We randomly died and came back to life
As whatever, like: a grasshopper woke up
After being stepped on as Mixed Martial Artist,
Ha-ha, right? Or a sea breeze passed away
Into a super quiet beach property?
Or “or,” the word, felt its face, screamed “F”
and or was a for. Totally malleable.
For we became saviors-- picture this--
After being zombies, for ef’s sake.
Robert Thompson teaches English at Touro College. He, his wife, and teenage son live in Brooklyn next door to Joe Elliot, the poet. His collection, City of Water (2008), was published by Ahadada Books and a chapbook, A Pear Tree's Winter by Intuflo/Groundwater Press.
paper came back in style. Old people & hoarders were offered top dollar for their dog-eared, coffee-stained relics – in pads or loose leaf, rag or acid-free. At first the craze was fueled by nostalgia for units of wealth which could be handled. When some of us remembered that paper had also facilitated communication, another craze was born, for mark-makers of any sort. Experts popped up like mushrooms after rain, peddling classes in cursive & calligraphy. Since most of us were born physically incapable of shaping our fingers to the task, hand surgery became de rigueur. The gulf between the financially padded & everyone else led to a proliferation of hatchet jobs with a concomitant epidemic of hand-cripples incapable of participating in the new social dialogue, but bent on subverting it any way they could.
SUSAN LEWIS lives in New York City and edits Posit (www.positjournal.com). She is the author of eight books and chapbooks, most recently This Visit (BlazeVOX [books], 2015), How to be Another (Červená Barva Press, 2014), and State of the Union (Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2014). Her work is forthcoming or has recently appeared in The Awl, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Connotation Press, Gargoyle, Luna Luna, Ping Pong, Prelude, Propeller, and Yew. More at www.susanlewis.net.
It was the year of making bad decisions. Not superficial ones, like thinking an asymmetrical haircut was a good idea. Not even monumental ones, like those that involve tattoos or marriage partners. No, it was a year that involved impulsively stopping in at the Sunday adoption event at my local pet store and coming home with a three-legged cat.
After leaving the PetCo, I took her to see the vet who takes care of my dog. The vet, a man I normally admire, said, “She’s perfectly fine. No one will even know she’s missing a leg until they notice how weirdly she walks.” It’s true, she does walk weirdly but he was wrong about everything else.
When we got home and she realized she was meant to share her new life with a dog, she was furious. I say “furious” because there was nothing subtle about her response and it involved claws. Afterwards, she ran upstairs. Nothing I offered in the way of treats or threats could induce her to come back down so now I had an upstairs/downstairs situation. Instead of it being populated with charming British servants, though, it included a really cranky, disabled cat.
I called the adoption place to see if I could return her. Turns out the adoption papers, which I’d signed without reading, anticipate this question and the answer was no. They were pretty snooty when they explained that to me on the phone. Like anyone reads cat adoption papers.
The pet owners in my neighborhood communicate by way of a vibrant online discussion board, so I left a post asking if anyone wanted a three-legged cat. When the responses started to come in, I was sorry I hadn’t provided more information. “How could you do that to a defenseless animal and then try to fob her off?” read a typical post. I looked at my arm, covered with scratch marks, and wondered who would ever think a cat, even one who only had 75 percent of its claws, could be defenseless. I received a surprising amount of hate emails but even more surprising were the number of people who said yes, they would happily take in a three-legged cat.
My problem quickly went from how I was supposed to live with this angry, impulsively acquired animal to how was I supposed to choose her new owner. I’ll never know if he meant his response to be funny or if he was like the cat, devoid of subtlety, but I ultimately gave her to the person who wrote saying he’d “be happy to take the cat off my hands, seeing as she’d also had the hands taken off of her.”
Jodie Corngold oversees communications for Kolot Chayeinu, a synagogue in Brooklyn, and previously served as Director of Communications for the Berkeley Carroll School, a college preparatory school in Brooklyn.
Susan Lewis interviews me in the new issue of Raintaxi. You can order an issue here: http://www.raintaxi.com/rain-taxi-review/print-edition/
You can also check out some new reviews of the book at Boog City, Luna Luna and at the blog the Boston Poetry Small Press and Poetry Scene. I am grateful to the editors and writers.
Also, I have a date for the book party and blog reading. May 21. At the Flag Foundation and the Chelsea Art Tower.
There were a lot of people carrying.
They were open about it.
They had cell phones
iPads or minis
and cold brews
Belts were riveted
and full of holes, but filled-
every loop a buckle
as hook for holding
and other tools.
They were prepared, occupied
with ideas and fear,
hunters, who felt like prey.
Ronna Lebo is a painter, poet, and performance artist. She is co-founder and editor of a non-profit small press for poetry and visual art called The AntiSentiMental Society/Black Square Editions. She has recently co-founded an art gallery and studio space in Ridgewood, Queens called Reservoir Art Space, where she paints and curates exhibitions.
It was the year when joy got loose
a contagion beyond belief
witnessed first at Willets Point
when men in camel coveralls
banged hubcaps together in the Iron Triangle
chanting for their right to stay. An hombre on a bike
wore a cape, a U.S. flag tied around his neck, riding
through potholes, craters really, on a road never paved.
The flag dipped into coolant sludge and cinnamon horchata
warm rice milk dripping from the ladle of the tamale woman
selling on the street with no sewers, just a sewer bill in the hand
of Haysos Jr as he hit each puddle on purpose, splashing White Shirts
their curses flipped off, then abruptly slipped away.
Sprinkled by the God-Bless-America water, kinda holy
kinda narcotic, they ripped up their blueprints of MerchLand
loosened their ties and each grabbed a poncho.
The mariachi’s emerged with gilded sombreros
guitars painted with suns, trumpets that peppered the insides
of those present, who all began to dance and swing from arm to arm
as an NYU film student captured the ordinary miracle
and posted it to the world.
