by Steve Klepetar
And so the days are leaving,
at least the light, which used
to linger, shimmering in the pond
you walked upon, gently, careful
as an ancient god who knew
and feared the power of water
stirred to trouble by a careless foot.
Such breathing then, in the warmth
of summer reeds, fish breaking
the surface with a kind of sigh,
splashes that tickled willow
branches bending in their easy prayers.
Harder to walk now in the roar
of trucks which breed their own
wind. Even the last footpath
leads to a highway now, oaks
and maples barely masking
a roar like waves against rock,
thin green curtain against endless
strips of stores selling tires or worse:
the salty food of sailors forced back to land.
Steve Klepetar’s work has received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, including three in 2014. Three collections appeared in 2013: Speaking to the Field Mice (Sweatshoppe Publications), Blue Season (with Joseph Lisowski, mgv2>publishing), and My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto (Flutter Press). An e-chapbook, Return of the Bride of Frankenstein, came out in 2014 as part of the Barometric Pressures series of e-chapbooks by Kind of a Hurricane Press.
by Darius Stewart
Across the way the neighbors again argue
the virtues of fidelity & discretion.
I’ve come out into the cold, dark winter
the white elephant smoking a cigarette,
leaning against the porch-rail intruding upon
their privacy, such impertinence I feel
like a child disobedient. Without coat
or toboggan, a cup of hot water to warm
their hands, one talks, the other pretends
to see a crack in the sky. Each voice
pitches louder, a constant campaign
of half-truthing, fictioning, then their voices
lowing, their heads craning my direction,
toward the smoke, the spire lifted in my hand
a dying torch & me shrinking back
as if from a scolding hand. Against my lips
a snifter of cognac might betray how clearly
I’m a saboteur of their feuding. A box
of Harry London chocolates poised
for sampling is a veiled attempt at metaphoring
I’m a sweetheart who enjoys a good show—
half-nelsoned as if by a Mahler symphony.
But even Mahler isn’t so bullying,
the way the air is now a deeper purple,
night beaten to a plum,
as they each refuse to see inside
the heart of the matter, which is
almost like tossing salt over one’s shoulder
to preserve some semblance of luck.
I’d like to tell them that, if only to conform
to the idea of wisdom coming from the mouths
of babes. Because I do have something to say.
Though often, I admit, (when I do say)
I’m the pummeled air between my neighbors
that bars her from tracing a finger along the crease
of his shirt sleeve, or him from blurting out
the biggest shock of all: that he’s fallen out of love
& can’t continue on this way, & then I have to admit
sometimes words fail, that more & more
words are instruments of futility, like trying
to conceive that pennies fall from heaven,
or when one pulls the beds apart
the other spends the night restless on the couch
because they each possess a god-like wrath,
a stubbornness that keeps a deer stationary
in the wake of oncoming traffic.
My neighbors can’t hear themselves out
to hear the imminent crash. They find a sort of peace
from knowing one will walk away with blood
on their hands. That’s how they know they’ve won
& one day will tell their children how
they left the other in a downward spiral, not
able to pick their battered body up off the ground,
& this, they will say, is how to prove resilience,
(or worse) that they’re not one to be trifled with.
If you were here you would know all that I say
is true because you, too, have tried to settle in
for the night but are called back again
& again by voices across the way rising
like the resurrection. It becomes news to you
the same way senseless tragedies encourage
pillow-talk or campfire stories, gossip
at the water cooler while the boss is in
the boardroom. You hear this news the same way
you hear a turkey buzzard lifting up heavily
from a tree branch & the leaves hitting the roof
of the car below like drum-taps. You hear it like rain
when there is no rain & you so badly desire it
because you’ve never seen the earth so parched,
or anything, for that matter, fighting the good fight
to survive & losing so terribly.
conversation with an asian at 2am on the bottom of a staircase
by Joseph Cruse
He was just a tiny asian.
You don’t get to meet many exchange asians inhabiting the Midwestern small campus.
They’re actually studying.
His name was Yoshi.
It wasn’t, but he didn’t mind when I called him that.
We were passing back the bottle. He’d drink then I’d drink.
“You know my problem with foreigners, Yoshi?”
“I’ll never completely understand you. We’re apart, you and I, and I can’t take it.
In Science, I learned that the world, comprised of atoms,
is a series of every action out of reaction, bonded through a repulsion of swirling electrons
colliding, crashing, and cracking under the pressures to be whole with another.
The fucking cosmos tears us to pieces every single day, Yosh,
and we have the presumption to create language?
the illusion of mere understanding.
Hope, is our problem, Yoshi, hope and trying.
There’s always pointing and grunting, I suppose,
when words have no more accuracy off our tongues lulled dull without a sharpening stone.
We’re talking in a concocted language,
using words and phrases solely meant to tip-toe across high-tension thread,
between the message and the understanding,
between the conveyance and the meaning,
in our misplaced desires to simply just be heard.
And I can’t fathom such a cruel fucking joke.
Goddamnit, Yoshi, you drunk asian bastard, you made me cry,” I said laughing.
He flashed a smile back.
He didn’t speak English.
Joseph Cruse is a writer, an actor, a bad painter, and an English Master’s student – he is, easily more, a lot of nothing and everything. When not getting into trouble, he explores New Orleans, sprays graffiti scenes of movies onto canvas, and works at a brewery. Some of his work can also be seen in Poetry Quarterly, Cacti Magazine, and Bareback Magazine.
by Angel Eduardo
A spider caught in a sink,
just before the water falls,
doesn’t mind its cell.
It’s just big enough
not to see
that there’s nowhere to go
Even when the spigot breaks
and the flood comes,
he will struggle
until he drowns,
curl up into a ball
into the abyss.
He knows no other way
Angel Eduardo is a writer, musician, and photographer from North Jersey. He writes poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, and is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing for Memoir at CUNY Hunter College in New York City. More of his work can be found on his official website, http://www.angeleduardo.net.
by Joseph James Cawein
broke my heart
at midnight convenience
with airplane arms
and cigarette burns
on her manic heart.
Joseph James Cawein is losing his mind.The man who occupies the empty bar stool says so. No one else hears him laugh.