Heart’s Honest Kiss

Poem 3.
by Joseph Altamore

[When We Made Love]

when we made love
I had copulated 

before

but hadn’t

touched
kissed
stared
held

panicked inside
wanted to vomit
to cry

terrible 
tears
of fear

anxiety

I had never wanted to

take our hearts
rip them from our

quivering
chests
dry them out

in the torrid sun

and pulverize them together

our dust mingling 

in the languid 

breeze

so that

come oblivion we may be

as one
if only in a

gasp of ether

when we made love

it was my

first time

—–

Joseph Altamore is an emerging poet from Rockford, IL. His work is usually prose style poetry. He has been writing for four years but only very recently decided to submit his work for publishing. So far, he has been published in an online publication named Dead Snakes.

Soul’s Tainted Security

Lascivious Grace
by Curtis Whitecarroll

1

The art of growing up is teaching your skin to become a mask factory
All the orifices stuffed with paper, tainted with vulgar poetry

My transgression is to pretend a part of me is still innocent
calling back to my own instinct, be as dead as a statue

2

Some nights, I am left in moods
I thought I have left behind ,
guilty feelings over my wife
mopping up the mess
of my self-evisceration

I remember as a child I would feel
bad for standing outside
obstructing sunlight from
a boy shaped patch of grass

now, in my mid-thirties,
a part of me still has not
grown secure,

wanting to stay quiet
about wounds, who
still sometimes
feels the echoes

of being told
how worthless I am,
at nine after
harvesting a whole
onion field by hand,

or the times younger

left with the responsibilities
of alleged adults,
the pedophile who hated
his life and fatherhood,

or the mentally ill woman
who would’t get off the couch
to do anything except kill
my pets in front of me
when I was behind on chores

they are the ones who called
themselves farmers

and they have left seeds
which I have tried pulling
out of my bones,
but you always look insane
when trying to circumvent
your own skin

sometimes at night,
I can feel a bumper crop
coming on

3

Because I love to be not loved

they will ask me what my damage is

and I will say impiety is a comfort

when one was raised with grace used as a weapon

my future is a success if others fail to make sense of me

4

I learned what innocence is,
birth throws us into a world
gentle and illiterate,

we age, hording weaponry
our skin turns to armor
by reading sharp edges,

this is a world of broken glass streets
every human soul a bottle ready
to fall off its shelf

—–

Curtis Whitecarroll lives in Portland Oregon as he has for the last 13 years.
He is a poet, published in many various magazines. He is most proud of being the host and producer of Ink Noise , and other readings around town , devoted to giving young poets their start in live readings and publishing.

The Turn of a Tryst

A TRYST
by Darius Stewart

I tried to be a gigolo once,
but neither of us knew why
I thought I’d ever be good at it:
I almost made a castrato of him
when I went down on him,

because it was my first time.
When we passed each other
beneath that barely luminous light,
I knew he’d think I’d be spectacular—
how we circled each other like secrets

circulating amongst people who refuse the truth,
needing, instead, to make up fictions.
& I’ve never blamed him
for sitting next to me, grimaced
& slump-shouldered in the motel,

in the well-lit savage part of the city
listening to the couple behind the paper-
thin walls fucking the way strangers do:
nothing but limbs hyphenating other limbs,
hands palming pelvises, bodies flickering

in spotlight of cars passing by their window,
their muted screeches like traffic
of alley cats . . . I wanted to fuck him
then & there just thinking about it. & I tried,
& smiled at him, but he turned away—refusing

even a glimpse of me,
& I’d never felt so unconsidered—
as if I were a bench on which he could rest
his disregard: that this was a mistake,
that we could be nothing more than passing

acquaintances. So I waited in silence until he fell asleep—
the room being paid for through the night—
& listened to him make a noise like a walrus’s
skin sliding into the muck of wet sand,
slowly circling deeper into delirium,

like his sleep, but not like sleep. Like death.
I imagined his body slowly decomposing, each chest fall
& rise another second ticked off his life.
I whispered to him, Are you dying, leaving me,
as if we were lovers. But he was silent despite his noise,

& I confused by how much I admired his tranquility,
how he shone in the moon’s light casing
his skin, the bones of that room. I wanted to sidle up against
his body, find comfort in his stillness.
I wanted to pull him closer, to visit his body

a while. The way long-time companions hold
each other in a swallow of light & think nothing
of the silence, how noisily its absence of sound compels one
to find comfort in the simplest gestures. But we were strangers

meeting for a quick fuck that never happened.
& I was no gigolo—
though it was a small price to pay
simply to be beside him,
covers pulled to my chin, waiting out the night

