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Issue One Contributors:
Photography by Kyle Jordan
Bios and more information about our contributiors can be found here.
Dear Suki: Winter, Hanoi, 40’s,
I alone knew how everywhere
was dark plaiting through salt-
plume, dearing your thousand
griefs into buds, tinsel-winged
upon the tails of December sun.
You freckled seeking over earth,
keening quiet cries with caress
smooth from my slight of turn,
wrist to radius stretching there
to everything you had loved that
remained seam-like, straight to
the end of memory. Ten weeks,
they had said, ten weeks to fall
from still stone steps for vertigo,
descending hazy as though each
limb prostrate in nocturne, your
mouth lotus-bulbed on my finger-
tips to a stunning death of petals.
~You will always be someone from somewhere else. This is the design flaw of water.~ Dao Strom
You finger of ocean, and from
which the salt of ambergris
whispers the North Sea back.
Like an enclave of accessible
winter so far-reaching yet at
the same time, not endlessly,
you miss you with the drag of
smokes courting shore, pale in
all the ways of branding water.
Here is the after ending, the less
history of you coming out with
sea, your coolness moves dear
at the hips, wet feet lonesome on
sodden kelp and sand, fearing
how still it is again as a hunger
fleeces to ancient horizon, soon
of home descending down to sea.
She saw before me, by two’s and before
that by three’s
passed on genes—
we can’t deny
from her Holocene. We keep
we take note those
that don’t yet see
organs of sight
the bodies don’t register
the faint shiver that courses through one
At the shore in silhouette
long arms steer
and oar— bend the water
cyclic reminder of nights
alone and not,
we are left languid
cellophane islands help to cross
the sea between us
limbless sparkling cloud-surface spread
so small that thousands of us can fit in a single drop of water
to your shores waiting
drifts of rain and
they recline on their backs
skyward while stars
*hologynic adj. [Gr. holos, whole; gyne, woman]
character inheritance traits which are sex-limited to be passed down only through females
the whir of a fan, under a Tv shooting
baskets, LeBron James,
there is nothing spectacular here
a silence interrupted
the blades of the fan move, slow
still and again, spin—
walking north beach
of the milk
on my teeth,
my body, the body that was, the body that is, the body that will be
lean into towards—
itinerary, maps, ships and fools, the seagulls, dive and cry
salt of the sky
on my cheek,
lean into towards—
tainted air the body that
west on white evaporate
toward cathedral towers.
there was no monument toward
the moment of
On the flight back, somewhere over West Texas,
she rests her head on his shoulder. It’s a strange
gesture, born in the enthusiasm of the moment,
a product of shared experience, intimate but innocent—
a brief, tender high-five at five miles high.
He turns away, to the window, peers at mountains,
at wind farms scattered like points on a graph
across the flatlands. The air gets colder and colder
as the plane climbs, until altitude frost forms like cracks
on the windows. A bare inch of glass fills the gap
between the crystals and the tip of his curious finger,
but outside the aluminum shell, it is as distant
as the silent spiderweb shapes of towns five miles below.
if he were flying, if he could, just once, take over
the pilot’s seat, he’d dip down fast, find a way
to reach out, to be the one to run his fingers
across those spreading veins of ice, to know
the impossible, to feel the bite of their burning cold.
I remember way back when, how you said
you hated a made bed, sheets tight as skin,
corners tucked under, too neat. How the bed
boxed you in, like some kind of crime scene pinned
at every corner by pokerfaced cops.
You swore it was a guy thing—another mark
of the Patriarchy. I didn’t stop
you, tell you it was necessary: stark
white, starched corners in a tight forty-five.
You opposed order. I couldn’t explain
to you, free spirit, could never quite drive
home the point: the artist who sculpts or paints
needs straight lines, and a sonnet needs fourteen.
There is freedom and form: we live in between.
To the world you are full of
bears, oil, dishes baked in mayonnaise,
weird, wild, limitless. I could walk
a dozen days in your heart and
never hear a human footstep.
You have all the time in the world
but too many time zones to make sense of it.
Half your country and everyone
else thinks of you as permanently gelid
but you have a desert! The Chara Sands
are as unexplained as they are warm,
surrounded by fields of ice
and frozen blue lakes.
The world outside imagines you
as a place to cease living
to lose yourself in exile
among wilted trees
or to spend your best years
in a rotten camp so that
your country’s literature can be great.
Perhaps not everyone shocks
when they learn you are electrified
but few know you have million people
cities, subways, opera, summer, life.
I felt your lungs breathe
onto my cheeks, traversed between
points on your body as long as centuries,
saw my toes go blue as you
waited for an answer.
You’ve been mistreated,
haven’t you? Moscow
is a dirty word,
isn’t it? Europe is a dream—
don’t answer that.
For decades they have poked holes in your skin,
hollowed caves from your bowels, burnt metals in
your hair long enough to turn your snow black.
What good is a photograph of a beautiful lake when
there aren’t any fish?
Somewhere on the way
home from airports
I do my counting:
how long since I
last had communion
when do I get to
the place I’ve always
wanted to be
will the sun be up
when I get home
At the station I walk
my suitcase through snow
suitcase wheels carve their path
in the slush on the sides of roads
There are no sidewalks here
Across the street are the dogs that always bark
the dogs who’ve never been home
And it’s too early to go shopping
and the buses aren’t running
the only people living are the
drunks collecting bottles
I need a haircut but
what I really need is
to sleep for two days
days no one will give back
I wish I had someone
to make my bed
but since I don’t
I’ll watch the forest burn
from the fourteenth floor window
It was burning before I left
Years after my first cigarette
& still nothing happens.
