Etched Indigo Blood by M.O. Mc

For M.O. Mc


Etched Indigo Blood

Seen series of an afterlife
when I walked through the catacombs
It was June, scorched
un-nameable animals & dye skirted the walls

I saw how Osiris cut successors’ way
walked a few feet in the dark
towards an Egyptian Syria using deadly combination of
expertise brutality classically associated with
disturbing videos of mummy-wrapped,
when I noticed his sister doing the same thing

ISIS taunting distinctive scores of former crowns
official seniors clad like ostrich feathers served resembling
symbolic trained forces that ISIS flails to take, on time

Flashbacks bring me to the tunnels of the tombs
where a fair fight in some areas ensues
—Iraq corps texts retained new Sunni documents—
that’s what it’s like

I’m sucked out of the scene when
commotions of Kurdish carting vegetation
an aggressive aero blue rug is thrown
over the threshold as a dust storm floods alarm for an hour,
waiting off  the Nile river infrastructure
reminds me of al-U.S describing love
before missiles

Regional ambitions permanently have prominent Utterances
Osiris once said in my dreams
spells, pushing out my sage marbled eyes that I
affectionately termed trifocals after the one on my forehead
shattered glass

The forecast in 2016:
the pyramid dam will crack open of
concern over video protesting Pharaohs’
rouge evidenced journalist follows the body
addressed after death immortelle

Which president will rescind retaliation?
Revenge doesn’t smell as sweet as cinnabar & cloves,
there will only be heaping helpings of airstrike skinned roots of chicory
that Osiris will use as oil

Beware for the death god blows willingly
with the east African wind traveling in mid-hymn
onyx and juniper berry were gifts of protection
from the gods, situations etched into the walls
are proof, I can prove it

Ritual civilians bazaar like during fifth dynasty in a country as the old kingdom
where paying camel homage
becomes part of anthology history
was written in electric indigo blood
on the walls, permanently
I read each scene and wept a storybook

About the Author: M. O. Mc is the co-founding editor of (Re)Vision: A journal of literary transformation. She is currently completing her MFA in poetry at SDSU.





Carrying the One by Kevin Brown

2015-04-19 12.48.14-1

Carrying the One


We both learned languages—you started
Latin in sixth grade, row after ordered row
of declensions, while I was forced into French
my freshman year, rules so random they seem
pieced together by three teenage boys

in a basement passing the time until
the rain stops.  Our brains are built for words,
not numbers.  We count in three categories:
one, two, and many.  We can tell if a cartoon
character has two or three hairs
on his head at a glance, but four or five

fingers force us to focus.  You used
those categories, told me I told one
too many jokes, made one too many
mentions of how you laughed at co-workers’
comments:  louder and longer.  You said
you were different, the exception

that proves the rule; you knew if you had said
something once or one thousand four hundred
and two times.  You could move decimal places
in your mind. You knew what the remainder
would be when it came time to divide.


About the Author: Kevin Brown is a Professor at Lee University. He has published three books of poetry: Liturgical Calendar: Poems (forthcoming from Wipf and Stock); A Lexicon of Lost Words (winner of the Violet Reed Haas Prize for Poetry, Snake Nation Press); and Exit Lines (Plain View Press, 2009). He also has a memoir, Another Way: Finding Faith, Then Finding It Again, and a book of scholarship, They Love to Tell the Stories: Five Contemporary Novelists Take on the Gospels. He received his MFA from Murray State University. You can find out more about him and his work at



Ice by Michelle Gil-Montero



Salt dissolves this mirror

which is finite, blotched with the heat
and wet of a benignant winter

in the body, a kind austerity,
the exsufflation of a needy sentence

whispered softly to fog a surface.
Outside the neighbors string

lights around the trunks of lifetime
oaks, like necklaces of bejeweled

tears, as might costume a saint,
a lady of the light of a lonely  lookout,

tower illuminating at best its own
exception, though exciting the dark.

About the Author: Michelle Gil-Montero is the author of Attached Houses (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2013) and the translator of several books of contemporary Latin American writing, most recently Dark Museum (Action Books, 2015). Her work has appeared in Jubilat, Spoon River Poetry Review, Conjunctions, Colorado Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and other journals. She lives in Pittsburgh and is Associate Professor of English at Saint Vincent College.


[johnny appleseed] by July Westhale

Nora Ellis_for_[johnny appleseed]


[johnny appleseed]

Look. I lived a life of pure good.
Even the animals loved me, & the savages, too.
I wed no wife, just the hills of colonies.
They gave me children of knotted wood, spines
of pines, the personal luxury of shade.

