Graceland

Threads of your hair and her hair mingle on the carpet. The window is open and you can smell the strip. You suck it, then her (asleep beside you), into your lungs. Married. The suite is disorienting and you miss your house. You and your wife’s now. The all-white bedroom you’ve fashioned. The only set of rooms that will remain private when you die. Your daughter will insist. Years from now everyone will see the peacock glass, down to the den and the three televisions. Imagine the burgers on the stove. But no one will know this. Precious quiet hour.

Emma Winter

05.22.17

Maturity in the Time of Climate Change

I am small, yet my little finger is big enough to change the direction of winds. I have nothing really to say, yet waves of radiation pulsate perpetually from my mouth. Oh, I am busy, so busy, spinning out the diminutive fabric of my business, thinking it cozies everything but knowing beyond admitted awareness that it only covers the tiny openings of my eyes. My tantrum-ed feet, inches long, spider off quakes, and dust storms block the sun as my hair dishevels. You can't win a power struggle with an insecure child, but tell that now to the shouting earth.

John Blossom

03.24.14

Stuck on the Vipassana Mat

My friend Chris says life happens off the meditation cushion. Accomplish love he says, as if it's an achievement, like enlightenment, available daily along with commuting and a paycheck. Oh, but throw in prayer, he says - that's key. I stare intently for hours at what is without deeply wanting what is not yet. I like my complications fully complicated, my efforts at effortlessness concentrated, regular. The price of my animal's consciousness with awareness is hours on the mat. This morning a black kitty curled up on my crossed legs and fell asleep purring out her encouragement for the resident amateur.

John Blossom

03.14.14

Mother Sister Sandwich

My mother asks again and again if we will see our mother today. You mean your mother, I ask? She’s sure that we have the same mother. And it doesn’t matter if I tell her gently. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the moment we are in. The blue eggshell of the sky. The smile she releases slowly as we eat our Vietnamese sandwiches from the truck parked on Wilshire. What a treat to be with the woman who gave me life but thinks that I’m her sister. For now, we are sisters eating sandwiches, in and out of conversation.

Deirdre Mendoza

03. 7.14

Instructions for Melting Yourself

Place finger in sauce pan on low. Gradually add entire hand. With other hand, combine dirt from childhood home with piece of favorite camp shirt. Song that's made you cry. Page of a book that's made you laugh. Graduate to larger pot, seasoning with salt. Add water. Not enough to submerge. Leave it all behind. Boil down. Break down. Steam away doubt. Simmer away fear. Boldly blend in vulnerability and bubble. Pour out on warm concrete. Harden in the sun. Allow ample time for this. Sleep in a bed of flowers. In a bed of your making. Trust someone's arms.

Lydian Blossom

03. 5.14

Poem of the unpoem

I am reading a poem, or I am told it is a poem, but, anyway, I am reading it until. Until this, this thing. This, this, this, illegible, unintelligible, ineligible thing before me brought. Tribute?! Factcheck. Bullshit a bullshitter. Unconscionable. Stumblingblock: fallback: encyclopedia. No, indeed. As I had thought! Unconscionable. There is no such a place. Crumbling of lyric. Dissipation. Suspend belief? The truth reveals, and it is that there is no river called by that name no it’s another place another state and because of the mistake some huge chunk of life gone missing some huge something else revealed.

Alex Riddle

11.14.13

Stand-ins

Now I don’t have a face for the movies. I have good cheekbones and my profile's alright but I don’t have a face for the movies. I’m standing in for Loretta Dugal cause we have the same skin color. I’m in a car with this man Mitchell who is the same color as Ian Clarke. Mitchell starts to play like the car is really running and we’re going on a trip somewhere. And even though it’s just a warehouse I close my eyes like we are driving. And even though it’s just lights I make believe I’m covered in sun.

Charlotte Hornsby

11.12.13

Dinner With Margaret Atwood

The conversation was polite--she's Canadian after all--but surface. Her interest seemed genuine when I mentioned I wanted to be a writer, the way a mother is interested in her five-year-old's finger painting. I needed to flaunt my understanding, to let her know that I get it, and hated to think I was being patronized. She tolerated my high school English critiques with all the grace that you'd expect, but as the food dwindled, my desperation grew. I felt like I was missing my chance, that somehow if I won her approval, everything would be okay. I would matter.

Decater Orlando Collins

11. 4.13

Shirley Shore, Due Soon

No one said before how strange this would be. Now everyone tells me, Strange is normal, usually smiling, excited for the future. But their strange is optimistic. Mine is neutral at best, teetering between awe and fear. It's strange to be alone then realize there is another, another heartbeat, an other here. Strange to be both I and we, to count as one or two as I or we please. Here we are, here I am: one waiting to be two. Does this, this connectedness, persist? Mother believes so. Our bond will weaken, she says, once you have your own.

Carol Cho

11. 2.13

Observatory Blue

OK, stormy remnant. Who brings milk to a star party? The astronomer takes his laser pointer and bends a wry flamenco across the dark. I'm at the end of my neck. I can't see one bean or jaunt of light. "I don't care." I don't think its wrong, but I can hold all of you except your eyes. Saturn may be a halo's paint; the long way to Venus is queued altogether wrong. This abrupt brisk feels citrus. Only the earth rounds under the different weathers. Hug me back, "You are here." There's no dot can accommodate such a stance.

Joe Milazzo

10.21.13