Posts for June 6, 2016

Bronson O'Quinn


she itches her nose with her palm
and it sounds like Nickelodeon Gak
squished and oozing through fingers
it should drive a man insane.

it drives me wild.
I guess we’re gross enough
for each other.


The magic chef

Sweet Julia, your grand gestures, generous
frame, and ready wit supplied all the diversion
necessary to cover your sleight of hand:
how you poured your secret  

heartache into every dish you prepared, each recipe
you tested and perfected, feeding by proxy
whole generations of families you could never
otherwise call your own.


A Monkey Robbed a Convenience Store

It was on the news today
A monkey robbed

a convenience store
in India
chucked a piece of fruit
through the open door
as a diversion 
leapt upon the
cash register 
opened it and fled
with $150 worth
of rupees
in its paw
When I relayed 
the story
to my boyfriend,
he asked,
“What’s that monkey
need the money for?”
– Jessica Swafford 


Lipstick Bomb

You would think I’d pulled a nuclear bomb,
or evidence of the 2nd coming,
out of my bag.
Because I dare to go bare,
or dare just to be too damn lazy,
a tube of lipstick is a major event.
I don’t judge if you paint–
Sister, flaunt your shit if you got it–
but I like going to bed
with the same face I woke up with.
But still,
sometimes your lips are chapped,
or you’re bored,
or you don’t feel pretty enough (for who for whom?).
It’s nice to hear, “Oh! You’re hot!”
But wasn’t I before?


Up Lisbon’s Hill

The sun beats
a heavy tattoo
on Costa do Castelo,
heating the hand
cobbled way
to the Thieves Market.

The hot waves prise Lisbon’s words
free from the streets for me to steal

Bernie Deville
and conceal with burned fingers.


This Day in History

It’s a different anniversary from those to which she’d grown accustomed. The maturation of his absence is now complete, and every day past this will belong only to her. Not him. Certainly not some once but no longer future them. Not even to the red marks on the calendar that ticked off the first month without him. After that, despite the grieving, it got easier. Fourth of July fireworks? So last year. Christmas with his parents? Won’t miss a single, painful moment. New Year’s Eve? All her choice. Almost forgot Thanksgiving. Who’d have thought she could be so grateful in such a tiny portion of her life’s greater arc?


Geese and Angels

Geese and Angels

For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water.  
John 5:4

At first, it was only the sudden spectacle:
Hundreds of geese, their raucous honk! honk! honk!
Slicing straight through the quiet of St. Mary’s Lake;
Their strong wings flashing against a clear October sky,
Their small feet skimming, churning–
Troubling!—the waters
That had been so placid
Only a moment ago.
In single, unbroken motion, they descended—skimmed—rose again
Out of sight,
And as St. Mary’s waters settled once more into silent clarity,
You were there,
Walking beside me,
Your words and mine forming, rising into tangible awareness,
Saying, through this quivering, this newly split veil,
The words we could not say
When both of us had voices. 

Erin Mathews

Personal Property

I did not use to hum with anger
or burn with fright

There was a time where
I would offer every part of myself

Hands for holding onto
Writing messages addressed to your name

Mouth for affectionate affirmation
Conceding to your side – I was wrong.

Heart for meeting expectations
Beating and failing to beat

Stress can be so funny
Love can be so frightening

I am full of diluted vibrations
Echoing while I unlearn us

You said there is blood on my hands
That my lips are unlcean

My heart is not your fault
And you are right


Amanda Corbin

Things I No Longer Live With


Because of my father’s insanity

he clings to what feels familiar.

We burned wood

instead of using the electric furnace.

Mornings were the coldest

when the fire had gone out some time in the night

and I dreaded undressing to shower

or even pulling my pants down to use the bathroom.


We hauled our trash to town

instead of paying for garbage collection.

Sometimes we’d forget it, in the back of the SUV

and it sat all day in the heat

the smell of rotten food and dirty toilet paper

settling into the upholstery.


But we threw little away.

Old butter containers

and Ziploc baggies

we washed and reused.

Junk mail, flyers

and old newspapers we burned.

We kept anything that was still good

as if it were the Great Depression

and there was no telling

when we’d see a new zipper again.


Broken tools were still good.

Expired food, expired medications, still good.

Other people’s garbage

was still good.

My father brought it home by the truckload

stacking it, stuffing it, scattering it everywhere.


I do not miss this.

There is no nostalgia

about the hardships
he invented.


There is only this wall of fire

in the back of my mind

slow burning

to keep a perimeter

around myself, my family

to keep the wrecking wildfire of him out.


White Knuckles

Hands scarred by poverty
You stand in defense  

Your poised jab protects
pointless, hollow treasures  

Clinched fists silence
passions that could change the world  

And still
with white knuckles,
you hold on  

Letting go requires more
strength than hanging on  

But, loosen your grip on emptiness
Sprinkle your gifts like magic dust  

Change the world, I say
Cling to authentic riches  

with a damaged squeeze,
you hold on