted myself during an activity and they all laughed at me, which was the intent! I wish she was there in that moment, comfortably sitting on a beach towel on that grassy hill adjacent to the court, laughing in unison with the others.
Don’t worry! You were being you! That’s not going to change anytime soon. There will be many other moments. She will be there and you’ll make her laugh till she cries. Keep being you because that’s who you are. You won’t have to force it. It will come naturally in any scenario whether you’re coaching or simply at home together on your couch.
Be kind to her always. You’ll laugh together always. Self-confidence will come naturally always. I stress always because that’s you. You know your potential and she will see it in your words and actions. Maybe an unexpected surprise? A random act of kindness? Whatever works for her. You know her well enough. Just don’t stop being you! That’s all you have to do and she’ll laugh every time; she’ll look you in your eyes for more than a split second and she’ll be yours ALWAYS!
High Five Thumbs Up
I guess, when’s done, we all are scum,
the sum of all those arrogant,
who point the finger, selves with thumb,
print whorl, tip end, identikit,
the bunch of three, clenched into palm.
From scattered stones, shamed woman prone,
I see a man who stands alone,
then lowered, scribbles in the dust,
and dares those elders, gather round,
to throw the first, their target near,
but as they slink, he raises her,
in equal stance, on level pitch.
That lore is shared by those who know,
whatever faith, or none at all,
save that companions, walking low,
once blamed a woman, then the snake.
We measure up, we find our height,
not through our knowing we are loved,
but when we find those needing such,
the baby cry, first gasp of breath,
ourselves, round earth, inhabitants.
Inviting the Banshee for Tea
a disturbed identity.
Amidst hysterical lamentation,
my own banshee shrieks to me.
She is invasive and delusional
with defective neuro-circuitry.
Throwing matches onto my amygdala,
incineration of my rationality.
She is an outcry of disturbance
a developmental deformity,
formerly marked for self-destruction,
now-turned mental health insurgency.
The scent of hemorrhaging embolisms,
kinetic vapors, a cauterized effigy.
Boiling cerebrospinal fluid
into my soup of toxicity.
She is an eidolon, an apparition,
my sister, my sanity.
A Borderline’s Banshee sibling,
and the better part of Me.
To My Un-Born Child
Who are you but a vacancy?
a cigarette burn
on the wall of my uterus
and an abscess of DNA.
this was not Darwin’s suggestion
but my decision to save you.
from yourself (and me and her).
this is not your history
and I am not your mother.
that if you could think
you’d be thankful
A thousand screams of which to cry, to come and rush and spill right out,
Bring forth the burning of the pain, fiery coils to writhe about.
Locked right in with walls too close, no door, no window, no way out,
Her chest heaving with cold abuse, no use to cry, no use to shout.
Breath that did not seem enough, to fill her lungs, just not enough,
Her thoughts though wild, her mind chained and cuffed.
Her skin crawled with the thought of him, his ugly soul,
Eyes so evil, his manipulative control
His foul mouth that spoke such lies,
To all others he deceitfully wore, an ever so pleasant disguise.
No words could she ever say to fight, against his foul spew,
The raging storm inside of her, of which none ever knew.
The truth must out about this leech,
That sucks the life, to joy lays siege.
His ears that could never hear a word, spoken by her thoughts so true,
His wicked eyes that cackled in taunt, of which he’d cry boo-hoo!
Such a horrid beast too nasty to paint,
Though a self-portrait, would be of a saint.
A tongue that’s forked, that whips her soul,
His heart a rotting, empty hole.
There is nowhere for her to disappear, nowhere for her to flee,
His deafening cackling at her displeasure, he hollers with glee.
Was it ever different, from this before?
Ever a time when which, cruelty he never wore?
The sinking of a ship far from shore, when all the stars are black,
A thievery of righteousness from which, none is ever given back.
Sinking, sinking, to the very bottom of the sea,
Landing amongst the shells and sand, a soft implosion no one ever could see.
