“Rev. MacLean’s been stabbed in Oban,” his wife said, her voice thin.
Remember that innocence is risky, memory inconclusive.
We had run out of every necessity. You name it, we didn’t have it.
She fell out of her own composition, fell and landed flat on her face.
When I was born I saw death devour the birth of something.
It was good they were Africans, she thought. It meant less danger.
There were classes where you became a family. It was a kind of love affair.
Then they pulled out their swords, and like two bulls they lashed.
My daughter swallows arrows of sunlight on her way to the grave.
The grass is always greener in the cemetery, was a joke I made to Jed.
The light, returning, nudged me from sleep, and walked me to dinner.
The website said November was a good time for appreciating bark.
In the truck’s bed, resting where a dog’s might—the dead deer’s head.
We chose to stay in the brutality of that night, even as the girls walked away.
Oh, how fascinating it was, watching it all! It was exactly like a play.
“It’s so unfair being accused of doing something you didn’t do.”
My husband barely noticed, while I felt the sharp bite of her words.
Find a hair in the rose bush, wrap it around a thorn until that thorn is soft.
I feel them slice me open and tug, then I smell my own innards burning.
On that still, snowy day, Mick’s neck popped like a flaming log.
The preacher looked me in the eye. He laid his hand on my chest.
Do you really want to live in this filth? And me answering, Well, yes.
To enter the dust of their bedroom, to stand invisible on the plush carpet.
The story doesn’t begin until the van breaks down, I always say.
I remember speaking to Allison who asked me if I wanted to be a girl.
Kenny Wade makes do with short-term schemes and part-time work.
A new Wyoming photography portfolio from Twister Marquiss
A new Wyoming photography portfolio from Twister Marquiss
He’s got it out. And I say Who’s there right now? Just your ex-wife.
Sonja slapped her sister. How could she shed tears for the past?
The world seemed newly made and filled with a frightening silence.
Part of me wished I’d never tried heroin. The rest wanted to be high.
Our grandmothers were bakers and nurses, spies and traitors.
Sonja slapped her sister. How could she shed tears for the past?
Narrative Prize and Pushcart winner Anthony Marra reads “Chechnya.”
The Warsaw Pact invaded in 1968
and soon banned Hrabal’s work.
The interrogator was both man and deity, prophet and god.
Our lives are often shaped by small, seemingly trivial choices.
Lori & Garry Marshall
Tirelessly her arm rose and fell, till the child at last fell at her feet.
Sometimes in sunlight the scar shines, skin smooth and tight.
Oklahoma, a state shaped like a pot, probably some gruel inside.
Since I am in my seventies, it is now or never, and I know it.
Up there there’s not a sound except for the wind and the buzzing of bees.
I pass my hands over my eyes, mired by the miti-
gation of routine.
Diane Kirsten Martin
A car curved left, leapt the curb, and came at us like the line of a bullet.
Welcome to my bed. I have these two beers, do you want them?
Sundays, your wife at Mass, we locked ourselves in my room.
People assume married cartoonists are laughing all the time.
He was ready to move on, to touch his patients, to cut them open.
One of my stories was rejected by a journal as “theatrical and self-limiting.”
That’s how a lifetime passes, closing the wound, a million stitches.
Pale dust clung to their skin like the lime he had thrown on the dead.
She transfigured into a swallow in flight, or a hippo in the rainy season.
We left our lives behind us as fast as the Beemer’s zero to sixty.
Shit happens, you still have to pay up or lose it all, even if it ain’t your fault.
The strange man expected to be picked up by aliens during the eclipse.
I wonder why I feel bound to the gray-dry skin of you, the barrenness of feet.
money gotten by blood tends to stay in the blood, which has no race.
Frank Avery came into the kitchen. In his left hand he carried a .22 pistol.
The dark creatures are still, yet they give life to the whole mountain.
I thought it was beauty alone that gave significance to life.
His eyes rested on the trees. By George, it’s like the garden of Eden.
I wander among my recollections of the world of letters in London.
Each night I curl my body around a small piece of silence.
Lebanon’s sky was full of stars. The sky here doesn’t have any stars.
We crossed the length of Iran to reach a lake so big they called it a sea.
The linebacker grins, but the lines around his eyes tighten.
I figured he wouldn’t know for shit if the dog knew me or not, right?
