If I had a white horse
with a mane you imagine
a horse should have when
riding it into the sheen
of what’s left of the moon
after a storm had taken
to it with electric carving
knives & a boom box
I would then ride into
my father’s building & say
Good boy Outlaw Boxcar
as that’s the kind of name
you give a horse when
you’re making amends
for being a punk instead
of a responsible son
& you take the fire stairs
five at a time the sound
of Boxcar’s iron shoes
on the cement like a tap
dancing competition broad-
cast into a tiled bathroom
& when you dismount
outside your fathers office
& knock like a gentleman
& say Dad it’s me I’m here
to be the son you never had
but wanted the corridor
going on into dark wood
& shadow then your father
is there filling the frame
of the door with a breaking
smile as he offers Boxcar
a palmful of coffee sugar
crystals then rubs his nose
& looks at me like a father
who knows his son has
come not home but into
the world of men You are
welcome here anytime
he says and then as if
an afterthought had set
off a roadside device
in his ear And next time
take the lift it’s big enough
for a clopper with a flame
for a mane and a son
with a horse-sized heart.
Anthony Lawrence has published sixteen books of poems, the most recent being ‘Headwaters’ (Pitt Street Poetry, 2016), which won the 2017 Prime Ministers Award for Poetry. He teaches Writing Poetry and Creative Writing at Griffith university, Queensland, and lives on Moreton Bay.
We are only asking them to leave, quietly and without making a fuss—
these men, here and elsewhere, who refuse their assent to laws
the most wholesome and necessary for the public good;
who make new laws about what we may or may not do with our bodies and our votes
but refuse any rules about what they may do;
who hide behind plastic shields and make us weep in the public streets;
who bring their guns into our churches and synagogues and mosques;
who under cover of darkness dump their coal ash and mercury and lead into our waters;
who argue without end that there is not enough money in any budget
for wages that would cover the rent with some left over
for a pomegranate or a bunch of the bright tulips in buckets by the check-out lanes;
who at last repair our leaking pipes and then raise the rent
so we must find a new apartment with the same loose tiles in the bathroom;
who quarter large bodies of armed troops among us
and spend our money on walls that separate butterfly from butterfly
without care for the swallowtails, satyrs, emperors, leafwings and brushfoots
that have always flown freely according to their inborn migration routes;
who spend our money to construct walls that separate parent from child
and lose even the memory of where each has been held
while we still need to rebuild our rusty bridges;
who send our children to distant lands
without telling them why, or teaching them the words to explain why
they must explode a bridge that others labored to build
so they could greet their neighbors across the river.
We could keep going—the list of offenses is long and growing longer.
But isn’t this enough?
We ask them just to leave, and to close the door behind them.
Susanna Lang’s newest collection of poems, Travel Notes from the River Styx, was published in 2017 by Terrapin Books. Other collections include Tracing the Lines (Brick Road Poetry Press, 2013) and Even Now (Backwaters Press, 2008), as well as Words in Stone, a translation of Yves Bonnefoy’s poetry (University of Massachusetts Press, 1976). A two-time Hambidge Fellow and recipient of the Emerging Writer Fellowship from the Bethesda Writer’s Center, she has published original poems and essays, and translations from the French, in such journals as Little Star, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, december, Verse Daily and American Life in Poetry. She lives and teaches in Chicago.
We’re sitting in the Jimmy Johns
waiting for our foot-longs.
My father’s brand-new cane
a twisted length of black branch
every time he leans too heavy on it.
Outside a crowd gathers
around a Ford Mustang
with a kitten stuck
inside the wheel well, motor still
hot as black sand.
We ordered and paid
twenty minutes ago.
Two of the four teenagers
who run the place
stand outside wearing oven gloves
and one holds a box
to nest the kitten once she’s free.
My father peers
between window signage.
That’s a job for the fire department.
Someone call 911!
This music’s too loud,
Can we go someplace else?
Each time the door opens,
I fingernail pinch
the delicate skin under my arm
—to stave away
the slice of kitten’s
from deep the metal gut.
