Purgatory

Trying out for the Senior Class Play’s romantic lead opposite my girl but coming in second to the ever-popular handsome hunky Everett then having to watch him romancing her on-stage from backstage for weeks.   Waiting for my wife in this busy hair salon with all the clipping, combing, coiffing and fussing with hair length, color, body . . . …

The droning drowns out my thoughts

They give me no peace, constantly flying over at all hours. Right on schedule, with the precision of a quartz timepiece.   The drone unmistakable, they buzz by, far too small and too low for commercial aircraft, yet unassuming enough for covert military intelligence. Manned or unmanned, it makes no difference, as my house sits outside any published flight plans. …

Matter

You said I could be anything So I became “Me” But then You said That “Me” was too Cliché Predictable Counterfeit So I became A sunflower stretching with every fiber of my being toward the sky toward the light But you didn’t like that You said I set my sights too high So I became a tortoise stagnant relying on …

The Weight of Violence

You’re in the pickup with Scotty B and buzzing with anticipation cause you’re about to score and this makes your skin tingle thinking about the rush of dopamine and potential for sudden violence that comes with every deal and to feed the synergy you reach for the volume on the stereo just as the song ends and the void of …

Man vs Plato

His biceps strain and relax beneath working hands, transferring bright flowers and plants into moist soil. Sweat silks his skin in the summer warmth, digging, planting, wiping his brow. I stand at a window in the Financial Aid hallway, sipping my coffee. Professor what’s-his-name listed off parts of The Allegory of the Cave today, all the while this man had …

Paul Lubenkov

Observations  In  Lieu  Of  An  Elegy   Scooter Monzingo is dead. The weather is crisp, the streets Are exceptionally clean. His wife is amazed at how Natural he looks, the way His fingers gracefully mesh.   It is six o’clock.  In Rome, In a cheap villa, a young American housewife is Seducing a gigolo. She insists his name is Frank. …

Hoplophobia

A morbid fear of guns whose array of co-morbidities encompass   suppressed rage post-traumatic stress disorder delusional disorder and panic disorder   this complex specific phobia   and avoidance displacement and transference   Or how else do hoplophobiacs get from point A to point B   without a gun permit   with a gun without a firing mechanism and without …

Speaking Portuguese in Bijagós

Hot in the schoolhouse we study mathematics, geography. We are told many times that the maps teach history too. We learn of the African Union; we learn of the Empire of Mali, and are told that it was long ago. We learn of Portugal, and of the British in swathes of dull red. Sometimes the sea sweeps into the mangroves, …

Late Swimmer

In this late-autumn dusk trees discard their leaves like August’s junk lottery tickets. She stands before the pool, long since drained of water, arms raised high, toes curled over the edge of the diving board. What makes her want to swim now? Where was she all summer? The quiet, clockwork stars spin on their eternal vinyl sphere as she closes …

John Sweet, Featured Author

church on fire   says i’m sick of this shit   says tell me a story with a happy ending for a change, and so i paint her one of tanguy’s skies instead   i paint her one of kahlo’s visions   i drive over to the north side to find her father, but no one’s seen him in twenty …

Rose Mary Boehm

Enlightenment in the Parking Lot   You curl up in the corner of the washroom without concern about the urine on the floor   and you hear hot voices and cool riffs leave through the door of the village barn   where they celebrate your getting hitched to husband number three. While you were pensive   and wondered, he stumbled …

Remember

Remember this. Remember tonight. Remember the rain hitting the window, the train’s whistle cutting through the wind while the night moves southwards. Remember. Remember this. Memorize this. These were the words she uttered, warm and wet, softly and lazily, while a brief summer storm washed away the dirt on your bedroom’s window. And you promised you would remember everything, and …