Their leader is a badly wounded boy in need of wounding others.
Their mother was the real beauty of the family, or so everyone said.
His hands stiffened so that the fingers curled inward like gray claws.
I wanted to ask what her secret was but I was too busy knitting socks.
The features of the girl in the bathing suit suggest a mixed-race origin.
A voice like my mother’s nail polish and my father’s lottery tickets.
The light from dead stars only exists in the minds of the living.
The dead man’s suit coat is a good fit through the shoulders.
I have placed my thoughts for you in a nest of copper shavings.
If you are water my left hand is a horse thief my right hand is alder smoke.
The grass is defiant, wild, and reluctant to take any shape.
Now he’s grazing my books. The Bible is his favorite so far. He is a goat.
A sociopathic streak on my father’s side I try to put to good use.
Get all of it. Set up the shots. Get beautiful stuff and get the ugliness.
Old wives, I wish I could be one of you. Instead I am the born old maid.
These things once-living drift toward the stone more movingly.
A widow is sort of a holy figure, while a divorcée is a tawdry one.
That Hawaiian shirt is the first thing Ratso’s owned that he hasn’t stolen.
Alva knows the storm is coming. The ground is falling away.
They all pivoted to face us, tan mannequins on a conveyor belt.
The thing that illuminated him might have been guilt or outright lust.
“As your brother, I ask you, how did you get that scar on your face?”
“We see you tryin’ to hide. Ain’t no use tryin’ to hide in God’s House.”
Sitting on the edge, I leaned back and fell, wrist-deep, into the body of a deer.
My hands only knew. The painkillers in our mothers’ cabinets.
My father would have ended my clandestine career on the spot.
Who needs driftwood when I can bury myself in your loamy soil.
We spread. Kneel. We’ll come out missing parts. This we know.
In the school smock, I looked like an angel in search of her crèche.
Sarah let herself be guided by her desire, inescapable and true.
When you turn fifty, you have to prove to yourself you’ve got something left.
She imagines his clothes on the floor, his arms wrapped around her waist.
Whatever was wrong with his brain, he could still smell her skin.
She pictures her suitcase covered in blood, wishing for anything to happen.
Maybe she’s gay. I wonder if she masturbates when I’m out of the room.
I let you pull my hair, throw me to the rocks, disarrange me.
The pumpkins are looking up my skirt, making orange a kind of festive.
Like a ghost, he appeared at the entrance of his hermitage.
The main thing a poet tries to do, above all things, is to write a poem.
You and me is as good as anybody else, and maybe a damn sight better.
I have, in the long solitude of my body, asked for something else.
Your intelligence and charisma would serve you well in life.
The peanut seller tore sheets out of paperback books to make the cones.
We are going south where I know that my father is going to die.
I woke in surprise to your breath warm as your skin on my neck.
Another light is growing out of their shadows. You can hear it.
I see the garden far away in itself reflected in the polished spade.
we are saying thank you in doorways and in the backs of cars
The dove calls from far away in itself to the hush of the morning
forget how to count starting with your own age starting with even numbers
What consequence is a body/a body nonetheless. If the light in me is gone.
In the republic of pain, we bloom ice bags and crutches on limbs.
In the reign of the cold, in the name of the sorrow, in the flame of the hark.
Take my hand, lead me by heart over the blind stepping-stones to the edge.
I slipped one sparrow black and shivering into my mouth.
Always I obliged the urban tree, any speechless unblessed nature.
My brother, only his son by the way he fixes his tie, blind-fingered.
Draw me a map of your agonies, all the missing rivers you dried.
You’d probably prefer to sneak back into me very still, swollen.
There is the ghost of a child in me. It longs to die, so afraid of living.
He was staring at his car like you might a stare at a dog.
Of course he escaped. He would be the one. My legendary brother.
The person was seeing his printed face superimposed over his real one.
Through Joan’s window, my childhood. I want this view.
Finger tracing the terrain, you hold me through autumn’s loss of color.
On the anniversary of your death, a memory sharpens, as if illuminated.
Fidel narrates the home video: See the women on the beach? Beauty.
I realized you were my fourth love, and the system was always doomed.
All of this leaves me floating in seas of prehistory and indeterminacy.
insomniacs gesturing in a cave of neon light the narrative of their lives
One makes one’s peace with words in a poem and space in a dream.
