tophotmovie

Heart Decay

By Brie Huling

I’m hiding inside my vestibule of hearts today—
among the lanceflower and sour purslane.

I am a little millipede with antennas like an old school radio

the weeds are wracked and riddled,
all wrapped around me.

I’m taking wild guesses about eternity
but there’s no reception
through all this
static:
all the racket blocked
by branches of the wishkisscolor tree
painted out back near the tired cathedral.

I am trying to forget you. Again.
I’m shouting!
I am eating flowers!
Suddenly!
Now.

A silhouette of a past is hanging from a limb of the sorry tree over there—
my vestibule is directly under this jacaranda.
When I …

Birthmark

BY PRABHAKAR VASAN

It is, again, unsafe.
At least, it is unclear.

animals, their dark forms when they crouch at the margins of the freeway

The city is charred, as
from a blast. Or the eyes are.
The mind is crumbling into
its own foundations. Or
the homes are. Waiting, even,
is a taut state, the drone
of current through a wire.

silent, tense, they search for a space in which to cross

And negotiations unravel.
Language, a dried gauze, fails
to keep this clean.
Exposes to the air the burnt
stump still raw. Flesh painful
just to look at. The burn wound.
Which refuses to scab over.
Endures like a birthmark.

how we must blur and roar past them

Any impulse must originate …

Yes No Yes

BY DIANE SCHENKER

Now is the winter of our inevitable results, unavoidably determined by prior conditions.

Essential? Absolutely. Logically. Required.

Convention, on the other hand, dictates plenty of things that are none of its business. Poke convention in the eye with a sharp stick.

Effects are not always what they seem. Beware faulty reverse engineering. It only seems logical.

S seh seh seh incessant abscess accede exceed concede proceed recede secede ancestor. S.

So what, that’s my motto. So fucking what.

Absolutely essential, needed,

Required—what small, scratchy volume contains the overlap of necessity and love? Will you tell me?

Yes I said yes I will Yes.

Consider

BY DIANE SCHENKER

Consider housekeeping, consider the rain. Consider
the fly dancing on the window. It herky-jerks its
relentless heartbreak of trying to get out.

A fall warbler appears on the seedy maple stuffing
itself for its long flight, feathers weathery dull in

post-connubial anonymity, hard to identify.
Consider the dirty window. You lift it to see more
clearly. The fly stumbles up with it, then out.

The warbler is gone but you can see the rain, its
needled finery gently wetting the patient, nodding
trees. They gossip in whispers among themselves.

Consider the lifetimes spinning out before you, each
small choice weights in one direction or another:

1) You stare out the window with notebook and
pen, channeling the array of tiny …

Composure

BY LUISA A. IGLORIA

Everything returns to a source:
gladness to the tree, fruit
to the cradle, flesh from the bone.

Water lashes the roofs in the town,
but also the pink and yellow roses
that appear as if out of nowhere

in a corner of the garden,
where once there was only
a hard rectangle of dirt. But

ask yourself how you truly feel,
what the bones in your ribcage
might be singing

in the silence of night
to each other, as they hold
the stricken heart in place.

Noise

BY CHERYL BURKE

Ever since the latest spot opened nearby, the limos leaked models onto the sidewalk, the guys in ties lined up the block, the girls in their hypodermic stilettos shouted redundancies, “I’m so drunk!” The patrons humped in front of my girlfriend’s building, blocking entry and the bar’s outdoor area was canopied in a din so relentless it formed a hardened shell, interrupting our intimacy and our arguments.

One night, kites flying high, we decided to penetrate the shell and leave our mark with feminine products. We placed our soiled tampons and panty liners into a plastic bag, added the rubberized contents of several never-used safer sex kits, …

Moonstreet

BY STEPHANIE SHERMAN

There were nights
when the moon
rolled down my nose,
paused at my lip
and slipped
down Arévalo street.

The children’s feet
confused it with a ball.
As they screamed “goal,”
it flew back among
the stars.

There were nights
when the moon
was melted with milk,
cinnamon and corn
in the big pots
at Floresta corner.

I drank it in a paper cup
with an empanada
covered with stars
and powdered sugar.

There were nights
when the moon
was everywhere.

***

CALLELUNA

Habían noches
cuando la luna
se resbalaba por mi naríz,
pausaba sobre mi labio
y se deslizaba
por Calle Arévalo.

Los pies de los niños
la confundían con una pelota
y volaba hacia las estrellas
mientras gritaban “gol”.

Habían noches
cuando la luna
se fundía con canela,
mote y leche hervida
en las ollas de la Floresta.

La bebíamos
en copas de papel
con empanadas,
cubiertas de estrellas
y …

Disciple

BY CHING-IN CHEN

Don’t know when
it began, the vision.
One by one, I let go.

My husband calls me
a crazy wife, bad
mother, my father

won’t speak to me.
I did not return
for mother’s funeral,

not
tainting
her spirit.

Twenty years, my
gaze through the
keyhole. I

gave up meat
and pleasure, wanting
my strong stalks

in old age. Listening
to Teacher, my mind
approached

the tunnel, truth.
People say we are
bad, but I am

learning to be
better. My family
cannot see

I love others
like my blood.
We surround

the consulate in the
rain, a prayer
band against

torture, why we
outside the subway
station delivering

the truth. Newspapers,
blood in the photos.

I accept they
do not understand

I have spent
twenty years
like a patient farmer

waiting for rain.

Now it’s my turn

To take up the camera.

Default

BY CAROLINE BERGER

Still
a
flare of anger

an
ache
of loss

a
phantom limb
feeling

whenever

she

reads

he

the default pronoun

striped of its
beautiful
ess
curves.

Dreamboat

BY KATE BERNADETTE BENEDICT

Where the bilge bled,
what the hold held,
how the stabilizers spread their cunning wings—
as Ship’s First Matrix
I was privy to all of it,
I had the Captain’s ear.
That’s why I was so pointedly wooed.
Red had done his homework, you see.
Red is not that bright
but he’s shrewd; he comes prepared.

Guest of the wedding, I accorded him access.
I ushered him aboard,
issued him a card key,
escorted him to the galley and the bridge.
Or he escorted me.
I had the time of my life, watching him levitate.
Only I could see it;
the able seamen hadn’t a clue
what cast that rosy light upon my cheek.

The ship went down that night
in the customary flames.
We watched from …

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