ON THE OCCASION OF A FORREST GROWING INSIDE ME

BY NATALIE McANULLA



Your absence sowed these seeds;

furry and full of possibility, they sprout.

Swift and servile they sling their fresh

jade hooks into bone and sinew.

Wanting to redecorate and waste no time;

ivy quickly climbs.


Saplings spring, exploding out from crack and chasm.
Juicy green bushes push up. Bits of mint and bergamot grow in between.
Every structure and empty space now covered and teeming.

Within forty-five days those saplings became trees
and showed me the way. Their gnarled northern bark
is now mostly moss. Softened enough, so now
I can feel soft. Thanks to these seeds and their
inherent possibilities my broken parts grow lush and lazy.

Inside this space I will expand.

Stay green and damp.

Until I forget the origins of this-
my new home.

PIGEONHOLED

BY KRISTIN MACINTYRE



This is the Omega, kid. This is the day
that will be your Zero, your void, the gaping hole
that will suck the tenderness from your pink petals.
Daddies are weak, even though they have two sturdy legs
to support their well-mannered sins. Daddies need to chase
their sore ambitions around barrels of whiskey
and hold their grey heads in their knotty hands and cry.
I’m leaving, but I will never look at a row of tidy
candy bars in a dusty dime store without thinking of you.
You are the only flower in this town, kid.

My Daddy gave me a half-smile, a loose pat on the back,
and left me standing in the teeming city rain.
He walked off holding his inky newspaper over his head,
blurred by a flock of black umbrellas and cooing pigeons.

MÖBIUS SOUL

BY JACOB S. GARCIA



Verbs
cut like razor sharp Toledo steel swords,
adjectives
numerous as a plethora of stars guide the eye,
while I wonder
if the soul is a Möbius strip
enveloped in flesh
storing memories
as films about specters
without beginnings
or endings.
I wonder if this
Möbius soul flies
in a dream
across the relativity of
time and space
towards an ancient star,
with a primordial planet that is
covered in primeval mountains that rise
near abiding beaches
where each feeling
is as a kiss
that begins like foam on the surface and
then sinks to the depths of the sea.

NIGHTS OF OBLIVION

BY MATT PASSANT



On this cool, cool night,
Drunk on rainwater, smokin’ & singin’ the blues,
& the buzz, buzz of blue neon light.

Smoke swirls & deep amber whiskey – what a sight!
Sweat slick & lips licked, sax reed ready; let’s blow a fuse
On this cool, cool night.

A bop apocalypse; notes fall down like rain & dance, dance with all of their might
Blown down crazy breath – in here no one cares what you choose,
& the buzz, buzz of blue neon light.

On stage rollin’ notes into notes – improvised perfection, a shadow in backlight
Sway at the knees & swing keeping time, what else can he use
On this cool, cool night?

At Birdland, Parker coming down off great height
Slip needle in vein, constrict, dilate, the dragon muse
& the buzz, buzz of blue neon light.

Dizzy-gone - let’s go - we gotta get right!
Forever we’re changed & come back tomorrow, just what can we lose
In the cool, cool night?
& the buzz, buzz of blue neon light.

FOR YOU

BY MATT PASSANT



Sitting, naked in the moonlight for you.
Sour cream & onion chips, a water cup full & Anton Chekhov for you;

I want to take the red-eye night train from Denver to Chicago & onwards,
I know that I can’t, so I just sit for you.

Peeling dead skin off my finger and feeling the heat
Present and closing in; it’s closing in fast for you.

Thoughts upon thoughts jumbled in my head:
Eating frozen cookie dough as a symbol of modern America and capitalism for you.

On the road always, always moving on;
Offering no real reason to stay for you.

Writing a rambling poem about angels, poets, and lost causes:
A wasteland with no meaning; the heat’s gone for you

Getting out of the car and falling in
Greasy dust bowl: gas station slash bar for you.

Blueberry Hill and Ain’t Misbehavin’ echoing over and over;
Beaten and lying on the ashy floor immobile for you.

Dead because there’s no new way to live
Don’t you know? Everything’s beautiful in the Afterlife for you.

And I’m saving all my love

For you.

BURN

BY ALESSANDRA RAGUSIN



Curtis Mayfield said, “If there’s a hell below
we’re all gonna go”
And the whiskey burn slides down my throat,
-upper body muscles too weak-
-not enough traction for feet-
unable to scramble up the walls of this glass
and out of this hole

Gin-saturated red-eyed dreams,
too similar to pure kerosene
are so ripe to ignite with the slightest heat
-intellect vanishing fast-
-soul enflamed with oozing rash-
striking matches and roman candles, yet expecting
to get and stay clean

Downing pills like Tic Tacs,
an intentional mental lapse;
fighting for basic coping skills that I lack.
-stunted emotional growth-
-searching in substance for hope-
I, like an infant entertained by shiny things;
a mind with one track

Self-image and reality clash in the mirror,
forced into the clear,
substance enters to soothe the fear.
-all systems on high alert-
-efficiently rendered inert-
Clawing my way out of this fleshy shell,
mindlessness becomes dear

Slink back in and shut the closet door.
What am I good for?
hatred at the sight of my own shadow, the sound of my own roar.
-acceptance, a plea from within-
-who I am is a sin?-
because what the hell will they say when I walk
out the closet door?

ONTOLOGY

A Sestina

BY ALESSANDRA RAGUSIN



Strange, how we struggle to be happy,
how we internalize ages of consciousness;
thinking that we are each our own island
that only I struggle for dominion over my own life
that you, of course, must have all your shit figured out.
Funny, how we grasp at anything that claims it will set us free.

With rapid action we chain ourselves to being free:
regurgitating media ideas of what it means to be happy,
believing that dropping paychecks on cell phone upgrades is a way out,
that spewing half-assed thoughts somehow is equal to consciousness;
led to believe that incessant Internet binging is an acceptable way of life,
that we don’t need real people; it’s okay to be an island.

But something is rotten in the state of these islands.
The stench of mental atrophy can’t be perfumed by any definition of free.
I can’t imagine apathy could ever birth life.
Yet, this mindless rat labyrinth is supposed to make us happy;
the robotic need to constantly compete is counterfeited consciousness.
They don’t mean for us to ever find our way out.

Then we’re sat in front of screens said to be windows to see out;
so that even if I feel like I’m in a cage, it looks like a tropical island.
Ignorance makes it easier for the worms to burrow into our subconsciousness,
eating holes in brains till we believe we are free,
till we repeat to ourselves that, “things will make me happy”;
proving our full submission by spitting on life.

We consume “food” made in labs, not in life,
and get the shakes when we run out.
Getting us addicted makes them happy.
We float down lazy rivers between junk food islands;
Death supersizes your fries for free.
Tell me you’re in charge of your consciousness.

Forces abound that bind and Stockholm our consciousness
so we believe that virtual reality is real life;
that enslavement will set us free;
that comfort is more important than stepping out;
that we need newer and newer shit to decorate our islands;
that contentment doesn’t exist, just shut up and be happy.

But I want the enlightenment of true consciousness that calls us out,
that says, “Fuck that life! Swim out from your island!”
Because not one of us can be free until we define for ourselves what it means to be happy.

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