___________________________________________________ Rosebud Ben-Oni is a playwright at New Perspective Theater, where she is currently at work on a new play. Educated at New York University, the University of Michigan and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ms. Ben-Oni was a Rackham Merit Fellow and a Horace Goldsmith Fellow. She is also co-editor for “HER KIND,” the official blog of “VIDA: Women in Literary Arts”. Her works have appeared in Puerto Del Sol, Arts & Letters, and The Texas Poetry Review. Her first book of poems SOLECISM is forthcoming from Virtual Artists’ Collective in 2013. Find her at rosebudbenoni.com.
Split peas simmer to a chalky paste when held
long enough over fire. Suspended over heat
I’ve been known to change properties: I said
I would never forgive. Beside my pot the silver knife
blade longer than my hand smells like onion
& crushed garlic; I have held this same blade out
toward his chest. A year ago I knew cold,
but now I marvel at how winter brings
wanderers inside: the scurrying mice
through the walls. The quilt collected
at the foot of the bed like old receipts. Last night
I slept on the higher side of the mattress,
let him back into open spaces. Outside the first snow
falls; we might have melted.
__________________________________________________ DéLana R.A. Dameron is the author of How God Ends Us, a collection of poems selected by Elizabeth Alexander for the 2008 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize. Dameron’s poetry, non-fiction and fiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and she has received fellowships from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, the Cave Canem Foundation, Soul Mountain Retreat and New York University where she received her Master in Fine Arts in poetry. Dameron has conducted readings, workshops and lectures all across the United States and Europe. A native of Columbia, South Carolina, she currently resides in New York City. http://delanaradameron.com
He’s not your type.
He kisses men with eyes
open, talks with them
shaded or averted
to acquiescent asses.
& questioned, he laughs.
Beware. His laughter beguiles.
Beware. He never shoots
straight. Always curls
fetal in the arms of any one
who can still him. Never sleeps
alone. Give him a gun,
& he may turn it into a prop
for a plié. Give him a gun,
& he may turn it on himself
& every fool who believes you.
He’s claimed bodies in every
major city east of Chicago, saw mine
heaving among strobe-lit throng
& marked me: his sweat clinging
to my nape, our silhouettes
on bedroom walls,
now a mirage blurred
by desert dunes, now
only the caress of lines
hardened hands scrawl: I’ll be home next
month … I’ll be home
next year … I’ll be
… I’ll …
_____________________________________________ L. Lamar Wilson is the author of Sacrilegion (Carolina Wren Press, 2013). Poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in African American Review, Los Angeles Review, jubilat, The 100 Best African American Poems, and other journals and anthologies.
standing behind me, dragging the lipstick
across my lips as if they were her own.
Her free hand steadies my face. It is the red of her nails
I want on my mouth, the nails so lacquered
they catch the flash of my camera and hold it.
Mother puts on my lipstick and I stare
into the mirror, my lower lip glowing
beneath her hands. Her hands which are all of her,
and which hold me this way, as she wants me.
________________________________________________ Matthew Siegel is a poet and essay writer living in San Francisco. His work has appeared in Cimarron Review, Indiana Review, Southern Humanities Review, TheRumpus.net, and elsewhere. He is a former Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford and currently teaches writing and literature at San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He can be found online at http://matthewsiegel.us/. He tweets at @MatthewSiegel_.
Men isn’t there always the dead
letter office yes wasn’t your wage
a hogwash wage & there’s always
a furnace waiting for men who’ll
burn our undeliverables for pay
Eureka if you want to look past
the mist back into the timberland
you squint like you’re muscling
your way through the scab yard
& wish on your fly ash at the gate
Torch Songs is a collaboration between Allyson Paty and Danniel Schoonebeek. Poems from Torch Songs have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, The Awl, Colorado Review, Failbetter, Loaded Bicycle, Bridge, and elsewhere. Both poets live in Brooklyn.
____________________________________________ Tom Sleigh has won numerous awards, including the 2008 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award an Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters,The Shelley Award from the Poetry Society of America, and a Guggenheim Foundation grant. He currently serves as director of Hunter College’s MFA program in Creative Writing. He is the recipient of the Anna-Maria Kellen Prize and Fellow at the American Academy in Berlin for Fall 2011. His most recent book is Army Cats.
It stands outside of myself, something round, flecked with spit, like a moon«
growing out of my nails, moon« of phenomenal lactescence.
