Three Poems by Tausif Noor

Apotropaios

You always hated the smell of stale cigarettes on my breath
But that night you were a little drunk on whiskey so you didn’t care,
And held my hand on the 7 train even though
We were going through Woodside with the guys in hoodies snickering.
I smiled in spite of myself and stared at the Chinese woman’s shopping bags:
Red, cheap plastic that smelled of fish. I tried to remember
What it was that Foucault said about gay men and going home.
That night I watched you turn in your sleep
From the dim light of your tiny bathroom and believed.

You who were corn-fed and milk-toothed didn’t believe in superstitions.
Face scrubbed and hair parted with a hard-edged determination
To take what was yours from a world that was wont to shut its dry palm
Before you even knew it. What would my restlessness mean to someone
As stolid as you? I tried to hold it off for as long as I could
Avoiding all the cracks from 35th to Crescent. You crinkled your nose
At the incense but didn’t say a thing. The lone mirror in the bedroom,
Covered in protection as if we were devout Semites in mourning.
It wasn’t enough. It was never enough.


I have always wanted to drink wine out of a can

Some of my friends enjoy spending their time dreaming about the future.
I said a crude thing about killing myself but it wasn’t because I was sad
Or even because I was trying to be funny, really, I just didn’t want to leave things
Undone. I try sending you little messages without tapping on my screen, all lit up.
Everything always has to be about you. I can’t get through the day
Without feeling like I’ve failed someone, in some way or another.


what was I yearning for if not for validation of my fears

The first things I didn’t even notice until long after the fact.
You harbored them away stealthily, accumulating bits and pieces,
Hoarding fragments of me like so many little treasures. What sort of self
Were you building, unbeknownst to my own body, my own mind?

Were you to fashion for me a new form, one pieced from
Memories squirreled away in the file cabinets of your heart, I might
Have been less wary. I lost track of the parts, now alien and external
That had once made me whole. You walked away

Holding hands with someone I couldn’t quite place.


Profile: Tausif Noor

Before Poems by Clare Paniccia

Girl Talk

we fight all of the time about useless
bullshit
like who has to scoop the litter or
that maybe today I am being over sensitive;
well, so what if I am –
I was made with a vagina so I should be
over sensitive to everything, right?
or maybe I am just being a bitch because
I feel like it
that’s what girls do, right?

when we have sex I sometimes feel
inadequate, like
I should know better about the way a body
can move
but that’s what girls think, isn’t it?
that’s what all girls think –
with their fucking brains when really
they should just be closing their eyes and
giving it up,
right?

I’m afraid to leave home with you,
sometimes I miss it more than I should
miss it a little, because it is mine
instead of ours
maybe I am selfish,
because that’s what girls are, right?
thinking too much about what things mean
instead of what they don’t,
right?


#1

you had red eyes so red
from all the crying
but my eyes were white white

you had eighteen tissues
all crumpled
like small
forgotten
memories
underneath your pillow

and you asked questions questions
so many questions
and i laughed
silently
to
myself
ha ha
laughed and laughed


#13

Well, we were all supposed to be
adults, by now Supposed to have

jobs and money and fat 401K plans
Vacations, hotels, solid hearts and

possibly solid futures I think I lost
the bet, lost it all, a gamble Silly

to gamble away pens and pencils,
a drab outlook, but nonetheless I

can put stock in the little things,
like semantics and the importance of

having things to care for – wasn’t
that the goal anyway? Caring for

the parts that exist outside of you
with their own separate hearts and

their little hands and feet, that I don’t
have but others do – you do, don’t

you find success in small jackets and
your sudden rebellious nature? Because I

don’t have or have not I can see into
the next year, maybe two, and it’s

all filled with choices I made one,
maybe two years back, the choices

of heart versus head versus skill
versus bone and now I am paying

with the money I do not have, yours
will hold me in My ticket to my thirties

and maybe the little things that I
am sure I will find at the bottom

of tea mugs and lost between pages
drawn upon when I was seventeen.


Profile: Clare Paniccia

Five Poems by Dane Karnick

Detective

Please assassinate
my conjecture
with its rehearsal
of criminal offense
wearing a tuxedo
presumably for
camouflage against
sensibility
prompting me to
go into the mode
of super sleuth
and see underneath
a watershed moment
with telephone poles
supporting a tent that
hides my tambourine.


From Top to Bottom

everything points due north

for some length of time

as far as you can see

in opposition to

your silhouette

painted over the edge

of moving horizons

but regardless

consult your atlas

help extinguish

ambiguity.


