Here is the 3rd of 3 Valentine Issues. Thanks to contributing intra&inter-special lovers: Todd Colby, Joanna Penn Cooper, Bianca Stone, Christine Hamm, Christine Kanownik, Kyle Erickson, Jackie Clark, Sara Lefsyk, Leah Umansky & Joe Hall.
♥♥♥ Todd Colby
I love the river ♥♥♥ Christine Kanownik
I love the river
I love standing by the river
I love a night, afraid, by the river
I love the sunset over the river
I love a man, truly dead, over the river
I love it when there are so many pretty girls by the river
I love a starry night with a cup of coffee by river
I love being a traitor to my own kind by the river
I love being a disgrace to my family by the river
I love being a blight on my gender by the river
I love being considered an enemy of the state by the river
I love balmy evenings by the river
I love long walks by the river
I love a fast song, too fast for me to understand, by the river
I love the river that rivers myself to the river that rivers me
I love the regrets that make you my river
I love all the rivers that you have become
I love you when you cry me a river, becoming a river
I love the river that I would swim but unfortunately it is a river
I Want to Cry ♥♥♥ Sara Lefsyk
I want to cry, pronouncing the names of all my dead pets, I said, in the Quaker’s garden, in February, burying a mouse. His little yellow teeth were needles in the circles of my memory and I wore the mask of a small blind mammal in a landscape of frost and daggers.
I refuse to leave this garden as a tourist, i said, and pushed the dirt with my ugly fingers.
“My true grief is as deep and as heavy as this thimble full of snow,” said the Quaker, “it puts the mask of a knife on a feather, but some people wear it as a gown.”
I handed the Quaker a Valentine made of ribbons and dust. It said, “My true grief is a Valentine made of ribbons and dust. It is a roof over a river, but some people use it as a spoon or as a chandelier.”
Then we ate sandwiches and practiced disproving each other for ten hours. The Quaker said, “love is tugboat full of pigeons and rust. If we fashion it into a crown, we fail to know the difference.”
I handed the Quaker a Valentine made of mouse teeth and dust. It said, “My true love is the dream-house where I wander the rooms alongside other strange animals. Though covered in the pure shadow of a moon, we fail to know the difference.”
Peacock Crossing ♥♥♥ Joanna Penn Copper & Todd Colby
We have no photographic evidence of our time together, save that one picture of you looking stunned at the border. You always were so fussy about your papers.
(love poem) 1 ♥♥♥ Christine Hamm
When the small gray wolf sees me at night, she slips her ears back, and lowers her chin onto the ground, then gets back up. She does this in a circle around me, a dance. I sit cross-legged in the weedy part of the garden as she locks and pops. She licks my chin. She jumps up so her forelegs are on my shoulders: face to face. She turns her snout and looks at me with each eye. Her irises are bluish-white with navy edges. She whines and yips. Quick bite, a tiny piece of my eyebrow goes missing. Her breath smells like beer and squirrel. I wipe the blood from my eye and throw her down onto her back, loom above her. She wriggles and I bury my face into the gray and white ruff on her chest, into the fleas and mud. 
(love poem)2 ♥♥♥ Christine Hamm
A grey moon shining from the bottom of a river. On the field trip to the Natural History Museum, a sleek wolf pelt hung from the wall like a lost and found jacket. I pictured Shelly in that skin — Shelly the carnivore with a Peter Pan collar and Mary-Janes that had lost their shine. At 14 and a half, we still swapped beds and underwear. I told her everything as it happened — the blood on my chair during library hour, the yellow vomit on my hands on the way to the nurse’s station.
Under the kitchen table, I asked Shelley if I was still considered a virgin. A bag of useless cotton in my back pack. An invisible cross of blood thumbed on my forehead. She told me, “You were never a virgin.” She blushed and picked at the diamonds in the floor.
I agreed, “I’m disgusting”, and smiled through the ache of new teeth. One of us: the lamb. The other: the wolf. 