I push my head into the roundess & a cloud« is my face
& I see particles of mist« floating away.
There’s nothing I can do or limb or crook of elbow, inutile
& something is growing under my tongue, a word, a love«
A deer falls from my eyes, rolls down my cheek, & I name
the cloud« with the overgrown tongue
& a brush of flowers falls on my face
to toe I’m blessed, blessing
painted on my nails my palms I d«ance, palm flashing thigh buckling
silvered belly stars.
___________________________________________________________ Monica Mody is the author of two chapbooks, and her work can also be found in journals such as the Boston Review, Wasafiri, Upstairs at Duroc, pyrta, Lantern Review, and Nether, among others. Her first book, KALA PANI, is forthcoming from 1913 Press later this year. Monica has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame and is currently a doctoral candidate in East-West Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies.
Eight Always keep evidence it will make you stronger or Learning to Photograph the Personal
Nan Goldin (1953- Nan One Month after Being Battered, NYC, 1984
Hansel and Gretel left breadcrumbs along the route,
entering the dark alley way behind Mr. ______,
Oh, the witch? Whatever, my story is scarier.
On their knees, folded into gimps accessorized with standard
red ball in mouth, I’m sure you’ve watched Pulp Fiction.
Gretel, of course, is Victor in his Heidi-drag.
Breadcrumbs aren’t great measures,
birds come and take them away.
We here at Koshy’s haven’t heard of H and G since then.
But lessons we have learnt from this telling:
One: No one should walk around with standard issue table tennis balls.
Two: Heidi-drag is old-fashioned.
Three: Never mingle with drag queens unless you are in drag.
And Four: Gay men carry their hearts in their umbrellas.
We do the same thing in love,
led by a leash mimicking each of our favourite females and their follies,
and bookmark them with film songs, you know, another lover will come
and take the songs away.
We’ve learnt to hide our playlists and only weep over lost umbrellas.
We have learnt to imagine everything is better than getting wet in the torrents of love. But, sometimes, even the veteran spotters of this change
can’t tell it is coming. They stand out in the midst of the action, like Isaiah
and his neighbours in the fields of Tanzania, listening in for the aerial attack,
first comes the noise, then, the advance party followed by the swarm.
The swarm of red-billed quelea, locust birds. But these coffee-shop veterans have learnt it is the excesses of conversation that are the tip-offs,
the mumbled offerings, not the rambunctious approaching of the quelea.
You must pay attention to words said just before speeding off to the urinal,
always look out for the subtext in the sentence that led to ex-lovers walking out
for a desperate or even innocent cigarette, or the roving eye to spot the person one was actually supposed to meet.
Unlike Isaiah our shouting will not dispense with this friend: love.
Even all our vigilance will not alert us to this visitor: love.
The one who will throw out your heart and then set out looking for it: love.
Look at Nan Goldin’s face, it is battered. But she makes this photograph to remind herself that love, her friend, visitor and heart-thrower will find her. Even the next time, she will follow blindly but this time, she will bargain.
Perhaps, our approach to love should be Goldin’s approach to photography:
a healing art. Love like Goldin’s photography will teach us the indulgence of self-reflection, relearning the erotic and the slippage of gender.
And we will be the changed.
No, no. He didn’t batter me. This is not the story of abuse. He left.
Stay, don’t move. Perhaps, I will come back, we will meet again, are horrible things to say. Not to specify time is just cruel. It is April. Actually, it was like all Septembers in Bangalore, it rained in the evenings, it was chilly at night and it was always sunny in the day. Except, this September, you turned around, ah, to just jump forward like Bichonnade and bite your heel.
But no, I am Dibutades, I know my place, it is to chronicle, to make etchings, be it with word. Yours is with light and you weren’t told.
My man might have left, diving into the abyss of the world, discovering newer treasures and the perfect light. But, I stayed, remembering the half-forgotten truths, the fresh lies and the incisive moment.
This History bitch, she’s quite dramatic, you look at the setting.
Me: Int/Kitchen/Dim lighting
Him: Ext/Kitchen Door/Facing darkness
Scripted by a television serial director. But everyone is hooked.
The series finale is perfect. Such a twist in the plot, ending on a bottle episode
with a cliffhanger. Does he leave? Does she convince him to stay? Why is the father in the room? Does the father represent the voyeuristic values of the average television watcher?
Spoiler Alert: If I didn’t pop my head into an oven somewhere in the series. Then, he left. I stayed. He photographed, I wrote. We kept in touch.
