Four Poems by Gregory Zorko


Outside with the Russian words for pain. I’m stopped by your dream catcher, myriad of feathers. Your own little Kidd-Gilchrist standing in the window.

In my dreams I am a mighty knight, a power forward, narrated by Quevedo between those gulps of milk. I cast out nets for the salmon which they pass through easily, making love in seconds. Those are the confident salmon upriver batting their tails at you.

It’s not been established whether Moses parted the sea, or the sea just shrank a bit for him, by itself. I know when I was young I could float on my back for hours. I was a little naked Moses considering nothing. That’s how I spent each morning previous to today.


Handcuffed to the bed, but the frame itself is unattached. You can walk from this artery into the open spaces. The couplet is the place where I hide my fresh brandy. The triplet is the time when I forget it all.

You’re safe now, in the way an egg is safe. It takes great imaginations to hurt it. Watch for me when I am running with a candle, not unlike a javelin, so you will anticipate that wrong and internecine thing.

You are able to walk, or run only slightly then walk again. We should all know the loneliness that sets planets in space and dissolves even the happiest soils. It turns you into a wiry horse just to put you inside a sentence.


I want you to wear a red beret always, you’re my superior officer. I consider you one anyway, for your boot heels, the way you leak out hot orders. I marched atop the idea of kilometers, and I thought for one second that I could have you. If the prophets had swallowed their disbelief, as we do with pop music.

I go into the clouds like a drone at war, beautiful colonel. But there are no shapely bullets meant for me. When I handle them they become petals of the lilac wilting in strong heat. I’ve forgotten completely all of my joints and their desires. You’re still pretty but there is no extended symbol, nothing fits. And you’re a married woman now, to a twenty-one-year-old Ike with bold muscles.

Locked in my wooden hutch Quevedo is crying. I hear him. There is no true knight, no horse and just a little bit of armor.

The Kupa

I’m worried about the Kupa, as a real thing it is fine, as an idea it’s growing tentacles that frighten the Slovenes. The river and its naked swimmers inside it. The border on its face, not in its heart.

A piece of my family died here, maybe more than once, and I’m still standing in that spot. Every millimeter is a grave! I just realized. A centimeter is unprintable.  The river builds itself coarse with mud, with blood cells and just a little beer. Some piece of a liver, an intestine touches my bare foot, jumping through years like an oily fish.

And we can step in it again and again, the same one! Everything is left open, heaven, the empty sky, the past especially.

Profile: Grogory Zorko

Three Poems by Nikul Patel

Thierry Ennui

Crappy Thierry Henry.

Crappy Thierry Henry won’t return my calls.

Crappy Thierry Henry won’t return my calls all I want to do is congratulate him on his goals and spoon him.

Stupid Thierry Henry won’t return my calls all I want to do is sponge the sweat from his brow collect it in a phial and keep it safe until such a time that human cloning technology becomes reality and is accessible by people earning a salary of £26,890 or above. Clone him and spoon him.

Crappy Thierry Henry won’t return my calls.

The Way To A Monkey Butler

Self telling self

being oneself is a step towards health, prosperity and really really good car/wife/palace/monkey butler.


          than licking jenga bricks whilst playing trivial pursuit by your


Cello Strings

Cello strings – I used cello strings to wrap that parcel:

C round D

G over A.

I had normal string you see but today was the day that I decided not to play

The Cello.

I wound them up in my mouth coating them evenly with my spit

my saliva

my mouth juice.

The paper tore and wore and stopped being a store

For the contents

of the parcel.

                    It leaked

and the cow heart I had gotten from the butchers for free;


Lay limp on my work bench

Sat in wilted brown paper and

          bulged under the taut cello strings: C over D.

Profile: Nikul Patel

Six Poems by John Oliver Simon


            —sculptor Rudolf Schmid, Oakland Museum of California

You stretch out fingers to stroke her marble calf
that torques as it rises from disappearing earth
to knee and thigh and camouflaged honeycove,
windblown drapery foliage, spiral arms,

objectified whiteness, waking fantasy
and naked nipples shivering in the draft
of that sculptor’s chill studio, your grubby
fingers reveal herself, then and now: goddess

of marble shattered to dust, but dust in love,
before I can lay down the law: Do Not Touch.
The why is reasonable, soon accepted.
We agree: that lady’s nudie patootie.

