The Clock

A. F. Moritz


The clock began to tick. Or I began
to hear it in the room where it had always
ticked and I had rested. The rhythm

appeared, like blood that had been there
circling invisible that surges from some cut,
that bursts open a flaw. A spurt, another,

regular. Won’t they ever end? Won’t it run out?
And it keeps running out, the blood in the terrified
attention fastened on the fountain. The drops

fall on the floor, gather, and flow out of sight
to harden somewhere, lose the nature of blood,
be knowable as blood to the scientist only

who comes later, tests the dust
and says at the end of scrutiny, This is blood.
The motionless face of the clock had begun

to forge forward, in that room that long had held
my body lying still. It was speaking now
a rhythm that ought to underlie a song. A rhythm

made by the mind’s arithmetic, as it figured ways
the skein of featureless ticks could be arranged:
iamb and trochee, spondee, dactyl, amphimacer,

all the paeans… A rhythm that made my breath stop
with conviction the next tick wasn’t coming. Star systems
were conceived and died in the silences

between each two. “Unbearable suspense”, it’s called:
the heart expecting to recognize it’s dead,
it’s been dead while the brain had to wait

a further second—the length of all true thoughts—
for the blood’s stoppage to reach it. Impossible, that ticking.
It can’t exist. In my room, in the resting of my body

there was no time, no future for any new sound
to come from or to sound in. All was silence.
And yet the ticking had come. So all was now

a prow moving in a sea
of black places that were not
till it cut into them. The voice of the clock

went on that way in my craw, dragging me
between excitement and exhaustion
while I longed to be left alone, to be restored

to the quiet of before, where I was paused
permanently, to consider until I could grasp it
this being underway.







Every Circle is Broken

Leigh Nash


Ride the wave, sweet darling; crest
that seven-gun salute all the way
to shore. Hunker down on the foamy
spit, head to knee, sheltered
from thunder’s thick rumble.

Listen as rain slicks your skin
seaweed-soft, rumours swelling
to the mossy surface. There is
an ocean inside each of us, bits of flotsam
and blood and bone kaleidoscoping
into new stars with every inhale
and exhale. The horizon slides away
like a mis-addressed letter
fated to wash ashore, later
pecked to mulch by wild beaks.
And that shoreline:

See loamy stalk wink out from sand
splayed like peeled-back skin. See
Atlas bone emerge from the earth,
moth rising from the dark, wings
a wide mouth in your palm.

It’s breathtaking, the body,
this loveliest of playing fields, this
husk we follow into even the darkest
corners. You begin as a bundle of
lost bones, of words and images
that stretch like skin flaps, tags latching
back into themselves in infinite loops.

Almost unnoticeable, as kindling is to wet
wood, as barnacle to ship hull, little
afterthought blinking into dusk like
a lighthouse’s light. You’ve been there,
tugging back layers of should-haves
and could-haves and musts. You’ve been
there with the water closing all around
you, and again when it drains away,
leaving your landscape moon-packed
and slick as a submerged log.

This is the response to your wild call,
prayer sent up from million-year-old
dirt or pushed ashore by the sea’s
steady hand. Swell, swell: the water
rows into its own current, soft and cool
as a wolfish howl. Cock your head
back, drop binocular to thigh.
Some things cannot be described.

The bones come now that you’ve raised
your head to drink in the lilacs. The bones
drop from the sky, climb out of the earth,
evade rocks and trees and streams to cross
your path. The bones are your compass, chrysalis,
and you will sing over them in a deep, sweet
baritone, a salute to what they have been
and will be again. You will sing
to their skin, sinew and muscles, to lungs
and bowels. Heart. You’ll sing to that first
inhale, watery yet sure, small beads gathering
in the corners of your eyes. You’ve drowned
from too much air, from not
enough. Scraped your rough patches
raw. Ringed yourself in chains
silvery as stars, cradled your elbows
and curled knees to chest, a tucked-tight
bud ready to unfurl on impact.







The interview where I was asked, If you could engage in cunnilingus with someone living or dead who would it be? Giving, receiving, or both?

Amber Dawn


If I think of it as a gift,
a present I could mete out to women
or, most accurately, if I think of it as a gift given
to anyone in possession of a cunnus (that’s Latin),
to anybody owning a cvera (that’s Etruscan,
meaning a venerated such and such, a charm)
if I offered it to all who would part their legs
and call their seed and pome into existence
then I could never choose just one.

