Untitled – Gregory W. Bitz

Pretending to be myself
sitting between two blue candles
watching the wind destroy
the city
filling boxes with
the old letters
to a foreign radio station
taking flash pictures in the dim room
blasting shadows.
The city’s in bloom
little yellow squares glow and go off.
There’s a lot of hate in
those homes
there’s a lot of
Open all the windows
connect the world with air.

Day and Night Handball – Stephen Dunn

Day and Night Handball

I think of corner shots, the ball
hitting and dying like a butterfly
on a windshield, shots so fine
and perverse they begin to live

alongside weekends of sex
in your memory. I think of serves
delivered deep to the left hand,
the ball sliding off the side wall

into the blindness of one’s body,
and diving returns that are impossible
except on days when your body is all
rubber bands and dreams

unfulfilled since childhood.
I think of a hand slicing the face
of a ball, so much english
that it comes back drunk

to your opponent who doesn’t have
enough hands to hit it,
who hits it anyway, who makes you think
of “God!” and “Goddamn!,” the pleasure

of falling to your knees
for what is superb, better than you.
But it’s position I think of most,
the easy slam and victory

because you have a sense of yourself
and the court, the sense that old men
gone in the knees have,
one step in place of five,

finesse in place of power,
and all the time
the four walls around you
creating the hardship, the infinite variety.


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I am faxing a check


From “summer, somewhere” – Danez Smith

From “summer, somewhere”
somewhere, a sun. below, boys brown
as rye play the dozens & ball, jump
in the air & stay there. boys become new
moons, gum-dark on all sides, beg bruise
-blue water to fly, at least tide, at least
spit back a father or two. I won’t get started.
history is what it is. it knows what it did.
bad dog. bad blood. bad day to be a boy
color of a July well spent. but here, not earth
not heaven, boys can’t recall their white shirt
turned a ruby gown. here, there is no language
for officer or law, no color to call white.
if snow fell, it’d fall black. please, don’t call
us dead, call us alive someplace better.
we say our own names when we pray.
we go out for sweets & come back.
this is how we are born: come morning
after we cypher/feast/hoop, we dig
a new boy from the ground, take
him out his treebox, shake worms
from his braids. sometimes they’ll sing
a trapgod hymn (what a first breath!)
sometimes it’s they eyes who lead
scanning for bonefleshed men in blue.
we say congrats, you’re a boy again!
we give him a durag, a bowl, a second chance.
we send him off to wander for a day
or ever, let him pick his new name.
that boy was Trayvon, now called RainKing.
that man Sean named himself I do, I do.
O, the imagination of a new reborn boy
but most of us settle on alive.
sometimes a boy is born
right out the sky, dropped from
a bridge between starshine & clay.
one boy showed up pulled behind
a truck, a parade for himself
& his wet red gown. years ago
we plucked brothers from branches
unpeeled their naps from bark.
sometimes a boy walks into his room
then walks out into his new world
still clutching wicked metals. some boys
waded here through their own blood.
does it matter how he got here if we’re all here
to dance? grab a boy, spin him around.
if he asks for a kiss, kiss him.
if he asks where he is, say gone.
no need for geography
now that we’re safe everywhere.
point to whatever you please
& call it church, home, or sweet love.
paradise is a world where everything
is a sanctuary & nothing is a gun.
here, if it grows it knows its place
in history. yesterday, a poplar
told me of old forest
heavy with fruits I’d call uncle
bursting red pulp & set afire,
harvest of dark wind chimes.
after I fell from its limb
it kissed sap into my wound.
do you know what it’s like to live
someplace that loves you back?
here, everybody wanna be black & is.
look — the forest is a flock of boys
who never got to grow up, blooming
into forever, afros like maple crowns
reaching sap-slow toward sky. watch
Forest run in the rain, branches
melting into paper-soft curls, duck
under the mountain for shelter. watch
the mountain reveal itself a boy.
watch Mountain & Forest playing
in the rain, watch the rain melt everything
into a boy with brown eyes & wet naps —
the lake turns into a boy in the rain
the swamp — a boy in the rain
the fields of lavender — brothers
dancing between the storm.
if you press your ear to the dirt
you can hear it hum, not like it’s filled
with beetles & other low gods
but like a mouth rot with gospel
& other glories. listen to the dirt
crescendo a boy back.
come. celebrate. this
is everyday. every day
holy. everyday high
holiday. everyday new
year. every year, days get longer.
time clogged with boys. the boys
O the boys. they still come
in droves. the old world
keeps choking them. our new one
can’t stop spitting them out.
ask the mountain-boy to put you on
his shoulders if you want to see
the old world, ask him for some lean
-in & you’ll be home. step off him
& walk around your block.
grow wings & fly above your city.
all the guns fire toward heaven.
warning shots mince your feathers.
fall back to the metal-less side
of the mountain, cry if you need to.
that world of laws rendered us into dark
matter. we asked for nothing but our names
in a mouth we’ve known
for decades. some were blessed
to know the mouth.
our decades betrayed us.
there, I drowned, back before, once.
there, I knew how to swim but couldn’t.
there, men stood by shore & watched me blue.
there, I was a dead fish, the river’s prince.
there, I had a face & then I didn’t.
there, my mother cried over me
but I wasn’t there. I was here, by my own
water, singing a song I learned somewhere
south of somewhere worse. that was when
direction mattered. now, everywhere
I am is the center of everything.
I must be the lord of something.
what was I before? a boy? a son?
a warning? a myth? I whistled
now I’m the God of whistling.
I built my Olympia downstream.
you are not welcome here. trust
the trip will kill you. go home.
we earned this paradise
by a death we didn’t deserve.
I am sure there are other heres.
a somewhere for every kind
of somebody, a heaven of brown
girls braiding on golden stoops
but here —
how could I ever explain to you —
someone prayed we’d rest in peace
& here we are
in peace             whole                all summer

