Abraham Smith

PURPLE MOUTH LIFE

so brief and the briefer
the purpler so memory so ink
to lease at least the taste

of back in the day
where the idea was taste
lasted for a generation

in the throat’s insides
so cranes
epicurean fiends

so cranes
jealous worthy
info hiways

of tipple so guys
craned cranked themselves
a little each day

to maximize the wine
just as guys will
gear towards performance

missing by a tire swing
sagacious with raintar tannin
the point about life

a pigeon right at you
a bee right at you three tree bees
the ducking the dancing true

how you roll a holy lacquer gold
over reflex or duty’s dayby
that’s all

guy says that i might swallow allow
the same coin of wine mudded
hourglass going dunno down

threads its traipse toes
mingled with conjecture
as per the yawning clown

as per the swell portico this
lamplight quaffable
most unbash

mimes a freshfruit
mine is too
attenuated peach lights

pressing pink and orange
against the blue
penals of steel

grandpapa there
couches his shark shoes
on in the corner there

proofin history
a matter of stretching
back from fishing

so sound asleep sound
little flaps of lips his
while cuts down a coast

of forests in zanzabar
his neck trailin out
his pantleg his

out past the disappointment mailbox neck
his out past the twin oaks neck
out past the goldenrod

his out past the yellowrocket
his now you’ll have to
see it with your mental neck

out out beyond museum barn
whole county one
abandon sounds like a rainwet

pigeon slappin her blase freaked
blase freaked heart awake she
feebles touch bad luck barn

whose springruns shits never dug out last
whose roof cut gill prodigal
whose weathered roof’s harelip slit

permits one bad ban(d)ana
string of good day
light to ride

down floorwise and lift
given springtime next and natural
damps of nowhere inviting

this one regal thistle up
for whose wide wide
cactus britches

and personal space
purple heart i writ(h)e to vision
through sugarcubes

 
 
**
 
 

NATOMY

they will kite and key over
the tallest mountains
the snow jag hiss kind

the heart monitor in heart
attack’s welly foam kind
and they will with the eases

of phrases once
struck you
in the belly of the bell

wcw purrin beauty
obliterates
authority

hank baitin pinched vinegar
purple bruise fruit bird
perception unction

my reading all that
in susan howe and
my maybe somehow

splicing johnny keats in
puts me in mind
of folks giving birth to overalls

back when brass clasp
fell on off an amniotic tongue
some power wire undoved

bless the ragged
vinegar sputter of a back-
glancing heart

you know i am the spanner of spaces
you know i am the giver
back of sound

in methy rentals
on dug skin
their bones hangers

seems they step on slips
cast off bad water
in movies when she

she’s running
for her
dark life

when the metal ploughs come in
the people were sore afraid they’ll
poison the soil the accented said

no sir just gonna steek to my
wud one offered one old bohunk
his skin so moled by sun

you’d have thought the day
had a hidden behind ear
number 2 pencil had a hidden

test and was bubbling
in C C C C C spinning circles
closed in him

spat tar
nicking it
in to him

always heard that’d get you
at least most of the way to
not that far from average that away

hate to say it but it’s to crane
credit the chemicals on credit killed
the fields same russet deathlife hillsand

shoehorn scissor
shotgun crane mouth
bellow tomato beanie

above rope or straight smoke neck
above last year’s wasp’s nest blown
one stop shop stab and done shuttle the hack

down the smoke rope
held to the oval then
for one fledge of tocks then

fuel to forge force bird sky worthy
your fate to go down
something 2 carrots thin

plastic bag in elm arm alarm
coked up man’s fixity eye
i go where the night leads me

says slapping at his pockets
like money fights
flights or bites

when scissors and
shoehorns get busy together
with rope and old wasps nests

there you have my
memory of my whack ass
stepdad cutting my hair on

the yard missing cuttin my ears
and carcass flies over
a county off comin runnin

cuz the baste sang
oh i ain’t got
no turkey flats no

and i knowin then
the bleedout secret
freshet candle humalong

someone swimming
flying fulsome in whim water
the milk peace all that glide

seam gem wise the water
midswim mind and then
icicle carrot gat and then

gargle gargoyle and then
gaggle gag gull and then
on into the blown

wasps nest bulb belly body
probably half alive still pre lift
but then what would you be for?

