4 Poems by Colin Dodds

Grasping at the Cord

 

Pocked by mussel fossils mocked by graffiti

the coral limestone slab at ruin center wryly

reveals the betrayals impregnations and undulations

of empire—the heavy lifting that briefly vaulted historical time

from its raw parent, pulled taut the wandering strands

and deified our game of life and death

 

At the center of the slab is the mask of the boss

brandishing staff or whip of office

brow pronounced with circumspection

or slack with placid awe anchoring memory

 

Mute face opaque with the madness

to murder and to mollify in conscious service

to the umbilicus that annexes afternoon anxieties

to the melodrama of the night skies

 

A crown wreath mask overshadows that face—

itself a mechanism for the divine to breathe

in our compromised atmosphere

 

Shielded and shielding he handles the cord

ties its numbered knots weaves it among

the dead and never-dead—intimate

with its unreliability but never daring

to imagine its futility

 

 

Empty Armor

 

To pass under an arch and under a yoke

are not so different

To pass under and to understand

are not so different

 

Floodlights pour milk on the monument

Achilles’ shriek arrives in the hiss of traffic

On the arch, a soldier feeds his dead friend

 

Empty legionnaire armor on cornices

of august buildings confers on all who pass

the blessing of men who lived marched

died never asked what it was all about

 

It reminds like a cylinder seal

impressing the eyes of the boulevard

and reassures us of the war

we step from nothingness for

assuming our armor and being assumed

into a posture to encounter strangers

and act like we belong

 

 

Invades Every Zone

 

When was the planet snared

in this vast narrative of unfinished business?
What sun sang it?
What nebula of jostling stars enlisted us so?
 

Police lights ricochet off cobbles

and annihilate the last delineation

between visual beauty and pollution

 

In theremin bus-brake squeal

smell of stale smoke in a wool coat

doorway squint of a tired restaurant worker

and light sweat of a long autumn stroll

the religious mysteries recast as political controversies

recast as market crises recast as sexual tensions

recast as religious mysteries

 

to the beat of a frightened bird’s heart

And everyone has some kind of money in the game

 

Scallop shells on bank, chapel doorways

hiccup The visible is pollution

in the dying downtown of an old smithereen factory

where men once melted to pocket combs

for the gaudy godhood of one unlikely boy

for gunny-gray highway that gathers as it discards

the smaller towns’ million minor fortunes

and hushes hugely past caverns and taverns

dug to hide from the ruthlessness

of wealth and poverty alike

 

where regents and recidivists recede

down a trail of discarded disguises

to a place understood only as death

 

A commerce truly INVADES EVERY ZONE

as the inscription over the bank lobby read—the one

the security guard asked me not to photograph

twice

 

 

You or Someone Closer

 

When your routines cease to soothe

When you park the car and lay your name in a wallet

When the highway hotel and restaurant become useless

When no forms move in the windows beyond the scrubby dunes

When the phone won’t even tremble

When you can’t see the streetlights or hear the wind of any plan at all

When night reaches in directions with no names

 

     And you violate the sleep

     that shapes your days like rivers shape states

     to approach the place and time

     at the spring of all places and times

     where your virtues and sins

     knit into an ill-fitting womb

 

          Then remember

          you’ve been here before and perhaps never left

          Remember it’s all familiar for a reason

          and there is a right way to handle this

          Remember you or someone closer

          went to great lengths to remind you to remind you

          to remember

 

 

 

 

Colin Dodds is a writer with several novels and books of poetry to his name. He grew up in Massachusetts and lived in California briefly, before finishing his education in New York City. Since then, he’s made his living as a journalist, editor, copywriter and video producer. Over the last seven years, his writing has appeared in more than three hundred publications, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net Anthology, and praised by luminaries including David Berman and Norman Mailer. His poetry collection Spokes of an Uneven Wheel was published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company in 2018. Colin also writes screenplays, has directed a short film, and built a twelve-foot-high pyramid out of PVC pipe, plywood and zip ties. One time, he rode his bicycle a hundred miles in a day. He lives in New York City, with his wife and daughter. You can find more of his work at thecolindodds.com.

