Contemplating Your Progress

Molly Peacock


…………….Thomas Crawford’s sculpture, 1856
…………….Brain Bleed, 2012

The New York Historical Society.
Huge white marble sculpture in the lobby:
“Dying Indian Chief Contemplating

the Progress of Western Civilization.”
You duck beneath him with your wobbly cane
then upturn your face toward his, contemplating

his sober view of hysterical society.
“Something terrible has happened!” you say loudly
as a teenage girl to the sculpted dying man.

“He’s so sad!” you repeat to the empty lobby
where you make a pair, a society of two
(plus a volunteer and a guard) contemplating

the mystery of the new you, brain torqued
from your stroke. You connect without history
—but with feelings whole—to the agony

of the Dying Indian Chief in marble.
Your fresh response remakes his catastrophe.
Yes, something terrible has happened—

we amble on. “That’s a very sad man back there.”
Progress comes. With a cane. Without piety.
Wake up a statue. Then repair.








Michael Prior


I meant to acknowledge what you hadn’t yet confessed.
Just as a dog will tolerate strangers who approach
him sideways and with an extended hand, we’ve let

inconveniences beget emergencies. Phones closed,
switched to airplane mode, the atmosphere returned
us to our proper sphere. How could I have known

I was still broadcasting on descent? The slow burn
of aluminum scattering that which lacks mass
at lower pressures, temperatures undiscerned.

I cycled through my states, wore an ill-fitting mask.
Regret thickened asthmatic in a chamber of the heart;
its porthole was a small aquarium. If I tapped on the glass,

bright denizens below swam in and out of the dark
like fallen constellations treading water,
about to flicker out. The impossibility of disembarking

stirred an eel in my ribs. Our departure
forgotten, ambient-lighting asked for patience, pleaded
for continued understanding, as the unclaimed future

rattled in the machine. I saw what was needed,
what I had felt: the dim glow of resignation through
the tint of night—as if clarity was time’s unheeded

toll: the porthole’s algal shrouds pulsed with the blue
of wave and wind. Who rewrote our dialogue? The same
words recalled in different coloured ink. Confused,

I thought of the cuttlefish, struggling to reflect the inane
geometrics of a scientist’s whim. A life spent matching
exteriors, while the interior remained unchanged.







Howl #28, #44, #49, #61, and #68

Eric Zboya

Howl #28.jpg

Howl #44.jpg

Howl #49.jpg

Howl #61.jpg

Howl #66.jpg








Adagia 300 – 348

Daniel Nester


300. The tough guy is always African American.
301. The fatherly anvil is always feverishly ached-after.
302. The freelancer is always busty.
303. The apartment of a sucker MC is always gentle.
304. The sucker MC is always peaceful.
305. The crank call from a sucker MC is always kind.
306. The blue-balled kind is always wrong.
307. The blue-balled nutcase is always sweet.
308. A do-nothing tough guy is always to avoid sexual contact with a priest.
309. A peaceful shy brownie is always accurately hairless.
310. The Angel of Equations is always faggy.
311. An All Cows Eat Grass is always faggy.
312. The Texan is always sharp-dressed. And faggy.
313. The red wheelbarrow is always inexorably bitchin’.
314. The red wheelbarrow is always faggy.
315. The red wheelbarrow is always gentle.
316. The red wheelbarrow is always myself.
317. Act your age.
318. Grab your age.
319. High, lame, ink, lamas.
320. I’m a uniter, not a drinker of water.
321. Up in the air, fish go and marry.
322. Raise questions about rocks only underwater.
323. The tenth time you see someone nude, you must provide your own shirt.
324. Answer and measure at the same time.
325. Out of the house a funky nectar.
326. Relax on your own ass.
327. The ass responds.
328. Leap, regret, question.
329. Where your pud goes, fire follows.
330. Shapely, piggish, make your own fun.
331. Locks littered, vents, clogged.
332. Last words come easy.
333. Sturdy canes in a made-up story.
334. Your cans frustrate.
335. The lap of loquacious, the parents of the loquacious.
336. Nudge the farmers.
337. Inchoate jock itch.
338. Can’t your dolphins lighten up a bit?
339. Grab angry causes by the thorax.
340. Filthy books hold the angry.
341. Hold on to your gold.
342. Newborn dolphins unite.
343. Go with God, question him.
344. An ode in haste sings off-key.
345. The water’s hair.
346. Many caddies at the milk counter will see The Giant Labrador.
347. Inside of us and off somewhere.
348. At the start of a fight, no prayers for one’s cause.








Stuart Ross


Big Monkey watches over me
as the blistering clouds bang
against my window and I dream
of you again and you are alive.
We are in a snow fort on my lawn
on Pannahill Road and we pretend
we are soaring through space.
The rumble of a 1967 Valiant
station wagon passing by my
driveway is the roar
of a meteor hurtling toward
earth and narrowly missing our
craft. We know now that
everyone will die except for us,
because we are in space. Except
our ship has turned into a womb,
its hot, sticky walls pressing
against us until we can barely
move our arms. We are crushed
together like conjoined twins
and because you are dead, I
wonder if I too am now dead
and I call out to Big Monkey
but he is bent over my desk,
rolling a sheet of yellow paper
through the platen of my
1952 Underwood, so intent he
cannot see us in the TV set,
our palms against the screen
from inside, and vertical hold
starts slipping.








