Thursday, April 30, 2015

a poem by michael nordenberg


The same frame
of light, stepping out the door—
the same dimmer square.
Ordering the same coffee
in the same cup.

Returning the day
to the outstretched sky,
the way it plucks
each day,  with small changes.

Let me change a little
I say to myself—and I believe
it to be true.

Praise, this lathering
photosynthesis. Praise, the unexpected
ways love can be given
when I find someone who reminds me
of who I was.

And if there’s nothing else,
let me unearth a kindness
that’s viable,
that I can walk away from.

It gives me what I was
unable to ask for,
and needed.

Michael Nordenberg is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College & New York University’s MFA Program. He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, where he currently lives, works and writes.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

a poem by travis holloway

Indigo Circus

   for Francesco Clemente

On opening night

the curtains part

the tigers and the lions parade in

But when the music turns

into a slow dirge

and the animals arrive in blue

we somehow know

that this is not a circus

There was never any circus

This is a funeral procession

We look on death

because we think we know it

We've studied all its secrets

But one day

it will be

beneath our feet

where the cold rises

from the peat

of an oddly familiar plain

and a grave wakes up

at the sound of our footsteps

and suddenly needs to breathe

Travis Holloway is the translator of two books of French philosophy and the co-author of Occupying Wall Street: The Inside Story of an Action that Changed America. His writing has appeared in The Nation, Guernica, Yasakmeyve, and elsewhere.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

a poem by ben purkert

Like An Animal Cut Roughly in Half

When person A splits from B, silence bleeds into the room.

Clock hands inch towards then away from the sky.
Furniture holds its claw feet to the carpet.

Even the mind holds a center of gravity:
somewhere to reach for, to dig & dig deeper.

Until mounds of red earth spring up.
Until the hole takes on groundwater, echoing a well.

Soon a fresh city emerges, a system of pipes, a boatload
of sex shops, people starting over.

They swipe onto trains. They flood parks with kids.
They strip down a kitchen, put in an island.

First appeared in Pleiades.

Ben Purkert's poems appear in Agni, Boston Review, Fence, Kenyon Review, Narrative, The New Yorker, Ploughshares and elsewhere. His first manuscript was a finalist for the Field Poetry Prize and Brittingham Prize. He is one of the founders of CityShelf, an initiative to support indie bookstores. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

a poem by rio cortez

Black Annie Hall

in a black wool hat
& black suspenders
in line to see The Sorrow
& the Pity again

with khaki slacks
& an afternoon free
black Annie has trouble
hailing a cab
after seeing her analyst

on her roof,
black Annie
drinking white wine
after tennis
& dewy

Annie, living alone
calls for help to kill
a black widow spider
in her bathroom

black Annie is bored
so she takes adult courses
& can’t decide
between philosophy
or poetry

lucky today, black Annie
driving 80 on the West
Side Highway with the top
back, hair unmoved

black Annie’s white
boyfriend asks her
not to smoke
that marijuana cigarette
in bed & out-

"Black Annie Hall" first appeared in Prairie Schooner.

Rio Cortez lives in NYC. She is a Pushcart nominee and graduate of the MFA program at NYU. She has received fellowships from Poet's House, Cave Canem and Canto Mundo Foundations. Poems can be found at Prairie Schooner, Sugar House Review, Huizache MagazineChorus: A Mixtape,and elsewhere.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

a poem by curtis rogers

Aubade to Depleted Ozone

Summertime Manhattan hits
the button that calls the flight
attendant over. Could I
have another blanket—hits it.
Running its fingers
through my hair, Park
Avenue’s sledded breeze
feels a lump like a horseshoe
at the trunk of my scalp.
I am wading through a
battering ram to get to you.
New York is New York’s
reading light. The prehistoric
ribbit of a payphone, its snore.

A receiver shivers inside its bin.
Shivering casts its vote for me.
Turns its single cheek to me.
Along the newly-open
restaurant fronts, flowers squirm
& feed coins into the warmth.
Out-to-drift is my chaperone.
I am at my controls.
The TV turns on behind my seat.
A desert is flown
in spoonful by spoonful
with our hoof-marks still
in the sand. The sand is
fired into glass
we, having crossed, cross.

This poem first appeared in The Literary Review.

Curtis Rogers received his MFA in poetry from NYU's Creative Writing Program. His poem "Of Plenty" was selected as the 2014 poetry winner of Black Warrior Review's annual writing contests. He has additional poems appearing or forthcoming in The Literary Review, Coconut, cream city review, DIAGRAM, Painted Bride Quarterly, and elsewhere. Currently, he works and lives in Washington, DC.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

a poem by robert siek

We Go Seasonal

There’s no Santa Claus and we all die—
and this is eleven. Two candles Twin Towers parallel,
mimicking the number of this age another Christmas,
torches in ice cream cake, a sparking tuning fork,
buried handle-first in ground a touch still frozen.
My nephew’s birthday and he’s a year older.
He reminds me he was born at 5:23. His mother
told him once and it somehow stuck.
I never asked my mom that question or if I did
it’s entirely forgotten, unlike spring weather
every shared birthday cake with my grandmother,
the day before, after, or of Mother’s Day, each candle
a maypole, pagan and danced around, each year
things changing, underarms and voices,
so much to look forward to, life to celebrate,
candles blown out to applause, making a wish,
a cloud of soot exploding from the fireplace,
a chain of flowers left dying in the dirt.

