The Body Under Late-Stage Capitalism

The heart has abdicated feeling.

I have enough to do, all this beating, all this pumping.

Builds a wall to harden the pericardium.

Feels the shearing less.

Knows it is ultimately useless and easily scaled,

the breakthrough scorching.


In the heart’s determined absence,

the digestive track takes up the slack, but can’t stomach it.

Bile, bubbling lava, ire, rise along the esophageal membranes.

What does make it down is hardly digestible,

only present due to the sheer volume of forced feeding.

The small intestine is especially overworked,

separating the pure from the unpure, the true from the untrue,

the useful from the corrupted, too big a job

So nearly all passes on to the large intestine,

which just wants more water.


The lungs, the lungs are crying,

damp or charred,

ash floating, hacking up bits of themselves,

too many fires burning, too many on the edge of the last exhale.

Seeking solace on hard granite,

weep into the mother’s embrace

even as she suffers.


The nervous system is trigger-happy.

The hand tremors unrelenting.

Good time not to have a gun.


The interstitial swamps,

lowdown fluids between/among


are in the best shape, not frozen, not making off

with the last energy in the treasury.

Steady, slow, tidal,

still taking cues from the moon

but in need of water.


The feet run.

The hands want to strangle.

The spine contorts under jeopardy.

The endocrine system would just like

the right drugs to fuck its brains out.


The mouth and vocal chords,

more inarticulate than not,

garble, gurgle, sputter, spewing



The central canal, the core,

aligning with the earth’s magma

roaring, roiling

unconcerned with blue, waits

for vents, fissures, some pore, some open vein

to come erupting out

with precision and deadly aim.


But the cells

in their unwavering, egalitarian democracy,

in their trillions, all still work together,

each with its small input, need, job,


in this way to keep the whole alive.


The mind, once tethered by the heart, is disembodied,

wracked in this climate of isolation.

shouting for water.


Karin Spitfire

Karin Spitfire is the author of Standing with Trees and a chapbook “Wild Caught.” Her poem “Liquidation” won the national first place in the 2019 Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, sponsored by WOMR, Provincetown. Her poems have appeared in 3 Nations Anthology, You Say. Say, on-line journals, Canary: A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis, The Catch: Writings from Downeast, Trivia: Voices of Feminism, and print journals, Off the Coast, The Aurorean, Rootdrinker, Currents, the Journal of Body Mind Centering. “What is to be Offered published in The Kerf, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She was the Poet Laureate of Belfast, Me in 2007 & 2008.

The lost tribes, part 4

We are lost

in Viagra’d beds,

in sticky, spilled orange sidewalk pop,

in black sidewalk gum,

in sidewalk blood,

in blood cough,

in closing time at McDonald’s.


We are lost

under the weight of breathing.


Our reality show is unwatched.


We are lost alone.


We are lost

under control of blank-heart marketers.


We are directionless, hopeless, homeless,

without peace, untouched, cross-nailed.


Tell me we aren’t.


We count down our two thousand million seconds.

We hear the raw prophesy in our blood pulse.

We know awful solitude.




We are lost

far behind the pack,

in the sandstorm, on calmless seas, in ever-dark alleys,

forgotten in our time-out corner,

forgotten on our bassinette, strapped,

ignored in our unworthiness,




turned away from —


after the lights go off, on mean streets

and dream streets and yellow-brick streets,

unvoted for, unselected, unbirthed, untouched.


Enduring, on the road, in ravened embrace.


We are lost

as we hold blooded hands

and keel into the pounding falls.


Exhaling, exhaling, all is exhaling. Then, silence.


We are lost in our SUV, in our Humvee,

on our mountain bike, on foot, wheelchaired,

gurneyed into the operating room,

gurneyed to the basement coolers —


on the armied dark beach,

unable to climb bloody down from our fatal tree,

reaching across the chasm,

in grave and ash and scattered bones.


There is no lost paradise.


We are lost to decay, to rot, to corruption, to death —

from birth.


We are lost as we hold hands.


We are lost

behind the Oak Lawn house,

holding hands

on the bloody grass.


We are lost

as we hold hands

for the walk to the chamber.