___________________________________________________________ Joshua Muyiwa, not yet 27, started writing because he was told, ‘it is time to stop seeming arty and pretentious and actually earn the tags by doing something’. He is queer. In Bangalore, he’s either at Koshy’s drinking tea, smoking outside, drinking rum & coke at Chin Lung or working at the Attakkalari India Biennial 2013 festival office. Earlier this year, he had his Miss World moment, when he won the Toto Award for Creative Writing in English for The Catalogue, a series of poems on the history of photography and poetry told through the breakdown of a relationship between a photographer and a poet. But, mostly, he likes to imagine that he spends his time making dosas and streaming tv shows.
Exile: an invitation to a struggle
(from My Rice tastes like the lake. Berkeley, CA: Apogee Press, 2011)
Mother tells me to eat well.
Mother who knows best, asks,
how are you? She has asked this
all of my life. There are only two
answers to this question. Two answers
keep us mother and son,
mother and daughter.
The distance is a question.
The question is also a statement
of a struggle.
If the word is a struggle,
We cannot continue as we are.
We cannot forget we are guests
who have overstayed. I invite you
to living against (as we do.)
It is not enough to have one tongue.
It cannot point to everything
and in every direction.
We do not use our mother tongue
for our lovers. Beloved, we speak your words.
What do we want? Freedom.
When do we want it? Now. Protest
in the mother tongue. Free now
from the notion of continuity.
The present is the utterance;
now is too late.
Flowers plucked for later,
not now, they are dead. Stem,
stamen, piston: I do not ask
if they are perfect.
I am not to blame for the flies
who dive into a cup of tea.
Life after death is a belief.
There is no heaven because
there is no hell.
After rain, a swarm of flies
misbehave like stubborn stubble.
Claimed by multi-legged beings,
hair loosens from its comfort of a braid.
Rain seeps into the animals who lie
still, the wind bored from blowing.
Until sun convinces us to take
our layers off; dismisses the hats
We predict the contraction
of bones, of skin stretching to oblige
the dress picked for a summer caper.
It is not possible to remain
free of the suffering of knowing
and of ignorance.
In fifty years, dogs from rival villages
have lost and won their wars. Their heirs walk
with tails between their legs.
We pray for a better life.
The inevitable, here, then gone.
Snow bound ground, snow topped ground, the only
assurance we have
is, it will melt.
Our bodies covered
are not the same.
__________________________________________ Tsering Wangmo Dhompa is the author of My rice tastes like the lake, In the Absent Everyday and Rules of the House (all from Apogee Press). My rice tastes like the lake was a finalist for the Northern California Independent Bookseller’s Book of the Year Award for 2012. Tsering grew up in the Tibetan exile communities of Nepal and India. She recently moved to Santa Cruz where she is pursuing a PhD degree in Literature at UCSC.
It errs around the town to which it belongs
and errs like a word constantly misspoken.
It is taken out of its regular place and placed
Exile is an outside of the kind strange animals inhabit.
A sharing of skins occurs.
On a branch above all this a species of bird
watches: a sparrow.
The thing driven out like a screw from its wall
lies open to rust
until it errs again
in the strange place outside animals inhabit.
It wanders around and returns, a cur.
It hungers and spits.
It takes off one skin and puts on another.
Its new skin is inside out
and like a net cast
to the sea it collects more and more
of itself, wreaking.
A wretched thing is alone
until it is not.
Among others of its kind
a wretched thing is still wretched
and when the sparrow lifts off, a final arousal
the wretched thing is unwatched and still —
____________________________________________________ Aditi Machado’s poetry is forthcoming or has most recently appeared in The Iowa Review, The New England Review, Blackbird and The HarperCollins Book of English Poetry (ed. Sudeep Sen, 2012). In 2009 she received the Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize as well as the TFA Award for Creative Writing. She received her MFA from Washington University in Saint Louis, where stays on as the Third Year Fellow in Poetry for the academic year 2012-2013. She is the poetry editor of Asymptote, an international journal of translation.
Laydes and Gentilemen, welcome _____to a world made strange _____for us. ___________Allow this introduction:
Rudolf is my name, on earth _______________________I was called
Ruddy Bumpkin by my wife, also
I was a train conductor, fancy that _______________________we’re being held
here for a moment. ___________Look around—
low ceiling, unnatural light like a dentist’s office,
and unequal to their day. Smile at me neighbor, I’m
your neighbor. HiHello.