if we are all a little or a lot
a woodlot a good load
what would you be for what?

mess i vote for
let my pretty
my petty parts scatter

cross the platte’s
skimmy
bends

many or one
footbridge footage
jitterbulge floating

until
a toll
atoll

cu
rr
ent

sw
all
ow

fis
sh
whip

there’s worse overtime
friend than wings
past dawn

unto the waste corn
walked off the job
those statues just did it again

ah history we
try and stone it
sand bleeds

 
 

**


ABRAHAM SMITH is the author of five poetry collections–Destruction of Man (Third Man Books, 2018); Ashagalomancy (Action Books, 2015); Only Jesus Could Icefish in Summer (Action Books, 2014); Hank (Action Books, 2010); and Whim Man Mammon (Action Books, 2007)–and one coauthored fiction collection, Tuskaloosa Kills (Spork Press, 2018). In 2015, he released Hick Poetics (Lost Roads Press), a co-edited anthology of contemporary rural American poetry and related essays. His creative work has been recognized with fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. He lives in Ogden, Utah, where he is Assistant Professor of English at Weber State University.

Adrienne Herr & Vi Khi Nao

 
 

questions for the egret
by Adrienne Herr & Vi Khi Nao

 
 
 
 

VKN What does a debt-free landscape look like for you, Adrienne? Livelihoodwise, poetrywise, prosewise, lovewise, etc.

 

AH Well to be debt-free livelihoodwise is really a particular politico-economic situation that would subsist on something that doesn’t even know what debt is, because of the way of conducting economy. The rich have the most debt, and also profit from it more generally. So it is self-sustaining. Would a debt-free landscape need to be antithetical to self-reliance, sustenance, the sustaining of the self? The individual? Poetrywise, I think debt could be a function or a state of being. Not to a person or a corporation or an institute, or even to a poetry school. But to the next line… to a polemic or to the history of a word. Even to the sound of a word. To be debt-free means to owe nothing, and sometimes that happens with a line break. One line doesn’t owe anything to the other, but they necessarily follow one another. To write like this is sometimes very exhilarating. Prosewise, I feel that my prose is indebted to my writing practice because it is something that I chose more so than I chose to write poetry. And so I think a lot also about how the prose I write is indebted to the novel, to character. My friend said she wished that the characters would be developed more, she wanted to know more about them. Which to me is a kind of debt to some idea of novel but also the debt to place. Because I think that often when a character is developed it is about place and the placement of character. Lovewise, the debt or debt-lessness I find could be described very similarly to ways I’ve just described poetry and prose.

 

VKN I still don’t know how to write non experimental writing. Do you find it difficult?

 

AH I wouldn’t call my writing experimental, yet. Or at least that is not the goal. Unless experimental writing is defined merely as a mode of writing that refuses to satisfy certain expectations of medium, in which case I think as writers we necessarily “play” with expectations, use them or antagonize them. But I tend to relate experimental writing (in poetry specifically) as a more extreme treatment of language as material, precisely this intimacy with language that you’ve mentioned, Vi.

 

I do seek to push my language further and further towards the material and indeed, the experimental — though the end goal for me is not pure experimentation. Of course language has a very complicated relationship with the material, even sound is not material unless the senses are material. Of course we are made of material, matter – is language material if it comes from us… what does it mean to materialize language, Vi? Is it something you believe in?

 

I don’t think that the materiality of language should be emphasized in the form of some kind of de-humanized language, sans author or history. On another thought, the active and foregoing – almost eternal process of mechanizing language (as in the written text, or as in the data-fying of language for voice recognition or AI) is necessarily a process of materialization. I believe the writer’s role is to work with and against this mechanization. So I think many other forms or genres (other than ‘experimental’) necessarily become more relevant to codify the work.

 

VKN I like for us to get away with slanted, reserved gazes, the restraint, unspoken, subtext within textual entity that push the boundaries of intuition versus deception.

 

AH This sounds like flirting. Is experimental writing like flirting?