Tesla Rose 33 months


Johnny B. remarks on the tenuousness
of normal existence, in his case girlfriend,
job, service commitment to community,
waking up tired, going angry to bed,

speaking as if this surface we skate across
shaving iridescent rainbows with our blades
day after day, in my case as well as his
could, I don’t know, he didn’t quite want to say,

crack, pop, reveal bottomless fathoms, or sludge:
iridescent gutter where someone changed oil.
Time that counts, that matters, I answer, thinking
of time that is made of numbers, that has weight,

is when I’m hanging out with my granddaughter,
who sometimes sighs ,“I want to be a baby,”
wishing wistful for Mommy’s lost white rivers.
Good luck, kid, I tell her, that time is over.


            Tesla Rose 36 months


Frances, Oliver and Karl got arrowheads
lovingly fashioned by Ishi for children
white kids dressed in white, out to the museum
out of bottle-glass probably, flaked and knapped

Oliver renounced his arrowhead along
with the unreal planet’s sinful demonics
when he married a hyper-masculine god.
Karl used his arrowhead in business dealings

Kaiser Richmond hiring Southern Negroes
to lend a hand to Rosie the Riveter.
Frances’s arrowhead was invisible,

she used it to call my three Jewish fathers
I suppose it passed down to me and Kia
and gathers dust in Tesla Rose’s toybox.

Tesla Rose 57 months


Sunspots crawl like spiders across the vast limb
of the disk projected through raspberry leaves
onto the narrow-lined page of this notebook.
Lens of leaves produces orbs on surfaces,
watch for it, and when goddess moon takes a bite
out of the glorious generative sun,
gibbous phases and ever-thinning crescents
till darkness falls at noon and a roost of bats

clitters unanimity of eclipsed wings
out of the cathedral’s spectral bell-tower
while ghostly coronae glow round a black disk
size of a 90 mph fastball.
Spiders don’t crawl, really. They hustle and spin
glittery 360’s lit by sun in space.

Orb-weavers, strung raspberry to raspberry,
do business inscribing predatory verse
at virtual desks on fibonacci nets
entirely attentive to syncopation.
Flies in bondage await mummification,
animals with a sweet tooth, I’m not unique.
Peer into the sunspot’s dark esophagus
where hungry passions boil inarticulate,

follow that tunnel all the way winding down
to inextinguishable realities
where indistinguishable carbon atoms
write this poem over and over: chains of
meaning forged in bellies of supernovae
practicing irrevocable handwriting.


Stuck again at this godforsaken outpost
listening for whispers of the enemy
autocorrect to enema, nematode
what a gas it was to teach the little toads
what a wild ride we had of it, Master Toad,

what intimate perfumes, what flashmob concerts
what sanity rescued at last from the flood
the tsunami that drowned us all in the end

not forever, poets declaimed in Nahuatl —
my granddaughter absorbed that information
over her first five years on this satellite

that she had not signed up for eternity
“what if I live for hundreds and hundreds of
millions of millions of years?” Good luck with that.

            Tesla Rose 61 months


Worried about rattlesnakes all that backpack
visualized invisible at trailside
took a layover day in Dead Horse Canyon
good dog Buffalo followed me exploring

baffled a moment in a maze of bunchgrass
we burst through an opening and there it was:
castanets already whirring, eyes glowing
orange, I swear, rattles an ultraviolet blur

coming on but an an angle, implying
“I’m not attacking if you get out right now”
Buffalo whined I pulled his collar backward

once we had with all due respect retreated
I totally lost my fear of rattlesnakes
I still call Buffalo sometimes in my dreams.

Profile: John Oliver Simon

Six Prose Poems by Adam Crittenden


A salty cool wind crept into my mouth and made me fall to the sand.

Why am I here?

I made a sand angel to pass the time while I tried to answer my own questions. Sometimes children would come up to me and kick my side with their tiny feet. I heard their parents tell them to leave me alone. It was as if I was a crazed dog in the parents’ eyes—but I couldn’t blame them.

Later that day an adult jabbed my side with his sharp big toe. He asked me if I was alright, and I told him I was more alright than he was. I don’t know why I said that, but he accepted it and continued to wander the coastline, not looking back.

I had the urge to walk into the ocean but instead jogged home and slept for a day and a half.

