Friday, June 16, 2017

Michael Prihoda Leaves the Postcard City With the Medusa Map As the Gardens Scrawl


the munitions factory,
the postcard city.

contain regret
within definite prosperity

when compared
to grace appreciated less.

the nostalgia aware
of different dying

without even names

settled in connection.

what is necessary

these forms not become today
in age ideal. the same yesterday

corresponds to the medusa
reserved for a map. your empire

must be big, not equally real.

what is necessary is imagined.


the route wonders
in a different order.

the eye penetrates
the scrawl of gardens,

the prison, the slum.
the hypothesis

of the traveler
has nothing but doubts.

he is distinct

in existence.

Michael Prihoda is a poet, editor, and teacher, living in central Indiana with his wife and the dream of having a pet llama. He is the author of five poetry collections, the latest of which is The First Breath You Take After You Give Up (Weasel Press, 2016).

Gale Acuff Makes Kites and Chong Yen's P-38s Haunt the Hallways Like Amelia Stephens


While my dog sleeps at the foot of my bed
I tickle his ears with my toes and read
a comic book. The window fan's spinning
and tomorrow morning we'll run downstairs,
Caesar and I, to have breakfast--I'll fix
his first--then fly kites if there's wind. If not
we'll try again in the afternoon, when
the June air's warmer and makes a breeze
to raise our craft without us having
to race against the wind to create lift.
Caesar will bark as the kite rises and
I'll laugh at him for being so silly.
I'd let him hold the string but he'd drop it
and kites don't grow on trees--this one cost me
49 cents down at the Five & Dime.
(It's 1966; I'm ten years old).

Sometimes we make our own, sticks from branches,
glue I make myself, the Sunday comics
for the skin that stretches over the bones.
For a heart I give it mine. For a soul
--it picks that up from the sky, takes it in
if I can get it high enough up there
so that it dances by itself. That's what
I mean by soul. That's why Heaven's over
our heads. To bring it down again I wind
it in, hand over hand, a slow process
and contrary to Nature, I guess, but
I can't just release the line, or break it,
and watch it waft away, no matter that
I wonder where it's off to. Still, the link
has snapped on more than one occasion, but
that was the wind, not a boy and his dog,
who let it get away. When that happens,
we follow it as far as we can. And

one day, what holds me to the earth will break,
too, and I'll fall to the ground, later
be buried inside it, yet float away
and see everything my kite can see but
just as if it's all spread out before me
--much like my life is now . . . but without end.
I'll have lots to live for when I die,
but who will follow me to find out where

I've lighted? I suppose I'll find myself
--a neat trick, better than the loop the loop.


From my attic bedroom I see my school.
It's well and I'm sick--flu, or a virus,
something I caught from my classmates there. Now
it's my turn not to turn up. I feel like
heck. I can't keep anything down. Even
saltines and Coca-Cola. They come back
up. I have a fever and yet I'm freezing.
I get some sleep, in snatches, and have dreams,
nightmares by day, from which I jerk awake
to wonder where I am. Oh, yeah. My bed.
What day's today? Wednesday. Over the hump,
almost, of the school week. What time is it?
About 1:00. Time for recess soon.

I hear the students running to the playground.
Kickball. Jump-rope. Basketball. Ducks and drakes.
I wish I could be there, not that I'm good
at sports. But I like to run and play and
shout. I'm small for my age--I hardly get on base
or kick the ball out of the infield or
make a basket. But when my pals do
I cheer, and when I do they shout, Acuff,
you're oh-kay. Then we return to class and

draw. I like airplanes. I can draw them but
not exactly, not as well as Chong Yen.
He's from Taiwan. He can draw them as if
he's taking a photograph or building
a real bird, right before your eyes. I say,
Look, Chong, at what I drawed. He rolls his eyes.
Drew, he says. Look at what I drew. Then he
comes to my desk and picks up my drawing
and says, No, no, no, a P-51
doesn't look like this at all. Don't forget
the details. He returns to his desk and
I follow. He's drawn P-38s. Wow,
I say. You sure know your planes. I whistle.
He smiles--he's pleased--and looks away. He has

three brothers and two sisters. I know--I
met them at his birthday party. I don't
get invited much to birthday parties
but I did to his. I gave him a plane,
a model plane, a B-29, wrapped
up nice by my mother. Here, Chong, I said,
after we had cake and ice cream and it
was time for him to open his presents.
Chinese have birthdays, too, just like we do.
It's a small world, I guess. It's a small world
because it's so big. Anyway, he took
it--both hands. Thank you very much. I said
You're welcome, which sounded strange because I
hardly ever say that, much less Thank you.
He carefully unwrapped it and folded
the paper flat--he didn't wad it up

like I do. A B-29, he said.
I hope you like it, Chong, I said. Do you
like it? Yes, he said. I am overwhelmed
by your thoughtfulness. No one's ever said
anything like that to me before. Oh,
it's nothing, I said. I'm glad you're happy.
He didn't look at me because he was
crying, which confused me: Chong, if you don't
like it, I said, you can take it back or
I can take it back for you and get you
something else, or just the money. No, no,
he said. You don't understand. But I do.