 

VKN I like to think of language as dust, something easily blown in the wind and easily molded with water and spit. I am open to the idea of spitting on language to build another body of another language: woman, being, time. What the world would be like if God pulls a rib from Eve to make another Eve, how sapphically exhilarating it seems in coeval time. I feel like in western culture, we make art by spitting a lot. I like to think we could make things by swallowing, which can be a very Eastern impulse.

 

AH I have to say this idea of Eve creating another Eve is extremely exciting. The Eve in Paradise Lost looks around her world and sees no boundaries, so it is said that she has no language. It is Adam who looks around the world and starts to name things. But… It is Eve who is ultimately related to Satan, who is the poet in Paradise Lost. Swallowing, spitting… makes me think of Zeus eating all his children. They stay there until his wife tricks him into puking them out. Some kind of male birth aided by the feminine trick. Consumption and creation… we tend to believe now that the way we consume (as consumers) is meaningful and effective in itself. But we forget about the need for expulsion.

 

VKN Do you like the idea of Satan being the poet?

 

AH Yes. It reminds me of something I read the other day about how in germanic christianities, there was a god who created, and that god was evil, and a god who did not create, who never created, who “retired” from creation, and that god was good.

 

VKN Retirement isn’t a bad idea. I am no God, but I am ready to retire.

 

AH And what do you want it to be like? How do you think of your memory in relationship to death?

 

VKN I want to orbit out of existence and when you orbit out of it, does memory matter any more? Time? Distance? Intimacy? Satan being a poet? I’d like to think that each person on this earth is a sinkhole in themselves. There is no more realm of existence if one person, their own universe, is a sinkhole/blackhole. I like the idea of the death of one person is the death of all existence. Which in practical terms is not practical. But in metaphysical and nonlinear terms, quite definitive.

 

AH When my mom died it felt like the end of one universe, or maybe the birth of a parallel one. And that there was a bridge between the two, that I alone was left to maintain. The responsibility of memory. Then memory became more embodied, I realized her as being a part of my body in a very physical sense. Memory became like muscle memory, not something I could control. Do you think about your body after you have died?

 

VKN I just think how liberating it is. This ontological weight off me. This absolute nothingness. This great dust blowing in the wind. And, it’s exciting. I think death is the most exciting event in a person’s life. Much more exciting than marriage, though maybe less exciting than writing poetry. But who can compete with poetry? Even God is afraid.

 

AH I went to a cemetery the other day and saw a plaque sitting on top of a tomb that said “regrets”

 
 
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VKN That plaque needs a daffodil. Place a daffodil in front of the first “R” to hide its remorseful breast.

 

AH The banana/flower was really what hit me after the initial shock. I google “egret” and see a photo of a white crane, a symbol for strength, patience, purity, long life.

 

VKN Do you want to be a mother, Adrienne?

 

AH I don’t know. When I am in love with someone, part of me does.

 

VKN What is falling in love? I don’t know what that is…or what it embodies. I see people falling in love all the time now and I haven’t been able to relate.

 

AH It is like the idea of sacrificing your life. Very important to do, very impossible to do.

 

VKN I don’t have any memory of its permanent feelings, its existence. I have loved: out of duty, out of trust, out of boundary, out of function….Are you in love?

 

AH Yes. But I think the best way I can think of explaining it is as a succession of disclosures. That’s how a book I’m reading describes narratives or testimonies of religious experience. “A physical and spiritual experience that is inward-turning and outward-moving at the same time.” Being drawn into and out of God (love), a downward and an upward movement or an outwards and a return journey, like a question and an answer. Like an interview that becomes a dialogue. Falling in and out of love, the first fall. It’s very easy.

 

VKN Like watching paint dry. Two people falling in love. Watching a baseball game, waiting for that homerun that never arrives. I don’t think love exists. I think there are lots of commercial transactions pretending to be love, which is fine for advertisement effect/defect. It’s like going to the superbowl, falling in love.

 

AH So what kinds of transactions does one expect when they fall in love?

 

VKN One that is always costly. Not business-like enough. Confusion between who is merchant and who specializes in wholesale: which is what polyamory is all about.

