The Last Profession / Ralph La Charity

The Poet, child of some other dimension’s Immensity, will
speak as the last living being, into a Void which will of its own
accord thence immediately come fully to life, having totally &
irretrievably forgotten itself. When the World awakens, all
it will have to guide it as to its own identity & possible conduct
will be what the Poet has just spoken, which is already fading
on the instant. The World cocks in every leaf as the Poet stands
there, silent. Having spoken, the Poet cocks to all that has
simultaneously and spontaneously returned. There is a moment
of August yearning as the World races with every ear to retrieve
the Poet’s every echo. Blank as the grave, the Poet waits this
moment thru. If the Poet has spoken a single lie, the Poet is
going to hear it again, very soon. It is at this moment that the
silence ends. The pristine World talks back & the Poet is free
to go mad again, waiting anew for the death of the World, when
next the Poet will be permitted to speak.

The Poet has no name. Only poets with Names have names.
The Poet only has words. At the beginning of the trick called Time,
the order of the Poet’s words is incontestably speedy & profound,
making no sense at all. In the beginning, only the World makes
sense, for the World is alive, & the Poet is mad. When madness
grows livid, the Poet commences to unravel the Mystery of
Order. The Mystery of Order is what the World will at that very
moment call Form, the Center. That said center cannot hold will
become increasingly apparent to the World, even as it becomes
simultaneously apparent to the Poet that there is Order to Words.
As the reversal works inevitably down, Time, that Trick, writhes
like the Serpent. The Poet becomes the pre-eminent Snake
Charmer of the Age & the World forgets the Poet’s madness,
then forgets the Poet is even there. The Snake sucks itself:
that's its only job. For the first time, the laughter of the Poet
is sane, & touched with malice. The Poet knows the Snake is
turning into a maggot. The World is dying.

Just before the World sleeps again, the Poet goes walking.
Wherever the Poet is when the World becomes Void again, it is
from there the Poet will speak. The Last Place, & the Place of
the Last Profession. All local poets will be gone, none will be
about even to call the name Poet, & it is then that the Last
Words will begin . . .

Regret / Donald Harris

Suppose, for starts, we just call it quits, and let everything go, 
at that. After all, you have known for a long time of my hope for
some surcease of suffering, sadness, sorrow, something that would be
a sufficient anodyne for all my ills. If there is no certainty but
death, yet death may sometimes bring a blessed relief, even though it
be spring, and a robin is trilling out melodic promises of ever
recurrent burgeonings. But the song of birds, the sight of flowers
can never obliterate the memory of that night at that bar, where I
should not have drunk that one more Pink Squirrel, even though it
helped me to loudly sing, along with the rest of the crowd, of
finding my thrill on Blueberry Hill, for afterward occurred the
accident, in which one person was killed, another left wheelchair
bound, and a third sustained head injuries whereby she was never
again properly mentally functional, and I am charged with such deep
regret, such cutting remorse, that ever and anon, tears spring 
into my eyes. I have lived long enough that youth has long since
passed me by, and most of the young do much the same. By many I am
forgotten, and by many others I am not even thought of, in the least,
at all. I have become a vague gray nondescript nonentity. How
insightful of Macbeth to recognize that his lady should have died
hereafter. So shall we all. If you suppose that God sends pain and
suffering, then you should suppose than an extirpation of such
is a godsend too. Did Hamlet perhaps have this in mind when he
considered someone making a quietas with a bare bodkin, in order to
shuffle off this mortal coil? But then you maintain that Ophelia
committed suicide out of a sense of maiden shame? May I be given
proof or instance as to how to understand your interpretation.

Vetiver / Echo Sayr

My cyclothymic hands lost in vetiver, verse vetted
whateviter, ambivalence ached via catheter,
naw, I don’t care about the inconsistency,
though it’s seasonal salmon trying to spawn me,
a protein collapse, a headheart deficiency,
the question of now, the question of then,
the question of soon, the zen jack-off of when.

I am sorry my poison it bled me of you,
my compliments were no weakness,
some tailspin misconstrue. You’ve got a TV show,
I know it, you’ve got a big smile, you showed me.
You’ve got the ancient spice to seduce their wives,
you’ve buried actuality under minarets, you bet.

