Rochelle Ratner

NY Snow Deep Enough to Bury a Basketball Player

Eighty-eight inches, they say. Seven feet, four inches. As high as
the NBA's tallest players. And more expected. But he's not the
tallest. Nowhere near the tallest. Scouts from an ivy league
college, maybe Georgetown, drag him from the streets, get him a
high school diploma, get him on the team, then four years later tell
him he's too short for the pro league. He goes home to his family.
He hangs out with the same kids he quit high school with. He
shoots baskets in the playground. He shoots up. But then it starts to
snow and he just sits down in it. He doesn't even bother with angel



Noisy School Kids Have Mouths Taped

And they also taped the sofa bed this morning. They'd
bought it just after he'd stopped smoking, when his nerves
were frazzled. Two years after they'd moved in together, a
year before they married. His nerves were as exposed as
the springs on the old couch, which had been secondhand
to begin with. His body so tensed they almost broke up the
same day they purchased it. It was what his old girlfriend
referred to as the sexiest couch she'd ever seen. Meaning
sleek, gathered lines. Meaning flimsy if beautiful material.
Meaning it started tearing just after their first anniversary.
Now they've put packing blankets all around it, taping
them closed, hitting against new-painted walls and ceilings.
It's on its way to his girlfriend's house, though she no
longer calls it sexy. She speaks instead of blankets and
slipcovers. And, of course, he's riding along with the


Housework Cuts Breast Cancer Risk

She empties the living-room waste basket at least once every two
weeks, if the maid doesn't show. Or if papers start spilling onto the
floor. She stores garbage in the refrigerator after the compactor
closes down for the night. Every few months she takes a sweater or
two to the cleaners. They say this building was built with the
laundry room looking out on a yard where kids could play, to make
it family-friendly. The only time she's been in the laundry room
has been when the maid's run out of quarters. She tosses pillows
every which way onto the bed so she can get to the treadmill, then
usually she's too tired to move. She drinks from paper cups when
not straight out of the bottle. She eats off paper plates, but seldom
eats at home. Still, the maid faithfully cleans the stove top twice a
month. For the last night of Chanukah her husband gives her an
Electrolux convertible vacuum, a little hand unit that also has a
long handle and floor brush, battery operated. This is because he
loves her.


Philippines Hopes to Break Mass Tree Planting World Record
It takes ten trees to absorb the pollution of a single car. Even
thirty years ago some people saw this coming. Hence Imelda
Marcos with all her shoes, hoping to find a fashionable pair
she could someday walk in. Instinctively knowing the regime
would be overthrown. Woman's instinct. And his father's
friend, at 90, after a broken hip, strutting her apartment all
day, searching for a pair of heels she could wear to the
birthday dinner. Happy for the moment. No longer driving.


Davide Trame


On the wooden bench you are swaddled
in green and gusts of wind
and the pageant of clouds passing,
the day glittering with emptiness
and the frank infinity of the air.
By the church walls and the shrubbery
sun and shadows clash like polished blades.
You face the lawn with the graves,
the blackened headstones
with the yellow circles of old moss,
you watch these time-spots and the best
you can know of the final rest,
the grass retaining a light of its own,
the large shuffling of the willows
and the tight rustling of the cypresses
whose green is so strong in the sunlight
that it becomes the dark blue
of the sky in the high mountains.

This wooden bench is where
you would always like to stop
waiting for your gaze to be gazed
but not expecting it really,
you would just like to sit and watch
the infinite air's ways
and the afternoon stretching into evening
and the evening into everything.


Not Quite Forgetting

The field has started its autumnal course,
the light a brown gathering extension,
the green slowly losing strength,
the leaves bearing bits of films of dust,
reaching instants of misty stillness
in the late afternoon when a tawny dog
runs towards the carriage of the train
as if he wanted to meet it or the rails.
It seems very slow, all of it,
a slow carefulness from a long hand,
a painting in action with the brush concealed
because it’s too light, too airy,
the best way of sliding into the night,
not quite forgetting
the horizon and its shine
but rather letting
the dog meet us
and bark in our sleep
and cling, cling to the rails
that run in our belly.