Nothing has happened I promise
as my throat tightens & fills
fishhook, tightens & fills creek.
Don't listen to my throat
sloppy & spilling over.
Lying is my patriotic duty,
is our patriotic duty as men
with silk ties strung tight
around our necks. Our necks,
don't get me started
on our necks. They're thick
& prideful. They’re feathered
& make decisions
about the national debt
of countries other necks
have never heard of.
They're bearded & smoke
unfiltered cigarettes. In fact
they smoke tobacco straight
from sunbaked dirt. Our necks
yell timber as trees fall
& crush other trees but anyway
I said don't get me started
on our necks & here I am
going on & on when all I want
is to yell about something else
like sour water or limp skin
or the wonderful feeling of
pushing my fingers through
an undercooked cut of meat.
I'm at your lover’s house
and look it's not like I don't
feel this creak and pressure
welling up inside but really
all I can do is ignore it
before it puts a boot to my throat
and pushes. Of course and don't
take this the wrong way
but I can't get my clothes off
with this fullness of drunk,
these coal explosions all around.
Have I ever eaten until I vomited?
What kind of question is that?
You know I have. In fact
this weekend I found a two-by-four
and placed it with the utmost care
beneath my tongue until it dissolved
and the wood mites scattered
and I know you can taste them. Don't
change the subject please just sit
like an important business person
left alone which is to say
an entire morning spent folding
sheets. Sometimes I watch
myself breathe and swallow, the song
my father and mother taught
most nights and I've been reading
a story about their war
with creatures large and otherwise.
So far there hasn't been a single white man
in his suit and polished shoes
firing a gun and I can't tell you
how happy that makes me.
My best vase fell to the parking lot asphalt
and shattered when I opened the car door
and the landlord’s dog is dead,
one last summer of cherry tomatoes off the vine,
those begging eyes never again are going wide
for them pulling leashholder towards the garden fence.
If glue could put the vase back together (it can’t)
I could summon back that dog with a ring of cherry
tomatoes last-of-the-season on the burial lawn.
It is October, you know, call back the things we love
with the simplest magics here’s the transformation now,
I can feel it welling like the water seeps up
through the dirt floor basement after a week of
rain, if it brings the mushrooms to surface what else lies
beneath waiting just for the right moment of
revelation, too much loss in too short a span
makes for introspection the mind goes blank
a focus can’t really be determined everything’s
on the fritz but maybe that blank is just the
chalkboard on which will be writ the spell
writ it, old magics, writ it good with cliff chalk because
I’m vaselike, cracked but holding tight
as possible to contain the water as
it seeps in with the incantation and tomatoes float,
begging eyes on the surface some
red skin split from the uptake of water
I can’t even make
In a corner traditionally reserved for icons
A vast field
white on white—
one square over
but not a circle
and taken away
I’m left staring, again
I am caught.
a pink energizer bunny mocking a tired late night body
a paul frank sock monkey print enlivens pajamas
a sleep app won’t work, battery died, charger is in the car
a simulacra of said app b4 apps became a basic mimesis of human functions
Bbreeeeaaaattttthhheeee in, breathe oooOOOuuuuUUTttTTtt
a vanity fair won’t save you from existential ennui, still it’s
a special issue on Basquiat & Wharhol: eating
a hamburger alone: an American iconic food item + American icon = Art
is this alchemy?
a phrase *attributed to Beckett that no one seems to find a citation for
a reach back by Basquiat, all the way to Moses and the king of heaven on earth
Jesus tricks: water into blood, blood into wine, the blind man, the serpent and
the staff, the prostitute: virgin /whore schema even he wasn’t free of
between the lines—we're not laughing at/ you it’s/not, you, it’s me?
a matter / mater/ of mother / maker transubstantiation magic
of glitter into gold at last
is this alchemy?
an eternity, palpably only as long as the time of my life, an eternity
as old as the hills.
a waste of time without
a care in the world, i woke up on the wrong side of the bed and realize it’s a
a dream, spinning itself, lost track of happily ever after, that again, thieving
stolen, stealing, held tight in my fist
a diamond in the rough glittering, like black coal new born babies eyes.
a dream: i wake Basquiat from his sleep in a sarcophagus to come back as
a crowned king— majestic:
red stigmata hands paint Trojan horses
is this alchemy? (“I cross out words so you will see them more.”
<3 <3 <3 —Jean-Michel Basquiat <3 )
I heard no feathered thud
no hoot nor shriek
nor muffled snap
no tell-tale puff of owl-debris.
It left a lasting impression though
a realist portrait painted in dust
each feather, filament stencilled on glass
but its head was merely a smudge.
So burnished by the October sun
it appeared a sacred icon,
a gift for the house, a fingerprint
from another dimension.
At Goldcliff on the Severn Estuary
footprints of a human family
are stratified in estuarine silts and peat.
Their walk, six thousand years ago
now seems just as ephemeral
as the delicacy of wings outstretched
each feather attuned to night’s quiet air
that moment of open-winged surprise,
snapped by my window pane.
All the movie stars,
in all the different cities—
Neon signs and crushed cigarettes.
It was you and me and
Your Friends. They
In the High Desert,
sameness tends to haunt—
it’s always 90, we
Are Always Going
this america, not mine
where all you could ever do is
Go. Run fast and
run so far ‘til you can’t smell gunsmoke
no more. They’ll say
It’s not a race but it might as well
you don’t win,
you don’t get the rewards card—
Yellowed teeth and Orange trees.
dollar store green taquitos
three AM at
Union Station, waltz with a helium balloon
or sleep in an
empty parking lot.
In the High Desert.