John Yohe

Kiss the Witch

I

The witch
is polishing her nails
on all twelve fingers

The witch is changing
the oil in her motorcycle

The witch is dancing
to Texas Blues
undulating her body in S’s
while rolling her hips in O’s

The witch is singing
in a minor key

The witch is being misunderstood by many people

The witch
surprisingly
does not wear black all the time

The witch
is wondering what to write

The witch is wearing sexy underwear
but only for herself
they make her feel good

The witch is swimming naked
in a cold mountain river

The witch is calling down thunder
and lightning
just because

The witch is conjuring demons:
Here little demons
come to Momma

The witch knows 
that you know 
that she knows
that you think she is crazy
but she’s ok with that

The witch is swinging her pulaski
next to the fire
and her face
is smeared with sweat
dirt and ash

The witch
is camping out in the desert
with the eyes
of ringtail cats
watching her

The witch is directing a movie that takes place
in the near future

The witch travels all the time
by bus or train
or she flies

The witch is drinking massive amounts of beer

The witch is vomiting and regretting

The witch is practicing her fiddle

The witch would like to see peace in her lifetime
but also wishes the loud annoying people
next to her
would shut up

The witch is tuning her guitar

The witch is not casting a love spell
on you
that is so passé
if you can’t love her for herself
then fuck you

The witch thinks you have a lot of growing up to do

Nevertheless the witch will make you a chai with soy milk if you want

The witch should be working on her next novel
but
she is forgetting to do something

Have pity on the witch
she works hard
and compared with most people in the world
she is doing less harm
than most

On second thought
the witch doesn’t need your pity

The witch
just wants your respect

The witch is seriously thinking about becoming a lesbian

The witch has fantasies

But the witch also likes the cock

There is something about men

Which is both good and bad

But the witch supposes that is true of women too

The witch thinks she could be a nun
and live in a cloister
and not talk much
and meditate

But the witch goes out for a walk
barefoot
and it’s a nice day
there are lots of people out
and then the witch thinks that she needs this too
and would wither in a cloister

The witch is confused

The witch goes into a café
to have a jasmine tea
and think about it all

II

And what does the witch think of you?

Does the witch think of you at all?

How can you talk to the witch?

Should you call the witch?

Should you send the witch an email?

Should you write the witch a poem?

Yes says the witch
you should always write the witch a poem!

But you don’t know if the witch really means it

You are never sure of the witch
and what the witch wants

You are not even sure the witch knows
what she wants
except for general things like happiness
and fat-free frozen yoghurt with M&Ms

But you?

That might depend
on the witch’s mood at the time
and how good your poetry is

She might not even approve
of referencing poetry
in a poem

But you think that if the witch got to know you
and invited you over for dinner
you might be able to finally kiss the witch

After some intellectual conversation first of course

And a bit of wine

Perhaps you could take a walk with the witch
in the semi-darkness
through a tunnel of fireflies

Mela Blust

everyone remembers the first time they realize how truly fucked up they are

i started unbuttoning my blouse
to show the police officer 
the tops of my breasts;

kept unbuttoning to indicate
that i would go all the way
to avoid this altercation

i was young and stupid 
doing fifty in a forty
with a tiny baggie of blow
tucked in my pocket

he placed his hand
delicately onto my own
and said “stop speeding honey,
i don’t need to see anything”

in my head, i knew
i’d won the game
gotten out of a ticket
or worse

in my loins, a pathetic, 
persistent tingling
in my heart, an empty sadness

that a man
had turned down
seeing my tits

Jason Melvin

Books

I refuse to leave you behind
I have to feel you in my hands
spread you open
rub my nose in your fold
breath in your musk 
thinking of all those
who’ve touched you
before me
My Half-Price whores
spines worn slightly
rough little edges
If you’re really good
I’ll toss you to a friend
discuss you
once they’re done with you
and when I’m done with you
I place you on a shelf
display you alongside
my other conquests
dreaming of the day I may
if ever
take you in
again

Damian Rucci

SUMMERLAND

We said we would leave Jersey 
by any means necessary; see the world
break out from the constructs 
that made everyone boring

at first we started bands
played bad music hoping 
to escape and when that didn’t happen
we figured after high school we’d just bounce

but it never happened
the world moved onward, you cleaned up
while I found new faults in my character
life is slippery if you try and hold on

now you are a father
a little girl on your hip 
you found manhood in an instant
you found a way to save your soul

while you are breaking your ass
for your own, I am writing poems
I have seven cents in my pocket
I have no idea what I’ll do next

I found summerland 
in a quiet town in nowhere land
I have no idea how I’ll get home
I don’t care what I’ll do next.  