 

AH So this is when we can experience merchant/buyer confusion in the most all-encompassing way…

 

VKN Yes. Like I observed the first time I met you: I like how efficient you are. Maybe what I recognized was that there was no confusion in the merchant/buyer in you.

 

AH If you were to fall in love what would you want? To avoid exchange, of a certain kind?

 

VKN I would have wanted more subtlety, poetic license to be quiet, resilient, silent, to have the open space for absence.

 

AH I guess this goes back to debtless landscapes in love. In poetry, and in prose. I guess love is always a kind of exchange. Wanting to know more about a character, wanting to know more about ourselves in a certain place with another. Or lines that follow one another but owe nothing to each other. They happen to be next to each other, sometimes it seems even accidental. It reminds me of how you responded after I first sent you my poems. You wrote, each line may need the next line to anachronistically challenge itself or be less of what it is, and yet, each line could easily self-erase itself, making the readers not careless in the potential demise of language or the way one thinks or could disentangle in this world. You wrote that they are capable of making leaps without resisting. Failing to disembowel because failing isn’t death. And so, I guess, I see love very similarly. If the leap is from one to another, in an exchange, in the instinct to save and destroy ourselves. Love teaches me not to be careless, in the ways I could disentangle. It is also an opportunity to feel fear, because failing isn’t death. Or if it is, then what is being sacrificed is always already a product of this exchange.

 
 

**

ADRIENNE HERR is a poet who bases her work in multimedia presentations, audio recordings, and staged plays. Working with translation, found text and the mode of address, her work exists in tension with our desire to confess. Her latest series LIGHT WORKS or, POEMS FOR THE ANGEL is inspired by a gold angel coin she found on the street. “The Angel is in all happenings / I am going blind on him.” She has recently performed at Hotel Normandy, Paris, Shore Gallery, Vienna, Fine Arts Gallery, Berlin, and The Glove, New York. Adrienne lives and works as a language teacher in Berlin.

 
 

VI KHI NAO is the author of three poetry collections, Sheep Machine (Black Sun Lit, 2018), Umbilical Hospital (Press 1913, 2017), and The Old Philosopher (winner of the Nightboat Prize for 2014), the short stories collection A Brief Alphabet of Torture (which won FC2’s Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize in 2016), and a novel, Fish in Exile (Coffee House Press, 2016). Her work includes poetry, fiction, film and cross-genre collaboration. Her stories, poems, and drawings have appeared in NOON, Ploughshares, Black Warrior Review and BOMB, among others. Vi holds an MFA in fiction from Brown University.

Kamden Hilliard

 
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**
 
 
 
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**
 
 
 
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**


KAMDEN HILLIARD is a poet, activist, and educator. Currently, they are an AmeriCorps VISTA member based in Greenville, SC where they assist Gateway House. Kam holds a BA in American Studies and an MFA in Poetry. They’re on the internet at kamdenihilliard.com. Xoxo, gossip squirrel.

Colleen Louise Barry


The Trophy Room
 
 

Does what the trophy means change if how the trophy looks does or does not change

How you do it is how you lose

When you lose does a piece fall off or attach

Losing is a historic

Winning is a trick but it works on pretty much everyone

Much more than kindness

I’m always very old or very young too

Precise

Empty

Look at my trophies

A hidden spatial metaphor

Humans describe you

An ideal audience

Between winning and losing there is nothing

Looking and eating are different actions

A reason to go

If you win I win

Losing, thinking winning was a kind of love

Actual moral issues

Looking away is how I know what’s mine

I just go around smiling

Any victory is violent

Give me an award for saying this

As Bruce says, Down here it’s just winners and losers

The point is I won and I felt nothing

We have to do what we can

A way into the mood of the lake

Are common qualities possible

I see you as dark blue

It’s not invisible but it’s p. hard

Moving like a hand lightly over a body

I know the work you’re in

Waiting on fun

I’ve arrived

I’m dragging everything with me

In debt

I can be gentle

I was moved just to try

My body?

