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or to be shy and withdrawn one minute and overly exuberant the next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

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“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

“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

“A Good Thing” by Frederick Pollack

1

She is seated. He kneels before her
or at her side. They have been,
are, crying, but the expression
of both blurred faces
is now … exceptional. She can’t believe
what she is hearing,
no one could – had never dared
to hope … Something like that.
He can’t believe what he is saying
with such difficulty,
against such resistance,
and meaning every word. His words
have come a long way. Hers
when they,
when it at last is spoken,
will have come farther. He clasps,
convulsively, her hands,
one hand. Has still not dared to touch her.
Any words one would use
to summarize theirs
would be wrong; I used “hope” because
I had to. Have no idea
otherwise what the situation is.
He or she has come back.
Changed.
Really. The past is dead,
really. It, he, she, they, I
can’t hurt you any more,
I swear it. – Or, with the cynicism
that seems absolutely barred here:
the sort of reconciliation scene
common in the households of abusers. –
No plot could digest this intensity.
A cause would cheapen this effect.
Christians might think of the Annunciation,
but I don’t believe in that.
Whatever is happening here is more important.

2

An allegorical figure
howls enough to terrify
villages, or even an interchange, developments.
He’s pissed because I made him
exist, and allegory –
no, the idea
of representing anything
is so urgently dead
all taste is appalled.
And what he represents is
so petty: poetry
invoked, not with disembodied reverence
but as an awkward shorthand
for any alienated consciousness.
Realism, kitsch, little stories
of little alienated lives
shatter the crystal symbol,
sour the Mallarméan music,
bind free association … Dreadful!
Vulgar! The figure
thrashes and storms, his fiery breath
consumes whatever knights are sent
against him. Disrupts both visible and invisible
traffic, hurls texts, scatters
texts, smashes
pre-modern mementos
in the dens of the learned, beer mugs and trophies
elsewhere. His rage grows on and at itself,
and the scream rises like fulfillment.

3

In the ‘20s, he points his quill
and trims his wick and spares
a thought for places
whence the spices
and ivory on this bill of lading came.
It is an innocent entertainment,
not conducive to sin.
Outside, the riot of election night
has passed; the Celt
sleeps off in dung his rum-bought vote,
and is consigned in thought
to the farthest end of a canal,
the wilderness of the Northwest.
The steps of the watch, the bells of a church
define time, and the silence
in which a son, condemned for some infraction
to the root cellar,
enters another time.
Whom Pride has captured, Fear alone can save. –
He wants tea, but forbears to wake his slave.

In the ‘30s, she switches off
the news, and lights
her nightly cigarette.
Her maid has gone to bed.
Her husband too, no doubt, in his sleeper-car.
It will take two weeks to miss him,
and he’ll be gone two weeks
seeing people in Washington.
Cook kept her company;
cook can talk easily, without presumption.
Is glad of the work, and perhaps the talk,
a widow, with a boy in the Navy …
Alone, she wishes fall would come:
leaves on the grounds, drinks by the fire,
trips to town to shop;
the windows closed (less soot
from the surviving mill
for the maid to clean);
Roosevelt out, God willing,
and fewer tramps appearing at the gate.

In the ‘40s, she opens
the moldy book she cannot read
(there are loads, in the strange place they found)
and looks one last time
at a panther, purple and fierce.
Her brother is … playing.
It’s weird, not to see him ferreting
through holes too small for her and not
being hungry. The soldiers
in white sealed suits
are saving them. They’re special.
They survived. So did a lot of kids,
but she and her brother
(she understands this)
are cute. The soldiers and doctor
have said they can’t take anything.
She called them shitfuckbastards, but fuck it.
Soon the panther is claimed
by heat and gas and rising sea
and in her heart ceases to be.