Jonathan Hayes

Chicken Poem

Waiting on the street bus
she told me,

Last week I boarded the bus
and a couple blocks up
an old Chinese lady
came on with a chicken
pecking and heckling
while the bus driver told her,

‘No animals on the bus’

So she snapped the chicken’s neck
and walked to the back of the bus

J.J. Campbell

a closed border

i trace all your curves
with my tongue and 
think of all the empty 
pages i am going to 
fill up about you 
over the years
 
there is a closed border
between us and god 
knows all the years 
as well
 
but i’m at the point of 
life where death is 
as comfortable a 
conversation as a story 
on the back page of the 
morning paper
 
patience might be the
only virtue i have
ever had
 
it has thinned with age 
but i know when to 
swallow pride and 
just say yes
 
embrace the longing
 
and think that happiness
is a lonely corner on the 
other side of the world
 
we’ll meet there one day
 
and let the revolution
finally begin

Jon Bennett

All I Wanted Was a Pepsi 

Me and Z. were talking about dope 
“I’m worried about my pancreas,” I said 
“Half my pancreas is a giant cyst,” he said, 
“it’s dissolving itself.” 
Z. was losing weight  
one of his eyes was mostly closed 
and half his face was always red 
“Is your pancreas why  
your face looks like that?” I asked 
“The thing about opiates is  
they make you thirsty,” he began, 
“Where I live there’s a spare refrigerator 
in the basement for sodas. 
I was going down to get a Pepsi 
but I’d done a shit ton of heroin 
and I fell down the stairs. 
At the bottom I started crawling.  
I didn’t know I was pushing 
my face along the concrete.” 
“You must have really wanted a Pepsi,” I said 
“Yeah, I’m tenacious,” he said, “Anyhow, 
a few days later I went to the doctor. 
He said if I’d waited one more day 
they would have taken out my eye. 
Now I can’t really see out of it.”  
“I guess you’re lucky,” I said 
“Yeah,” he said, “I can still see
out of the other one, 
I can see just fine.”

Damian Rucci

SOMETHING TO WRITE ABOUT

I don’t hang out with the devil
much anymore but he still calls 
from time to time; when it’s night
or when its morning or when 
these stubborn feet don’t wanna move
or when the bed calls me to sleep 
before it is even ten pm 

I don’t tell my girl 
but he leaves voicemails every so often 
asks me can I even remember 
the last time I’ve tasted three am? 
Asks me can I remember the last time
I’ve felt like Adonis? Been the Uberman?
Grooved my footsteps into the wooden floors?
Can I still get it up without a burning nose? 
Do the whispers still keep me up at night? 
Do I really feel comfortable 
in the realm of the living? 

Because I’ve lived a thousand lives before dusk 
I’ve haunted midwestern cow towns 
for cigarettes and adventure 
I’ve sold my last ounce of honor 
for a bowl of Elysium in dim-lit rooms 
I’ve slain friends in my hearts 
over minor quarrels and burned effigies 
of my future in gasoline pyres 
linoleum melting from the house 
like crystal balls dripping through the hands 
of the soothsayers 

I’d say I didn’t know any better 
but I’d be lying, I saw the crash 
before I ever even signed my name 
but I guess I needed to find my way 
I guess I needed to see oblivion 
for myself, I guess I needed a scar
I could write about 

~

Originally appeared in Big Hammer 

Judson Michael Agla

WHICH WAY DOES THE WIND BLOW

Which way does the wind blow for you, my brother?
Does it come in and cover you in despair?
Does it come from behind
like some kind of ethereal sodomy?
Does it manifest your guilt
into a torment of heartburn,
and gut-wrenching indigestion?

Does it bring back the ghosts?
Does it raise the dead?
Does it comfort you,
when you’re curled up in warm covers,
on moonless nights when all your crimes
surface into your dreams?

Does it blow cold, when your woman
leaves you in the middle of the night,
without a whisper, without a note?

Does it blow dust in your eyes as you watch
the war machines pass through the streets?
Does it blow hot when you kill?
Which way does it blow when you bleed?
Does it blow furiously when
the hounds are at your heels?

And I ask you at last;
which way does the wind blow for you, my brother?