(love poem)3 ♥♥♥ Christine Hamm
“I’m just wondering, does it ever end?” he says. It’s still raining. I lick the scabs on my forearm, the neat thin lines. I close my eyes and replace Freud with a better Freud, a shorter Freud, a happier Freud, a Freud that pulls my hair only when I beg. A Freud who loves me so much he asks me to stop with my roommate’s scissors.
The real Freud kisses the dog’s black nose and giggles. “I wouldn’t”, the shelter volunteer says. The dog struggles, pulls away. Freud shoves the dog down. The dog shudders and hides behind the volunteer. I seize Freud’s hand and bite his thumb. He yanks at my teeth, wipes his hand with the hem of his shirt. “Awful child,” he says. I can feel him rolling his eyes. Later that night, he will write a sonnet about a girl like me, but with bigger breasts and intellect. The dog shelter will turn down our application.
 The incubation period ranges from 2 to 8 weeks… The disease begins with a feeling of anxiety, cephalalgia, and slightly elevated body temperature…The excitation stage that follows is characterized by… enlarged pupils, extreme sensitivity to light and sound, and increased salivation. As the disease progresses,… many experience spasms at the mere sight of a liquid, a phenomenon known as hydrophobia.
Pedro N. Acha, Boris Szyfres. Zoonoses and Communicable Diseases Common to Man and Animals: Chlamydioses …
 Suddenly the window opened of its own accord, and I was terrified to see that some white wolves were sitting on the big walnut tree.
– Sigmund Freud. “The Wolfman, A Case History.” (1942)
 The wolf then dashed into a party of ladies and…bit [the] Private in two places… [T]he animal left the marks of his presence in every quarter of the garrison. He moved with great rapidity, snapping at everything within his reach, tearing tents, window curtains, bed clothing, etc..
–Bill Wasik, Monica Murphy. Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus. (2012).
♥♥♥ Bianca Stone
Prank Call From Fish ♥♥♥ J Hope Stein
] It begins with an ] UN-Beastlyknuckle
] If you see yourself
] in a dream sucking a bald-thumb:
] good: you are human
] Hide what’s human under/over
my UNlazy tongue ] there is no animal like you
] If you see yourself
on a wood bench fingering
today’s newspaper ] Hide
UN-quiet with lunatic
accuracy ] Thumbme UN-Beastly
of all tickle-attacks everywhere
There is no animal
Hook in the eye, apologize
Apologize, hook in the eye
I have seen them disappear
] One by one
and all at once
] Raise them up
to the NOTHINGplace
] There is no animal like you
] who am i?
i am ] littlefishnobody
] i am the poor fish who found your phone
] hello I’m a fish I’m a fish
] if you are listening
]]] if you
] breathe through [ your skin:
if you are prone to spasming: ]
] what teethes
] I beg you be thumbs
Deputy of bath toys
and tugboats everywhere] tackle me up
] to the WORTHYplace
There is no animal like you
Hook in the eye, apologize
Apologize, hook in the eye
]There is no animal like you
] Hello I’m a fish
The Way Time Crows ♥♥♥ Leah Umansky
one tart interpretation the slender of a girl
there were moments, molten, terrible, and lost.
the untidiness of life a fresh scope
the lens: a storied equivalent to what is imaginable
that solving, or careering, a secreted calibrated hope
growing sharper and sharper still
even the modest steps are full of worth
even the finely-drawn is sequential
one doesn’t control much when they are young
but, isn’t it a relief now, to watch the chilled, thaw?
to know the equal parts? to know the weighted whole?
not everyone makes it back
The Lost Poems ♥♥♥ Jackie Clark
It is breaking instead of it breaks
Or it has already broke and it is breaking again
You have an image in mind
It is a car moving forward
It is sunlight on the dash
Souring is the last thing that you would expect
Except it isn’t really the last thing that you would expect
You have expected it all along
You wonder how there could be nothing else
to write about but this disconnect
Choosing to meet your gaze or choosing to sit blank
There could be meditations on any number of subjects
Only there is not
It is just this one
Screaming in Middle School ♥♥♥ Bianca Stone
What we wore was very revealing back at the middle school dance
at the town office gymnasium above the police station
I wore a crushed purple iridescent velvet mini dress
with deep V—my boobs were like a pair of shoes that still
hurt and we all got our hair done
at the local beauty salon full of oldies under domes of heat in plastic curlers
while we squawked and fluttered around one another
hours of looking through the hair style books
I chose a ‘do one with a lock of hair
curled with an iron
as the finishing touch on the side of my face.