 

"Dedicatio" by John Thomas Allen

DEDICATIO: Behind the Green Door
for Julianne Buschbaum 1970-2017

 

Amnesia the pocket serum sacrament
blow dart dawn to the waking saints 

in a sunrise split as perforate tissue.


A pink dawning in a tissue perforate
with the hieroglyphs of Etruscan angels.


A creeping yellow slow as subatomic
parcels, chutes lateral in jeweled stars,


dust the tongues of snowblowers.


Antibodies spun in fool's gold hold to
sugar angels arches; her steady rocking


sperm, a siren tip, hair ribbons;
a body and her release, orgasm's


rocking chair flooded, shadow spindle
wood, locked sighs in paint’s drying point.


Downcast we pull acoustic chlorine's
loose guns to no effect. Bodiless we weave


in the Red Letter sewn to a target, notes
of a glass violin always closer. Our Icarian


forceps leak away as diurnal shadow,
all to the music box’s silk purr.


Flypaper music bars holding the grooves,
seen through De Chirico’s silkscreens,


white star bits falling in webbed geometry.


Gouaches wreathed on medusa’s head,


her night music laced,
her auroral doll roast.

2 Poems by Brice Maiurro

Kansas City


Somewhere in Kansas City someone might be saying these words.
My friend Sarah is locked up in Alberta,
the bars are birch trees,
they surround her,
and day after day she draws them,
these spines that spring from the earth.
She draws them
as if maybe she can work her way through them.
She draws her lover beside her
and she draws us again in Denver
or together in the birch trees.
She draws them as if she can conjure something

or someone
to another place.


Lost in Conifer
I walked through an endless field of evergreens
and miles deep into my head
playing a long tricky game of object impermanence
I stumbled onto this great field of birches,
holy
and unbroken
I stepped into them
and I was not there
I was with Sarah and her Ivan in Alberta.
Sarah asks me
Do you believe in time travel?
Somewhere in Kansas City someone might be saying these words
and there is a currency too valuable
to knowing that my breath has traveled as far east as it is west
into the mouth
of a stranger
that I met in another life.

 

 

i shot a bullet at the mirror and the mirror shot back


i shot a bullet at the mirror and the mirror shot back
and my head hit the tile with a thunderous clack
and the clack sounded loudly such an echoing sound
and as i stared at the ceiling all the cobwebs i'd found
they reminded me time has a way to keep moving
and i found myself stuck with no patience to lose and
my patience was gone it had leaked from my brain
and it packed up its suitcase and boarded the train
and the train went to nowhere or at least so i heard
when i sat back and watched and i realized absurd
things happen and we just keep sipping our coffee
as we stare at our watch in some strange hotel lobby
that we call our existence where we never are sure
if our intentions are selfless or if they come across pure
but i'm telling you this that i learned looking up
at the ceiling of the bathroom where i swallowed my blood
that if the train that your riding ever goes off the track
and you pick up a gun and it goes in your sack
and you go to a room with a mirror that stares

and it's empty and hopeless with too many chairs
and not enough people and you look in the mirror
and you're just staring back at everything that you fear
when you pull out your gun from your oversized sack
if you shoot at the mirror it is sure to shoot back
this i know beyond reason this i know for a fact
cause i shot at the mirror and the mirror shot back

 

 

Brice Maiurro is a poet, publisher, editor, community organizer, and writer based out of Denver, Colorado. His first book of poems, Stupid Flowers, was released in 2017 and is available at Revolution Records in Kansas City.

"The land is our ocean" by Matthew Roth

The land is our ocean

There are no beaches
In this town. No rolling waves to
Wash our un-wanteds back out to sea

Here we bury our trash
Dig it up after 48 hours
Then devour it
Slathered in barbecue sauce

No sliding foam across the sand
Or salty wind to mask the
Seagulls’ starving cries.   