Katy E. Ellis
Katy E. Ellis grew up under fir trees and high-voltage power lines in Renton, Washington and is the author of three chapbooks: Night Watch—winner of the 2017 Floating Bridge Press chapbook competition—Urban Animal Expeditions and Gravity (a single poem), which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry appears in a number of literary journals including Pithead Chapel, MAYDAY Magazine, Calyx, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, and the Canadian journals PRISM International, Grain and Fiddlehead. Her fiction has appeared in Burnside Review and won Third Place in the Glimmer Train super-short fiction contest. She has been awarded grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture and Artist Trust/Centrum. Katy co-curates WordsWest Literary series, a monthly literary event in West Seattle.
Each time I meet my grandfather in a dream
he speaks only German—reminds me to speak
only when he’s a ghost. He hums between
the chimes of the Black Forest cuckoo,
takes the pick out of his teeth
when he looks my way:
Kennst du mich nicht? ::
Weißt du nicht wer du bist? ::
I want to bring him back to Chicago, but
we’re lost in fields, midwestern soybeans.
And when he fades I cry out:
Wo bist du? Wo bist du?
When my grandfather dies
his body deepens into the soybeans.
I try to excavate him,
but all that is left of his bones:
empty gin bottles that perfume his tongue,
model train tracks set in a circle.
I look for a way to bear him back—but I find
myself wandering to his old house,
burrowing inside the fireplace,
pulling logs he had chopped around me
like blankets. When his ghost comes to light the fire
—the only way he knows how to heat
the house—I let myself burn with it.
The Embalmer haunts my grandfather back to the South Side of Chicago,
where he beat me for building with my left hand instead of my right.
I extract each cluster of edelweiss, de-construct each petal a tomb.
Clay: quarry and kiln—let it sharpen like an eyetooth.
Brick: measure weight in hand—consider its flight
through the window :: a way out.
Rough-hewn stone: walls built up in Chicago,
then hidden between fields of soybeans.
Nested in each hard, scarred pod is one of his bones.
The Architect shoos the Embalmer away
—lets me sleep—gives me the time to turn back
to stone dust or the silky powder of soot.
Born and raised outside of Rochester, NY, Erin Kae is a proud graduate of SUNY Geneseo. Her poetry has been featured in Vinyl, Sonora Review, Crab Fat Magazine, and Fugue among others. She was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Aster(ix) Journal, and was selected as a finalist for the 2017 Locked Horn Press Publication Prize for their issue Read Water: An Anthology, 2019. Her first poetry chapbook, Grasp This Salt, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in 2019. She currently resides in Somerville, Massachusetts.
Normally, we celebrate the holidays,
exchanging gifts, delighting each other
with the latest gadgets. Normally,
we believe in how life always improves,
gets more convenient, easier to live.
Normally, we don’t’ hunker down.
Normally, we don’t have occasion
to use that phrase—hunker down.
Normally, we replace the windows,
rebuild that demolished interior wall.
Normally, we have work to do, relatives
haven’t vanished, and friends haven’t fled.
Normally, the toilet tank refills.
Normally, we change our clothes.
William Aarnes has published two collections with Ninety-Six PressLearning to Dance (1991) and Predicaments (2001)—and a third collection, Do in Dour, from Aldrich Press (2016). His work has appeared in such magazines as Poetry, FIELD, and Red Savina Review.
The latest research calls it misnaming, says
I likely look
nothing like her. Insists
it has nothing to do with aging, assures me
that the fact that both our names
start with K
is unimportant. In a half-
second, I learned this Scorpio dragon
shares the same semantic network
inside one man’s brain
and something else
located in an organ I won’t try to name
since I might say heart
when I mean penis, both
smoking, catching fire, and I guess
to everyone at some point:
you get excited, you get
confused, cup your hands to drink
from the same big bucket of love.
Kasandra S. Larsen
Kasandra Larsen’s work has appeared in Best New Poets 2012, Burningword Literary Journal, Under a Warm Green Linden and Into the Void, and is upcoming in The Halcyone Magazine’s/Black Mountain Press’ 64 Best Poets of 2018, among others. Her full-length poetry manuscript has been a finalist for the 2016 Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry, and a semifinalist for the 2017 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her chapbook STELLAR TELEGRAM won the 2009 Sheltering Pines Press Chapbook Award. She is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and a poetry reader for the journal Bare Fiction (UK).