The dead cowards my parents on a tear through the goddamn fields.
The pickup trucks in this portfolio were photographed in June 2015.
cannibal chowder and a kiss by the splashing voices of a pool
Is it that he is too tired or too afraid to blink into the oil of his own machine?
Bees may not be bought. Our children may never know apples.
In every pair, one shoe smells of exodus, the other of the body’s sweat.
Now the mulch has come between us seven turns, I’ve grown dramatic.
Stop her there, on the bank of knowingness, just before spring.
I wound through the Gothic castle buildings in the university.
I should never have the notebook and the pencil in the right pockets.
The presents you receive will not have been chosen with such care.
We drove, talking fast, fast, fast. He was always going for my zipper.
Your life is your own and then suddenly it belongs to someone else.
Riding back from her studio, Ivy thought, I’ll just stop for a minute.
Nobody knows where I am, Ned thought. No one in the whole world.
The horse is in the air, her legs withdrawn, a diamond shape.
The stories of terror continued well after the tsunami had passed.
It comes as no surprise that everything is flying toward one point.
For me, Selweh was the real magic. She was nothing like my mother.
My mother’s city and I were both named after an assassinated king.
Sometimes they revert to trickery, apple their venom with a smile.
Spanish men. They whispered and whistled. It made her jumpy.
The poem I can’t yet write saves itself for when it can’t be avoided.
To fulminate, to go on a tear, because what’s wanted is forbidden.
What excuse did I use to pick a fight with that arrogant poet?
Arnold’s daily life was a race between money and death.
I never prayed before. Since this happened I’ve been praying every night.
Paul King was shiftless and drunken; ugly tales were told of him.
Our neighbors the Bells are watching, watching us when we play outside.
Ask your mother about babies. Ask her about the baby that died.
What can go heartbreakingly wrong, and what would you do?
It was just what it was. Sex with someone who was not her husband.
Premonitions return to me like a carrier pigeon, disaster strapped to its leg.
Tongue, eye, nose—which has the shortest route to the brain, heart?
This must be what it’s like to be seen by God as we inch toward the infinite.
He tossed her over his head like a ballerina, one rough hand on each hip.
My soul is simple; it doesn’t think. Something strange paces there now.
History howls for direction so I remind him how the hero was lost.
There is still the same reaching of the tongue for that pink ridge.
The beasts and fowl and all manner of slithery thing can love like us.
I’d wager a cicada is fond of a high note on a synthesizer.
He grabbed me, groped for my hips, kissing me, smelling my hair.
There in the trees, swinging from branch to branch, they saw Pete.
Pete gazes into his mother’s soul and finds a piece of smoldering coal.
The dog glares back at Roger, his eyes on fire, but he doesn’t let her go.
She often feels something kinetic between herself and younger men.
She wonders if he will be all right. She assumes he has four-wheel drive.
I must tell you what it is like to be human, or you will drift away.
I am visited daily by unrelenting spirits evoking my accumulated flaws.
At the core, a daughter is a self-reckoning emptiness.
Doctor, he devoted. When she poorly, he bring her mint tea in bed.
We couldn’t tell which of us was a girl or a boy we gorged on dirt.
If you are going to be my teacher, you will have to become a tiger.
There’s nowhere he can kiss where she hasn’t been kissed by the sun.
A suitcase of the body slapped with stickers of scars from every location.
I know you want your mother’s dial tone like you want a KFC box.
she will unchew the dried bulbs of history, spit them at the foot of her post.
Exhausted, androgynous, delirious, I delight in my many parts.
Diane cupped my cheek in her hand, studying me, memorizing me.
An ironic story about skepticism and education, in just six words.
I found Lowell’s gun a long time ago. He’s not a genius at hiding things.
Our hopes swirled around the act of swallowing a teaspoon of yogurt.
Writing to you is like putting a note in a bottle, hoping it will reach Japan.
My head was muffled in velvet, my body exposed in an old slip.
He was so frail, how could your heart not break when you saw him?
The notebook’s cotton pages are spangled with axes and sickles.
Carte blanche is bodily as chalk on dark asphalt, so enliven these eyes.
Now he chuckles with the sea, stitched within its timeless jive.
A photo essay on hope in the wake of the devastating Bosnian War.