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Poems of the Week

Sad Indianapolis

I go to the movie theatre
to look at the rows of exit lights

just to feel like I’m landing in my life.

I tried to pull the world back
from the explosion;

but it is snowing;

the sky looks like
falling ash.

Each morning I stitch together
a moment, say,

the muted
light around a bowl of peaches,

but soon the junior
senator in me so timidly casts
his vote for desire

I can barely pour the milk.

Sad Indianapolis, famous
only for a race

that comes once a year,
the noise so loud it evacuates
the head briefly
and orderly

like a fire drill; then it all returns:

worries, regrets,
Yvonne, the hilltop, endless strip-
mall parking lots

where I would sit
as a teenager, the tongue
of the world on my battery,
and feel a huge, yet exact

emptiness, as if someone
were unfolding thousands of
little origami cranes in my chest.

This is a thankless town. You could burn
it and it would look better.

But still my heart
still wins, its penny slots

sometimes just walking
the neighborhood, admiring leaves:

How do I say this?

What I want is some ugly little
animal to be invented,
unloved, unnecessary

to represent
what can’t be

put back in order. To live in place
of where I live.

Frank Montesonti is the author of Blight, Blight, Blight, Ray of Hope (Barrow Street Press), and the chapbook A Civic Pageant (Black Lawrence Press, 2009). He has been published in literary journals such as Tin HouseBlack Warrior ReviewAQRPoet Lore, and Poems and Plays, among many others. His second full-length collection, Hope Tree, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2014. He has an MFA from the University of Arizona and teaches poetry at National University. A longtime resident of Indiana, he now lives in Los Angeles, California.


I hope you like documentaries / never mind
what about. In Newsweek I highlight / “the heads of
people” in an article about the postures
of different species / probably ours isn’t the only posture
containing artifice / I’m letting the day trans-
form into symptoms / if you concentrate you can
expect / a tiny role in the rest of / your life / to make
notations on human feelings / play your records / anyway
the world thinks you’ve gone / to sleep / foregoing I
can’t remember what / the end of the song?
the arm swings back / in place after playing a 78
a la reverse mortgage / the adamancy
of growing older / for a minute / and then I guess
what you see in movies can happen to us.

Christopher Salerno’s books of poems include Minimum Heroic, winner of the 2010 Mississippi Review Poetry Series Award, and Whirligig (Spuyten Duyvil, 2006). A chapbook, ATM, is available from Horse Less Press. Recent and future poems can be found in journals such as Fence, LIT, Salt Hill, InDigest, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. Currently, he’s an Assistant Professor of English at William Paterson University, where he manages the new journal, Map Literary.

An Invitation (Horace’s Ode i.20)

Cheap wine, Maecenas! You’ll drink cheap wine from cheap cups,
our local Sabine swill. I pitched the Grecian jar myself, and filled it with wine

I made. I laid it in my cellar that day when you entered your theater
after a long sickness. Yes, Maecenas, the people saw you and cheered

and the echoes filled Rome, your Tiber trembled and the Vatican hills shook. Yes,
Maecenas, it’s true–you’ve drank the crushed grapes of Calenia and Caecuba.

You’ve had Falernia and Formia–better wine than my cups should ever dirty.

Micah Towery‘s poetry and translations appear in magazines like Cimarron Review, Paterson Literary Review,, and Loaded Bicycle, and an interview with Tom Sleigh will be appearing in an issue of The Writer’s Chronicle soon. He teaches at Trinity Western University and tweets @micahtowery. In past lives he was a baker, church organist, and Coca-Cola delivery driver.

American Typewriter

Dusk happened again.……………….I’ve dragged the family
to the park……………………………….retaining pond
to follow the marvelous…………….Russian satellite
across the sky.………………………….They were surprised
I think………………………………………at my insistence.
The hidden part………………………..of what I want
is a night insect…………………………that you can see
in shafts of streetlight.………………By this light
I have misidentified………………….woodland creatures
from three phyla.……………………..Here in the doldrums

I stayed in……………………………….on Halloween.
Read Faust………………………………picked fights
with phantom critics………………..the television
the birds.………………………………..Who can blame me?
The birds………………………………..the television.
All the cities…………………………….I’ve left behind.