Beyond Delay

Now you wake up at the train’s umpteenth extra-stop,
you have been nodding off, your stare drunk
in the bare, still patches of countryside
and the constant rails’ shine where eyes drop.
You wake up at the shuffling of steps
and see passengers leave, first lingering
on the railway tracks then in groups walking away
across the hedge, in the field, walking, becoming dots.
And you are alone in your dream.
Spellbound in tiredness, lazy, lost. Sitting on your seat.
Why bother to ask, look for someone?
You know, the world has gone, you won’t find a soul.
You know it by the sound of the air, the breeze
eyeing you sideways with a gaze you hear and hear only,
thrumming on treetops, rustling, like wings on wires,
like eyelids.
You sit, doze, know you have time to let go,
an ocean of soil and drifting grains and fingers
of unaccountable glass blades,
the carriage sinking slowly day after day,
the rails into the stones and dirt and nettles,
the yellowing corn by the hedge in tall rows,
the blue sunny carpet of cicadas glittering, grinding,
covering the carriage among dandelions and sunflowers
and brambles like arms and hands advancing through the windows,
and bees buzzing, filling your neat body’s silence,
crowding skin, bones, irises
like the snow in its hush
copiously falling on McCabe after he stumbled
and fell on the slope and couldn’t but sit
and by sitting he froze
while Mr. Miller in the opium house lying down on one side
was smoking, drifting in her own endless clouds,
meeting and forgetting the ever opening sky,
the swallowing horizon.


Echoes of Sun

You raised the turntable lid,
took the record out of the inside cover,
kept it by its sides, with both hands,
with only the least of it between palms and forefingers’ tips,
gazed at its shine with a frown and a smile
and blew slightly on the surface, first one side
then the other, turning it with a nimble
imperceptible swirl in your wrist, like a dance step
you wanted to hint at.
You laid it on the turntable, slowly, and more slowly
lowered the turntable arm that set it off, stylus landing
on the black, glittering pool of thin furrows
with a wader’s foot’s touch.
We relished the instants of buzzing and crackling
like the first flames of a camp fire
then the rock guitar solo burst in and took off,
God’s grass in its roar.
Yes, it’s through this too that we could assess
longing and stamina in our countenances,
exchanging a few nods while listening was enough,
waving an exulting fist, feet tapping the floor,
the future a raw, puzzling star
while we pretended to be strong
with our gaze on tiptoe.

Constant rites, a longer time.
In echoes of sun.
Moulding the map where we now stand.



After lunch
when the conversation ends
the last sparse words
are absorbed
in the ticking of the clock,
the cat’s nails rattling on the railing,
the sky blooming in the silence.
All is fulfilled,
present and gone.
You rehearse for the blue
start of the unknown.


Bob Marcacci

above us only blackness
   dotted with dotty sparkles
   fading to a yellowing horizon
        marred with horizon and architectural
        still stare into it and hope
          what comes out if no more silly
             than a terrible depth
            a feeling of feeling caught
               in a vast unmoving movement



face another deadline          another June
passes through electromagnetic stress
without result          i long for the cold moon
to capture a piece of this          to obsess
as i do in the white light          as i snake
to darker places and voids          culling moot
possibility          to have and eat cake
near the machine          underneath the soft boot
of recovery and search terms          Garbo
the lone word on my screen          my only play
among hyperlinks          am i this hobo
riding cyber-rails by night          by day
asleep with the twitch and glare of rhinestone
memory          carry me you sweet cologne



Philip Byron Oakes


Not too far from where is how that when came time for shrinking violets. A handsome solitude takes a mirror in for repairs. Slurred tangents of quicksilver, jealous lampshades, a lonesome criteria making light from leftovers. Where near is dear to distance yielding dividends their ghosts. Naked as Halloween. Imperiled by shadow, gruff dusk. The quicksand of rocket science belches mysterious odors, into knapsacks that porters carry on and off the train. The jimmy crack corn of caribou tippy hoofing through eggshells of summer. Fire retardant kindling, bursting into a laughter of snaps and crackles. Fugue states are neither red nor blue, but colors rendered moot by the coming of nighttime, drawn by children with crayons they trust to cure polio. A shaving cream of smithereens lathers the b that a can c. Beauticians eat the foie gras. The bloat of loyal yeoman provide ballast for the histrionics of specks on the horizon. Popeye rows the boat ashore.