"We Go Seasonal" first appeared in Assaracus.

Robert Siek is the author of the poetry collection Purpose and Devil Piss (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2013) and the chapbook Clubbed Kid (New School University, 2002). His poetry has most recently appeared in The Good Men Project, Painted Bride Quarterly, The Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, and VACZINE, as well as the anthology Between: New Gay Poetry. He curates the quarterly new queer poets reading series Newfangled at Bureau of General Services—Queer Division and occasionally blogs at

Friday, April 24, 2015

a poem by michael broder

You see, the thing is,

I’ve been in love before,
but never like this,
the way I lie, arm around him,
dark outside, can’t sleep,
thinking of mother in a hospital bed,
lying awake while dawn comes,
yellow, gray, and slightly stale,
the hundred and eighty
degrees I turn, the away I face,
clock I check as he rolls over,
fast asleep, and catches me.

Michael Broder is the author of This Life Now (A Midsummer Night’s Press), a finalist for the 2015 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Assaracus, BLOOM, Columbia Poetry Review, Court Green, and Painted Bride Quarterly, among other journals and anthologies. He lives in Brooklyn with his husband, the poet Jason Schneiderman, and a colony of feral cats.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

a poem by woody loverude

Theory of Churches

Our theory of churches revolves
on the opening & closing of doors.

In childhood, they never locked
& someone was always claiming sanctuary,

a rite not extended to us.  This led
to a confusion of geography, a misunderstanding

of genetics.  There was a narrow refusal
of touch & even when asleep, our blankets

colluded to keep chest from back.  It wasn’t
that we simply wore clothes, but rather

clothes coiled up our thighs, around our biceps.
Outside, the constellations shuffled & the words

of our grandparents turned to pebble in our mouths.
Our family tree inverts every third generation,

when there’s a priest or two, a court case, a handful
of regret tossed to the waves.  The church bells

play pop songs at noon & midnight & make a flash mob
of the townspeople.  The men set aside their lathes,

the women drop their tongues, & even the children
begin to understand the rubble that will come.

Their children’s children will mine the hills
for touchscreens & helium, but find

only half­-filled coffins & books on mythic astronomy.
They will fight, those later years, for dominance & credit,

the right to commune & separate.  To message
ghosts & other kin.  By then, the churches

will have multiplied, the stones growing larger
while congregations sink.  The town lake will ice.

Woody Loverude lives in Brooklyn, and his work can be found in Ninth Letter, Columbia Poetry Review, Mead, Court Green, and elsewhere.  His chapbook, Flood, was published by Shadowbox Press.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

a poem by liz peters

Coral Trees

All of my relationships are sad,
like a whole bunch of petals doing a slow drop off the acacia tree,
the jacaranda’s tree’s light purple petals
falling down through the air.

I heard that in the most ancient of languages,
the present tense is just the past tense
structure plus the future tense structure,
and the two are perfectly overlaid, like two Roscolene
gel sheets layered across the top of some perfect stage light fixture
and so anytime you say anything
about the thing that is happening right now,
or the thing that you want this instant,
what you’re actually speaking of is some sort of
shiny orange and pink circle,
where past and future combine
before it all just fades.

When I was a sixteen year old,
I believed that the only potential forms of death for me
would be explosion or implosion,
and I wished for some kind of spontaneous
combustion each day.

When I think of time, I like to dwell
upon the thick ray of light illuminating a strip of garden near the table
where Avichai and I sit or sat or will sit or are sitting --
the one with flecks of gold dust swirling around within its ocular bounds like several
galaxies near enough to me to touch.

I guess what I’m saying is that you come home in the afternoon,
and I come down on you, and the music is on.
If you know what I mean, it immensifies me.
I wonder about the jacaranda tree and about whether it is still turning the whole
block light purple with its treats in springtime.
We flew a little.

Liz Peters is a poet from California in New York.  She works as the program manager at Bowery Poetry and will be studying literary translation at CUNY Queens starting this fall.  Her work has appeared in No, Dear Magazine, the Koans and Performance Project and on the album Warszawa by the rock band Point Reyes (Cakes and Tapes, 2012).  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

'the triumphant return of madonna—and it’s about time' by justin lockwood

Let me get this out of the way: I realize Rebel Heart came out a while ago; in fact, the first 6 songs were released with pre-orders back in January.  But it takes me several listens to truly assess my feelings about an album.  This was especially true given my high hopes for Rebel Heart: in my opinion, Madonna hasn't had a truly great album since 2005’s Confessions on a Dance Floor.  Those first tracks left me cautiously optimistic: “Living for Love” is a choir-filled, floor stomping stunner, and “Ghosttown” is probably her best ballad this side of “Live to Tell.”  But “Devil May Pray” was pretty filler-y, and “Bitch I’m Madonna,” while fun, is the sort of indulgent cheese MDNA had far too much of.