Mary McHugh’s poems and reviews have appeared in Copper Nickel, and Smartish Pace, and Matterhorn. She teaches English at Aims College, and she lives and writes in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband and their tabby cat.


______In a past life, I was my teacher Jan,

___________who was Amelia Earhart in hers, and also Lizzie Borden.

In this life, I miss my petticoats. Jan misses her leather jacket.

_________Jan has no children. When she was Amelia Earhart,
she passed from matter into spirit into matter and
when you can do that, you can choose
whether or not to come back.
She chose not.

_____________In order to become me,
_______Amelia had to walk all the way back from the Bermuda Triangle,
_______sick with disappointment
_______that she hadn’t quite escaped. I was the trail of blood in her.
Then the rage became Lizzie, poor Lizzie—hot all the time. That word ‘spinster’

_______wove a net over her that laced her up tight as her corset and made her eyes bulge and dart.

_______she bled and bled, this moon curse that made her even hotter, the spongy rags

between her legs, the dull pain from her womb up through her spine to her head where

everything looked gray or red. So much blood, yet she didn’t die; was there such a thing

as too much blood? The question enraged her—who was so

___________________________________________horribly alive and bleeding.
Then came Jan, grudgingly
_______admired by Kerouac. They both looked good smoking. Jan was always “smoking her brains out.” That’s the way Jan speaks sometimes, it’s the Lizzie in her.

_______The other part of Jan only speaks when she is flying,

her mind well-joined as a bird’s wing and as light. Her voice

_______comes out over the water and echoes there for years.
Being me means not being able to find the aerie,
_______this present is fleshy—
We were burned as witches long ago,

it’s true, I can’t cross oceans, though I float beautifully—but now

I am bloody with desire for a child. This womb has long been filled with Amelia’s

airplane, Lizzie’s upstairs parlor.
After this I want to be Jan again: I am only feral—
_______She is wild.

Alison Rogers Napoleon’s poems have appeared in BloodLotus Journal and Podium. She currently teaches English and Creative Writing at Hunter College in NYC. She also has a blog called PRACTICE about yoga and other feelings that don’t always fit into poems.


in our bodies now

orange blossoms
_____over her childhood yard
__________a grasshopper’s long arc

__________grasshopper’s long arc
_____over her childhood yard
a shimmering

_____on the motel window
__________trickles of sweat

__________trickles of sweat
_____on the motel window
a sickly flicker

sickly flicker
_____the tv’s radiant breath
__________on her naked arm

__________on her naked arm
_____the tv’s radiant breath

_____her sunburst tattoo
__________rayed with wrinkles

__________rayed with wrinkles
_____her sunburst tattoo
still aglow

still aglow
_____the iris’s purple yearning
__________in our bodies now

__________in our bodies now
_____the iris’s purple yearning
the dead fire’s heat

NOTES: This poem was originally published in South x Southeast v.13 no.3.
“In our bodies now” is in a form I call a ‘floating-leaf’ haiku sequence, due to the drifting, swaying repetition of the lines. Each three-line grouping is written to stand alone as a haiku, but each new line also contributes to the poem’s progress as a unified whole.
Mild-mannered library assistant by day, Josh Hockensmith turns into a mild-mannered poet, translator and book artist by night. He produces artists’ books, small editions, and blank books under the name blue bluer books. His artists’ books are held in library collections around the country. He is also a contributing editor to the English-language haiku journal South by Southeast. His work has appeared in Cafe Irreal, Versal, and Oyster Boy Review, among others.

The House Wakes

no big subjects today
the house settles
two phone calls
the story of an auction
outbid, alas
then grief, still
over the lines
which are no longer lines
but pulses that
go halfway to the moon
and back again
bouncing off
tiny plates
the world won’t
let go of
the dishes
appear here
the air could not decide
to warm or chill
no big subjects today
the house wakes
lights turn on inside
and down the street
to the edge of the park
but not in the park
the darkness there

Elizabeth Clark Wessel’s poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in DIAGRAM, A Public Space, No, Dear, Sixth Finch, Asymptote, Lana Turner Journal, and Fawlt Magazine, among others. She lives in Brooklyn and is an editor at Argos Books.