Flight School

Voodoo in the hairdo of Marie Antoinette,
dark end of the cave with curtains. Push
comes to see shove in its underwear.
Populism of starched collars cut and dried,
resonance of unsaying widows of the
second wind as sashayed, a forensic
limerick weaving pigtails for the blind.
Contagion of stigmata in the Nabi garden,
a glut of alchemies in the loafers. Cruelty
of labyrinths on Easy Street, the tingly
afterglow of moments stolen from beneath
a veil of hiccups. The hubbub, somehow
lost between the commas. That’s what it
means to be major general. Astral planes
are grounded till the weather clears.
Boogeymen take a number like everyone
else. Axioms in wheelchairs are
commandeered on slurring sleds of
paraphrase, a lapse of manual etiquette
at the door. Fleshy when wooden even so. 



Ashok Niyogi

Today’s World

Of late, sometimes the veil lifts, and I can see
how incredibly difficult it must be,
to live with me.

Between the high rise and the alley,
this wisp of fetid vapor flits, turns corners,
doubles back on itself, and incessantly whines,
“what shall I do now, who shall I pretend to be?”

Play acting on this familiar stage, that is life
in linear progression, inevitably all unreal lamps
are extinguished in series, all microphones wail
and wither away into dusty drapes.

Fingers adjust folds in period costumes just so,
eyebrows arch, lips practice the perfect angle
between pedantry, detachment and finally
universal love, when all the Adam’s apple does
is bob up and down in the anguish of loving you,
needing you now.

And life lines coil back into the security of money
earned after a hard day’s work and complaints
about the high rates of adultery and federal income

Of late, for the first time, I can relax,
in that motley crowd sits some other Ashok Niyogi,
some other statue of wax.


Travel Lore

Off the old Indo-Tibet road,
in permanent ice,
live a hoary monolith
and his weather-beaten wife.

And they are not holding hands
but have between them
a sharp valley, with hundred feet snow.

On this valley, the sun comes up
and erases divine footprints.
Here the gods walked last night
in the moonlight,
they were seen by the monolith’s wife.

The monolith knows,
but is old.


Jessy Randall & Daniel M. Shapiro 

Staying Inside

                  “Nobody knows anyone anymore because of TV.”
                                 – Guy at a Pittsburgh Eat 'n Park, 2007

The days of ice cream socials are over. I've got
a force field around me, a rubber donut,
a digital fence. Don't let my bar code scare you.
You'll never get close enough to scan it.

A robot waters the groceries. I don't remember
what carrots taste like. I asked the toaster, but
she said, “They taste like red, but a little lighter.”
I wish I could remember what toast was.

I would invite you to sit on my porch,
or in my living room, if there were such things.
We could dream together without sleeping.
Let's see what's on TV.


Bowie Medley

The stars look very different today
under pressure of serious moonlight.
I still don't know what I was waiting for
staying back in your memory.

I had to phone someone, but I took her nowhere.
Her heart's been broken just like you have.
There's slaughter in the air. Thanks for hesitating.
Look at that sky! You looked in time.

I wanted to believe me like the tears on my face.
Maybe we're lying, then you better not stay.
This stubborn old fist will do anything you say.
Is this concrete all around, or is it in my head?

There's a brand new talk, but it's not very clear.
I'm stuck with a valuable friend in such an early song.
Is it any wonder I reject you first, take things over?
I could pretend that nothing really meant too much.




John M. Bennett


foamed frantic at the        you parked your renter in
you ended me the        us to the dent ist
hopper ash you car        a glass  .boom mitt
ing on the muff in        crumb bustled an y
w happed me or happ        e lover of the waff
piled so deep ah        leg no middle weft
yr pants an mine m        ap wall et all that
the joiner to yr so        y eye rutting  .twist
dripping down yr        bowler  !w hey shirt
no yes it was  .fin        ened to crisp it
le comb ,whop me        smeared yr shirt
r vile grinning like        amellized like cough
.c rock hand yr foc        punctal or the w
like a bloody sink        crystal heaver where



broke luggage back m        where the heat blew off
ailed troking h ab        a s core of ratness
r cow l d ripping in        h the sandtax and
hong ,whyly inching pas        n you bit my locks
throng pause and w        hope hot hamper
eric c lobber thro        an a drooler spoon
my shopping  .the s        oudly wrinkled in yr
the hall chanchre ,l        leepless rice plods
pawn ball  .laughter        ugh the soup vent
,clutchy fools ,the        hole reaches yr ent
like an oiled moo        t my skreeking  .the
.I was carried fort        your suit a ham t
my limp id shoes        its fazed the s lope
,dithering in the alley        y shape c luster f


