Issue 12

Matthew Estvanic

"a week without rest in his dreams"

the tot's red radial flyer
flew across the top of the flat
until the whole empty room erupted
into a shared laughter & elation,
a bliss, a magic orgasm,
& snow got wet on the floor & froze
& flew at the ceiling
until it was a blizzard, whiteout conditions, a
lake effect blast nobody would drive through,
but the love transcended our numerology
& the storm appears in the soul's almanac, &
our lips shone red & wet for touch
& the old man came, laughing along,
fascinated with the hair on his back
& the sound the wagon makes.

today on some park bench a man awoke,
thumping headache, tattered jimi hendrix t-shirt,
8 inch tear in the seat of his jeans, one pill left,
a week without rest in his dreams
& the memories get raped for sport.

today in a notebook god lives anonymous, with
loving hands on the faces of her children, sure
they'll continue to fail her,
watching watching watching, pulsating in
thought, moving nobody pens in all her world.

"agrarian athena"

blonde athena-statuesque
with all that ivory
pushing undertoe
past the eye.

without acropolis,
nestled most carefully
atop midwest citadel.

ohio farm dirt mistress:
arms empty bottle grasping
with no hands
equipped to feed you.

you'll speak against those
with steel speech
who stand in opposition
to your soft golden myth.

the great agrarian society
of jefferson evolved
into hemmings kids
writing books of lineage.

your world has seen hell,
antiquated, failing
in the new-world paradigm
of electric nihilism.

our america has less to do
with farm fields
than it does with
binary gospels and slight-of-light.

the earth nurtures human souls
in reciprocity.
the world thus
is barren, hateworn.

you statue stand
solemn, silent, inanimate
in a place hostile
to such stalworts.

yet the beauty in your
womanly stoicism
will not be denied.
i admire you.

you're the last of jefferson's slaves
blonde & lillywhite,
living your sideshow grass gospel
until the seasons change.

"call to prayer"

listen to the godheads
and mind their meter
when the wailing choruses echo
making the neo-babylonians
live caligula, now their turn.

because the new death won't die;
too insouciant, too nihilistic,
too self-absorbed to expire
until you, and everyone else
gets the point and put it in missals:
rock and roll hymnbooks
for the seeds of dissent
to repeat as they age.

"for patti smith"

long lines
traversed the air
where i'd breathed

delicate, calculated, flawed,
indigo nightmare god-refrains
that told fresh flowers
which way was sun.

my ballerina,
boogied to motown vinyl
and rode rockstars
until the party
was love lubricant,

the people needed it.

"now kush gets her wonderbread"

elated angel
on errands for matriarch-proper
peers into my empty carriage
in hopes of glimpsing naivetepre>
that which queen hasn't ordained
that which dusk shards can't make a dowry

(we're inevitably married to our circumstance).

and the little girl kept riding
her bike
after i passed her
at the intersection----
franklin and school streets.
momma needs bread
to feed a new nation
conceived in
a backwater, pseudo-ghetto jungle
filled with
who've been

"observations in a student union"

the eyes & the voices &
the pock-marked faces &
the smell of mcdonald's breakfast &
the fleeting glances & complaints &
a man who's shirt is too tight &
tony the tiger & hipsters &
loose women & hangovers &
solitary people & four-legged beings &
gossip & jesus & a camera &
matthew john anthony estvanic &
machines & laughter & marijuana &
epithets & pretty lips & cellular phones &
eyeglasses & sneezes &
twin sisters without their twin &
a striking woman & paint on the ceiling & her
muslim clothes & crushed papers &
sinead o'connor & the newspaper &
all tomorrow's parties &
matthew john anthony estvanic


medusa new paused me
into a second act
of poor oxen
with traveler-weary shoulders,

caused drip dripping ocean---
spilling on poor man's

now bosom feeds
soul mommy milk
and cares
even after our rain dance.

matthew estvanic is a kent, ohio resident and native of cleveland, ohio. he is a kent state university student. his work has appeared in numerous college publications, including, most recently. in the luna negra (a student publication at kent state university). he's also a member of the silentfusion collective.

Issue 11

Duane Locke


In a red-curtained room,
A man alone, in red,
Listens to the bells
Ring in his wine glass.