Describing a shape with action

The order does not matter

When I lost my blood still worked

Afflicted with competition

If you win nothing you can still lose it all

Just look right at it

Winning is not enough

Losing is too much

If I let you win do I

Nobody has a healthy style

Am I alone

Is it a consequence

I don’t want you to ever lose

Can we restart the clock

Time out

An object resembles but doesn’t represent itself

Are individuals universal or particular

Loss never dies

True victory is never worth it

The subject of one’s fight is the symbol

Competition is a corruption of reality

I did my job O.K.

When I lose this body can I be free

Who cares

Do better

Move on



**

COLLEEN LOUISE BARRY is an artist and writer. She is currently based in Los Angeles where she works on sets and props. She runs the interdisciplinary project Mount Analogue. @colleenlouisebarry

Armando Jaramillo Garcia


No Need to Feel Afraid

Others have made the trip but not you
And that implies a certain thing
No one ever wants to hear
So what if you weren’t raised
Where you were born
And have been forced to eat
This variety of confusing foods
Experience the boon built into the system
Always expanding even in redundancy
Only fools figure it out
The rest form an unlikely community
Some fond of bland crispy rice
Others wounding themselves with hot sauce
All wanting to be sophisticated enough
To accept everything
What a sermon you thought
As guilt turned into insults
Let’s get ahead of ourselves and relax
A Fire Island rental and all that means
Traded for a no-frills vacation to the arctic
On a cargo ship taking advantage
Of weather change
And newly available routes
It’s obvious what I’m trying to say
That we’re going to hell happy
And we’re going to complain
Even as we’re amazed

 
 
 
 
 
 
**
 
 
 
 
 
 

Dream Disaster #2

An oddly composed squirrel perched on a ledge
Was surveying the street below seen mostly
In silhouette it looked like a mini-gargoyle
Or a superhero calmly exuding dread
Then underwater I was naked and struggling
With gooey vegetation that held me in its grip
As a giant squid approached in its florescent menace
Just then a muscled man who looked like Kirk Douglas
With high-wasted navy-blue briefs dove into the water
With a knife between his teeth and the mood
Was now one of confidence
And the problem with the objects
That were attacking from all directions
And now subdued is the idea of them
As something else that you can turn on or off
And just as the thought was about to subside
An airplane crashed into a building
But the film they show is of the Hindenburg
In Lakehurst New Jersey already a memorial
Even as it burned into a floating skeleton
Whose black spindly bones kept waving in silence

 
 
 
 
 
 
**
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Grid of Elements

I’m growing old right before your eyes
My days as a Plantagenet in royal purple and ermine
Pushing people around with thoughts and malice
Will soon end and I’ll be just another commoner
At the meat market exchanging coins for scraps
What do you call it when the tables are turned
When the adjustment is brutal but deserved
The practical side of transformation unexplained
The imminent law of threes turns up with a fury
There are seven ages to get through
But the math gets fuzzy at the top of the chain
Growing impatient with others whenever you’re not alone
Company only interesting when it’s with nuggets of gold
And I’ve never been the type to find solace
In the devotion of dogs who should be with their own
Hunting in packs and tearing flesh from the bone
At night by the sea’s bioluminescence I’ve seen
The mindless extraction of what remains of the self
Float away perplexed and unclean

 
 
 

**

ARMANDO JARAMILLO GARCIA is the author of The Portable Man (Prelude Books, 2017). His work has appeared in Boston Review, TYPO, Pinwheel, Inter|rupture, Black Sun Lit and others. He is the current co-editor of poetry at preludemag.com.

Julianne Neely

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**

JULIANNE NEELY received her MFA degree from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, where she received the Truman Capote Fellowship, the 2017 John Logan Poetry Prize, and a Schupes Fellowship for Poetry. She is currently a Poetics PhD candidate and an English Department Fellow at the University at Buffalo.

Theo Eliezer

 
 
 
 
 

“We are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.”

– Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

 
 

House of the Rising Sun is an interactive self-portrait about the phenomenology of heartbreak, presented as a choose-your-own-adventure game. Exploring the interconnection between physical architecture and emotional architecture, House of the Rising Sun investigates how the home becomes a living extension of memory, intimate relationships, and the human body.