—–

Darius Stewart was born in Knoxville, TN, in 1979. He holds degrees from The University of Tennessee and the Michener Center for Writers (a B.A. and an M.F.A., respectively). He has been previously anthologized in two volumes of The Southern Poetry Anthology series, The Best Gay Poetry 2008. He’s been published elsewhere in Callaloo, The Seattle Review, Meridian, and dozens of other journals. He has authored three chapbooks: The Terribly Beautiful (2006), Sotto Voce (2008) and The Ghost the Night Becomes (2014). He bartends for a living because it makes more money than teaching, and lives with two dogs: Fry (his) and Waffles (his housemate’s, who doesn’t think he’s an artist, but he is).

The Industry of Smokey Living

All that Wind
by Ryan Hardgrove

from my fire escape I can see
spiraling towers of smoke
pouring from Neville Island
the hellish grey island in the Ohio River
ancient smokestacks
leftover somehow by the industrial rustbelt circus
spew innumerable amounts of gas and particulates
day in day out
unknown flames burn through the night
old candles that forgot to go out

I cough on my dry cold cigarette
and stub it out on the frozen brick

on the couch
its winter and I’m poor
Eraserhead is on the screen
with its industrial wind
and incessant infantile screams

she’s somewhere in the background
seed in her own stomach
my seed
and her friend is here
complaining
complaining
complaining about jobs and guys and all around shortcomings

her friend still has not asked her
how the pregnancy is coming

and she says my friends don’t care
what a joke

the truth is
nobody cares
about anyone else
unless that someone
provides them with something
they cannot provide
for themselves

the wind rattles a gutter
somewhere out in the dark

Ryan Hardgrove is currently wading through his late twenties as a feckless bartender and responsible father. He is also a writer and a musician. He lives in Pittsburgh, PA with his common law wife and their son.

In My Rearview Mirror I Saw The Mural Of The Beautiful (10 Poets)

Tangible Things

My aunt put her cat to sleep on Saturday
and I’ve been trying to focus on tangible things like steering wheels and water bottles and boxer shorts. You can’t clean cat piss out of anything, you’ve gotta throw it away. Suddenly I am all the pillows and blankets and squares of carpets my aunts cat pissed on. I am scattered around various landfills around Northeast Ohio. I am not a body because bodies die and I refuse to believe in the inevitability of death. I want to reincarnate as styrofoam. I want to live forever and be split apart and strewn across the various warehouses of urban America. I don’t want to be the first needle you use to put a cat to sleep, the one that sedates but doesn’t kill. I don’t want to be the staggered, frustrated breaths you make as you throw your pillows, blankets, and squares of carpeting into the dumpster. You can’t clean cat piss out of anything.

Passing By The Land O’ Lakes Butter Factory

Passing by the Land O’ Lakes butter factory
a deer ran out and died.
My poetry teacher said to use concrete images
and I thought about that along the concrete highway
under concrete smokestacks and the concrete walls
of the Land O’ Lakes butter factory.
In my rearview mirror I saw the mural of the beautiful
Native American woman come to life.
She dropped her box of butter and ran towards the deer
cursing in a language I didn’t understand or couldn’t hear
over the roar of the cement trucks making
forward progress
against the blood and gore.

Jonah Ort is a journalism student at Ohio University. He’s been actively writing and performing poetry for a few. His most recent poetry book, Knuckle Duster, was released in late 2013.

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Eclogue On The Death Of Eddie “Gwen” Araujo

By the time I slip into bed
I will have saved in my memory
the wet dark boughs,

skeletal looming slant against the gemstone
sky. Birds perch on leaf-less
branches, sing a weeping chorus.

& while she lay there dying,
did she feel slick black grass
against her cheeks?

Did forest creatures
gather in moonlight procession
behind the body dragging

across the wooded floor, a halo of
l eaves & needles collecting

around her head? Did her eyes see past shadows,
beyond whirling fists
into the evil of men?

Questions tremble like the low
moaning of cello strings.

