the desire issue
Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
John Manuel Arias
Max Stephen Bajzek
Darren C. Demaree
Because she leaves clothes piled in salt, behind a rock.
Because she covers herself in wind, shells cutting
her feet, a crab staring, blood spilling into the waves.
Because he can’t look, her body a fishnet, her body
spreading its holes in the ocean, her lashes
metal wires, lids hooked.
Because he’s looking.
Because once they wore nothing but aquamarine
leaves, the sea, Eden’s yard—
Because he wants his stolen rib back.
Because the sound of her voice is sin, she sings
to the spraying waves.
Because Miriam sang, she died in a waterless place.
Because after she died, the drought was lifted
in her honor, rivers drowned the desert, women sang.
Because seaweed tickles her skin, droplets
on her collarbones reflect the sun, she hears him rise
with the tide, shells cutting her feet—
Because he can’t look, he hides near the mikveh, his eyes
dripping with condensation, no traces of red.
Because he can’t see his wife dip.
Because she loves the sea but doesn’t sing, the moon
rising in her womb, spilling blood.
Because he can’t look, his cup overflows.
Because tzitzit don’t whisper, he still unzips
his pants in public—a crab stares.
Because she wore a white cloak over her head
when she married, breathing like a washed up sardine,
she wasn’t the right sister, shells cut her feet.
Because the moon pulls the sea into the beach, water
swirls around her legs, she sifts red foam
through her fingers, releasing—
Thanks for the sating
and the pop, gut
grinding the stuffing, stretch
of diverticulum and almost—
again—a split in some
delicate membranous seam.
For the spoons too large,
the heaping gush
of squash in orange
magma light, give grace.
Let whiskey pool
in the fissures
of the tongue. We asked
in all the old stories for fish
and bread and sexy
clementines while under
the snow’s long sentence
we ate our shoes
and our dead. Thanks
for the shearing
of the leather
of the breast,
for the bird
and its innocent empty
neck that salts
the soup we’ll eat
tomorrow and freeze
the blessed rest.
Elisabeth Adwin Edwards
GIRL IN NEW HAMPSHIRE ON FIRE, 1986
IN THE CALM
OF THE STORM
I didn't realize I was starting a series when I did. Normally when I draw or paint faces, I am most focused on the eyes, but felt this was letting me get away with two things: I avoided bright colors for anything but eyes, and I let the rest of the face be background for the emotion communicated with the eyes. I decided to paint a face, full of color, with the eyes closed. It showed facets of emotion than I'd been unable to create before, so I did another and that is what I've been doing since. I feel like the interior is better represented when we don't have that classic window, the eyes, to tell us where to look, where to find something to connect to, when we must find it ourselves.
John Manuel Arias
VI: A GRATEFUL LORCA WARNS YOU IN A DREAM
co of my sk
ull I ne
-etize me tr
eat me li
umb me mindles
-sly in pub
lick don't sw
allow me to
here I w
ant we all wan
t must host
lder than t
after Anne Sexton & Sylvia Plath & Edna St. Vincent Millay
I have stumbled home rigid, warming
her shoulders like black coat. I had called her,
coaxed her with conversation,
dinner, a movie and salsa night.
I wore a scent. I wore slacks. I wore a shirt
which fit and hid the fat usurping my belly.
Conveyed the cabernet on my lips
after picking up the tab.
I have known his kind.
I have pulled out and played my part,
groaned, let her take life onto her heart,
grinning a blonde twitch. I have been
where I could not fit. I felt ridges
as she stretched imagination to fathom
father’s response. I did not make her say daddy.
I did not. I did suggest she get comfortable
after she came in and asked for nightcap.
I have been his kind.
I have woken to empty bed
by birdsong—chit chit twee, chit chit twee—
by gleam of dawn’s chorus against window.
I have hailed to bathroom, asking,
would you like breakfast? Heard nothing, knew
she used the moon to hex into my home.
I know what I know:
Men like me aren’t men, quite.
I am his kind.