There in the depths, lies a soul broken beyond repair,
A cold shiver away from daylight, in an ever-salty despair.
Karla Linn Merrifeld
#41 & #42 at the Hearing
Did you have relations
with the member in question?
Relations? Media relations?
No. We fucked— he burst
into my velvet vault.
Er, right. How many times?
Over three long months?
I was trading him
on and off with Chep,
chief in charge
of the operation
on my Lady Jane’s rosebud.
Ahem, Madam President.
Do you or do you not support
this body’s sanctions
for their ethics violations?
I do not.
Mr. Hung and Mr. Tongue
may be cockslingers, nothing
compared to you whoremongers.
Karla Linn Merrifeld
Andy fucked himself big time in the dot-com
Bust – and the marriage bust: Amandy inside trading
Cowboy cock, Brahman-bull breaking her skinny ass.
Don’t think Mr. Andrew Suit flipped his phone.
Easy come, easy go. Why not real estate
For a quick change of biz? Latina Anita’s next in line,
Girl with lips to give his head a spin,
Hot for all the subprime he had to mortgage.
In for an inch, into all kinds of one-night
Junk bonding, hedging his fund of lust.
Killing them slyly with butt smacks and a finger,
Lies in small print, Handy Andrew/Andy
Made a bundle shooting his wad, Wall St. to Main St.,
No avenue of sleaze left unslimed.
One day banking in offshore pussy, the next diddling
Ponzi schemes, Mini Madoff Andrewski didn’t
Quit. He just kept on spurting all over his
Spreadsheets ’til he screwed the final monkey.
This shit, the Great Recession? Sucks like a ghetto whore.
Unprotected sex on the stock exchange floor? Who me?
Very, like, unlikely, officer. I’m an innocent dude.
Whatever will my brother do with himself in Sing-Sing?
X-wife, x-string of conned bitches, x-sister—
You won’t see us on prison visitors day.
Zebra Stripe behind the iron bars of greed.
I’m your original rough
Diamond init. The
Total platinum deal.
Teflon, too; as no
Shit sticks; I swerve
And redirect. I’m a
Ninja, with some
Fly, float, sting or
Drop like an atom
Bomb. Hide in
You see me
On display 24/7;
Wear my colours
With pride. Hold
Me down; I’ll
Hold you up
Give you both
Barrels; Mr Glock
One of my boys.
Fights his corner;
Gets them before
They get him.
He’s got an elegant
Vocabulary for a
War of words.
Mr Third Leg
Is my weapon
Of choice; make
Love not war,
Say one thing
And mean another:
Twisters in my
Book. Relying on
Mr Right Hand
For now; he’s
All action. Fair
To say I’m the
In my blood,
Learned off my
Mum but made
Like my dad.
Crack and smack
Are bad mixers so
Guess I’m the
Citric in the hit;
Class A with
Intent to supply
What I never
No ways: it’s
The story of
My life. Make
My own happy
Endings in my
Much of a
See I’m not
Frog. It’s not
A fairy tale
Or I’d be dead
By now, or lost
In the forest
Or some shit
Like that. Got
To turn curses
Or still be asleep,
Like the dead
People who think
They’re in charge.
Emporio new clothes
Not Armani; just
Bare ass bollock
Naked: stark like
My truth. This is no
Get on my magic
Carpet ride and
Cruise the hood;
In my head,
Under the bed,
In my ends.
Watch me put
On my crown:
So wake up
Get with my plot.
Nineteen decorated seedlings stand at attention
In a straight line on the border of our yards and
Greet my neighbor who ignores his unrestrained
Havanese, yipping, yapping, prancing, chasing its
Tail and pausing to sniff the mulch beneath these
Solanaceae, the ones I ordered last March from a
Horticulture website that popped up on my feed
After I had watched a breaking news story about
Dead rabbits cast in a mirthless circle, ink-lipped
Eastern cottontails round an altar of devil’s berries.