And after drawing we have history
--Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth
and Useless Grant and all those men with beards.
Even when they're young they look like grandpas.

I fall asleep to the sounds of my friends.
I'm under the sheets and my eyes are tight
and it's like we're all here together.
I'm sweet on Amelia Stephens. Sometimes
I try to dream about her. It starts with
us in a yellow station wagon, really
more golden than yellow. I'm drawing and
she's sitting right beside me. We don't have
children because I don't know how that's done
and I guess she doesn't either, at least
in my dream. I don't know where we're going

but we're together and heading somewhere
so that's really all I know about love
but it's enough. I love her in my dream
and real life, too, but I'll never tell her
and spoil it. She wears pretty dresses and
socks that come up to just below
her knees. She's taller than I am so my
legs are about as long as her socks. Now

she's sitting beside me, saying, Poor thing,
I love you--when I'm sick my mind
plays tricks on me but it's really my heart.
Then I hear the three o'clock bell ring and
children being noisy as they get on
their buses. I walk to school--I've never
ridden a bus, not even a Greyhound.
It looks like fun, you and your friends going

home together though your homes are different.
When I'm well enough to go back to school
it will seem new again, like a friend
or an out-of-state cousin you see just
once a year, if that often. I mean that
you don't take them for granted anymore,
or at least not so much. That's what love is,

not getting so close that you ruin it all
or needing them so bad it makes you puke.

Gale Acuff has had poetry published in Ascent, Ohio Journal, Descant, Poem, Adirondack Review, Coe Review, Worcester Review, Maryland Poetry Review, Arkansas Review, Florida Review, South Carolina Review, Carolina Quarterly, South Dakota Review, Sequential Art Narrative in Education, and many other journals. Acuff has authored three books of poetry: Buffalo Nickel (BrickHouse Press, 2004), The Weight of the World (BrickHouse, 2006), and The Story of My Lives (BrickHouse, 2008).  Acuff has taught university English in the US, China, and the Palestinian West Bank.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sheldon Lee Compton At The Foot of The Hopi Language Mountain With The Bellwether Eye


Pia’isa, little ones. To learn of magnificence, the kind that comes from a long history. The turns of pure magic, through stories. How the moon and earth were once as close as leaves of a branch, how the sky tilted, a disc throwing colors of all kinds, or the dark marathon of the animal earth-diver  into the primal waters for a handful of mud here or a fingernail worth of sand there. The First People, as they’re called now, but who should be called by their own collective name for themselves - the people, or simply us. They are and were a fantastic people. If you asked them, Who is that over there, those strangers? Their answer would always translate today to the word enemy. Who are those people? Oh, they are enemy. The same goes for any other object or living being they might be asked to identify. Over there is a big mountain. What do you call that? Oh, that? We call that a big mountain. The First People names for me varied by immense and roaming tribes. To the Hopi, I was Kweo Kachina; to the Potawatomi, I was Chibiabos. The Metis called me Rou-garou, and the Shshone whispered Pia’isa to their children at night to frighten them into calming. Pia’isa is watching for your eyes to open, aw√Ęsis.    

Bellwether Eye

This boy breaks into a house and we find out it’s his grandma’s place,
that he’s stealing her pain meds. Next thing you know
the grandma’s on the floor with a busted head. Boys like that get shitkicked
by Sean Holly in lockup. Big Sean did it and didn’t care who knew it,
told the boy he wasn’t his mamaw and flattened his head against the cell wall,
jarred his eye loose so that it popped it out of his head,
left it swinging on the optic nerve. Thing is, that boy’s eye started moving
across his cheekbone, pushing itself toward the bridge of his nose
the way a snail does, using the exposed nerve like its body to inch along.
And it started growing. That’s the word Sean tried to say later. Growing.