Wet head

snork le ,s not ho        yr eye are turning
cracking in the smoke        es an w allows out the
er you en raged ,w        wiping  .the ghost meal
r skull ,f lame boo        cub ic stun t f lavor
n of incongestion a st        behind yr own er
dled at the grist le        thanatosis d raped a
.foundry of yr br        thighed  .nor taxes g
wallet t rapped an        eath collapsing fun nel
runt ,nor bowl er        board an whacked
cross the crouch ed        ate of wrist ,you med
locker ran ge ,a        th ,missile teat ,fe
ed with yr lack of        et like air inside y
gristens ,yells ,nat        ,b linking pas t the wat
foam bucket where        p per ,b rash lens


Mark DuCharme

Make Me a Believer

Certain tests become the speechless
Though your inner dork might disapprove
Effacing shape until it’s too late
But don’t quote me, I might ramble

The whiny guy was instrumental
It was a sing-along, but less impressive
Boring poetry equals boring women
You can’t have it both ways

I found them soon outslung, though sulking
At desperations prior to disrepair
Like this slinking, which could alter
Depending on what results you’re after

What hinges, socially, on the make-believe
Is also part of why I’m still not
Here, in order to defund the haggard
While operators still stand by

8:16 AM: got my groove back
I was an Aussie wussie
With large amounts of velour on backorder
In the faith that comes of too much spinning


Thank You for Protecting Polar Bears

The centaur cannot fold. It has a new life experience
As seen on Lifetime,where, punctual
You are a modernist in a doomsday client
State— suppressing all legible offers
To become someone who cannot hum
I am reasonably sure this is private, & has
Only minimum content appeal
I am still not kidding
My vita is in the concertina, but my
Dark look really knocks you up
& Some things you can’t compare just are
Rising through my uptake
While I criss-cross all states of abandon
A fishnet warbler, rocked near formidable
Mute, disgruntled armies, who
Still await yesterday’s kisses
Though I’ve forgotten how to sing


Possibilities Enthrall Our Foreheads

for Noah Eli Gordon

Reckless engenderment presupposes double dipping
Like on a trace
I wrote a bad poem for the fucked-up crush
Whose city you replace

Little pieces of rooster-thought
Whose play is possibly fucked-up thought
Double dipping instruments
Of the bad poem, now lost

The good poem is a rumor
We have been hearing about like stolen
Lines wherein that last stanza
The bellwether is late rushing

I might install other examples
Here is one: the Bellclerk’s
Ears keep flipping
Like the King on downers

That last stanza was a rumor
But it’s okay, if you are young & frothy
Here I am, almost pictured
With you, send five dollars

Maybe ten, in amounts less checkered
With ordinary bellcurves, sombreros
Were I a gaucho spokesmodel
Under the soft benches manically gifted

In other news, the huntsmen
Often woolly, can be seen here slipping
Unto buckets effervescent with Efferdent
Which reverberant Klingons now revoke

There is only one person I’ve ever liked named Andrew
Sorry, it’s not you


Amanda Silbernagel

still, born

but when buds regenerated silent
air pockets asexual and full
of potential. energy was not wasted. concealed
cave assembles breathwork—
intricate and winding petal twine
pollen crawls petal walls: blind, creating
the machine— layered with intention
intends to serve mechanical purpose. cold
wires, motionless wheels sleep under steel shell
silver oxygen uncirculating
            [with failure to solve certain equations
             dissolve on the page Pi hibernates beneath
             number covers in antidecay]
we build shelters to escape the cold
warring our tropic zen finally achieved
shelves, stocked, wait to preserve calm
with tombstone dreams
           the difference in womb and grave
as broken seals trigger
expiration we prefer sealed shelters
inside pallid walls
potential energy/ piled cans outlive
chemical equations

petal twine unfurls
silver pollen to toxic sky—breaths once
          the difference in death and not living