 
 

House of the Rising Sun

 
 

**

THEO ELIEZER is a transmedia artist whose practice is characterized by interconnected narratives in installation, lens-based media, digital and physical artifacts, and related critical theory. Much of her work explores a literal interpretation of the adage “print is dead,” the implications of media as being subject to mortality, and feminist considerations of the body, identity, aesthetics, and technoethics. Influenced by Masahiro Mori and Donna Haraway, her recent work uses augmented reality to present concerns about the future rights of sentient machines.

Matthew Tuckner

What’s in a Name
 

Wax-sealed letters from my parents. Diphthongs.
A dollar. A dollop of saddle grease.
Ground to stand on. The question
 

spoken from the pit just below
the lungs that had been transcribed
as: “Siri, where should I dispose of my
 

Body?” Lifeguards. Superfluous lifeguards.
Thickets. Untold thickets. Untold
thickets topped by birds. Whippoorwill.
 

Feasible Whippoorwill, the most. Growing
discontent with the heliotrope, a rope, rafter
slung. The question emerging just below
 

the tailbone oft-recounted as: “Siri is this the
coin slot? Or the bill mouth? And where
is my money going?” Wherever the horses
 

are going. The corn belt filled to the brim
with beer bellies. Around and around
the ring like a horse is likely to do, the planets.
 

Inflorescence of the heliotrope, believed, at once,
to grow towards the sun, in fact, doesn’t
so, nothing. So, everything. A soft, wet,
 

shapeless mass of material, the one rose in the rose bush left
unsniffed is. Science Fiction and Fact are in there sure.
The Battle of Oriskany is in there sure.
 

The Mars Rover Curiosity sings itself
happy birthday from deep within
The foothills of Olympus Mons as
 

a year that is a bit longer than our year
commences. So, it is definitely in there
sure. The Hamlet of Carkeel, sure. Beyond
 

Reality, sure. The Uffington White Horse,
sure. Two dollars. The Flux Capacitor.
Why we eat when we’re not hungry.
 

Why we eat when we are hungry.
The vocal cord responsible for an ah
overperformed for the doctor. Erroneously,
 

several umlauts. Several hands. Several more
fingers. Furthermore fingernails. Chuck-
Will’s-Widow’s. Many Chuck-Will’s Widow’s.
 

The frame of a Mitsubishi, reservoir-drunk. Deadhorse,
a town in North Slope Borough, Alaska.
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System. The crude
 

lugged by the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System.
The Pastry War. The Ragamuffin War.
The War of the Oranges. The War of
 

The Oaken Bucket. The War Fought Over
The Water Within The Oaken Bucket.
The man who was rescued after two days
 

at the bottom of a mine shaft searching for gold. Gold.
Mercury before it is turned into gold by
Cleopatra the Alchemist in an alembic. Blood.
 

More blood than reasonable. The seven feet of large
intestine in a horse. The seventy feet of small
intestine in a horse. Passwords. Several hints.
 

What was the name of your first pet?
A zoo. The pipistrelles in the batcave of the zoo.
The sounds they see with their ears.

 
 
 
**
 
 
 

Safe and Sound
 
after Christopher Kondrich
 

My system is armed, so I can
remove my arms from my pockets,
and let my hands breathe, my hands
that partake in so much I have never
 

directly bequeathed upon them. I mother
my arms so carefully that the oilcloth
I clean them with grows a visage some
would like to call prophet, but
 

others would write off simply as smudge.
Choosing between the SimpliSafe
triggered by a central button capped
by a bright red exclamation point
 

and the LoudBlaster HomeSiren,
I choose to inhale powdered toad
secretions once a month because its
tested that it will keep me happy, because
 

every system should be tested before being
fully implemented on a larger scale. Not
I’ll, not despair over the raccoon who set
the sirens off, gifting me my daily portion
 

of threat I suck down like a communion
wafer. Because a man says to the universe,
Sir I exist, I must make it clear that men
are mostly superfluous according to my
 

nutritionist which is why she says I keep
getting sick. I agree. I’m as not needed
as the next guy, knock-kneed, a hack-
neyed toadlicker. The system plunges through
 

the heavy clay, but I do not wish to call on
the horses of disaster quite yet. I still
have miles left to go down this hallway
my arms trace the walls of. Somebody
 