But now, I’m happy to say, I've learned that Rebel Heart is everything I hoped for.  It’s Madonna’s best in years, and I can’t get enough of it.  Critics have already pointed out that former trendsetter Madonna worked too hard to follow other people’s trends on her last few efforts.  Breaking out of that pattern is a huge part of why Rebel Heart works as well as it does.  She’s confident and even a little experimental, producing dizzying songs like the tribal sounding “Best Night” and the raunchy “Holy Water,” the latter featuring both orgasmic “oh’s” and the types of deliciously sacrilegious references that are Queen M’s stock in trade.  Even the songs I wasn’t initially impressed by have grown on me: “Iconic” is arrogant but earns its swagger with a driving beat, and “Body Shop” manages to make potentially groan inducing innuendos about “headlights” and “curves” playful and sweet.  The large number of tracks—19, not including bonuses on the “Super Deluxe” edition—gives Madonna the opportunity to cover expansive sonic ground.  There’s quiet and contemplative (“Heartbreak City,” “Wash All Over Me,” “Rebel Heart”), brash and in-your-face (“Unapologetic Bitch” is awesome), and blends of both (“Veni Vidi Vici” finds the Material Girl looking back with references to her back catalogue that feel more earned here than they did on the frivolous MDNA, while guest Nas brings in his own life story—and attitude).  Her vocals are strong and show off her range, and the instrumentation harkens back to the grounded electronic backdrop of Ray of Light and Music.

Refreshingly, Rebel Heart really seems like it’s about something.  Beyond the usual suspects like come hither sexuality (does anyone doubt that, even at 56, this woman has a robust sex life?) and broken relationships, Madonna seems to be tackling her feelings about life in general—the one she’s lived, and the one she stills hopes to continue.  Fittingly, the artist who inspired multiple generations of pop is back to making music that doesn't sound like anyone else’s.  It’s thrillingly and enjoyably her own.

a poem by ariel yelen

Sometimes I Am Like the Flower of Farewell

I think you are the goats she says   
and you are you  
and I think you're afraid of anger
rage is what the goats feel as they stampede towards me   
all because I threw a stick   
why did you throw a stick  
well I was in a field and
I wanted to make a loud sound   
the stick broke in  

like the deer 
two halves of its body dragged to the side of the highway   
on the drive to Kerhonkson 
where my friend walks with me through the woods   
and points out the dead leaves   
how it feels to walk amongst them  
they are wet and flat in the dirt   

and I'm just letting them grow as they would  
dark hairs  
dark moods  
I too love those hours of my being   

I too like to watch things ripen

Ariel Yelen's poems have been published in Two Serious Ladies, and the 2014 anthology Shadow of the Geode. She lives in Brooklyn and works as the Community Manager for Bowery Poetry, where she also co-curates the Fantasy Reading Series.

Monday, April 20, 2015

a poem by thomas dooley

First Love

At the bar last night
I couldn’t believe it was you
standing by the men in leather collars
your layman’s jeans and work boots
the same tough suede I remember
below your vestment’s hem
at altar boy camp, tea lights
in our cabin I always hoped
you would choose me
to start the flames.
Now you travel the decade
of my spine, your mouth sudden
on each bone, I turn you over
my lips drag heat
from the thin chaplet of hair
shrining your navel, I hold you
like a chaperone at a theme park
when you held me as we looped
through air and at Mass
when you placed in my hand
a body I could eat.

Thomas Dooley's debut collection Trespass was chosen by Charlie Smith for the National Poetry Series. He is artistic director of Emotive Fruition, a radical poetry reading series where poets and actors collaborate to bring new poetry to the stage. Check him out at or

Sunday, April 19, 2015

a poem by alicia rebecca myers

15 Weeks

Winter in Nebraska. Tiny floes skirr the river like translucent
trash. Dark-eyed junco peck the ground. An eagle Andrew says,
and I wonder if she’s ever swooped close enough to see a brass
finial fashioned after her own likeness. Inside, the pressure of
fructifying. I repeatedly wake at 3AM, what Grandma Walker
called the convict hour, when escaped men would break into
your shotgun house to kill you. Hands noiseless as beargrass. I
listen for the pitch of snow on windows. I haven’t gotten past the
fear that you’re not alive. That the town will dredge you from my
muddy body. Catfish barbels for hair. Slugs for ears. Last night
I stumbled in the dim, ate toast by glow of the humidifier. The
birders share their binoculars. Geoff tells us after years of marriage
he’s come to recognize his wife by sound alone: the rhythm 
of their broom on linoleum or her breath, seconds before a pit
hits the sink. A mute woodpecker rams his head, a moshing rocker
with red plumage. His retina protected by a second eyelid. I’m
carrying spares, like Cami who buys two of everything she loves.
Once at a party she wore the same watch on separate wrists. 
They told discrepant times. I want you to know the difference in
music made by my walking with my head up and my head down.
I click my tongue to transmit something vatic. I speak your name
over and over directly to the center, your hollowest bone.

"15 Weeks" first appeared in The Carolina Quarterly.

Alicia Rebecca Myers is a poet and essayist living in upstate NY. Most recently, her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Gulf Coast, jubilat, The Carolina Quarterly, Cream City Review, The Fairy Tale Review, Day One, and The Southern Poetry Anthology: Georgia (Texas A&M). In February of 2014, she was awarded a residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center in Nebraska City. Her chapbook Greener was released in 2009 from Finishing Line Press, and she holds an MFA from NYU. She is at work on her first full length manuscript, Canary Be Attendant.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

a poem by dan rosenberg


Between the trunks,

the shadow suggests

an opening. Her shoulders

are coils wrought

and bound. Ribs

rise, ribs fall. Made

where the sun wasn’t,

she admits a breach:

an aquifer (confined)

expresses pressure.

Inside the borehole,

the ancient water rises.

So many trees

stripped and staked,

lonely as drunks

leaning against each

other. Nevertheless,

her defenses gnarl.

Below, the earth leaking,

an artesian flow.

