Lange Nacht

to Antonio García

Tonight the museums
on their floors of ice

will be open all night,
the burghers of Vienna

move like moths
in their splendid coats,

draft from the moonlit garden
shakes the crystal petals.

Wagner, painted genius on the wall,
was saddened that so many hundreds

burned alive in the Ring Theatre fire
of 1881 but found solace, he said,

that most were Jews. Down the alley
the unspeakable lived –

a flowerpot, a bank of doorbells
to summon what lives on inside –

the morning tourists will roll up
with their backpacks, their small proud

flags, gaze in vain through
the filmy windows, an iron keyhole,

finding a broom propped by the door.

Roger Atwood’s poems have appeared in Town Creek Poetry, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Potomac Review and Linden Lane Magazine. He is the author of a non-fiction book, Stealing History (St. Martin’s Press, 2004). His essays and articles are widely published, including in National Geographic, The Times Literary Supplement, The Massachusetts Review, Latin American Research Review and Mother Jones. He is a Contributing Editor at Archaeology magazine and teaches writing at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, where he lives.

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One Hundred Years Since the End of World War One

            and still there are dolls on the upper stories,
geese hissing and flapping in the garden, the maid
showing up without word at seven,
grandfather’s Croix de Guerre unsold in a fleamarket
in Amiens, on a shelf a novel
with an endgame that strikes you as wholly
implausible. The survivors, scattered by history, meet
somehow in the final scene in a new version
of an old house, their words all previously uttered,
their eyes lightened by some unearned mirth.

Roger Atwood’s poems have appeared in Town Creek Poetry, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Potomac Review and Linden Lane Magazine. He is the author of a non-fiction book, Stealing History (St. Martin’s Press, 2004). His essays and articles are widely published, including in National Geographic, The Times Literary Supplement, The Massachusetts Review, Latin American Research Review and Mother Jones. He is a Contributing Editor at Archaeology magazine and teaches writing at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, where he lives.

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Wonderful Life

Manic-depressive Jimmy Stewart,
like a drunk girl who fell off the giddy couch
my father must have seen you,
learned from you
the value of a melodramatic suicide.

In New England if they saw you
running through cornflakes snow
like that they would stop
and offer you a lift
(like that)

and the negro maid
would not get the best lines.
At the back of the throbbing room
at midnight the percussionist
told the girl to hit the jazz bell harder,

and I thought this is what you live for
but you were gone by then,
my father,
crazy black steed, rushing
through the snow into oblivion.

Roger Atwood’s poems have appeared in Town Creek Poetry, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Potomac Review and Linden Lane Magazine. He is the author of a non-fiction book, Stealing History (St. Martin’s Press, 2004). His essays and articles are widely published, including in National Geographic, The Times Literary Supplement, The Massachusetts Review, Latin American Research Review and Mother Jones. He is a Contributing Editor at Archaeology magazine and teaches writing at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, where he lives.

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Horse

What would you call a seahorse
if you had never seen a horse?

On the coast of Peru they had no concept
of horses but they had seahorses

and they had to call them something
and whatever it was, we don’t know

and can’t know because the word
vanished centuries ago with

the empty space where the idea of a
seahorse, riderless of associations, once lived,

like the name for anything we don’t
know until we hear it storming onto

the shores of our innocence
and suddenly it must have a name,

not because it is needed or desired
but because it is dreaded, like the red seahorses

that stalked your veins til death, barebacked
summer lark, you who emerged stark from the

froth of waves and lay your stranded shadow
on the hot shells til you were shot

by a disease that had no name and no
history and somehow missed me, no why,

and finished you off before we
would even think of dismounting.

Roger Atwood’s poems have appeared in Town Creek Poetry, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Potomac Review and Linden Lane Magazine. He is the author of a non-fiction book, Stealing History (St. Martin’s Press, 2004). His essays and articles are widely published, including in National Geographic, The Times Literary Supplement, The Massachusetts Review, Latin American Research Review and Mother Jones. He is a Contributing Editor at Archaeology magazine and teaches writing at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington, where he lives.

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Our Life Together

I would like to be next to an ampersand
next to you
on monogrammed throw pillows
scattered throughout a suburban
rent-to-own two-story home
so that something of us is permanent.

