Anagrammed Variations of the American Dream

Yuan Changming

A ram cairned me
In a crammed era [where]
Cameramen raid

A dire cameraman [or]
Arid cameramen

[Becoming]

A creamed airman [or]
A carmine dream
A minced ram ear
[a] maniac rearmed

As freedom turns into a dorm fee
Democracy to a car comedy, and
Human rights to harming huts

VIII/XI/MMXVI

Maureen Alsop

I occupy a small settlement on the lake—a lung shaped house of stucco & asphalt. Here, bird halos lean outward early acidic stars, the sky’s skull-yellow surface. Very alone. I listen as your touch & untouch go blank.

Krishnamurti said when the one you love goes, a part of you follows. Typewritten gnats spill greasy birdseed tunnels. For a moment there are two worlds. Spring presses toward me through glass; my garden hallway, a clutter of moths in milky silt. Crocus unpin your breastbone. In all eventual acts, humans compose ghost.

Side Arrangements

Jed Myers

Carbon, what’s left after water
vapor’s risen along with smoke,
the fire’s remainder a blackness

of orphaned atoms. Carbon, chains
wound up inside us, thirsts and murders
its side arrangements, braided fuse

igniting the present’s spark-light
in the black of was and will be. Carbon,
footprint of our fumbling, our cutting

down our origin’s columns
to stoke a stone hearth. And a diamond—
hard dry tear of still here,

a long-ago life pressed pure
in the dark under a forest, pick-axed
by a hard-worked dark-skinned miner—

you’ll wear it, held by a few silver
prongs to a silver wire to ring
your thin slow-burning finger.

The Little Match Girl

Kelly Fordon

A single match isn’t worth shit
and she knows it. Is everyone
really ignoring her or is she
just feeling sorry for herself?
You can’t tell me she goes
unnoticed: a girl on the boulevard
half dressed. Someone out here
is into that kind of thing, but
what advice do we have for her,
ladies? What about fair trade
and quiet acquiescence?
Think Cinderella, Snow White
or any number of dolls who held
their wares aloft like flaming cakes.
Call it a modern day fairy tale:
A girl on a street corner,
a couple of matches to her name,
a holy host of magazines plying
her with pithy asides and makeup
application tricks: You, too, can have
this couch, this fire, this tree, this man,
all you have to do is freeze.

Audio Recordings of Doomed Airliners

Jaime Garcia

What I’m afraid of, because the conquered broadcast their panic and their endless wild as a quarantine of forests. The theory is that sometimes it rains when she died and sometimes it doesn’t, that we invented ourselves from sheer want or stumbled into someone else’s miracle, and every person thrown around your body is a dream and every dream is a bridge and every bridge is a god and every god an invention and a beached planet co-existing and co-exiting.

In the Broken Down House

Mercedes Lawry

Decisive, divisive, deceptive,
the lack of room to breathe
fully, what context blooms
to meaning, the walls only fogged
remembrance. Rain spokes
from trees, clops on roof,
tinks at window. Mold stink sifts
from sills and rotting porch.
Bone swallow, blue hollow.
Place subtracted.
Time excised.

The Squalling Call

Lorene Delany-Ullman

A black swarm above a fallow field, or they roost in the street trees, and in the groves of eucalyptus along the Metrolink tracks. Are they blackbirds, starlings or crows? For three nights, our neighbors play Death Cry of a Crow to the trees and sky. How frightening, we say, waiting for the branches to empty. How righteous we’ll feel when the throng of birds takes flight, rowing through the air to new colonies.

Reverse Clearing

Lorene Delany-Ullman

The flat clouds are a façade
of clouds, collapsed into
a comic book,
a sky that always
promises a cropping
(if given enough water)
and lunch on a park bench
with strangers
because even strangers
will converse
about weather—

all morning
I descend into other parts
of the morning
the skies partly cloudy
along the beaches—
by midday the gloom
will linger inland like fatty tumors
along the spine of low mountains

I can’t avoid the sky,
its ethos of haze or fog—

between allies of pavement,
the sea somehow
maintains its scent, always
this smack of salt

Salinity

M.A. Scott

Both of us gray enough to pass for blue,
the great heron and I, in the tall cordgrass
inspecting the silt for silver to sustain us.

I want to stilt with her through the mud
and glasswort, tidal and flat, our salt circling
the cracks in the cries we use to code infinity.

Soldier Child

Robert Miltner

Two dark oak doors with white porcelain knobs. The dun plaster and lathe walls frame a boy of thirteen. He wears an unbuttoned double-breasted coat clutched at his chest by his left hand. His cropped hair is as dark as hardwood floors. A turned-up collar, his torn pants and bare feet. The white bandage wound around his left knee. The weight he won’t put on it. The way he stares back, his eyes black as the holes of gun barrels. The way he doesn’t blink.

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