doxology from a barroom window by Leland Seese

Colin Farstad_FOR SEESE-2


 

doxology from a barroom window

the fire engine blasts its horn and siren
southbound toward an elsewhere accident

two women in their twenties drinking vodka
flit about the edges of their readiness to kiss

a cough drop wrapper gold and black
blows up from the gutter to the sidewalk near a tree

a zillion other things in endless rearrangement
these three arranged like this are all i see


Author Bio: Leland Seese lives in Seattle. He began writing poetry after a bout of cancer finally convinced him to put his English/Creative Writing degree from the University of Washington to use. He has published poems in Pyrokinection and The Christian Century

Artwork: Colin Farstad has been at one point or another a teacher, editor, writer, photographer, event coordinator and connoisseur of classic cocktails. Currently he lives in Brooklyn and works at DeFiore and Company. For more information check out colinfarstad.com

Just how we say what we say is what we say. by Julia Tranchina

Herrington_(Untitled Photo)_FOR TRANCHINA


 

Just how we say what we say is what we say.

This valley. Death shall be at the start. Drown the object in its history. Sank after it capsized; exploded in a ball of fire; derailed and plunged into a canyon; died at 97 of pneumonia. Tell the truth gradually, carefully. I’ve never met a man my age I wouldn’t have to carry around. It drained to the current level after a prehistoric earthquake. Erfam will go thirsty without clean water. The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our bones, the iron in our blood. I may go wrong and lose my way. Agua de Jamaica laced with white rum. Here then, was her liquid illusion of happiness. She over kissed. Your advice is truly profound when you’re snockered. Clear all the jelly! It was part of a cosmic order. Pain and suffering are the most fruitful sources of noble deeds. I just saw the police with a dump truck clearing out the homeless encampments down in the creek. Drought. A return to rambling. She taught me to tie my shoe laces with an unnecessary loop. Our dining room table is covered in lead. In Yugoslavian it means dirty drunk and dirty pig. A noun is the name of anything. Meta is conceit. The borders of my memory are shifting. How near winter death is. She is overcome. My father spends his mornings—after his wife died and I’m certain before—at the bar, where he’s able to buy cheap Gallo salami chubs from the bartender. All knowing is remembering. She is in no shape to drive. Gravity is a law of nature that controls all construction. The glass shattered under the weight of my wife and son. I will always be their second choice. The invisible monsters descend upon our human hearts. Side by side. We sleep in your shade. I took off his clothes to find the source of the bleeding. I love her but I don’t like her. Seeing his dead grandmother crawling up his leg, with a knife in her teeth. The emergency room was surprisingly quiet on New Year’s Eve. Where is mama’s bocchino? The gout makes him move like a weeble. I am quiet and keep myself to myself. Her history ended in Gridley. They like their martinis wet. Maybe this year will be better than the last. National Thank You Month! I’m joining our gene pool with theirs on paper. Your mother’s honesty borders the brutal. She looked great in a leotard. Drink lots of water and don’t eat fried foods. In a home she designed and had built in 1929. The resentment lingers. It’s the same season every day! The great arm of the sea. They dropped her to the ground, breaking both of her legs. I’m nervous. Giant black butterflies cover the sun. Tell all the truth but tell it slant. In her private life she was a popular hostess. That’s not her, she disappeared. They came for her in a windowless, white minivan on Super Bowl Sunday. Enough about the Filipino appetizers already.


Author Bio: Julia Tranchina is currently working on a series of 27 language poems. Her writing has also appeared in Barrelhouse, Monkeybicycle, Ohio Edits and Literary Orphans. She lives with her wife and two-year-old twins in San Jose, California. 

Artwork:

“Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows by Larry O. Dean

Christopher Coffey_DUHRITZ_for Mr. Jones


 “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows

I heard it in the grocery store,
piped in so clear, there
in the canned food aisle; my hand
hovered in mind-reach
for eight ounces of tinned peaches
I planned to cook into a pie.
So taken was I my peach-search
was abandoned and I ran,
frantic and alive, to find

an employee crouched, shelving
toilet paper two rows away.
“No problem,” he said, even if
I had disrupted his task,
in truth, probably happy to take
an unplanned break, and because
he could not hear so clearly
with a mother and bawling newborn
nearby, we went back

to the stacked cans and stood
close to the speaker, tilting ears
toward the tinny sound
piping in through industrial
speakers. “That’s ‘Mr. Jones’
by Counting Crows,” he said,
and my first thought was,
“Who is this ‘Mr. Jones’?”
but I did not betray

the depth of my curiosity
and instead thanked him
for his help, relieving him
from customer service
to return freely and forthwith
to the squeezably-soft
Charmin previously assigned,
“Mr. Jones” la la la la-ing
in the air above every aisle now

as I jogged briskly
to the Customer Service desk
at the other end of the store,
where there was no wait
and a manager labeled Jeff
on a tilted white name tag
asked with a smile
just beneath his neat
mustache, “How can I help you?”
as I practically begged, “Can
you shut that horseshit off?”


