Anger Management Disclaimer
All the views about
to be expressed –
thoughts formerly held within
the tarry recesses of my
alter-ego, that other id,
and rightly classified
the split personality
to shot gun
who cut me off last week –
into the tip
of my tongue
and are necessarily those
of my more gentile,
The Body Wants
But if that’s what the body wants, to be
dead and buried—worm-meal and fertilizer—who am I
to argue? His body quit. His mind was there until the end or
until the morphine kicked in, anyways. His mind
knew what the body wanted and wanted it in that resigned
yet fearful way,
the way my mind wants what my body craves
—you—but my mind doesn’t care for the pain
of wanting but not having you and so, fearful
that this kindred spirit fucking will likely end
up hurting us all—you, your girl, Ri, and me—but
not more than not giving in now, the mind resigns
itself to the body, to the way you feel against me—
a little like death, every time.
I am afraid to love you, Ri, certainly,
that is part of it. Watching Grandpa die
these last seven years, watching
his body shrink as the heart struggled
to pump, listening for the phone
at 1 AM, finally turning it off
in the terror of not knowing when
it would happen. As it happened,
it wasn’t a pre-dawn call
like the first time, 3 AM, and mother’s
voice—Get up. Your Grampa’s dying.
Midday. The sun bolted bright in the sky.
False alarm. A week later the real call.
A voicemail. Early evening.
And you weren’t here. I cannot forgive
that. My family at his bedside when he passed.
And me, alone, in DC. The same
as when you went into surgery
two years ago for a kidney transplant.
The sun also shining that day, I sweated
through the thin linen of my shirt
in the unusual March heat wave, knowing
that you were dying faster than me—still are.
Frank Left Myra For Another Woman
Bold women don’t need tickets.
They can brush by the usher
without a hint of guilt or shame.
Best seat in the house
is always there to plunk down into.
They order someone to move if the have to.
Take two seats even, one for all their stuff.
Bold women can look around
in the dim pre-show light,
decide who they would rather be with,
voung hunk or interesting looking older man.
They can shunt their prey’s companion aside
without a second thought,
cuddle close to their new plaything.
When the show begins,
bold women don’t have to
stop what they are doing.
They can chat loudly.
They can sing along to the tunes;
even if they don’t know the words.
Talking back to actors on stage
is another option.
Truth is, they can join the cast,
be the leading character in the play.
Or just stay where they are,
let the play come to them.
For bold women do as they please
and even Shakespeare has to go along with them.
If anyone tries to be bolder,
they just shout out “Sit down in front!”
And poor Myra is standing behind.
And still she sits as ordered.
Charles Bukowski’s Bounty
You could write a poem about this:
That was the story of his life.
The story of his stories, something more
authentic than life, which is what Art can be.
Failure a half-empty amphitheater where ideas are born.
Anyone can orchestrate chaos but it takes guts
to own it, even if you can’t describe or explain it.
Between spilled beers and bruised hands there’s a question:
What kind of world would you create, even if you couldn’t?
Take that mattress, out in the street, second-hand
salvation for those disinclined to inquire, but unafraid
to inherit; in this part of town everyone knows shit
You throw into a dumpster doesn’t go there to die.
There’s always someone hungrier or less happy, someone
who will not go quietly into that precarious night,
grateful to have the things you no longer need.
The women were not unlike the poems and stories,
they were the gold you spun from the machine we call
Misfortune, or being brave enough to figure out you own time
even when you can’t make money; money and time own you
Unless you flip the script, sucking & fucking the sweetness
Life lets you steal when it’s looking the other way.
Content to sleep or screw or imagine better realities, lying
on a sullied mattress, unworried by their stains or the untruths
they could tell, contaminating you in unintended ways, because
we share everything anyhow, the ugliness most of all.
And miserable men become mice scurrying away from that evidence,
scared to reconcile the ways we made these fictions of ourselves
in our own likeness way before the world ever got involved.
And that’s why well-fed and wordless sheep pace silently inside
extravagant pens, erected to secure them from all the surprises
cops and cars and banks and bibles can’t protect or serve.
Or prevent the moon from sweet-talking the tides to turn or
the sun, setting without comment over shallow graves dug
With dirty fingernails, bleeding insolently onto dry-cleaned
suits: symphonies of all the seconds and cents spent, hoping
to hide the sick and satisfied smile of a Universe that will throw
all of us, ultimately, into immaculate recycling bins where,
once we die, starving saints turn us into stories and poems.
None the Wiser
She learned to make a “pop”
with her finger and her cheek
-full of air
two summers ago in New England
when she stood in Mim’s kitchen
and watched her toss salad
-barefoot and sun-screened
with her hair, of which only some,
fit into a rubber-band at the back of her lightbulb head
She is an atmosphere- holding so much moisture;
A “cumulonimbus” she would say
with her pixie voice
of five years wise
She will pour forth at just the right time
with nourishment for the earth.