Gig Night

Bird arrives as heroin.
Eyes lidded and soft,
steps like socked feet
on shag carpet,
he moves so lightly.
Five musicians
shadow the room
from center stage.
Buddy on drums,
but the rest are a

haze coffin out of sight.
The heroin is vein-rusted,
plants him to the stage.
It soaks through the skin
to mix with his sweat,
it screams into the sax
and blows out into the
club like shards from his reed,
a prodrug sprinkle
of notes exactly ragged.

Sheldon Lee Compton is the author of four books, most recently the novella A True Story (Shivelight Books, 2017). His fiction and poetry can be found in gobbet, Wigleaf, Live Nude Poems, Gravel, Anti-Heroin Chic, Unbroken Journal, Vending Machine Press, The Cabal, and elsewhere. He lives in Pikeville, Kentucky, with his partner, the photographer Heather McCoy.

Michael Tyrell Won't Offer The World To Eve In The Hydrangea and Mandrake

For the Descendants I Won’t Make

Sometimes during what they call Rain Stone Season
they lose me—the street green,
a kind of bread left out for weeks, not
what they’ve been taught to expect
so early in March—who knows how they know,
but when they find me, like almost all offspring,
they naturally become immediately disappointed
at the one who might make them.
How is it I’m just another of the umbrellas and phones?
Even if nobody else can hear their complaints
I shush them, in my own way, under the awning
of the bric-a-brac shop on Manhattan Avenue.
Rain Stone Season: yes. And yes, terrible, waiting
with the living and those somehow outside that category,
in raw weather, and the usual unanswerable questions
raised by children: why won’t you buy us arms?
I won’t tell them how on this side
the wars splinter into words so as to be easily conflated,
how the bric-a-brac shop isn’t a metaphor
because it’s true everything’s
for sale here. Entire snapshot families for sale,
right behind me! Under the awning, to keep
from getting soaked (soaked and then sick),
the children with unsubtle bodies,
blue before they were human, at the birth hour,
all of us. Here’s an apple I can’t share,
they won’t take, I say nothing; I can only listen.
Where we’re from they’re for stargazing.
I won’t be the devil, offering a world to Eve.
So I lose them again,
alone except for the food I hold,
faint stars on its skin forming like the sky above Mars.

Broken Record

Every day begins with this refrain:
I won’t die, I won’t die.
The sky in whatever tantrum or euphemism
seems to be singing it, and breakfast
follows, the honoring of broken shells,
eating the unborn, quaffing the milk of
another animal, its status unknown.

Every activity devised to change the subject,
or avoid it.
Photos under obits display the living only,
our slasher films elicit laughter
and culminate with the audience rising.
Secondary sources—the moon,
the brainy fronds of hydrangea,
imply that what we have is a cycle,
not a terminating line.

So the persistent hum,
the reverie that nothing will unravel.
Most comply—
they go out for the evening,
they put their hands together for the chasing of a ball,
the goring of a bull,
the handing out of an award.

Those who sit out the sing-along
are not easily accessed.
Somewhere behind shades
the color of enamel,
among concrete and institutional garden,
we might catch a note or two,
but it’s quickly dubbed over
with won’t die, won’t die.

We call out these words,
we call out whole sentences, into caves,
and the dead—the inheritors of echo,
the ones proved wrong—
mock us
by sending back
everything they’ve heard before.

Documentary for Eleanor Manzano, Who Was Mistaken for the Kidnapped Lindbergh Baby in March, 1932

It would have to be reenactment disguised as newsreel

Winthrop Park, Seventeenth Ward, Brooklyn

shot of the lawn filmed in black and white

and gunmetal benches close-up on the first cop’s

mutton-chop face after the title card fades

his cockeyed twitch that seems to say I know this scene’s absurd

a pram pulled over by the cops like some bank robber’s getaway car

and medium shot of your reenactment mother

in cloche hat and spring coat too shocked to argue  

(have they made baby walking a crime?)

conflicting accounts your mother police-

stationed for her questioning for your own good

and you given to the doctor and then they hand you back

OR it’s fast simple the second cop sees the wrong sex

under the pins of your cloth diaper

and he almost drops you handing back

That handing back—again and again,
even if you can’t possible remember,
you know they might have kept you,
filed you with the other
mistaken identities and counterfeit dollars
all the wrong wrongfully kept
as if to have an alibi 
in case the actual never materializes

It would have to include  

a montage of other baby carriages

getting pulled over all across America

Lindbergh Lindbergh  every infant in America changeling 

mandrake Lindbergh 

Interview excerpts:

I too am one of history’s deleted scenes,
but I remember it 
do you?

