JENNIFER ACKER I feel ecstatically like a living slice of the fossil record, several eras compressed into one vertical stack, beheld and existing simultaneously. Four generations of women reading and rereading and passing on the same sappy, gently humorous stories.
VIEVEE FRANCIS There is a sister whose voice is gentle as a lullaby. A lulling. Even when angered she won’t yell. A particular upbringing that eschews the loud, though such a woman can be found embracing those whose voices swell in the streets.
ADAM PADGETT Melvin came upon a man frozen and dead out in the interior, perhaps caught in a snowstorm he hadn’t anticipated. Melvin hooked his sled to a birch tree. His team of dogs sat and panted, tongues spilling out of their mouths in rosy lengths.
DANIEL TOBIN So we lift the cat tenderly / indoors, our sweet, beloved predator / hard-wired for the hunt, and lean in closer. / Tiger, zebra-like the transverse lashings, / each a spray of onyx gold-licked at the edge.
FATIMAH ASGHAR A spell cast with the entire / mouth. Back of the throat / to teeth. What day am I promised? / Tomorrow means I might have her forever./ Yesterday means I say goodbye, again./ Kul means they are the same. / I know you can bend time.
LASHONDA KATRICE BARNETTThey often called a hearse as backup to transport accident victims, including those who survived. He left out that whites always rode in the ambulance; the hearse was for coloreds. Harvell said it was his first time getting such a call; probably they called white funeral homes first.
WILL PRESTON It’s a rare day that a ghost town makes headlines. Ghost towns, after all, are not particularly newsworthy. They’re deserted scraps of places, melancholy indicators of bad land or failed enterprises. In many cases, almost nothing remains.
LAWRENCE RAAB “Time means nothing,” he announced, and that/ seemed important to him, although I/ was of the opinion that time was important. / But for him it must have meant / getting older. And I felt sorry / that he didn't see that.
SUSANA FERREIRAHer family may have tried to shield her from her father’s struggles with addiction, disguising car rides to pick up methadone as family field trips, but she knew. All the kids in school knew.
STEVE BARBARO Beard-barnacled, chokingly-fixed, almost somehow stupid, yes, / almost like will itself pushed to the extreme of its own / absence, almost like presence perpetuated so as to obliterate
COLIN CHANNER Basil from a pot on the veranda, / over-priced pinoli and pimientos / pressured into dust, / brassy olio from TJ’s rumored virgin, / Greek alleged, / Israeli sea salt from Whole Foods / and Parmigiano-Reggiano / from that shoppe in Wayland Square.
KENAN ORHAN In Ivan’s bedroom are forty-seven photographs of beaches, rectangles of sand and sun. I count them every time I visit my friend, and he kisses them like beautiful women each night. He passes me a bottle of vodka and opens his own.
BETSEY GARANDI always work in series. It’s how I develop and investigate ideas: a journey with the departure recognized but the destination unknown. ... Often, I’ll have a seed of thought—working with notions of resonance, balance, and continuum—that grows and develops as I move from piece to piece.
JOHN FREEMAN I tell it so many times / on Tenth Street, over lunch / in a bar, to tender eyes, / it begins to sound / like a piece of news— / but once I decide / I’ll tell it how / it happened— / how she starved to death, / mumbled her pain.
MATT SALYER Check me on fleek like the night / kitchen mothers, pucker and hum some; come, / I like to liquor louche; let’s watch the flock / of spring-heeled bound as borough cabs / exhaust their carbon phantoms like a gauche / of fuck.
LOREN GOODMAN A student once/ Asked me: what/ Is a poem? And/ I looked at the/ Student’s face—
L. S. KLATT The lifesaver found himself on a fire escape reading / a set of instructions. Step 1 directed him to match / the conflagration in his mind with a facsimile / that appeared in a diagram on the page. / That much was obvious, but Step 2 required careful
DANIEL LAWLESSA wonderful thing to imagine: / A magic carpet, no Ali Baba. / Just the shriek-shape of it
ANYA VENTURA There were drawerfuls of tiny stuffed birds, their feet tagged and bound with ancient twine; a crest of bleached animal skulls arranged from smallest to largest, from deer mouse to badger.
MARIAM WILLIAMS And I remember the first slap that followed the slur, how soft/ were the fingertips, so slick with oil and sweat the burning mark/ seemed to reassure both ‘Know your place’ and ‘This, too, shall pass.’
ALBERTO DE LACERDO SCOTT LAUGHLIN The soft whisper of a river/ Mingling slowly/ With another river: a force/ Surging around us/ The profound peace/ Of this natural rhythm
MEGAN MAYHEW BERGMAN What if I told you some of the most enlightened women I knew took to the beach and spread oil across their shining décolletage in order to receive the divine? To place themselves in the present and in the path of nature?
MARIA TERRONEThe child in the rail-rimmed bed / was crying out in the night, / his stuffed toy fallen beyond reach, / and pretending to sleep, I felt his bottomless sorrow / as my own.
MIK AWAKE Became a skinhead / a year after he moved from / Bumblefucktucky. / Hit me with his cast. / Hurt people hurt people / often with their hurt parts. / Who broke his arm? / His step-dad step on him? / They was poor, but they was white. / A black eye was the only / color he…
KIRSTIN ALLIO I looked like my mother the night she crawled all the way across the plastic floor of her shared room at Shoreview, bloodless as an opossum, looking for death, and finding it when she reached the door they cruelly left open to the low-ceilinged, florescent-singing corridor. They told me she expired at the threshold, and with all my…
NICHOLAS FRIEDMAN[T]he endgame that is neither lost nor won, / but brings itself to bear on every creature / with rules we never could quite settle on.
LOREN GOODMAN If I don’t know my problem’s address, I find it out, and I go there without warning. My problem could be sleeping—don’t matter, I go there without calling, without giving my problem any heads up.
MICHAEL BYERS The house in Hewer was three stories, much larger than they needed, and full of odd vacancies, as though the Jenkinses, from whom Paul and his wife were subletting, had planned to be away much longer than a single semester.
JAMES HOCH Sunday, there she goes again, toddling / out the door, off the back deck, tumbling / in her church dress, a field of hand- / painted green stems and yellow flowers,
ALISON PRINE I want to learn to write about the loves / that haven’t died—yellowed paperbacks / with broken spines, the stillness of the lake / from the fishing pier on winter mornings, / the people in this small city / I sometimes recognize on the sidewalk / a decade after our bar shut down.
NAUSHEEN EUSUF Here are the steps leading down to the lake/ choked with water hyacinths crowding/ out the lilies, and algae thick as serum.
MARIA TERRONE Such an adrenaline rush to find / myself alive / this seventh time, injected / with glee on the stretcher, / making my usual “I’m o.k.” calls, / and thinking I'd heard the surgeons' banter
JOSEPHINE ROWE It was the summer that all the best cartoons went off the air, swapped for Gulf War broadcasts in infrared snippets, and your mother started saying things like I used to be pretty, you know? Christ, I used to be brave.
LAWRENCE RAAB Animals dream, but of what we do not know… / Maybe some think back, / maybe others regret. But what about guilt? / Does it play a part in their kingdom? / …In one night / moles can dig tunnels 300 feet long, / while all that time we’re awake / brooding about the future…