Hold Me, Harmless

Harmless, your car is made of beautiful pieces of fiberglass. I put my face down on the window. I thirst. I touch your car. I touch the wheels of your car with my finger and imagine how warm your trunk must be. There is rubber and there is steel and at night I will come through your garage and not even hide. I hope you have left your doors unlocked. I hope you will trust me. The license plate like an invitation. The windows so clean they wet my throat.

Hold me, the license plate changes constantly. I never know what I am looking for. This is a picture on copy paper. This is a piece of copy paper with a picture of a license plate on it. The numbers keep changing. I see a row of silver cars. 199. 199. 192. I will drive this block for hours. I will put my leg outside. I will fall into the cement like a ring and you will leave me there alone. Walking the garages like a thief. Walking the garages like a trashcan in the corner of the garages. I will keep moving. The piece of paper blowing out the window, onto the curb. The copy paper blowing on the curb like a leaf raking towards a bag. Like a bag of shit you left near the fence. A bag of shit. The numbers changing.

Hold me, nothing is safe. My Sweatshirt is a bulletproof vest. I carry two knives. Nothing is secure. My sweatshirt is made of weak cloth. I climb under the fence. I murder boredom with these two long knives. I fold them into my pocket like a wonderful roll of money. I keep this safe. I move very quickly. I am a dream. I am invisible until you catch me counting parking spaces. You question me and quickly shut the fuck up. There are no dreams which can explain my behavior. I am a body of dimes. I roll across the parking lot. I am a body of secret felonies.

Harmless, when I go away. I take your keys with me. I leave your things. Your bag of suits. Your special change. I have so many numbers in my head I can’t remember colors. I think synesthesia. I cannot explain this to you. When you come after me you are like a fistful of thumbtacks. Each one a different color. I am worried you might cry. Your tears like shredded tires. Your tears coming out from beneath the shiny lens of your glasses.

Thomas Patrick Levy’s work has appeared in various journals and publications including Pear Noir!, Kill Author, PANK, and the New York Quarterly. Visit him online at http://www.thomaspatricklevy.com.

Portrait: I’m Tired of Stealing Coffins from Myself

I’d like to tell you a story in which

        I push for the death penalty,

        suit you up with a jury

        and lay your crime before the court

                                           in a manner I learned from Ms. Eliza:

Three mice rode a gray elephant!;

               the first sentence I read aloud in Kindergarten,

               but this story isn’t an achievement,

               though it is nearly as absurd: your friends are dead, calling from land lines,

authorities have their location pinned

               to within inches of depth;

                                      evidence will be exhumed as lines unfold from

                                      a wet paper swan.

Travis Blankenship’s poetry appears or is forthcoming from A cappella Zoo, Artifice, and Smash Cake magazines among others. He has been the recipient of a Tin House Writer’s Workshop scholarship, the Jim Wayne Miller Poetry Prize, a Geoffrey McClevly Memorial Award, and a Bondurant Prize in poetry. He founded the Goldenrod Poetry Festival now in its 6th year at Western Kentucky University. Currently, he is senior editor of the Yalobusha Review and lives in Mississippi.

On Preparing Skeletons for the Closet

If the hacksaw had been used
there wouldn’t be so much                (yes it is unbelievable, but ask the sky to drop;
evidence of bone in the meat              the poem will wait; go on)

                                                (of course we speak in metaphor;
                                                of course I know, there’s nothing sexy
                                                about asking you to read this)

to soil our palates with the taste of sediment—dirt eaters, all of us, dirt eaters, us all-
that awkward fender bender in the mouth,

                                                                                      a stage, a skip-out phase

                                                 leaping, another one;
                                                 we cannot dare to believe

           one might, actually,
           nourish one or the other, another one:

half-eaten animal as careless with its
property as to become the dinner
                 of a gunned party:                (it takes a militia at my temple to slow down)

           Rally Rally Rally Rally Rally until you know everyone
           and everyone’s strength, how in a crowd, you can still separate yourself
           from the better of them, from the hull of their influence.

Travis Blankenship’s poetry appears or is forthcoming from A cappella Zoo, Artifice, and Smash Cake magazines among others. He has been the recipient of a Tin House Writer’s Workshop scholarship, the Jim Wayne Miller Poetry Prize, a Geoffrey McClevly Memorial Award, and a Bondurant Prize in poetry. He founded the Goldenrod Poetry Festival now in its 6th year at Western Kentucky University. Currently, he is senior editor of the Yalobusha Review and lives in Mississippi.