"Palisade" originally appeared in Salt Hill.

Dan Rosenberg is the author of The Crushing Organ (Dream Horse Press, 2012) and cadabra (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2015). He has also written two chapbooks, A Thread of Hands (Tilt Press, 2010) and Thigh's Hollow (Omnidawn, forthcoming 2015), and he co-translated Miklavž Komelj's Hippodrome (Zephyr Press, forthcoming 2015). His work has won the American Poetry Journal Book Prize and the Omnidawn Poetry Chapbook Contest. Rosenberg earned an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a Ph.D. from The University of Georgia. He teaches literature and creative writing at Wells College and co-edits Transom.

Friday, April 17, 2015

rainbow book fair!

I'm reading with a bunch of poets at the Rainbow Book Fair tomorrow. Lots of great peeps and great books to check out. Come one, come all.

a poem by christina drill

Life Tryouts!

At first you cry
to get it out,
the starch.
You get the wanting out.
You shake it.
You sacudir the pillow case
strands of your hair belay, lit up
by sunlight.
This is your hair.
You watch them belly out.

You breathe. It smells of pine
and something rough.
You could make it out.
You could make a cake,
or sing.
You could hum the laws you made yourself
By yourself and for yourself,
family tales woven
out of facts your mother whistled.
You could use them all if you
wanted, remove some, take it,
make yourself.
Kingston, Havana, Newark.
A horse field,
a goat. An apartment
in Union City.
Another husband.

You watch PBS,
you always have.
You read heavy,
you always have.
Your lips are soft
like wealthy tubs,
not cracked dirt things
your mother would beg
you to deal with.
Not your vision, but
you can see them.
You’re growing up.
You’re growing up, but still.

Instead of anything you’d rather
walk with your ears plugged,
by other experiences.
You are always thinking
about purple and sage.
These epic feelings Hemingway
said were stupid,
the ones bad writing comes from,
they make you feel stupid.
The rushes.
What you stave off as you walk.
What coffee does: a word
you always liked,
a hunch you always had.
Ten people whose souls you knew
so well, believe you still must.

You want to share, to covet.
Like a girl in school
you sometimes imagine happiness
as one thousand men
who think about you without an understanding
of your doom.
In college you decided you hate Sylvia Plath,
but who are you.
These epic feelings Hemingway
said were stupid.
Like a girl in school,
you take them seriously.

There is only, and there is other.
You want everything, but stuff sticks out.
You want to become fashionable.
You want to forget the him.
You almost have, you almost never had to,
but now you have this pride.
You always want not to need it
but you walk in circles at the end
of every week
seeking it again. You wonder
why the laws don’t settle.
Why not fold the pinafore.
To love someone after all this.
Ridiculous. But you did.
What girl to woman wouldn’t.

There is something graceful
in always loving. When you walk
you feel it. In persecuting softness,
but then forgiving.
You are a system wired to do this.
The system didn’t tell you that,
your heart did. It is what started
the system.

There is him, and there is tomorrow.
There is loving, and there is self-love.
Loving is in your bed,
forgiving you below a sheet.
Or maybe self-love is.
You don’t care. The sky comes back
every single morning.
You’d rather die without it.

If life is dry heat, sugar pounding
in the kitchen being made
into something, then at least
in springtime, flowers bloom.
You do it to yourself,
but you do it, too.

Christina Drill is the author of NEW BOWS (Five/Quarterly 2014). Her poetry has been published in Word Riot, Glitter Mob, CheapPop, and Dogzplot, among others. She is program coordinator at Girls Write Now and lives in Brooklyn. More at

Thursday, April 16, 2015

a poem by derrick austin


You sniffed me out like a prophet
after a problem and a city filled with people
who never listen. I nursed a longneck
by the cooler, catfish on ice jeweled
with flies. You were slick and coffin-sharp.
Haven’t we had this date from the start?
You promised to make it snow in May,
which reminds me—too late—of Borges
on love and fallible gods. I believed
the world crystallized for you.
Snow collected on the crown of my head.
No. You flicked cigarette ashes on me.
Touch me, touch me. O hounds of memory!
All night gnawing and lapping my palms.

"Jezebel" first appeared in Assaracus.

Derrick Austin is a Cave Canem fellow and earned his MFA from the University of Michigan. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2015, Image: A Journal of Arts and Religion, New England Review, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, The Paris-American, Memorious, and other journals and anthologies. He is the Social Media Coordinator for The Offing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

a poem by brian francis

Because I Wanted to Live Staggering Distance from Shadow

Another night below Baum, spent searching the catalogue of rainbow
imitations— nothing but hum and whimper. On the way home,
over its own shadow, the compass trips. Drowsy blinds

allow a glimpse into a semi-attached brick house. A haze of a man,
his offbeat dance, lips pouting kisses at each passing cloud. He confesses
I do not remember being born, but I have seen the scars. It looked like a rip

and run, handsdeep in pockets, it’s purged bounty. A stunning almost 
smile. A bitten tongue. Count the coins and walk the route. The chariot
might miss, but there’s no rushing home. Blood in mouth, the smile leans left.

Brian Francis is a Cave Canem fellow from New York City. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Creative Nonfiction and has an MFA in Poetry NYU. His poetry has been featured or is forthcoming in Fledgling Rag, Cave Canem Anthology XIII and Tupelo Quarterly.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

a poem by ricardo alberto maldonado

The American Crisis

With regards to public life, we commence it with a glass
of milk and also with unreal currency.