I bet with cyclothymic hands lost in vetiver,
I find all of myself lost in vetiver, I’m swimming deep gone
black in that vetiver, entombed murky blessing of measurers.
You’ll be lost with your hands dipped in vetiver,
an arm or a chance or a negator.

An army of you over vetiver, poles augured in mud
of this tetherer, what scent, what since, what was ever,
o, tell me you hear words written by shears dripping
deep in the silence of vetiver slunk steep in the crease of the
Janis-eyed sheets you won’t see, the window unopened,
mirrors deflected, the diversity of worlds unmet, unmetered yet,
speciated as fires lit in heather mounds on conversationally split hills—

For this a coin flipped, teared-up down the endless well of monsoon rose smells that hang missionary bells to foretell the absolute end,
what sepia sends, a kiss clamped too deep on an envelope sent and
sealed with the cuff hiss mercy of a woman’s last drop of nothing she
held to be wetter than vetiver.

Taxi Bone / Michael McQuarrie

Momma moved like a swan

curved along vacuums

arced over dust rags

danced at sinks

jumped rope in the living room

gave great bear hugs

watered high ferns and cacti

and children that she grew like plants

the bone

came from a taxi driver

saw days of picking up fares

running meters

tick, tick, tick

mornings of slow riding

can you go faster

thrown change

no change

this whistle

that "taxi!"

those legs
tick, tick, tick

days of big yellow

counting airports

sniffing courtrooms

evenings of tiring typists

retiring clerks

smothered laborers

nights of underage drinkers

swinging bingers

beaten wives and sleeping angels

tick, tick, tick

meter running down

and down


the interval passed quickly

between disk slipped




taxi driver's bone

fit momma's neck

those days were pink bathrobe

cushion pillows

help me up

momma standing like a 2x4 ran down her spine

hiding the scar below her neck

with scarves, bandannas, kleenexes

beautiful, bold, red-eyed

dad driving the stove

brother brandishing vacuum

sister scrubbing floors

me dropping by for money

those days held pain

in momma's eyes

these days momma embraces again

hugs with both arms again

turns her head as she talks

classes, job

doesn't wear turtlenecks anymore

she moves gracefully

like sunset in a summer rain




but every so often

I swear

I can hear a meter running

tick, tick, tick,

and see a flash of zesty yellow

drive across her smile

Life is a cafe' / Julie Wells

Life is a place
where you eat homemade
oatmeal cookies, drink
coffee, and smoke too much,
inhaling crumbs. Life

is a place where outdoor seating
is rusty because no-one sits inside.
Life is journals and favorite pens,

unknown music, little handwritten signs
on tip jars: Share the Love.
Life is cookies, in all their flavors and handcraftedness,
and the painted ones, shaped like animals.

Life is a place where you smoke too much,
talk too much, and laugh at the rain. Life is a place
where you light a cigarette next to a pregnant woman
and no-one says anything,
a place where mothers meet daughters

for lunch, a place where the cookies are homemade
and packaged in wrappings that bear the inscription:
Share the Love. Life is conversations about films
only half of us have seen. Life is a rusty table

holding a half-empty cappuccino
in a to-go cup that everyone is ashing in.
Life is the extra wide mug of hot chocolate with whipped cream

melting into it, cocoa shavings sprinkled on top, full to the brim,
sitting on a rusty table with a half-empty cappuccino
and a propped up handwritten sign: Share the Love.

probe / zuzka vaclavik

boticelli hides under his perfect scallop traversed shell
white draining bleach water, pounding and deepening the drone
holds his breath. after all, waits. high to low pressure.
wind. nothing is magical anymore. everything is a mark
on a long list of cryptographs that makes your eyes bleed
open your eyes and see a figure blowing vapors across your eyes
close your eyes and imagine deeper connections
not the constant peering into
though we need it like bread
shall we now ananlyze touch and break our fingers
contact ink onto another page, feel the weight
of a sliced green fissure undergoing photosynthesis
still we probe, but what about dream
a slender lady is just paint, her hair the opposite of motion
caregivers fall apart. moldy canvases.
perfectly spotless floors where people used to gaze and speak
silence broken by cracks and hand held metal instruments

name / lauren gallaspy

i had an ache i couldn't name.
like southerners who call all sodas coke,
i called it "pain."
propped along my collar bone,
it rolled in motions of devotion:
the chest the head, the heart
and shoulder,
fissures gripping ghosts
of order.

it spurred a thirst for normal names--
the classics!
broken bone,
a bloody nose,
a papercut, a sprain!
each object wants to own its own objection.

is inadvertent, this
accident of malady,
my stubborn, mum mistake.
i can't relieve it any better than
a baby, changed and wailing;
the hurt has swelled as big as infants' mouths
and ranging.