Even the Army in White, River-wet Baptismal Garments Will Come for Her In Hell

It was so rooky

             how the BloodGoodBabe first watered down the strychnine

             for newcomers, so

                                                  their tolerance would be demi-god like

                                                  by the time they’d begin professing on their own,

                         but the power of prayer

                         is like yearning to strike your first match—

                                      so terrified of something

                                                                           somehow going terribly wrong:

                                                  Those confused children would

                                                  tip the glass to their lips

                                                              and that burn at the basin

                          of adrenaline liquefiying

                         the body like wind-blown Piggly Wiggly bags

so alive?

                                                            she could fill them

                                                            with anything she wanted.

Travis Blankenship’s poetry appears or is forthcoming from A cappella Zoo, Artifice, and Smash Cake magazines among others. He has been the recipient of a Tin House Writer’s Workshop scholarship, the Jim Wayne Miller Poetry Prize, a Geoffrey McClevly Memorial Award, and a Bondurant Prize in poetry. He founded the Goldenrod Poetry Festival now in its 6th year at Western Kentucky University. Currently, he is senior editor of the Yalobusha Review and lives in Mississippi.


“Intellectual rigor demands that we give these damned metaphors every chance, even if they are inimical to personal well-being and comfort.”

Donald Barthleme, “At the End of the Mechanical Age”

“So near is falsehood to truth that a wise man would do well not to trust himself on the narrow edge.”



The lover is makeshift, a free-floating signifier unbound by formal fetters. The lover is one I desire to uncomplicate and unwind, unweave his warbled way of walking, his scattered irises looking left to right, his pupils that seek corners and broken skylines searching for the past and haunting.

Is the funhouse really fun? Barth says, perhaps, for lovers. Ambrose wanders alone, crashing into the flimsy structures. Will he remain reflected in others’ folded, linklocked palms?

I want him where the world won’t, in the embrace of sign, in the meeting of words caressing bodies, an in and out of mind.

William Gass writes in The World Within the Word that “creating and defending a connection between what William James called the buzzing, blooming confusion of normal consciousness—of daily life with its unstimulating bumps, its teaseless, enervating grinds—and the clear and orderly silences of mathematics, a connection which will give us meaning, security, and management, in one lump sum, is what our science—is what our art, law, love, and magic—is principally about” (263).

Gass also claims that “the burden of being is felt most fully by the self-determining self” (6).

I once asked you to explain pragmatism. I saw you and you shifted with your usual shudders and contradictions. You asked me why and told me it was boring. I wanted to examine the unstimulating bumps and enervating grinds of these lonely, tiresome hearts.

We locked hands, linked fingers, kissing palm to palm. This is almost near enough to touch. But there is no flesh beneath the scab and scrabble of syntactic figures, Eliot’s ragged, scuttling claws. You are everything meaning desires in disjointed prose.

Oh language, bring me the lover between these trusses, bonds!

I wrote:
“Ocean, how forgotten you are, sea muck and metal rust, at the bottom where those fish eyes bubble, brought to the top to burst, myopic and mal-aligned, at a loss when brought to light. Who’s to say the underwater life is less—the deep waves and water’s intimate caress down low and languorous, pushed against a breast? There is a heft, love through a world dense with stratification. Our depths, kept floating, air drawing towards clouds in wisps and fissions where the languid lie. Deaths fastened to the stratosphere and limped to the foot of the earth like a shackle. I’d rather be bled through the chest—plumped with water heaving out and pressed.”

I cannot say I love your loss, though I desire to fill those gaps and spaces, even if I’d burst like the lungs of a hooked through fish. I tell you, “when fish are pulled from the depths, their eyes bulge and the sacks of their lungs compress. This is a different kind of drowning.” You look at me as if I am out of mind, boring through depths where semantic structures lie.

William Gass writes: “it is a style so desperate to rise, it would burst its own lungs.”

You wheeze like the wounded.

You bought a birdfeeder. I thought, perhaps, you were tempting seeds to draw this hunger back. I thought I’d come and go because I pleased, feathers shining in a ceremony fit for lovers or thieves. I’d come, collect, and you’d free the fingers lately clasped around your neck. Fidgeting and fancy, I’d unfasten my beak behind your back and wish and whistle. I could love you like that.