I’d sooner lavish cunnilingus upon the masses.
I’m picturing a long line of drizzling asses,
split lips ready for a avid worshiper
like me, to recognize all that raunch beauty.

I imagine my tongue as a team
of baleen whales, older than gender and stark enough to swim
for days on end. For this vocation, my jaw mimics Tiresia,
immortal mandible, an oracle muscle
forseeing the unique desires of each partner.

Will I miss everyday
activity? Folding laundry, reading poetry, dealing repartee
and strategy with colleagues across our cubicles? How will it change me,
being smotherboxed through the ages? Will I become a queen’s settee
or an echo in the canyon? Will my gut bloat mud or honey?
Is there a new genesis in this oral orgy
or have I sworn myself to asphyxial infinity?








Troy Jollimore


One need not be a professional animal
behavior researcher to drape oneself
in shrouds of colorless fabric and force rats
to run through colorless two-dimensional mazes,
although it may help one avoid certain troubling
inquiries. One need not be employed by a major
academic institution to carry out such work
to be puzzled by the results of the blindfolded
honeybee study or think it a good
idea to see what happens if you give
a fake egg twenty times the size
of a regular egg to a herring gull
(answer: the gull ignores its own eggs,
keeps trying to sit on the big fake egg,
and keeps falling off.) One need not seek
permission from Church elders to dance the Charleston
in this day and age, nor wait for the latest
Supreme Court ruling to ask a person
who floats your boat if they want to go bowling
when the fireworks are done. In Antonioni’s
The Passenger one character says
“People disappear every day” and another
replies “Every time they leave the room,”
and one need not be Pauline Kael to enjoy
this exchange or to take a certain pleasure in and
at the very same time feel just a bit un-
persuaded by the fashionable nihilism of
Italian film directors. You can’t trust just
anyone to go poking and sifting through
the culture, what with all the deadbeats and
opportunists out there. Nor can you trust
the culture to go poking and sifting through
itself. One need not be confused to be alive
although one must ordinarily be alive
in order to be confused. One need not
doze beneath the coconut tree to be struck
on the crown of the head by a coconut,
resulting in half a second of total
astonishing enlightenment, then, wham, permanent
and equally total and astonishing extinction
of consciousness. Press anything hard
enough, long enough, between two stones,
you end up with something true. One need not
speak a foreign language to find the words
at one’s disposal profoundly inadequate
for expressing the thoughts that matter most.
Someday your shoes will fit. Someday
you’ll be kissed. Someday they will stop suspecting
you. One need not abandon oneself
to the furies, rend one’s outer garments, lie supine
at the Gates of the Congenitally Un-Self-Loved,
or spend one’s hours disconsolately perched
on top of a giant fake herring gull egg
to let oneself hope for these things.








“let’s talk about Kevin”

Michael Holmes


let’s talk about Kevin
and by Kevin I mean benzodiazepines

let’s talk about the puppy you gave me for my birthday
and by the puppy I mean cocaine

let’s talk about Jesus
and by Jesus I mean IED and anxiety according to DSM-IV

let’s talk about migraines
and by migraines I mean “migraines”

let’s talk about sex, baby
and by sex I mean self-loathing, baby

let’s talk about family
and by family I mean the busy intersection of Cowardly Place and Munchausen Lane

let’s not talk about love
and by love I don’t mean this rotten fucking tattoo

let’s talk about something more interesting
and by something more interesting I mean anyone but you








To the Inhabitants of Tiny Houses from the Internet

Jacob McArthur Mooney


You’ll evolve into a pronoun
for the fantasies of strangers.

An oaken metaphor for self-reliance
frames your head like antlers.

Settled in the listicle
like lepers of the fringe,

hammock-held and grinning.
You are cute, and unconcerned

with rising prices.
You fashion a first-born

from a stack of banker’s boxes
and a pot of sticky rice.

Pie charts on your arms conclude,
The earth is getting better.

Poems are as good today as any other day.
Build a sovereign fire. Feign belief.

You say, Design is a device for understanding
distance. Hollow out the cornerstone

that collects your dust and hair.
Politics is looped consent.

You can hide yourself in weightlessness.
Wake pressed against the ceiling,

heel to the bathtub.
Wake and wonder

how the college courses
got onto your lawn.







