Molly Fuller

The Neighborhood Psycho Dreams of Love

 

All the children on the block follow you like stray cats. I watch you caress their fragile heads, read them stories at the paint-peeling picnic table, toss them smiles. You make them feel so safe.

I want to press the ruffled edges of the hem on your dress to my cheek. I want to caress your fingers, one by one, stuff them in my mouth. Pull one string of hair at a time, count each strand.

I would lock you in my closet; keep your polka-dotted panties in a shoebox under my bed. (I saw them once when you were bent over, pulling groceries out of your trunk). I offered to help, but you said, "I'm fine."

I watch you smoke on the front stoop. I want to be the unfiltered tobacco on your lips. Your tongue, lovingly licking over me, fingers pinching me close for a moment, before you flick me away, into the dirt.

I want to bury you in my yard, under the Japanese maple; your crimson lipstick matches the fiery red of the leaves in the fall. I would plant flowers in your ribcage each spring to match your bountiful heart. I would rub your left, middle finger, knucklebone all day long, like a worry stone to ease my fears.

This is love, I think, rolling down my car window, offering you a light for your cigarette, holding my breath as you lean your face toward the flame.


Sammy Greenspan

In Love With Julian Assange at the End
of the World

You who hate the spotlight find yourself suddenly thrust onstage, greeted by flashbulbs when you'd hoped for a friend, years since you switched from the New York Times to Al Jazeera English and stopped caring whether paranoid suspicions could be true or if government surveillance could trash your life or what cocked up charges might be brought, when you trip and slip into a strangely familiar rabbit hole and everything rushing past seems perfectly normal—the faces peering as you tumble, smear in your eye like watercolors running—and someone thrusts out a squashed cup of water as if you are running a marathon, and you choose to believe they've assembled to cheer you on (in lieu of the usual baseline presumption of hostile intent) and now that there's nothing left but the falling and falling some more, from terror and boredom you convince yourself this dream will wake you, soon, with a start, but nothing stops happening, there is only falling, as every headline asserting the collapse of the known world flashes past like an endless tickertape wrapping Times Square, till even these fly up and out of sight leaving darkness and the walls rushing past, finally, and finally, you are alone you are falling you are falling alone, so give up then and lean into the fall, remember how they taught, at the riding stable, to fall properly, no tensed limbs, no mouth wide with scream, just let go and let the ground find you, and when it does, hit and roll, and when it does, hit and roll and don't forget to breathe, and know that by breathing what is meant is laughter, that in the end laughing is the only thing that will break your fall.


Susan Grimm

Organism

I have left the sea. I am no longer the sea. Not the fish with its scales or the sea with its waves like overlapping plates on the hutch. All the boneless arms reaching from too far down. And the earth. What kind of life was that? Things always sprouting. Hailstorms and broken flowers. Dear antelope, their hooves on the move, leaving cut prints behind. As they should, as they should. Now the sky. Not because God. Not because above, for if gravity holds our feet we can swing from the earth as if from a trapeze. A sudden rush of blood and well-being—the clouds not garments but confusions. Our hair, limp petals, lifted away or standing on end.




Bob Kunzinger

When You Lied

It was like tossing a lit match onto dry leaves: You only set one on fire you said. But it was like a game of dominoes. It was like infectious laughter, like a rock slide, like one loose brick at the bottom of a wall. When you didn't answer the phone each time I called, I could only assume. I've never been one to doubt. Never questioned. Never a suspicious man. Ever. No. Except since you lied. You only set one on fire you said, but don't you see? Can't you feel the heat? It's still burning. Now I am all of that, and that's your fault. When you didn't call back right away; when you had to stop after work to talk to a client; when you decided to go shopping and the mall was too loud to hear the phone when I called; when you left papers on your desk and had to go back, when you took an extra day for the convention, when you found a new place to get coffee but couldn't remember the name or address, when you opened a new email account, when you turned your ringer off at night for the first time, when you turned the other way the other day when the other guy from your office walked toward us. You said the wind blew something in your eye at just that moment. Could be. Maybe. I mean, it's possible. You may really be that sorry for that lie and it may really be a new start and you may really be wide open now. But really, I'm just guessing, and to be honest, you're not worth it.



Kirk Nesset

Café Perpendicular

After the rain routed us,
after crouching in stoops
with bums and trisexuals—
high on air and cascades,
mangling English and
French—we found the café
and pots of wine and
the time to kiss came
and we did and you hid
with your lips and wet
maps; and the wine tipped
in its white plastic cup,
and the man on the bike
we saw climbing the cloud-
shrouded mountain sails
head over wheels, unbrok-
en, unbruised; and whatever
you dabbed on my cheeks
in broad lines remains;
and in the rain's pulse
something still sings.


Mahalia Shoup

Disappearing

 

Black sand in the bucket outlines your coast, recedes back into paper trails, gum wrappers, styrofoam, and addicted wastes of lined cardboard padding the ocean, shielding it from the sun. On Sundays, you genuflect, your knees clad with religiously calloused caps, cirrus clouds of dead skin and the chanting echoes in empty cathedrals corroborating the air in a kind of put-on generosity as soiled fingernails by the corner call the light for red and beg the yellow to hasten it to a stop. To a stop. Stopping constantly in gas stations, the fueled pace of impatience leading to seventy-five miles of blinking striations, of movements, of shifting gesticulations as the smoothie spills on the carpet next to the graphic novels, the dog-eared textbooks, the genuine hankering for the fifth scale on the parallel lines of music. Hola you say, hola. You think. You think of the emptiness of cupboards. You think of the music. Of your head. Of your heartlessness. You think of the hopes that once filled your books. All you can think of is the intellectual discourse of thinking. Of the very fabricated narrativity of your life. Of the fragmented memories you weave in and out like discarded patches with bits of mirror, of thread, of the rustling stitches of imagination. You think. But the sweeping unexplained polyphony of silence fills the hourglass cups as blank sand washes away.



Dawson Steeber

There's rain on the window

and I sit here, gypsy hand,
in the dull lamp light.
The tires of passing cars shush
down the brick road and
I listen to you splash
and softly sing
in the tub. I think
of the other women
I've listened to in
the tub or the shower or
sitting on the toilet, and
I think how I hope
you're the last. Then
you come out
of the bathroom still
a little wet, towel
held tight in front of
you
and I watch
the back of your long nakedness
walk
down the short hall and
into the bedroom
light. Tiny wet footprints darken
the floor. Then I think of
what will happen when
our bodies finally give in
to the tyranny of gravity
and years .
I take another puff of
grass and go
to you
where you wait
air drying
supine on that big brass bed;
come to you
like a hungry cat
at the door.


Mary Weems

Granddaughter

Grandpa lived his whole life in work clothes, long johns and a hat. In the fall, a stingy brimmed, dark grey felt with a 2-inch wide black band. In the summer, an almost yellow straw—short brim, narrow dark blue band. Grandpa was bald and protected his head from the sun while smoking filterless Camels and drinking red, Wild Irish Rose from brown paper bags he hid from Granny. Ever lose someone you love so much you can still hear them breathing 32 years later? Grandpa lived his life like a prayer for families. Gave his wife, kids and us grandkids most of his time, most of his money, most of himself, the space he left wide open, lonely as a single streetlamp.

 


Brian R. Young

Truth

a macaw calling
             attention to herself

unhidden as she's made
             by her plumage

not like most
             abstractions—ugly inside—

but bits of hollow bone hung
             like Christmas lights with veins

imitating a voice
             when humans are near

mostly to discourage them
             from killing her