Business Confessions of Fire Flower - by M. Mack and Alyse Knorr -

You leap above me out of
bounds and out of ground.

You live in other weather.
If you would settle, then

I would turn the color of
wicked, the color of why.

Congratulations first spout
before the still pout of envy.

I am in the right place in
the right dress. A man’s

fingers on a man’s thighs.
You with your right success.

I am a dog in a ship on its
way to the atmosphere. I

am a ship making its return.
And you sleep late, compose

a letter, wish me well from
afar. And I give these things

away as well. I make a coffee,
wait for the right time to burn.


—after Sam W.

because who could trust anyone
who can’t explain the blue scar like a tributary
worming down their neckline?

who doesn’t have at least one story
where a car rolls end over end
on some lonesome stretch of Illinois highway
before shattering into a cavalcade of glass?

who could knowingly crawl from the doused inferno
and into bed with the someone who refuses to admit
they tried on their lover’s jeans while they were gone
just to see how they would fit?

see already plans are being made
loaded into rowboats
and shoved off from shore without you

please raise your hand
if like me you’ve ever pried the lid off
a can of old house-paint with a buck-knife
and nicked yourself then sucked the wound clean

or wasted thirty-three picturesque New England afternoons thus far
waiting for leaves to rake

everyone wants and as far as I know
I am no different

at least once this winter
I’ve dreamt of kissing the pale
freckled stomach of a close friend’s elder sister
and awoke with honey on my lips

what I want is be wanted back by what I want
which is like my mantra

so no
I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t listen to music

because who has the audacity to stick
their arm into the gift horse’s gaping mouth?

who is so hungry they ask for more after seconds and then thirds?

who could doubt the miracle
even after the preacher says be healed and we are healed?

Recurrent Ghazal - by Alicia Rebecca Myers -

I connected temperature dots on the chart.
A strip instantiated that it took. We quit the chart,

floated gleefully through news. On Overlook Drive
I bled out. It was John’s birthday. Caroline offered to chart

my horoscope: Mercury glimpsed through a cluster of ash.
We resumed position, kissing the hem of the chart.

I marked squares for mucus, sleeplessness. Inter-
course once again ushered in the blessing of the chart.

I forgot caution. With the teller. With the woman who cut
my hair as her razor hovered. Cable on the fritz, Charter

sent a repairman to the house. “Y’all have a frayed wire.”
I beamed while I chewed a pre-natal. He fixed it, the chart

conked out in darkness. I tried to staunch the second loss.
I cinched my legs in denial. You were cursing the chart,

spooning me, when my parents called to thank us for their Fruit
of the Month. Pitting peaches, were they thinking of the chart?

I was shameless in my self-pity: Bulleit and Blenheim, skirt
lifted on the passenger side in plain view of truckers, the chart

a cloth grigri worn about the neck in two-fold end. What wards
off doubt no doubt punishes. The tough of the gristle of the chart.

The universe stopped being clever. I ate something called an Un-
wich. You tried a joke about the dentist, punch line like the chart

not funny: 2:30. I tasted metal on my tongue. Three strikes you’re
out? Third time’s the charm? According to the plot of the chart

it was accidental.  I wouldn’t pet the cats or raise my hands any higher
than my waist. Still: fontanelle slipping. Targeted by the chart

I heard my slender voice, its feeble sunk-me-cry. Carnival
passengers called the office for refunds. I consulted a chart.

When I told them what was possible, they refused. Refused what?
You were the sole bright spot. At the doctor, chin up, the chart

a weapon in your hand. We’d entered the 1%. I drew a bath. Soil,

seed, thunderstorm. I played a game of garden on my arm.

cruising - by Ben Pelhan -

semen dressed like turtles. fact.
an orgy in the family
room. a midnight drive.
a convenience store.
radio. convenience. semen
dressed like turtles swim
up and down the aisles
looking for Funyuns.
why Funyuns? only Funyuns
will do. clerk: 3
bags per customer.
semen dressed like turtles:
fascist. clerk: clerk
don’t make the laws.
3 bags later semen
dressed like turtles
act like turtles. slow
down and the Funyuns
burst like confetti
in the back seat.
back seat fetti. back
to the levee. a river
will do when the bridge
is narrow. semen
dressed like turtles
but the tails are dead
giveaway. freebies.
tug boat. moon light.
ejaculate. the river
is actually a stream and semen
dressed like turtles buy
Xanax at the levee
in high tops from high
school boys. pop
pop. semen like pills.
pills like turtles too.