The sky has no competition
There is no port of entry. We
Have no way to see them coming

Things just pop up
Like native grass. We cover
Them in colored blankets
And offer up a contract
Like soldiers in a war. 

But there is no war. There
Is only God and weather. 
And we do not fear the weather. 

Like a mirror pointing outward
We long to be ourselves
In the reflection of the world
Safely hidden  
Like a painted mirror
Like lipstick on a bowl of oatmeal

It’s the sin that makes the
Fucking so good
The sandbags of guilt that
Keep the church basement dry

Pure pure. It’s been so long. 
The kind of pure you could just kill for. 

We covet what we have
A peak within a valley
It’s different for cows

Flatness
The earth, canvass, the screen
It all disappears when we sleep
Even in sleep mode
We act like it’s the same
And it is

"magnolia, faded" by Promise

Fiery antebellums sprout in crags of swampmoss brickmud coated gator-

     skin a creole drinking Southern Comfort in Manchester.

     Deep skinned & bony fingers femme

whisper to planes they bring down with blood drops on dirt

Kitchen mice meet mange cats in the alleys outside

La Maison De La Compte

 

Saturday!

Saturday!

Sacred rot

Of Saturday!

 

Lay our heads still in sticky February night. Praise the crescent.

des dieux étranges laughing with glazed eyeballs

over bridges stretching miles

 

Where are you tonight as I am harassed in

sleep by spirits?

How do you lay,

as I, here,

expanding fingertips

in & out?

 

Too drunk to dance at a honky tonk

in the industrial town

a little wobble in the knees

skeletons gripping limp corpses in two-step

Welcome home.

From Friday,

 

into Saturday

they danced in sways

as I was bar stool bound

waiting for the turnover

from metallic to smoke

jazz

 

Sun tinted holed shoes in Garden District interrupted

     light of golds & greens a hazy heat hitting the bitter sweat of forehead wavers &

     ivy in the quarter where stones gather over cement shuttles to heaven in ashes & jewels

     with docked boats and red freights rolling through the algae skinned gray below peepholes

In rebuilt wood with rusted fish bites and water rustles Saturday descended upon the pier

 

Transmission blew

outside of Memphis

Too bad the Mississippi flows the

Other way

 

Improvisations: I by Evan Thomas

The donkey in Balthazar was given the motivation of Lee Marvin. Actually there wasn’t any motivation at all. The important thing was to arrive at an absolute simplification, even if such a process incurred the simplification of composition as an accidental byproduct. Like a hallway, all the doors unlocked, linoleum floors, rapid Oxfords. Tearing ass all the way down. Actually it was really unforgettably slow. Due to lack of motivation.

Taxi Driver was originally written by our curé de campagne, or was it Andy Kaufman. I forget, not having seen Taxi Driver. Lee Marvin was slated to play Jodie Foster’s role but obviously backed out when they started filming The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday. Steven Prince played Andy. There were no parts to learn; the aperture free of single grains of sand as it was. Red, orange, & green all flashing in sixteenth-triplets. Sound & image flickering as they fade out, the print burning up in the projector like a Memphis summer. Everyone said they never thought he had it in him.

I have brought from the outside of my motivation the unknown genre. Taken it deep within my heart. It takes the intolerable & throws it in the ocean. A suitcase full of water. Bicycle gang with popguns. A gun is a complex image. It is different when Lee Marvin brandishes one versus just about anyone else. Fred Ward did not look like Henry Miller, but then again no one really knows what he looked like when he was young anyway. Lee Marvin was a more suitable choice, but he was busy with valley fever. Fireworks on the fourth of July, & the 30th of June, for whatever reason. Buddy, at random.

