defeat of purpose by Jess Kangas

listen close,
because we’re
three minutes
away from the
messiah coming
and my name
is on her boot
and you’re going to
want to know why.

it all started
harmlessly,
and then fire rippled
my teenage face
like an electric surge
of candy
proportions.

if this doesn’t make sense,
it’s not going to,
and I apologize for
twisting words into foul play
and smoking up a storm on
your mother’s piano last week.

but ten days ago,
i came across a box,
blue, leather, unusual
with diamonds on the corners.
it puzzled me and inside
were all your thoughts-
every one of them.

i know where you went that Monday-
and why you don’t like me
wearing buttoned shirts,
and how you laughed at your father’s
death not knowing what it meant.

listen, I’ve only got
about thirty-two seconds left
and I know you’re going to try
to lather me in calm bubbles
and sweep me up, so I’ll
hold still the night,
but these actions
are too devoted.

no, you and i
will part and perhaps
you’ll live in high peaks
of pearl colored satisfaction
while
i delve into the horrors
of my charred body
cracking over street corners,
mixing with the tar like
how you and i used to
dance.

 

 

Jess Kangas is a strawberry siren poet located in Buffalo, NY. Her poetry is rich in sound, structure and secrets.

 

Photograph by Nessa Land.

Clothes Make the (Wo)Man by Devon Balwit

“It was a hat for the great and lonely” —Hein Donner

Where is my page to arm me for the day,
fastening greaves and hauberk? Where
my factotum? Must I do everything myself?

I lean towards the mirror, draw on a mustache,
powder my sideburns to be taken seriously.
A wig adds gravitas. I oil both smirk and frown.

One never knows what face will be called for.
There was a time when I had only one, when
I stood in my nakedness before hoodlums.

I learned, swallowing teeth and coppery blood,
smearing snot and tears on coat sleeves.
Now, I dress as though I’ve already won.

No one dares tell me otherwise. And if
they snicker behind my back, no matter.
My suit is thick, my shoulders well-padded.

 

 

Devon Balwit teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and two collections out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry); We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/ Complicated (with the Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic), and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found or are upcoming in Cordite, The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, The Ekphrastic Review, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, Rattle, Posit, and more.

Grotesque by Amy Lowell

Why do the lilies goggle their tongues at me
When I pluck them;
And writhe, and twist,
And strangle themselves against my fingers,
So that I can hardly weave the garland
For your hair?
Why do they shriek your name
And spit at me
When I would cluster them?
Must I kill them
To make them lie still,
And send you a wreath of lolling corpses
To turn putrid and soft
On your forehead
While you dance?

 

(Amy Lowell, 1874 – 1925)

Nostalgic Hate by Sergio A. Ortiz

My ears listen to you lovingly
until the very end of love.

At the finish my hatreds harken,
my mind figures it’s a weapon

made of paper and tattoo ink.
I’d journey to East Asia and do us

love-making in origami.
Listen to the paper fold finely.

Imagine my ears there,
where the only thing that’s heard

is me disassembling, each time,
every time, at the end of tenderness.

Where hate is nostalgic
finalization of affection.

 

 

Sergio A. Ortiz (Featured Poet, August, 2017) is a two-time Pushcart nominee, a six-time Best of the Web nominee, and 2016/17 Best of the Net nominee. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Loch Raven Review, Drunk Monkeys, Algebra Of Owls, Free State Review, and The Paragon Journal. His chapbook, An Animal Resembling Desire, will be published by Finishing Line Press. He is currently working on his first full-length collection of poems, Elephant Graveyard.

 

 

Origami Spring folded and photographed by Jason 7825. 

Tender Buttons [A Light in the Moon] by Gertrude Stein

A light in the moon the only light is on Sunday. What was the sensible decision. The sensible decision was that notwithstanding many declarations and more music, not even notwithstanding the choice and a torch and a collection, notwithstanding the celebrating hat and a vacation and even more noise than cutting, notwithstanding Europe and Asia and being overbearing, not even notwithstanding an elephant and a strict occasion, not even withstanding more cultivation and some seasoning, not even with drowning and with the ocean being encircling, not even with more likeness and any cloud, not even with terrific sacrifice of pedestrianism and a special resolution, not even more likely to be pleasing. The care with which the rain is wrong and the green is wrong and the white is wrong, the care with which there is a chair and plenty of breathing. The care with which there is incredible justice and likeness, all this makes a magnificent asparagus, and also a fountain.

 

 

From Tender Buttons (1914) by Gertrude Stein, 1874 – 1946.

 

Trip to the Moon, Georges Melies. 

Day after Christmas (haibun) by Roberta Beary

We are at the mother of all sales, scrunched up against the hats, the no-good, the bad and the downright ugly. Try this one, she orders, and this, and this. There is no room to move, let alone try something on. With stone face, I lift my hands and obey. She is, after all, my big sister. Buy the red one, she points, yelling for all to hear, it makes your nose look less big.

snow-mush
my neighbor’s tree kicked
to the curb

 

 

First published in Shamrock Journal #6.

 

 

Roberta Beary identifies as gender-expansive, and writes to connect with the disenfranchised, to let them know they are not alone. She is the author of three books of poems: Deflection (Accents Publishing, 2015), nothing left to say (King’s Road Press, 2009) and The Unworn Necklace (Snapshot Press, 2007, 5th ed. 2017) which was a finalist in the Poetry Society of America annual book awards. Beary is the editor of the haiku anthologies fresh paint (Red Moon Press, 2014), 7 (Jacar Press, 2013), dandelion clocks (Haiku Society of America, 2008) and fish in love (Haiku Society of America, 2006). Her work appears in Rattle, KYSO Flash, Beltway Quarterly Review and Haiku In English The First Hundred Years (Norton, 2013). Beary’s work has been nominated for Best of the Net and multiple Pushcart Prizes. She lives in County Mayo, Ireland.

 

 

Haibun (俳文, literally, haikai writings) is a prosimetric literary form originating in Japan, combining prose and haiku. –Wikipedia