Sick Day

by Kevin Kuhlman

I wake up from a deep sleep with dried drool along my face
Your hair is a mess but you smile

Your breath is warm; your kiss heavily lies on my cheek
I roll out of bed, hardwood cold runs through my toes

You go for a run
I sit in my underwear watching a rerun of Married With Children

You return with sweat seeping through your tank top
You are beet red and smell of shampoo

I power through the breakfast that you make
It’s all organic shit but someone has to eat it

We run some errands, grab some mediocre iced coffee
You offer to pay and I won’t let that happen

The slightest grin grew along the side of your mouth
You turn to say something to me

I wake up again
Sweaty condensation riddles my blanketed legs

A brittle cough lazily erupts from the pit of my stomach
Phlegm gathers. I chew a little and swallow

God, I wish it were real.

Poetry Kicked Me In The Balls

by Jeremiah Walton

Poetry has set me down beside you
Poetry has kicked me in the balls
Poetry showed me I just can’t give up on you
Poetry pulled me out of depression
Poetry made me ejaculate prematurely
Poetry allows me to email dead people

HELL I GET IDEAS FROM GOD DAMN DISNEY MOVIES

but conversation,

CONVERSATION IS POETRY
HUMANS ARE THE GREATEST WRITING PROMPT!

When writing a poem,
get it all out
and read it outloud
then destroy it!

The world is a black void
we are given upon the accident of birth
until the accident of death.

I fucking hate rhymes.

Poetry is a way to share what a Christian
wouldn’t tell a priest.

like a canker it came running

by Christine Tierney

that was the spring she’d decided. a plan unraveled from inside her. she tricked all the mirrors. nicked them with kitchen knives. made parts of her pay. she came close to lopping. grabbed fistfuls of droopy hip and just squeezed. there was so much shoveled in that begged to come out. it wasn’t supposed to last. but what starts out as seed, (even sickly, spongesoppy seed) blooms. it got so bad that the knives rebelled and dulled. she was forced to use her teeth, even the yuckmucky rotten ones. teeth against glass? but when her teeth were all gone, paired down to grim nubs, she plucked out the bones in her sore and sorry mouth. one by one she washed off the ticks of meat and dark moussey cake. dried them by the mushrooming fire. she spent more than a fortnight sharpening her bones into stickpins shaped like her anger. it was fun. it was yummy fun. then one afternoon, when the dastardly world was at work, she jabbed each and every one those bones into her fatty, fatty heart.

It’s Not Exploitation if the Gist is Rueful

by RC Gray

It’s late, I said, that’s why I’m writing you.
But the room is empty,
and you’ve never been in it anyway,
which makes this feel selfish.
Capitalizing on our bungled chances,
the recent across-the-table glares
that screamed, Jesus Christ,
how can it still be you
after everything?

And how we used to be—
or rather, how I remember us.
Idiot kids in the South, burning
through daylight like bottle rockets.
Our confessional timing
an Abbott and Costello routine:
frustratingly cyclical and off.

It’s late, though, and I’m tired enough
to admit the real mistake I made
was loving you and knowing it.
Of having the foresight to recognize
what deep love is in a small town:
a shackle soldered shut,
the kind of cloistered irreversible
that rips everything after apart.

To Convince Myself You Were Gone

by Paige Cerulli

I canceled your subscription to Writer’s Digest
and when asked of the reason for the cancellation,
told the woman with the overly patient voice
that words weren’t cutting it anymore.

I stopped driving your car around the block
every weekend to keep it turning over smoothly. I placed
an ad in the paper and sold it to a man in his twenties who needed
something cheap but solid for grad school.

And when I’d given your clothes (most)
to Goodwill, and donated your books (most)
to the library, and paid off the last of the bills,
no longer sang along to your CDs on repeat,
had managed to stop listening for your footsteps
on the stairs, for your whistle,

the phone rang and before I could reach it, you came
flooding back to me:
Hello, you’ve reached…
We’re not here…
But we’ll get back to you.

Meanwhile Downstairs

by Chelsea Hodson

I hung my friend on the tree as a form
of preservation, an ornamental way of looking
at her from below. I was in the mood for worship
I confessed everything, forgot to use my stage name.
She knew the actual me, firing range old man playing me
that record in secret. Maybe I meant to give her my real name
dared her to blackmail me, give me something to live–
I shut up when I heard how my voice sounded. Somehow
somehow I gave her all my power somehow she
lives each day not using it. I told you
she was lovely beneath her dress I was low
on some bar unfit for this bond & I knew it. I knew
if I passed my friend down as an heirloom
generations would keep her safe, her eyes make
themselves valuable. You are sparkling
I said placing her on the branch, captive
applause sounding green. You are
my best friend
–as soon as I said it I knew it
was a lie, I didn’t need tenderness, I needed to be a letter
soaking in watercolor, hey what’s it like
to be above me? Taut bows old arrows aimed at the idea
of my friend’s DNA braiding itself up into myth
& pseudonym. My curiosity killed my desire
to decorate itself. The tree looked like I’d loved it.

the problem with believing in angels

by Andrew Hill

the problem with believing in
angels is that invariably you meet one
and she has Malibu Barbie’s tan with
the IQ of a plastic chair but you
just don’t care because one look and
you now believe in God

and you may be screwed up in your head
because you sat next to that oddball kid in seventh grade
on the yellow bus with wheels spinning out gloriously
who huffed paint and invited you over one day to huff too
and three weeks later you were a sick thirteen year old
suffering fainting spells from paint thinner high

this is when the visions started, scenes played out in your head
of loaded guns misfiring into pots of coffee, drenching the Folgers freaks
with caffeine and whatever the hell else is in coffee and coffee pots
this is when you started drawing, writing, and defacing books in the public library
not just any books, children’s books, as if you wanted an entire generation to grow illiterate

and as troubled as your childhood seemed and seems and will continue to seem
Ken’s wife – beach edition – stares into your eyes or maybe you stare into hers
because a chair is hard to read even when
you’re in love

YOUR PORCH

by Sara Khayat

We sat on your
porch and lit the
years on fire. Burned
them to the filter and
then to the ground.

Far too reckless with
the fires that we started
but you better believe
we were burnt out
or put out
(of our misery).

The years are
ashes stored
somewhere in
the hippocampus
or the amygdala
waiting for you to
want them or need
them.

And then the light
on your porch began
flickering and
fainting in and out of
consciousness and the
years began wilting and
wrinkling and the time—

Oh the time it passed by us
like a speeding car. We felt
the motion, helpless broken
down on the side of the road
with no place to go but
nowhere.