Polite Uncertainty

Canisia Lubrin


for Bianca Spence


Let me see you
leave with your
posture of stones.
Or pray, if you must, to your lit
from both ends artillery
where the world is reduced
to the height of your nose.
Best yet: is grazed on the boundary of your toes.
Your local memory, your pause, cannot suddenly sag my syllables,
or whatever you trip upon outside
myself being invaded–but no–
who reduced you to the work
of a tilted head, and respite, pardon my flare, stretching the lips, polite?

But uncertain as what borrows now, as always, the dread mock of beauty fusing mindlessly, the morse-code to the hieroglyph, the telegraph to the Braille, the dying serif to the pixelated phrase,
throw the uproar the swallowed whole, the history as font.

Tell me how to be funny. Tell me how I haven’t tried.
Lend me your gaze.
Let me sign, stupidly, your name:









Aporia (in the feminine mode)

Lisa Young Kutsukake


Finally, something humiliating.
Below the cut steel stare of fluorescents
Lit in the commotion of the present:
I am a cobweb that caught an aging
Fingernail in the dining room cupboard,
Bland paint chip fallen off the bed’s frail leg,
Iron-stained panty clung to a clothes peg.
Neglect—to disavow, turn from, abhor.

Stubbornly posed before men’s scrutiny,
Our palimpsest-inked pages glow, one makes
Another. “Tabula rasa. The lot.”
Words fail to write actions; shrewd entropy
Blots Reason, favours twittering Rapture—
Who claims to say who is real and who’s not?








Black Hole

Gregory Betts


From nothing, a bird watches a man walk into a room. From nothing, a woman is telling a story. There is a murder. She stops speaking. He sits down. A woman walks into the room. A bird flies into the room. The bird is black. The man is black. The woman sits down. The crow is telling a story. It walks into the centre of the circle. Everybody stops talking. The wings of the woman fold behind her back. She is wearing jeans with holes that resemble black holes or night. Two crows fly out in the shape of a butterfly or a depressed penis or a man picking up a stone. Nothing is said. The man throws the stone and it kills him. The crow hovers over the body. The woman stands up and walks out of the room. Her wings unfold and she begins telling a story. Outside of the room is the room full of men and women and birds listening to her story. A woman knocks over a glass of black ink. It is now nighttime. Nobody continues to talk about the murder. Crows fly through the sky above you. They are women. Black women. They plot themselves. The man advances to inspect the hole where the crows fly into the room. He reaches his hand into the night and is bitten. The woman pushes him and together they fall. A stone flies past them, knocking two birds out of the sky. As they fall, their feathers peel from their wings. The feathers are black. You can only imagine how they float in the open space of night, beside the black hole from which they came, falling onto the stone face of Silence. The man sits down and stops talking. A woman walks into the room like a hole in a conversation. Silence breaks.

There is a wire that loops around the room. It is listening for any sign of Silence. Imperceptibly, it connects everything in the room to everything else in the room. The wire is black and casts a long shadow over everything it touches in the room, which is everything. Nothing stirs in the shadows. It might be the source of blackness. It might have caused the hole, or it connects one hole to another hole. The holes are lonely, long for another moment in the perfect quiet. From nothing, the birds that perch on this dark wire tell stories to the people, each word another thread that ties them to the room. The room itself is reeling from the murder.









Stephanie Bolster


It was practical, the elevated rails to bring the goods right
to the factories, the freight of meat, the turkeys packed and hacked
free of their heads. A few feathers stuck. It stayed
until the last train ran and after. Birds on their way
from roof to roof sat a while and shat
a small meadow up there, seeds, blooms, cast-off
stuff. Trash some wandered under and others looked
down on and a few scaled for trysts or views
of fireworks. Seedier and seedier, best done
away with. But a couple of guys saw
it made space where space was lacking, imagined
summer backs flat against a patch of grass, up at gull-
level. Did what it took (committees, etcetera) and there
it is still, planted with much of the stuff
that set up shop itself, but done with vistas
where someone wanted: 10th Avenue a scene
through glass (an amphitheatre to sit and watch
the traffic pass) or a wall of coloured glass
against which dancers dance or a stall sells
lattes and biscotti. At the end, it ends. There used to be more
but the eyesore side said no so that part had to go. Who says
they can’t go back, ship in bits of defunct track
(who takes Amtrak?) and set them up and roll out lawn. Imagine
all Manhattan bound by that ribbon? In a century or two
it’ll have gone the way of whatever else, the ostrich
say or cell phones, the hotel that straddled it parting
its legs over a void where rusted metal was. The decent scrap
long since turned to toys or parts of houses propped by brick
walls of what were factories. The Hudson still at it.








The Back of His License

George Murray


I woke up sweating in the new
year’s darkness, worried
about Trump’s organs.
I realize it’s unlikely he signed
his card, but if he did,
perhaps accidentally
autographing on autopilot,
How impoverished would a body
have to be to not reject them?
Imagine driving around
with Trump’s liver in you,
his spleen, his kidney, his marrow,
grafts of his skin like orange
bandages over your old burns.
His tendons creaking in your legs,
his lungs sucking up air, slack
face stapled to your skull
like a Halloween mask,
a stubby-fingered hand dangling
gratefully from your stump, needing
years of physio to grab again.
How could you ever be sure
of what you see with his eyes
sending light to your brain,
or why your pulse keeps rising
with his heart bumping
against your ribs? How could you
sit at a red light, running
your fingers through that hair?
I get it, you’re desperate.
You signed on your own line
and bought the best lemon you could
afford at the time.
And if his pink Cadillac parts fit
your chugging Dodge,
who cares? So long as you get
one more chance to arrive home,
hold your kids, kiss your wife.
Maybe with his hands or open mouth.









cake | fish counter

Emily Sanford










Mark Laliberte













T F2

Gary Barwin









from Barcode Poetry

Kyle Flemmer













from a a novel

Derek Beaulieu