The next time I went to the beach I made myself laugh because I imagined kicking everyone who cooked in the sun.


One view of the world is that pain exists in the mind and nowhere else—a spectrum of senses pushing forcefully onto ours, trying to enter at any slight hole or tear.

Sometimes it gets the better of me and I try to crush the brains of annoying drivers with my mind. I believe that I fail every time not because I can’t crush brains with my mind, but because a subconscious part of me stops the self so I don’t feel pain after the feat is done.

So, life would be painful if we all crushed one another’s brain.


When we sat in the café and I snuck a swig of tequila from a cheap Vegas flask, you asked me what my American dream was.

“Isn’t it the same as yours?” I asked

You said no, got up, pushed in your chair, and went to the airport and I never heard from you again.

Every interaction I had since that time has been a strange abomination of connection. When I drive by the airport on my way to work, I pretend I am on a flight—but I can’t come up with a destination for my make-believe trip.


At first we would kill for this land, but something changed. You and I were tied to each other, each playing tug-o-war with our respective slipknots.

Now we find incandescent firefly larva and feed on them, hoping to turn our bellies into bright-green light-bulbs. This is the only way we know how to love one another.

Our bellies will not turn, but maybe the next generation’s will.


“These aren’t your hot dog buns?”

“No,” I said. But for whatever reason I felt the urge to buy them. I could eat hot dogs today, but then I would have to buy hot dogs.

I ended up buying the buns but didn’t leave the line to buy hot dogs. When I got home, I ate three plain buns on my couch as I read things on the internet. A quote in front of me: “We are not afraid to discover that we are mortal, but rather that we are immortal.”


Some crows freaked out when the road-kill heap they were pecking at combusted from a cocktail of heat and gasses.

Cleaning up the meaty wreckage crossed my mind, but making things better was never my strength.

I have two friends, maybe three, and I have no idea where they are.

Two crows came back, cawing and flapping, searching the mass like grave robbers.

Profile: Adam Crittenden

Four Poems by Gemma Cooper-Novack

Like His Hand

He opened the door for me and the cats transferred
downward to escape the smoke that filtered
through the hallway, brushed my
hip like his hand. We lay that night on a craggy
unrolled futon where I could hardly breathe, hardly notice
the things that shifted, like his hand on my breastbone, his
gentle convex curves. The bedroom was a labyrinth, I didn’t
know how to like his hand on my hip, the string
of kisses to the nape of my neck like
tiny Chinese lanterns, I didn’t know which
way was in. At sunrise when I couldn’t even remember
what it was like, his hand reminded me, shifting my
uncertain thighs, shifting the air in my lungs.

Three Sheets to the Wind

The rain’s coming in sideways through the porch
window screens and my curtains are soaking; I plan
to wring them out in the morning when it’s passed, watch them send
thickened streams of water like serpents down the hallway. The earthen kitchen

will be striped with mud; the hogs will claim
it as their own, come tottering in, leave
tiny hoofprints in the vestibule, chew the edges of the fabric
that now clings sodden to the windowframe

—goddamnit when is this rain
going to stop? I’ve been sitting
here for days avoiding the cellar—I left
one iron door flapping open and it’s

probably flooded by now. When I was nine I raised
tadpoles in a corner of my bedroom, but
it got old fast; to this day, frogs croak out
of my bathrobe pocket some mornings. The soybeans

must be swimming by now, the grape
arbor glistening and slick. If the water moves
any faster it will hit the other wall,
streaking the mustard paint. I do think

the hogs are astounding, the way
that 1200-pound boar swayed and grunted up
the back steps on his impossible legs
and smashed all the back doors open.


It lasts.
In the morning each of my muscles spreads beneath fingertips
that are no longer there,
and a bright clear Tuesday spreads its webbed hands over my head.

In the morning each of my muscles spreads beneath fingertips.
I am not enough awake,
and a bright clear Tuesday spreads its webbed hands over my head.
It lasts.

I am not enough awake.
Later the sunlight inches along the floorboards in long thin slits.
It lasts.
The unmarked sky stretches like a muscle over another city.

Later the sunlight inches along the floorboards in long thin slits,
between the trees.
The unmarked sky stretches like a muscle over another city.
It lasts.

Between the trees
a thousand shattered shining windows spring over the bus I take from work.
It lasts.
Cars drive in an arc around gleaming metal trash cans.

