Red Dot at Target

Kate Bernadette Benedict

Disconsolate tyke, wriggly little urchin.
I let her pick her pinkening scabs.
When she pricked my cheek,
I tweezered out the keratin,
occasioning a bloody show.
Posparto already,
depleted, sorely lacking,
and here’s a laser
sighting me at the bodice.
Where have you gone,
my lumpen and impish scamp?
Mark me on my knees now,
forsaken and zeroed between empty shelves.

Monday in a Nutshell

David Spicer

You play one last note on the quiet Wurlitzer,
yielding to the murmur of distant whales
near the beach, and I pray to Buddha
hummingbirds will revel in the sand.
The smell of cabbage drifts into the parlor.
I wipe the marble counter and shut
the oven door, flashing the calico and tuxedo
a honeyed smile. You and I flirt
during the drive to work, on our elevator ride.
Coil against each other like contented snakes.
While the clocks hide in the bottom
drawers, we prowl the office all day,
selling every stock in sight
after we kiss each other’s noses for luck.

[are we born blue]

Jack Darrow

are we born blue
or simply
poured into the sky

II. Maytree & I take our first veterinary exam

Lauren Page

Post-Anatomy came
        celebratory Sweet Water where
his bottom lip’s a snapshot
        the shade of rhomboids on
an embalmed cat’s corpse that we
        studied for weeks

            & his voice
licked a blackberry bush that stung like
        Doveak’s prophecy that Negro melodies
would be the basis for American music—
        but he could never have foreseen
our jazz on gold sheets like Ellington

       translated into something you could wrap
in fingers from his huge palms, those
       stilled metronomes gone post-sex sedentary,

sat braided with mine on his sternum while
       my bottom lip brushed his left nipple:
nerve center of my enterprise.

from Notebook: New Mexico

Tom Montag

January 2016, Highway 20, Mile Marker 39

Close enough to see
the mountains

have shaped the clouds.


Michelle Chen

It is almost spring in the asylum
by the olive groves. Once I saw a dog
the color of a wedding train
eat the newly planted daffodil
bulbs but slept through its
vomit. The next day the gardener
found the streaks of a sixteen-wheeler
between its eyes, a staggering promise.
If I’d known I would’ve
clutched a bayonet and
circumcised the moon.
Today, the lobes of tulips
wave dreamishly towards my
sill like virginal bells, and the
anger pulls and closes
like cat gums on nip.

Materials & Properties

Jonathan Travelstead

Skyscrapers whirligig Boeing 747s away like maple seeds
while nothing grenades down Fifth Avenue, clouding our lungs with emphysema’s
ghost. The new materials, tenfold stronger than steel,

taken out of service for how it wrinkles, then fails at twelve-hundred degrees.
Angels dance on neon atoms of gussets & trusses we print
from the nobler elements. Admiring our construction’s spinoid,

novel geometries, representatives from the class of arachnae
sigh, get on the horn, inform spiders everywhere they can cease weaving silk.
Snow flakes, unsurprising to us now, melt.

Ten years & nary a fire catches the new boughs, jumps a break,
or burns the mountain down. Come, speaking after me: Love Thy Properties.
Come, see what’s under the hood, what new engines purr.

Breaking the Rules

Roberta Feins

Tell me Never use ‘blue’ in a poem, Never
step in the same river twice. Blue Creek
straddles two seasons, rime white as blued laundry,
rimming rocks, bluets scattering the verge.
Rounding the curve of slough, the crack of ice—
one loud boo to a single dipper, feathered
slate-blue and hopping upstream. She starts,
rises up into the blue morning.

Driving Through West Virginia

Gary Charles Wilkens

What I thought was mountain
was cloud,
what I thought cloud
was mountain.

The old travel out of desire,
the young travel
out of need.

Lily’s Room


Lily’s head led her into a white room where the carpet lurched into a lotion so hot her nipples melted, cooled, then slid right off. Hours before, at the tanning salon, she sat in a gold-knobbed chair and coolly questioned other girls about the parts of her skin she will never control: tiny inexplicable bead-drops of brown dripping down onto her shoulders from outer space, little light bulb-gods hexing up a deep, itching pink. In the end, she tells them it all peels away. The white room, pregnant with steam and sweat, is curated by Lily’s very own mind but coroners of an older, more arcane stoma of science gave it life. No matter is safe, no atom guarantees it will stay. Once her nipples fell, she cupped two warm black eggs gently in her hands because what breaks ceases to mystify her. As fast as Lily’s mind can swim within itself, dimension yields and the walls are throbbing chests of cornered felines, maybe the mealy innards of a mantis-hued gourd. Once, it was her own body poured, uninspected, and then split four ways.

There was a time when the white room could not exist. There was a time when Lily had a green lion for a father but her mother would not marry him. From the last fragment of their alchemy, Lily ignited, cauterizing each channel of his heart until he became flesh and bone. Her mother’s molecules were curdling long before. Inside them, wet, dark Lily grew. Though it is said to be impossible, she remembers the first white room she ever entered. She cannot remember exactly where she was three afternoons ago but some sort of modern science occurred. If she held the thought long enough she might recall, in its place, the first time she set conditions to create life. Following that, she might revisit how it felt when the bloom finally unsealed itself. She caught sight of it on her way out, in the sun, one floret too bright to call coincidence. In her white room, it yellows gracefully.