"Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy" - Thomas Lux

"Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy"
(Thomas Lux)

For some semitropical reason   

when the rains fall   
relentlessly they fall

into swimming pools, these otherwise   

bright and scary
arachnids. They can swim
a little, but not for long

and they can’t climb the ladder out.

They usually drown—but   
if you want their favor,
if you believe there is justice,   
a reward for not loving

the death of ugly

and even dangerous (the eel, hog snake,   
rats) creatures, if

you believe these things, then   

you would leave a lifebuoy
or two in your swimming pool at night.

And in the morning   

you would haul ashore
the huddled, hairy survivors

and escort them

back to the bush, and know,
be assured that at least these saved,   
as individuals, would not turn up

again someday

in your hat, drawer,
or the tangled underworld

of your socks, and that even—

when your belief in justice
merges with your belief in dreams—
they may tell the others

in a sign language   

four times as subtle
and complicated as man’s

that you are good,   

that you love them,
that you would save them again.

"Tarantulas on the Lifebuoy" by Thomas Lux (1946-2017) appears in New and Selected Poems 1975-1995. Lux lived in Atlanta, a town that knows a thing or two about hot-rainy-weather spiders and other crawly things. He was the Bourne Professor of Poetry and director of the McEver Visiting Writers program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and directed the Poetry @ Tech program. He downplayed the idea of surrealism apparent in his work, but commented that "Sometimes there are lucky accidents though I think they’re more likely to happen if one has sweat a little blood." His collections INCLUDE Child Made of Sand (2012) and God Particles (2008).


Alx Johns

There’s more territory out there, don’t you know?

You, person who might have been you.

You used to want to roam

so far so bad you’d strangle yourself

on the leash to get to nothing but the need

to get to somewhere else, poor dog

or whatever you are.

Here you are forgetting where you just were

or where you want to be,

so present in the moment of relief.
What you’ve got left: your
ability to slowly eat, see

the liquid through your body, pee, recognize

shape and scene

though not what they mean

or connect you to, you
close-to-blind canine Buddha being

setting down your leg,

your tail already in a coma,

your nose playing tricks on you.

You are born again again.

"PISSING IN THE SAME SPOT OVER AND OVER LIKE A DOG WITH ALZHEIMER’S" is from Alx's new collection of poems DARWIN'S BOOK OF SAINTS, which is available for pre-order from Aurore Press in Cincinnati and will be published this month. "If you think you don’t like poetry, I bet you’ll like this poetry. If you do like poetry, you’ll need this book to carry on." — Matt Hart

"A Way of Seeing" - Abayomi Animashaun


"A Way of Seeing"
(Abayomi Animashaun)

If at night you enter a forest with a lantern—
Flame, risen and warm against the glass—

And the mast of that ship within you is blown,
Caught, and alive with wind,

Pull your oars in from Reason’s sea.

If later within that lantern,
The flame thins and dies,

Owls from the deck’s dark corners will emerge,
Singing like your dead grandfather,

Playing flutes like his wives,
Drunk and dancing upon the stern.

"A Way of Seeing" by Nigerian poet Abayomi Animashaun appeared originally online in Passages North. His 2010 debut collection is The Giving of Pears, where he explains that "In writing these poems, I saw the page as a sort of living room, where I could go to have a party."  He teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

"Man of Constant Mailboxes" - David Noah


"Man of Constant Mailboxes" - David Noah:

so this guy, swerving,
smashed his pickup into our mailbox
splintering its post,

and ran himself to ground in the ditch by the road

he came out talking so fast
no calamity would ever catch him again
if he talked that fast
if he just explained to someone
that he’d once been in a coma for forty-eight days
because they thought it was a stone
but his appendix had burst
and he lifted up his red t-shirt to show me the belly band
he wore because his stomach muscles
had been whacked by the blast
except this one, he said
touching a small spot on his side

but it was his daughter who worried him right now
the one who was the first West Nile virus victim in this state
—this said with a wry proud smile—
and now she’s in the hospital, where he was going,
because his other daughter had died in December, 1997,
and I’m blessed to have this one, I know that,

but his mother was home and dumb with dementia
though he took his dad out golfing once a week
even though his own wrist had three broken bones
and there was constant pain in his own right leg

what kind of post you want to replace this one, he asked
I got a bunch with different colored stains
light, dark, oak, whatever you want
get it back here tomorrow
what time does your mail run

but I knew he was asking someone else
to tell him when the final mailbox
was going to leap right in front of his goddamned truck