I know a man who gave up the ghost, once
he lost his potency. That man will never be me.
I am kind & good, the bringer of truth & sustenance,
a sometimes-pollinator, scatter-er of seed.
I said, the woods are dark that refuse generosity,
& that darkness moves through the body & unselves us.
I say, I know an America unshaved & passive,
I fought battles only with the soil, to accept
a foreign thing, to take it inside & grow it.
I have seen the glory of the apple and the ghost.

About the Author: July Westhale is a Fulbright-nominated poet, activist, and journalist. She has been awarded residencies from the Lambda Literary Foundation, Sewanee, Napa Valley, Tin House and Bread Loaf. Her poetry has most recently been published in Adrienne, burntdistrict, Eleven Eleven, WordRiot, 580 Split, Quarterly West, and PRISM International. She is the 2014 Tomales Bay Poetry Fellow.

Artwork: Nora Ellis

The Best Pozole in Santa Cruz by Shane Book

Paul Valadez_for_The Best Pozoles in Santa Cruz

Essay written for broadcast on the radio show This I Believe

The Best Pozole In Santa Cruz

That big other
was like my big other
from another.

Was all,
“I’m a kidnap your kid,
make him feel like a kid again”

made it             easy      to work over
the No Knock Police Raid

(with the faulty funnel
for hazing trainees
stashed in the back room).

Bear. Hugged. Me.

Above the tiny trees
in the clamp-on forest, it ran

a biplane sky-banner reading:
get that new rug baby, we may be here a while…

That big other cold.
Its ringtone, the old hit:
Double cup love, you the one I lean on.

It was like it.

That big other needed
to get
born again—
Liberté, Egalité, Beyoncé,
or something

kept sending me out
to clean the display,
or something—

which was        incidentally,
my other
part-time job.

About the author: Shane Book’s first collection, Ceiling of Sticks, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award. His second collection, Congotronic, a University of Iowa Press Kuhl House Poets Selection, was published in 2014. He is a graduate of New York University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He is also a filmmaker whose award-winning work has screened in festivals and on television around the world.

Artwork: Paul Valadez



As A Lemur At A Wedding by KT Gutting


As A Lemur At A Wedding

No one can see me. Princesses gather around flowers
and doilies and ribbons at table four. “Do you know
where the photo booth is? I just love photo booths.”

I was looking for someone earlier, or waiting for a text,
and drinking raspberry raspberries at the bar after four
maybe five mimosas. A woman complimented my dress

and I wrapped myself up again. I wore heels once too,
you know. Princesses on the dance floor talking about
cake. Succulent quinoa hipsters in suspenders building

castles for princesses who didn’t RSVP. If I buy
a lemur costume, I’ll feel better. Don’t look at me.
My ring finger fell off. I was looking for someone.

I’ll have another raspberry raspberry, please.

About the Author: Anxiety-ridden San Diego poet KT Gutting received her MFA in poetry from Saint Mary’s College in 2013. Her poetry has appeared in the Bicycle Review and is forthcoming in Stone Highway Review. She is The Taxidermist for White Stag.

Artwork: Brad Milhouse

Night Music, A Whalesong by Andrena Zawinski

Night Music,                                                                                                            
A Whalesong

Against the sail masts offbeat taps onto each other,
bay bells mixing in with tinny harbor chimes,
distant buoys throwing their soft moans to the wind,

all of them singing to the moon in a whale-like croon
that bellows love songs from the sea bed floor,

I am swept back to my first whale sighting,
the young humpback’s notes rippling out
before it hit the headland, its shroud of sound lost to sea.

Rocked by waves, stranded beneath the blue moon
at Point Bonita, everything turned a deadly quiet

where high winds once rammed ships cliff side,
dumping potatoes, lumber, cotton, mail, and gold, all of it
sunk into the deep, unlike the ballooning beached corpse

in descending light, tonight its heft of ghost at my side,
pressing hard into me the tremendous weight of sea.

About the Author: Andrena Zawinski lives in Alameda and teaches creative writing and composition at Laney College in Oakland. Her full collection of poetry, Something About, from Blue Light Press in San Francisco, is a PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award recipient. Her work has been widely anthologized and appears extensively online and in print.