Lynda Scott Araya
My boss is SUCH a cock womble
Across the crowded bar.
Spurted between her lips
They wove their way to me
Where they sat
Unknown and unused
In my mouth.
I had heard
I thought of her boss
And when I had met him first
At a barbecue.
Where he had attempted small talk
While his eyes had grazed her nipples, then
looked to the rugby field beyond
Before turning gratefully
and resting on a MAN
Come to join the conversation.
His eyes had lit up then
Cold shouldered us
As though we had never been.
As though our job adding the onions,
pricking the sausages, dolloping sauce
Had no place in his world.
Now, at the table, for a brief second
I imagined his penis -
Thin, pale pink.
It would lie in my hand
Before I squashed it underfoot.
a bizarre work
a rictus picture
of the old
smiles at me and whispers truths into the air
irony is Fate’s promise misinterpreted
3 people have alllll the money
she loved you, you pushed her away because you were afraid of being abandoned
violence is my favorite food
the universe is petty, disturb it with trivial frivolities and it will pay you back with interest
you found it funny when they died because it had nothing to do with you
curses sell better than blessings
and terror more alluring than hope
his eyes are covered in mucus and flies
he quotes ee cummings and Freud
Cut to Black
EXT. HIGH STREET. DAY.
FADE INTO :
A typical British High Street.
Everyone is fat and ugly and pushing prams, faces twisted in offence at their own existence.
Exterior of a shop.
A SHOP WORKER stands in the doorway.
A CUSTOMER approaches:
CUSTOMER: Can’t I come in?
SHOP WORKER: No.
CUSTOMER: Why not?
SHOP WORKER: We’re at maximum capacity.
CUSTOMER: (sceptical) Oh yeah? How many customers have you got in there?
SHOP WORKER: Five.
CUSTOMER: And how many can you have?
SHOP WORKER: (visibly deflates with a sigh) Guess.
The CUSTOMER narrows her eyes …
She looks over the SHOP WORKER’s shoulder.
CUSTOMER: I only count four.
SHOP WORKER: Well, there’s five.
CUSTOMER: No there isn’t.
SHOP WORKER: Yes, there is. I can count to five, thank you very much.
CUSTOMER: Oh, and you’re saying I can’t, is that it?
At this accusation, the CUSTOMER is smiling triumphantly, for some reason.
She puts her hands on her hips and waits for the response.
The SHOP WORKER takes a deep breath, picking his words carefully:
SHOP WORKER: No … I’m merely saying that I’m confident that I know how to count.
And I’ve been stood here longer than you, so can you just take my word for it, please?
CUSTOMER: (visibly panicked) Oh, well, yeah, but, you know! You could be lying,
The SHOP WORKER shakes his head in disbelief.
SHOP WORKER: Why? Why would I lie?
CUSTOMER: I don’t know! you tell me!
SHOP WORKER: (pinches nose) Jesus fucking Christ …
CUSTOMER: What? (steps forward) What was that?
SHOP WORKER: Why should I be the one to come up with reasons for why
I’m a liar? You’re the one suggesting it!
While he’s taking, a customer walks out of the shop …
SHOP WORKER: Are you really this bored and miserable? Have you really not got
anything else to do but pick a fight with someone who’s trying to save your life?
… and another customer walks in …
SHOP WORKER: If you want to kill yourself, do it at home! But don’t drag
the rest of us to hell with you, you vindictive, lonely sack of –
CUSTOMER: (pointing) Look! You just let someone in! Cos you were too busy
abusing me! I’m gonna report this! You’ll be sorry!
She starts to walk away backwards, waving her fist in joy.
CUSTOMER: You’ll see! Everyone’s gonna know what a discriminatory
bastard you are! And then we’ll see who’s the vindictive one, won’t we?
SHOP WORKER: Ok …
The SHOP WORKER stands there a moment, nodding to himself quietly …
SHOP WORKER: Looks like today’s finally the day …
He gets out his gun and chases after her.