"Hands, Nails, Singing" - Griffin Hamstead

"Hands, Nails, Singing" - Griffin Hamstead

After all these years
still rang the buzz
saw in his iron ears
still sang the blow
torch the song of
welding, whirring not
withstanding the strength
of once-calloused two
hands his greatest tool
and now his only
oath a bowl of mill
oats sat comfortably
his lap, his ass upon
his now new-clean work
bench, condition: used.

His hat hung up upon
the doorway, checked
out when his fingers
trembled, his feeling
troubled, his feeling mind-
muddled, his dear wife
kind-cuddled, yet she
face-to-back, his eyes
glass and out against
the window where rain
whistled, pitter-pitter-pat
-ting the pocket protecting
his keys, the key of them
marked by a ruby-red
rubber seal to the
gateway he had locked
himself out of.

Now, returned, a turn
to take once more
he looks, glances at
a room once more than
taking-up garage space.
His cracked-tobacco paws
glide across crumbling wall
gently, firstly, then pause
to grip the faded toy
hammer, given as his first,
then burst his boxed-in
heart, memories of every
sculpted part of many
monumentos de madera
hecho por manos, los miles.

A smile rises, se risa
his hands now clasped
eight nails, four boards
two-by-four under arm
-ed by a hammer:
1. grandfather clock, not his
2. bookshelf, oak, not his
3. coffee table, dark, not his
4. projects tabled, his
5. never able perfect, him
6. crib, a child, never his
7. playground fort, no longer his
8. lay plain forgotten, his
crafts outweighing always
his craft, now picks up the
frame, hangs it upon an un-
used wall nail and places
neatly in the center a ruby
-red key, and walks, step-
by-backwards-step, eyes
not shutting for even a
moment, shutting the door.

"Tat Tvam Asi = Thou Art That" - Jonathan Brown

"Tat Tvam Asi = Thou Art That" - Jonathan Brown

Seeing the god light
squeaking through the grey
clouds after the rain shower

reminds me how
when you die
you lose your body
but keep your soul,
and your soul is older
than all the oak trees,
but only the acorns know
how the elegy goes.

Last night is a past life.
Thou art that.
You used to be
a blade of grass
but then a cow
moseyed in
and grazed on you
and later
in the maze of truth
you turned around
and ate a steak.

You can count how many
seeds make up an apple.
But can you count the apples
in an apple seed?


We beg the infinite
to be consistent
as if time were listening.
We are made of god,
god light, light, water
and time; but time is man

and manmade. Seasons
don’t chase each other
because nature doesn't
get impatient. But we do.

Is it C’est La Vie or Déjà vu
or neither or some
variation of the two
when whatever we focus on expands?

You go places.
Places disappear.
You’ve been the plane
and the tarmac.
You’ve been the bus boy,

the bell hop, and the bar back.
You’ve been the market crash
and the Arby’s bag. You’ve been

apart yet been a part of all that.
You’ve been thirty and twelve
and seventy years old.
You’ve been told and you’ve told

and you’ve been told again.
You’ve dictated and you’ve been awaiting
instructions from something greater
than yourself but somehow
you still feel separate
as if there was such no such thing
as everybody else.

"my theory on going to bars" - Joe Milford


"my theory on going to bars" - Joe Milford

take twenty dollars worth of quarters
go to a place with at least two payphones
and one jukebox

you go in weighed down and loud
wear pants twice your size, at least
don’t adjust your belt and drink a pitcher

of Newcastle, you won’t have many quarters
left, but, on the jukebox play the Pretenders,
Social Distortion, the Clash, and get rid
of your twenty dollar lodestone

it is a dollar for a game of pool
or for a bowl of popcorn and you make two
calls you shouldn’t have and then
you are weaseled, bamboozled, or muscled out

then you slink home lithely, weightlessly
under the buzzing of an Iowa sky, steeples,
the skyline, the street guitarists, the closed
and locked-down bratwurst carts, and the train

is crossing the road two blocks
from your front door
as you watch it roar
and roar inside