I wrote:
“Let me sink into the sea, where there are no feathers, no lust, where the fishes are wishes, where there is no such thing as trust.”

In order for any force to remain static in space, the sums of all (horizontal and vertical) forces, as well as all moments acting about the node, equal zero.

I’m worried that I may somehow lean too close to the edge of my windows. Instead of looking out I may end up in the world where language escapes. I can’t contain it (bird, fish, bridge, scale, wing). There are waves of worry winding through my jostled throat. I can’t seem anymore and the world has nothing, something, everything, to do: everything, something, nothing, you.

I recently saw a rabbit hopping down a busy street while traffic blurted and burped. It’s eyes stymied fearful rivers and its thick legs pumped, aiming to move out of the blinding, violent lights. It did not belong there, misplaced, searching frantically for the absent hedgerows.

I wrote:
“I’m back from my trip to Chicago and was wondering if we could get together and talk about Heather Momyer’s Performing the Illusion of Love: the Autobiographical Literary Critic and the Striptease Artist, suburbs, ragas, waxwings, pragmatism, harlequins, and Walter Benjamin?”
There is no response.

I do not mask my sadness. I can’t clamor my face with light and smile toward the seeds clouding up the air in the suffocating springtime. I fear everyone is leaving. I see the trails of their coats and the wave of their hands and I can’t imagine them back, rabbits disappearing through the darkness of a hat.

“’That’s the effect of living backwards,’ the Queen said kindly: `it always makes one a little giddy at first –‘
`Living backwards!’ Alice repeated in great astonishment. `I never heard of such a thing!’
`– but there’s one great advantage in it, that one’s memory works both ways.’
`I’m sure mine only works one way,’ Alice remarked. `I can’t remember things before they happen.’
`It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ the Queen remarked.”

(Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)

Occasionally a former lover cities into my life despite the unaffected landscapes. This was how it began. The waves spit on the shore with the sounds of leaving through the wind.

See also: the 28 ways to fill space that have identical joints, geodesic dome, girder, mechanics of structures, a form used for telescopes, space frame, comprehensive stress, tensile stress, structural steel, where no compression member touches any other compression member, bridge, rod, a guitar part.

This is how we meet:
-People rush where everyone blurs through buildings. Why someone stands out is beyond understanding. This is a hall of mirrors, a funhouse fun for certain sorts of lovers.
-In a book there is an elephant. The elephant told lion, monkey, and rabbit he could not hide. Instead he splashed in the river and did not worry about seeking. He did not care about being all alone. Soon lion, monkey, and rabbit joined him. They formed and fun filled. They all fell in love.
-I love the interstices of not so simple starts.
-I sewed circular birds into patterns, beaks opening, closing, speaking. I thought it would wear away the wheeze of your most recent ruin. It did not. No matter what I did or do it will not will your want.
-You watched me. I didn’t know one day I would lay in your arms while you looked back into the past where someone else’s eyes were what you wanted.
-A building, a farm, a roof, an airplane, a temple, a steeple, in a room full of people.

The lover and I seldom or occasionally never even oddly.

A truss rod is used to stabilize and adjust the lengthwise forward curvature (relief), of the neck. Usually it is a steel rod that runs inside the neck and has a bolt that can be used to adjust its tension.

Recently I wake early and join others in a room where we circle and speak of that which I am only vaguely familiar. People stretch and bend. Why do I do this? I think it might improve the structure deep within my bones.
It brings me a certain kind of calm. Except when the conversation moves to unicorns, elephants, abduction and adduction, ribald monks and musk.
At moments, I think I am mad, hitching past to future, timidly trussed. What have I gotten into? Is it just my love?

“Every lover is mad, we are told. But can we imagine a madman in love? Never—I am entitled only to an impoverished, incomplete, metaphorical madness: love drives me nearly mad, but I do not communicate with the supernatural, there is nothing of the sacred within me; my madness, a mere irrationality, is dim, even invisible; besides, it is entirely recuperated by the culture: it frightens no one.”