CUSTOMER: Hey! What’s that you’re –
He rapid-fires a stream of bullets into CUSTOMER.
She explodes in fleshy confetti upon on the pavement. It’s kind of beautiful.
At least, it would be, if it wasn’t her.
He looks around:
The throng of disaffected mouth-breathers – maskless to a man – all stand staring, shopping bags full of tomorrow’s refunds dangling from their greasy paws … whilst breathing through their naked open mouths, of course.
SHOP WORKER locks and loads again …
QUE MUSIC: that “Happy” song with the really catchy chorus that was in that film with them yellow cartoon aliens (and every fucking advert, so getting the licence to use it shouldn’t be an issue).
SLO-MO: finger permanently on the trigger, SHOP WORKER sweeps a bullet-storm across the crowd of shuffling shoppers:
Waves of plebeian meat scatters in all directions …
The pram-pushers implode from bullets and / or irrelevance.
Their spherical children pop like red and yellow boils, lanced too late. It’s all very metaphorical …
As the fat flesh farts from their wasteful bones, some of them even drop their cans of lager or iPhones – just as they were typing a Google Review too, what a shame ...
Down they go, until the street is knee-high with consumer patè …
And, with every local cunt safely dead, the SHOP WORKER and his gun finally run out of steam …
MUSIC FADES OUT.
He stands there panting, an almost orgasmic look of relief on his face …
Then he climbs the pile of shredded, twitching bodies and stands proudly atop them.
SHOP WORKER: Review this, you nation of narcissistic class cannibals!
He fists bumps his gun into the sky.
ZOOM OUT with an ARIEL VIEW of him amid all the human devastation
he has just rightly caused, cackling wildly:
SHOP WORKER: Ah-ha ha ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaa!
CUT TO –
Close up of SHOP WORKER, staring into space, daydreaming …
VOICE: (off camera) Oi! Excuse me!
SHOP WORKER: Huh?
He is back in the shop doorway. A new customer stands before him.
CUSTOMER 2: Can I come in?
SHOP WORKER shakes his head, snapping out of it:
SHOP WORKER: Oh, er, no. Sorry.
CUSTOMER 2: Why not?
SHOP WORKER: We’re at maximum capacity.
CUSTOMER 2: Oh yeah?
CUSTOMER 2 narrows his eyes and looks over SHOP WORKER’S shoulder.
CUSTOMER 2: How many you got in there now?
The SHOP WORKER sighs.
He takes out his gun and cocks it.
He looks at the camera and shrugs. It’s bloody endearing, it is.
CUT TO BLACK.
PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, JUST ROLL CREDITS
ON THIS TYPICAL BRITISH HIGH STREET SCENE.
featuring the artwork of Michael Rogers
Ctl X, Ctl V
Here’s punk, rock, rolled to anarchy,
a collage zine beyond your norm -
bipolar swings and roundabouts,
lines overstepped in monochrome.
From underground to overland,
sourced adolescent shakiness,
dissatisfied with growing up
into premould, presetted shape,
outside the box - beyond the pale -
four horsemen of apocalypse.
Let serendipity be rule,
the fall of things, chance visited,
and find the shadowlands beneath
the expectations, board bard bored;
they talk of light from upper left,
event horizons, curvature
of space time in continuum,
where strictures prompt to disobey.
So cut and paste your poetry,
find typewriter with monkey play,
dyslexia write reading way
and feed as alphabetti soup -
confuse with hex broomstick brigade,
to lunge in mystery of swamp,
discover wraiths in Elmo’s fire.
With logic banned and perchance flail,
try verse both blank, free, recipe,
words insufficient parallels -
unsuited our cosmology,
unbalance form - my Parkinson’s.
Conflicts, raging, every turn.
JHWH wars on ٱللَّٰهُ أَكْبَرُ -
Without the morse to save our souls,
a dot or dash can kill a child,
both binary and Unicode,
as unclear trans old ♀♂.