tell the poets all the death is happening two
states away, and that to turn a toad back into
a man with a kiss is just another endless vamp
I’d like to put an end to if my happiness weren’t on
 

the line. If my safety. My nutritionist,
administering to me what she can scrape from
the animals, without scaring them away, says
the shapes I will see are made of pure
 

understanding. There is no need to be
scared. But I have too many arms in my pockets to feel
safe. I should move my arms back to the safe
because even they are scared. A toad running its tongue
 

along a shard of glass tastes all the latent human
hidden within it. The sand some child labored over
only to watch it cower under a wave and disappear.
The child signed its name because it is said that it is nice
 

to own your labor unlike the legion of statues unearthed
from under antiquity; authorless and armless. Venus, the God
of understanding, question: would you like to borrow
these abacuses? They can get you all the way to ten, no further.

 
 
 
  
**

MATTHEW TUCKNER recently received his BA from Bennington College, where he worked as a Production and Editorial Assistant for Bennington Review. He also recently received the 2019 Green Prize for Poetry from the Academy of American Poets, selected by Rick Barot. His work has appeared in the Eunoia Review. He has received support for his fiction and poetry from the Roxbury Writers Residency, where he was an inaugural resident, the NYS Writers Institute, and the Summer Seminar for Writers at Sarah Lawrence College. He currently resides in Westchester, NY.

Stephen Ira


 

 

Tony Perkins at the Ice Capades

 
 

1.

a paparazzi

You’re looking straight
at me, away from Tab
who’s touching your arm
looking into your long
face, which is sweeter
than my lover’s, sweeter
than any other star
I photograph, sweeter
than the starlets’
flanking you and Tab
on either side. But—oh!
You’re angry with me,
Tony, for trying to see you
and with the studio
for setting up this Ice

Capade against the rumors.
It smudges your face
into sharpness Tab
cannot ease out. Your feet
are up, your hands are on
his arm, you’re saying, “We
are being photographed—”
 

 

 

 
2.

Tab Hunter

Why didn’t you realize
when we arrived?
I saw the fellow,
and Norma’s enthralled.
She’ll overwhelm the shot
or I will.  I will
not even touch you,
only reach as agents
do and then pull back
or shake, spread fingers
red, extended, “This
son of a bitch, here—”
Would we be sent here
if someone out there
didn’t need to see us
at the Ice Capades together?
 
 
 

 

 
3.

Jan Chaney

Follies, actually,
The Ice Follies, Los
Angeles. Off brand
but I adored it.
All night they axelled,
double, triple axelled
in skirts too small to flair.
Their open muscles
reminded me of baseball

and the player Tab
had played before, who
Tony was playing
then. One on TV
and one on the screen.
I barely watched them,
that night or ever.
I knew why I
was there, a privilege
few alive have.
And I didn’t know
that Tab would be mocked
into worklessness soon,
like me, and Tony
lose his beauty.
 
 
 
 

 
4.

Norma Moore

The whole time I put my face on he fingered the small of his back. Twice he stopped, to zip me up and to (unusual) take Seconal.  At last I asked. And as if practiced he turned his back and lifted his shirt. I loved its drape. In the last decent place, straight in the landscape’s dip, a little slit.  A coin of glass.  He pulled the lens a little way out. When he saw I was frightened he told me, “Most of us get something installed.”

 
 
 
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
**
 
 
  
 
  
 

 
The Knowers
 
 
  
  
 
 

 
Time Cube was a personal web page and cult internet phenomenon, founded in 1997 by the self-proclaimed “wisest man on earth”, the late Otis Eugene “Gene” Ray. It outlined a theory of everything. Gene Ray died in 2015, and his domain expired shortly after, but devoted fans have resurrected the site in mirror form.
 
 
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Time is cubic because it has a front, back, top, bottom, and two sides. I have him the way that I do because the two of you did something different. He did good and bad things because that time was different. He does good and bad things. You and I know something nobody knows. 4 CORNER DAYS, CUBES 4 QUAD EARTH. No 1 Day God. I don’t know about Time Cube because it is useful. I don’t know. I don’t know you.