A thousand shattered shining windows spring over the bus I take from work.
It lasts.
Cars drive in an arc around gleaming metal trash cans.
The air is still warm.

It lasts.
My arms are long enough to run the length of the bus route home.
The air is still warm;
the street sparkles with lost coins and the shards of windows.

My arms are long enough to run the length of the bus route home.
Even in the darkness,
the street sparkles with lost coins and the shards of windows.
It lasts.

In the Bedroom

Due to the unparalleled skill of the housepainters, my bedroom wall
bears an uncanny resemblance to a bedroom wall. Look
at the corners. You could place it next to any
bedroom wall painted sage and I guarantee you won’t
be able to tell the difference.

Actually, there’s also an elephant in my bedroom. We
should talk about it. I dreamed about it last night, its tusks
flashing exactly like tusks. It breathes
whenever I wake up, and we fall asleep
with its trunk slowly stroking our necks.

Profile: Gemma Cooper-Novack


Shane Jesse Christmass

Cough sizzurp at sea with my body thin tightening. Sizzurping with a friend of mine on the San Giorgio Maggiore. His presence is lucky for me. No leisure to love us. My thin things tighten. A little. A toy body in nothing. Eyes grow accustomed to the sizzurp. I make the outline of my friend out. A tall phantom, a tinge of half-blue about the edge of him. Let the patients lash against pain. Don’t busy the orderlies opening and stamping letters with astonishing rapidity. At days you’d say they’re all crazy. It’s like living in Essex. This friend of mine ponders the pressing matter out of my head. You don’t go to a fistfight carrying waterworks. The colour of closed eyes. Night train to Southampton. Night train on urgent business. The friend of mine is dining with our brilliant foreign correspondent. His position’s in Laos these days. We turn a deaf ear to him. A bit of a bore. Flapping gums. A steamboat up the river to Hammersmith. It is Spring. An old woman nods in a delicate position. And yet why not? One may realise in a dim way that she’s no longer on the floor during the service. People can’t understand how Catholics pickpocket her perfectly. We are excellent friends when we meet, this friend of mine. Water just keeps falling, painting the horizon. Cowboys lined up at the bar. Their wives are not friendly. Mahogany and cages of snarling leopards and screaming parrots. Voices in dark corners of night clubs catch the talk of sexuality experiments. Delighting in the fairy-like and cotton threads that hold up the bridges in Mugembo. She helps me bathe, a drunken parody of her real self, a shrewd, calculating prude. People grow up. They’re dishonest. We’ve run out of gentle vitamins. We are trying to crumble a couple of slush-lamps. My presence translated into sound. Boom. Boom. Blip. So enormous was the sound that I had no words for it. Glass shrieks carve the brightest statues. Paint unyielding bone. A ridiculous machine thundering an unmuffled exhaust. All along the maindrag, outside the convenience store, under the freeway, the night people are alive. The time of the suction cups. Very soon the bilge begins to fill. The old imagination should be stirred by a familiar skill. Soap in the shape of  a  _______  in the soap dish.

Profile: Shane Jesse Christmass

“The Next Big Thing” Self-Interview with Edric Mesmer

I’m grateful to Michael Leong for tagging me in The Next Big Thing, a viral self-interview, and to those I tag here who will follow and who will follow them.


What is the working title of the book?

Yrtemmys. The image, on the level of the word—“symmetry” spelt backwards—is perhaps a response to something my mother and I have been arguing about for a while. By arguing I mean: she likes the aesthetics of symmetry, such as the arrangement of columns in a colonial style frontis, whereas I prefer asymmetry. I thought the “mirroring” of the word to itself lent an ambiguity between the two. (My mother, in turn, responded by painting an abstraction for me that appears symmetrical but upon close inspection is not!)