Artwork: Lorenzo Tianero



I Live With Clicky Introverts by John Bruce


I Live With Clicky Introverts

I live with clicky introverts,
whose soundtrack is a cricket shrillness with a bullfrog growl undertone
leaking from the motor of my refrigerator.
Echoes from the tubes of my television pump out images and voices and
I assume that they are about otherworldly matters, but I am not really listening;
I am hearing.
The distance dishes up the diesel truck grumble from the freeway
not miles, but yards away where

Hummers sing the streets,
feet are ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-ta-tapping
on squared sidewalks
where pigeons give sermons
by neurotically bobbing at your shins.
Sometimes sewers hissssssssssssssssssssssssssssssterically
belch out puffs
that sting when your body sucks them down.
Honking, whirring, standing, stirring
blurring the distinction between the scream from a knife slipped into the voice
and the rattling of soft seeds in meditations shuffling percussion.

The urban ballad lovesong of noises
into those who are not even listening.

About the author: John Bruce is a high school English Literature teacher, and recently returned home to California after three years of teaching in Latin America. He studied Literature at UC Santa Cruz.

Artwork: Meg Avery

The Matter by T. Allison

(USE PSEUDONYM)_for_The Matter

The Matter

Dance, she instructs winkingly, within a ring of men,
So he, watching, will be aware that you are wanted.
Or, perhaps, count three dates until he puts his hands
On your inner thighs. Pressing outwards, inwards — wait.

My fortune told me silence can be a catchall. Well,
I can’t quite recall. Maybe a salt cellar, a cat’s cradle, a catcall.
Learning to live in snow, my memory blurs like lenses in from cold.
What’s the matter when the pattern’s arrhythmic?

I buried all the prayers. I burned all the notes. I wrote only
In dirt and ashes, because my psychic said love was dead.
Its ghost wandered after me with big sad eyes, swearing:
Lust is wasted on the lustful. Hope is wasted on the truthful.

As for me, my heart is a wishing well. My throat is a flume.
My mouth is a fountain, open and — wait.
Hurry. I dam my emptying ponds. My breath catches,
Or do I catch my breath? I run breathlessly after.

Honestly, I was thinking of Catholic crucifixion. A priest:
You, who have been starving, must now wait.
I slide my tongue over teeth. I dress, slipping silk across skin,
Uncross my ankles under the tables. I undress.

It is better not to wait, but it is best that you wait.
The ecstasy is in the drive. The driveway. The delivery.
I am eyeing for warning signs, like a weighty imposition of my
Personal Space that announces: I am a hunter.

The truth is this problem, the problem is this truth.
It was a slow October, so I walked out on all my lovers.
A waiter provided good advice I must have slighted:
Love, all men do not love the same. But love it is.

Some love with eyes shut, all hands and grasping touch,
A foolish few want a girl that’s gone, dream of time machines.
Some love distance, squinting to see a smile. I love
Like an expanding universe, a red-shifted Hubble’s law.

I can’t wait. I won’t waste all that sweetness,
Fruit juice dripping down my lips, onto my chin.
He says my slant rhymes are beautiful.
That’s the matter: my pattern beats arrhythmic.

About the Author: T. Allison is a Michigan Law student, a former editor and writer by trade, and a lover of antique things.

Artwork: John Spiegleman 

he strings by Barry Blitstein

(USE PSEUDONYM)_for_he strings

he strings

the matter

About the author: Barry Blitstein began in theater (MFA); he has lived in New York, The San Gabriel Mountains, Los Angeles, and Berlin, Germany.  He feels very much at home wherever he is. Most recently his poems have appeared in Off The Rocks, Hartskill Review and The Inflectionist Review. His objective is to make each poem’s form and content inseparable and has no fixed ideas about either.

Artwork: Tina P. 

Poor K by Allan Tinker

cockroach negative

Poor K

As K stands before the (not Jewish) grave digger, for whose benefit the author worked in his professional capacity as a government legal, investigative and administrative agent with executive authority, brought into the government by a converted Christian who knew him to possess the brilliant and creative mind necessary for handling the newly dreamt-up responsibilities of the newly dreamt-up position to implement the newly dreamt-up liberal social policy in the newly dreamt-up agency that materially recognized (however inadequately) and recompensed (equally inadequately) the newly dreamt-up value of the body of the injured-on-the-job laborer — the only (unrepentent though unobservant) Jew in the government agency, responsible for forcing employers to pay the new-fangled “tax” called “workers compensation” (in those cases wherein he could prove the claim) plus penalties; feeling a little like the narrator standing before the grave this nameless Czech laborer is digging for him, which K suddenly realizes is indeed for him, as he sees not the letter K being carved into the headstone but the letter J, the letter precedent in the alphabet to K, as J-for-Jew precedes K-for-Kafka, and despite any plea to the contrary, J strips K, subsumed under the sign of the other, of his personhood, this J, this self-generating, unarguable sign, with its built-in affective alarm established by a rising storm of anti-Semitic violence in Mittel Europa, represented by a proleptic headstone with the letter J; poor K.

