Three Poems by John Grey

SOUTH SEA VACATION

You can never
have enough souvenirs apparently.
Tourists flock the stalls.
The more they buy
the more they can say they were there.

Palm fronds flutter,
waves link up with a golden shore,
a volcano cooks in the background,
but none of these are for sale.

The motel’s so close
to the water
it’s like the ocean is just
another guest.
Tonight, there’s a fish fry.
Everyone’s dressed in floral shirts,
so maybe the landscape will take the hint.

And then there’s the entertainment
as the locals find out just in time
they’re really natives,
dress and dance accordingly.


SHERIFF RIVER

This stream was a snake in a previous life.
It defies the earth it cuts through to make it straighten.
Why take the quickest route when you can bend
and curve through farm-land, around houses,

under bridges, through the town not once but thrice.
It must imagine itself as seen from above. Maps bury
the quickest path between two points. But geography
kowtows to a sidewinder. Forget the towns.

It’s the Sheriff River and its willow posse.
It’s unpredictable. It’s ornery. It doesn’t scoop up the clay and
kick it downstream but prefers to slosh it from side to side.
Its current is a kick-step: quick, slow, quick, slow.

Kids can’t run along its banks fast as their rubber soles
can take them. Its bends are the enemy of momentum.
They have to slow or veer off the path. It’s a better teacher
than that bespectacled ma’am with her gray hair in a bun.

The stream may yet be a snake but it doesn’t bite. It
cools the dangling toes, feeds the prancing fish-hooks.
The eye can’t follow it for more than a hundred yards or so
and a canoe’s not worth the trouble. But it’s always been

there, always will be. High school graduation. Runaway horse.
First kiss. Broken-down jalopy. Barn fire. Truth is, it’d be straight
as a plumb line if it weren’t for all this living. For it’s
years that are its detours. It’s people are its deviations.


IN THE A.M

Morning
takes its cues from
knuckles rubbing eyes,
footsteps descending stairs,
the rattle of cups,
kettle hiss.

Light doesn’t do it,
not even the burning off
of dew.
It needs people
and the noise they make.
It requires them moving,
with each sip of coffee,
scrub of teeth,
looking less and less
like sleep.

Morning won’t get
the day going
unless it knows
that there’ll be someone
using it.


Profile: John Grey

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Four Poems by Gregory Zorko

Defended

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.


Couplet

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.


Beret

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.

Rather

          than licking jenga bricks whilst playing trivial pursuit by your

self.


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;

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

CALIFORNIA VENUS (1895)

            —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


TENUOUSNESS

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


ISHI’S ARROWHEADS

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

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.


NOT FOREVER

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


RATTLESNAKE

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

ATLANTIC CITY, NEW JERSEY

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.


VALLEY CITY, NORTH DAKOTA

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.


HENDERSON, NEVADA

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.


SPARTANBURG, SOUTH CAROLINA

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.


BATH, MAINE

“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.”


PARIS, OKLAHOMA

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.


Later

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

WE’RE RUNNING BLOOD WE’RE RUNNING BLOOD WE’RE RUNNING BLOOD WE’RE RUNNING BLOOD. by Shane Jesse Christmass

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

Thaw Compass available now!

PressBoardPress is proud to announce that Thaw Compass, the new chapbook from Joseph Massey is available here or under the Catalog tab now. The book has a letter pressed cover and is hand sewn and printed in an edition of 100. Domestic orders are $10, international orders are $15.

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from Thaw Compass:

Easter (2)

April shapes March mud
the bulk of

the backyard
squirrels plod      antique
junk pile         rust
articulates
rust

Whitney Houston by Sarah Chapman

Rachel Weiz

I aim to catch you
Coming out of your flat
The mobile you gave your
9-year-old son when you
Went away to Tenerife
And call me in an emergency
And found the dildo you left
In your luggage I can’t understand
You the way you move the way
Your shoulders come out of your top
You give your boyfriend a handjob
In his dad’s taxi but you have chilli
On your hands and it gives him a
Fright – on the bus home you
Call me or I call you i cant remember
You were with a friend and said
Where were u when your boyfriend
Was being kicked to death? Your
Mobile, on silent, fuzzing next
To your head


Love in the Estate in Summer

To be honest this text is glittering like a giff in the sky
This wide screen tv never works
It is as glittering as a couple of couples figuring out
The bbq on a west summer day
The amount of love I have is measured
By the amount of hate – wondering around
This estate
You push your hands over the kitchen cabinet
And say it stinks of fish – your mobile phone
Is charging in your room – because of the heat
Or because you just finished yr last exam and
Are meeting your secret boyfriend you forget it
In your room – your fringe covers your head
And curls a little before your eyebrows
You are your fringe, you are careless in
the way you love and I don’t quite believe it
but you are in love like calpol


Morgan Freeman

I buy a pair of adidas trainers
And think of you looking at me
In them the light from the shop
Window the cool purple of
Night a friend in a bomber jacket
big chipped front
Tooth pale skin one dent below
Your eye a green plastic bag


The flesh

That tv show about zombies
Integrating back into
Village life their poor
Lovers clinging to a shape
These parasites in sliver
Remind me of the time
You took mom chloe
And me to the river
There are a white horse
And it has grey bits
the computer, when
you don’t find me
interesting and
appealing


Profile: Sarah Chapman