FALLING: A LOVE POEM IN FIVE MECHANICAL POSITIONS
i. The body as vessel as receptacle as temple paces
where arteries two-step
with serrated syncopations
a vestibule of veins
at a time
between highs and lows
the echoes of pacing
in dense muscular walls
ii. The body as borderless
shrivels in the middle of night between
the pace of beats per minute I feel
your hands and pull away this body
asks questions exhales a long
chalky smoke no more breath
iii. The body responds with a jolt
a small lever a spring release
to hiccups of breath
by skipping beats pacing
retreating swords drawn
lunge swing pivot
iv. The body as programmable
currents and cash and feelings
multi-tasking knitting dusting
and protesting this distance
all the grumbled garbles and
squeaks the intonation of force
what with the sensitive tissue
v. The body pacing approaching calm
pacing back and forth
wall to wall
the body begins
the process of being
hovering shapes of metal
other flesh feels better
than mine p.s.: non-metallic
Max Stephen Bajzek
THIS WILL WORK, TRUST ME
Darren C. Demaree
NUDE MALE WITH ECHO #244
When I sleep in the garage
on the broken hammock
near the broken lawn mowers
& the decorative tools, too old
to be used anymore, too rusty
to be sold anymore, I feel each
wind that works through the block
cement walls. It’s a cold tickle,
but I never shiver near so much
metal. There is a beauty
in the resistance that all us have
refused to be thrown out
for good. I nap there, beneath
the campaign sign from my father’s
city council run, because when
I open my eyes I see my favorite
shade of blue catching the sun
before it reaches my aching body
& I remember that my name
will be said, even in defeat,
if I declare myself a candidate.
i sit on a man on the brink of love
and worry about the weather.
the bathroom light is on
and it will kill us. it will kill us
by virtue of contributing
to the whirlpool of heat
that will rise up and plunder
from the vast of wet soils,
will dry lakes of fishing,
lungs of cool air.
swarming through metropolis,
will cripple us slowly as we watch
our children drown, fry,
blizzards of fire
in the raging neck
oh little boys, it is only 2016.
i remember: when the gross
weight of silence made way
for few vehicles in pondok indah,
when the area around the big new mall
(of three future malls) was still gross wetland
and sky, turned into a desolation of sales,
and now, now i see it, amidst shitty neon--
the tundra where he and i meet and our
memories never will, cracked universes
kept to myself, his own worlds
of past jaunts and homes, and how
we refuse to think of the future,
nor of the red past, a pact, but this
may be, may well be, because
our futures--all of ours--are parched.
i tire and bleed, dismount.
lie down in a nightscape studded with sirens, hear
the metronomic hum of human breath.
No offense, boys. You weren’t the ones
who held my heart heavy. I just kept choosing
something over nothing: the one that I want?
—a high rising terminal, a repeated hedge,
a hope that power lay in the act itself, the choice. Oh, boys:
You my firsts, 15 and 17; indelicate letdown. There was no there
there. Guilt sequestered deep, no truth to see, it’s plain:
I needed a boyfriend; you liked me; you were such a nice guy.
How could I know you, dull mirror casting back an empty face.
You elemental, king potential, you’d try anything—a deliberate reach,
self-challenge, just staying clear. I climbed down after you, never
thinking not to trust, but only watched you strip and swim alone
in that cold lake—another one I wouldn’t enter, even in good company.
You comrade of unspoken yearn. We had an agreement: you didn’t tell me
and I didn’t know. Simple that way, a little bit purer, as you noted in a letter
later on. Mostly there’s that moment in the snow. But temper this: awkward
holding in the dark just once—you said Where are you?—I wondered that, too.
You the beguiler, lost boy, working my dial to receive only you. Got me
spellbound, invisibly fenced. You needed. I forswore. Partitioned off
questions. But they rose like bread dough as I slept, spilled over sides,
crept into every crevice: sweet sour fungi bursting me free. I could not abide.
Oh you lean bodies, oh leaden hearts half-riddled with old haunts—
oh reachers and stealers—I gave you all the old college try, didn’t I,
and if there’s an end to this story, then it lies
in waiting six months/ nine years/ all my life
until I took the glass of water from her hand
without a word and stepped boldly in
to seek the oh yes yes please This.
