a poem / laura carter


I’ve got a thirst that would make the ocean proud. Thus began the first song, unclenched like a flag of red utopias released into the world. The boy was waiting in purple, his song filling up the ocean with coffee dripping through the syringe of sky. And then, and then, the other side of the story punches a hole in the wall, bleeds another quart. The boy, the girl. The ocean in the middle, traversed by lonely sex and melancholy. I left the bed open. The proverbial knife was leaning in from the plasticity of things, forgetting that fire is flower. And so the house becomes a flame, rounds itself out into flowers, reveals the story of what was not quite forgotten in the circuit’s closed spaces. We dwell in pointed time when not at the station where the harbor is cool and clear. I unmoved the first house and then placed it back into the center of the heart with its ruby and gold blossoms. I give him violets for his furs, yes, but also orange flowers for Saturday’s day shift.

Interrupted / or, choosing to remember memory's Made Ralph La Charity

the least important thing about
a poem's what it's saying which
is why it doesn't have to
say anything yes
it does have to mean but it
doesn't have to mean
what it says

it's important to get lost in a poem not
because you can get lost in a poem but
because lost is something that can
be gotten in a poem & it is

this be gotten that's the most
important thing, the one thing that
makes getting lost in saying nothing matter :

Makars commune with the dead & artists
who've brought back are who've
       brought back from the Other Side

The Life of Spice / Alex Johns

Which came first
the chicken or the mummy?
preserving the flesh or making it yummy?

Someone shook flowers
at the tomb's breath
like the little sling of David.
See, back then it was
frankincense vs. Frankenstein

Now
the chile sauce's ability
to form your focus for
the moment, a mouthful
of forgetting
in nasal drip and forehead sweat.

Bury the still flesh in peppers, petals, and seeds

Add some salt, and carry that
carcass clear
across the desert,
more than surviving.

Miss Jenny / Michelle Castleberry


Miss Jenny was one of our church's widow women,
which meant we gave her most of the deer meat
we hunted and dragged from the woods each fall.
She was somehow related, though the genealogy
was different with each telling.
So some days she was Aunt Jenny, sometimes Miss.
Always, yes ma'am.
I could never imagine her married,
stout as a concrete piling,
feet always planted shoulder-wide,
ready for something unwelcomed, running fast..
I watched her once in our field smoke a cigarette
and between bites of a tomato that she ate like an apple.
Her only nod to gentility
was wiping the pesticide off
on the tail of her dress first.
But she had been married back when
to a long, gaunt man
to this day described in the county
as kind-hearted soul but
bad to drink. Bad to drink.
A sweet, sweet man who soured on mash
at least twice a month.
Intent on argument and a place
to knock his broad hands, he often went for Jenny.
But after a while she figured out that he would follow her,
curses spilling from the corners of his mouth
like tobacco spit.
He followed her around winding up his rage like a toy.
One night she led him yelling to the corn crib
where she pushed him down into his own fumes
to scream, whimper and cry all night.
This became their custom.
In this memory I do not own, I see her opening the door
to the crib those mornings, to her hang dog, hungover man,
restored for a moment by a wary forgiveness
and a door with a strong latch.

Funnel / Mark Pentecost


My mouth is a funnel.
Which end is which?
In our universe,
This is a law:
When something’s emptied,
Something fills.
Which is which?
I rotate a glass of something
So the upside is down.
It floods with absence as,
From the bottle beneath the funnel,
Lack and privation are stirred up
Into the vortex,
Scattered, re-
Collected.
In our universe,
Loss is conserved.

Laura.
Tom.
Donald…
Is there a point
To going on?

The empty glass brims
With emptiness.
I set it on the table carefully.
Nothing spills and stains my fingers.
Sit down. Have a drink
With me.

what we'll be do / ralph la charity


caught our breath in tears where they ran

the whole of crossing over's
       the whole of what we do here

stutter-trills & hop-slides fare thee well
the echo's cadence till namore remains the same

the whole of what we do here won't be done again
makes you wonder why we remember what we do

staying put's not what we'll be do
       nay, tis not what we'll achieve

I walked off with things in hand I couldn't drop
I knew I'd bring it back but maybe not

the urge to stop still waits upon the rise

crossings bear namore the tilting shade
these shadows stride askance & dip askew

reverberate head bones these tones we do
each line of every song escapes in vain

all rhythms host all breath & hearts the same

       the whole of what we're doing's all
  the whole of crossing over

tis the patch of light briefly where we stood
tis the is of this that winks away