beckon utopia

the day of the sundance they were young indians
crouched on rocks searching cloud curtains
for their seams. there seemed to be layers— distinct
and stripped when sneakers dropped to the sandbox,
canoes navigating their waves

practicing patience is saying Rome
was never built, tinker toys will construct a Utopia
given time . . .
to pressure seasons: rhythmed cycles,
religious rotation of an axis— preprogrammed from birth
is to say there must be more
the fortune cookie cracks. is cradled in palms
like an infant Messiah

weather does this: flags whip air pillows in off
beat. spaghetti strainer sifts cool to less cool, warm
rising like a mirage.
promotes persistence, attempts to unveil a hesitant bride.
cookie shells/ cattails exploding— fate confetti rains
like tickertape parades
fuzz pollution lifts white and scentless

Utopias assemble with this kind of faith:
abandonment of shoes and plastic slides.
when the sky parts we will be alive
the impatient, smeared with war paint;


what we pretend to not know

This is why the ones with wind chime eyes/
freckle constellations are pinned to floors
in Bangkok, Los Angeles, etc. etc.
as fathers straddle their torsos,
widdle finger skin to excavate the splinter
producing screams.
                    The land mines
explained the ancient villager
                    go so deep. Do not be fooled
                    by smooth ground.
          (under seamless skin fester
           torture machines gleaming black)

We: Found cathedrals to hide in.
    Ravens, unlaunched. unfinding the olive branch
    crouched in bird feeders believing.
as suffering is defined by acknowledgement of pain,
as in removing the intruder before infection
before gangrene.
as hands to the neck claim universal sign for
choking, there comes a time when
ignorance supersedes
suffering supersedes
acknowledging I can't fucking breathe . . .

In Bangkok, Los Angeles (wherever universal signs apply)
they will hate fathers whose hands
muffle their cries as needle pries tender skin
and wind chime eyes ring confusion
at pain acknowledger
                    Do not be fooled
                    by smooth ground.

while outside our birdhouse/cathedral
a dove soars away from chanting. toward screams.
(but searching for the olive branch) acknowledging
the gleaming black sky.


CL Bledsoe

8 Ways of Looking at an Airplane

The airplanes twirl – float
like mating doves – no – flying snakes
but white.
One airplane pulls up quickly
and drops solidly to the rice field
The water in the field runs from
the falling plane, scatters like quail
before the flusher's stick.
The hunter stands in the tree line
where he watched the airplanes
dance and fall.
The water slaps against the edge
of the field. The man steps back
before it can touch his feet.
The man bursts into song, flags
sprout from his fingernails. He composes
a mural (in his head) which he'll paint
later on the side of a nearby barn.
The waters of the rice field coalesce,
return to meet the flames now consuming
the plane. The passengers who've survived
scream, and the man adds it to his song. It is now
an anthem.
Looking back on it, years from now, the man
will say it was quick wits, kept him
from getting his new boots wet.


Me and Her at the Lab

Lost, we rode the elevator forcing chatter
until we found the directory for the genetics lab,

and beside it, a delivery man, a water cooler bottle
thrown on his shoulder.

His worrying eyes locked on the door
about to close between us.

“You go ahead,” She said. “We're already late.”
He nodded, brushed past to lodge

in the hesitant space between a baby stroller, wheelchairs,
smell of sickness. “There goes a man having a bad day,” I said, 

my giggles banging nervously against the walls
until her silence chased them away.


In the next car, as we reached the floor, we heard a crash,
something dribbling into the shaft. The doors opened

to water, glass, the delivery man smiling
in an angry crowd and holding his hand

to stop the blood. She gathered glass, tried to help;
I checked in at the desk, glad to have something to watch

other than the cancer patients eyeing our youth
and wholeness. The nurses came in a wave of white

and took the man to stitch up his hand.  Doctors streamed out
with vacuums, brooms, their white coats fluttering.

“I didn't even know they made those water cooler bottles
out of glass anymore,” she said. “And in a hospital.”

We settled into our seats to wait 
Soon, they'd be calling my name.


