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Roy Perez

After Rapture

I am found kneeling
beneath the last
_____blasted tree. Winter

on my shoulders
and a sparrow’s red skull lodged
_____in my mouth.

I have cut my hair
to feed the fire. Remnants of a city
_____dusting my lips.

No nations left to die for
or hide in. Only this voice—
_____woven through the cracks

of a halved piano: that sound
a doe makes when the arrowhead
_____replaces the day

with an answer to the ribs’
quiet hollows. I reach
_____for the charred branch

and push. Blood dots the dust
beneath me. My wet face titled
_____skyward. I push until he starts

to crown, my name already dripping
from his lips. He writhes
_____through me, scraping

for that precious shard
of light, where the wolves
_____have already gathered—

their half-moon fangs
brightening the hour. But I push
_____anyway. I open. I wound. And you—

dear reader, you will call it
the beginning
_____of Adam. And I,

the fool who chose
to live, I will call it
_____forgiveness.


__________________________________________________
Born in 1988 in Saigon, Vietnam, Ocean Vuong is the author of the chapbook BURNINGS (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2010), which was selected by the American Library Association’s “Over The Rainbow” list of recommended LGBT reading. He is a recipient of a Kundiman fellowship, a 2012 Stanley Kunitz Prize, an Academy of American Poets Prize, the Connecticut Poetry Society’s Al Savard Award, as well as six Pushcart Prize nominations. Poems appear in The American Poetry Review, Verse Daily, RHINO, Southern Indiana Review, Guernica, South Dakota Review, and Passages North, amongst others. He keeps a blog at www.oceanvuong.tumblr.com

THE ICE

:“What are you dreaming of?”
:“The ice.”
:“But you are on the ice.”
:“I am thinking of the ice I will be on.”
:“We are standing on the ice right now,
facing each other. We are on the ice
touching lips, we are squinting out
at sails that move as if on a track.”
:“I only know that we have not fallen through.”

:“What are you dreaming of?”
:“The ice.”
:“But you just dreamt of ice.”
:“That was a different ice. This time we
are indoors. The light is blue in that
underwater way. The sadness is dimmed,
and at the end of the day, you are fetching.”
“What are we looking for?”
:“I can’t remember.”

:“What are you dreaming of?”
:“The ice.”
:“But we are indoors. Blue light, et cetera.”
:“No, we are standing at the edge where
the ice breaks against the sand, triumphant.”
:“Breaks what?”
:“Exactly.”

:“Where will we go when it splits in two?”
:“When what splits?”
:“The way I know all of your et ceteras exactly.
And the mornings when we track the orange
light from under blankets, watch strings
of dust sway in the ceiling’s breeze.”
:“To the ice. I will be in the middle
of the lake, out past the barriers, and you
can pull me back to shore.”

__________________________________________________________
Oliver Bendorf lives on an isthmus in Madison, Wisconsin, where the ice cover on the lakes is shortening every year. His poems have been published in or are forthcoming from Best New Poets 2012, Indiana Review, Ninth Letter, Redivider, The Volta, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, and elsewhere. Born and raised in Iowa City, Iowa, he is currently the Martha Meier-Renk Distinguished Graduate Fellow in Poetry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he edits Devil’s Lake.

What Night Knows
After Gaugin’s Le Cheval Blanc

Some women ride horses.
Some women are horses.
Some horses are wolves
who have lost their teeth
and are ridden by women.
Some wolves are horses
ridden wild with dreams.
Some women are dreams
in the shape of horses
free of the ghost of wolves.
Some ghosts are women,
their bent air a kind of riding.
Some women ride dreams
and bend the air, freeing
the ghosts and the wolves,
and the horses.

___________________________________________________________

Lauren K. Alleyne is a native of Trinidad and Tobago. She received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Cornell University, and is currently the Poet-in-Residence and Assistant Professor of English at the University of Dubuque. Alleyne is a Cave Canem graduate, whose work has been awarded prizes such as the 2010 Small Axe Literary prize, the 2003 Atlantic Monthly Student Poetry Prize, the Robert Chasen Graduate Poetry Prize at Cornell, an International Publication Prize from The Atlanta Review, and honorable mention in the 2009 Reginald Shepherd Memorial Poetry Prize and the 2003 Gival Press Tri-Language Poetry Contest. She has been published in several journals and anthologies, including Crab Orchard Review, The Cimarron Review, Black Arts Quarterly, The Caribbean Writer, The Belleview Literary Review, Growing Up Girl and Gathering Ground. She is co-editor of From the Heart of Brooklyn, and her chapbook, Dawn In The Kaatskills, was published in 2008 by Longshore Press.

Life’s a Beach

Life is waves. Waves
create a craving for Dr. Pepper,
something sweet to cut salty somersaults that get water in yr inner
ear, and deft kelp evasion, and hours and hours
coaxing friends further in but they never want to go out as far as you–
past the point of wave-beaten, past the point of even being
subject to waves, where the huddled ocean cups
you and blows like soup. Some diagnoses
require a different type of medicine, like shots
of expensive silver tequila reminiscent of beach sand or smooth
pie crust like a desert island which may just be
the proven psychological tide
of butter, but what’s the difference?
Life is waves.

In terms of spectral dynamics,
and guitar riffs, and ambulance sirens
and your “type” of guy, which is basically any pipe
cleaner over 6’2– who all eventually say move
on– and especially with tattoo
pain and the nerve death before a root
canal, or calls from the reservation
a note to say someone else is in the hospital or has passed
on, and sudden 98 degree days when you jet to meet
one of those interchangeable gentlemen jetties and forget to signal
on the freeway and the SUV next to you crashes
into the divider and rolls and you had summer school
with him–
life is waves.

But to a lesser extent,
how about kneeling
close to shore, or sitting down
in the small sharp waves. Breakers
fill your mouth like salty chocolates.


______________________________________________________
Tommy “Teebs” Pico is the driving force behind birdsong, an antiracist/queer-positive collective, small press, and zine that publishes art and writing. Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now lives in Brooklyn and is working on a collection of poetry. Check out his Tumblr.