Wondering whether this play-in-word had been thought of a million times before, I entered the title into two separate online search engines, and the machine asked me each time, had I meant “Artemis”? The deep attachments to myth, divinity, twinning, and androgyny through homophony further illuminated the image to me.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The book collects three poems: “Yrtemmys,” “Myriad vantage,” and “A Discourse on Gender in Eden.” “Yrtemmys” grows out of walks I took through the architectural museum of downtown Buffalo after I moved back to this city in 2005…Buffalo’s is a vastly asymmetrical history, in terms of class disparity, though the city’s swift decline may also appear symmetrical to its earlier boom. (The decline has not remedied the aforementioned disproportions, especially with regard to race and ethnicity.) I was also at the time reading Fagles’s translation of The Odyssey with a topnotch class of student readers, and revisiting H.D.’s Helen in Egypt with a friend. “Myriad vantage” extended my walks to Buffalo’s Forest Lawn cemetery, where much of my paternal ancestors are buried. I had to revisit them and this site in returning to my so-called ancestral city…How to make the form open and personal? “A Discourse,” the third segment, grew directly out of freelance research I did on children who identify or are identified as transgender. The stringencies of gender as it is coded in our habits and language—like it, critically, or not—are imperative to accessing the ways we are able to describe ourselves. I thought of Marianne Moore’s wonderfully obtuse poem on “Marriage.”

What genre does your book fall under?

Probably it belongs to the lyric, maybe even the long lyric, or to the sequence.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Who knows? But: buildings by Louis Sullivan and Zaha Hadid; thoroughfares by Frederick Law Olmsted; gardens by Edith Wharton; furniture by Eileen Gray; wardrobes by Edith Head; obelisks by Edward Gorey, fonts etched by David Jones; theremin accompaniment, Clara Rockmore; cast of thousands brought to you by the Burnt-Over District.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Things friends have said of my writing in the past might here apply: “For you, language seems to function on the level of the syllable—perhaps even of the letter…”; “Antique furniture in modern rooms…”; “Meaning swims up here and there, amid abstract music, then swims away…”

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I’d been writing “Yrtemmys” for several years, and thought I’d said farewell to it; seeing it in print makes me realize it’s not yet done. “Myriad vantage” seems it should go on and on, but hasn’t. “A Discourse on Gender in Eden” wrote itself.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Ghosts. Unfinished business. The hanging shard of Buffalo’s trajectory. Those silenced and those for whom autonomy is compromised.

I dedicated the book to my sister, in memory of our grandmothers. They remind me always what an intimate act reading is—not only learning to read with someone and from someone, but how every time one engages in the solitude of reading one is enfolded in the arms of others.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It has a beautiful cover, printed by publisher Patrick Riedy. I’ve told Patrick many times that the cover makes the poems quite homely by comparison!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The manuscript had an odyssey of its own, having been twice prior accepted for publication. The first house stalled, likely due to a glut of accepted manuscripts; this happens in the world of small press, where unpaid labor meets the heroic desire to bring innumerable works into print. The second house, a British maverick, folded before publication (but then happily reopened). I feel grateful to both editors who read the work and encouraged it toward print, and that neither overture was for personal gain nor through network, but for the poems, as are.

In between the folding and reopening of the English house, Yrtemmys found its third home with PressBoardPress, printed handsomely by poet Patrick Riedy, here in Buffalo.

My tagged writers for next Wednesday are:

Mark Dickinson

Matthew Hall

Niki Herd

Meredith Wattison

Conrad Wells

Purchase Edric’s new book, Yrtemmys & Other Poems by clicking the image below ($10/ Canada and UK add $5 for shipping)

Yrtemmys recto copy

Profile: Edric Mesmer

“the past year” by Patrick Riedy

here, we came
to be afraid, vulnerable together

the snow,
still cold
beautifully buffalo

with no sense
of things
instead, breathe
to be wholly unlike the snow

speak, reveal
small presents
of speech heat

cold crawls
up mohawk street

cars pass by,
now rain
the windows fog
damp with words,

the same air
fills our lungs
particles, of each other
pass in and out,

Profile: Patrick Riedy

“Ken-Ton” by Patrick Riedy

copper sky
coca-cola bottling site
rain reflects            white & red
         nights like these
                                 so pretty
                     she said
hiding behind
                     dividing lines
lies live
         in each eye
       she will not let me in
don’t sleep
                     keep driving



Profile: Patrick Riedy

“everything you think of when I’m not around” by Patrick Riedy

you’re like the train
i’ll use the line
one more time
            think of me thinking of you
railroad             locomotion
          blue & true
how i was back in 1952
we had another son
couldn’t consider
what more there was to be done
steam engines sounds
the only music around
you loved me so much
i never knew why
               never knowing why

Profile: Patrick Riedy