We are affectionate when we dine:
the beets, sympathetic to the plate and rich with purpose,
adhere to yogurt and dill.

Plastic suburbs gradually appear before we mortgage
properties we’d declared ours—

we indulge, anyway, and rid ourselves of the responsible

We reach safe standing against fastidious dice,
which grant us citizenship

with water and electric trusts, with respite from the market.

Ricardo Alberto Maldonado was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He is the translator of Dinapiera Di Donato’s Colaterales (Akashic Books/National Poetry Series) and the recipient of fellowships in poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts and Queer Arts Mentorship. He is managing director at the 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center.

Monday, April 13, 2015

a poem by alexis pope

from That Which Comes After

I bought the ice cream for my coffee

There were two antelope in my dream

Building the perfect taco with jicima slaw

Pear and spicy pork where I wake up

Somewhat sweaty one you with a salad bowl

One with a perfect winter tank

In bed with the men that orbit

I’m addressing the envelope to a place

I called home where one man grows up

A silver tea kettle only stains

And the top won’t squeal it’s been thrown

Too many times I’ve been here

Some man forces a kiss

I’ve been here too

The exit sign’s not working

So a man comes to fix it

The history of red lights

It makes me nervous but I look

Where steam knocks the pipes

I whistle the theme song

Another girl dies

And another another one

Rubs my leg without asking

My nerves push him closer

All these allies can’t listen

All these men think they see

What I want is a new apartment

Some dinners alone in my bedroom

Just quiet really nothing but

The sound of you leaving

Alexis Pope is the author of Soft Threat (Coconut Books, 2014), as well as three chapbooks. Recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bat City Review, Denver Quarterly, Powder Keg, Poor Claudia, and The Volta, among others. She lives in Brooklyn and is a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

a poem by maxwell clark

The Courteous Co-Bane

                                                                —after Kurt Cobain

Who is going to be you when you are gone?
Who else is out there to save me from you?
These questions are so inquisitive to me.
Questions have ways of having no good answer.
This is then when I pass out and sleep instead.
Then it is I am still awake when I am doing this.
The letters just look so pretty to me this night.
I just love it when everyone is being themselves.
Burning fires are in the basement of this place.
Maybe the problem is that there is one.

The spinning of the rinse is very intense now.
That is what I always say when I return here.
Look into the heart of the feral cat and run away.
I won't remember this any better than you will.
It is so good of people to do things for me so.
The fishing materials are very highly technical.
I always try not to dream while I am still awake.
If you are scared of that street then run away.
When it is my time to die I will want to live.
The ingenuity of the trap is that it doesn't work.

This is where I come to do my serious work.
There is no idea that I have of what this is.
Because everyone is so cool I like them a lot.
When this is to come to be so it will be so.
When you kill the innocent that is very bad.
I have the feeling that I am feeling wonderful.
Cannot two numbers be added together?
But that is so very horrible in its stupidity.
Do not enter into the place of my oneness.
As when my special sayings were given out.

Do not do what you were doing to me again.
It is not sad to me that I feel very good now.
The secret path goes into there where it is.
What they are for is to do the things better.
Once you have met me you will not know me.
In as they do so good they are going to die.
This dog has to go into the new place now.
Life is like when I wash my hands or not?
May you please know that I was over there.
What happens when you murder someone?
These words are the biggest words ever done.

More weather patterns are what is needed.
I followed you once into the jungle of my room.
To be real about an issue is just to be honest.
What if you did make me invisible with fire?
Bright alert noises are what I crave so much.
The impossible technical skill is so good now.
Never do what never can be done by anyone.
And if you try really hard then that is so good.
Humans are having many ways of doing this.
The juke in my step is from being homeless.

This riddle has no answer that I can think of.
What happens when it so happens like that?
Then you never remember to be in love again.
This is how the lights go on in the big ocean.
Nonsense is just what others do to you only.
It is better to be like this than to be so not.
I cannot see past the wall on these horizons.
Many of us were once in the cut deeply so.
Do you care to innovate words without work?
Forgive me because you are being so mean.

The prettiness of their dancing is how to do it.
You had to have many for me but whatever.
I know what it is to look carefully at this so.
Do not ever say you are just like that or else.
Distances are very hard to run across so well.
Was that a big spider or was it not one at all?
You have to do this for the glory of the sounds.
To fear anyone is just to run away from them.
I am checking out the food inside this place.
Until we were married inside my little heart.
Please go towards the row where you were.

Maxwell Clark has lived in New Haven, CT, for almost a decade now. The very eminent poet Charles Bernstein himself, in a avowedly rare appearance as the judge of a literary competition, selected Maxwell as the first-place winner of the 2013 SLS Prize for Innovative Poetry—and both poets remain friends, admirers, and confidants to this day. Eileen R. Tabios included his otherwise unpublished aphorism (“The best person is the best poet.”) as an epigram to open her most recent book of memoirs, Against Misanthropy (2015). CAConrad has written him no less than the following in their correspondence: “I love you Maxwell”—(Maxwell also loves CA dearly). Brusquely to an end, then, the issue of his more strictly bibliographical credentials: as Mr. Clark has at present been published in a rather diverse array of independently edited publications approximately 50 times or more, it perhaps suffices here to mention only his three most recent publishers: the Electronic Poetry Center of Buffalo University (for his two e-books: Poesies, also Vows of Poverty), Swirl Editions (for his e-book Of You), and the New Haven Review (for his poem ‘The Cup of Sun’—which is also available in print).