It was my first time in a salon
Mom gave me some spending money
and I bought a bag of penny candy at Ben Franklin’s
and we shrieked all the way to the gym.
I wore mom’s stockings and her jelly heals.
No one could stand to ask another person to dance
so we just stood under the basketball hoops, the guys in clean button-up shirts
and some took their tie’s off the moment they arrived
and stuffed them into their back pockets.
The pictures we took were terrible pictures without enough light—
but I remember afterwards, we all went to Mr. Ups
and got virgin strawberry daiquiris
driving all the other patrons away with our screaming.
I can see it so clearly in my head when liquored up
and moving around the room like a zombie on a Tuesday night:
the crushed-ice with its red dye, left over in the chilled hurricane cocktail glass,
the huge mess we made;
I can feel my hairspray loosing its hold; calling mom 1-800-Collect
on the payphone down by the restrooms to come pick me up
my face blazing like a hyena
who has just tasted human blood for the first time.
Encore for Leslie Goshko ♥♥♥ Kyle Erickson
While black vines of arms spiral
around a guitar that chug chug chugs
a broken moan, a vibration
through the rush hour commuters in the
darkness under Grand Central,
a tall boy lowers his pelvis,
with a wide stance, to his girl’s,
crotch to crotch,
soft chest to hard chest,
and wraps his hands around her ass.
Remember summer nights in our Tulsa apartment?
We were wrung out and wet, filling
the room with the aroma of sex, exhausting
the ritual of love grip wrapped ’round hardness.
Two nights ago my dream was shattered
with your sobbing. Your voice
echoed the hollow of our bedroom,
and I saw New York descending into you,
the spotlight of a thousand comedy basements
penetrating and filling
you with restless shadows,
swelling you with sorrow.
Remember when I’d blush
at your public kiss? In the hum of Brady Theater
when I dared to touch your hand, colors
spun out the speakers.
I got hard just smelling your hair.
Tonight alone outside Whiskey Sunday,
the spirit of New York
is a ghost of a ghost,
sprawled, aching, crawling
over the tree tops of Prospect Park.
But—uno, dos, tres and the dishwasher’s
apron twirls as he lifts and spins his girl
in the street light of Lincoln Road.
This morning you told me I fondled
your breast in my sleep till I
turned over on top of you—
you said, “Baby, I don’t think you’re awake,”
and I relaxed, covered you,
pressed you into the mattress.
The long winter is over, baby.
Spring is here.
And you’re wilting
among the applause
of tulips in the park, the applause
of footsteps off the Q, the clatter
of early leaves . . .
and the laughter, the laughter
amplified by your own microphone.
And I’m here. I’m applause, too.
E observes The Anti-Solo ♥♥♥ Joe Hall
I watch the room move through a final anti-solo.
They relax into their seats, relieved to be told
that the five proceeding minutes of willful
distortion hadn’t been meant to mean anything.
I know that under the stagelight, running a thumb
under the guitar strap where it bands his shoulder,
that the sound of no one clapping, of no glasses
clinking, of no words between a set designer
or dog walker or punk bike co-op member, no sound
at all, was his compensation for the impossibility
of ovation. Yesterday, Jean told me
about a dream in which they were in a field
Around a little pyramid of horse excrement
like briquettes of charcoal in the bowl of a grill,
and they were taking the horse briquettes into their hands
and painting each other’s faces with them and rubbing
it, like paste, into their gums until the pile was gone.