Decode encrypt our only hope,
NATO phonetic alphabet,
where juliett meets alfa male -
and ˈælfəbɪt sounds off again -
told printers watched their p’s ⅋ q’s,
both eroteme and ampersand.
Precision aim has had its say.
There are two chipped and weathered stone figures
on the steps of this sculpture garden near where I live.
They look like cherubs guarding a gate
and though cold to the touch they seem soft and round
with eyes that tell of a flame that’s within.
One has the gentle look of innocence and the other a harsh glare.
Were they to speak, I guess the first one would gurgle
and the second would narrow its eyes, hiss and stare.
The grassy part of the lawn with the well-spaced sculptures
invites me to do a little ambling.
I look lingeringly upon the curious forms and nameplates hidden
between eyelets, bluebells, daisies and what nots. There’s
“Rhinoceros” – wood”, “Circe” – stone”, “Mother - Walls”
an amusing steel dot on a line - “Dialogue at 45° on the Hypotenuse”.
The gibberish is bemusing, so I move along with my own point of view.
“Abstract Noir” reflects on a pool of water with a golden glow
and looks like angel wings emerging from below.
I suppose Heaven and Hell must be here in this place
where the paths are so straight and perplexing.
And I wonder who put the stone cherubs there in the first place?
I wonder why I even care - though one thing is certain
this is a place of delicate crafting -
of worms that churn soil cavorting with bees that stir air
of bronze hippos designing space with a correlated square
of looking at what can't be by looking seen - things
like angels that pass, the tease and tap of wings.
Now I see them now I don’t. I’m tempted to call them by names
but I’m not sure it suits them as they prefer to be secret
and if you do count them you’ll always find more and more.
Each one like numbers tends to invoke all the rest,
so I’m left speaking of relationships: guardian, messenger, score-keeper, choir...
And just now there are two of them here where I stand by the gate.
Having guessed what they are, should they speak I may guess what they say.
But they won’t speak except in riddles or tongues, or on a special day.
Doers as opposed to talkers, they’re busy all the time.
They put their buzzers on mute, shift shapes, change winds.
Just now I can’t help but wonder at how well
they’re providing perspective
He awoke again to a hot, arid morning. It was light, the sun had not yet come up. He engaged in his first daily mindful act of faith and gratitude, he would think of all that he loved, not his mistakes, during those timeless minutes when light presented itself before the sunrise.
His faith confirmed, the sliver appeared, and he adjusted his gaze from inward acceptance outwards toward the horizon, and as the red turned to orange, and the orange turned to yellow, the sun rose in the east, and in his mind, every day. He meditated on that. For only a few minutes he could gaze directly into the sun, and then it would burn and he couldn’t look at it at all.
In that, this was like many things in his life.
He was black with the white stripes that defined him, but never bound him. He studied the grasslands, scrublands and woodlands, the prairies of North America, the Asian steppes, the African savannas and veldts, the Australian rangelands, and South America’s pampas, llanos and cerrados. He was different than the other Zebras in this way, his chameleon self, here secretly learning to understand. It was his way of surviving.
He now belonged to much that could never be taken away.
The day consumed him with the intricacies of his connection to nature - fruit and leaves and bark, wild rosemary and wild oregano, the world of grasses. He was quite certain no one knew more about grasses than he did.
He had his Zebra power, deep in each single cell, he would push and jump, bound and roll. He was capable, he could be still and peaceful, he could be explosive, he could conserve energy, and, mostly, he could wait, seemingly endlessly. He could strive to understand how there could be such things as him in this world.
The darkness came, but not to his soul, as he settled into those deep grasses, against the forces and predators of his life, his white stripes absorbed into his entire being as the corrections officers yelled “lights out” each night. He was black again, but the sun would rise over the savanna, morning would come, the lights would go on and they would reveal through the bars of his cage his powerful stripes, not the binds they wanted him to feel.
This is how he passed his time.