Tell Me How You Know What You Know

Zoe Whittall



You didn’t realize
the apology plant was plastic;
I watered it for two weeks before I noticed.

On Halloween you said,
let’s watch scary movies
about snakes, or zombies, or intimacy.


8-years-old, playing hide n’ seek:
while your friend counted to ten,
you just walked home.

West of Winnipeg, the rain
was within sight, so you drove
for forty-five minutes to catch it.


South of Big Sur, we are 39.
A swarm of secrets in good salt. Your two fears:
being smothered, being abandoned.

San Luis Obispo, an infinity pool:
you’re the teacher, the no-boundaries boss.
My fears: open spaces, genuine powerlessness.


Your sons don’t like surprises. The river rises,
the youngest grabs my hand. I’m the shoreline’s
soft shoulder, tolerating uncertainty.

We are suddenly the adults now? I tattoo
his tiny arm with a pink pony, feel my hips and
mouth sharpen, ready to fight off any danger.


39, without a baby, a female body becomes
indecipherable, to the waitress at Montana’s
our extended family, and now

even the other queers. When we walk
the tender red landscape in Arizona, I
stand at the altar for dead husbands

and children at the base of the mountain.
I count to ten. I think you are hiding,
but you rise behind the saguaro, alone.








Jonathan Ball


Let’s write a fucking poem!
You know what should be in it?

Maybe someone will read this poem!
Maybe someone important will read it,
like the president,
who I heard used to write poems
back in his college days, back
when he had nothing better to do
and his eyes still showed a spark of human life.

Maybe this poem will change my life.
I’ll put it up on Facebook and you will like it,
and then “like” it, and the president will “like” it,
even though he didn’t really like it, it just seemed
like the political thing to do. Then one day, months from now,
when my daughter does her Facebook chores,
she will “like” it and I will finally be happy.

I’m writing this poem on the bus, while missing my daughter.
In the seat next to me, some guy is doing kung fu.
That’s my life. Now it’s in a poem!
Now he’s in the poem, even if he doesn’t want to be.

Poems don’t have time for ethics,
but maybe they are ethics. Or escapes from ethics.
Sit on that one for a while! What are the ethics of a kung fu chop?
I hope he doesn’t lean over to read this screen, and
I don’t have to find out. If all the poets had to write
on buses, because they have three jobs, and have to travel
from job to job, so that they can afford bus fare to travel
between jobs, then we would have less poems.
I mean fewer poems, but also lesser poems.
Lesser poems, about how gardening’s a metaphor for life.

In my garden, there are beets I don’t have time to pick and eat.
I don’t have time, and my wife won’t let me.
She says they will keep just fine. The frost, when it comes,
won’t harm them. She’s sick of eating beets and sick of what they do
to your piss, and anyways (in Winnipeg, we say anyways, not anyway)
why can’t we just pave the garden over and rent it as a parking space
and then buy food instead of growing food?
The store beets are bigger and cheaper and less work.
These garden beets, which I don’t even eat, are just another job.

Actually, it’s her garden and that’s what I say. It’s not a metaphor.
We don’t cotton to metaphors around here, in this poem.








Shaun Robinson


Well, when you try to seize it, the day
turns to sand. And the moment is too little
living space, a broom closet inscribed
on a grain of rice. You’ve searched
for it for thirty-two years, but it’s buried
somewhere deep in the sand
on the beach of all your wasted days.
The only time that exists is the summer
of 2013, a time so dope that Mayan
philosophers glimpsed it
in a collective dream and invented
both paradise and apocalypse.
And as for those lemons,
the ones life gave you once, from which
you’ve been trying to make lemonade
ever since—the summer of 2013
saunters into your kitchen and takes
them from your hands, slices them
into sixths, pulls a bottle of Patron
and a shaker of salt out of a pocket
in his coat. Ignores you
when you ask if he’s thinking of limes.
Out on the porch, between shots,
he tells you things you’ve always known,
how the past and the future are lovers
spooning in bed, and the present
is how they don’t quite fit together. For instance,
he says, take that moon, and then he does,
plucking it out of the sky like a man
picking a lemon from a tree.
It’s not a moon at all, it never was:
it’s the prettiest moment you’ve ever seen,
big as a beach ball, skin like a nectarine.
You could do anything in a moment
like that. You could skin yourself
with a broken bottle and step out new.
You could live to the age of eight-seven.
Could probably even die. And now the summer
of 2013 is lifting it over his head.
And now he’s bringing it down across the rail.
And now it splits open and the juice
trickles out, the unadulterated
juice of one hundred percent real time.
And now he’s filling his cupped palms,
and now he lifts them to your mouth
and whispers, Now that’s what I call lemonade.