Memorabilia

forced to bench their
popularity
from previous decades
that overlap franchise
echoing some notion
of karaoke tracks
hungry for more songs
that annex suburbs
of recollection
like coveted real estate
the possibilities
kicking and screaming
grab-and-go secrets
in camouflage.


Diabolical

No matter what I do
this day has its own
one-take action shot
in a limousine with
a case of restless legs
stomping over my
glass of champagne while
shouting directions
to the driver through
a respirator to
keep his foot on the gas
as long as he can.


Segregated Eyes

on hiatus from
a sharper focus
to choreograph
the ricochet of magic
like a vinyl LP
spinning on a
vertical axis
ballads that belong
on a hillside of grass
rolling my body
into a smudge
of dirt and giggles
as if playing
inside a movie
subtitled with
the language of
obscurity.


Profile: Dane Karnick

Two Poems by Kyle Eldridge

I’m Not Cool

?
when will i learn
that its not cool:
to be a drunk
or a junkie
or to read books by drunk junkies
or to like jazz
or even acid rock
or ‘hallucinogenic country music’
or to use kerouac references
or to admire people in a kerouacian way
or to list my vulnerability as one of my ‘redeeming characteristics’
or to defend insanity as a ‘viable alternative’
or to describe psychedelic sessions in which i believe i experienced ‘ego death’
or to play freeform ‘jams’ on guitar thru fuzz pedals disregarding ABAB song structure
or to let kittens playfully nibble at my toes while laughing and smiling and feeling happy
or to say fuck it and quit my job for no real reason
or to stay in bed for a day and a half every fortnight or so
or to be shy and withdrawn one minute and overly exuberant the next
or to try and pass off my ‘experimental blues rock’ as ‘avant garde sound poems’
or to take over-the-counter sleep aids and herbs known for their anti-anxiety and sedative qualities
or to say i like certain aspects of religion
or to really believe the world is anarchy and chaos
or to perceive inapplicability
or to say or even think ‘im bored’
or to desperately want richly symbolic dreams and sometimes have them
or to openly praise my friends, being sincere whether they know it or not
or to buy big bottles of whiskey
or to switch from Patsy Cline to the Sex Pistols on a whim
or to re-read my favorite books over and over and sometimes last chapter first
or to say ‘i dont know’ or ‘its too complicated’ when the answer is important to the person asking
or to ponder the socio-political consequences of LSD use in the 1960s
or to smoke Pall Mall cigarettes because they are the cheapest, not because Kurt Vonnegut smoked them
or to like ‘the idea’ of transcendental meditation but never practice it
or to enjoy things that make me sad
or to occasionally see things meant to make people happy as silly
or to think having kids is okay as long as you understand they are smarter than you and love them unconditionally
or to stare catatonically at bad drywall jobs and dents in hardwood flooring, not caring about workmanship just shapes and chance and colors
or to make proclamations that Ozzy Osbourne lyrics are mystically profound
or to feel really bleak when i know i should be excited about life
or to not ‘be myself’ sometimes and almost use that phrase then chuckle at the absurdity of it
or to like Jung more than Freud
or to watch youtube for hours when i have stuff to do
or to not put cds back in their cases
or to even use cds when an ipod would be much easier
or to sometimes ‘hate’ ‘smart’ people
or to not talk to my parents enough
or to talk to my parents too much
or to idolize black, left handed guitarists with big afros and big amplifiers and sexually provocative stage moves and messages of love
or to be indecisive about whether to call a girl pretty or cool, when i should probably say either both or nothing
or to say nothing when i want to say something
or to want to take back things that i said, knowing its just selfishness
or to wish i was rich or famous not to be rich or famous but simply to have more opportunities to meet interesting people
or to laugh just cause everybody else is laughing
or to laugh just cause no one else is laughing
or to laugh to make someone feel comfortable
or to laugh to make someone feel uncomfortable
or to laugh when im alone
or to cry in company
or to want things i cant express in any way
or to write poetry