 
 
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
 

I walk towards him through water, the first time. I almost turn back, but I put a stop to my putting of stops, and that’s when I run into you. I walk towards him through water. I do it again. And again, and a lot. You do too. This all happened in order. That doesn’t matter. If this were happening in order, it would be over by now.

 
 
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
  
  
 

 
 
 
 

Belly Button Logic Works. When Does Teenager Die? Adults Eat Teenagers Alive, No Record Of Their Deaths. Did you have any Time Cube tattoos? I think I saw in a picture. “Sex Is Suffering” was one one tattoo I saw. Is sex suffering? This seems important, important to know. You don’t even have ears anymore (like plenty of people) or a tongue (imagine a life with a tongue!) or tattoos. “I’m serious about sex.” I think that’s what “Sex Is Suffering” means. “I might not seem so, but I am.” I was told, actually, you weren’t serious—ever. Seems likely. I’m sorry. I’m desperate and know it and know it.

 
 
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
  
  
 

 
 
 
 

One person wakes up a desire and gets help from the person who has it. Another one finds the desire. He walks out there as far as he can. One person wakes up a desire, walks away from it for hours, burns to death. In that order. A third person is not a transsexual. At the same time. In order. One person burns to death for no reason except for the world. Indignity of death by unrelated world. What I have avoided. A third person is not a transsexual. Any third person, impossible. One person wakes up a desire. And you have a question, I hope.

 
 
 
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
 

Even when the bride’s a stranger, I see all my friends at the trans woman funeral. I see yours—they’re mine too. Time to not foul (already wrong) bible time. I go to tend grief and find mine. “She’d never have gotten on hormones without him, she always said that.” It was like they all said it at once. What he refused to want someone to say. She was always saying it. If we were saying what people should say, and if he weren’t one of the people, he’d want me to say it. I know and I know.

 
 
 
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
 

A third person is not a transsexual, another one is with the third on an abandoned beach and loves him and loves him and asks how desire began. And that third kind answers how the third kind always answers—Is it as bad as it feels, though I like it? They always tell the story of their lives. And I was happy then, when he was telling me about you. How did it begin? Maybe a Genius knew Math to achieve my Cubic Wisdom. He isn’t like the rest of them, but he does the things they do. He does them slowly. The eyes of the flounder fish were relocated, why were yours relocated?

 
 
 
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
 

Never heard from him about holding your hand or not holding your hand. I heard it from your lover and I held it all day long. Heard and heard it and carried. While I comforted him later, I was carrying. And elsewhere I was on his arm, all over places at so many parties. Sorry. Sorry. In silence, what I carry, I carry on water. Something your lover said when I said mine was sad. I understand. Would I say much, in silence, on water? She would understand what it means. How it’s all that he means. How he’s all that it means, or means, or means.

 
 
 
 
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
  
  
 
 
 

Do you know Time Cube? I said. And he, naturally, said no. I pulled up the new mirror—the real one is gone. Nothing happened. Well, it either gets you or not. The ONEist educated with their flawed 1 eye perspective. This third person, he tried to actually read it. This is the place within which we wouldn’t say much. And he wouldn’t like it; we’d have that together. When I am good to him is it for you? If it’s true, then it’s useless. I was good to you, in the water. I did try. Is that sad? Do you think that is sad?

 
 
 
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
  
 
 
  
  
 
 
 
 

I am outside of what you have with him. You are outside of what I have with him. He is outside of what we have together. If it’s true that we have it together. If this very old impulse is real. And what we have together is not what either has with him—we are strangers. What lives between us does because of what we are instead of who. We thought we’d have more time between the water and the words. I am a Knower of 4 corner simultaneous 24 hour Days that occur within a single rotation of Earth.

 
 
  
  
  
 
 

**

STEPHEN IRA is a writer and performer. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in FENCE, Poetry, and other venues. He is a co-founder and co-editor of Vetch: A Magazine of Trans Poetry and Poetics. Ira has performed his solo work at venues like La Mama, directed several short plays, and originated roles in new works by Maxe Crandall and Bernadette Mayer. In 2013, he was a Lambda Literary Fellow. He studied poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.