That way,
when we split up,
I can take these love souvenirs
like papercuts
with me in handle-with-care boxes
to a studio apartment in the city
and let them gather dust.

When I tire of nostalgia,
I will drop them off in garbage bags
at Goodwill for some teenage punk
to buy as a gag gift
for some girl.

Reed Redmond’s work has appeared most recently in BROAD magazine and on the University of the Basque Country’s website after receiving first prize in their annual international writing competition. A Minnesota native, he currently resides in Chicago.

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Awakening

To reinvent sleep—but the gates have been put up
and where are we now, within or without

in the enormous room of shadow puppets
or the casual ward where they beg for wine,
a suit of warmer clothes; stitch them, they’re bleeding.
My mother too—she is poorer than she looks.

Is the child still in the crib, is this disruption his staccato breath,
must the lungs struggle, dependent always on alchemy?

Beside dripping trees, I marry you. Again and again.
And by the August sea, the glassy shore pulsates with kelp,
and the ocean swallows its artifacts.

I try once more to sleep
(you will say I have slept like the dead for hours)

but the mind is not a self-cleansing organ;
its detritus is vast, measureless.
Let’s bury each other up to the neck in sand.

Now we’re at a carnival, our parents wearing masks.
Iron strikes iron, the carnies are warming up.

The boy is nearly grown, his broken crib put out for the trash.
And the girl boasts, see, I am swollen, great with child.
But you are only being born, I say.

The far field sprouts striped tents, camels, elephants,
shrunken heads on strings, garish plastic beads—
every tattooed vendor is primed for some exchange.
I think it is time to divest, and will purchase nothing new.

A gathering of family from another, foreclosed life,
sage murmuring of voices, which are inaudible in the day—
English, Yiddish, Esperanto. They came by boat
and slowly parted from black wools.

We take their arms. We become their canes.
Forget we’ve shoveled dirt over those mouths, those eyes.

But you, lying prone, are welded to my living bones.
You’ve put aside your bronze spear, vulnerable in the dark.

Are you stirring, love? Because day
cannot stake its tent, or our ghosts burrow in,
if the ritual of waking is undone.

Carol Alexander’s poems have been published in several dozen literary journals and a variety of anthologies. Her chapbook, Bridal Veil Falls, is published by Flutter Press. Recent work appears in Big River Poetry Review, Clementine Poetry Journal, Clementine Unbound, The New Verse News, Split Rock Review, and Poetry Quarterly.

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Second-hand Smoke

All it takes for a gust of wind to howl
Is a voice box and a lung.

The future hauls like a freight train,
A whistle against an unravelling sky

Too intent on spinning storms
Even after the smoke chokes in its urn.

I stomp and stamp out a cigarette
Incensing the air with nicotine.

How many lives in that fleeting tendril?
Perhaps one-thousandth of the despondent man

And one-hundredth of his frumpy wife,
Choking on ash and chiding him

Not to ignite yet another pack
And hiding his lighter under the mattress,

Chunks of foam already torn by
Clawed-out cataclysms on angry nights.

But he would use his wooded hands,
Enough friction in them for a small spark

To pass on to the rolling paper
As if at a candlelight vigil.

The smoke snakes upwards
Like a palm raised towards the sky,

Fingers stretching for the yellow sun.
And in the smoke I can see things –

Trees, umbrellas, unopened flowers,
Whatever I want to see.

A fraction of that man,
A segment of his face,

The yellow strip of a tooth
Or a wisp of his ashen hair,

And watch them intertwine like
A double helix or interlocked fingers

As they disappear over the city skyline
And dangle, waiting for something to latch onto,

Even a molecule of nascent sadness
Or a moment of stationary bliss,

When the day would stop
Unwinding and spilling out like guts

Or when the string that keeps being pulled
From the fabric of the universe

Would remain rolled up in its cocoon
Before its inevitable snip,

A kite falling silently onto the railroad tracks.

Steven Chung is a high school student in the Bay Area. He enjoys running in his free time and spends 3 am watching his favorite tennis players hopefully win matches in obscure cities on the other side of the globe.

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