About the Author: An Oakland native, BA & MA in Creative Writing, SFSU, Allan Tinker taught writing at UC Berkeley, then through California Poets in the Schools and The Beat Within, while raising two remarkable children with civil rights lawyer wife, Arlene Mayerson.

Artwork: Brad Milhouse

In Paris by Charles Bane Jr.

photo (7)


In Paris
In Paris, all the streets
were rained and magpies
in the shadows of Notre Dame
poured tunes. The cafes dripped
and all the city was wet that
afternoon; you said, look
at the long haired Seine; do you want
to walk in the Jardins des Plantes ?
No, I said, let’s hold Mass in your room.
You lay and I heard bells at the lifting
of the moon. A thousand souls somewhere
in the dark of France flew.

Author Bio: Charles Bane, Jr. is the American author of The Chapbook (Curbside Splendor, 2011) and Love Poems (Kelsay Books, 2014). His work was described by The Huffington Post as, “not only standing on the shoulders of giants, but shrinking them.” Creator of The Meaning of Poetry series for The Gutenberg Project, he is a current nominee as Poet Laureate of Florida. “In Paris,” is from his new release.

Artwork: Justin Schapker is an artist living in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Epitaph by Ishmael Reed


skulls and horns
skulls and horns

About the author: Ishmael Reed is author of twenty-nine books, including his tenth non-fiction work, Going Too Far: Essays About America’s Nervous Breakdown(2012); his tenth novel, Juice! (2011); six collected plays in Ishmael Reed, THE PLAYS (2009); and New and Collected Poems, 1964-2007 (2007). In addition he has edited numerous magazines and thirteen anthologies, of which the most recent is POWWOW, Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience-Short Fiction from Then to Now(2009),and he is a publisher, songwriter, public media commentator, and lecturer. Founder of the Before Columbus Foundation and PEN Oakland, non-profit organizations run by writers for writers, he now teaches at California College of the Arts and taught at the University of California, Berkeley for over thirty years, retiring in 2005. He is a MacArthur Fellow, and among his other honors are National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize nominations, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Award, and San Francisco LitQuake’s 2011 Barbary Coast Award. Awarded the 2008 Blues Songwriter of the Year from the West Coast Blues Hall of Fame, his collaborations with jazz musicians for the past forty years were also recognized by SFJazz Center with his appointment, since 2012, as San Francisco’s first Jazz Poet Laureate. In December, 2013 Ishmael Reed premiered his seventh play, The Final Version, at the Nuyorican Poets Café.His online international literary magazine, Konch, can be found at His author website is located at

Artwork: John Smiddy was born San Jose, CA in 1966. He received his BA from UCSC in 1989 and his MA from SFSU in 1998. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.

Higher Planes of Light by Masin Persina

oil woods
Marin Oil

        Higher Planes of Light

My frantic mind entered an acre
Of sheep munching peace, and then
It stepped back, then back again
As their gazes turned upon me.
I was back with my wants, my wants
As needs that fill the space between
Thoughts, so I kept thinking,
But it petered out eventually.
To be in the day’s tiny bell ringing.
To be of that ringing is what I wanted.
The light-shattered pine trees stood
Oblivious to the K-Pop streaming
From a convertible made of mania.
The sun’s neutrinos passed through
The pines, the car, myself and we were
Equal in not feeling their passing,
But the sound, the sound.
I wanted to listen to some alpine birds,
Not air treated with antidepressants,
But the battle of decency is waged
On higher planes of light.