We are lost




Patrick T. Reardon

Patrick T. Reardon, a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, is the author of eight books, including the poetry collection Requiem for David and Faith Stripped to Its Essence, a literary-religious analysis of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence His poetry has appeared in Silver Birch Press, San Antonio Review, Eclectica, Esthetic Apostle, Ground Fresh Thursday, Literary Orphans, Rhino, Spank the Carp, Main Street Rag, The Write Launch, Meat for Tea, Tipton Poetry Journal, UCity Review, Under a Warm Green Linden and The Write City.

Life in the margins of motion.

morning: brushing sleep

off my teeth.

the room is silent

in that glassy sense of silence;

all small sounds

bouncing on blue tile,

like life as it is

in the margins of motion.


I wash my face

with cold water

and tap the razor

on side of the sink

while I wait for the pipes

to turn functional. out the window

I see night stand up

and begin wandering


frost given style

by the rising signs

of daylight. birds don’t sing –


it’s winter here. cats

don’t wander on the garden

lawn. in the bedroom

my girlfriend is asleep again

after waking a little

when I got out of bed. I go to the kitchen

and make coffee,

catch my ankles

on last night’s wine. shoes,


coats and take-away chip bags

crumple and creep along the carpet,

scratching their way into sunlight

like brambles, patching rarely

wandered paths.


DS Maolalai

DS Maolalai has been nominated four times for Best of the Net and three times for the Pushcart Prize. His poetry has been released in two collections, “Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden” (Encircle Press, 2016) and “Sad Havoc Among the Birds” (Turas Press, 2019)

Andy Posner: Featured Author

On Doing Good in America

If you are born poor it’s not your mistake, but if you die poor it’s your mistake.”- Bill Gates


We admire the philanthropist for “giving back”

and ignore what they first had to take away.


It is a sin to need help and a blessing to offer it;

there is profit in not asking too many questions:


How does one with no boots

pull himself up by his bootstraps?”

Why teach someone to fish

then deny them access to the lake?”


We are only 4.25% of global population, and yet

we own 28% of Covid-19 fatalities. But don’t worry,


our billionaires, dying to restart their factories,

donate to food banks so the underpaid don’t starve.


But we do not weep for the hungry—this is America!

We are each one sixty-hour workweek away


from striking it rich. We refuse to quarantine our dreams;

If 200,000 perish, that’s the price of freedom.


Someday we’ll erect an immaculate monument

to those who died for the good of the economy.




His Momma died 18 months ago. For Mother’s Day,

he bought one of those shiny Mylar helium balloons

and some Carnations. It wasn’t easy to do, between shifts

at work and wearing a mask to the store—it’s dangerous

for a Black man to protect himself against a virus—

but he wanted to honor the woman who,

in spite of the odds, had kept him alive.


He tied the balloon to a vase on the kitchen table

where they used to listen to music and cook dinner.

When the store clerk was filling it, he

stifled a laugh-turned-cry, remembering that birthday

when she got him 20 balloons and one-by-one

they inhaled the noble gas,

nearly dying of laughter at their squeaky voices.


Leaving for the final time, he caught his reflection

in the Mylar. Hours later, dying beneath a cop’s knee,

he called out for Momma.

The last thing he saw was the joy in her eyes.


Back home the flowers have wilted and the balloon,

twisting slowly in the now-stale air,

sinks lower and lower to the ground.


in memory of George Floyd


The Beauty of Bipolar Depression


Too musically disinclined to rap or sing the blues,

too bound up in striving to retire

to the vase of my bed like an ersatz flower

(not even 300mg of Seroquel

can reduce me to mere ornamentation),

I instead write this poem,

which few will read.


You may wonder if it matters

that you read this, but

I’m not one to lavish much on myself:

For whom else would I obsess

over this comma, that


To survive this world’s lush, radiant, burlesque


It’s best that you understand

why I will never self-immolate, never

give what’s broken in me or the world

the satisfaction of my surrender.


Peel back my eyes

and touch the still-healing wound

oozing cerebral fluid from the Big Bang.

It’s in this blind space of raw pain

I often dwell. Here everything is reduced

to elements, genes, math, poetry. Here

my life to date plays on an endless loop like

propaganda. And here originate the florid

manifestations of myself: the video gamer

and the coder, the lucid dreamer

and the psychoanalyst.


If you could join me here,

you would understand how I’ve endured.


You would find immortality in anguish.


Election Day

“Power is not what you have but what the enemy thinks you have.” – Saul Alinsky


Elections have consequences.

So say the victors to justify

their ends and means.


