Issue 21 Poetry

Trap Street

By KAREN SKOLFIELD 

“[T]he existence, or non-existence, of a road is a non-copyrightable fact.” —Alexandria Drafting Co. v. Amsterdam (1997) 

Twitch of the cartographer’s hand and a street 
is born, macadam free, a tree-lined absence, 
paved with nothing but a name. No sidewalks, 
no chalk, no children’s voices, 
a fence unlinked from its chains, 
the cars unmoored, corn left to its rubble, 
some wandering mailman, a house unbuilt, 
the bricks unlayed, the mortar unmixed; 
of the things that hold more things together 
the cementitious crumbles on this street, 
the lime breaks from the shale, the shells 
from their marl and clay. On trap streets 
the rules of gravity bend, curve to the mountain 
or fight it, dog leg the impossible angle, 
ribbon the gulley, shimmer from heat, 
unspool. Cliff walk, some miracle mile 
meant only for goats, a meander of cloven hooves, 
a stitching of strip mines, red earth or white,
ground that, once spotted, we call disturbed

Trap Street
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Recollections

By ALEKSANDAR HEMON 

My father once asked me: How is it I can recollect
with utmost clarity what happened forty years ago, 
but not what I did this morning at all? I didn’t know, 

but I recognized I would always recall that moment.
It was late summer. We were driving to the country
to see my grandfather, now blind and demented,

Recollections
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First

By KEITH LEONARD

 

I fell in love and became        like those men in Plato’s Republic
who heard music for the first time        and began singing,
and sang beyond reason,         beyond dinner, beyond sleep,
and even died without noticing it,      without wavering.

First
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Ode to a California Neck Tattoo

By JOSE HERNANDEZ DIAZ

A man in a Chicano Batman shirt got a tattoo of the state of California on his neck. He rode his longboard to the tattoo parlor early in the morning. This was going to be his third tattoo. He also had a tattoo of palm trees on his chest and a skeleton on a surfboard on his calf. He smoked a cigarette as he arrived at the shop.

Ode to a California Neck Tattoo
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Sundown, Looking at My Estranged Cousin’s High School Yearbook Picture and All the Damage Done

By CARLIE HOFFMAN

 

No moon tonight but the white bells of a woman’s
            eyes squinting tacitly toward a camera, staring out

from the glossy page of a high school yearbook
            on a spring evening that stings like the elegy

Sundown, Looking at My Estranged Cousin’s High School Yearbook Picture and All the Damage Done
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We Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Talk About

By JESSICA FISCHOFF

I remember the first time I saw a vagina
on the white pitched walls of an art museum— 
Columbus, Ohio, mid-afternoon. I was five, maybe 
six, maybe a few months shy of my grandmother’s 
cremation, the day after my goldfish, Rosie, jumped 
down the disposal and my mother ushered me
from the kitchen before she turned it on. 
I remember the curve of my little neck
upwards, that lush flesh on display, all swollen 
and pink. I remember closing my lips
to the awe that overcame me, my mother finding 
my hand to lead me toward the wing of still-lifes, 
all those porcelain bowls filled with perfect fruit. 
I’ve studied the metaphors of this womanhood, 
learned the verses of ‘lady-like’, but I can’t stop staring 
at the memory. I remember how unnamable was
the feeling of the rope that hung the disc swing 
from my neighbor’s walnut tree as it caught 
between my legs, the pleasure in that pressure
before dinner. I remember lying on the shag
green carpet of my bedroom, two days before
my bat mitzvah, bleeding onto the towel
I’d placed beneath me, the red dress I’d wear
at the celebration hung from the door almost
as bright a shade as this rite of passage,
the first time I realized that most deadly
weapons have once been covered in blood.

We Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Talk About
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Bird Man

By MARIA TERRONE

“You were only waiting for this moment to be free.”
                       Lennon/McCartney, “Blackbird”

As a Bronx kid at a homeless shelter, he watched
a peregrine falcon devour a pigeon on the windowsill,

and what began in violence leapt to awe,
and awe begat beauty.

Bird Man
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The New Inexpressible

By PHILIP NIKOLAYEV

1

the inexpressible isn’t that which cannot
be expressed but that which will fall
expressed upon deaf eardrums meet with
sightless eyes centerfolded even
or on the front cover it will escape notice
and upon the face itself remain undetected
because mere expression isn’t all it takes
to be detected to be reasonably considered
expressed to others brothers sisters cousins
or indeed a disinterested passerby
hiding all in plain sight and only the fool thinks
no wait the fool does not even think that
no mystery is gone missing from his equation
a haze of sadness covering what is truly true

The New Inexpressible
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