Home is not an abstract concept.
Long before the extended-care facility
Became home, home had become
An exquisite corpse composition, a place
Made of disparate memories stretching
Along eighty years like clothes on a backyard
Antique clothesline. The cost
Of the special wheelchair was
Immaterial, yet worth it to find
The nursing assistant had to work
To get it, and her, past the generous
Door. Mother thought her mother
Was the woman transfixed at the clubroom
Television because it had a hypnotic flicker;
And we all thought, yes,
There is a cowling resemblance. Again
We tell her to keep her legs
On the chair’s rests – the elevation
Helping forestall edema. And when
Out of confusion she begins to cry,
Each of us models the thief of tears,
Holds onto her sleeve like we should do better;
Like all of us, even she, had homes
That were physical and chemical and memory,
And waiting predictably at the ends
Of darkening lanes.
Whose daughter is it?
Not my daughter.
My daughter would come for me.
Wearing the brown sweater with red
Highlights, maybe a tan skirt
Too short, but forgivable – after all
She is married to a stable man –
And those heels I can never understand
How she walks in.
My daughter would come
Sword in hand, slaying
The snakes you have placed
In these scrubbed-shiny woods,
Even with what you have arranged
To keep my daughter away.
I hear their blue hissing, and when
She comes I will skillfully point
Each out to her – Mr. Blue Serpent,
Mr. Red Serpent, old Gray Fang,
The four-headed eel with its
One diamond tail. When she is done,
With all your snakes besetting me
Passionately slain, you will go to her –
And seeing that the brown sweater,
Tan skirt, and ridiculous shoes
Are not even marginally tarnished –
Will, purely for the love of the craft,
Kiss her spitefully on the mouth:
Her husband being so stable
And un-light in the whirlwind she craves,
With your forked tongues entangling
Twist for twist, knot for knot,
A band neither husband nor snake
Can fathom much less untie,
A joy in the horror of accomplishment.
It is not for my escape she will come,
But for this, for my satisfaction.
Snake skin: this is not my daughter.
Adrienne Unger received her MFA from George Mason University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Chautauqua, Passager, The Harvard Review Online, The Southampton Review, FLARE: The Flagler Review, Oberon and Alehouse.
Anastasia Stelse is a native of southeastern Wisconsin, the former assistant editor for “The Intentional,” and a graduate from the MFA program at American University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in creative writing at the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in “Poet Lore,” “Sou’wester,” “New South,” “Fairy Tale Review,” and “Hawai’i Pacific Review,” among others. Follow her on Twitter @AnastasiaStelse
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident. Recently published in Sheepshead Review, Studio One and Columbia Review with work upcoming in Louisiana Review, Poem and Spoon River Poetry Review.
Sean Murphy has been publishing fiction, poetry, reviews (of music, movie, book, food), and essays on the technology industry for almost twenty years. He has appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered” and been quoted in USA Today, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Forbes and AdAge. In addition, he is an associate editor at The Weeklings, where he contributes a monthly column. He writes regularly for PopMatters, and his work has also appeared in Salon, The Village Voice, The New York Post, The Good Men Project, All About Jazz, AlterNet, Web Del Sol, Elephant Journal, FIVE:2:ONE, 805 Lit + Art and Northern Virginia Magazine. He is currently the writer-in-residence at Noepe Center for Literary Arts at Martha’s Vineyard. Murphy’s best-selling memoir PLEASE TALK ABOUT ME WHEN I’M GONE was released in 2013. His novel NOT TO MENTION A NICE LIFE was published in June 2015, and his first collection of non-fiction, MURPHY’S LAW, VOL. ONE, in spring 2016.
To learn more about Sean Murphy’s writing and to check his events schedule, please visit seanmurphy.net/.
Lindsay Knapp works to create children’s curriculum and mentorship programs within the southeast Wisconsin area. She cares for four children of her own. In the throws of life and musli and (organic) ketchup fights, she holds a key position within her community as a Wellness Advocate. Working to create written materials and spoken lectures that will empower community members with solid education around natural healthcare, she seeks to take “niche’ hippy” naturopathy into mainstream “housewives of Wisconsin” real life preventative lifestyle. Real writing, though, the kind that carries her like a hammock in August, is creative and poetic. She aspires (with trepidation) a youtube channel of spoken word and an online magazine.
Ken Poyner’s collections of short fiction, “Constant Animals” and “Avenging Cartography”, and his latest collections of poetry, “Victims of a Failed Civics” and “The Book of Robot”, can be obtained from Barking Moose Press, www.barkingmoosepress.com. He serves as bewildering eye-candy at his wife’s power lifting affairs. His poetry lately has been sunning in “Analog”, “Asimov’s”, “Poet Lore”; and his fiction has yowled in “Spank the Carp”, “Red Truck”, “Café Irreal”. www.kpoyner.com.