Did you fathom the distractions
it takes to wash down grass when rain
becomes solid and wasteful? Here you are
the insistence of an object when that object
takes me to your ocean. I want to know
the 1912 about the way you dress your socks
on winter nights when pigeons dare to roam
the streets. I want to recite the loveboat sermon
with you, wielding through corridors,
finding objects to place in picture frames.
You said, “Let’s defy gravity over there.”
I sailed to Utah that day. Throwing cups
at the circumference of your name.

Alina Gregorian’s poems have been published in Boston Review, GlitterPony, H_NGM_N, and other journals. She co-edits the collaboration journal Bridge.

from Get Your Slip On


get your slip on
maybe for purpose
maybe for delegation
tonight is my time to swim softly
out at sea
like inside someone’s camera lens
you see yourself swimming
while the action is archived
you are sheltered from the sun
with one of those wide-brimmed papyrus umbrellas
it is a mellow image
like a sterling-silver formation of boats
I gave you the party I was meaning to throw myself
a house full of roses
a bath of celebrity photos
for once there’s no impulse to censor
I have an epistemological relationship with a certain kind of kismet
flare guns at my ice sculptures
belly-dancers at my funeral
everything is Freddie Mac ruined this country
that is a go zone
this is not
it is the reality of the scenario


invisible ballet played out in your chest
fit for it
for romantic tropical light and ease
for a republic of station wagons
and singing sisters
you fell down to the music
pulled out a party streamer
used the coral to quote-end-quote mark your rhythm
will dance for scallops and cherries
visit the restaurant
you’ve been meaning to chaperone your kids on dates to
they are there
without you
giving you the middle finger
an enjambed kind of night
pluck anything you don’t see fit
it’s beginning to blind through
raspberry cake
fuck you earthquake
last night rocked
jungle gym of fever
clandestine enterprise for the young up-and-comers
it’s okay to achieve greatness
with all those lost orgies
baked-young skin cancer
a twister in your thighs
17 and still stuck on the high-beam
can there be a day to celebrate failure?

Paige Taggart is the author of three chapbooks: DIGITAL MACRAMÉ (Poor Claudia), Polaroid Parade (Greying Ghost Press), and The Ice Poems (forthcoming with DoubleCross Press). Additional publications and her jewelry can be found here:

Words to Oneself

What I have heard here
among endless shifting sights
the air invisibly bright
blinds recognition
words carried silently
by the will of it
caught in colorful petals.
Their scent is a thousand
years, appearing and disappearing
without a present.
I have never really
seen anything.
Eyes bathed
within a massive song,
overtaken, submerged,
deepening away,
less than a dream’s weight.
The body without horizon,
and exhaustion pouring out
into space
deflated of purpose.
You hold the watcher
in your arms
speak the tongue
of patient endings.
Singing, in a way, to your separated
here listening in the dark.
Holding his net into the air.

Walter Stone is a poet and musician. He lives in Portland, OR.

I write for ghosts

I write for you, old women
who sit at the gates, spin yarn
and knit socks for the dead.

My every gesture is mirrored
by a thousand hands.

I carry these faces inside me,
on my back,
on my feet.

The ghosts don’t let me sleep.

They gather on windowsills and roofs,
in the moon’s breath,

and chat
with chattering teeth.

I write for my father
who still hangs on in Skype,

to reach him,
fill the gap with words.

Hang on, Daddy, hang on.
Here’s a rope ladder.

Here are the words, Daddy.

Here’s the blood,
the new heart,
the straw.

Scriu pentru stafii

Scriu pentru voi, femei batrane
ce stati la porti, toarceti
si impletiti ciorapi pentru morti.

Fiecare gest mi-e oglindit
de o mie de maini.

Port aceste fete in mine,
pe picioare,
in spate.

Stafiile nu ma lasa sa dorm.