Perhaps the American Dream

is to live without consequence:

no mistakes, only cheapness


we are free to later discard.

Why deliberate honestly?

Abundance is our temptation,


prosperity the lie we tell to

expiate our original sin.

Elections have consequences.


Had Lincoln lost, how many

would we still count as slaves?


Who voted for mass incarceration,

child detention, soaring inequality?


In America anything is possible.

A Black president. Rags-to-riches.

Our poets, scientists, entrepreneurs


have proven their greatness—

the full flower of individualism—

Yet something blights the soil.


We are good people but not a
Good People. We welcome the Iraqi

refugee, ignore the crime that made him one.


Who voted for the War on Terror?

Who paid for the lies that launched it?


How much is too much to spend on

defense? On political ads?


Alinsky argued that what matters

is a particular means for a particular

end. Democracy not in the abstract


but in the flesh, the messy world

of action and reaction. I’m ready to commit

murder at the ballot box. I hope it’s not


too late to stop the carnage. America

forgives itself so easily, as though

we weren’t forgiving but forgetting.


If we knew the difference between

poll numbers and corpses, budgets

and starvation, we might have avoided


this moment. A pandemic. A fraud.

I cast my vote uncertain it will count.

That is, be counted. That is, matter.


When my blood is on the ballot,

there is only one outcome I can accept.

Elections have consequences.


Andy Posner

Andy Posner grew up in Los Angeles and earned an MA in Environmental Studies at Brown. While there, he founded Capital Good Fund, a nonprofit that provides financial services to low-income families. When not working, he enjoys reading, writing, watching documentaries, and ranting about the state of the world. He has had his poetry published in several journals, including Burningword Literary Journal (which nominated his poem ‘The Machinery of the State’ for the Pushcart Poetry Prize), Noble/Gas Quarterly, and The Esthetic Apostle.

In Our Dreams We Are Always Younger

they are coughing in the high rises of New York

in the bayous of Louisiana

in the mountains of Colorado


they are coughing up wind

while God orders the trees to bend

with our breath

and our hope cracks

and stretches like rain

because to see death

is to scrape down a home

with nothing to build in its place

on the moody March grass

on the spine of a god

who won’t stand up for us today


they’re in a small room with white walls

fever dances in their eyes

a woman lays her face in her hands

the children are drawing houses

with trees on the lawn

lines of walls through the trunks

no erasers

there is always some line in the way

branch and wall intersecting

viruses crossing borders

world as global as the tides

as hungry as the days

counting coins for flour

while in our dreams

we walk on water

or light candles in a church

we can’t visit anymore

and in our dreams

we are always younger


they’re catching spiders

and throwing them outside

they’re wrapping themselves

in the sea-sweat

they’re watering the cactus


the cactus never bends to the wind

the cactus is fatter than God

spinier than his tongue

the cactus knows love

better than roses

because to know a desert

is to love the rivers


and I do not want to cross one today

I have a boat with no oars

and a God with no words

and children who climb trees

and a rose petal

pressed in a book

about a sea so red

it mocked our blood

a sea so parted

the fish drowned in air

so the ghosts swam west

where the sun gave up


and I’m on the shore

my river-boat

now a ship at sea

on a wave so big

I can’t see the horizon


Kika Dorsey

Kika Dorsey is a poet and fiction writer in Boulder, Colorado, and lives with her two children, husband, and pets. Her books include Beside Herself (Flutter Press, 2010) and three full-length collections, Rust, Coming Up for Air (Word Tech Editions, 2016, 2018), and the forthcoming Occupied: Vienna is a Broken Man and Daughter of Hunger (Pinyon Publishing, 2020). She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize four times. Currently, she is an instructor of English at Front Range Community College and tutors. When not writing or teaching, she swims miles in pools and runs and hikes in the open space of Colorado’s mountains and plains.


Night, ossuary dank.


Watchfires flare

in the hills.


Out there in the miasma

of creation,


a virus thrives

in its first host.


Here, our streets reek

of festering offal.


Unlike the lamb,


we know where

we’re being led:


here, we sing

out of fear.


Brett Harrington

Brett Harrington’s (he/him/his) previous publications include Ligeia, Two Hawks Quarterly, The Shore, Third Coast, The Inflectionist Review and Bluestem, and he was a finalist for the 2012 Best of the Net award. He lives in the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon.

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