Eat the Alphabet • Anja Notanja Sieger

Sometimes I hug books I love so tightly
to my chest
in hopes that by some osmosis I will retain them. 
Something like the way I retain water
when I eat too much salt. 
But in writing this, I’ve realized, 
maybe I’m doing it wrong
and need to eat the alphabet
to ever retain a word. 

Sometimes when I walk I imagine the feeling
of my feet going through the floor
instead of on it, 
like maybe how Jesus felt walking on water
or maybe how certain feet feel when trained
for coal walking,
and I could never compare a feeling to an action
or coal walkers to Jesus, but I just did, and I question my morph-ability
and make up words while choking on the alphabet and
sometimes the bottoms of my feet feel like coals without warning
and they walk with goals but I don’t know where I’m going.  

Sometimes I just go
and see where go leads me
because there is always a point A and B,
and sometimes
there’s a C we wander to.


Jenny Janzer, from Return to the Gathering Place of the Waters

What My Father Talks About While Drinking Beer • Troy Schoultz

We crack the fresh pop-tops

from the garage refrigerator,

an avocado-colored refugee from the 1970’s
still humming. He takes a good
long pull from his, a lager watery and weaker
than the darks and stouts I’m used to. He says light beer
helps him keep his edge. After two more sweat-beaded

cans he begins to open up. Talks about
the young nuns at his Catholic high school,

fantasizes about the sleek white swimsuits
underneath the layers of black and grey,
says he hates church, prefers the marsh
at sunset, swears he and a buddy saw Satan
in a a denim jacket and eyes like sparklers
drinking in a tavern at the Illinois border in 1972.
He tells of the teacher who chastised
him for watching ditch diggers
from the classroom window, how she told
him that was all he’d amount to.
He asked her what were they doing
that was wrong? Where was the crime
in irrigation? As I’m taken aback
by the dignity of that response,

he goes on to say that years later

when he found himself at the roadside

laying pipe, deep in soil, he wished
that same teacher would drive past.
He would raise his shovel in the July sun
shouting in personal victory, “I’ve made it!
I’ve finally made it!”

-Troy Schoultz; from Biographies of Runaway Dogs

Tower • Georgia Lundeen

I watch your hands as you paint me

into your walls and unmentionables.

I seep into them like water,

like apocalyptic dye.



Your hands, smudged so beautifully,


bloodied with acrylics; improbables.

I look at them and I falter,

I'd like to give them a try.



Use all your languages for me


until we are raving Unstoppables,

clinking glasses at an altar;

for we are the best Most High.



I love it when you don't look at me;


instead, keep sketching impossibles.

Don't call me Ishtar's daughter;

go ahead, tear down the sky.


 -Georgia Lundeen; from Spare


Sights and Sounds of Apollo in Drag • Annie Grizzle

But baby I like these curlers
I throw all my legs around them and multiply

            if these things aren't pretty and
            bouncing around me

I feed you all the yellow I can manage

  transferring chemicals from six bodies to a nucleus
  you have wobbly gravity and I will fit all of me in there

                        chewing at the opening

                        I opened a face from the middle
                          and held it open like some scar
                       for sixteen hours I shaved a skull

            I dressed in layers for preparation of a dive
                          I wanted to love you

-Annie Grizzle; from Return to the Gathering Place of the Waters, May 2017

I Dreamt of Ravens Again Last Night

thick boned, strong footed
claws grasping like skilled craftsmen.

Wings overlooking their own shadows, the way I have yet to learn how Sweeping above and below, sweeping all that slumbers or wallows.

Cleansing into one another,
waning and waxing like self-lit moons, tugging at effervescence, their own and that of the day.

The tree which they called theirs alone was wrestling with them, their feathers and her branches
like teenagers tangled and undone by their own wind.

This went on until each four-nailed toe was content
in what it grasped.

There is no rest for the weary
but there is always solidarity.
I awoke thinking of all I love and therefore hurt inevitably
and all that return the favor. 

-from Love and Fate

painting by Eleanor Hazard

Apart • Hillarie Higgins

Not knowing where to put this

heavy glaring sense of time lost

and consciousness frayed and displaced.

Does it belong compressed, in the cavity of the body

or is it meant to be thrown off the top floor of the tallest

building in a small town or into traffic at 3AM on a Monday morning in Chicago's south side.

If released to scuttle about by its own devices a deep sense of drugged calm falls upon me. Appearances.

And so I choose wildness.

A decomposite of play in a changed world.

A bed of dust and recollections.

Stillness and death.

Loneliness like a stillborn product of labor and sweat and blood and heartache.

Sailing numbly and home again.


Bones and bloating

Sex absorbed


Motionless and frantic and contained, hooked

in a frenetic code.

worn tightly and warm.

Clutching the fabric of images cast by an old projector unplugged and boxed in the basement beneath the holiday shit.

Glitter muppets of plausible caricatures that nod and function and collapse into the sink.


–Hillarie Higgins

Sea of Wheels • Nathan Fredrick

Sea of Wheels    

            Floats absorbed

                     Somewhere to go not to be                                          Laughs along pundits

                                                                                  Screams the nearest vessel

                                              Catcalls a bent sundress never to be met

                        Freedom defined in miles per hour

                       Eyes fixed in avoidance of murders

                                                      Secretly wished

                                                                                         She who steps in front

                                                                        Of you is the beast


                             You nearly complete machines

                             Locked in pilot authority, barely moving

                            Anything but your destined minds


                                                                       The earth smolders 

                                         your speed         sucked from ground 

                                        buckled tight too safe for resting heads 

                                       on chests/reading these thoughts


                                                                                               A turtle in the median

                                                                                        Brushes his cheeks

                                                                            On the things

                                                             You’ll never dare

True Moon • Heidi Koos

When you move up and 

   down you’re describing a dick,

like light finds dark.