Getting Ready

and it was spoken that
when 12 oclock rolled around
i was going to get out of here,
the time was ripe as juicy plums
with wrinkled pits.
liquid running down mountainous cheeks
onto tender breasts with lactation.
sticky sweetness like ejaculate spurts
bouncing off the teeth.
o yes i was going to get the fuck out
and in style too.
i would wear my new black hat
and everything would be alright.
the lucky hat.
i never put it on the bed,
always threw it on the floor.
so here i am wanting to go
who knows where for
who knows what reason
except to get out.
fast.
lightning speed will be necessary.
thunder, footsteps of god and
lightning, bolts of zeus.
zinging through the dawn into tomorrow.
shooting the pistol into the future
dividing air into more basic molecules
constituent parts.
the twilight has lifted
now i am ready for a perilous quest
it will take a keen interest and
a solid vantage point
to stay calm.
in the open there is all to see
and all can see me.
but i am not one to be seen,
i am the sea,
i am nothingness
encased in somethingness.
vast empty expanses are the norm.
everything is black at a certain depth,
and the pressure also increases.
the farther down i dive,
the less i see,
the more i feel.
so this journey is that of an idiot.
retrograde action
retribution
syrupy bass tones and jellyroll saxophones
twirl around me like fireflies.
like spiders trying to scratch their asses.
like the laugh of a retard.
like real soul.
like bacon and eggs and homefries
with an orange and a cup of coffee refilled 4 times.
the old times. the good times.
now times. meow times.
cow times. moo moo


Profile: Kyle Eldridge

“Acne Face” by Zach Schwartz

dirty red streaks break my
face in the morning light and i feel
ashamed
waking up next to you,
reminded
of my ugliness
in the mirror
of your unblemished skin

i kiss your mouth to close
your eyes because i
want them closed,
at least
for now, at least
till these dirty red streaks
of my adolescent leprosy
go away

you yawn and you kiss and you
reach up
to know
that i am there,
but i am
not ready
as you
soon find out and you
slowly
return your hands
to my chest.

we both
know it but don’t
say anything.

what is
there to say?

kisses
will suffice
for now.


Profile: Zach Schwartz

“Jihyun” by Noah Cicero

Every day at lunch Jihyun would help Justin with his Ramyeon/ Justin always got Jajangmyun ramyeon/ he would eat at a lunch at a small table with four Korean women holding metal chopsticks in their right hand and a large spoon in their left hand/ Justin could never tell when his ramyeon was done/ he had to ask Jihyun/ she would look at his ramyeon and say, “little more” – Then Justin would say, “I’m so hungry” – Jihyun would giggle

After a few minutes, Jihyun would tell him it was time/ Justin would go to the bathroom and dump out the water/ go back to the lunch table and pour in the brown seasoning packet/ and eat his ramyeon

Jihyun always ate a packed lunch/ she ate a lot of dried sardines, to Justin the sardines looked old and sad/ she would eat rice and with an over easy egg cooked in the morning/ Jihyun was very helpful to Justin, she was his neighborhood, she had taken him to the library once to show him where it was, she showed him where the best restaurants were in the area, they once ate chicken together at work/ Jihyun was super nice, she seemed to have no sense of self, whatever Mr. Park wanted, she did without question, whatever her parents wanted she did without question/ she was 28 and still followed her curfew perfectly.

She always held the door open for Justin

Justin would daydream about Jihyun, about her tall skinny body, she was five foot seven, with a cute body, her skin was pale white, which Justin didn’t like but he thought if she came back to America with him he could convince her to get a tan/ Justin knew she was a virgin, he wondered how her vagina felt, he deeply pondered the feeling of her vagina, a virgin vagina, jesus,

Justin saw them living in Ohio, they owned a house, working on a mortgage, Justin had a good job, he didn’t specify in his imagination what the job was, but he had one. Justin would get Jihyun a job at the Red Lobster where he used to work/ there was a South Korean woman already working there, they could be friends, they could talk about kimchi or something, drink soju eat ramyeon together, yeah, that sounded great.

Jihyun would cook Justin food every day, Justin would teach her to cook cheeseburgers and spaghetti, she would do it happily, probably even feel sincere about the cooking of American food. She would clean the house, nothing would be filthy, everything would be nice and clean. Jihyun would get pregnant with his babies, these babies would be mixed and awesome looking. Justin would marry a foreign woman, which would make him cool in some circles.

Justin would bring Jihyun to his parents’ house, Jihyun would love his parents, because she is Korean and likes things involving family. Everything would be great, he needed an old fashioned love, marrying Jihyun would be like traveling back in time, like he was getting into a time machine and marrying a woman from the 50s, he could become his father, and normal.

He wouldn’t be able to have intellectual conversations about anything with Jihyun, but maybe his sister was right, love isn’t about intellectual conversations but about protection and sharing shit like that.