About the author: Masin Persina’s poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Barrelhouse; Forklift, Ohio; Handsome; Ninth Letter; 6×6 and elsewhere. He lives in Oakland, CA

Artwork: Michael J. Caligaris

Sardine Machine by Adam Cornford



(Monterey Bay Aquarium Kelp Forest)

They shoal in sweep formation, swarming gleam
with tail-flick wave through smooth curve like a wrist
volplaning pivots, wheels, quick tinfoil stream-
line motion shines a mirror-clouded twist;
upspiraling, the myriad uncoils wide
slowly to merge, a heartform of barbed glass
in ripple assembly, pours to hanging glide,
mingling of angles in bright matrix mass…
Then, turning, round side eyes, a chorus line
of sight, as startle vision multiplies–
Unarmed armada, designerless design
of silver seraph unison, you replicant rise
around no throne but hunger’s, endless flight
breeding in tiny metonymies of light

for Hart Crane

Artwork: Adam Christensen


Flight by Daniel Romo


Birds cry and the wind replies, What of it? One by one they crash to the earth like leaden leaves. Wings become flapless and little more than diseased appendages, merely by the body’s side for show, as if to denote and condemn the futility of the soaring metaphor. Broken bodies pile like a metropolis of bloody high-rises. Floating dandelion heads are replaced by dropping flocks. Trees shake, accomplice with mocking currents designed to keep the creatures grounded. Ornithology becomes Pathology, until there is nothing left to study. Birds have three eyelids, blink, and never miss a thing. Watching your species die before your eyes is like innocence, is like guilt.

About the Author:  Daniel Romo is the author of When Kerosene’s Involved (Mojave River Press, 2014) and Romancing Gravity (Silver Birch Press, 2013). His writing can be found in The Los Angeles Review, Gargoyle, MiPOesias, and elsewhere. He teaches creative writing and is the Head Poetry Editor for Cease, Cows. He lives in Long Beach, CA and at

Artwork: John Smiddy was born San Jose, CA in 1966. He received his BA from UCSC in 1989 and his MA from SFSU in 1998. He lives and works in Oakland, CA.  

Harry Dean Stanton by Lisa Douglass


Harry Dean Stanton
It was hot outside
I was working at the Grill in Beverly Hills
After work I slid up to the bar at Dan Tana’s and ordered a beer
Harry Dean Stanton was there drinking me one for one
He drank silent like me
I said, “you must hear this all the time
So I’m reluctant to tell you
But Paris, Texas is one hell of a film
And you’re great”
“Did you hear me?”
“Yeah, I hear you”
He said it like I had found out he fucked his sister
But then
I ordered us both a round
And he looked into my eyes
That someone had bought him a drink
“What was your name, dear?”
I told him
“Thank you for what you said before, sorry I’m such a prick.”
No problem, I’m a prick too
That made Harry Dean laugh like he’d found his hero
Me, Harry Dean’s hero
I told him some mean stories about how I was torturing my boyfriend
But this one deserved it
I told him about getting run off the 101 freeway
And then he knew I was telling the truth
When I showed him the papers from jail
And he asked me if he could help by calling the house
I said yes, it might just do him in
He keeps threatening suicide after the meth wears off
He agreed to take my number and call a bunch
And we laughed some more
Some other guy
A guy I didn’t even know, but wanted to
Walked by and handed me a bindle of coke
“Help yourself. Just don’t be a pig,” he said
The bartender thought I was a good girl
And gave me hatred eyes, like don’t do coke
You’re mine
But I gave a look back
One that said, who are you?
We’re friends like this
I pay you for drinks, but mostly they are free
Because you think we might fuck
But it doesn’t mean shit
So I slid off the stool and went to the can to
“not be a pig about the coke”
Then, I came back and Harry was crying
Telling me he loved me
“You don’t love me, you’re drunk.”
“Okay, I remember,” he said
Looking for love in my eyes but only finding weakness
I put my arm around him and said
It happened to me too last night, I forgot who I loved
And then I ordered two more drinks
To help us remember
Who we really were

About the author: Lisa Douglass spent her summer watching a stalker through her window and wondered if she could go outside via the roof. Only, whenever she tried there were sheets of chocolate lining the stairs and it seemed so messy. Lisa became tired and unclean. She hoped the stalker was eating well and that he had a change of clothes, adult diapers and all. Lisa Douglass was trapped, and that meant eating copious amounts of Nutella and sleeping all day under her makeshift indoor rain device. Sometimes she had visitors and they got wet, but no one knows what she did with them after. Just that during the visitations they learned to talk in baby dinosaur language and how to fashion a trap for a medium sized human being.