Jean ended the conversation with me on the
corner of Linwood and Bryant. We had our hands
in our pockets, were ducking into ourselves
in the cold, but before Jean did Jean said there was
another thing: it was in early middle March
in the dream, and they walked down with their faces
to a pond and sat down. The pond was mostly
frozen, there were still patches of snow where there was
afternoon shade, and they could hear the traffic
of unseen cars and the sound of water trickling
through ice. That was when they were hanging out with the art
instructor. I don’t want, the art instructor said,
to read a piece about your grandma. I want a piece about
her cock. That was the other thing Jean remembered
and told me that day, after I got the call about
J and how he could only sort of pay to have
his sore tooth pulled, and I thought I’d buy a red cabbage
at Guercios, make borscht in solidarity.
The anti-soloist is folding a guitar
in its little casket off to the side of where
the stage light had just been shining—the scene seems
drenched in an inch of lacquer, so I step
outside the bar, alone, into the cool night,
close my eyes, and remember how I used to look
into the darkest spaces between the stars on a
rooftop in South Texas with Jean who I don’t understand
anymore. I thought I was that big then. I thought
this body was climbing with my gaze into the
night whose poles were spreading until they were gone,
that I was that vast—I never believed I’d have
a door with my name on it but all that happens
is people tell me their problems because they
believe no one else will listen. I was there
on the border of South Texas and
Mexico touching the moon, pressed against Jean
in the cold on the roof, and I didn’t realize Jean,
too, was stretched thin as a curtain, Jean was touching
the moon, and we were humming that, cross waves—I am walking
home, across Sumner, and you, reader, should know
I don’t want your friendship. I don’t want friends
or an artisanal cocktail or a can of beer.
I don’t want to kiss any orifice right now
or to be dazzled by your capacity to negate
what I’ll realize tomorrow is good. It’s two
in the morning, back in the bar, and the anti-soloist’s guitar
is packed stage right. He’s talking to someone with
botanical tattoos who sort of liked his music
as much as the night is sort of sleepless and lonely.
I’m glad I’m not there. I do not want to laugh. So
his anti-solo, I think, walking home across Sumner,
between the stooping houses, I guess it
♥♥♥ Todd Colby
Here is volume 2 of now 3 valentine issues. This issue features work by heart-throbbers Kate Micucci, Bridget Talone, Amy Lawless, Rena J. Mosteirin, T Kira Madden, Timothy Liu, Anchia Kinard, Sampson Starkweather, Paige Taggart, Brynne Rebele-Henry, Maria Garcia Teutsch, Kathleen Rooney, J. Hope Stein, Todd Colby & Joanna Penn Cooper.
Thanks for reading and passing the issues around. I have a crush on you.
j hope stein
♥♥♥ Illustration by Kate Micucci
There’s No One On This Road But Us and the Night ♥♥♥ Rena Mosteirin
“There’s no one on this road but us and the night,” you say
the bugs are invisible and everywhere: summer.
Winter will naturally debug the kitchen
but tonight I need a drive.
You said your father would drive you around when you were sleepless,
together you’d cruise the night roads of Maine.
I imagine if you were sleeping when you got home, he carried you in,
used his foot to close the door. I imagine the weight of your little boy body
as he placed you in your bed. I believe an idea can have weight before words:
I was with you there, though I wasn’t a body, but a math.
Black and white headshots of old movie stars
somehow always look familiar. It must be an algorithm.
“It’s the clothing my soul wears,” I say, picking at my skin.
On television they are running races.
The code you are looking at is not the code that is running.
On television Gidget is surfing.
Change the station: an anesthetized alligator
goes into the bag like a body bag.
The options are: copy/distribute/modify:
or take me home/ in kind.
In our strange extinction history
we are on the chapter of death: in a rainforest there’s only that one pretty math:
and it goes into the bag like a body bag.
On television they are drowning.
The code you are looking at is not the code that is running.
I can see you sometimes as a little boy, there are ways you turn
and your boy-self flickers on. Hit save.