An extended allegory, everyone turn to the Gentileman
or laydie to your right. This is the face for whom you are _____________________________responsible
should the ship of god sink which it won’t. _____________________________Say Hihello.
Imagine you are turned to the person on your right,
Who says, “what the bloody fuck I’m late for work
five times this week they’ve stopped believing it’s _______________________the train,” you can
either acquiesce without committing _______________________to your saucy friend,
or scold him for his language or _______________________decide that he’s a liar and
was late because he’s never learned _______________________to tie a double Windsor right
and hence the lengthy skinny part _______________________of his tie like the tip
of a reptile tongue _______________________tween the teeth of his belt
and his woolen shirt lip protrudes. _______________________Or you say yes, me too. _________________What Dü?
___________________________________________________ Nina Budabin McQuown comes from the Bronx, where she started work on the book-length poly-vocal epic poem from which this joint is carved. You can find more of her poems in the Peacock Online Review, her food-writing at the Jew and the Carrot, and you can find her, studying eighteenth-century writing on meat, soil, and the soul, at University of Western Ontario.
Laconic (but not lazy), this time the lights stay on. __The formal fields have their wanton way; cherubs ____go drooling in posterior exterior, dimpled afresh. ____Generously, music unzips, points square to path __token by no occasion; in need of jetties and sweeties
on some barren arm, a strap for each remembrance.
Gradually recipes and petite orders trade hands. __Waking ones prepared for in urban-most fashion ____come with speeches: momentary political unrest ____faced as it is fraught without irony or earnestness __to keep it aside from lurid delicacy where waterfalls
continually re-brush themselves, perennially silent.
As so much can go wrong, a frontier of possibilities __comes as resultant factor. Chances preen themselves ____on the abstract aftermath of carrying on: slowly ____the scene of one man in his own mental house __opens onto juicy lawns, each memory perfidious
as the malodorous color green, sharp and stable.
In order for this to work, then, the scene one imagines __morphs into a scene one already had: its misericord, ____the slightly novel, definitely designer-boutique of it, ____or the special way someone felt about an onion ring— __devious architectures that assume no new raw stripe
until you can’t go back, though covert looking’s allowed.
Morality: in excess of shoe stores and such penitent __lecture circuits, oblong muscled people, their highrise ____indiscreet charities, redoubled fence preoccupations, ____garrulous fact-checking; in all of it though that was __what you were after. You wanted the thing real enough
to redeem pungent exercises of Victoriana: cream slacks
and the cherry lordship one could try to freeze in __a tunnel with forensic goggles, those motley items ____significant because rumored derring-do passed ____over them. Little by little, breath had (or hadn’t) __shaped them. They encountered the room. Suddenly
you’re face-down in perfunctory December. Content.
One with figurative hardship, sawtooth pay dates. __Gambits are taken. Galleys are bound. Minister ____divas swap seats, not so much interchangeable ____as finalized: like a permutation’s shirt sleeve. __The rigor of sleeping reassumes its low position.
Infant tresses are bartered out of habits of thinking
and patterns not so routine overtake any old body __in the missed journal-entry of existing. Public ____furniture becomes our very own social worker ____doing overtime for affordable comforts: Teflon, __engagement rings, vaguely spiked luncheon drinks.
If you look out on the world in its sizable wet chunks,
what had been boggling fairgrounds show wrinkles: __an orphanage becomes single-room-occupancy ____after being a hotel or some industrial hang out— ____the jive spot for motor tourists in a motorless city. __Daffy light strings a certain body, one beautifully
at ease in its command of easy absent-headedness.
Gazillions of people evaporate onwards, as they like. __To begrudge them that would be worse than not to. ____Only a few are thinking of the toolshed, the heavy ____way that formalized manners elect themselves __in slushy openings, grafted onto this day, the next.
Your job: to murder each while no one is watching.
__________________________________________ Adam Fitzgerald is a New York City based poet and founding editor of the poetry journal Maggy. In 2010, he received his MFA from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Recent poems have appeared or are forthcoming in A Public Space,Boston Review, Conjunctions, The Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere. He teaches at Rutgers University and The New School. His debut collection of poetry, The Late Parade, will be published by W.W. Norton/Liveright in June 2013.
A jar of broken pens and some thoughts
on some obscene rhetoric.
Something eclectic and historical.
My grandmother knit me a scarf,
and she couldn’t stop knitting.