Artwork: Justin Schapker is a photographer living in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Las Manos De Mis Padres by John Olivares Espinoza

Mano_Edgardo Antonio Jr

         Las Manos De Mis Padres

     Once, the backs
of Dad’s hands were smooth,
like a panther’s tail, like a jaguar’s coat.
     Years of work
turned the skin into leather
that shines like polished Florsheims.
     The hash marks
left by the bramble bush thorns
are perpetually scarlet.
     Mom’s hands
wring more often to mask
the liverspots developing below
     her knuckles.
Before, wringing was to moisturize
with Jergens: her pale hands
were two lost doves reuniting.
     Madre y Padre—
their hands—when they link—
which is not often—
fit like bone and socket.

About the author: John Olivares Espinoza most recent book is The Date Fruit Elegies (2008). His work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, New Letters, Spillway, Red Wheelbarrow, Quarterly West, ZYZZYVA, as well as a “list” in The Believer. He teaches in the English Department at Santa Clara University and lives in San Jose, California with his wife.

Artwork: Edgardo Antonio Jr.


L.R. Californicus by Tennessee Reed

drop door


It is around 1:00 PM
on May 6, 2013
I, the Mearns bobcat species
of California,
west of Sierra Nevada,
am minding my business,
hunting in the tall grass
near the Marin Headlands Arts Center
for insects, rabbits,
small rodents and deer
It is unusual for me to hunt
at this time of day
I am supposed to be resting
in a thicket
I usually hunt the three hours
before sunset to midnight
and then before dawn
and the three hours after sunrise
My prey has different schedules
now that it is the driest year
on record

My keen sense of hearing
makes me hear a car door slam
I look up and with my sharp
sense of vision,
I see two women,
one younger
and one middle aged
looking in my direction
The young woman is wearing
jeans and a tee shirt
and the middle aged woman
a brown top, khakis and a hat
I hear “What do you think that is?
Do you think it’s a coyote
or a fox?” from the middle aged woman
The younger woman
zooms in her
Nikon Coolpix p90
I sit down
and turn my head to the left
Even though I live on the urban edge,
i don’t see people all that often
My ancestors have been here
for 1.8,000,000 years
but the people think
they own the place
They build their homes
in the woods, mountains
and deserts where me
and my relatives live,
yet they want to kill me
because they think I am a threat
They dump their trash
as they take their hikes
or camp
and they even mix us
with their domestic cats
for an “exotic” animal

I hear the younger woman
in an excited voice say,
“It’s a cat. It’s a bobcat.”
My bright green eyes
blend in with the grass
My tawny face
with the white muzzle
and white chin,
and the brown striped pattern
on my cheeks and forehead
poke out
The black tufts on my ears
stick up

After I pose for the photo
I go back to hunting
I hear the women get back in the car,
turn the motor on,
and take off
I feel more at ease


I know how this bobcat feels
Our street and surrounding streets
have also been swept up
an invasion of
techies, yuppies
and millennials from San Francisco
The Blacks who
once occupied the area
are dead, priced out
or foreclosed
to other cities:
Antioch, Vallejo,
Stockton and Castro

Ever since the Bakery Lofts
were build down the street
it is hard to park the car
in front of the house
On the street sweeping days
it is worse

When I back out of the driveway
It is more complicated
and dangerous
with the big, red whale of the car
parked in front of the house
when there is plenty of space
across the street
in front of their house

A young couple
walks their
tan and white pit bull
while they push
their young infant
in a jogging stroller
A woman with tattoos
up and down her arms
walks two more
tan and white pit bulls,
one in each hand
Why so many pit bulls?
Are they four legged Zimmermans
patrolling the Blacks who remain?

An older, gray haired couple
walk their two collies each morning
They look like miniature oxen
they let their dogs
do their do on our lawn
They don’t pick it up

Our neighbors next door
ask in a panic,
“Do you know if our neighbors
have a bee hive?
There is a swarm in our backyard,
and they look like
they are coming into yours,”
a cloud of bees hover around
the rosemary bush
The beekeeper
comes to the front door
suited up and says,
“I have come to collect my bees.”

To quote Dad,
“As soon as you get rid of one pest,
another one comes along.”
these particular pests ride bicycles

About the author: Tennessee Reed is the author of six poetry collections, a memoir and a novel. She is currently working on a novel, a short story and a seventh poetry collection. Ms. Reed has read around the Continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, England, the Netherlands, Germany, Israel and Japan. She has received her B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and her M.F.A. from Mills College. Ms. Reed is the managing editor of Konch Magazine and the secretary of PEN Oakland.

Artwork: John Manibusan is an artist living in Cincinnati, Ohio. He also works for a major airline.