Issue Twelve Contributors
Carrie Addington poems have appeared in Poet Lore, The Collagist, American Literary Review, Waxwing, Gargoyle, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the Virginia Downs Poetry Award, the American Literary Review Poetry Award, and a Pushcart nomination. She received her MFA from George Mason University and currently lives in Northern Virginia, where she works as a Business Consultant in the fashion/beauty industry and teaches at Northern Virginia Community College. Additionally, she serves on the board of the American Poetry Museum in Washington, D.C
John Manuel Arias is a gay, Costa Rican / Uruguayan poet and crepe-maker raised in a DC ghetto when it was the murder capital. His poems have appeared in the James Franco Review, Rust + Moth, Red Paint Hill, the After Happy Hour Review and other places. His debut collection of poetry, ¡I'D RATHER SINK--! is forthcoming from Red Paint Hill Publishing. He currently lives in San José, Costa Rica with his grandmother and four ghosts.
Max Stephen Bajzek is a mad fancypants aural and visual synaesthesiast living in Pittsburgh, PA. His work can be found at https://soundcloud.com/where-is-he-red-gunner and http://max1975.deviantart.com.
Khairani Barokka is a writer, poet, artist, and disability (self-)advocate in London. She’s worked in six residencies and nine countries, is published internationally, and created, among others, poetry/art solo show “Eve and Mary Are Having Coffee”. Okka is coeditor with Ng Yi-Sheng of HEAT (Buku Fixi Publishing 2016) and author of blind-accessible poetry-art book Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis Press 2016). www.khairanibarokka.com.
Lara Coley is a San Francisco native, artist and casual linguist. After graduating from SFSU, she moved to Toulouse, France for three years.. She taught English to engineers, translated documents about airplanes and medicine, and had a damned good time eating, drinking and romancing every cliché français. She returned to her alma mater to pursue an MFA in Poetry. She has worked as an editor on two lit journals and her writing and artwork have been published in Opium Magazine, Transfer, sPARKLE & bLINK, Australia's Visible Ink Anthology and others. She has writing forthcoming in New American Writing and Red Light Lit. She is currently trying to kill her darlings.
Darren C. Demaree is the author of five poetry collections, most recently The Nineteen Steps Between Us (2016, After the Pause). He is Managing Editor of The Best of the Net Anthology. Currently, he lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his wife and children.
Kevin Dublin is a writing consultant, instructor, and editor of Etched Press. He enjoys making video adaptations of poetry and reciting poems to strangers. "His Kind" is part of a larger work, Courting Sylvia Plath, in which Dublin inserts a black lover into Plath's life in part to interrogate how she writes about Blackness/Whiteness in her work. His words have most recently appeared in Menacing Hedge, SOFTBLOW, Glint Literary Journal, Sunshine/Noir II, and Gendered & Written: Forums on Poetics. He holds an MFA from San Diego State University and spends his summers teaching at Duke University's Young Writers' Camp. You can find him on Twitter @parteverything.
After a successful 20-year career as a regional theater actor, Elisabeth Adwin Edwards has shifted her focus to poetry; her work has appeared in ASKEW, Poeticdiversity and Melancholy Hyperbole. She now lives full-time in Los Angeles with her artist-husband, nine-year-old daughter and a tarantula named Zooey.
Geula Geurts is a Dutch born poet who is currently enrolled in the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing. She grew up in the Netherlands, finished high school in South Africa and has been living in Israel for the past seven years. In her poetry she explores the erotic and spiritual world of the Jewish female, both on a personal and mythological level. Her work will be anthologized in HYSTERIA (Lucky Bastard Press) and is forthcoming with arc-24. She works as the Editorial Assistant at The Deborah Harris Literary Agency.
Tracy Hart is an artist, writer, and art therapist who lives in one of North Carolina's many college towns. Her work also appears in FoundPoetry Review and in a recent chapbook, What the Sky Throws Down.
Amy Miller's poetry has appeared in Bellingham Review, Nimrod, Permafrost, Rattle, and ZYZZYVA. She won the Cultural Center of Cape Cod National Poetry Competition, judged by Tony Hoagland, and has been a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize and the 49th Parallel Award. She lives in Ashland, Oregon, where she is the poetry editor of the National Public Radio listening guide Jefferson Monthly, works as the publications project manager for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and blogs at www.writers-island.blogspot.com.
Greg Nissan is a poet and translator with degrees in comparative literature and German studies from Brown University. He lives in Berlin, where he's working on a documentary poetry project as part of a Fulbright grant. HIs poetry is forthcoming from Small Portions and Theme Can. His translations of Uljana Wolf have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail (In Translation!) , Asymptote, and Action, Yes, and will soon appear in Two Lines.