(Roland Barthes, A Lovers Discourse, 120)

god is love is god is want is what is want is love is want is what i love is love i want is what i what is love or want

I imagine us under a roof cornered toward the sky where the worried wheezing goes. Here I bake cookies. Here I wear an apron and sprinkle flakes of food into a bowl of rabbits and fish. Here I talk about crossing through the mirror that subtends all speculation.
I say “coherence in contradiction expresses the force of a desire.”
I say “tensile strength indicates when necking will occur.”
You say, “yes, yes, yes.”
We link words and sentences, our bodies’ flesh and flesh.
I mimic, warble, at home where imagination is wrought, able to make in love-like simulations.

Craigslist says:
-be real with your self about looking for a man put up a real ad
-fun with movies, a lounge, traveling, amusement parks
-I don’t wear flashy clothes
-I imagine you wouldn’t want people knowing you like getting used
-I’ve noticed that posts and responses in my region tend to be best defined as “barely literate” and have seen that there’s actual thought put into the writing for posts in the New York section
-Ever since I can remember I always had a think
-I am rare, you are rare.
-if everything goes well then so on so forth
-I think I’m just awkward and tolerated

“After the shock of this disappointment her heart once more remained empty, and then the same series of identical days recommenced [. . .] ‘I have read everything,’ she said to herself.”

(Gustave Flaubert, Madame Bovary)

We walk down the tree-lined street and chill figures our backs. It is cloudy and cold although early May when the leaves burst through. I’ve studied the peak of bridges, rooftops, how things hold together despite stress. Even though people lean from the edge and teeter into the world beyond, we are strung together because of want that was. Now, I can only love like the rabbit in a world he did not devise, beautiful beyond belief, bursting from the fetters, lungs. Beyond the truss and trust, where you will always find the certainty of this you know, you, you who are just my kind of love.

See Also:

Barthes, Roland. A Lover’s Discourse. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill and
Wang, 1978. Print.

Barthleme, Donald. “At the End of the Mechanical Age”. Heath Anthology of American
. Ed. Paul Lauter. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Print.

Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”.
Illuminations. Trans. Harry Zohn. Schocken Books, New York, 1968. Print.

Carroll, Lewis. Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. Philadelphia:
Henry Altemus Company, 1897. Print.

Cicero, Marcus Tullius. Brainy Quote. Brainy Media, 2001. Web. 18 May 2010.

Derrida, Jacques. “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences.” Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader. Ed. David Lodge. New York: Longman, 1988. Print.

Flaubert, Gustave. Madame Bovary. Ed. De Man, Paul. New York: WW Norton, 1965.

Gass, William. The World Within the Word. New York: Basic Books, 1971. Print.

Irigaray, Luce. “The Power of Discourse and the Subordination of the Feminine.”
Literary Theory: An Anthology. Eds. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Boston:
Blackwell, 1998. Print.

“Men Seeking Women”. New York Craigslist. Craig Newmark. 1995. Web. 18 May

Momyer, Heather. Performing the Illusion of Love: the Autobiographical Literary Critic
and the Striptease Artist
. Diss. U of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2007. Print.

“Truss”. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 22 July 2004.
Web. 18 May 2010.

Rebbecca Brown lives in Brooklyn and teaches at Hunter College.

The Man Trap

After years of unsuccessful baiting, someone finally washed up in the man trap. At first it appeared as if he wanted to be caught as he kept saying things to the cantilever like,
“I always keep 4 to 6 grand on me in case of emergency” and “I need to be home early to take my mother to church.” When I brought him back to the apartment he removed his underwear and left them by the sink in the kitchen. He complained he was warm around his middle, so I stood him in front of the air conditioner in an attempt to quell his shaking. I told him he should probably sleep without a blanket, but this is not common in his native habitat so he ended up covered by morning. After a few days in the house playing skipbo and mixing crude amounts of soda and rum, I decided we were ready for some more sophisticated entertainment. I took him down to Martin’s Corner Bar where we got a table in the back. He watched the Cubs pitch to the Astros, and I played with the lock on my wallet. The bar tender was reluctant to open a tab for us, but I assured him we were good for it, that we were not going to be a problem.

Sarah Carson holds an MFA in Creative Writing from National University in La Jolla, California earlier this year and is an editor at Chicago-based Rhino. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poet Lore, Barrow Street, Diagram, Limestone, and Strange Machine, among others.