BROMANCE ♥♥♥ Timothy Liu
Our kisses won’t be posted
on facebook. Nothing to like
or comment on. Outside
the station at Lake and Clark
with the mercury dropping
in early winter dark, he leaned
to kiss me, his neck scarf
woven by a Peruvian woman
grazing my cheek, each kiss
different from whatever came
before. What if a co-worker
or worse, his wife, happened by—
what might we lose? To risk
what has been for what is
yet to come is the reason
why others have been willing
to take us down with boxers
at our heels. When he placed
his palms on my cheek bones
and said: Just let me do this
just this, I could feel my clock
being taken apart. When he took
his hands away, something
remained—his fingers drawing
slow ovals on my temples
as we rode in the back of a cab
to O’Hare. Home is where
the heart has given up on
kisses as prelude to mechanical
sex. Touch as a means toward
climax rather than for touch
itself. Doesn’t everyone know
real desire makes bad porn—
unscripted love no gawkers want
to follow? Let’s not perform
what’s passed down from father
to son—pre-cum out of cock slit
shocking our mouths awake.
You Are Sacred ♥♥♥ Amy Lawless
You are sacred on thermal currents
We are so small
We feel no wind
We are creeps
It was never our intention to be preyed upon by the doll watching through Jesus eyes
It was weird during the chanting when you called twice
I was chanting and having my hypothalamus massaged via the creation a specific sound with my whole body stimulating nerve growth factor
which is painful for me to read about
because it’s about love, really, which I want more of, am starving for
I have ethical issues with the creation of love artificially
I’m natural: in the mirror my headhair cascades
leaving no need for a hat
Desires not quenched, not pressed
I feel sacred and eternal
My body scrolls throughout the night
My heart ticks toward death, a song never too long
My lungs buzz like little suicide packet bombs worn as a vest,
killing me and sustaining me
a productive-yet-dying bug pronghorn felled over and in need
My core strength holds me up during dance parties
My angles are soft rolling hills
My ability, when not bored, to connect with others
in kitchens and back rooms
to cause a disruption in the prefrontal cortexes –laughing –
in the brains of my friends and in the brains of my non-friends:
People need more of this:
Fine fine fine. I’m not the kind of scientist that you are used to
but I’m the kind you need
♥♥♥ Illustration by Kate Micucci
Who Knows What Could Happen To Us ♥♥♥ T Kira Madden
My first kiss was with a girl named Patricia Posternack. We were at a theme park, just off a roller coaster, and the blood-thump-high hung between us like radioactive dust. In the checker-tiled bathroom we spun in circles, tipped our skulls between our knees, joking that we could unwind the dizzy that had spooled us up.
Patricia pulled me by the pinky into a bathroom stall. This wasn’t unusual, we liked to LaLaLa while the other peed, one flush, because we’re best friends that’s why, but what was unusual was Patricia leaning with her back against the stall door, her fingers lacing up behind my neck, red bangs sweat-smeared across her forehead. Her braces gleamed. Do you love me? she asked. I did, and said so. Like a sister? she asked, her chin down, eyes up. Well, sure.
And then I said I wanted to practice, for when the real time came. I said who knows, Patty. Who knows what could happen to us tonight. Who knows what could happen in the hotel, your parents sleeping, rolled over as dead whales in the Disney-pink bed. We could meet some boys in the lobby, I said. Wear our new tube-tops, bandana headbands, look drippy and older with our strawberry lip-smack shine.
She opened her mouth for mine, just like that. My mouth was not even close to her mouth yet. Her mouth just hung open, her eyes gently shut, the O of her choir face, and so I leaned right into it. It was sloppy and ripe. I felt like I could taste the colors of her orthodontic bands—teal, black, teal, black, teal, black, teal—like her mouth was my mouth and there was no reason for them ever to separate again.
What happened to you, Patricia Posternack? I think about you now, your scabbed knees, your high-soprano pitch. Your sister never left this town. She works in the local hospital, stitched up my index finger from a rusted up nail. She said, what ever happened to you girls that night in the hotel, when our parents couldn’t find you?
We did meet those boys. We did what we said we could do. I remember it all: just us kids out by the hotel pool, that aquamarine glow on your bare stomach, one of the boys leading you away as you let go of my hand, laughing, saying I’ll be right back.
< 3 ♥♥♥ Sampson Starkweather
the thickest spliff
Blizzard in Berlin ♥♥♥ Maria Garcia Teutsch
Everything’s sexy in Berlin.