As Paul Schneider spoke his first lines onscreen, Taxi Driver turned the same age as him. The Doors were born the same day as David Berman. Actually so were you. No motivation for this world. Hide the ideas in plain sight & they'll come out in both directions at once. People slammed the double bill but I couldn’t see how doors wouldn’t open for ideas. Setting the woods on fire, hungover in the backseat & sombreroed. Or was he a winterer who just made bad company, suffering from Friday night fever in Santa Monica.

Buzzed-in, I gave up the bench. Nice shades. Bresson shot his own hand for that scene, then himself in the foot. Moose yelling at each other for a staff-only. It's the one thing I guessed at that doesn't actually appear. What do they even make. Men use, even without an ear lent. He felt beset by the quarry, & came up juicing the terraplane with more days to tack on. Church-going people brandishing a big mace. The final statement was on money. I can’t say where it begins. Questions regarding intent. Hammer down. & tomorrow too. Never to be repeated.

Sower & ewe afield seeding for harvest with only three or four available. Three forty-foot lengths of rope. Rotting barns. Dead wind farms. The purest marriage of sound & image. Fell down the basement steps. I saw the parade. What are they even building. Lee Marvin’s headstone. A dream in four parts across four nights with lost rivers in between. I didn’t retract my hand this take. The ocean will cover over the fields again someday. Absolute lack of human motivation. It only seemed.

3 Poems by Claire Verbeck

Ode to the Valentine Apartment

Before the bedbugs descended

In clean blue walls,
sand-cracked ceilings,
watery hiss of passing traffic:
I smell your ocean waves.

 

 

Seedling No. 2

Saturday morning, Union Hill

A sweet smell bends to the street
reverentially to kiss me
in the cornsilk morning

 

 

Seedling No. 3

After a panic attack

You writhe and snap like a loose garden
hose until, dodging lashes, I hop
to your valve to shut you down.
You are quiet. Still. I gather
you into my arms. Cradling
your mercurial curves, I wrap myself inside.

Ecce Homo & Brown by Promise

poppyflower sidewalk crag underfoot
below 1920s brick apartments
a baby wails in an un-
airconditioned car
outside bark dogs to inside
whimpers

turning things over between fingers-
eyes avoided
beetles devour bleeding hunks
of leaf meat
while down-induced youth
nod in heatwarp

in a yellowed t-shirt
& blood drips beaded
(crown-like)
across a salty forehead
this is not

san francisco
somewhere near here
you used to hear a saxophone
no exit
in the heat
no exit
in the cold

no period in mourning
when the leaves fall

everyone from the sixth
floor down
wakes in june
& extends shaking arms
to the sun

"Studio Time off the Drawing Room" by Evan Thomas

A dreamt Arabesque from mint sky enlarged the days then, miles voted for in hummer seats. Japanese beetles slowing as they knock the bağlama strings to heated entries. Boreas rounded corners to paper windows of constituents with handclap propaganda. & whereas the footage of jumpers depicted strains of smaller infomercials, the figures themselves fell into great lakes drafted in chromoluminarism with little aftercolour; the faintness belying appearances of diminution. The suite reforested quite nicely. Several marvels erected from wallpaper gave voice to sleigh bells, the windmill hilts damp with corrective action. Noting their silence, the swollen vine of Altoona disrepair coiled all holidays into eluents that got lost in the shuffle of civets dead letter office-adjacent. Emergency wildflowers hatted the treasure maps mezzotinted & rebound the frayed shoreline with fresh cedar. Waterskiers en route to the launching point were soon bewildered by the applause drops of sandpipers, left naught but the terraformed party analytes had already evacuated. Battleships off the tubes of razor clams packaged gouache in unanswered doors. Minor spatterdock orbits ferried bus tours from Augusta to eyelash. &, most significantly, the trumpet's disappearance heralded only the cartwheels of gesso that water unions pasted to the undersides of Pyrex universes. The hand that drew itself reached out to shield itself from the sun & the gladiolus erupted in princely chimes, sugar-water trim, summer themes stated, & the laser-hour of locked grooves unjamming the quiet chives from their mown tug-of-war. It was completely noon in the increasingly french air for at least two months.