Author Bio: Larry O. Dean was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan, where he won three Hopwood Awards in Creative Writing, an honor shared with fellow poets Robert Hayden, Jane Kenyon, and Frank O’Hara, among others; and Murray State University’s low-residency MFA program. He is author of the full-length collection, Brief Nudity (2013), as well as numerous chapbooks, including I Am Spam (2004); abbrev (2011); About the Author (2011); and Basic Cable Couplets (2012). His poetry has also been internationally translated and anthologized. In addition, he is a singer-songwriter, performing solo as well as with his current band, The Injured Parties; he has released many critically-acclaimed CD’s, including Fables in Slang (2001) with Post Office, Gentrification Is Theft (2002) with The Me Decade, and Fun with a Purpose (2009). Dean was a 2004 recipient of the Hands on Stanzas Gwendolyn Brooks Award, presented by the Poetry Center of Chicago. Contact him at larryodean.com

Artwork: Christopher Coffey 

Wanting What You Can’t Have Anymore by Jason Bayani

Sara Haase_ FOR BAYANI_Wanting What You Can't Have Anymore



Wanting What You Can’t Have Anymore
We were long and far away from the old city. When everyone
grew above the wild stalk. We grew wild and then grew into
our bodies. We named and then named ourselves again. We learned
to be weightless and floated above the ground. We danced
until the sun came up and waited for the next bar to open at 6am
so we could start dancing again. We fell into each others arms
and walked home with enough music to last us the rest of our lives.
We fell apart at the same time and never together. We got jobs. We lost friends.
We failed horribly at love. We learned gravity and walked heavier
across the concrete. We were left wanting all that was behind.
We don’t dance as good no more. Maybe once in a while we can
find our legs. We tried and then tried at love again. We tried to be more
of someone’s good memories than their bad. We accumulated so many things:
bills, books, new ailments, regrets. We went to clubs and spent the night
watching people dancing. We listened to clothes in the dryer
or a loose fan knocking on rotation. We lost all of our CD’s.
We don’t look for the old cities. We looked for them and never saw
the same places. Sometimes we forget we were ever those people.
Sometimes we remember them too much. We stayed up until morning
and thought of each other. We thought of when we never saw endings.


Author Bio: Jason Bayani is the author of Amulet, from Write Bloody Press. He’s an MFA grad from Saint Mary’s College, a Kundiman fellow, and a longtime veteran of the National Poetry Slam Scene. He’s currently the program manager for Kearny Street Workshop in San Francisco and continues to perform regularly.

Artwork: Sara Hasse

Open Reading by Trina Gaynon

ML Bain_For Open Reading


 

  Open Reading
Shattuck Avenue Bakery 

The new manager is atwitter
with reminders
to exercise caution
going down the back stairs
to the bathroom in the corner
of the working bakery
that turns out
10,000 croissants a day
and gallons of coffee
for the free refills.
The chest beneath
the Yale sweatshirt
decompresses
when he is assured
that the customers don’t bite
or slide down banisters.
This blessing and this curse:
May your house be filled
with poets
with their large hungers
and lean purses.


Author Bio: Trina Gaynon, a graduate of the writing program at University of San Francisco, currently lives in Southern California, has poems in the anthologies Saint Peter’s B-list: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints, Obsession: Sestinas for the 21st Century, A Ritual to Read Together: Poems in Conversation with William Stafford, PhoenixRising from the Ashes: Anthology of Sonnets of the Early Third Millennium, Bombshells, and Knocking at the Door, as well as numerous journals including Natural Bridge, Reed and the final issue of Runes. Her chapbook, An Alphabet of Romance, is available from Finishing Line Press. Southern California Miles: Trina Gaynon

Artwork: M.L. Bain

Once the Conundrum is Dispelled by A.J. Huffman

Photo-2


Once the Conundrum is Dispelled

It comes like this sometimes.  In waves
of grief higher than my head.  I hold
my breath and hope it will not consume
me.  More often I hope it will.  Why
can’t the breaking be complete?
The pain is severe.  But what is enough?
My mind slips out for a dip.  Sliding
along salty-lash[ed] planks.  I dive
into sleep.  For comfort and coma.
Black.  Black.  Empty.
Are these the empathies I covet?
I swallow them like pills.  Gulping
and gasping.  And glad that ultimately
they will help me.  Embody gone.


Author Bio: A.J. Huffman has published seven solo chapbooks and one joint chapbook through various small presses. Her eighth solo chapbook, Drippings from a Painted Mind, won the 2013 Two Wolves Chapbook Contest. She also has a full-length poetry collection scheduled for release in June 2015, titled, A Few Bullets Short of Home (mgv2>publishing). She is a Pushcart Prize nominee, and her poetry, fiction, and haiku have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals, including Labletter, The James Dickey Review, Bone Orchard, EgoPHobia, Kritya, and Offerta Speciale, in which her work appeared in both English and Italian translation. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press. www.kindofahurricanepress.com

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

Doomed Romance by Jan Steckel

Red Sea Merman


Doomed Romance

I met a blond man
in an erotic bookstore.
We stood overlooking
the Pacific Coast Highway.

He said, “Night is for man
to press pedal to metal.
Night is for woman
to be safe at home.

I pressed his hand
so he’d know how I felt.
Then I unhitched my girdle,
dove into the headlight stream.

I flippered and breast-stroked
like a gefilte-fish mermaid.
Malibu selkies sang to me
sagas of pacific Vikings.


Author Bio: Jan Steckel’s poetry book, The Horizontal Poet (Zeitgeist Press, 2011), won a Lambda Literary Award. Her fiction chapbook, Mixing Tracks (Gertrude Press, 2009), and poetry chapbook, The Underwater Hospital (Zeitgeist Press, 2006), also won awards. Her short story collection, Ghosts and Oceans, is seeking a publisher. She lives in East Oakland.

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.