Se strang pe pervazuri si acoperisuri,
in rasuflarea lunii,

si palavragesc
clantanind din dinti.

Scriu pentru tatal meu
ce inca asteapta pe Skype,

sa ajung la el, sa umplu
golul cu cuvinte.

Stai asa, tata, asteapta-ma,
uite scara de franghie.

Uite cuvintele, tata.

Uite sangele
si-o inima noua,

si-un pai
de care sa te agati.

Claudia Serea is a Romanian-born poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995. She is the author of Eternity’s Orthography (Finishing Line Press, 2007) and To Part Is to Die a Little (Červená Barva Press). She co-translated The Vanishing Point That Whistles, an Anthology of Contemporary Romanian Poetry (Talisman Publishing, 2011).

Ballata del Maine

Volo impercettibilmente calmo, come in un film
in cui suo fratello guardava distrattamente la spiaggia,
per poi trovare conforto in una nuvola
su cui l’occhio si posava,
come quella volta, ancora in volo, ma con altri,
non più suo fratello ormai distratto, senza conforto,
con altri che all’epoca parlavano di morte, come la morte
fosse passata calma, in volo, come in un film
a parlare di morte, morte come blocco della foto
remota eppure presente, saluto a due mani
da lontano, nel fotogramma ingiallito, quelli che rimangono
fanno domande, se lo chiedono, dove si va?
Ma sì, c’e’ da chiederselo, che succede, cosa si vede?

Ora come in un film, ma questa volta all’indietro,
ai giorni di scuola, sulle scale che contengono le impronte
che ancora parlano di lui, come quella volta con i suoi amici,
ancorati alle pagine, a parlare di morte, era sull’Atlantico, era sul Pacifico?
Da est ad ovest, da ovest ad est, a parlare
da est ad ovest, da ovest ad est per non tornare
non tornare ai giorni della scuola, quelli della pioggia,
irragiungibili, così ad ovest come ad est.
impercettibili, in volo, a chiederselo, che cosa si vede?
Andando verso ovest, verso est, come sempre
alla fine del ritornello, verso ovest verso est
a chiederselo di nuovo, che cosa si vede?
Perché poi a parlare sono gli altri, che guardano non visti,
non uditi, come in volo, impercettibili, come sempre.

Ballad of Maine
(Translation by Olivia Holmes)

A still imperceptible flight, like in a film
in which his brother watched the beach distractedly,
to find comfort then in a cloud
on which his eye rested,
like that time, still in flight, but with others,
no longer his brother, distracted by now, discomforted,
with others that at the time spoke of death, as death
had passed calmly, in flight, like in a film
speaking of death, death as a freeze of the photo
remote and yet present, a two-handed wave
from far off, in the yellowing movie still, those who are left
inquire, they ask themselves, where do we go?
Indeed, we should wonder, what happens, what can be seen?

Now, as if in a film, but backwards this time,
to his schooldays, on the stairs that keep the prints
that still speak of him, like that time among friends
anchored to the pages, speaking of death, on the Atlantic or the Pacific?
From east to west, from west to east, speaking,
from east to west, from west to east, not turning back,
not going back to his schooldays, the rainy ones,
unreachable, to the west or east,
imperceptible, in flight, to wonder: what can be seen?
Going westward, eastward, as always
at the end of the refrain, westward eastward
wondering again: what can be seen?
Because it is the others who speak, who look without being seen
or heard, as if in flight, imperceptible, as always.

Mario Moroni was born in Italy in 1955. He moved to the United States in 1989. He has taught at Yale University, the University of Memphis, and Colby College. He currently teaches Italian at Binghamton University. Moroni has published seven volumes of poetry and one of poetic prose. In 1989 he was awarded the Lorenzo Montano prize for poetry.

Anger Managment

A man wanted to control his anger,
so frightful even grizzly bears feared him.

A shaman told him to insult and beat a log
with a stick until he was exhausted.

When the weary man returned and asked,
“What lesson have I learned?” the shaman replied,

______________“Be like the log.”

(Literally “The man who gets angry”)

Koht’aene ts’akut’eh,
tsaani lii koht’aene.