The bells are red,
Ring with a red sound.
The sounds send out
Red flowers to float.

Red carnations before him.
Red carnations behind him.
Red carnations below him.
Red carnations above him.

Each carnation silent.
Each carnation silent.


A hundred black crows
Fly over a black hearse.
The sky is black caws.
The earth, the rumple of the hearse's black tires.
The crows fly past the cemetery.
The hearse enters the cemetery.


The tenor's high notes
Tear opened our tears.
We look inside our tears,
See our childhoods,
See our employments,
See our marriage,
See our deaths.
The tears stay torn open.
We put on blindfolds.
The performance continues.


Under cedars, she, in green
Touches with her fingertips
The sway of cedar shadows.

Her eyes, a green lighter
Than the green of the cedar;
Her voice, pianissimo, like the voice of the cedar.

She and the cedar
Sing duets together.
Passers-by hear only one voice.


The forest had white sparrows
That sit on white rocks,
Sing sienna-colored songs,
Mushrooms that sing chryselephantine,
Gold and white, under stem shadows
Of star-shaped sienna-colored flowers.
No others in this forest, only us.


The wind whirls between my spread fingers,
The unseen chills the flesh of the fingers' edges,
Implicating there are other forces beside myself
A grip, a closed fist, obliterates space, openness.
In this closure, the fingers are warmed by each other.
What is outside, unknown, is excluded
By inner contentment. The hand in warmness
Is isolated from the wind, and its statement:
There is something other than yourself, fingers
Closed together in warmness are isolated from wind.
Openness of hand brought a change by confrontation,
But closed, the fist repeats what has been.


The smell of burning cinders linger in their nostrils,
These two
Walk again
On a dark path through snake-shook tall autumn-brown grasses.
Not touching,
She follows his uncertainty.
Now, they are one and one,

He fully awakened,
Why he charmed the demons with his lyre,
But he had heard the legend
Of himself,
Had to descend to be the legend.

She had wings for a short stay among ambrosia and mead.

It was not like when young, she saw his toga
A galloping white deer on a tuft of clouds.

Now, old, Orpheus's lack of breath precludes
The trap and magic of high notes.


A storm-green sky, partially cabbage palm blocked,
Lightning struck and streaked with the obtuse
And acute angles of quick green flashes
That in their origins aspired to be vertical straight lines,
But due to inner passion became a horizontal
That broke into an up and downstairs arrangements,
Zigzagged patches over green vaporous irregular masses.
I walked, rain-coated, hatless, through a drizzle,
Wiped raindrops from my face's sides and eye lashes,
Rejoiced in the sensation of having a wet hand;
My joy was an epiphany that changed my direction.
I was crossing the glistening brick street to visit
A dark-haired neighbor, talk about our distance and the weather.
Went back inside my house, dried my hair
With a blow-dyer and towel, rejoiced in having dry hair.
I sit down by a bucket catching the water leaking through my roof.
And talked to a glass of dry red wine, Shiraz,
About how there never would be a metrically theory
That is logically sound, linguistically well-informed,
Semiotically serviceable, and that can be empirically verified.


The hills before us, beryl, and a blurred chocolate
With a cape-shaped space of a pale brown, a color
Rarely encounter, but a color we knew from seeds
That hang in clusters on Florida palms that were
Imported with rum and the rumba from the West Indies.
This familiar color among colors strange to us
Was disconcerting as it spotlighted our familiar lives.
For a while, the color sent a fear through us,
Because we thought we were back home and separated.
Soon, we drove to where the hills before us
Had only unfamiliar colors and unfamiliarity consoled.
We, close together, looked out the car window,
Saw it was snowing during July in the Gran Grasso.


To understand,
Go not to parents,

But go to a patch of wild weeds,
Among the weeds,
Concentrate on the different shapes of these wild weeds.

On how many different shades of green these wild weeds have.

On the insects that visited these wild weeds.

Concentrate on the winged, concentrate on the unwinged.

Then when you speak again
Listen to the language you are speaking,
The language you always spoke,
You will find
Your old language
To be without meaning and a stranger.