It is marvelous to be sure of something, she thought, and removed her shoes. Barefoot, she pushed back her chair and stood, moved aside her place setting, the vegetable platter and the gravy bowl (stopped in their rotation in front of her) and mounted the dining room table. Her family did not look up or applaud (she’d thought they might). Then it came to her and speaking to herself, said, maybe you have mounted the dining room table before? My husband would know, he makes lists, but he is intently masticating and I cannot find the confidence required to disturb him. How long, she thought, are you to remain there? And this is important, for just after this thought—the one about the length of time she would remain on the table—she experienced another inspiration. It is so good to be brought back, to know with conviction what’s next; she inched herself backward until only the balls of her feet and her toes made contact with the table, and, bending to her utmost, she pushed off and arched into the air of the dining room—listening all the while to cutlery scraping porcelain, to masticating. In that moment before she landed on the flat of her back, she felt at once hopeful and sad for humanity’s fate, and wondered if spacewomen felt similarly while gazing down at Earth through their capsule’s small windows. She landed. Her husband set down his fork and knife, patted dry his lips, and said, “Fool, fool, once again you have chosen to step outside of us. What, may I ask, are you hoping to find there?” She called out her love for them, and they took her with their arms and lifted her to her feet. They slid open the patio door, a wildness of motion, arms flapping like goony birds rushing into the night.

Michael K. Meyers’ Fiction, Audio & Video have appeared in Quick Fiction, Nano, Fringe (audio), Mad Hatters’ Review (audio), Ninth Letter (video), Chicago Noir, Word Riot, 2River (text & audio), The New Yorker, Fiction, Chelsea, and Bound Off (forthcoming). His performance art has been exhibited at MOMA, The Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, The Israel Museum, The Tel Aviv Museum, The Warsaw Institute of Contemporary Art, The Fringe of the Edinburgh Festival, and others. An audio piece, “The Audio Encyclopedia of Personal Knowledge,” was included in “The Best From The First Ten Years of ATC.” Recently (’08 & ’09), parts of “The Audio Encyclopedia” were presented at the Getty & Whitney. He teaches in the graduate writing program of The School of The Art Institute of Chicago.

Peasant Girl Transitions

Debrah Morkun’s first full length book of poetry, Projection Machine, was published by BlazeVox Books in April 2010. Some of her poetry has been published in Moria, Parcel, Bardic Sepulchral, Venereal Kittens, and other journals. She is very active in the Philadelphia poetry scene and started The New Philadelphia Poets, a group committed to expanding the spaces for poetry in Philadelphia, in October 2007.

Fruit Bowl from Starfish Over Oyster

She said nothing of course she
sent me soon after (after what?)
After she saw me a poster of a
girl: wrote over:
Doesn’t she look like you?

Hunger not in the mouth
whistles through teeth
cravings carved holes of a
train onto a track smothered
by the train behind


unwanted over metal solid
gray sky fogs down windowing
whole mouths enrobed
without fight steely ridges a
slated-paneling cut from
metals or as in construction:
consumption engenders


She with her morning pears
lining words in a row single
file pain her window places a
hunger so great it grids
urbanity for her ready-meal
nothing will city a justified
stomach refuse curses the fruit

Heather Palmer holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has current or forthcoming work in Willows Wept Review, Lamination Colony, Radioactive Moat, Omphalos 8, elimae, Storyglossia, Everyday Genius, Spork Magazine and more. Her book works include Charlie’s Train (the2ndhand) and the forthcoming novel Complements: of Us (Spork Press). She writes and works in Chicago, but hails from Pennsylvania. Find her at fictionsandthelike.blogspot.com

Wonder Stranger

Via Tania “Wonder Stranger”
from Michelle Ruiz on Vimeo.

Michelle Ruiz is a native Chicagoan with a degree in Interactive Multimedia & Video from Columbia College. Previously, she has worked in both Chicago and New York in the Post Production and Television industry while working on various independent video projects. Also a mixed media collage artist, her work was recently displayed in DIG gallery’s Endless Summer exhibition. http://winternow.com

Australian native Tania Bowers is a Chicago-based electronic & pop musician who has performed live globally. Her last album, Moon Sweet Moon (released on The Hours Entertainment) was featured in outlets such as Pitchfork, Vogue and Venus. She is currently recording material for her next album. http://viatania.com