34.2 Winter/Spring 2022


Letting go of preciousness

Lucas Daniel Peters

Though I’m precious not all my thoughts are // of my own hand. So with my father’s hand / writing I acquired imagination in small caps. // My letters bubbled up the page in many large // accidents. I had his teeth to grind them away. / It wasn’t my imagination that licked my stout // heart clean.


Poetry, Fiction, & Nonfiction

December 20th

Nick Visconti

When my mind plucked me / abruptly from earth and gently // laid me in abstraction, time went and saw / the world.

Aftermath

Eric Tran

I’m so well recovered I dream of cramming teeth into my gums. Smile like an alley of garbage cans, a pane of bowling pins. Give me metal, I’ll gift you a turkey. And now the poem turns to hunting, in each declaration some allele of violence.

On My Mid-Career Decision to Accept a Portrait Commission from the President of the United States

Becky Tuch

At the time of my commission, I did not know all the things this man would do, which means I did not know federal troops would be ordered into the cities, that water cannons would be fired, that there would be dogs, horses, rubber bullets, tear gas, that all of this that had for decades been taking place against civilians abroad would now take place, here, against civilians at home

Centralia in the Sky

Denise S. Robbins

Sixty years now the town of Centralia has been burning. Some folks say it’ll take two hundred years more to burn itself through. The maze of coal mines underneath us caught fire and there’s enough kindling there for centuries and air will always find its way through the cracks of the earth to keep it going.

Parking

Dylan Fisher

Officially—according to the Nassau County Medical Examiner—officially, we were both dead. When we boarded the plane in LaGuardia, we had been in caskets. What an incredible idea, our grandchildren must have thought, unearthing the deceased.

Amherst Ballad 6

Sharon Olds

The air - was Close - the Pane - slid High - / The Sill Imbued with Dust - Gave Up / A Maple Wing - of Brussels Lace - / A Tachnid or a Horse - Fly -

Mother 1996

Nick Visconti

My sons are already / crawling, crawling / over the rug where / we used to lie / talking, talking / about our days / and day in the ab- / stract—

Ceremonies

Emma Miao

I don't want to go home. / Crumbled bricks, pamphlets // stained with salt. Mother's / street, black-tarred, whistling, // whistling.

Mail-Order Brother

Kristina Ten

Address: Papa has a lot of rules and his new rule is that we’d better not tell people where we live anymore. He used to not care, and I was allowed to invite my friends over and give them the apartment number and everything, but ever since that guy followed Mama home in his truck yelling about she’s a dirty commie and she should go back to where she came from, Papa says to just keep it general and tell my friends if they want to come over...

BIRTH OF THE NATION

Jameka Williams

& then the erotic self begun. The pink parts shut-up in the eternal & the jealous. Obsidian unfurls its wet petals. Composure divine, as a crown of snakes’ synchronized uncoiling witnesses the male animal become marble.

Americanizing Lengua

Moisés R. Delgado

On 9/11, with the radio transcribing the ongoing events and his white coworkers in the plant nursery going mad as though the place was burning down, all my dad could do was laugh. As far as he knew, the Omaha nursery was fine. The roof was still above their heads. The ground was unmoving. The sky still blue, and most importantly there was work to be done.

Between the Strands

Charlee Dyroff

It turns out some people will risk anything for a haircut. They will meet under a bridge, they will text unknown numbers, they will venture out into a pandemic. It turns out that I may have a strange relationship, obsession—whatever you want to call it—with hair, but so does almost everyone else.

Neon Babylon

Angie Sijun Lou

Riverweeds trace our elemental body / while the ones we love, the faultless ones, spin records in the warehouse / where we sleep. I ring my bell in darkness—

The Wet Side

Jerilynn Aquino

When someone at school asks, “Where are you from?” what they mean is, “Are you from the wet side or the dry side?” You are from the wet side, the side more prone to damage.

Letting go of preciousness

Lucas Daniel Peters

Though I’m precious not all my thoughts are // of my own hand. So with my father’s hand / writing I acquired imagination in small caps. // My letters bubbled up the page in many large // accidents. I had his teeth to grind them away. / It wasn’t my imagination that licked my stout // heart clean.

Wild Animals

Megan Milks

“I rented a video from Facets. It sounds interesting.” When Selena shared this with her partner, Ry replied, “Another porno?” Selena had been bringing home lots of “interesting” videos since they’d picked up a small television with built-in VCR from Goodwill.

The Husband's Answers

Rebecca Hazelton

If I show you an image of a bird flying, you might think freedom, or graceful, or wings. You might remember your mother pointing to the sky, naming the bird starling, heron, crow. But all of that is yours.

Laurentide

Caroline Belle Stewart

When it thaws the worms will move again, I said, among new rocks. They will work the soil into lace until the rains lift them to the grass, where the birds will part their beaks and bow down to them. I moved the hair from your face. I did not mean to invade. But I thought it was time that you knew.

if neo has a belly button who’s on the other end of the umbilical cord

Stella Wong

we take turns / taking pains / on the days we stomach together. / you’re in / prime / puking condition / after a bloody-nippled marathon. / idols are made / in amniotic fluid, clay / and tough mudder usa.

Process

David Shields

You once said to me—as a joke, I suppose—that all your books are “brief, collaborative, and plagiarized,” but really what is the secret to your somewhat monomaniacal rate of production, especially the last decade?

LOVE POEM TO LINE BREAKS

Nora Hikari

A LINE BREAK IS A LOVELY THING SEE IT'S NOT EXACTLY A PERIOD OR A COMMA IT'S KIND OF LIKE A HALF-BREATH OR A MOMENTARY PAUSE OR THE "MA" BETWEEN YOUR CLAPS OR A KNEE LENGTH DRESS I MEAN A LINE BREAK IS A KIND OF COURTESY

Edward Robinson and the Legends of Jerusalem’s Springs

Robbie Maakestad

At the eastern edge of the City of David archaeological site in Jerusalem, a staircase drops into a cave where the naturally pulsing Gihon Spring burbles up from a bedrock crack. The water runs into a narrow tunnel leading deep within the earth, directly beneath the ruins of the ancient city.

#FREE BRITNEY, BRITTANY, BRITNÉE, & BRITANNI, TOO

Jameka Williams

One after another, they descend a jacob's ladder rising from the smoke machine smog holding banana-gold pythons draped over their shoulders. They hold these slaves like an atlas. Men are held down with smooth lips gathering tenderness.

Going Fleeing Finding Home

Matthew Lansburgh

We have, all of us, predicted our deaths. By predicted I mean conjured or imagined, wished for or used as a weapon, a means of manipulation.

XVII

Róger Lindo (Translated by Matthew Byrne)

THE FIGHTING CONTINUES // as daily 30 corpses / continue life performing the same / highwire act // Long-established toponymy / today it’s known by heart / that Tecoluca and San José las Flores / are noms de guerre / indications of the line of fire


From the Archives

Neon Babylon

Angie Sijun Lou

Riverweeds trace our elemental body / while the ones we love, the faultless ones, spin records in the warehouse / where we sleep. I ring my bell in darkness—

Hyrax Syntax

Shira Dentz

O aurora I see centers everywhere / & crescents too, multiplying bubbles / within which every sense / fractures concave & convex

London is an international idea

Emily Bludworth de Barrios

London is an international idea and a historical fact and a little piece of our youth like a stallion which stood about for some years standing still within those some years (with muscles and veins full of warm hot blood)

Aubade: Kitchen, 7:08 A.M.—

Kevin Phan

School bus, may you never rust, always catching scraps of children’s laughter. Add a few phrases to the sunrise, and the pinks pop...