Saturday, April 11, 2015

a poem by melody nixon


I can glimpse blank space through the gaps in breath. Not a howl, but the bones of one.

To make sounds of the bones
I clank them
Fast soft fast.

So this is a shout, then.

Like the roots of tress struck up by winds at night.

People do die in poems. I bet they're not killed by flying things though, by spaceships of the apocalypse, just slow-death listening for the mailman to come.

My grandfather died in a letter.
He was old;
that was all.

Melody Nixon is a New Zealand-born writer living in Harlem. Her essays, fiction, and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Conjunctions, Cura Magazine, Midnight Breakfast, No, Dear Magazine, Hoax Publication, and The Appendix, among others. She is the Interviews Editor of The Common, Co-Founder and Editor-at-Large of Apogee Journal, and co-curator of the First Person Plural Reading Series.

Friday, April 10, 2015

a poem by daniel w.k. lee


Where were you finding me—everywhere not home?
As if a rearview mirror, is your blind spot home?

What is fair in love and war? Only fire? Ashes?
Men who perfected burning always, never got home.

God in shame, even angels refused the Holy Land;
None surrendered Jerusalem. Everyone fought home.

History will not restore him. No, dying was his ticket.
When else—save dying—is diaspora brought home?

A nomad in exile draws his blinds, vanishes to where?
Where nobody else thought. Nobody thought home.

P.S. Daniel, I left to become disaster’s first orphan.
On the page I found you, in the poem I sought home.

"Home" originally appeared in LYNX.

Daniel W.K. Lee is a Seattle-based poet whose work has been seen in various online and print publications. He is currently looking for a publisher for his first poetry manuscript. Lee is the blogger behind and Editor of JAKE Voices at

Thursday, April 9, 2015

a poem by emily brandt


Each night the coyotes howl but only
for fifteen seconds. That is not enough time
to record them. It is only enough time to grab
the recorder and open the window and really I'd rather
just listen anyway. I like it here at ManWorld.

There is a bed of flowers. There is sky.
And the squirrels on the roof only keep me up
a little too late. I'm a little too tired. It's like
I've run out of things to say, like I'm clear
and don't need anything but these animals,
this wind. It's a feeling that will pass fast and then
I'll be back to heartbreak and electric lights.

Seven blankets are not enough to keep me lying
down. I need more chaos in life. I need a broom
and a straightjacket, a thigh and some elegant lighting.
A man would be concerned with beauty or power.
Me too! But I've also got a different list
and I put it somewhere you'll never find.
God forbid. And yes, I am still interested.

This poem appears in the chapbook ManWorld (dancing girl press).

Emily Brandt is the author of three chapbooks: Sleeptalk or Not At All (forthcoming from Horse Less Press), ManWorld (dancing girl press) and Behind Teeth (Full Court Books). Her poems have appeared in Sink Review, Coconut, H_NGM_N, The Atlas Review, and other journals. She earned her MFA from New York University where she facilitated the Veterans Writing Workshop. Emily is a co-founding editor of No, Dear, Web Acquisitions Editor for VIDA, and a contributing writer for Weird Sister. She lives and teaches in Brooklyn.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

10 perfect cinematic moments

So Fisti laid down his perfect cinematic moments. Here are 10 off the top of my head.



Lesley Manville's painful, lost expression in the closing shot of the film slays me and leaves a lump in my throat. It also upends so much of the story.


Schoolhouse flock

Melanie has a tense smoke by the schoolhouse. The kids inside are singing "The Wee Copper of Fife." And quietly crows start landing on the jungle gym.


Shirts on a wire

The emotional accumulation in the slow pacing of Ennis's and Jack's first trysts at Brokeback and the fleeting passing of years thereafter makes this a devastating ending.


Bucket o'blood

Spacek's performance, the camera work, the lighting, the colors, Donaggio's eerie score, the editing all part of an operatic, iconic moment of splatter.



So much longing and beauty as the Gill Man swims beneath his white-suited unrequited love.


Opening Credits

In 2011 I went to see Drive half-heartedly thinking it was a typical race car flick. But then the opening credits began with that pink cursive font and "Nightcall" thumping and I was awestruck.


Modern Love

A spirited moment of exhilaration for hapless Frances set to Bowie.


Hairbrush & Dinner

The jig is up. And Annette Bening's expression is EVERYTHING.


Mrs. Bates?

There's too many perfect moments in this movie to pick one. But the final reveal along with Herrmann's score still gives me the chills, no matter how many times I've seen it.


The wrong house

In a masterful trickery of editing and Tak Fujimoto's dynamic camerawork, we watch the FBI descend on a house and then a door opens and we learn Clarice is all alone, face to face, with a killer.

a poem by katie peterson

For Emily Dickinson

You like the moment when Dorothea refuses the diamonds.
I like the part when Detective Benson of Special Victims
pushes the yellow pad towards the perp with a pen.
God, the look on her face like elegance,
like just enough of something. Like the traction in late
capitalism that enables decadence:
the moment before you buy something expensive.
Before I could read, when my mother drove
over the shadows the oak leaves made
those handfuls of vague animals, I believed
our station wagon lifted off the darkness and landed
unhurt on top of the asphalt sunlight.
Your gingerbread won an award, everyone remembers
that but few remember that your recipe, so flexible,
could make a cookie or a bread or with enough
eggs, and in the right pan, cake. Passing the cemetery
where the nuns got buried, my best
friend crossed herself so I confess
I did the same. Your midnight ramble
into town to see the costly spire
of the new house of worship
provides no evidence of your faith, a prostitute
might do the same, and she’d at least
be on her way to work. On the night
my confirmation took place, I wore
doves in my pierced ears and a skirt
I knew I looked terrible in.
You’d eat a letter to keep a secret.
I know you were in love with him.
All of us should stay so far
from our families and still
inside them, seething under the skin.