Then it would occur to him that a 28-year-old virgin was pretty weird, that she might be suffering from a severe mental problem, that sex with her might be really awkward/ she must have extreme intimacy issues if she has never even had a one-night-stand, that she wouldn’t even have taken the chance to do it just once, she must feel inadequate or something, explains the Japanese racism thing he thought/ explains the whole teaching of little kids, she feels inferior and scared of adults, especially adult men. Justin wondered what her dad did to cause such a fear, he had assumptions, but the data was inconclusive, eventually he would stop thinking about Jijyun and think about what he was going to eat for dinner.

Sometimes Jihyun would daydream about marrying Justin, dream of him taking her to America/ but the only outlets of information she had concerning America were Gossip Girl and Sex and the City. She had no idea what kind of life Justin lived in America it had never occurred to her to ask him about his personal life there, she was not allowed to ask her father questions, the idea of having a personal emotional relationship with a male did not even occur to her.

She imagined living in New York City with Justin, she didn’t work. She spent her days taking care of the house; Justin would work and provide her with money to go shopping. She would wear fantastic outfits like the characters on Gossip Girl and Sex and the City. She would have such nice outfits, she would be like those Gangnam girls that had nice outfits, she wouldn’t have to shop in the Sinheung underground mall anymore, she hated those clothes, she wanted to go to Gangnam and shop. But if she lived in New York City she could shop there and be really cool.

She thought about how clean she would keep the apartment, how she would cook meals for Justin, and he would be so happy. She would pack him a lunch of work and he would be excited every day at lunch to see what she made him. She felt excited about cooking lunches and packing them for a man.

Sometime she would think about sex with Justin, she had never had sex though: the images her mind created all came from Japanese movies that played on cable at night/ she had seen a Japanese movie where the woman had no shirt on, and the man was tightly holding her, she assumed that was sex. She didn’t want to have Japanese sex though, because she hated the Japanese, she hoped it would be American sex. But she had no idea how Americans had sex, sometimes she had sexual thoughts about Nate Archibold from Gossip Girl. She didn’t think Justin was as good-looking as Nate Archibold, but he was handsome, he had blue eyes.

But Justin had a girlfriend, an American girlfriend, American girls are sluts, they have sex, Jihyun knew she couldn’t compete with that, it made her hate American women. When everyone went out to dinner, all the teachers, Justin and his girlfriend Jihyun never directly asked Maddie a question or brought attention to herself. Her theory on social interaction with an adult was, be quiet, be polite, till it is over.

Jihyun would do her make up every morning, hoping she looked normal.


Profile: Noah Cicero

“MOST OF MY DAYS CONSIST OF MOSTLY NIGHT” by Rei Koz

I INHALE, THEN EXHALE THE “BENSON & HEDGES” SMOKE, AND I TASTE THE GOLD IN MY MOUTH.

I CAN TASTE THE GOLD.

I AM AT MY LITTLE BROTHER’S SCHOOL, SURROUNDED BY OVERLY LOUD CHILDREN, RUNNING & YELLING; THEY ARE A MOTION BLUR, AS I STAND STILL.

I LOOK AT THEIR FACES, WHICH ARE FIERCE –ALL CHILDREN ARE FIERCE– AND STARE AT THEM, OBSERVING THEIR EXPRESSIONS, AND FEATURES, DREADING THAT A MOTHER, OR TEACHER WILL NOTICE.

THE SCENT OF MOTION IS THAT OF CHOCOLATE.

THE SOUND OF MOTION IS THAT OF MILLIONS OF SUGAR CRYSTALS FALLING.

THE TASTE OF MOTION IS THAT OF CARAMEL CRYSTALIZED IN THE SHAPE OF A “RED” HEART.

THE “ANTICHRISTUS” IS A METAMODERNIST LEADER.

SOME OF MY DECISIONS ARE DETERMINED BY A “CABINET” OF FOUR “VOICES” IN MY MIND, EACH AT A CORNER, AND ONE OF THEM A FEMALE.

THEY STATE THEIR ARGUMENTS, “DISCUSS”, AND REACH A CONSENSUS WHICH IS OFTEN A “NIHILISTIC” ONE, THEN I MAKE A CONCLUSIVE DECISION BASED ON THEIR CONSENSUS.

I AM THE OBJECTIVE CENTER; ONE IS ZERO.

THEY ARE IN MY MIND, AND I CAN FEEL THEM IN MY BRAIN, RAPIDLY & INTERMITTENTLY PULSING.

THEY HAVE BEEN IN MY MIND SINCE I WAS A “TODDLER”, IN DIFFERENT FORMS. THIS IS THEIR FOURTH & MOST CONSISTENT FORM.