Purple umbrella shot inside out
dropped by the door, a leather
dress balled up, the red wine
spill hidden, your boots
tucked beside a suitcase,
while my stilettos make
a W where I kicked them in
the air when I made a V.
framed by the whipped cream
of sheets, asleep—
and snow traveling outside
easterly and westerly simultaneously.
The lines on the street
scraped salted graveled.
Inhale this rooftop horizon
of jigsaw high-rises.
Dead Kaiser Wilhelm’s
broken steeple ushers out
the night and punctures
in light. This is Spring in Berlin:
snow, silver, a punch of gold.
I am shivering in my slip–
a black crow
lands on the windowsill,
my face caught in glass,
and then yours–kissing
each cheek, and lifting me there
in the corner window
for all to see, and I let you in—
no longer afraid of the darkness
within, and say the word
you wanna hear–
♥♥♥ Illustration by Kate Micucci
From: I Lob You ♥♥♥ J. Hope Stein
My great uncles were gypsies
They were so handsome
the villagers longed
to be robbed by them.
When I met you, you asked me
if I could think of any reason why
you shouldn’t marry her
& I said “no-you-are-perfect-for-each-other”
& you never invited me to the wedding –
But your brother did—
& I am in all your wedding photos
& to this day,
your relatives still talk about the snare
our hips drummed up
on the dance floor.
& I said, “Hey, nice wedding!”
& you said, “If you don’t leave now,
I’m going to kill you
or myself or both.”
& It was when the band played
the Doobie Brothers’ What a Fool Believes,
your brother’s mouth lobbing
the unsuccessful neckline of my dress,
where I wrote my first book—
a cross between
gypsy & disco.
Imminent Reprisal ♥♥♥ Paige Taggart
licking the back of a wizard’s mouth
I procure all sorts of data and lay my wet fat body on the tile
I do sit-ups and the pressure between the bridge of my back and ass make
a cupping sort of farting sound
I call in my boyfriend to watch
and witness the detail
he takes notes, later he might try this
pen to the pad of paper
sketching a drawing of minimal
exertion but lots of percussion
it’s a god send
we’re lucky to have radio silences
and wine to drink
we’re lucky to feel the kickbacks of gen-exers
it’s an utter disappointment
to complain all the time
(esp via text-message to distant friends)
I have relatives in high-places
and we prosper from them
till we really fuck up and the castles
dormant bricks fall upon us
life is something to lay under and take the pressure; otherwise, we’d all be juggalos
Les Amants ♥♥♥ Kathleen Rooney
If Loulou the Pomeranian had seen the master as a child, he’d have known him by his smell: lemon and nutmeg, and pepper – a dash. If Georgette had caught a flash of the master as a child – well, wait, she did, in the carousel-salon at the fair in Charleroi, where they fell, fell, fell in love: still but moving among the wild wooden horses. If they had seen each other years later – well, wait, they did, unguarded amid the blooms of the Brussels Botanic Gardens, where they fell, fell, fell again, never leaving each other’s side thenceforth unless forced.
When he was 14, the master’s mother, Régina, was tired of life and she fell, fell, fell into a river. No, Magritte’s mother killed herself. Jumped, jumped, jumped. When they fished her out, her nightdress clouded around her head like impenetrable mist. No dog Loulou’s met has ever committed suicide.
In this painting, the faces of the lovers are covered, but Loulou can tell: that’s Magritte and that’s Georgette. Are they suffocating? No, they’re going in for the motion picture move of the close-up kiss, despite being shrouded. Are they going to die? Why yes, eventually, but not right now.
The master insists his mother has nothing to do with any of this. Dismisses the theory of the Sambre River as the source. Beauty ought not be reduced to a personal neurosis. Loulou has heard the master say that love is above everything: “Love cannot be destroyed. I believe in its victory.” Loulou loves how these lovers are inside, two walls behind them, moulding over their shoulders and no window anywhere to give entry to the skies. Invisible but still too big to be disguised.