Katie Peterson was born in California but lived in Massachusetts for a long while. She recently moved back to her home state where she teaches in the English department at UC Davis. She's the author of three books of poetry, most recently, Permission and The Accounts. She's working on a book of essays. She collaborates with her partner, the photographer Young Suh, on film and collage. She can't decide whether she believes in ghosts.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

libby's coachella tu(n)esday!

Another year has come and gone and guess what, kids?  TIME FOR COACHELLA!  Here's a little list of who I'd love to see in the desert in a couple days.

Royal Blood 

Jesus, I love these guys.  And I'm staying so far out of the front section for them.  Oh yeah, the singer is hot.  Super hot.

fka Twigs 

She is quite possibly the most unique person out there right now.  The dancing, the singing, the sexuality in every single movement and word - she's incredible.

(this first video is when I lost my shit)

(this second video is when I fell in love)


Their performances are visually stunning and I'm not done with "Can't Do Without You" yet.

Tame Impala

These Aussie hippies sound like they came straight from the 1960s and I love it!

Father John Misty

Josh Tillman is hilarious with his stage banter and overall performance.

Ryan Adams

Haters gonna hate.  He's weird, goofy, kinda nasty...but with such a huge catalog, I never come away disappointed.

Gorgon City

These guys are FUN.  Hoping they'll be in the Sahara Tent!


a poem by morgan parker

Apology In Hopes of Men

These days I’m looking good.
Voiced over
with a glossier me.
Wearing giggles
to the knee, keeping
elbows off your lungs
and out of the dirt. Half-trying
to be secret, slip
into a room
unannounced. Glide softly
onto the couch and wait
for you to speak
first. Will you
hear me coming, pink
upper lip
to incense stick? Deep-cut
Aretha behind
the ears where synth
was planted once.
As a woman
I ignore what is
half-assed and full of water.
I understand
our troubles
passed down: I tuck them
into my loafers
and cross my legs. No complaints
here. I take my time.
I get excited
over time.
Hands to myself
as I am told.
No longer wonder what if
somehow a little mystery
could hurt. No longer swear
to god it’s when
I’m dead
I will shut up.

Morgan Parker is the author of Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (Switchback Books 2015), selected by Eileen Myles for the 2013 Gatewood Prize, and There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé (Coconut Books 2016). She received her BA in Anthropology and Creative Writing at Columbia University and MFA in Poetry from NYU. Her poetry and essays have been featured in numerous publications as well as anthologized in Why I Am Not a Painter (Argos Books 2011) and The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (Haymarket Books 2015). A Cave Canem fellow and poetry editor for Coconut Magazine and The Offing, she also contributes writing to Weird Sister and co-curates the Poets With Attitude (PWA) reading series with Tommy Pico. She lives in Brooklyn and at

Monday, April 6, 2015

a poem by elizabeth barnett

The farm

You write these laws
about the fields,
the woods.

They say no,
there are no men
living in the hollow

of the stream.
Or, a knife is enough
to keep them off.

(The law at night,
another circumstance.)
It says pull

a pale root
out of the ground
and hide it in your hand

until your fist won’t open.
And you do it
to be alright.

But you break
all over
like the law at night.

“The farm” first appeared in Slice 12 (2013).

Elizabeth Barnett's work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in 32 Poems, Alaska Quarterly Review, Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter, and Sixth Finch. She edits the digital broadside project, Rove (

Sunday, April 5, 2015

a poem by matthew daddona


The cordless phone is baseless.
It rings and I don’t answer it.

I plan garden time instead. The phone
spreads its wings, or like a bulbous

plant, proves itself to the wind.
From out the trees,

cicadas lift like porch dust
and from where I’m sitting

I might just forget
the sounds made

from their abdomens,
the ribbed membranes like offshoots

of the flowers. I’ve forgotten
these sounds all winter

but now they’re back
and some tiny alarm

has been circling below like a harbinger.
Whenever the phone zings

I pretend the cicadas will answer it
and play back a memory

a hundred times over. No,
I have not yet unloved. No, I have tried

to bring you back.
The cicadas pass a message

through the leaves,
their indistinguishable vowels

cocooning, then cooing
like oms.

I want their wings.
I want the answer

to this silence
as a hum played to the masses.

"Tymbals" originally appeared in  Noncannon Quarterly.