I WAKE UP AT LATE AFTERNOON, AND SHOWER WITH OVERLY WARM WATER.

I SMOKE WHILST SHOWERING; THE BATHROOM FILLED WITH STEAM, AND SMOKE.

I REALIZE HOW THE FUTURE SEEPS DOWN INTO THE PAST, AND THE PAST FURTHERS US INTO THE FUTURE.

DAILY ROUTINES EVOKE ALWAYS THE SAME MEMORIES, AND THOUGHT PATTERNS, AND I FORGET WHEN WAS THE FIRST SPACETIME THAT I THOUGH CERTAIN THING WHILST DOING CERTAIN THING; IT IS LIKE HEARING A SONG, OR SOUND PATTERN THAT SOUNDS VAGUELY FAMILIAR, OR VAGUELY REMEMBERING A SCENE, OR DIALOGUE FROM AN UNIDENTIFIED “MOVIE” IN THE PAST, THEN REALIZING THAT OTHER PERSONS VAGUELY REMEMBER IT ALSO, BUT NOONE EVER FINDS THE SOURCE OF THE MEMORY.

THE MORE THAT ONE PONDERS UPON “STRAY MEMORIES”, THE MORE HAUNTING THEY BECOME, BUT THEY ARE RELATIVELY EASY TO DISMISS.


Profile: Rei Koz

Four Poems by Mirah Sand

i.

remember that time you picked up the phone and said “roscoe’s chicken and waffles: what’s your beef?” and it ended up being our really humorless grandmother so you hung up on her
i think of the image of you, sitting with your back against the kitchen door,
we have the same high-pitched laugh at times
i wonder to what extent we pick up each other’s vibrations
swallow them and make them our own
i don’t believe in ‘individuals’
because i taste your strength in my mouth anytime i say no
l set alarms to remind myself to breathe
this middle-aged man in a Hawaiian shirt sat close to me on a plane once and made me uncomfortable
i kept telling myself, his sadnesses are deep and he suffers everyday
i turned away from him and watched a movie


ii.

How do you hug anyone for more than ten seconds without crying?

We tried to mirror each other’s bodies, and I could see how much sadness you found in my eyes through the way you contorted your face
I felt so vulnerable.

How do you open your mouth and trust that sound will come out?

i was four and i was in a bad mood and you asked me to explain myself so i told you that you loved me too much. i have to tell you now–to this day, that is the biggest lie i’ve ever told.

do not alienate people


iii.

I stopped you from killing yourself at least three times, you’ve never said thank you, what does that say about us?

i don’t remember what he did but I remember you repeating “I hate him, I hate him,” over and over again, shaking. maybe that was the third time i heard you say it out loud. it might have been the fourth, though.

your dad told you everyday that you would be so pretty if it weren’t for that nose

i am a sponge, i am who you are


iv.

we were talking about where it hurts and i said right underneath my ribs is where everything hits me and you covered your heart with your hand and said it was your chest your tight tight chest and now i’m thinking about my chest too and damn my chest is tight tight also i keep imagining these rows and sinews i keep imagining that there is nothing connecting my chest to anything else floating groundless heart i asked you what it means for you to pray and you told me strangers approach you and give you the most intimate parts of themselves when i was young i felt very strongly that i was a supergirl i don’t think it was born out of arrogance i don’t know how to blog but i know how to write emails you don’t respond to my emails but that doesnt mean you’re not grateful there are many many ways to care about a person and the way you eat berries is funny and good


Profile: Mirah Sand

“11PM Meeting With Death” by Tyler Trelease

Turning to my friend, I say, “I must tell you about death.”
We’re staring into a cloudless night
Lying there, he turns to look at me “What about it?”
The thought of it
Too concrete, too limitless for us to understand
Picture it, death
Pulling you in from a screaming pursuit
Into the hopeless void of space
Does death hold a firm grip?
During this catastrophic explosion
Mind-numbing fear,
Absolute peace

Or are you staring into his face?
Looking into death’s eyes behind a work desk. Sitting in a chair Staring at a bookshelf in the corner
“Do you miss your friends yet?” He asks, almost cavalier He laughs at your idea of god, the afterlife “Did you really think it’d be that simple? You thought you’d be rewarded for shoveling your neighbor’s sidewalk
and praying before bed?
You humans are the only keepers of time,
Of god’s image.
Freedom from existence is the answer to the meaning of life.”
Death is wearing dress shoes and your expiration date on his wrist.


Profile: Tyler Trelease