It extends to my ankles.
The air outside is so dark,
that the eye cannot gauge
the distance of its vision.
I imagine a season, when the harvest
is the fullest, most lush and subsisting.
A busy street in the rain:
the flux of radio static.
Something rising, emerging,
something early and unmarred.
Nothing imposes itself upon it.
Tap dancing, as art, as sport,
as metaphor. A neighborhood,
or a philosophy: vastly inconsistent.
Reactive impulse: a fetus, its little foot
twisting. The dark ages in a dream:
something like a trend from 1983.
A home. A sudden hovering of deep blue
in the sky. Yesterday is today
is today. The difference: a deception,
what the mind wills. There was once was
a lively exchange, in the morning.
One day it will be determined as an entire age.
Documentations will have accumulated.
Someone will be squeamish about squirrels,
like me. A cat will roll over
onto its back, contented
in the afternoon light.
_________________________________________________ Emily Vogel’s poetry has been published widely, most recently in New York Quarterly, The Comstock Review, The Paterson Literary Review, and The Journal of New Jersey Poets. She has published three chapbooks: Footnotesfor a Love Letter (Foothills, 2008), An Intimate Acquaintance (Pudding House, 2009), and Elucidation Through Darkness (Split Oak Press, 2010). The Philosopher’s Wife, a full-length collection, was published in 2011 (Chester River Press), and a chapbook, Still Life With Man, (Finishing Line Press, 2012). She is the poetry editor of the online journal Ragazine, and teaches expository and creative writing at SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College. Forthcoming, her work will appear in issue four of Maggy, and a chapbook will be released through Main Street Rag’s “Author’s Choice Series” entitled Digressions on God.
______________________________________________ Grace Miceli is the author of American Girl Doll, ok cool, Feminist Art Coloring Book, and Teen Angel Sticker Bitch, among others. She holds a B.A. in studio art from Smith College. Her visual art has been widely acclaimed online and IRL, and featured in each just as thoroughly. Please visit www.gracemiceli.com to visit her world.
She had other nieces
at least eight
but mine was an expensive gift
to never lose
They were jagged freckles of light
My aunts said let her wear her hair down
burnt red lipstick and diamond specks
How I suffered from feeling blanched
in a world inhabited by amber
women who would never let me
run around like a wetback
in the snake high grass with heavy dust
in the shoes my cousins and I
hopped like grease
shed our skin and listened for rattles:
Have you seen my white son-in-law?
who went to the drugstore for me
The smell of the river is very old
and my back is slight from the liberty of it
When I suffered my aunt bought me diamonds
two flecks of cartwheeling light
to never lose
and when I lost them in the river
I got a second chance
________________________________________________________ Monica McClure is currently based in New York City, where she teaches at Bloomfield College. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Lambda Literary, The Los Angeles Review, The Adirondack Review, Loaded Bicycle, Indigest, The Lit Review, Paperbag, No Dear and elsewhere. She is co-editing, with poet Brenda Shaughnessy, an anthology, Both and Neither: Biracial Writers in America. [Author photograph by Nick Parkinson]
We meet in a reflective trench and you are skeptical
but then you begin to feel my solidarity
like a short-haired snake between your legs.
The snake starts to hustle, overweening
the lip of pants. Let’s you and I
never be cops to each other. Because we study
elephant lore, and in all the annals of elephant
adventures, there was only one cop. And he
was shit. Elephant stories are like pop songs,
one of the earliest forms of experiential autonomy.
Yes their appearance is in the form of money,
but they go into our mouths and we sing them beautifully
and when our lives are ruined we sing them again
at karaoke. And karaoke is one of the world’s
greatest displays of total solidarity. Almond waves
come out of my phone. Marzipan
insurrection not just televised but broadcast.
If you want to know the status of my solidarity,
look down at the lips on your nipples. We’ll be safe,
or at least in solidarity, reading Bhanudatta’s Bouquet of Rasa
and its comrade in literature, The River of Rasa.
_________________________________________________ Brandon Brown’s first two books were published in 2011, The Persians By Aeschylus (Displaced Press) and The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus (Krupskaya.) Poems and prose have recently appeared in Sprung Formal, Postmodern Culture, BPM, Model Homes, and Art Practical. In 2012, his debut play Charles Baudelaire the Vampire Slayer was staged at Small Press Traffic’s Poet’s Theater. His third book, Flowering Mall, is forthcoming from Roof in the fall of 2012.