This Is Your Real Life / Michelle Castleberry

This, the part not reduced, redacted, edited and set to music for Youtube or some show in which you and your housemates compete for cash and fame by dancing, singing, cooking, or canoodling in a hot tub.

No, this is your real life.

The one that doesn't look quite as sexy or serious as your profile pic or sound as cool as your 25 most played playlist.

This life, in which you worry, sweat, reek, and whine. The one with pores, pills, odd little pains. The one that's not ready for its close-up. The one that can't be quantified in credentials, creeds, or paystubs.

Yeah buddy, this is it.

And thank goodness (meant not as a exclamation but an order, a call to arms loaded with gratitude)! Thank goodness, wherever you can find it, for every breath and moment, every face that meets another face. Somebody find a better greeting than "Hello" because what are the odds, really, of anyone meeting each other? Surely there's a better word for such a miracle, that moment when two human being go off-script, out of character, intimate.

This is our real life and we'd better pay attention because lack of it incurs a debt too big to fathom. If there is a final judgment, it's in a movie house where you watch all the moments you missed while waiting for your real life to begin.

Featured Reader/Andrew Mandelbaum

empty wires / andrew mandelbaum

the blackbirds are slipping away
the wires empty stretch by stretch
eye by eye by eye the horizon goes blind
And i am bending wrist and soul to touch you through the bars

the stuttered memory of what i am relentlessly
claws the walls in it sleep
shivering out jagged dreams against the closing ring
a message on the edge of translation
dark feathers brush the tip of my tongue
in a familiar sequence just beyond recognition
And i am bending wrist and soul to touch you through the bars

i live in a city of starless nights and my sense of smell is blunt
and harmless
thirty three Chilean miners breathe dirt and piss 700 meters below
the desert
the State and the Company move heaven and earth for their release
this exceptional concern underlines the rule.

i have dug too much earth from beneath my desires
and my nose runs with the black soot even in my sleep
it's hard to dream with all the blackbirds leaving
she is asking why we all must die
And i am bending wrist and soul to touch you through the bars

hollow bones fly before the winter
without the blackbirds hope can fail
her questions tunnel deep inside me
yet airshafts glimmer in dark eyes
And i am bending wrist and soul to touch you through the bars

Ode to Google or Thanks for the Memory / Grady Thrasher

Thanks for the memory--
As my own brain starts to fade,
Yours comes quickly to my aid,
Your engine searches far and near
To give me answers quick and clear—
I thank you so much!

Yes, thanks for the memory—
My research time is frugal,
For I now depend on Google,
No money’s spent on books,
No time in library nooks—
You keep me in touch!

Ahh, thanks for the memory—
With Google on my side
I now face the world with pride,
A rapid Google session
Will remove my blank expression—
I need you so much!

But wait! That’s my own memory—
That you take and store away
To divulge another day
To the FBI or any guy
Who’s from the CIA—
And I’ve told you so much!

Erase all my memory!
I beg you and implore,
It’s not for others to explore.
I was beguiled, but now I’m riled
My memory is in your files—
I hate you so much!

But I need a memory!
I should go back to those books,
But Google you have me hooked,
You know my name,
You hold my brain
In your own Doomsday Book—
And… I thank you so much!

As I Stand There on the Promontory / Patrick Bishop

As I stand there on the promontory, on the jutting rocks
The waves crashing against them below
As if they are angry and exacting revenge upon them
I smell the sweet fragrance of the Pacific
Upon the light, night breeze
The sky is dark
The Earth seeming as though it has been covered with a black canopy
With only a few stars strewn across it
Evading the cloud cover in the near distance
The ships are off in the distant waters
Floating closer to wave “Hello” again or…
Floating farther away after waving “Goodbye”
The sandy beach below
A fire ablaze for warmth to fight the evening’s chill
Surrounded by storytellers or two lovers whispering how they adore each other

There she is walking alone
Along the shore, footsteps kissing the waves
I imagine her face to be as BEAUTIFUL as the night sky above
Is she in search of something or someone
Just the same as I…
As I stand there alone on the promontory