Issue 10

John Sweet


here where
the streets all run
blue to the river

where the needle crawls
blind through
forgotten back yards
searching for the
one true vein

every one of these houses
is for sale
every one of these children

and do you remember the year
of the burning girl?

it never ended
just spread from town to town
like beauty reversed

do you remember the
season of rust?

you do if
your sister lost her
unborn child
and maybe now you drink
too much

maybe you lock
the bedroom door and cry
while your own children
scratch to be let in

there is no future
so bleak it
can never come to be

indian summer

or october
which is the smell
of wet sunlight
on blacktop

which is the uneasy rush
of waiting to be
a father

of falling from an
impossible height over
some vague expanse
of wasteland

suddenly beautiful
just when it no
longer matters

shaped by fire

she is less
what she was

she has been
shaped by

has been
broken down
then put back
together and
no one is

no one is
telling her

we are all
too busy
turning away

in the afternoon of bitter confessions

in the season of myths
i am empty

in the afternoon of
bitter confessions i remain

these are the walls we
call home and
beyond them
the sky is white

the sun has lost something

is warm but only faintly
like an almost forgotten memory
and the trees all shimmer
beneath it

and the story is yours
and you tell it

the suicide of a friend
or maybe the overdose

maybe the body found
shortly after midnight in any
pointless upstate town

the face black
the fingers rigid
around something

a steering wheel or a
bible or a pack of
and the air is sweet through
these open windows
and i am not
a compassionate man

am not the man you married

my eyes are pale green
my teeth white and even
my smile an angry thing

i could hold you
but don't

could tell you
a story of my own but
choose not to

i have become my
father's son

desperate poem from the season of rust

a small song sung softly
for this woman found
raped and strangled in her bed

an empty gesture
for the living
to comfort themselves with

take it with you
to the hill of fifteen crosses

take it to
the missing girl's door on
an overcast day in september
eight years after the fact

tell her parents that
you believe in redemption

tell them that the spirit holds
more weight than the bones

realize finally
how worthless your lies
really are

myself a bastard son

what i give you is the world
in terms of cancer

people devoured
and objects destroyed
and the simple truth that there
is no cure

that the children next door
stand on the side of the street and
dare each other to touch the
decomposing remains of
a small animal

and this is nothing new

it's where we've come
from the burning of witches and
the lynching of slaves

it's the idea that democracy
by itself
is enough to save us

and i believe in love
but i believe in money too

i believe that beauty
can only be defined by the ugliness
that surrounds it

consider that every year of your life
has been defined to some extent
by war

by the deaths of both
loved ones and strangers

and in the kitchen
the faucet drips and
in the back yard
a cautious version of the sun

the faint shadows of
buildings and of trees

the sound of an airplane

the sky
suddenly luminous with

letter to kurt cobain, seven years dead, on his 35th birthday

fuck this
idea of heroes

fuck this idea
of gods
of any kind

do you agree?

do you

i can't hear

the moment with clarity, but no definition

or else the boy
walks into his house
to find his brother murdered

his mother dead by
her own hand

blood everywhere
but nothing spelled out

nothing left whole or

the future enormous

faith in nothing: a confession

or the smell of slowly
decaying houses
in these first warm days of fall

the unthinking weight i place
on april's heart

and what i can't
seem to shake are the
last meaningless words i spoke to
this man i know before he
went home and put the gun
in his mouth

do you understand that
i'm human?

it becomes harder to prove
with each passing year as the list
of people i would call friends
grows smaller and smaller

and did i have a childhood?

of course
but i can't seem to make
any connections between
the boy i was and the
man i've become

and i continue to
write these poems but what
any of them actually say
is an uncertain thing

what any of us choose
to do in the face of tragedy
seems irrelevant

i know i'm not the
only one to accept this
as truth

the age of pity, softly

this woman with a rope
around her throat
and her lover vanished

the shape of america pressing in
on this place i call home

and distance and speed
and the inevitability of addiction

a child found dead
in a cage

another found dead
in a closet

all of these bodies
covered with cigarette burns
and the constellations they form
when laid side by side

the man who insists that
nothing good can come from
obsessing over these atrocities
that define us

his belief in god
which saves no one

john sweet, 34, lives with his wife and 2 young sons in upstate new york. he has spent 2/3 of his life writing, and his work has appeared in literary publications both in the u.s. and internationally. his first full length collection, Human Cathedrals, was recently published by Ravenna Press. as a rule, he is opposed to a great many things.

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