Part 1 of the 2016 Poetry Crush Valentine Issue with contributing sweetpeas: Bianca Stone, Timothy Liu, Jennifer L. Knox, Steven Leyva, Joe Hall, Loren Erdrich, Joanna Penn Cooper, Brynne Rebele-Henry, Lauren Gordon, Vanessa Gabb, Cheryl Quimba & J. Hope Stein (me, duh). ♥♥♥
♥♥♥ Bianca Stone
Alone enough tonight
to settle for
a beer, crack
open whatever we
can get our
summer sizzle on
a wraparound porch
of our unborn children
are reciting Rumi
inside an oak.
♥♥♥ Timothy Liu
“Where are we going?” Sandy asked Todd.
“We’re not going anywhere. You’re getting shot into space,” Todd said and clicked Sandy’s belt into the buckle.
Suddenly, she understood. All the hours he’d spent with her, his slavish attention. How happy he was when she pushed the button and the pellets came out. Way, way, way too happy. Sandy had often wondered if Todd was actually retarded.
She didn’t bother saying anything as he flipped the final switches.
“You’re a good dog,” he told her, crawling backwards through the hatch.
“Go to hell,” she said.
“I don’t feel that you love me—I don’t even feel that you really like me,” Mishka said, on the verge of tears.
Sandy kept her eyes glued to a page in Where the Red Fern Grows.
Mishka waited, then lost her shit, “This is exactly what I’m talking about! You’re too—what?—busy?—to talk to the only other person alive on this planet? You’re nicer to the spidercats than you are to me!”
Sandy raised one eye to the window. Yep, the spidercats were still out there, waiting patiently for her in the light emanating from the window of the rocketship. Once the dust storms died down a little, she’d go out and toss the gravity ball to them. They loved that. And gazing at their own faces reflected in her mirrored helmet.
♥♥♥ Jennifer L. Knox
♥♥♥ Loren Erdrich
Aubade for Nuit #1
Sunrise burst in like an angry lover
packed its things in a trunk of fog
And wasn’t heard of again for days
You said “fuck off” fogging the apartment window
your thigh pristine with sweat instead of sunlight
and I thought that curse was for the eye
of heaven not the swaying drunks
gawking on the cobblestone streets below.
What darkness filled the night’s yawn
did not wholly give way as we closed lips
around wizened mugs of coffee. All the x’s
had fallen off the calendar, and we sat
naked on the kitchen floor, two days married
laughing at obtuse angles of our fumbled sex,
under your breath you said “how do teenagers
do it,” and I had no answer, so we laughed
again, and watched men now free of vomit
walk unwittingly into the sky’s discarded nightshirt.
♥♥♥ Steven Leyva
from Easy Poem
To be a poet and alive
is to be this river, to drink your piss.
That is, I want to drink your piss and eat your shit—
To watch you grow
a curious tail of feces
on the bank of the banks
of the bank of the banks—
divided by revulsion, to lick up
sin-eater for a funeral for something so large
—from Samir Naqqash, Mizrahi novelist, “My exquisite wine
has turned to vinegar. My blood
to excrement.” You blurt out: “What do you want?”
Taking care for awhile, that’s what property is.
Poor are God’s friends,
a thought could be worse.
So long as there is the productive sun
how much does this life weigh
baked from crumbs?
So there’s that, Beloved.
Here’s another shot
at a song:
♥♥♥ Joe Hall
For the Purposes of Accuracy
Toward the end of couples therapy that day, she looked down at the empty water bottle she was holding and had the urge to beat herself on the forehead with it. As Mark Rothko once said, “Silence is accurate.” Or, in this case, beating yourself on the forehead with a water bottle is accurate.
As she walked out the door of the therapist’s office, she shook his hand and chuckled, a shrugging kind of chuckle, by which she meant, “Whelp.” In the car on the way there, she’d heard a song called “Sad Jukebox.” On the way back, she listened to a song called “Strange Victory” and chuckled again, then muttered, “I’m not crazy. You’re crazy.”
