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Turn Around

Peter Munro

Let me repent my god and die.
Without a woman I am not.
I offered everything. It bought
me nothing. In the church of thigh

and idyll, she strips. But her sighs
betray the worship I have sought.
Let me repent my gods and die.
Without a woman I am not

nothing yet my praise seems a lie,
empty as wind in a chime, caught
briefly in sound like a blood clot
snags on what a spirit denies.
Let me repent, O Lord, and die.

Sans

Jennifer Wortman

HaShem mans a mean sea.
A name’s a seam.
A seaman’s ash: amen, shema.
Mama smashes manna.

American Émigré

John Sibley Williams

The fence that wrapped our field
has collapsed from bolting horses &
the steady weight of winter. Barbs
no longer snag our jeans or bloody
our hands when we flee the burning
that is home. Small signal fires light
the hills red. Another country some-
where out there promises a peace it
cannot possibly keep. Repeat after
me: the cities we’ll build on the ruin
of other cities will shimmer & shine
before they fall.

July the 4th

John Sibley Williams

We’re lying down in a buzzcut field
watching gut-shot night sparkle &
shower us all in a hot fizzled glow.
Hiding inside ourselves as children
unsure how a country works. Rifts
excised for an hour. The distraction
of awe. Watching miniature flags
flap fiercely on thin plastic sticks.
Even the statues are forgetting their
lost battles. Moss is forgetting how
to hold the stone walls in place. So
much blue up there, our daughter
says. & reds, but together.

Tonka

Salvatore Difalco

It grew increasingly clear over time, despite small victories along the way, that I was coming out a loser. This distressed me because I had always envisaged myself as a winner. If you’re resigned to being a loser, then it’s easier to digest. If you have somehow fooled yourself, or others have fooled you, into believing you’re a winner when the opposite is proving true, life can become a monstrous drag. And what makes it even more of a drag is that even though you’re always entering the fray with the best hand, with the technical or mathematical edge, the underdogs are coming out on top, arms raised, the crowd cheering them on, almost every single time. It leads to despair. But you have to push on. You can’t just hit a restart button. Even jumping from an eighth floor balcony requires some forethought. You have to consider the pain, shattered bones, horrified passing children or seniors, and the trauma to the apartment building itself. And what if by some miracle you survive such a fall. Surely you’d be a drooling vegetable, loathsome to look at, a burden on family and society. If things were fair, and the odds weren’t always being bucked, life may have been different. But you can only play with the toy truck of “what if” for so long before your maturity or sanity comes into question. Let’s go to the balcony and reach back our arm and hurl that toy truck across the street. Let’s also hope that no children or seniors coincide with its trajectory.

At Dusk

Kristen Havens

Walking at dusk, wild
flowers fry on the gray-green
back of a world half

asleep. The sun sets
fire on car fenders while in
kitchens cutlery

clinks. A show bell rings.
Dogs call out in their yards: Hey
pal, you hear that? Hey

hey, hey. Shaking voice
boxes at the fading day.
Hey hey, hey. Hey hey.

Transformation

Britny Cordera

Kore is me in the eyes of my dream.
Rivers are my first mirrors
a game of pass-the-rumors to leaves
in the wind, my first telephone––

 in this dream, caked in the back

of the skull, speckled cobwebs
are the night sky I watch
my airplanes dance ’round Venus
like a ceremonial feather spinning
circles to a mourning mother’s expectations––

I hear orchids growing from my nails
and rejoice the day the dark man stole me.

From the Porch of Madonna della Salute

Robin Wyatt Dunn

—for PD Mallamo

Abuement and abut; she’s mighty. Stretched right over a quarter light year the surface of the event horizon here in our center; shaking our mast.

I send the probes down into it and we watch them shimmer over its surface like small wings, cutting into its damp. Flickering.

“She’s a beauty,” she says, and I say, “Yes.”

Yes she is. For one thousand years we’ve been approaching her and performed all kinds of models, sent in scouts, listened to transmissions, even spoken to a species who has penetrated it, written of it in poetry, sketched in amber and basalt, sung and performed, made movies of it, written under its bough, but still nothing compares to the vision we have of it now, under its doorstep, watching it shake.

We live beneath fifteen miles of metal so it isn’t as though our naked eyes behold it, but this is the closest.

One quarter of one light year—maybe two trillion kilometers—under her cheek.

Suddenly she throws up a storm, and we’ve been seeing them for weeks, months, years, but now we’re right underneath it, facing as Turner the implacable face of Atlantic god, superhuman stunningly on met and sanded geodesics curling out of the starry rainbow mirror of it, cutting into our metal and through the phosphorescent cameras which die and are reborn giving us our visuals:

“Yes.”

She shivers like a woman, this window into galactic center, horizon Pacific, delimited delimitless ocean, our door . . .

White blanks the eye and we move under its ejection, iota spundicular in the gassy eruption; bacterium through geyser; I blink.

“Whee!” she says, and I kiss her.

I shouldn’t have done it, but I did it. Our city shouldn’t have come, but we did. More insanity is hard to mention; anything more absurd; anything.

The dimpled mat of a sea god; river god; naiad filled with a righteous anger, unreachable, erotic, and mighty:

She wavers and then I see a probe re-emerge from her, Orpheus out from Hades, and though it is destroyed we get a burst of data and our physicists cheer, weeping, looking over the parabolics for the right equation to mark our entry point.

Holding on to the lyre.

Exit Music: Microcosm

Nate Maxson

 This country/ it’s the little things
 This planet/ the street you grew up on
 This moment may be/ your most recent lover’s choice of soap
A haunted house/ if you look close enough
But I’ve got my own/ their stage-whispering obsolescence
Rickety mansion full of ghosts/ it’s circling a black hole
And the living/ I am a black hole circling
 I keep it in my jacket pocket/ like a music box
Sometimes I peer in there/ oh my snowglobe
Watch the little haunted people/ turn the key for a song
Burning the furniture for warmth
And making flutes/ a bigger black hole
Out of one another’s
Tiny bones

[We grow away from strangers]

Jude Dillon

We grow away from strangers
remain unsolved

by a bramble-shadowed stream
grey rock turning black in a sudden field of snow

your distance I wonder at
tightens the loveliness

reaches in
to lead us out

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