I am not a Bog Queen or a Fig or a Pomegranate

Elaine Feeney


For John Montague


Friday opens with a caesarean cleave, the scalpel held over me, so I hide myself under an old tattered eiderdown for the greater parts of the day and only

spread my ideas and hysteria out to my mother, whose love is that kind, that I can hurt. And all day long the mad barking of dogs in my neighbour’s tin shed

drives me wild. I have lived here all my life, despite delicate jaunts to plant roots elsewhere; my feet into new neighbors, down subways, smokey air, but my body

gives up the act, tripping me up, tongue loses tautness, so I stay, stare out the back window, eye the coarse Pig Weed and Quack Grass colonizing the lawn

and the black oiled shed doors are coming undone at rusty hinges, yet under the white arches at the front of this home, I attend the Trailing Lobelia as it spews

from wicker hanging-baskets. Our window dressings are staunched and bandaged for the world. And you my love, I have fantasized about your touch

since dawn, with its burning patience. We squandered our words last Sunday, after our revolting rampage of domesticity and I started my long retreat, my

arsenal of rusty weapons [you have immunized against] pussing, skulking, punching walls. Hybrid dinosaurs on the big black screen break the silence,

fried greasy duckling wings from last night’s dinner have stopped spitting in the pan, the postman catches a glimpse of my motley eiderdown shield, my parakeet

eyes from behind it, and he knows my secrets, like how only green eyes change colour [in fear] so I loudly sing, all I want is, and all I need is to find somebody.

I boil up Pot Noodles, offering children water and vitamin tablets in the shape of gummy bears, compensation for the food and the mothering and the crying.

Knock at the door. Let me touch your hand. Just once. I miss my father today and his smell under this mad mantle and I miss too you and your smell. I miss men.


There. I said it. It has been written down in bullet ink. I miss them and I lay siege behind this shield, crying. There I cry too. This too is written down.

[I will never ever write this Friday into a poem though. As the men will tell me it’s not poem’y ‘nuff stuff. In their language. That language they made

and expect me to try communicate in. In the language of puffed chest and sharp look to stare, crow’s feet, of stubble and solution and doctor] We might, though,

sit by Sunday, to make up a new lover language. Ok. Begin. Again. Code. Love. Child. Fear. Sweat. Forgive. SOS. Save me. I’m drowning, fist in the air, don’t wave,

I will think you are saying hello. Come. Come. Come, and be in me, near me, on me. Our language will be the language of hand. Of touch to my face. To your arm.

In this cave we dwell in, this mad ocean of undercurrents, take shelter under the flaky lip of eiderdown cliff, practice pronunciation of patient deliberation, cup-

washing. I promise you I will have no talk for father. And the great purple Calluna heathers will bloom. I might be mithered at times and I will have my loss.

I see that loss too on the strangers’ faces down streets. I will hear it on our lanes, outside disco clubs at three am, screaming their soft sad madness to each other,

[you fucked him with your eyes] I will dream of nine new man muses, listening to Dylan, the vinyl’s edge pierced by the pin [you make loooove just like a woman

but you cry like a little girl. Repeat] I will correct his mistruths, kernels formed from cribs and days we cut our knees skin deep and the days we walked

ourselves into hardwood doors and the days we went out late into night wearing pumps to run from rape or towards lustful dew-drunk mornings, as row boats

came in full of oysters and clams down off Quay Street, or down by the Rowing Club near the fastest ever moving river. I make love like a woman. I don’t need

this sung at me, repeating. I make love like a woman. I cry like a woman too.
My girl is long swallowed in that fast flowing river, the bowels of the Corrib, gone

out to sea. But you have cross-stitched your boy into your safe dermis. We know he’s there. But we will not sing you of it. I will write it out in secret. I will keep

my many muses. My loves. And I am not absurd for my strong lusts. All these fragments; driftwood; bog-oak; fire-pits; all bits of me. Temper. Strong jaw-lines.

There. It too is written down.









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