When he goes in it’s in and

   in again but you are every size

A maximum life realized

Every time, the nothing to something

You girl, are every dick,

the definition, the maker,

true fucker moving

because he’s always the same

and you are always different

Heidi Koos

After Freddy • Bethany Price

Town crumbling in cadence with the storm bulging rained-in roofs bow down to royal families At all points the despair settling in waves
where memories sicken love yokes

No finality crawls from the celestial place No bridges to health from broken reveries The mobs don’t feed themselves
killing more roots then forgetting to grow

Fundamental white fences
splintered to murder the neighbors Ruinous hiccups in the money beds
where sex is an apology made over & over

This suburb forgets gold for forlorn fornication & children break heat
across long winded insults
The wind moans louder than the injured

Bethany Price

After B.P. • Freddy La Force

Caustic ephemera spill over blotter lips, oracles turn blue in wait of new believers, belltowers shake leaves attempting updates for digital ears, the holy spirit is filled with cancer, your blood no longer satisfies, cramped chorus girls shake out aches to kick drums thumping, keeping steps ahead quicksand sucks, bleak futures, when death questions you’d better answer formally

chasing wilted flowers weaves maps to exposed bankruptcies, every guilty action atones father’s negligence, I chew them and wretch his petrified pew, beetles crawl beneath dermis issuing spiteful divisive commands, your hollow prophecies will echo into gravel, I’ll pound my incantations to time, your dust steaming my cauldron, I’ll build a new dragon who’ll pull down a moon for lighting your extinction and releasing the dance.

Freddy La Force

Marriage • Nathan Fredrick

What has become of romance

Does commitment mean anything


Courtship must alter its course

Opposing the wind for too long

Love has been falling

Finally, love stretches its arms

Shifting carefully to the upright


No longer horizontal

Ready for action

Walking down the street I wave hello

To a bicycled white man who looks

Like someone I know but he is not

These men all have similar uniforms

But I love them

Hello I wave at the black men

Treading the concrete alongside me

They are my neighbors I want to know

I love them despite my country

Insisting I shouldn’t

I ignore the flashing screen’s instruction

And submerge in the external nervous system

Admire the homosexuals

Who are teaching this lesson


Admire the mothers

Who choose poverty in order

For their children to grow up without pasts


Admire the women

But not in a fashion resembling assault


Admire the blathering demented

Zig-zagging the roadways


Admire the workers

Steeped in profanity


Admire the gangs

and your fear they feed from


Love no longer sleeps

In bedtime stories

Of chivalry and sacrifice

We must bow to our neighbors 

Embrace every being

Extend their limbs to ours

The world is to be wed

To an evil Ebenezer

We must rescue it

For all to share

The old love too selfish

Only functions behind closed doors

Sleeping love becomes fluid

Waking love is fluid

Matter that can take any form

We can breathe it together 

Creating more with each exhalation 

Admire the angry


Admire the tearful

Admire your arguing neighbors

Who forget they do not live in a cave 

Everyone in love with everyone!

The weird, the dirty, the preppy, the rebel, the LOUD,

the soft, the CEO

Please love the CEO and take from him every

thing he owns


If we continue assigning union

Of pairs in preference to all

We are duped

Into Earth ablaze that eats our skins

Each apathy feeding air to each flame


Love must stop falling

Love must stand up

Everyone, please,

Marry me

-Nathan Fredrick, from Parallelograms, V.A.P. 2014

Hungover with a Lampshade • Bethany Price

In a hotel room, I am jolted awake.

No being waits for me in the dark,

nor in the empty bed next to me,

but the color of the air is different.


I notice the walls: I am appalled.

They are covered in peeling hair.


A sound from my throat is cloyed

when no locks brush my shoulders:

I raise a hand to my head,


my scalp is floral.


Unoffending and bland.


The floor aches with a lusty flesh breath

and my figure doesn't rise or fall.

It’s hard to realize it when I touch

my body, it takes me a few seconds 

to process,


as I pick splintered wood 

from my belly.

-Bethany Price, from Terror, V.A.P. 2014

Landscape • Freddy La Force

In the lutheran white window

One thousand sprites eat the sky

making room for noxious gases


we need more kaleidoscope

In our sunset-storied still lives


Showers cascade off shoulders

A mardi gras snare t-tak takk tak tak t-tak takk!

Further studies indicate

Dreams make better rulers than facts


Pull shades from the forrest catalog

Pick an exotic pollution 

Set the correct contrast

Here are some samples to inspect


This land of subjective evidence

Makes it easy to believe

What can’t be known


We’ll never fully know each other

We can celebrate or make excuses

Hang a silent faith on the firmament

The Look • Heidi Koos

I want a press.

Isn’t that crazy?

I’m going to order it

and watch that dog

    over there-do you

think we matched on

    our way over here?


I hope not too much, God

I hate those couples, the

way you know exactly how

they are in bed together,


I’ll wear the polo, babe,

and they’ll know I spank

your ass if you keep your

hair down-or am I too sexed?


No reading at the table.

Look at me, I’m watching the

dog, I barely know you,

we’ve never done it

-Heidi Koos, from Parallelograms, V.A.P. 2014.