No one would feel her bulk
shudder the grave they placed her in,
know the pain she did not feel yet

kept coming &
coming
& coming.

for the family

Darius Stewart was born in Knoxville, TN, in 1979. He holds degrees from The University of Tennessee and the Michener Center for Writers (a B.A. and an M.F.A., respectively). He has been previously anthologized in two volumes of The Southern Poetry Anthology series, The Best Gay Poetry 2008. He’s been published elsewhere in Callaloo, The Seattle Review, Meridian, and dozens of other journals. He has authored three chapbooks: The Terribly Beautiful (2006), Sotto Voce (2008) and The Ghost the Night Becomes (2014).

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Get Finger And Lick

In this scene, the lesbians
Will have HUGE orgasms, only
They don’t know it yet!

They don’t even know
They are lesbians at all,
Not even the slightest bit

(Take that Dr. Kinsey!)
No, they are completely
Heterosexual at the start,

The product of a society
That treats man on woman
As a God-given right,

A convention which we
Here can destroy for
The pleasures that are forbidden.

Of course, who knows
What we could’ve
Accomplished with equality
Or liberation, in a nation
Where every combination
Of sexes in sex positions
Is treated as anthropologically
Normal by everyone?

Ben Nardolilli lives in Arlington, Virginia. He pushes paper as a bureaucrat and a poet. Links to his works and thoughts can be found at mirrorsponge.blogspot.com

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I’ve Been To Jail, But Never Prison

Sadness is two parts Popov, one part Faygo Redpop poured over two ice cubes, stirred carefully. Sadness is your pillow-case evicting the indention of your nose, the decaying orbit of your laziest lipstick. Sadness is as ’Merkin colored as the American flag as it burns. Sadness is a deck of cards sans Joker. Sadness is the suicide note shuffle of flip-flops against Lake Michigan during Black Friday.

Jesse Bradley is a Best Of The Net and Pushcart Prize nominated writer whose work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including: decomP, Hobart, and Prairie Schooner. He was the Interviews Editor of PANK, the Flash Fiction Editor of NAP, and the Web Editor of Monkeybicycle. He is the author of the poetry collection Dodging Traffic (Ampersand Books, 2009), the novella Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2012), and the graphic poetry collection The Bones of Us (YesYes Books, 2014), illustrated by Adam Scott Mazer. He is the curator of the Central Florida reading series There Will Be Words and lives at iheartfailure.net

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Effigy Claws

On the night Lou Reed dies
the satellite radio acknowledges
but refuses to play along. My housemate
fiddles radio stations, digital surf,
one end of the dial and back, glancing blows
of the same songs drenched in familiarity.

Every now and then a bumper plays
a warning of mourning. It mentions
that tomorrow, not today, they will
tribute the man. A fragment
of “Dirty Boulevard” plays, the
part where Lou want to fly, fly
fly away from the dirty, dirty…

A GPS guides, I refuse
to challenge it with maps,
enjoying roads bleeding together.
The turns become labyrinth,
as car winds northeast across southern Ohio.

Stars tangled in power lines look like music notes.

“Here come the waves.”

I squint through night, freshly painted ridgeline.

“Washing our eyes.”

The trees become real, enough, to disappear in streaks of speed lightning.

“Then they’re gone, once more.”

I am a lazy one, displaced in short gasps.
Reflections in headlights of weekends, moments
where we can break skin open let our light pour out.

“Doesn’t it just drive you crazy?”

Lou Reed never wrote a song about Ohio,
unless you count a passing reference in “Ohhhh Baby.”
Tonight’s interstate never knew Lou Reed.
But the moment is precise, a clear needle’s eye.
Some bit of lost fiction crashed between white and yellow lines.
Jesus’s son waits in truck stop darkness
for the ocean, the waves to be gone just once more.

Jason Baldinger has spent a life in odd jobs; if only poetry was the strangest of them he’d have far less to talk about. Somewhere in time he has traveled the country, and written a few books, the latest of which are The Lower 48 (Six Gallery Press) and the chapbook The Studs Terkel Blues (Night Ballet Press), both slated for release in 2014. A short litany of publishing credits includes: The New Yinzer, Shatter Wig Press, Blast Furnace, B.E. Quarterly and Fuck Art, Let’s Dance. You can also hear audio tracks of some poems on the Bandcamp website by just typing in his name.