Matthew Daddona is a founding member of FLASHPOINT, a jazz and prose improvisational group that has performed at many venues in Brooklyn and Manhattan. He has published poetry, fiction and reviews in The Adirondack Review, Gigantic, Forklift, Ohio, The Southampton Review, The Rumpus, Tin House, Bomb, The Brooklyn Rail, Joyland, Slice, Electric Literature, and Tuesday; An Art Project, among others. In 2011, he collaborated on a chapbook with poet/scholar Tim Wood, using Wittgenstein’s aphorisms as poetic conversation. He is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets prize and a Beatrice Dubin Rose award. He is currently at work on a novel, as well as a collaborative photography/prose project based on synesthesia.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

a poem by sarah sala

The Dime Store

“The white pills could be what
they call placebos, dream stuff”
—Jackson Pollock
Such Desperate Joy

Anne Carson took a step

in her white leather winter


eyes a drip-stain of ink:

a kind of acrylic spilt

from the iris

storm strewn snow

like shards of windshield

glass inside her hair

her bird a heart that would

not beat

Sarah Sala is a graduate of New York University's MFA program, and she lives in Manhattan. Her poems appear in Poetry Ireland Review, All Hollow, Leveler, Atlas Review, and Vending Machine Press.

Friday, April 3, 2015

a poem by t’ai freedom ford

past life portrait

circa Summer 1980

Genius isn't free; there's a great price to pay. And Richard knew it.
    -Jennifer Lee Pryor

When fucking is the family business
you got two choices: hide the bruise

of your shame and cry or look at it
square on and laugh until the bruise

becomes muse or keloided battle scar.
When your daddy is a motherfucker

you learn to remove your pinky ring
before you slap, so not to leave a bruise

or break skin—there is already too much
blood invested in this business when

your granny is selling your mama
and other women’s bodies you learn

irony and fucking becomes funny
as fuck except laughter sounds like bruise

and you grow up thinking of women
as sweet things to cop like candybars.

Pussy is neither exotic nor erotic
but rather ordinary as a bruise

and what’s a boy to do but collect
panties and cursewords in a house

full of blasphemous Jesuses ricocheting
out of the mouths of tricks—bruised

lips that do not kiss, just suck. What
the fuck you gone do but laugh?

And make everybody and they mother
laugh too so you don’t feel crazy or lonely—

And the laugh tracks start to loop lovely
like the women loop lovely marriage

after marriage every year like some sort
of odd ritualistic undoing of the bruise

of your daddy as pimp and Original
Motherfucker: origin of your laughter

the golden key to your happily ever
after—the records, movies, mountains

of cocaine and fuck and nigger empires
until you understand nigger bruises.

When the laughter turns to voices
that won’t turn off when the routine ends

and the cocaine only quickens everything
to a blur of fuck, you must confront the bruise

but grandma ain’t there to kiss away the hurt
cause she dead along with mama and daddy

so you pick at the scab, grab the rum to silence
the humming in your head with a cigarette lighter.

Poof! You remember running—the skin
tight with scorch   baffling light  and bruise

and the clarity is scary as hell
cause you realize the price of genius,

the product of your laughter
and your happily ever after awakens

you in a hospital room that smells
of bandage and damaged blues.

t’ai freedom ford is a New York City high school English teacher, Cave Canem Fellow and Pushcart Prize nominee. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Drunken Boat, Sinister Wisdom, No, Dear, The African American Review, PLUCK!, Vinyl and others. In 2012 and 2013, she completed two multi-city tours as a part of a queer women of color literary salon, The Revival. t’ai lives and loves in Brooklyn, but hangs out digitally at:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

poems by christina quintana


When I think of you,
I write bad poetry
teeming with enough feeling
to turn it to gold

When I think of you,
I recall why love is important
down to the early morning resin
of chapped lips and no sleep

When I think of you,
I forget that it’s foolish;
I lose my sense of heartbreak;
I pummel through the stream of lights
as they shift to red,
kiss my hand,
and tap the roof of my proverbial car–

When I think of you,
I hear myself.


King or Queen(tana)

My last name
is different from yours,
though it looks the same

I see you—the little boy—
dreaming of sailboats and horses,
but becoming a doctor, instead;
covered up in other
with no way out

Oh, if I could take your hand,
you there, floating in sadness,
and tell you in perfect Spanish
that you are enough

No, your Jesus-colored skin
couldn't save you,
but it didn't make you wrong

Christina Quintana is a Brooklyn-based writer with Cuban and Louisiana roots. Her plays have been developed and produced in New Orleans, Atlanta, and New York City, and her poetry has been featured in Emotive Fruition, downtown poetry readings by New York actors, and is forthcoming in First Class Lit. She was a 2014 Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging Voices Fellow in Fiction and holds an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University. For more, visit:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

a poem by rachel j. bennett


                       for Kurt Gödel

You are standing in an open field.
You said you would no longer believe
in signs until they come true, blue
sky not portent but blue sky, charts
the day you bought the boots less
important than their broken throats
and frayed laces. To the west,
a capsized horse. Above, a mailbox.
Open the mailbox. Another letter
from the land where you always
think you can live. You want advice
because you’ve forgotten what
you said about signs, the promise
of blood too great, stars laden as
bright camels. You will fall on your
sword because you always fall, but
to the east is a house made of
scruples. Strike the match. No logical
system can capture all truths. Eat
the jewel. No logical system is free
of inconsistency. Love is the memory
of diamond mines before anyone knew
there were diamonds and sparkling was
just the way water was in certain lights.
You are standing in an open field.
Each time the first time, easy to say,
hard to keep moving. Be brave.
You are perfect as a shock of wheat.

"Incompleteness" first appeared in Salt Hill Journal

Rachel J. Bennett likes fire escapes, the names for quarks, and gas station cappuccino. Originally from the Illinois-Iowa border, she calls New York City home today. Her chapbook, On Rand McNally’s World, will be released this summer through dancing girl press. You can find her near windows and on Twitter: @rachtree11.