At the peak of my
I almost kill my father
who lost his soul
in the Siberian Gulag.
I plunge a fork into
his vodka-soaked thigh
and run away from home.
I get lost in the woods
and can’t find my way back,
roaming around in circles
on the edge of panic
in my clownish shoes.
I remember the rule of three
from my Eagle Scout training:
I’ll die in three hours in the cold,
three days without water,
and three weeks without food.
At night, I can see the Big Dipper
and follow the stars in the bowl
to the North Star, sure of direction
when I find moss on the north side
of a tree.
I slog through marshes,
searching for a rivulet,
running past clusters of chanterelles
I’d gathered in the past,
when I discover the brackish water
of an estuary that lead to the open sea.
I swim out to a mooring,
help myself to a sailboat,
and sail away.
– Milton Ehrlich…
I will not be seen today &
how does it worry me?
out there a city swells
from river to weeds
like a silvery fish
taking first hesitant steps on land
unnoticed like most history
I hear it serenade with castanets
invisible like me
parts of the same dissolute fluid
we have passed the test
even our scars blank in the opaque
our voices mute
in the gasp of a morning
fat like sorrow
but more like guilt
in how it stays too long
– Ace Boggess…
Thirty-four minutes late & what I want this to be is another breakdown & my imagination burying you while you are singing & gentle to my shoulders. I want to be crazy & for you to be alive forever & if I can manage to change my beliefs before you come home that might just happen.
Thirty-five minutes late & I have confirmed the existence of fire & I have taken small, heroic bites of my own flaming flesh. If I can be wolf enough to remove a limb without removing a limb, then I can sell you on the idea that you being late doesn’t ruin the whole pack of my mind. If I can sit here until the blue car enters the driveway, then nothing overly-human will happen.
Thirty-six minutes late & I have finished cooking dinner twice already. I am lapping the kitchen. I have started oatmeal for your breakfast tomorrow & thrown out that oatmeal, because if you’re already dead, then I don’t want to explain to the children why there is a bowl of oatmeal waiting for you at the table. I want to transition you to their version of Heaven as quickly as possible & mothers in heaven don’t have oatmeal slowly cooling for them in Columbus, Ohio.…
Every time Mom doesn’t call
I think you are dead.
…………I recall the old yard
…………playset legs jolting in long grass
…………as we swung toward ripe green branches
…………carving shapes of light on our skin
…………giggling mouths ringed popsicle red
…………when I saw, limp in the garden,
…………my beloved pet sunflower
…………green hairy stem bent L-ward
…………black seeds and sunshine petals
…………facing earth muddied
…………by tears and sprinkler feet
…………my red-eyed face next to hers
…………a single photo the only proof left.
No loss, no uprooting
could prepare me
for your pain later in life
lined wrists, midnight calls to 9-1-1
substances you thirsted for
As my mind reckons my heart
…………recalling how you were the one
…………to break her stem, simple mistake
…………as we ran wild in the yard —
I fear you are just as fragile.
– Kara Cochran…
Sex with you feels like survivor’s guilt. What were we but two figures at a bar sharing a gentle kiss and a Molotov Cocktail? I run my hand down your back like a train derailing off its tracks. This exchange of ecstasy will ripple chaos into this city—our city. When your lips touch my skin a trigger is pulled, a body hits the pavement, a splash of blood arcs in streetlamp glow. Two beings like us are not meant to feel passion—at least, not together. Every time we fuck we sacrifice a city block. Let’s call this what it is.…