4

A poet at parties
where, as a stranger,
he has nothing to gain or fear,
may obscurely triumph.
But they have to be parties
with adjectives other than “nice,”
good scotch, and a modicum
of consciousness, i.e.,
unease before platitudes. –
As always, I scattered booklists.
Complimented our hostess
for doing (trying to do)
with her mountain what Cézanne did
with his. Escaped a woman
whose “I don’t know” and “I don’t understand”
were weapons of varying caliber:
wide for the Israel/Hezbollah war,
wider for “why we just go on
killing each other!” (Learned,
however, she did good work,
in the city, with Somali children
horrified by girls
in shorts, and beaten
by black, white, and brown.) Our host
showed off his Japanese prints
the way another millionaire would
his cars. (The courtesan
in a blue cloak, mincing
forward while peering
impossibly back, like an owl … )
But he also told me
that the vast twilit forest
below his verandah
was all new growth; when Emerson
and Thoreau climbed the mountain,
they looked out on fields.
My back was to the sunset
as the sixtyish Dean’s Secretary
blurted her story. Twenty-eight years
with a cold but only verbally abusive
atheist. (Which explained
her nervous, repeated stress
on the word “spiritual” …
I nodded and rumbled wisely.)
Her second husband, meanwhile,
the Jungian analyst
who was talking to my wife, was
left after almost as long
for another woman.
He fixed me with a watery eye
when I described my “Vader” poems,
and said, “But it’s you, isn’t it?
You’re the Dark Lord.
Considering what you say you try
to do to the reader …”
That was the high point.
After dinner I wandered
farting among birches,
a tree I’ve always loved,
although I have never lived
near one. It’s the way they keep
their peeling bark, like writers’ desks
displaying all their crumpled drafts. –
Forgot to mention, there were kids
(grandchildren, well-behaved),
who now, on the verandah,
wished upon the Perseids.

5

Summer is winding down.
The insult
the earliest civilizations
began in, under which the last will end –
hundred-degree heat
with compound interest of humidity –
becomes memory.
This manic phase
with its attendant nightmares
may signal early dementia
or turbulent late birth.
At a corner with two banks
and a realtor, cars
become mere indices
of motion and purpose,
the smog a sketch of sky,
now of a later
in which not only “I”
holds things together.
That saying, Whom the gods would destroy
they first make mad could be
rephrased: No glimpse of love
or power without limit
will be tolerated – although
it flickers in the eye
of even the most passive passerby.


Profile: Frederick Pollack

Four Poems by Cliff Weber

disorder

men have searched long and hard
for the origins of thought—
pushing deep into the moonless night
with sharpened fingernails
and elusive wrinkles
that evaporate into sightless deserts
of decaying knuckle.

bend in
bend out
and witness disappearance
in its most elegant form.

you exist
just as the unknown does.


leaning out on the edge

The spiraling roar of a miracle
tears through curtains of porcelain doubt
like a golden comet
shot through tattered lace.

The whirling spasm of ingenuity,
when caged and tagged for future research,
crushes a lifetime of groans in a
single
violent
breath.

Life is a relay race
and the only thing that matters
is whether or not
you’re holding the baton.


welcome to the maze

When the machine successfully creates a mouse
a smirk crawls slowly upward, separating an infected cheek—
only to quickly retreat.
For now is the time of cheese;
an endless pyramid of cheddar
jack
gouda
muenster
mozzarella
and all the rest.

The business machine is a focused evil
and it always knows when to feed
the freshly corrupted,
salivating mouth of the starving mouse.


writhing pupils

distinguished gentlemen
gather late at night
in crawl spaces
and fox holes
writing love poems
to the Julies
and Katys
and Wendys

they dance around the page
sword in hand
attempting to tame the ink
like a snake charmer
wooing his slithery enemy

a few are able to control the boa
and the rest are bitten


Profile: Cliff Weber

A Poem by Meta Knight

Yeah, it has been said a million times before
But that doesn’t necessarily mean it shouldn’t be said again:
It doesn’t even matter if these missiles are fired or not
They are having their effect upon us
There is an inverse relationship between creativity & money
Science, psychology has mapped this relationship on a giant colorful graph:
In terms of almost everything, things are getting more vaporous, more fluid
National boundaries are being eroded by technology and economics
You are being paid in paper—but really you are being paid in an abstract swarm of bytes, like FarmVille

A lot of conspiracy theorists, they find it comforting, secretly
The idea of the Illuminati & the CIA & whoever controlling our lives and destinies
It’s comforting not to have to choose, like an infant

I am very fond of the anarchist proverb regarding laws—good people have no need for them, bad people pay no attention to them
So what are they there for, other than as a symbol of power?

Dude, I straight pulled that shit from Alan Moore’s Wikiquote page, like a plagiarist
Sue me
If all you want is plot, go & read a Tom Clancy novel
If all you want is consciousness:
Welcome to the internet

Nothing ever ‘ends,’ bb

If Christ were only ever fiction, a divine Idea, would this invalidate the social change inspired by that Idea, make holy wars less terrible, or human betterment less real, less sacred?
Pop quiz:
Which is more important to you?
A. what is real
B. what is meaningful
Consciousness is unquantifiable, a ghost in the machine, barely considered real at all, like Sasquatch
Organised religion has corrupted one of the purest, most powerful & sustaining things in the human condition: It has imposed a middle management, like a restaurant—Denny’s even
Mind has come up with this brilliant way of looking at the world, Science,
But it can’t look at itself; Science has no place for the mind
Things are getting increasingly abstracted
The world is heating up, too
Thanks a lot, CO2
I’m not a millionaire but I’m very comfortable doing what I do
& I’m more productive now than ever
I will go vegetarian, then vegan
I will get healthier
I will grow exponentially, curving off the top of this colorful bar graph
Hunger could be solved, theoretically
We are farming vegetables, virtually, on FarmVille
Whereas we could be graphing more things, gathering more data
No, that wouldn’t do it either
You don’t want to become information overloaded, now,
Do you?