♥♥♥ poem by Anchia Kinard
when she misses me
we made it
Smoke From My Hair ♥♥♥ Rena J. Mosteirin
A song like the ghost of a mill girl, a song heaving and sick
and pregnant, a song like my grandfather worked
many lifetimes simultaneously so I would never have to hear.
A song that took away everything. That night
they came down from the hills to Havana,
and some sexy black woman was singing this song
into the boozy faces of tourists
and because of the song they could taste Havana
on her, they could smoke her hair
and call her home for the night, tell everyone
that they could see themselves living on her forever.
A song to change your life to,
to change the tone-tune-tenor of your night,
Cuba has put her song in your American ears
and as it grows up in my garden I realize
it’s always playing, underneath all the other musics: this song
is my mantra, my calm lake, my Cuba.
At Starbucks they play Guantanamera whenever they want,
but that is not the song, that is not the brush with life
that enables authenticity—if for one night only—this is the song we die to.
Cubans can come back from the dead when this song is playing,
and dance with their lovers again, groping through gardens at night,
making my cows turn into pregnant teenagers—it’s the song—
MTV knocked them up, all of them stupid and sexy
mooing the fields, all big dark eyes and so shy
as they tell you it’s ok if you want to touch their swollen bellies.
Shake it up baby. The song plays to the trees
and the cows dance and we realize we’re all stuck in the mud,
some more than others. I’ve got short legs
and I’m udders-deep, but under the mud the song has spilled roots,
roots like apple trees, thick and tall into the dense Earth,
and each apple of my days has a single white worm
in her dark heart of brown seeds, eating, always eating…
Start at the center, and I too am rooted in the basket of the Earth,
for it is the only way I can keep mooing,
settle in and let go—so shake it up baby now—the cows get down,
and I am keeping my head above ground:
hair on fire.
Clarion Hotel ♥♥♥ Brynne Rebele-Henry
I did cocaine once, in the middle of Idaho
my throat felt like afterbirth
the hotel’s swimming pool
then we took our clothes off in a fountain and the water was
spit-like, I thought the pennies could be barnacles against
my knees—I’m not very good at bending down
once I wanted to be someone
but then I just decided to waste my life
your skin was chlorine, vodka-spit
and I’m always fucking and my exoskeleton is fragile at best
we took a night train to Berlin
once you bought a butterfly knife
it made a spreadsheet on your thighs
I like to imagine my own death
soon I will pull out my teeth and will
you say my name?
Elaborations on notable crushes from my 7th grade diary: ♥♥♥ Bridget Talone
James Caan as Sonny Corleone
Sonny Corleone is an obvious choice for a crush. Sonny sometimes wore an undershirt and when he did you could see that he had great arms. He was often out of breath from fucking or from beating somebody up. He pinned a bridesmaid up against the wall for some quick standing sex at a family wedding, crushing her pink taffeta dress. He says “just a minute,” in a sort of sad, serious way, when someone knocks on the door and when he leaves she slides a little ways down the wall. When he’s shot to death on the Causeway, he opens his car door and falls out. His body lay there in crumpled heap, not unlike a dress.
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone
If Sonny Corleone’s appeal is obvious—athletic and superficial—his youngest brother Michael has more in common with the criminals Jean Genet writes of in the beginning of Our Lady of the Flowers. Genet says of the photos of men decorating his jail cell: “If I have nailed him to my wall, it was because, as I see it, he had the sacred sign of the monster at the corner of his mouth or at the angle of the eyelids.” I could see Genet liking Michael, with his broken cheekbone and they way it caused his nose to run. Genet would make a relic of the massive white handkerchief with which he dabbed at his nose. Michael’s broken cheekbone not only set his criminal life in motion, it fundamentally changed his relationship to women. He stopped being a citizen, a boyfriend. He went into hiding, a monster. All of his life, his motives and desires, seemed plunged into a dark room. With a monster’s patience, he waited to find women to bring into that dark with him. His eyes had adjusted to the room but that would never be true for anyone who would join him here.