C’ededliinen koht’aene yaa nitezet ‘eł tson decen
kae sen xał k’e tsaa.

Koht’aene na’idyaa ‘eł yaa
“Yidi uzadalts’et?” c’ededliinen yaa,

______________“Cic’uunen decen.”

John Elvis Smelcer is one of the founding editors, and poetry editor, of Rosebud magazine, about to release its 50th consecutive quarterly issue in March. Smelcer is a Clifford D. Clark Fellow in English at Binghamton University in upstate New York. Smelcer is one of the last speakers on earth of the Ahtna Athabaskan language, an endangered Alaska Native language. Only 20 or so elders, all 30-50 years older than John, still speak the language.


Pierced flesh
grows back
like graffiti painted over
the morning after
wounds we carry
from the dark
show scars
we cannot hide
in the mirror
my piercings
are invisible
to the naked eye
but mark me
as a troubled heart
to your memory
slowly mending

Rob Mustard‘s first ebook of poems, Blue Moon, was published in December. As he writes on his poetry site,, “My poems are about love, death, the power of memory to save us. I am most interested in the unexpected ways words speak to each other, the hidden meaning they reveal about us and the world.” Rob lives in Los Angeles.

Tinsel Tinsel
for M.C.

A fool for love, an inner refugee,
sees a peacock strutting in the birdhouse
high on a branch and fanning
the broadest, most articulated fan tail
the fool for love has ever seen.
“Come fly with me!” the fool calls to the peacock,
but the bright bird keeps strutting up and down
above the fool for love there on the ground.

A blackbird comes and settles on his shoulder.
His pecks are rough caresses as he asks him,
“Why do you keep staring at that tree?”
“Peacock!” the fool for love cries, but the blackbird
caws back, “Fool! Since when do peacocks fly?
Look around the birdhouse: see us towhees,
wrens and jays and blackbirds
flittering and swooping—
what we always do for free.”

All the fool can do is stare.
His neck is permanently out of whack;
he doesn’t care.
But one fine day in slanted light
he glances up as usual and spies
not his darling bird of paradise
but a hank of Christmas tinsel
trailing in the birdhouse breeze . . .

Even so he often murmurs,
“Peacock!” in his haunted dreams.
Ask me why, the reason’s simple:
he’s a fool for love, blackbirds
are blackbirds, peacocks peacocks,
tinsel tinsel.

Jonathan Galassi is a poet, translator, and editor. A newly revised edition of his translation of Eugenio Montale’s Collected Poems 1926-1954 has just been published.

Who to Tell

Who to tell no one cares when no one cares
No one takes the time to care for a monster

I care for monsters
But only because I am one

I go in the dark house
With the ghosts
And the ghosts take my coat off
The junkies

The other man sits slumped in the chair
Is he dead yet?
I do not know

I know that no one cares about anything
I do know that the dressing room
Is drab and grey

And my pink patterned dress
Looks ridiculous against something so truthful

Wildness is not sadness
The wilderness is not sad
It is naked

I am not
If only because
Decomposition is
Not nudity

Who to tell this?
Who do I tell when no one cares

I did not expect them to
I did not expect them to care
I am not mad

I’m not mad any longer
People eat tomatoes
People eat bread

I am a monster
I eat life

But only because I am losing mine
Into a horrible void
That for you is only an idea

I once felt better about things
I once felt better about things
When the blankness was just an idea
Like the way you still think of it

Still I don’t think love is an idea
I don’t think compassion is an idea
I don’t think babies are born out of loneliness
I don’t think the sea is cold

I only think it is cool
Cool cool sea
Blue-green mystery
Mysterious fish

If only I had been born
A fish
Instead of a monster

If only the water were my only home
I would swim so quietly
I would not say hello to you
I would no longer be sad

I would still be me though
And I would not let you catch me
For your dinner

And when you wanted to eat me for your dinner
I would disappear

Dorothea Lasky is the author of AWE, Black Life, and the forthcoming Thunderbird, all from Wave Books. She is also the author of several chapbooks, including Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010). She currently lives in NYC and can be found online here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Lawrence Schwartzwald