After that, fashion shows folded, crumbled
like the old felt trim on fedoras. Shivering models
escaped to eat platefuls of enchiladas, wearing sneakers
and sweatshirts that said “Feed the Chihuahuas!”
Every day was a freewheeling runway down the sidewalk
on Bedford Ave, Vernon Boulevard, the Grand Concourse
people dressed to express, huge runs on thrift store racks
Christmas sweaters and rummage sale stacks.
Flea markets flooded, bidding soared at estate sales for bouffant wigs
and two-toned suspenders. Nuns wore calico bonnets
and stockbrokers sported suede jackets imprinted with Vegas casinos.
Taxidermists in silk kimonos made slippers
out of discarded Muppets.
Every night was Halloween Eve! Craft stores
sold out rhinestones and fabric paint. Pet owners forgot
to clothe their dogs, so growling ceased. Babies stayed
in their soft birthday suits and flannel blankets—colic cured!
Kids got busy playing with mud pretending
to be Art Teacher and Builder and Cook
as the sugar disease oozed out of their fingers and blood.
Mothers outlined clothes patterns on sheets of tissue paper
as their little phones died. Dads whistling, engrossed at their sewing
machines while beers grew warm. Grandpas distressed old uniforms
in bleached leaf patterns. Politicians hosted drag queen shows
all preached out! Drug lords assembled dime bags of needles
and thimbles and thread. Rulers, of course, went nude, which they adored
felt so good they parachuted from planes free and easy
into the arms of their enemies! Grandmas quietly started
ruling the world.
And so young people could drop their weapons and orders
and burkas, free to loose themselves in the cedar closet
of recycled bolts of velvet and fleece meeting up in quilting
circles to discuss the Zen of personal style. They melted guns
into looms and that long ago sound coming from the Garment
District began again in a co-work hum hum humming.
Back in Corona, Queens, under the glow of Mets Stadium
(yoga night at the ball field) Senorita Maria Luther Koshkov
stands near a shrine welded out out of tailgates and mufflers
inside an old boxcar lined with sunflowers. She douses
the pilgrims with iced cold Willets Point water
acutely awake, they walk away purged of designer cults
uploaded immediately and liked by 3 billion
Maria lifts open an orange 3-gallon cooler
and hands each one a warm Kosher tamale
for their long journey home.
Gina Inzunza writes both poetry and plays that incorporate poetry (poemsicals). Her most recent play, Slam Team, won “Outstanding Production of a Short Play” in the 2014 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. Her book of poetry for teenage girls, called Inside Voices at the Girl Aquarium, came out in 2013, www.girlaquarium.com. She also works with POPLab, an organization that strives to bring poetry off the page, www.poplab.org.
It was the year Catelyn Stark of Game of Thrones died. Though her death had been written in the Book, no one could believe the arm of fate would take her. Such is the power of faith! Soon after, Lilly Bell of Hell on Wheels was taken from us. That was a very long year. A year in which TV proved to all humanity it could be just as cruel as non-TV. The year Americans came to believe that no realm was safe, that anyone, no matter age or status, could go at any time.
Soon after, a most startling experiment proved successful! Scientists had stopped a young mouse’s heart for a full twenty-four hours before resuming her regularly scheduled programming. Journalists from every ilk gathered to question the rodent. She was silent. A summit of communication specialists created confusing configurations of levers and colorful sensory receptors, Rube Goldberg talking machines, to no avail, in an attempt to push the mouse into sharing her secrets. The mouse said nothing, ran squeakily on a well-oiled wheel. That was the year all health-related research ceased and scientists—from animal-assisted therapists to urologists—put down their stethoscopes and turned from their clinical trials to focus their every brainwave on the brainwaves of the mouse. That was the year we came very close to forming a mouse-loving nation, the year more humans than ever died from dreaded diseases of which there once had been cures. That was the year we had been closest to and farthest from nowhere.
It was the year all celebs and superstars fizzled,
The year they lived on Pizzle Stix,
The year they traveled on the River Styx.
Martine Bellen's THIS AMAZING CAGE OF LIGHT: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS is forthcoming in September and also on September 13 at Flushing Town Hall (Flushing, Queens), there will be a performance of MOON IN THE MIRROR: a monodrama opera (text: Zhang Er andMartine Bellen/music Stephen Dembski). For Bellen's other YEAR OF poem, click here
So silly - but so rosy and chubby, so adorable and cheery, you couldn’t stay mad or sad for long when you saw them. Sure, lemon-suckers howled that having naked baby boys flying around the house was immoral, a bad example for the kids, blah blah, but people camped out for days outside Macy’s to be first to get them. A lot of the wings got crumpled in the crush, though, and you couldn’t return them, and really, what do you do with a broken cherub? The ads said they “live on love” so you wouldn’t have to feed them, but most of them died anyway like Easter chicks, and Sanitation wouldn’t take them, so if you didn’t have a backyard, all you could do was slink to the river after dark, which was kind of bleak, and the whole thing soon died out. I’ve still got a couple up in the closet – they’re bound to come back in, like shoulder pads. When they do, I’m ready.
After an early career in theater and a stint in academia studying comparative literature and teaching literature and German, Suzanne Osborne now lives in Queens, NY, and writes poetry when she is not working as a legal secretary. Her work has appeared in Alimentum and Ping Pong.
Hi. I'm Joanna Fuhrman. This is a prose poetry/flash fiction blog in conversation with my serial prose poem "The Year of Yellow Butterflies" (The Year Of Yellow Butterflies, Hanging Loose Press 2015). I had fun writing these poems about fads and trends from imaginary pasts. If you would like to add your own section, write me and I can post it (along with a short bio). Start with "It was the year...."