Amanda Jernigan


Waiting in the hall
I tried to recollect
a mother’s prayer: the Hail
Mary? Now and in
the hour of our death

not right. And anyway
what right had I to say it,
who had it on faith from my atheist
father, a locked box.
Or, rather, open:

ladies and gentlemen, you
are free to inspect the contents
of this box, ‘sickness
and suffering, hatred and jealousy …
greed …’ (yes, also hope).

What is the right prayer
for Ethan? I thought. And thought:
‘What is the right prayer
for Ethan?’








Either, Or

Guy Gavriel Kay


She doesn’t like being understood, which makes
loneliness complicated, though you could take the
(perfectly valid) view that all loneliness is complex,
or really simple. Either, or. She wouldn’t even
be pleased that her dislikes are understood.
She walks Manhattan streets in March, long-
striding through snow melting to slush, in new boots
bought to assuage (however inadequately) her latest
iteration of midwinter blues. A southern girl in
New York, what could one reasonably expect?
She flashes confidence in her stride, at work,
in a bar with friends, end of day, into night.
She withdraws inside, seeing them falling for it,
knowing she’s only flashing, really – another
fly façade among too many in this city.
But our own mirror matters most, has to do that,
unless we’re maybe in love and then the image offered
by the one we’ve (maybe) fallen for might mean more.
Either, or. It’s hard to fall in love with people we can fool.








Dina Del Bucchia and Daniel Zomparelli


The Rose
for Belle

What happens after
you suffer through
a beast and a wedding,
everyone, objects you knew,
changed into old flesh?

You were so smart,
I always thought
it was about books, ideas,
living life through the eyes of another,
pretending because
life isn’t so fucking great.
We want more.

I’d been dismissed too
for talking about thinking,
pressing my nose to books,
creating new spaces in my body
for knowledge.

When you’re young
all the sexy misogynists,
Provencal gym monkeys
show off their brawn,
propel beastly bodies.

Maybe Stockholm syndrome
isn’t any less romantic
than cocktease guilt.

But once you get involved
in your own fairy tale,
so meta: the magical rose,
like the kind lady’s throw
to knights, like the kind
someone in a different story
will compare to your vagina

Outdated stories.

What happens
when you’ve transformed,
when you’re delicate stained glass,
decorative and one-dimensional?

hollow ship to hell
for Ariel

You saw him on a ship
and he was destined to drown, but
you saved him and fell in love.

I was a fish too, fins for feet,
flapping on the beach only for moments
before the air burned my scales.

I broke my body in half,
footed myself into his life at every moment
until I caught his attention.

I was up late one night in his bed
air burning flesh
again, my body craving the ocean.

My body sealed itself.
Skin tightened and gills
slit neck.

I filled the bathtub with
water and Epsom salts
let my scales smooth.

Then, I slipped out
of his apartment and
sunk back into the ocean.

Now, at night he cuts his skin
to create gills
but can never stay under the water long enough,

tries to keep from floating upwards,
tries to weight his body with cement,
tries to anchor.








Jaime Forsythe


This all happens where houses threaten
to slip into the sea, where no one crosses
on the stairs or sings at the table, where
odd scraps get socked away, a sparrow
in the freezer, nestled next to
the tequila, where the street
sweeper roars by under a strawberry moon.
No matter where, we don’t wash
for days and bonfire rises from every layer
of us. Chanting by the kindling, songs morph
into visions, into sketches on butcher paper.
Compatible zodiac signs hang out
around the picnic table hammered
from a kicked-in door. Words guard us
against unwelcome thoughts and shifty
visitors. Fragile alchemy gets a baby
to sleep, powered by a looping
articifical heart. The button flickers
violet, and we have entered
the right ventricle. Thirteen
beats before the curtain drops. Our lives shift
softly every time a new one arrives,
high beams interrupting the performance
and stalling the pendulums, the inner workings.
Small fuses, we disconnect and reconnect, willing
the charms we’ve created to catch.







The Tightrope Walker

Patrick Warner


The bearded grind-organ lady’s
Quaker-bearded monkey,
depressed elephants,
sedated lions, insouciant
ungulate dromedaries
and belligerent camels
will tomorrow be ushered
into confinement.

With these will go
the washing-machine-cum-
bisected-jet-engine that spins,
that basin of sticky wisps,
spun stratosphere that collects
on a dipped stick to make
edible pink insulation.

Stacked like ark runners will be
parenthetical sections
of the two-ring circus,
and with them the big top’s
bamboo poles a small boy
named Hal imagined were
fishing rods for whales.

His neck stiff from looking up,
his eyes so long fixed
on the glittering funambulist
he imagines he is up there
with her seeing what she sees
when she looks down:
eyes all gelatin and night,
like frogspawn in a ditch;
workweek complexions, a
shade of pale past exhaustion,
expressions as volatile
as empty petrol cans.

His stomach fills with butterflies;
butterscotch coloured they waft
and flutter as Ms Muffet makes
her way on bony
sheep-faced slippered feet
across the braided wire
from tuffet to tuffet.

Later he will not be able to say
when he got carried away
or why he hid in a wicker hamper,
under baguette-sized lace-up
bulb-toed shoes, itchy neon-coloured
nylon wigs and red ball noses,
on a bed of oily hawsers,
pegs with hangnail heads,
mauls all dents and nicks.

Tomorrow the pigeon-chested
lion tamer and the tightrope
walker will pick out his cry
from the cries of macaws,
the shrieks of parakeets,
from the ratcheting calls of toucans,
and drop him in the next town,
entrust him to the perfumed,
fire-breathing policeman.








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