Profile: Meta Knight

Three Poems by Leilani Štajer

Could It Be Love?

Is love enough
to pay the rent and pay the bills
or is life pursued
only through survival skills?

Is love enough
to make you forget how you want
others to see you and make your soul feel
dug out like a muddy hole?

Is love enough
to make your heart race like a greyhound on a track,
to make you scream under the sheets like a barefoot raging maniac,
to make you forget the question “What the hell are we all doing here?”

Is love enough
to make you realize that
there is no sadder question in the world

but we are not sad people,
are we?


The road to Vienna

We started our drive
at 7:30 in the morning
and it snowed a bit last night.

It was a cold white day
in Ljubljana’s streets
and they were giving out
hot tea to cyclists.

The road was long
and an emptiness
my lungs
accompanied the emptiness
of the rocky road between
an unfriendly nature.

We stopped before
the Austrian border and
ran through the cold air
to pee

there was a woman
who wanted money from me
but I was like
“hey granny,
I can pee on your
parking space if
you’d like that instead”.

Then I wanted
to buy a coffee
– you know
the kind you buy on the
gas station for
a shiny euro coin
well it wanted
two shiny fuckers
this time

“well fuck you
I want my goddamn
sweet yummy
nectar of gods”

So I put two coins inside
and gave it a
disapproving look
when grabbing the sugar
and heading back
to the car.

But the sneaky bastard
got its revenge
because the coffee was
already sweetened when
I added sugar in it

and the sweet sip burned like
grandma’s chocolate tart
she bakes for christmas
where just one bite
sets your
fucking throat
on fire.

I Love You Guinness, But Not That Much

There once was
a guy
who took me on
a date.
He took me to
a nice place
and ordered me
a nice beer
and we talked about
how awesome he thought
Ireland was.

After the
two hour mono-travelogue
he asked me
what I planned
to study.
I said
that I like
History and English
and he immediatelly
let me know
that I must study
English
because Ireland.

After the third Irish beer
he asked
if he could give me
a kiss
and when you
ask a question
like that
it’s already too late.

So I had
to pay the bill
because reasons
and I
didn’t mind,
I was just glad
I could go back into
my bed
and think about
how happy I was
I haven’t been
to Ireland
yet.


Profile: Leilani Štajer

Three Poems by Rebecca Clever

You cleaned your nails with a butcher knife,

waiting for your wife—
my mother—
late again, to be ready.

I watched you
angle the long blade
so its sharp tip could pick away
the week’s oil & engine grime,

model glue & sawdust melded,
while you sang or hummed
or maybe whistled Mathis,
Chances Are.

You never broke the skin,
never missed a note.
Pitch-perfect
meticulous technician,

I loved you like the sun hates
darkness, and in its blazing
burns most brutal.


To Jack, the Unlovable

I want to say I’m sorry
for your overbite, chronic runny
nose, hand-me-down trousers
your dad gave you—cuffs stapled
to worn knees
for the love
note gone unanswered. But I stood
a foot above your stunted
shoulders in 8th grade, could smell
your unwashed hair
when I passed you
as we all did in the hall
of awkward ways. Butt
of jokes, class scapegoat when
we wouldn’t own up
to our own
failures—I gagged to picture kissing
you, even holding hands. So, quietly
I cast the crumpled page
you printed on
Go with me.
It can be our secret
, in a dumpster
off school grounds, trembled
that the likes of you would choose
me
you, who wrote my name
with yours on book covers
your fresh cut strawberry-
shaped crush. The heart sliced
open.


At Tom Ayoob, Inc., Est. 1961

I USED UP ALL MY SICK DAYS SO I CALLED IN DEAD

reads the sticker on Jim’s makeshift office where he does the bookkeeping

tracks weekly inventory from the Carolinas Georgia Mexico

carrying on a family tradition since the hippie days of moving

wholesale vegetables and fruits through Pittsburgh’s Strip

confesses “Some nights I don’t sleep” in authentic Yinzer

“Dealin’ perishables is like gamblin’, but we try to survive, scale dahn

sell potatahs, onions, peppers, cabbage when it gets cold.”

In a blink he halves a watermelon with his pocket knife

offers generosity ripened to our mouths.


Profile: Rebecca Clever