Affirmations

I told myself everything was fine
over and over as I walked across the street
against the light and the flow of traffic.
I was halfway across the intersection
before I realized anything was wrong.

Demolition site

here I am
arms crossed tightly against my chest
chin resting between my wrists
marveling at the demolition site
wondering how so much emptiness could be possible
how a structure could still stand
after being destroyed, emptied, and refilled so many times.

SUBURBAN SCUMLORDS

Dwayne used to be my brother
                          him and his alligator hair
                                     access points
                                        areas of soft space
                                                   Geometrica
              what do you think i did Darren?
                   i couldn’t help your body’s
                          candelabra from
                              watering out
              what do you want Dad
                  huh? honey you’re a
                          suckle oh
                                       sucker oh
                                                     sh../
i think Dad oh Darren oh Dwayne
               why do you use your eyelids as ashtrays?
                          and drape your not-so-rare sweat
               all on the black top?
what do you want me you
                                       used to be my brother Dad
               but then you grew out that mullet Darren
                          but then you became
no it isn’t
               no you aren’t an abnormality
                          no then i became
Duane watching you dance
               you go Duality
                          you kick it on that dance floor
                              you paint that hilltop marble
                          no you just can’t be stopped
                                       & what kind of corn do you
want as your side they made it all for you
                          oh yeah oh yeah now you’re
getting it
               Dude we used to be pals when where was i
     could have been                       oh man look at you go
                          tearing up that honey
                          saturating that milk no
                          that wasn’t me i jumped off that
                                       milk ship oh D-D
               ur just shredding now

as gone as gone can be

in some dreams, you can know what year it is without anyone having to say. think: something about a white station wagon in the middle of a field; something about a cream-colored interior torn up by stowaway rats. something about laying down beside it, your yellow hair turning to gold. o, and that little white dress of yours, the color of daisies and angel’s spit; the color of if i don’t move from this spot, somebody will have to find me. now, something about the ticks being bad this season. something about throwing up the sheets to expose sticky legs: the color of roses and girl’s blood. of pulsing and fingernail-pared.

rain or no rain

say we never transcend anxiety. are we any less heavenly for it? what if the curtains we draw upon our days remain white blinds for always? what if the night opens too wide and swallows the bicycle helmets and ash trays and plush toys of our youths? o, if only there were a bucket big enough for the sky to lean over. if only a feeling could be purged without risk of its more acerbic sister sitting in our throats for days. if only everything that had been clean about the past were not preserved, now, by a film of dense smoke and old skin. silly humans, always looking backwards so as not to fall on the shame-walk out of childhood’s shitty apartment. always believing we can survive in the most disillusioned of times: that, if need be, we could hack it in an abandoned township field, so long as it were somewhat beautiful. that we could build a stable home of scrap wood and arthritic bones. that we could gut our stuffed animals—that anybody could—so as to hide in them the ashes of every sensible instinct we’ve burned.

Night Redacted by Chelsea Hodson

prose poems by gustavo rivera

Transcendence stems from being rooted, my body has been harvesting this tumor for centuries, poor kids isolated from everyone, the world is more peaceful according to the numbers, the most amount of displacement, war, the length of time, the mark of disorder, the multiverse and all that is vague and expansive, shit looks so sad when you look back.

*

Tie up your skin, change the way I feel about snooping, my impulse to say I love you, feeding more data into the social contract, I don’t know how to date casually, it’s easier to give a fake address than not give an address at all, the emotional structure of a sixteen year-old, Google knows what kind of porn every American likes, I like to be offered books by new authors I’ve never heard of, there’s no law against creepiness, if it’s good for her then it should be for me as well, you are more susceptible if the face before you appears similar to yours, I don’t use facebook, but I’m a freak.

*

My application for insurance against terrorism, big-mouthed asshole, bound to piss someone off, unsure why but for some reason I am still alive, such a fatalist, why aren’t there more acts of fanaticism committed by those blinded by poetry? Please bomb a building whose purpose lies in the systematic-institution, in the name of poetry, you are my hero of another good, burn my books, poet-eating thug, it’s a thing that follows up when you think the only reason you survived that day is because you overslept.