In the sad ocean the men say that two girls and
Four legs and a red gape is nothing new
I would purge/I would use my rib for a necklace
Go to the canal and let the sun burn us open
We spit out watermelon seeds like little organs
I crush grapes with my molars and grind until everything splits open & the juice
Runs into both of our mouths and we rinse it out with tepid water and citrus seeds
I say make my body a building and light it on fire and we
Walk to church with your wings stuck across your back with Elmer’s glue
Feathers sticking between my teeth and the glitter we doused ourselves in like gasoline Sloughing into my eyes and lips like a million small planets
That Old Chestnut
everywhere and everywhere unfettered
in our bank rolls, and this looks normal
the dog snores in sleep, peanut butter
and bread-mouthed squirrels are porched
even the grubs in our loamy tomatoes
are dreaming of legs, muscular calves
to run on this home an ocean
a cemetery of shitting sparrows
this bruised cheek an island, handy
figment of peace, the baby a white flag
everywhere and everywhere marriage
to batten, to seal the shutters
♥♥♥ Lauren Gordon
Before you leave
♥♥♥ Loren Erdrich
The Lady of Civilization
Don’t get married. A great love does not exist without protest,
my mother told me, have a beautiful run without law, with protest!
Organdyed from birth, with a godless belief in the system of things,
in search of some twin belief, a diadem in your mouth, you were named protest.
I named you and you went, taking extremities into you for decryption,
opening into wheat fields, your hands passing along without protest.
Everything that passes for voyage is us awash in injustice, mortal,
mortal, being young we bleed, loving nothing more than protest.
What could be more legitimate than an idea between us,
fatal or not, here or not, time must pass and so we must protest.
A love poem begins with hazard somehow, the concept of time, a cloud
calling itself gas, only that, and I calling that protest.
♥♥♥ Vanessa Gab
A Stone Etching: Vows
I, Edmund Dantes, do
solemnly swear to
burn the world
in effigy. Small flames.
What else is just? Here, name
revenge after me.
Next I plan to skin skin
as in a sack of wine
a time to flay and tell
all goats, “Get over it”
this cold sore on the lips
of every guard with a tray of food.
the lock up stole
more than my future
children, my great love
of sea, my ability to sleep
in a bed, I must be on,
at all times
the bare floor,
alone – I was
alone again – again
condemned to silence
and no trial, nothing like a trial.
To live is not payback
some magistrates need hurt
and memory will kill.
The Reaper’s greatest gift
to show up. I keep
promising the only escape I
know; I am sewing
a sack of canvas
for god. The future is black,
Mercedes, as night in your hair.
♥♥♥ Steven Leyva
Into The Next Blue
in this time with drinking
with green sprouting oh
how I wanted
savage like an undertow
this entreaty: on and on is
improbable but still
♥♥♥ Cheryl Quimba
It was so quiet you could hear
an envelope being slid
under the door. Even without
tearing it open, you knew
it was over. The same way
you found an orange rind
that still had a whiff of citrus
to it and knew it was his
though he hadn’t stepped
into your kitchen for years.
His hunger had been all
too casual, ear to your chest
late at night, the neighbor’s
TV coming through the walls
with much excitement even if
the voices stayed muffled.
Back then you knew his cock
was the best thing between
you as he peeled off the shell
from your hard-boiled egg
morning after morning
in one complete spiral without
saying a word—the salt
on the table left untouched.
♥♥♥ Timothy Liu
From: I Lob You
Sometimes two countries touching are too much for their people. Sometimes we talk about love like two professionals dismantling a bomb. The last time Millie saw Demetri, her neck was red from kissing & Demetri brought two mittens to her face & said – “Hey, try some snow.” —You can travel all the way to I-don’t-care-where but it’s not going to change the way you feel about this: When Demetri’s mother saw his body lobbed over the fence from the explosion, she said – “That’s not him—that’s just the body of a dead cat”— When we first met you crawled up my overalls & up my braids & sat on my shoulder for years.
♥♥♥ J. Hope Stein
The Small Self is Not So Real After All
The human being is dumb most of the time.
Raving on his phone on the street
like escaped gods. Raving like a plastic bag
caught in a tree for decades. Raving
like an electrical wire at the starlings.
The grocery stores are holding back
a great wave of perpetual sadness.
The famine is never coming. And panic lies
just under the little disturbances at the checkout
along with the frightening experience
of realizing the people who cared for you
are completely insane.
♥♥♥ Bianca Stone
♥♥♥ Loren Erdrich