Doug Ramspeck

Righteous Rain

“And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was
upon the earth.” (Gen. 7:6)

Before the heavens opened and the earth was flooded,
N. lived for a time in a men’s rooming house in Chicago.
Through his open window at night he would hear the buses
and the sirens, and sometimes he would head down
to the all-night market and slip a jar of olives
into his pocket.  Often the prostitutes stood in pairs
beneath the streetlamps, and often he dreamed
of coming face-to-face at the next alley’s mouth
with the woman he would marry and who would give
him sons.  His dreams in those days were not of high waters,
and the only animals he ever saw were the pigeons.
Sometimes he shook his fist at the sky and cursed his lot,
and sometimes he thought he felt a raindrop fall against his neck.
It was a lonely summer, and he walked to Lake Michigan
and watched the swelling and receding waves.
Everything seemed so much before him—or maybe
nothing was—and it was tempting to leap from the pier
and drown himself in the water.  What purpose lay before him?
Could a life stretch on for centuries before it mattered?


German Drinking Songs

Sometimes at night I hear the dead singing German drinking songs.
Maybe it’s “Ein Prosit” or “Tolz Hunter’s March,” or maybe
it’s “Trink Bruderlein” or “In Munich Stands a Royal Drinking House.”
But the dead aren’t always perfectly on key.  It’s like what they used
to say about poetry, I guess.  Something about that old objective
correlative or a real toad or frog in a made-up garden.  Or what my
Uncle Felix used to say about mouse droppings.  But in any case I
imagine that the dead sway a little when they sing.  It must be
quite the sight.  Sometimes they are probably arm in arm, and
sometimes they are maybe in a circle or lined up in a row, and it’s
easy to picture how sentimental they must be, not sloppy drunk but
certainly in an altered state, like when you’ve had that one good
lick at a Colorado River Toad.   It was the 70s then, if I
remember, and the toads would see you coming and wouldn’t like it,
and the taste of them was never what you thought, but bitter like a
dark German brew.  Which is the point.   “Marmorstein und Eisen
bricht,” the dead sing, and you can’t help but roll from bed and
tap your feet.



Seven fourth-graders went into a bar and drank tequila
at eleven in the morning.  They’d had enough of Miss Drake.
They’d had enough of Mr. Ornitz, too.  They might have had
enough of me, but I was too drunk to imagine that it mattered.

It was the kind of morning that droops and then rolls over
on itself and then implodes and then forms into a vapor
of nitrous oxide.  My third wife had had that very morning
a terrible accident with a potato peeler,  but I was thinking
about a corn field in Ohio where as a child I’d found a Shawnee
arrowhead I’d then used to plonk my younger brother on the skull.

He liked tequila, too.  But none of us liked Miss Drake,
not even back then, not even when she lived in Ohio and before
she’d ever met Mr. Ornitz.  She had a voluptuous figure
in those days, and, when she was standing at the front of the
classroom, she would sometimes hold a cherry-flavored cough
drop between her teeth, displaying it for all to see.

And although we weren’t much taller in those days than a fire hydrant,
we were well-mannered enough not to throw our lime peels but to
leave them stacked neatly on the bar.  Not like some loud-mouthed
fourth graders who, in order to bring the story to a climax, attacked.

You know how it goes.  They were small but ornery.
And I was drunk.  And Mr. Ornitz was nowhere to be seen.


Never One, Never the Other

I have been thinking recently about Hippolyte,
queen of the Amazons.  About her prized girdle,
which was apparently taken from her dead body
when she was killed.  Yet for some reason the story

connects in my mind to the Stymphalian birds,
though what actual confluence exists I cannot say,
any more than I can understand why I rose this dawn
thinking of my mother’s own girdle: of her shimmying

into it so many years past, of her dragging on
the nylon stockings, of those various snaps
she would connect, of her hair bound and tortured
in curlers, of a Winston cigarette sending smoke

signals swirling as indecipherable messages.
I was young enough to find it enthralling to sit
there on the floor and simply watch.  Oh what of Hestia,
she of the holy hearth?   There must be something there

I have forgotten.  While outside the window where I stood
this day when I awoke, starlings flew.


Jenn Blair

Ultima Thule

Thumb of earth
hammered flat.
Broken Nail.
Here, meaning no more
to offer. Fences and pails of eggs
and clover and sheds giving way—
to gleam gone, earth shorn,
blood starved, knees un-knitted
and un-knocked.
No handkerchiefs
to tie, carrots to peel.
No clouds
to praise or curse.












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