Welcome to the Jungle – Morgan Parker

Welcome to the Jungle

I asked her where she wanna be when she 25 / She turned around and looked at me and she said ‘alive’”—Kanye West, “Welcome to the Jungle”

With champagne I try expired white ones
I mean pills I mean men

I think I’m going crazy sometimes really
you think I’m joking I’m never joking

All Men Have Been Created Equally
To Shiver At The Thought Of Me

is something I used to think but forgot
or got drunk tried smoking something new

put on a wig made a scene threw up
in someone’s living room cooked

too much food every time can someone just
give it to me when I get home

I know the answer is probably cleavage
cleavage all the boys I know

holding my arms down taking off
my bracelets with their white hands

I’ve pissed on a sidewalk in midtown watched
a Joan Crawford movie at dawn

art is nice but the question is how are you
making money are you for sale

people in movies are always saying
I can’t live like this! packing a little bag

or throwing down their forks I mean it
one of these days my whole body might just

go away like just standing in line
at Whole Foods or Purgatory I wish I were

a dream for you to suck on
once I got four tattoos

cut off all my hair
died my hair blonde

had a party had fifty parties
looked for Jupiter and Venus in the smog

painted and repainted my nails
what can they do for you sir

the question is where the fuck
is the sun the answer is tip-toe

into the park at midnight pretend
it’s green like home

Topography – Sharon Olds


After we flew across the country we
got in bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly from the left my
moon rising slowly from the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Late Hours – Lisel Mueller

Late Hours

On summer nights the world
moves within earshot
on the interstate with its swish
and growl, an occasional siren
that sends chills through us.
Sometimes, on clear, still nights,
voices float into our bedroom,
lunar and fragmented,
as if the sky had let them go
long before our birth.

In winter we close the windows
and read Chekhov,
nearly weeping for his world.

What luxury, to be so happy
that we can grieve
over imaginary lives.

Telephone Booth (number 905 1/2) – Pedro Pietri

Telephone Booth (number  905 1/2)

woke up this morning
feeling excellent
picked up the telephone
dialed the number of
my equal opportunity employer
to inform him I will not
be into work today
Are you feeling sick?
the boss asked me
No Sir I replied:
I am feeling too good
to report to work today,
if I feel sick tomorrow
I will come in early

The Good Idea – Charles Webb

The Good Idea

While asleep, a man gives birth to an idea of a woman. He wakes and finds it curled comfortably against him.

He takes it in his arms and kisses it. It responds perfectly. He wallows in the feel of its round breasts, smooth thighs, soft pubic patch. Its warm breath and little sighs drive him wild. He keeps thinking the words “Drunk with passion at last.” He makes love to it. It’s the best he’s ever had.

They stay in bed all day. When the phone rings, they giggle and ignore it. They agree about everything.

In a lovely office, the man’s boss throws a fit, swears to fire the man, but cools down, reconsiders. While outside a giant hand works on a picture of the sky, finally blacks it all out, throws in a moon and stars, and goes away.