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The Fence Separates Nothing

She looks like a peach orchard, that cypress girl
Standing pale in black,
Feeding her horses in the dark,
That fence separates nothing

A raven vanishes in the sudden death of a candle flame,
Tears will whine dim lamps of prayers down always,
Make another age-old world of another broken twin
If it’s not true
That the fence separates nothing

A bone train filled with body bags rolled by here
In the dead late day of still dust,
Now in the endless night, sprays of neon
Glow out the distant whistles,
And it seems true to me now:
The fence separates nothing

Bill Hughes was born in Akron, Ohio in 1987. He grew up in the fairy tale fields of the Rust Belt. He spent six years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and currently lives inside a veil in Oakland, California.

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Twitter Stalking Will Get You Everywhere

I am a princess, big city girl,
face crowded with sunlight and smog.
This steel skyline knows me
for a toothache and I have straddled
its rivers all three at once while you dress
you son with the name
of their most infamous rapist.

Woman, how can you worship that
muscle, that stink of alcohol sweat,
that skull-cracked mouth?
Our sons, if any, should be the ones
who understand no.

Margaret Bashaar is the founder and editor of Hyacinth Girl Press. Her first book, Stationed Near the Gateway, is due out this year from Sundress Publications. She is the author of three chapbooks, Barefoot and Listening (Tilt, 2009), Letters from Room 27 of the Grand Midway Hotel (Blood Pudding Press, 2011) and Rungs written with Lauren Eggert-Crowe (Grey Book Press, forthcoming). She lives in Pittsburgh where she runs absurdist poetry events.

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Bakery

I worked at the bakery until the day the owner
called my girlfriend of five years a ‘piece of ass’.
I didn’t always make it to work on time, especially
when I was working mornings, but I liked the work,
liked making things that made people happy, and
the owner wasn’t always an asshole, just sometimes.

I still have a couple of scars on my body from there.
A burn on my left arm from pulling a hot tray out of
an oven too fast. A half circle on my left ring finger
from a wine glass that broke while I was washing it.
And every once in a while I’ll have an anxiety dream
where the bakery owner is out to get me — pissed that
I quit after the ‘piece of ass’ comment — and I run
all the streets of Pittsburgh through my dreams,
avoiding the luxury cars of all his mobster buddies.

Scott Silsbe was born in the Motor City and grew up just down the river from there. He now lives in Pittsburgh, where he writes things, sells books, and makes music with friends. His poems and prose have popped up over the years in all sorts of places, including Kitchen Sink, Third Coast, The Chariton Review, Nerve Cowboy, Words Dance, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Six Gallery Press published his collection Unattended Fire in 2012 and Low Ghost Press published The River Underneath the City in 2013.

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In Love

fingerprint slid down side of egg shell — pause. hold that fragment of light just west of your page. put your shoulders against wall, like that. let me look at you. let me make you breakfast. let me leave you alone. i’ll write it down and i’ll scar the walls and i’ll hand over tough. i’ll douse whatever stings. i’ll dig out the highways with my hands. believe. i’ll drag this want through the paint.

Nikki Allen is the author of numerous chapbooks, including Gutter of Eden, My Darling Since, and Quite Like Yes. Her poetry has appeared on a plethora of stages and pages including The New Yinzer, Crash, Open Thread Regional Review Vol. 2, out of nothing, and Encyclopedia Destructica. She has recorded musical tracks with hip hop artist Jack Wilson as well as the Poogie Bell Band. Her latest collection ligaments of light tigering the shoulders will release in Summer 2014 via Night Ballet Press.

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Hashtags

Split and separated, two of my favorite things
but the combined combatant strips relevant notions.
Hanging in Jack London’s hideaway, having
chosen of course to sell my kingdom for
wi-fi, nothing left to do but spin words and
get deadlines.

Slanted floors ensure
patrons a stumbling egress,
the wolf call a brisk
Bay night sinks fangs
in the skin.
Was a time
I’d let it lift me, not
take a taxi home to nurse
my wounds.

The time before editing,
what a glorious ode
free from the confines of
the Internet’s new clothes.

Brass boots squash
fuzz out of frame, weighing
the relation, mourning in the
twenty-first century.

Cursed with the age of
video game references
lost on new levels, too
staggered to save.

Misplaced remnants killed
by interpretation, overuse
and “quotation” the name
on the compilation that
leaves no traces, a footnote
a phantom.

Life falls mostly
on the days we forget.

Spat Cannon is a Pittsburgh expat living in Leeds, England. Goer of places, doer of stuff. His first novel, Press Here And It Will All Make Sense is due out in early 2015 via Inked Letter Union.

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