Sound is only recently invented and no talkie can convey the moment—not the last—
the world insisting This is Mine,  no match, but what you are will do just as well. 

silvery cousin, blind acquaintance— 
I don’t know who gets taken
and returned safe, 
why even the globe stunt flying
doesn’t shield others. 
The baby I’ve chosen
to play you in the documentary
will not stop crying, 
which by all accounts 
you did not do even then.

Michael Tyrell is the author of The Wanted (The National Poetry Review Press, 2012) and his poems have appeared in many magazines, including Agni, The Canary, Fogged Clarity, The New York Times, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and The Yale Review. With Julia Spicher Kasdorf, he edited the anthology Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn (NYU Press, 2007). He teaches at New York University and resides in Brooklyn, where he was born.

Owen Anderson Shipwrecked In A DMT Honeycomb Hallway Watching The Dance Of Kitsune

-Treasure Island-

In youth,
I threw a bottle to the tide,
and pretended to be
But it washed back to shore,
as if to say,
“No one even knows
you’re gone.”


Exhale the dream:
jazz beats of kaleidoscope shrapnel.
Familiar smiles framed and hung on honeycomb hallways, dripping endlessly into this black hole honey pot.
Fall into constellations.
Glow bugs powered by suns
take shape as Giant cats
knead the edges and need
melts away down stairs and slides,
Taking root in reality
There is no reality
There is no holy
Order is the blemish on chaos
Beauty is the unbridled
Fading into time
As I fade back to life.

-Golden Teacher-

This is the cocaine binge
I’ve been hunting
for so long. These are onion
petals on the island of Lotus,
where I lose my ability to speak.
Toes and star gazers
are lit by fire and my fingers
cracked like 4000 tombs built by 4000 cherubs
and their tears and ejaculate spatter the walls.
I don’t want imaginary super heroes, and tales and tails
of Kitsune dancing for the torch mob.
Going back again to stop genocide in my lap.
I don’t want to fight
but can only seem to stop
the feeling under my fingernails
long enough to exhale as I am swallowed in amber and ale.
I need to control the music that never dies.
Jet set radio never dies.
Foxy foxy foxy Japanese never dies.
Ahoy sailor!
Fuck her once over on the hill top where she dies.

Owen B. Anderson is a 29 year old traveling car salesman residing in the third notch of the Great Southern Bible Belt.  An avid psychonaut, he hopes to put to words the worlds he visits on his various vacations from reality.  

Paul Koniecki Gets His Tetanus Shot From The Devil's Sister And Navigates Orchids And Drug Cartels


the first words my first wife
ever said to me in person were
hi this is victor he is my boyfriend

slash pimp and he will be in the
adjoining room if there are any problems
she actually said boyfriend slash pimp

and i was impressed by her use of the
word adjoining and her bottom and how
the green of her eyes didn't seem to have

three years later leaning against the
bathroom sink in my apartment with a
grapefruit knife sticking out of my thigh

like an old telephone pole on a flat and
hairy stretch of road i laughed and i
sweated and i looked for some peroxide

or rubbing alcohol and i hoped i wouldn't
pass out on the way to the hospital and
that my new couch wouldn't be permanently

stained but most of all i thanked god i
had dressed to the right and that my thigh
had taken one for the team and i don't

know if it was the blood loss but i really
wondered waiting in the care-now clinic
if i would ever be able to trust again

then she walked in my nurse my angel
a vision in chapstick looking like a
girl-next-door stripper gram or the devil's

sister with a tetanus shot in one hand
and my leg in the other she possessed
the all time best sad bad broken love at

first sight i can't resist you beaten by life
but back for another round look in her eye
really ever -- the first words my second

wife (the nurse) ever said to me in person
were - wow would you look at that
and i told her my story and she told

me her's and love springs eternal in
the hearts of us still even when it
walks with a limp

Bazooka goes to the Ft Worth Botanical Gardens in the dark

My makers had
access to 3D printers,
fiberglass reinforced nylon,

munitions, instructions, and profitable conflicts. Personally
I abhor 'field of battle'

brown and the
mixing of gold
and red as it relates

to spoils of war.
When they went
out again to order

more safety deposit
box keys and crystal
chandeliers I made my escape.

Here is the poem
I wrote as I jumped
the garden fence,

the first night I fell in love.