*

Our sense of what counts as our kids has shriveled, early on I realized they didn’t know much, they just grew up learning that black is wrong, rich kids are going to school with other rich kids and poor kids are going to school with other poor kids, I’m the born-free, I was like, ok, everything is alright, I can come out now, did you mean to call people ignorant? I mean unaware, you cannot run away from it, they lack savvy, it forms an integral part, rich or poor have internet phones, kids from rich homes use it for more useful ways, in her experience she can’t trust other people, it mirrors an uneven playing field.

One of Every Eight Red Spider Feet Thinks Nasty Thoughts About Red Parent-Spider Feet

In a pinch-
With eyes always on
The hands, she’s checking me
For marks of the ‘real world’,
me saying,

I know I haven’t changed
These pieces since August
But don’t
Tell me I’m being lazy with it,
It just—
I know—

Don’t let her take you
To the hospital,
To the hurting with her watching
Too, catching the movie on
The couch tonight, right?

It’s the bulb-off-heat-still-
There underneath pulling of skin
When long nails are pressed
Against itch-full night bodies.

She’s been seventy hours a week-
Ing it and we can only say
Good morning and we can
Say goodnight, but is it
Not what matters that I sleep
In bed with you every night
And your puppy, on my stomach,
Four in the morning kicking, like
I am carrying our child and
I do not
Leave, I do
Not sleep in bed with her.

You carry a child, you
Take time to scrape burnt egg,
Or rice, ignored, spatula against a pan,
Four times a day, feeding
Mouths and empty washers.
I don’t even have
To pay for this family, and free
Family usually means free fighting,
I’m just.

I Bought a Skateboard to Smoke One Cigarette On

I pray for nothing too
visible, too ugly, something
red-puckered and deep-looking.
Waiting for father sleep I was

Young-thinking of the perfect place—
Ment for a shark-bite scar
I could funeral-show—

Death, then, by a different shark,
A bigger shark, of course;
I would get back in
The water, of course I,

Bobbing head with shark
Beneath would not tremble like
I do.

Do not think
Spring Break Shark Attack,
Do not airplane burning up
In Atlantic, somewhere
On a map-picture.

Do not bite too
Soft on my girlfriend’s neck
Like she wants
The fear like,
She wants
Nothing too visible.

All the bad things
Are the things I love
About shark attacks.

I Wanna Eat Cheetos Right Before The Dentist And Tell You I Havent Flossed In Five Years To Feel How Honest It Feels, Feel How Soft My Teeth Are, See, They Will Melt In Your Hands And Under Your Instruments Like Pillows Or Butter, Rat Sized Pillows Made Of Butter At Cheap Restaurants And Diners

i want you to keep breaking my heart
please no dont stop it dont end being mad as a joke
just because there are things wrong dont you leave dont you stop sitting here with me not talking and ignoring each other mad please dont stop
i will let you keep breaking my heart but you are the idea and i am the idea nothing real will end up not in a parking lot
i have a best friend who makes fun of me loves me says i get bored with people fucks me loves me still loves me too much he loves me but he is too respectful and masochistic to care and he love it i never get bored of him because in this i am always right and when i am not it is funny right in my world that he knows and lets me have it lets me have everything i want everything i will do nothing for it
i will do nothing for everything i will escalate this i will not back down from my bed from how dare you
when i get too drunk i will get mad and hard mean and i could be so much more better or mean but i dont so i stop talking to you and you are supposed to fill this and your blushing spluttering is not enough
you need to be more you need to be more and fill this you need to be more and fill this
and me

Aristotle on the Aesthetics of Poetry

To Pop Pills with a Mockingbird

Harper Lee is penning a new great American novel
and all I can manage each day is scooping peanut butter
into grapefruit halves because we’re out of clean bowls
& write poems about how writing poems about
the people you love sucks
when everything you submit to lit magazines
only lets them down.
Harper Lee has Scout and Scout has her father
but sometimes all I have
is the man who once counted the knots in my hair
like an abacus and said he’d rather leave my poems
than my bed.