John Cazale as Fredo Corleone
Fredo’s crime was weakness. For his weakness, he was sent to live in the desert in Nevada. He died out on the water, in the weakly lapping waves. Fredo dressed flashy, like a flower no one wanted. At nightclubs in Havana and Las Vegas, Fredo cultivated a voyeuristic relationship to sex that was superfluous to the act itself; that rendered him descriptive. In this way he was unlike his brothers, who, moved within the field of sex as though they were a part of it. When I interrogate my younger self for adding him to my crush list, it’s easy to ascribe it to a juvenile confusion and general thirst for all men. Sometimes men’s mere proximity to each other is attractive. Let Fredo come over. But, by that logic, I should’ve included Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen, the adoptive brother of the Corleones. And I didn’t. (Why didn’t I? I hereby add Tom Hagen.) I talked to my sister about Fredo’s spot on this list and we briefly discussed the erotics of weakness. She proposed that what’s erotic is what happens to you as you make your way to that thing that seems smaller than you and agree to get down to its size somehow. It shows a penchant for complication, the knot in a thin fine chain you can’t work free. We know there’s death in fucking but some people keep it from you. They keep it from themselves, or they keep it for themselves and put you into some other relationship to it. With Fredo it would be different. He’s incapable of keeping anything at bay, and you both see it, see the little abysses opening up. I don’t think a person chooses Fredo knowing any of these things. I didn’t. But for me, choosing Fredo at all, even impulsively, predicted an almost hormonal attraction to description, to observation, a desire to grow eyes in the dark.
Quest for Consideration ♥♥♥ Todd Colby & Joanna Penn Cooper
My quest for consideration began on a damp
bed. I knew from the smell of the room that it was
a Saturday. Sometimes you want a drink first. Other
times you find yourself crawling through it
all stone cold sober. You or I, it’s all the same.
Did I ever mention The Rolling Stones in a poem?
Exile on Main Street is a lovely record. One of us is
Mick Jagger to the other’s Marianne Faithfull. I mean,
it’s possible Mick has had his heart really broken once or twice,
but you’d never know it from the way he moves his hips.
♥♥♥ Illustration by Kate Micucci
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
NaPoWriMo is the write-a poem-everyday-thingy (invented by Maureen Thorson) that poets do in the month of April to celebrate National Poetry Month. There are so many reasons why I have never done this and am a terrible candidate for such a challenge: 1) It is not aligned with my writing process in any way. 2) I am uncomfortable making a piece public until I do quite a bit of editing which usually involves dozens & months-worth of drafts. 3) I am due this month with my first child. For all of these reasons & more I’ve decided on complete impulse to participate in NaPoWriMo 2015 and to publish my entries here on Poetry Crush- to keep with the original intent of Poetry Crush– which is there is no intent, only impulse. And I’ve impulsively invited a few friends to join me. Just click on the link below to follow their daily entires: Joanna Penn Cooper Lauren Hunter Bridget Talone Lina Vitkauskas Christine Kanownik J. Hope Stein (me)
THE PREGNANT DREAM
I had a dream in which I had a
and in my dream I told you,
“Listen, I will tell you my
dream.” And I began to tell you. And
you told me, “I haven’t time to listen while you tell your
Then in my dream I
dreamed I began to
And forgot my
And I began to tell you, “Listen, I have
And now I tell you: “Listen while I tell you my
in which I dreamed
I forgot my dream,”
and I begin to tell you “In my dream you told me, ‘I haven’t time to
And you tell me” “You dreamed I wouldn’t
listen to a
dream that you
I haven’t time to listen to
“But I haven’t forgot I
dreamed,” I tell you,
“a dream in which I told you,
‘Listen, I have
forgot,’ and you told me, ‘I haven’t time.’”
“I haven’t time,” you tell me.
And now I begin to forget that I
forgot what I began to tell you in my
And I tell you, “Listen,
listen, I begin to
(the real poem lines up the words “dream,” “listen” and “forgot” of every line, throughout the entire piece, which is why some of the line breaks look like this. But wordpress formatting, as usual, will not cooperate. The only line that is supposed to break structure is “I haven’t time you, tell me”)