The moon slept
In the pond
Beneath the pagoda

Russet and ochre
And manila flags
fluttered in the breeze

They seemed varying
Shades of gray
To dogs and men

I held trigger
To petal with
My new love

Bulbophyllum Nocturnum
The only orchid able
To flower before the dawn

love in a time of commerce

and the lap-dancers
call it flex messaging

that futile attempt
by men to communicate

through blue jeans
and disregard

beautiful girls wipe silver poles

with tattered bills
and tempered haunches

she chooses me and comes

so close
i cannot stand

from apex
to impost

i whisper
i am not a poet

she swears
she is from somewhere else

Connect the wild dots

-for Mark J Kilroy

Sara came from Texas.
I crossed over for Spring Break.

The circus has a juggler.
The border has a war.

The street has a taco vender
two lamp posts and a trick.

The air is hot and sweet.
Breathing is a pilgrimage.

I need a bag.
Breathing is inalienable.

I need a bag.
The hoarders have a brick.

Obliterated on cerveza fria
we cross the street to get a bag.

The sunlight slits the darkness
like a razor on the bias.

In the shadows brick stacking
hoarders pause to ask my name.

Adrenaline is a blessing.
Breathing is circus work.

Breathing is an artifice, a subterfuge,
an almost involuntary trick.

The circus has a juggler.
The boarder has a war.

El Padrino has a farm outside of town.
Matamoras has a witch.

Dirt cannot be shoveled
by the sleeping and the dead.

I need a bag. I need a bag.
I need a bag.

Sara came from Texas.
La Madrina is six foot one.

The names have not been changed
because the innocent are dead.

I looked for God twelve times.
Twelve times in a hole I looked.

I love you the perfectness of death.
Her lips are soft on soft.

Beyond torture. Beyond pain. Beyond
clean blood and the integrity of maggots.

Twelve times in a hole.
Spooning in dirt

and worms and the ends of lost
mistaken things and machetes in the neck.

Little tarot boy of Mexico City thank
you for not burying me alone.

The border's war is drugs. I need a bag
I need a bag I need a bag of air.

When Paul Koniecki isn’t shoveling peanut butter and jelly sandwiches down his throat, he hosts Pandora's Box Poetry Showcase at Deep Vellum Books in Dallas, Texas. His chapbook, Reject Convention, was published by Kleft Jaw Press. Richard Bailey's film, "One Of The Rough" contains several of Paul's poems and was shown at The Berlin Experimental Film Festival in December of 2016.  He once featured at the Fermoy International Poetry Festival in Fermoy, Ireland where he saw a real live unicorn walk into a bar. Paul’s poetry has been published in multiple online and print publications.

Darren C. Demaree Swears The Apocalypse Isn't Coming While The Evil Governor Holds Five Thousand Poems In His Small Fists


This fire sharpens box corners.  These boxes cannot be stacked without a body count.  I am still counting bodies.  It would easier if I just stopped counting, but I’m not willing to give up that oxygen for nothing.  This fire wants my oxygen.  If I thought I could slow it down I would lay my oxygen as a present and a distraction, but that would only give a small jump to this fire.  Unfettered consumption and the willingness to lie about what is consumed, that is their entire agenda.  I will not be a part of that agenda.  I’m writing down all of the names.  I’m listing everything I lose.  If we still have insurance companies when he is all done, I will present to them all five thousand of these poems.


Faint copper, still working its way through the Ohio countryside, giving a glisten to each county line, I appreciate what it is you think you’re doing, but we don’t want to be shiny right now.  That will only catch his gaze, and even though our evil governor hates this evil president he cannot stop him from trying to fit us inside his small fists. 


The apocalypse isn’t coming.  We’re going to have to deal with all of this.  An ending would be too easy.  We are owed the whole of this process.  We will have to carry him the same way we carried the rest of our original sins.  How uncomfortable he will be riding America’s back right next to the corpses of so many native, enslaved, and marginalized peoples.  Great horrorman, meet the rest of our horrors, and speak to them about the American choice.  We are lazy and evil, yet we sing almost all of the time.  We have fired so many bullets into the heart of beauty because we thought gun smoke was the same thing as an early morning fog.

Darren's poems have appeared, or are scheduled to appear in numerous magazines/journals, including the South Dakota Review, Meridian, New Letters, Diagram, and the Colorado Review.  He is the author of six poetry collections, most recently "Many Full Hands Applauding Inelegantly" (2016, 8th House Publishing). He is also the Managing Editor of the Best of the Net Anthology and Ovenbird Poetry. He is currently living and writing in Columbus, Ohio with my wife and children.